Maya Fisher French

Understanding the risks in shares

Before you start investing, you need to understand the risks involved in buying shares. Last month we highlighted the benefits and said that over time equities prove an excellent investment, although there are risks that need to be managed. The interest earned from cash is considered a "risk-free rate".

Trading with Larry Williams

Larry Williams hit headlines when in one year he traded $10 000 into $101-million in the 1987 World Cup Trading Championships. Ten years later his home-schooled 16-year-old daughter made the news for winning the same competition, trading her $10 000 into more than $110 000. He is currently in South Africa conducting seminars around the country.

It’s raining tax relief

Over the past 10 years, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel has charmed taxpayers by continually providing greater tax relief. This year is no different and individuals will pay R12,1-billion less tax once adjustments have been made for reduced vehicle allowances.

More savings taxcuts to come

The government has chopped tax on retirement funds by half, to 9%, saying it is prepared to make further cuts to stimulate savings. However, it wants the 9% to be used as a carrot in wider discussions about reforming the life industry. Minister of Finance told journalists at Parliament that the national Treasury would release a document proposing significant changes to retirement funding provisions.

Monitor your pension fund

For most people, their pension fund is their biggest savings and will make up the majority of their income on retirement. Yet most people spend very little, if any, time making sure their pension is properly invested and providing decent returns. There is no point in discovering at the age of 50 that a pension plan was badly invested and has left you high and dry. Take control of life savings yourself.

Forget voetstoots

If you are buying, selling, building or renting a home, having a thorough inspection of the property could save you a load of money and frustration. Unlike in the United States and the United Kingdom, where home inspections are standard before a sale is concluded, in South Africa there is a standard voetstoots clause which states that the buyer is buying the property "as is".

It’s just too good to be true

If you think you can upgrade your current middle-of-the range car for a sleek, eye-catching, wow-factor exotic one -- think again. An advertisement by financing company FutureFin, which promises people earning R40 000 a month the chance to drive the car of their dreams for only R2 900 per R1-million, is a bit misleading, to say the least.

Get the better of debt

''We all know we live beyond our means, that we buy too easily on impulse and to impress people, and that we do not save nearly enough, but after a session with financial guru Suze Orman, I began to feel committed to actually doing something about it,'' writes Maya Fisher-French.

Getting your own back

Being robbed or burgled is an unpleasant experience that can be exacerbated by insurance companies not paying out full claims even though monthly payments have religiously been made. Keith Kennedy, executive general manager at Mutual & Federal, says the most common problem with insurance claims is that people tend to underinsure their household goods.

Medical aids: Grudge purchase or godsend?

''People have two different reactions to a medical aid. Either they are frustrated about making contributions into a bottomless pit or they get down on their knees and thank the Lord they have one,'' says Alan Pollard, general manager of research and development at Discovery Health. Medical aids are great when you need them, but they are basically a grudge purchase.

My bank is my cellphone

The battle of the banks for the cellphone banking market is getting into full swing with Absa coming forward with a high--profile mobile banking campaign offering free cellphone banking for six months. Although Absa was the first bank to introduce cellphone banking in August 2000, the product was in many ways ahead of its time.

Be cautious about trust funds

Trusts have received some bad press recently as a result of changing tax legislation. Gone are the days where you chucked all your assets into a trust to avoid tax and transfer duty on your property. With the advent of capital gains tax, having your home held in a trust structure means you cannot take advantage of the R1-million rebate on your primary residence.

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