Weekly business rail, with tips on investing in gold, BBB warning about the fraudulent utility bailout, and more.
Tip of the Week
Despite gold's increasing value and popularity, many folks don't know where to get started. 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 get you started:
1. Gold Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs): Since 2004, U.S. investors 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 of 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 available on the market but not all are 100 percent backed by physical gold, so read the prospectus carefully and ask your financial adviser to help you select the one that best suits your needs.
2. Gold mining stocks: With this 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 companies are listed and publicly traded in the U.S.
3. Gold Accumulation Plans (GAPs): Similar to a conventional 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 bars most people have only seen in the movies. There are many different refineries that produce gold bars and most companies that sell gold will offer a variety of sizes to suit various budgets.
5. Gold coins: Issued by governments around the world, gold bullion coins are a popular choice for investors. Their value is primarily based on their fine gold content. Bullion coins differ from numismatic or collectable coins, which are valued on rarity, design and finish rather than their gold content. Many mints will 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.
The Better Business Bureau warns that con artists are using text messages, emails, door-to-door sales, websites and word of mouth to mislead individuals into thinking there is a government program authorized by President Barack Obama's administration that will pay them up to $1,000 to cover their utility bills.
"We became aware of this scam following a number of phone calls to our offices," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving northern Illinois. "There is no special bailout or any other kind of program authorized by the president to help with utility bills."
Victims are given bank account and routing numbers to use when paying their bills online, after they "register" by providing social security numbers and banking information, account and routing numbers. Deposits briefly appear in victims' checking accounts only later to learn they drew out of invalid accounts.
Bernas added, "There have been reports of as many as 2,000 people in Tampa, Florida and thousands of others across the country who were tricked by this scam."
For more information, visit www.bbb.org.
According to Kiplinger, here are eight things not to keep in your wallet:
1. Your Social Security card
2. Password cheat sheet
3. Spare keys
6. Multiple credit cards
7. Birth certificate
8. A stack of receipts
Number to Know
$4.11: The highest average gasoline price in U.S. history, a mark that was hit on July 17, 2008. On the anniversary of the record, gas prices continued to surge upward after a June reprieve.
Yahoo recently named a Google executive its fifth CEO in five years. She is Marissa Mayer, who held a top-level position at Google.
GateHouse News Service