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Retirement In Diaspora: Are You Preparing For It? Feedback From Nigerians – Part 2

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The feedback received provided insight you might find useful. The reader must know that this information is not scientific and has not been put through in-depth statistical models or evaluations. Please do your own research before adopting any of these suggestions from fellow Nigerians.

In the previous Ezine article fellow Nigerians were asked to share their plans and preparations for “The Big R,” retirement. Many responded, and thanks to everyone who took the time to write.

James (last name withheld) wrote: While we struggle to live up to expectation, (Not that I know who’s expectation) a lot is wasted on things without tangible future value. I have often seen that mansion in the village as a waste of valuable money but we did not grow up with the culture of investing for the future.” Children are often our retirement. We need education if we don’t want to become a burden to the kids or start packing in preparation for a final trip to the village as we head towards retirement.

Some Nigerians who implied or expressed that they are domiciled in Europe took the stance that the governments there will take care of their retirement, and therefore they did not have to worry about saving additional funds. “Those in Europe and Scandinavia may not have much to share, as their retirements are relatively better secured as long as they have had active working lives and have paid into the better managed retirement purse – unlike the American 401K,” remarked a reader called Ayookun.

While some readers who responded have totally lost faith in Nigeria for various reasons, there are more people whose belief in Nigeria is rock solid. Those who have written Nigeria off as a place to retire or invest for retirement cite common complaints of Nigerians overseas: swindling by family and once-trusted friends in Nigeria; and terrible governance. In their experience, they have been pitched great investment ideas, only to be taken to the cleaners once their hard earned money is sent to Nigeria. Jabolondon wrote this about an uncle who was duped when he invested for retirement in Nigeria: “He appointed his brother as “Project Manager” and, since 1994, has diligently repatriated funds for the project. Fast forward to today. His house is one level of concrete blocks in a rubbish-strewn site. His brother, meanwhile, is the proud owner-landlord of a block of 4 x 4 plush apartments.”

This has been a serious and perennial compliant of many Nigerians working overseas. It is quite detrimental to all parties in obvious ways: the person who is cheated not only loses his scarce retirement investment, but may inadvertently ignite eternal family feuds that do no good. Those overseas who hear these (often exaggerated) stories are dissuaded from investing or planning to retire in Nigeria. The person doing the cheating loses too, because ori otu mgba a bughi ezi – he who eats all the food at once starves once the food in his stomach digests.

However, for every five respondents who have had enough of Nigeria and don’t intend to retire there, there are eleven that urge a second look. The latter group espouses the benefits of investing in Nigeria as a retirement vehicle. One prolific commentator named Patcho made a point that is very appealing to most Nigerians in Diaspora. He stated, “Eventually when retirement age comes, I’ll like to retreat to my village because I want to walk around, feeling the soil barefooted in my compound and welcoming visitors who did not need to call or write me before they knocked.”

Using the money Patcho said he sent home over the years, his relatives in Nigeria have helped him amass real estate holdings around his home town. Wouldn’t it be great for most of us, both in Nigeria and overseas, to have the realistic option of retiring in our villages in peace and security; bringing our retirement funds to enjoy and to help further develop Nigeria?

Cajetan Nwagbara has this edited recommendation: “Go to any city in Nigeria, and buy a parcel of land. Develop it, build at least 12 flats, and rent them for N25,000 each flat per month. One can conveniently live on N300,000 income, if one has a personal house and a decent car.” It is a good idea. Frankly, a retiree in a medium- to low-cost part of America can survive on $2,000 (plus Social Security income) if the Nigerian funds can be religiously sent here and the person is in relatively good health and has no mortgage on the home in the States.

Valteena summed it up this way: “Haba!!! onyeije Naija can’t be that bad for you to want to erase it off completely. I beg no erase. Nigeria may yet go better.” That was in response to Onyeije who wrote as if Nigeria should be wiped off the map. He said ” I am just waiting for my parents to join their ancestors, then I [will] erase and obliterate that name NIGERIA from all available lexicon.”

Those are heartfelt words from someone who obviously loves Nigeria but is deeply disappointed in what Nigeria has become. It is a sentiment discreetly shared by many Nigerians, especially those in Diaspora. These Nigerians resent the leadership at home who fostered the conditions that forced them to abandon their familiar environment and reside overseas, even as many who wish to leave Nigeria look up to those abroad as the lucky ones.

The mention of retirement homes in the previous article sent shockwaves to most readers. Studies show there are many great retirement homes all over the western world, but most of them also come with hefty price tags. From the feedback, it was obvious that the prospect of going to any nursing home is too hot or raw for most Nigerians abroad to deal with. Truth be told, many of us have to get serious with retirement and estate planning and funding if we are to avoid the dreaded poor nursing home dilemma.

The original article was written to awaken and bring to forefront the importance of retiring with dignity, and the need to save the necessary funds to achieve this golden age goal. You need quite a lot of money to do that, so stop wasting and start saving as if your life depends on it – because it just might.

Many of us have children, and children everywhere love their parents as much as children anywhere. Let’s not lose that point in this whole healthy discussion. However, we have not come this far, worked this hard, and weathered so many storms to depend on anyone else, including our wonderful and loving children. We should spare them the worry of our finances. We should be leaving estates for them to cushion their lives, not saddling them with the financial hardship of caring for us in our old age.

Rokijola has an outside-the-box, albeit utopian, solution: “One option will be to have retirement homes in America that cater to Nigerians, and have sister retirements homes in Nigeria. These retirement homes can be operated something similar to time-share holiday homes. The greatest challenge will be managing healthcare needs, which is a given with old age.”

That is one great idea, especially if restaurants serving authentic Nigerian foods are located on the premises like those near Highway 59 and Bissonnette in Houston, Texas. That area is the closest you can be to Aba, Calabar, Benin, Owerri, Jos, or Lagos without leaving America. The only food better or even close would be home cooked meal prepared by one’s spouse. Sorry to digress, I just want to give a shoutout to those Houston restaurateurs; none of whom I know personally.

F. Scopion made elaborate and logical points, taking into account inflation, deflation (which is more serious), low interest income, American 401K plans, and Roth IRAs, as well as global and long-term (30-year) views. F. Scopion wrote: “Best bang for your buck, and almost the only sane option left, is to invest in an emerging economy. A lot of savvy middle class Americans are already investing in BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India, and China] countries using financial instruments. Some even travel there to buy real estate. Nigeria isn’t on the list yet, because its financial system is still too opaque. My point? Investing in property in Nigeria is more than just a good idea: there is no earthly reason why you shouldn’t do it, if you can. I can assure you that well-to-do Americans would jump at that chance”.

Idi-ogi made a rather extreme appeal against retiring overseas but softened it by suggesting investment in Nigerian real estate. He wrote this: “Retiring abroad is not as rosy as it may first appear. When I lived in England, my wife carried out a survey involving old retired people. She met an elderly Nigerian whose wife had returned to Nigeria while he stayed in Manchester. This gentleman was unkempt and disheveled. He was malnourished because his meals were pushed over the door with no opportunity for him to make his choice known. Same for his other supplies. The workers simply left things at the door and notified him by knocking on the door. By the time he opened the door, they have disappeared into thin air.”

“Investing in real estate is the way to go. The return on investment is far better in places such as Lagos and Port-Harcourt. The drawback is that there is very little opportunity to finance the huge amount of money needed. A similar investment in the US will yield minimal returns at this time, but may be easier to finance with good credit rating,” he concluded,

I also receive responses that were either too personal to publish or the emailer did not want me to quote them or use their names. Those responses made me think this topic has deeper roots than I first thought. Brothers and sisters, retiring in poverty is hellish. Retirement planning and funding is neither a husband’s thing or a wife’s thing; it is a family jewel. One has to think about one’s self and spouse first. When you REALLY need them, you cannot Western-Union back the funds you should have saved and invested in your working years.

It might be prudent to diversify and not put all your retirement eggs in one basket by investing only in Nigeria or solely in your base overseas, or in emerging markets. Those governing Nigeria should capitalize on the pull of funds held overseas by both Nigerians inside and outside the country by making conditions more attractive for these Nigerians and their funds to come home to roost.

Finally, retirement is something positive to look forward to. While it will take a long time planning and acting to achieve good results, excessive stress over saving for tomorrow could rob you of the joy and blessing of treasuring today. And too much stress might cause an untimely end that makes retirement a moot point! So thanks again to those whose responses made this article possible, and I wish all of us success as we continue preparing for retirement in prosperity, not in abject poverty.

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Source by Chuks UC Ukaoma

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Where to Find Those Efficient and Hardworking Affiliates?

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Everyone wants a hardworking affiliate, employee, associate, partner, or even spouse, and why not? It’s the next best thing to doing the work yourself. However with the massive outbreak of work and income opportunities available online, how can you beat everyone else and find that one (or more) ideal person who will make your online business explode with success? Here are some of the most ingenious and uncommon ways to snag the idea affiliates for your affiliate program

Direct Sales Agents

Direct sales people are really one of the most enterprising, hard-working individuals in business. They mostly work on commissions or rebates and are willing to literally go door-to-door offering their products to anyone and everyone they bump into. Imagine how much easier their job would be if they could be an affiliate and simply work via the Internet and a mobile device or desktop.

Also, most direct sales people tend to carry more than one brand in their product arsenal so signing up as an affiliate would be almost the same type of work but using a different approach.

Colleges and Universities

Many college kids would be interested in a part-time income opportunity if it would mean funds to help pay for their education, loan, or partying. All you have to do is make sure to offer them products they can endorse as a student.

Freelancers

Did you know that the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest annual report show that 75% of U.S. businesses used freelancers in 2011? Freelancers earned a whopping US$990 billion in 2011 which is a 4.1% increase from the previous year. The only industries where the number of freelancers decreased were in insurance, finance, and construction. Most probably your affiliate program isn’t a part of these 3 industries.

Furthermore, online business and finance experts are predicting the growth to increase incrementally every year even with an economy that is improving. People just want income security and more control over their earnings. With the spate of lay-offs, it’s understandable why many would prefer to work as an affiliate than as an employee.

Scout For Them At Affiliate Conventions

There are annual affiliate conventions held in different cities around the country. You should try to catch one when it is held somewhere near your location. The average turn-out for these types of conventions has increased regularly over the years. Last year, many of them were sold out weeks before the event.

Advertise!

The US Census Bureau has said that as of 2012, 15% of Americans are poor, 43% of young adults depend on their parents to some extent for money. Even more surprising is that the median income of young adults in 1982 was $31,583 and last year it was $30,604 for the same age group! Income is dropping and people are looking for ways to earn additional income outside of their 9 to 5 jobs. That’s where you can come in playing the hero and helping others realize their dream income.

Finally, go online and talk about your product. Make the affiliate marketers come to you and have the luxury of picking the best candidates. You will need some help in marketing your affiliate program so target a marketer who’s experienced in affiliate program and SEO.

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Source by Lina Stakauskaite

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Recession Is Here… Six Costly Mistakes Home Sellers Make During Recessions And How To Avoid Them

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The U.S. is officially in a recession. What is a recession? A recession is a business cycle contraction or general economic decline due to significant drop in spending and other commercial activities. Most pundits and politicians will blame Covid-19 crisis for the recession, but even pre-Covid-19 the proverbial writing was on the wall.

The U.S. had over 120 months of economic growth, which was the longest expansion in the modern history. Other indicators, such as negative yield spread on treasuries (long term bonds having lower interest rates than short term T-notes), were pointing to an imminent change of the economic cycle and an impending recession. The only real question was: when and how bad?

Then Covid-19 came… If the cycle was going to change anyway, Covid-19 acted as a huge and unexpected accelerant to make the recession much more immediate and severe.

Inevitably during recessions all classes of real estate, including residential homes and condominiums, will be negatively impacted as lower consumer spending and higher unemployment rates affect real estate prices and marketing times.

Here are the six costly mistakes home and other real property sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them:

Mistake #1: This will pass and real estate market will be hot again soon

First thing to remember is that real estate cycles are much longer than general economic cycles. Even if the general economy recovers, which eventually it always does, a typical real estate cycle takes as long as 10 to 15 years. The cycle has four key stages: Top, Decline, Bottom and Rise.

Let us consider the last real estate cycle, which lasted approximately 14 years:

  • 2006 – Prices hit the Top
  • 2006 to 2012 – Prices Decline
  • 2012 – Prices hit the Bottom (Trough)
  • 2012 to 2019 – Prices Rise*
  • 2020 – Prices hit the Top
  • 2020 to? – Prices Decline

*NOTE: In 2016 the national residential real estate price index reached its pre-recession 2006 peak levels. It took 10 years for the real estate market to recover.

The way to avoid this mistake is to recognize that real estate cycles take years to run and plan accordingly. Additionally, nobody knows for sure when the prices will hit the top or bottom until after the fact.

Mistake #2: Low interest rates will make the economy and real estate market rebound

Between 2006 and 2011 the interest rates (Fed Funds) were continuously cut by the Federal Reserve Board and went from low 5% to almost 0%. However, that did not stop the real estate recession and depreciation of property values.

Undoubtedly, low interest rates made the economic decline and real estate recession less severe and saved some properties from foreclosures, but it still took six painful years for the real estate market to hit the bottom and then four more years for the prices to go back to their pre-recession levels.

Some markets had never fully recovered. For example, residential home prices in some parts of California, Arizona and Nevada are still below their 2006 highs.

To avoid this mistake, one needs to realize that although low interest rates help stimulate the economy and the real estate market, they do not cure them.

Mistake #3: I don’t need to sell now, so I don’t care

If you do not need to sell until the cycle plays out, which typically is over ten years, then you will not be as affected, especially if you have a strong equity position, limited mortgage debt, and solid liquid assets.

However, it is good to keep in mind that “life happens” and either professional or personal circumstances can change and we may need to sell property before the downturn runs its course.

Furthermore, if a property has a mortgages and its value declines to the point being “upside down,” meaning the mortgage loan balance exceeds the value of the property, then the options of selling, refinancing or even obtaining an equity line of credit, will be significantly limited.

This does not mean that everybody should be rushing into selling their real estate if there is no need to do so, just keep in mind that circumstances may and often do change and property options will be affected, so plan in advance. As one wise proverb says: “Dig your well before your thirst.”

Mistake #4: I’m selling, but I won’t sell below my “bottom line” price

This is a common and potentially very costly mistake. Generally speaking, every seller wants to sell for the highest price and every buyer wants to pay the lowest price. That’s nothing new. When selling real estate, most sellers want to achieve a certain price point and/or have a “bottom line.”

However, it is important to understand that the market does not care what the Seller, or his/her Agent, think the property value should be at. The market value is a price a willing and able buyer will pay, when a property is offered on an open market for a reasonable amount of time.

Overpricing property based on Seller’s subjective value or what is sometimes called an “aspirational price,” especially in a declining market, is a sure first step to losing money. When a property lingers on the market for an extended period of time, carrying costs will continue to accumulate and property value will depreciate in line with the market conditions.

Additionally, properties with prolonged marketing times tend to get “stale” and attract fewer buyers. The solution is to honestly assess your selling objectives, including the desired time-frame, evaluate your property’s attributes and physical condition, analyze comparable sales and market conditions, and then decide on market-based pricing and marketing strategies.

Mistake #5: I will list my property for sale only with Agent who promises the highest price

Real estate is a competitive business and real estate agents compete to list properties for sale which generate their sales commission incomes. It is not unusual that Seller will interview several agents before signing an exclusive listing agreement and go with the agent who agrees to list the property at the highest price, often regardless if such price is market-based.

Similarly to Mistake #4, this mistake can be very damaging to Sellers, as overpriced properties stay on the market for extended periods of time costing Sellers carrying expenses such as mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance.

Furthermore, there is the “opportunity cost” since the equity is “frozen,” and it cannot be deployed elsewhere till the property is sold. However, the most expensive cost is the loss of property value while the real estate market deteriorates.

During the last recession, we have seen multiple cases where overpriced properties stayed on the market for years and ended up selling for 25% to 40% below their initial fair market values.

The solution is to make sure that your pricing strategy is based on the market, not empty promises or wishful thinking.

Mistake #6: I will list my property only with Agent who charges the lowest commission

Real estate commission rates are negotiable and not set by law. A commission usually represents the highest transactional expense in selling real properties and is typically split between Brokers and Agents who work on the transaction

Some real estate agents offer discounted commissions, in order to induce Sellers to list their properties with them. But does paying a discounted commission ensure savings for the Seller? Not necessarily.

For example, if the final sales price is 5% to 10% below property’s highest market value, which is not that unusual, due to inadequate marketing, bad pricing strategy, and/or poor negotiation skills, it will easily wipe out any commission savings and actually cost the Seller tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenues.

The solution is to engage an agent who is a “Trusted Advisor,” not just a “Salesperson.” A Trusted Advisor will take his/her time and effort to do the following: 1) Perform Needs Analysis: listen and understand your property needs and concerns; 2) Prepare Property Analysis: thoroughly evaluate your property and market conditions; 3) Execute Sales and Marketing Plan: prepare and implement custom sales and marketing plan for your property; and 4) Obtain Optimal Results: be your trusted advocate throughout the process and achieve the best possible outcome.

Finding such a real estate professional may not be always easy, but it certainly is worth the effort and will pay off at the end.

In conclusion, this article has outlined six costly mistakes real estate Sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them. The first mistake is not understanding that real estate cycles are long and take years. The second mistake is a misconception that low interest rates alone will create a recovery. Another mistake is not realizing that circumstances may change and not planning in advance. Mistakes number four, five and six pertain to understanding the market value, proper pricing and selecting the right real estate professional.

By understanding and avoiding these mistakes, real estate Sellers have significantly better chances of minimizing the negative impact of a recession while selling their properties.

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Source by Robert W. Dudek

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Useful Tips To Build The Best Gaming Computer

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Every gamer will want their computer to be the best gaming computer among their peers. Sometimes, with a little knowledge and tips and tricks, it is possible to build the best gaming computer and show it off to your peers. This article will show you how:

1) You can’t get the best gaming computer from computer retailers

If you want to get the best gaming computer, you have to build your own. Different gamers have different requirement for their gaming machine. Unless you are willing to pay a high price, you will not be able to buy a commercial computer that fulfills all your gaming needs. The only option you have is to build your own gaming computer.

2) You don’t have to be rich to build the best gaming computer

It is not necessary to burn a hole in your pocket to build the best gaming computer. With some due diligence, do some market research and compare prices around the marketplace. Merchant such as TigerDirect and NewEgg give regular discount to their products and you could save a lot of money if you catch them during their promotional period.

3) Most expensive parts do not have to be the best part

Sometime, the latest model or the most expensive model does not have to be the best part for your computer. It requires various components to work together to form the best computer system. When choosing a computer part, what matters is how well it can integrate with the rest of the components. Compatibility is more important than individual performance. What use is there if you spend lot of money on the latest quad-core processor and find that your motherboard doesn’t support it?

4) You don’t need to change the whole PC to own the best gaming computer

It is a misconception that you have to change the whole gaming machine to build the best gaming computer. If you already have a good barebone system, what you need to do is to upgrade the necessary parts and your gaming computer can roar back to life instantly.

5) Brand is important

Unless you want to see your computer system malfunction every few days, it is important that you purchase the parts from branded manufacturers with strict quality control. Motherboard brand such as Gigabyte, ABIT, ASUS are some quality brands that you can consider

If you follow diligently to the tips stated above. You will be on your way to build the best gaming computer. While price can be an issue, it is better not to scrimp on important computer parts such as motherboard, CPU, RAM and graphics card as it will cost you more to upgrade in the future.

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Source by Damien Oh

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