Bloglikes - Freelance en-US Thu, 15 Apr 2021 17:20:54 +0000 Sat, 06 Apr 2013 00:00:00 +0000 FeedWriter How a Bitcoin wallet gives you more security and control over your digital assets A bitcoin wallet gives you, and only you, complete control of your cryptocurrency.

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  • A Bitcoin wallet is a digital app or program that allows you to securely send and receive bitcoins.
  • Bitcoin wallets do not actually store funds, but instead store the private keys that give you access to your cryptocurrency.
  • Bitcoin wallets come as either hardware or software, with hardware wallets offering the most security.
  • Visit Business Insider's Investing Reference library for more stories.

"Not your keys, not your coin" is a popular saying within some parts of the cryptocurrency community, and for good reason.

It's a reminder that if you choose to store your bitcoin on a cryptocurrency exchange account, the exchange actually owns the key to your digital assets. And if you don't own the private keys needed to transfer and access your bitcoin, you don't control it.

So how exactly do you control your keys and, by extension, your bitcoin? A dedicated Bitcoin wallet.

Bitcoin wallets are designed to store the private keys to your cryptocurrency, enabling you to move your funds without having to rely on a third-party. Here's what you need to know about what a Bitcoin wallet is and how it works.

What is a Bitcoin wallet?

A Bitcoin wallet is a software program that allows you to transfer and store bitcoin. Bitcoin isn't technically "stored" anywhere so the wallet actually stores a private security key that corresponds to the Bitcoin address of your wallet. The key is actually what gives you ownership and control of bitcoin stored in it, making it an invaluable tool as an investor.

A Bitcoin wallet is "a way for you to store your digital keys, or access, to certain locations on the blockchain," says Lex Sokolin, global fintech co-head at blockchain firm ConsenSys.

Similar to other cryptocurrencies, bitcoin is stored in addresses on its blockchain, which is essentially a ledger or database that can't be modified or erased. Each address has two keys (i.e., alphanumeric codes) associated with it, a public key and a private key. The public key is what other people can use to send bitcoin to it, and the private key is what you'd use to send bitcoin from it.

This is precisely why some investors prefer storing their bitcoin on a wallet instead of a third-party platform. A wallet holds the private key, which is necessary to validate that the true owner of a Bitcoin address is really requesting that bitcoin be sent from that address.

In the news: There is $140 billion of inaccessible bitcoin in the world as a result to lost or locked-off crypto wallets. If you decide to buy a bitcoin wallet, it's extremely important to keep it and your password safe.

Types of bitcoin wallets

All bitcoin and cryptocurrency wallets revolve around the storage of a private key. When it comes to wallets, you basically have two options: hardware or software.

Hardware wallets

Hardware wallets are generally small, handheld devices that store your bitcoin offline and can be plugged into your computer in order to verify transactions. "A hardware wallet stores private keys through a device that is not your computer, while a software wallet runs on your computer or phone," says Sokolin.

Hardware wallets remain offline at all times (and are often referred to as "cold" wallets for this reason), theoretically making them safer when compared to their digital counterparts.

While the cost of hardware wallets vary from one manufacturer and model to another, wallets can generally range from $60 to $180. Wallets at the lower end of this spectrum will be just as secure as those at the more expensive end, although they may lack certain extra features, such as Bluetooth connectability and support for a wider range of cryptocurrencies.

Software wallets

Software wallets, also known as "hot" wallets, can be accessed either via a desktop browser or smartphone app. Whereas hardware wallets are used for long-term storage of large amounts, software wallets are better for storing smaller amounts and making daily spending and receiving payments convenient and fast.

"A software wallet is an app on your phone or computer containing your private keys. Because it's usually connected to the internet, it's theoretically hackable, though the most reputable software wallets are considered extremely difficult to hack," says Glen Goodman, a cryptocurrency analyst and author of The Crypto Trader.

Software wallets can come in three varieties:

  • Desktop wallets: These wallets are installed directly onto a computer, where the private keys are stored on its hard drive. Funds can be accessed only from that computer, allowing you to have full control over your wallet.
  • Mobile wallets: These wallets function the same way as desktop wallets, but designed for the mobile experience. Mobile wallets are convenient and can be used on the go, but can carry a greater risk of malware.
  • Web wallets: These are wallets that can be accessed through a web browser, oftentimes hosted by a provider who manages the security of your private keys.

In theory, software wallets are more user-friendly than hardware alternatives, if only because they don't require you to keep track of the whereabouts of a physical device. Some software wallets also offer built-in trading features, so you can quickly sell your crypto through their app or desktop site.

Another advantage of the software wallet is that it can be cheaper than a hardware equivalent. Many of the most popular software wallets charge only transaction fees, which are set by the network of the cryptocurrency you're using. That said, with average bitcoin fees hitting as high as $30 during peak periods, multiple transactions can certainly take a bite out of your wallet.

Important: Paper wallets are an outdated and highly risky way to store your own bitcoin. As the name suggests, they're pieces of paper on which you write the private and public key to your Bitcoin address, which can be auto-generated using a dedicated website.

Why are Bitcoin wallets so important?

The main advantage of a Bitcoin wallet is that it protects investors from potential cryptocurrency exchange hacks. While the major exchanges are improving their cybersecurity constantly, breaches still occur from time to time, with Binance - the world's biggest exchange - being hacked as recently as May 2019.

"If someone has a very large amount of cryptocurrency, an offline hardware wallet is a must. For people who only have small amounts of crypto, a decent software wallet can provide a reasonable level of security for most purposes" says Goodman.

Having your own wallet means you're protected from potential hacks, and yet it also protects users from situations where an exchange freezes a customer's funds or account. For example, popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase acknowledges that in "extremely rare circumstances," it will prevent access to customer funds when required to comply with an order from a court or other authority.

Best bitcoin wallets

ledger wallet The Ledger Nano S, a popular hardware wallet option.

AndreaAstes/Getty Images

When it comes to hardware wallets, the two major brands are Ledger and Trezor. While these makers are reputable, there are a number of other brands worth checking out before you make a final decision.

For the full review and a complete rundown, check out our picks for the best Bitcoin wallets.

The financial takeaway

Bitcoin wallets are a great way to take full control of your cryptocurrency funds. The most secure wallets are hardware-based, since they involve the use of devices that never go online. That said, software wallets may afford a greater level of convenience and ease.

However, while cryptocurrency wallets help you gain control of your funds, they require you to step up your security game. You generally need to store hardware wallets - and their seed phrases - in secure places, otherwise you may have to kiss goodbye your bitcoin in the event of loss or theft.

What is Bitcoin? A beginner's guide to the world's most popular type of cryptocurrency, and tips for investing in itA bitcoin IRA lets you profit from the cryptocurrency's potential gains in a tax-advantaged wayBitcoin taxes: Understanding the rules and how to report cryptocurrency on your returnCryptocurrency is an electronic, private type of money - here's how it works and how you can invest in it Read the original article on Business Insider

[Author: (Simon Chandler)]

Fri, 09 Apr 2021 11:25:58 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Trends Markets Best Bitcoin Ira Freelance Bitcoin wallet Cryptocurrency Goodman Simon Chandler Lex Sokolin Investing (Reference Investing How To Glen Goodman Investment Assets (Reference ConsenSys Similar Sokolin Hardware Electrum Best
The Demographics of Nonemployer Business Owners The U.S. Census has released new demographic data on nonemployer businesses.  

Nonemployers are businesses that have an owner but don't have paid traditional full or part-time employees (W2 employees). The data comes from tax records, and you can think of nonemployers as solopreneur businesses (freelancers, independent contractors. gig workers, etc.)

The new data provides information by owner demographics such as sex, race, ethnicity and veteran status, geography, industry, receipt size class, and legal form of organization.

The Census chart below (click to enlarge) illustrates some of the demographics of nonemployers for 2017.  Census is planning on updating this for 2018 (the most recent year the non-demographic data is available) in the near future.

Nonemployer demographics

The nonemployer dataset gets less attention than other government data on self-employment. There have been two reasons for this.

The first is until fairly recently, there was little interest in self-employment data.  The rise of the gig economy has changed this.

And second, the nonemployer dataset is messy and includes a hodgepodge of business entities - passive businesses, firms no longer in business, LLCs owned by major corporations, etc. - that aren't active solopreneur businesses. 

But despite these issues, we find the nonemployer data to be a useful indicator of the overall size and growth - and now, also the demographics - of U.S. self-employment.  

Because this dataset is getting more attention, the Census is working to make it more complete and timely.  The addition of demographic data is an example of these efforts. 

Tue, 30 Mar 2021 04:00:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Sales Freelance Gig Economy U S Census Independent workers Small Business Economy Nonemployer Business Owners
Things to Love About Being an Independent Professional ]]> Sun, 14 Mar 2021 09:01:54 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Jobs Freelance Discover Career Opportunities 9 Types of Writing Tone You Should Know About The tone is a crucially important part of writing, but what is it exactly? To explain it in basic terms, tone generally refers to how the writer uses a certain set of words in a specific manner in order to convey their non-verbal observations about certain subjects. The tone is important as it helps a […]

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What is a municipal bond? How to earn tax-free income by investing in projects that impact your community State and local governments issue municipal bonds to help pay for a wide range of projects including roads, schools and hospitals.

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  • Municipal bonds are debt securities issued by local governments to fund public projects like schools, hospitals, or highways.
  • Investors buy municipal bonds because interest earned is exempt from federal income taxes, and in some cases, from state and local taxes.
  • Because they are tax-efficient investment, municipal bonds are best for taxable accounts as opposed to tax-advantaged retirement accounts.
  • Visit Insider's Investing Reference library for more stories.

Imagine a relatively safe, long-term investment that generates income, allows you to save on taxes, and funds public projects crucial a community.

That's essentially what happens when you invest in municipal bonds, which allow you to invest in the infrastructure of state and local communities while adding diversity and tax efficiency to your portfolio.

Here's what you need to know about municipal bonds, from why they're popular among tax-smart investors to how they can benefit your portfolio.

What are municipal bonds?

A municipal bond, or "muni" for short, is a type of bond issued by a state or municipality to help fund necessary public works projects.

Munis are popular with investors because of their tax advantages. Interest earned on municipal bonds is usually exempt from federal income tax. If you purchase a muni in the state you live, it could also be exempt from state and local taxes. Earning tax-free income is especially attractive to investors in higher tax brackets.

Quick tip: Muni bonds exempt from federal, state, and local taxes are known as "triple tax-exempt."

Investors also like the inherent safety of municipal bonds. In most cases, because you are investing in a bond used to help finance infrastructure backed by a local government, you can usually count on getting your principal back at maturity.

How do municipal bonds work?

At its most basic level, a bond is a loan made by an investor to a borrower. Whereas treasury bonds are issued by the US government and corporate bonds are issued by companies, municipal bonds are issued by local and state governments.

State and local governments issue municipal bonds to help pay for a wide range of projects including roads, schools and hospitals. Investors who purchase these bonds lend money to the municipality in return for regular interest payments (usually semiannual) for a set amount of time.

Principal is repaid when the bond matures, or when the loan ends. Munis have a wide maturity range of one to 30 years.

Types of municipal bonds

There are two types of municipal bonds, and they differ based how they pay back investors:

  • General obligation bonds: These bonds are secured with tax revenue and backed by the issuing municipality's taxing power. The population, demographics, economic diversity and budget outlook of the government issuing the bonds all play a role in the bonds' strength and creditworthiness.

    General obligation munis are often considered safe investments because, in most cases, the population is committed to the project and the municipality can use its power of taxation to repay the debt.
  • Revenue bonds: These bonds are repaid by revenue generated by the project. For instance, revenue raised from tolls from a highway project can be used to pay back bondholders. Or a new hospital may use cash from operations to pay interest and repay principal.

    Revenue bonds are thought to be riskier than general obligation bonds because of the limit on funds used to repay bondholders. Unlike general obligation bonds, revenue bonds cannot rely on taxes to pay back the bonds.

It's important to pay special attention to the type of account you use to purchase these bonds. In a traditional IRA or 401(k) retirement account, earnings already grow tax-free. Most investors find holding munis in taxable brokerage accounts help make the most of munis' tax-free status.

In rare cases, municipal bond interest may not be exempt from federal taxes if they are used to fund an activity not qualified for tax-exempt status under IRS rules, like paying pension fund liability. It is usually obvious to you, your broker or your advisor when a muni is not exempt from federal taxes.

Investors who buy and sell municipal bonds may be liable for capital gains tax on profits from those sales or for bonds purchased at a discount price. In addition, if you are subject to the alternative minimum tax, you may be required to pay some taxes on municipal bond interest.

Are municipal bonds safe investments?

Municipal bonds are considered relatively safe investments because they have lower default rates and higher credit ratings than corporate bonds. Plus, many munis are backed by insurance that guarantees payment in the event of a default.

That's not to say munis are immune from default. For example, during the Puerto Rican debt crisis and the Detroit city bankruptcy, there were several muni bonds that could no longer make payments.

If municipal bonds pique your interest, it's important to understand credit ratings. There are three major credit ratings agencies - Standard & Poor's (S&P), Moody's and Fitch - all of which rate the issuers of municipal bonds based on their ability to meet their financial obligations. This makes it easier for investors to evaluate risk.

Quick tip: To research muni bonds in your area, visit the Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) website, where you can find key information like bond type, yield, maturity, credit quality, and risk factors.

Although many munis receive the highest ratings from the agencies, such as AA+ or Aa1, it's important to remember that ratings can be downgraded during the life of the bond if a municipality's financial situation changes.

Like all bonds, munis also carry interest rate risk. When interest rates fall, prices for existing bonds paying higher rates will rise. In turn, when interest rates rise, prices on existing bonds paying lower rates will decline. If you hold muni bonds to maturity, price risk is not a factor. You only experience the ups and downs if you are buying and selling muni bonds.

How much will I earn from municipal bonds?

In return for safety and the tax advantages, investment-grade municipal bonds often yield less than their taxable counterparts, such as corporate and government-issued bonds.

High-yield munis, or munis that come from less-creditworthy issuers, can have significantly higher yields than investment-grade munis ,but they come with more investment risk. Investors in high-tax brackets may find that the tax advantages of investing munis help bridge the gap between muni and taxable bond rates.

Quick tip: The tax-equivalent yield (TEY) helps investors compare taxable bonds to tax-free muni bonds. To calculate the TEY, take the tax-free municipal bond yield divided by [1-marginal tax rate].

For example, if you're in the 35% tax bracket and looking to buy a tax-free muni bond yielding 4%, the TEY is 4 divided by [1-0.35], which is equal to 6.15%. A taxable bond yielding 6.15% would be the equivalent of the yield of this muni bond.

How to buy municipal bonds

In most cases, you buy and sell municipal bonds through a broker. There are three main ways you can invest in munis:

  • Individual bonds bought through a broker require you to do your own research and decide whether to buy new issues or bonds sold through the secondary market, where you can buy munis already issued to other investors. You'll also need to investigate credit risk carefully, since your own portfolio of muni bonds will likely not be as diversified as a mutual fund or ETF.
  • Municipal bond mutual funds invest in a wide-range of muni bonds, offering investors the diversity they can't get on their own, while still providing the federal tax advantages on income and in some cases some limited state and local tax breaks. If the upside is instant diversification and professional management, the downside is recurring management fees. You'll also be subject to capital gains tax when you sell your shares.
  • Mutual bond ETFs are a good way to invest in a diverse array of municipal bonds. Like mutual funds, income is exempt from federal taxes and some interest earned may also be tax exempt at the state and local level, depending on where you live.

    ETFs trade like stocks on the market with prices fluctuating throughout the day, so you may experience more volatility with an ETF than a mutual fund. Like mutual funds, you'll be subject to capital gains tax when you sell your shares.

Whatever investment you choose, be sure to pay attention to the account you are using to purchase muni bonds. You likely don't want them as part of your tax-deferred retirement accounts such as traditional IRAs or 401(k)s where you won't get the full force of the tax exemptions. Better to put them in a taxable brokerage account.

The financial takeaway

Municipal bonds can offer a relatively safe, tax-advantaged way to diversify your fixed-income portfolio. While yields may not be as high as taxable bonds, the tax exemptions on interest earned can help even the playing field. Investors in high-tax brackets looking to diversify their taxable investment accounts may be best suited to municipal bond investing.

A zero-coupon bond is a discounted investment that can help you save for a specific future goalBonds vs. CDs: The key differences and how to decide which income-producing option is better for youA corporate bond provides companies with cash and investors with income - here's how to evaluate the risks and rewardsWhat are junk bonds? A risky yet high-yield investment that can bring rewards if you're willing to take the chance Read the original article on Business Insider

[Author: (Walecia Konrad)]

Tue, 09 Mar 2021 09:59:37 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs US Trends Markets Ira Detroit Irs Freelance Emma Moody Municipal Bonds Tey Investing (Reference Investing How To Walecia Konrad Investment Assets (Reference
How many words are in a novel? If you plan to publish and sell your own novel, knowing how many words in a novel you need to use is very important. Word count guidelines exist because of certain reasons, such as marketing and sale, as well as to help the writers in creating stories that don’t have pacing or plot issues that […]

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Freytag’s Pyramid The vast majority of brilliant stories tend to follow a specific dramatic structure. Understanding that structure can be difficult but not impossible; thanks to the concept of Freytag’s Pyramid, structuring your story will no longer feel like a difficult task. What Is Freytag’s Pyramid And How Does It Work? Developed by Gustav Freytag, the German […]

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3 Harmful Beliefs To Overcome as a Writer Have you heard of the concept of a limiting belief? It’s exactly as it sounds. Often, we are held back by our own thoughts. The mental prison we find ourselves in is of our own making. We stop ourselves from achieving our own potential, often without realizing we are the ones to blame. I think […]

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How Your Life Story Can Inspire Others A lot of people are resistant to the idea of writing their life story. I get why. It might seem a little self-indulgent at first thought. If you see yourself as a humble person, the idea of documenting your life story can seem egotistical or narcissistic. You might also question whether it’s worth taking time […]

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LinkedIn's New Online Freelance Talent Marketplace Fortune's LinkedIn’s new Marketplaces will help freelancers find work covers a new online freelance talent marketplace being developed by LinkedIn.

LinkedIn logogLike other online freelance talent marketplaces such as Fiverr and Upwork, Marketplaces will enable businesses to find, hire, and pay freelancers.

According to the article:

Marketplaces, which is supposed to launch in September, will focus on white-collar jobs in fields like design, marketing, and software development. Employers would be able to use the service to compare the rates of individual freelancers and the kind of work they offer.

Marketplaces is going to replace ProFinder, LinkedIn's current effort at connecting freelancers with jobs.

Not long ago in a meeting with LinkedIn, ProFinder was described to us as an experiment.  The experiment evidently worked and LinkedIn is doubling down with Marketplaces.

LinkedIn clearly has a lot of assets and capabilities they can use to penetrate this market.  However, they are late to party.  It will be interesting to see how they do.

Whether successful or not, LinkedIn's decision to aggressively pursue this market is yet another clear signal independent work has entered the mainstream.

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3 Natural Ways To Welcome Your Muse Have you ever found making progress with your writing about as easy as drawing blood from a stone? Feeling stuck and unproductive can quickly become a vicious cycle. You start to worry about your lack of progress, leading to mental paralysis. The cruel irony of the situation is your stress about writing will crush any […]

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Helpful Tips for Isolated Writers Are you facing isolation because of the coronavirus? Being isolated isn’t easy, especially as a creative person.  The same active imagination that allows you to produce your art can also fixate on stressful life events. While we may not have chosen this current situation, we can choose to make the best of it. I’d like […]

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How Do I Find a Self-Published Cookbook Printer Are you trying to find a self-published cookbook printer? If you are, you’re probably feeling a mix of emotions right now. On the one hand, you’ve reached an exciting point in your journey. Your cookbook’s delicious content is ready for the world to savor. On the other, you might be feeling a bit stressed out. […]

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Powerful Mindset Shifts For Writers What holds us back as authors? It’s not a lack of opportunity. Barriers to entry have never been lower for aspiring authors. Almost anyone in the world is capable of creating and publishing a book, thanks to the digital revolution. It’s not a lack of knowledge. There is more information out there than ever before. […]

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Thu, 25 Feb 2021 07:00:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Freelance Be Creative
Professional Services Business Applications from Freelancers Continued their 2020 Surge in January. In 2020 professional services applications from independent workers (freelancers, independent contractors, etc.) increased by 21% over 2019.

Most of the 2020 increase came in the second half of the year and continued into 2021, with professional services applications from independents increasing in January by a stunning 51% over January of 2020.

This data comes from Independent Workers Lead Recent Surge in Professional Service Business Applications, a research brief from MBO Partners that is based on an analysis of U.S. Census Business Formation Statistics.  

The recent increases are a continuation of a long-term trend towards growing numbers of new professional services business applications from independent workers.

As the chart below (click to enlarge) shows, professional services applications from independent workers (in blue) almost tripled over the past 15 years, growing from 140,365 in 2005 to 419,073 in 2020.

Biz formation applications prof services

Another long-term trend is the shift away from employer business applications and towards applications from independent workers.

In 2005 over half (55%) of professional services business applications came from businesses planning to hire traditional employees, while only 45% came from independent workers. 

But by 2020, independent worker business applications had increased to 76% of all professional services applications, with only 24% coming from businesses planning on hiring traditional employees.

The research brief goes into more detail on this data and the trends driving these shifts.  A key reason, of course, is the pandemic has more considering becoming independent workers.

Professional Services (NAICS 54) is comprised of businesses that specialize in performing professional, scientific, and technical activities for others. See the research brief for more details.

Emergent Research worked with MBO Partners on this study.

Thu, 25 Feb 2021 04:00:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Sales Freelance Gig Economy MBO Independent workers Emergent Research Professional Services NAICS
How to Avoid an Editing Nightmare If you’re serious about making your book the best it can be, or you’ve been around the publishing/self-publishing arena for awhile, then you know the benefits of professional editing for your book.  There are lots of people claiming to be freelance professional editors out there, however, and editing services are no chump change. It’s a […]

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Wed, 24 Feb 2021 07:00:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Tips Freelance
Are You Scared to Write Your Life Story? Have you heard that quote from Ernest Hemingway? To paraphrase, Hemingway said that there’s nothing to writing, other than sitting at a keyboard to bleed. Good writing, the kind that connects with the reader, requires brutal, painful honesty. The type that isn’t easy. The kind of honesty that takes serious levels of courage.  And what’s […]

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Tue, 23 Feb 2021 07:00:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Non-fiction Freelance Hemingway Ernest Hemingway
Grammarly Review – Is Grammarly Worth The Money? Grammarly has been out long enough so that I thought I’d refresh my old Grammarly review for 2021 to highlight some new features and functionality, particularly in light of Microsoft releasing their brand new version of the Office suite, Office Mobile. (I really just needed a reason because I love this tool that much). Personally, […]

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How To Fight Your Freelancing Fears

Tips from a pro writer on kicking fear’s butt before it kicks yours

Continue reading on Get Paid to Write Online »

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Freelance Writers, Are You Looking After Your Mental Health?

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Writer Marketing — How to Focus on Value in 2021

When I started out in freelancing on the web, the conversation was all about price — price per word, price per hour, price per article…

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Why You Need to Use Images in Content Marketing

Facts and statistics about why visuals rock for your marketing strategy

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Writers, Who Decides Your Worth? Only You!

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Beyond Sticker Shock

Why writers should demand their worth and how to do it

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3 Reasons to Write a Book in College College is a time of excitement and discovery, but it can also lead to some truly unimagined opportunities.  Maybe you’ve always dreamed of writing a book, or perhaps you’re considering the idea for the first time.  Either way, I hope these three reasons give you the confidence and push to make it happen. 1 – […]

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Fri, 19 Feb 2021 07:00:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Freelance Be Inspired
Writing Life Tips From Famous Authors Taking inspiration from famous writers is one of the best ways to encourage our own work. By following the example of others, we can better our own writing efforts without having to reinvent the wheel. There is something comforting in knowing that writers we admire have faced the same struggles as us, and have found […]

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How to Hone Your Fiction Craft Have you ever taken part in NaNoWriMo? As well as being a time to test your writing effort and output capabilities, it’s also a time to gain valuable insight. When we practice our fiction capabilities so intensely, we inevitably find out where we are as writers. Which parts of our craft are looking strong? Which […]

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What are the safest investments? Seven low-risk places to put your money - and what makes them so The safest investments retain their value, are easily convertible to cash, and are not volatile. But no risk, no reward: They offer lower returns and may not appreciate as well as more speculative investments.

Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

  • The safest investments retain their value, are easily convertible to cash, and are not volatile.
  • Low-risk investments include CDs, US Treasuries, money market funds, AAA-rated corporate bonds, blue-chip stocks, and fixed annuities.
  • Safe investments do typically pay lower returns, and their value may erode over time.
  • Visit Insider's Investing Reference library for more stories.

When it comes to investing, nothing is 100% safe. That's why it's called investing, as opposed to saving - which is basically parking your money in an account so it'll keep its value.

Investing means you're putting money into something - a financial asset of some sort - in the hopes of getting a return. Where there's the chance of a gain, there's always going to be the chance of a loss, too. Risk and reward are two sides of the same investing coin. 

That said, not all investments are created equal, risk-wise. Some investments come with extraordinarily low odds that you'll lose your money. 

There's no single definition or magic number to define "low-risk," but low-risk investments do share some traits. They tend to be non-volatile - no big price swings - and they tend to be liquid - that is, easily sold and turned into cash. 

Here are seven investments that can be considered safe: That is, they will almost always return to you what you put in. Plus some return as well. 

What is a low-risk investment?

Investment risk comes in several varieties, ranging from something intrinsic to the individual investment - like a company's earnings, which often affects its stock price - to big-picture items, like the overall performance of the stock market or the outlook for the economy. 

Still, risk can be characterized in a couple of general ways, says Tricia Rosen, principal at Access Financial Planning: volatility and liquidity.

  •  "Volatility is how much the value of a security moves up or down - both in quantity and speed," Rosen says.
  •  "Liquidity is access to your asset. An asset is less liquid if it takes longer to convert the asset to cash or if there's a decrease in the value associated with converting the asset."
Certificates of deposit (CDs)

 What they are: CDs are offered by banks or credit unions; they're technically a type of temporary deposit account. They offer a fixed rate of interest in exchange for keeping your funds in the account for a certain amount of time - generally, six months to five years. Usually, the longer the term, the higher the annual percentage yield (APY).



Why they're safe: Federally insured banks rarely go out of business. Even if they did, as bank products, CDs are covered by FDIC insurance, up to $250,000 per account-holder.

US Treasuries

What they are: Issued by the Dept. of the Treasury, US Treasury bonds are like a loan you make to the US government: You buy the bond (or the note or the bill, as the shorter-term loans are called) and the government promises to pay you back later, with interest. Over the past 10 years, annual interest rates for 10-year Treasuries, a benchmark for other loans, have ranged between 0.5% and 3.7% - not the highest rate of return, but definitely the safest (see below). 

Why they're safe: Treasuries are backed by the "full faith and credit" of the US government. In its 245-year history, that government has never defaulted on a debt, making US Treasury bonds the closest thing to a risk-free investment out there. In fact, they often act as a safety comparison for other investments.

Money market funds

What they are: Money market funds are a type of mutual fund that invests in short-term debt instruments and pays out earnings in dividends. A typical annual return is between 1% and 2%. 

Why they're safe: The short-term debt assets that money market funds hold tend to be very low-risk themselves, like CDs and US Treasuries. They are very liquid and come from sound issuers. 

AAA-rated corporate bonds

What they are: Corporate bonds are debt instruments used by companies to raise money. Investors buy the bond, essentially loaning money to the issuing company, and then receive regular interest payments. When the bond matures, the company pays back the principal. Corporate bonds receive letter grades from independent credit rating agencies; these ratings reflect the financial soundness and credit history of the issuing company. 

Why they're safe: The AAA rating is the highest grade a company and its debt can receive. Companies rated AAA by credit rating agencies have been judged to have an extremely high capacity to meet their financial obligations - so it's unlikely they'll default on the bond's interest payments or fail to repay the principal. AAA-rated corporate bonds are considered only slightly riskier than US Treasuries. 

Blue-chip stocks

What they are: Blue chips are stocks from large, well-established, and well-endowed corporate giants like Apple, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Starbucks, and Visa. They are considered the lowest-risk of equities.

Why they're safe: As stocks, blue chips rank higher on the risk spectrum than bonds, but not by much. These companies have "made it" - they have long histories of success and are often leaders in their fields. They pay dividends steadily, and their shares hold their value; both tend to move gently but steadily up. No guarantees, of course - there have been blue chips that crashed and burned in the past - but it's more likely that at worst, a blue chip will stagnate, rather than decline, in value.

ETFs with bond or blue-chip portfolios 

What they are: Exchange-traded funds are publicly traded securities that hold a basket of similar assets, often designed to track an index of a particular type of asset. There's an ETF for just about every asset in the investment universe, and that includes low-risk ones. like Treasuries, AAA corporate bonds, and blue-chip stocks. 

  •  The Fidelity Long-Term Treasury Bond Index (FNBGX), for example, has a portfolio made entirely of US Treasuries with different maturity lengths, primarily 10 years or more. 
  • If you want blue-chip stocks, you can't do better than a fund that follows the S&P 500, an index of the largest US companies. One such, from the investment company that issued the first index fund ever, is the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO).
  • The ) consists of the top-graded debt issued by companies.

Why they're safe: Diversification by its nature lessens risk: It's the old safety-in-numbers principle. ETFs that purchase a portfolio of other low-risk assets, like bonds, are particularly low risk. Economical, too: Buying just a few shares of an ETF gives you exposure to dozens of bonds or stocks.

Fixed-rate annuities

What they are: Annuities are an insurance product, technically a contract with an insurer. You invest a sum with an insurance company now, and they pay your principal back to you with interest in a series of payments later - for a set period, or even as long as you live. There are different types of annuities, but fixed-rate annuities - which pay the same, set amount of interest - are among the lowest-risk.

Why they're safe: Dierdre Woodruff, senior vice president and secretary at Canvas Annuity, notes that you're guaranteed to get your money back, with a predictable interest rate. It's part of your arrangement with the insurance company. They are obligated to make those payments at the set rate. "As long as the policyholder leaves their money in the contract for the entire term, they can calculate exactly what their return will be at the end of the term," says Woodruff.

Of course, there's always the risk the insurance company will fail (and no, there's no FDIC insurance that covers your funds). 

Drawbacks of safe investments

Playing it safe can have drawbacks, too. Here are some downsides to low-risk investments.

Low returns

Low-risk investments protect you on the downside, but often don't offer much on the upside. And the safer they are, the less they pay. Citing from Ibbotson Associates, Robert R. Johnson, professor of finance at Creighton University's Heider College of Business, notes that Treasury bills only returned 3.3% annually between 1926 and 2019. In contrast, large cap stocks returned 10.2%. 

And you do lose something with safe investments: the opportunity for higher returns - from another investment.

Inflation risk

Another downside to low-risk investments, especially those paying fixed interest rates, is inflation risk - the risk that rising prices will eat into the principal or the returns of your investment. That's one reason why longer-term CDs and bonds pay higher interest than shorter ones - the increased risk from inflation. 

That's why time matters. If an investor's time horizon is short, low-risk investments with low yields can work. But over a long term, low-risk investments that pay returns lower than inflation end up losing their value.


Although liquidity is a component of low-risk investments, many of them do lock up your money. CDs often charge fees if you want to cash out before the term ends. Annuities can come with steep penalties for taking your money out early, especially after payments begin. Rosen suggests that this illiquidity puts them slightly higher on the risk spectrum.

The financial takeaway

Any investment has some risk. But if you invest in the low-risk assets above, you'll almost always get back what you put in - and usually more. 

Although every portfolio can use some of the safety they offer, they're best for very conservative investors who want to access their money in the short term. 

Just be aware that low-risk also typically means low yield. In the long-term, if they don't keep up with inflation, these can actually cost you money. 

Investors with longer investment horizons are probably better off accepting some risk of loss in order to hedge against the risk of inflation. 

Related Coverage in Investing: Bonds vs. CDs: The key differences and how to decide which income-producing option is better for you What is liquidity? It's how easily you can sell an asset for cash - here's when and why it matters to your finances What is the money market? A financial exchange where companies trade loans, and investors can earn interest on their savings What are junk bonds? A risky yet high-yield investment that can bring rewards if you're willing to take the chance What is a large-cap stock? It represents a $10 billion-plus company - and often low-risk, stable returns for investors Read the original article on Business Insider

[Author: (Ramsay Lewis)]

Tue, 16 Feb 2021 19:23:20 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Personal Finance US Trends Treasury Cds US Treasury AAA Freelance FDIC Rosen Treasuries ETFs US Treasuries APY Robert R Johnson VOO Ibbotson Associates Ariel Skelley Getty Corporate Bonds Investing (Reference Investing How To Ramsay Lewis Blue Chip Stock Tricia Rosen Low Risk Investments FNBGX QLTA Dept of the Treasury US Treasury US Treasuries Blue Treasuries AAA Dierdre Woodruff Canvas Annuity Creighton University s Heider College of Business
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