Five Up And Coming Companies In The Video Game Industry Attracting Investors

Video games are no longer something that you just do with your buddies after school in your parent’s basement. Instead, the industry has turned into a full-blown sector that includes online gaming, tournaments, professional leagues and more. And as interest continues to grow, so do the companies that look to break into the video game industry to make their own impact. Here are five up and coming companies in the video game industry that are attracting investors.

Take Two
One of the most popular game franchises of all time is the Grand Theft Auto series. And while Rockstar Games is the label that creates GTA, they are under the brand that is known as Take Two. While GTA may be the most popular of Take Two’s portfolio, it certainly isn’t the only game they have seen success with. Other Take Two games include Red Dead Redemption, Bioshock, Mafia, LA Noire and the NBA and WWE 2K series’. Investors looking to get involved with Take Two can find them with their stock abbreviation TTWO.

Naughty Dog
In 2013, Naughty Dog released one of the most popular games of the year with The Last Of Us. The post-apocalyptic game earned a multitude of awards and accolades around the world, but it’s not the only game that Naughty Dog offers. Another big series for them is Uncharted, which features Nathan Drake on his worldwide adventures. Naughty Dog looks to have more releases in the future that will be continuations of both The Last of Us and the Uncharted series’.

MadCatz
The video game industry isn’t just about the games themselves, but also accessories that gamers rush out to purchase. One of the top companies that you can keep an eye on for accessories is MadCatz.com. They make a complete line of controllers and console-inspired accessories for a variety of gamers. You haven’t truly experienced gaming until you’ve done so with MadCatz equipment, and this drives gamers to buy their products.

Microsoft
Microsoft may not be what one would consider as an up and coming company, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t continually come out with new gaming products that revolutionize the industry. And with that in mind, that makes them always a good idea to consider investing in. Microsoft, whose stock symbol is MSFT, is one of the highest valued companies on the market in the gaming industry. Not only does Microsoft create Xbox, but they also have a variety of games and other products that cover a variety of different entities.

Netease.com
Don’t count out the importance of gaming around the world. If you haven’t heard about Netease.com, then you likely haven’t been to Asia anytime lately. This site is one of the busiest in all of China in terms of traffic on a daily basis. From Netease.com, gamers can play games and interact with one another. As for their stock, which is listed at NTES, it consists of making revenue on advertising and traffic. Online gaming is already a huge industry in Asia and it only appears to have the potential to keep growing. Netease is a viable option for an international investment opportunity.

There are plenty of companies to consider for getting into investing in the gaming industry. But the five here are certainly worth keeping an eye on and putting your money towards.

How Your Finances Can Be Benefited By Marriage

Often when people think of getting married, they think of being in love and spending the rest of their lives together. The thought of starting a family is on the minds of those who are getting married while they are young. At times, it seems as if the entire future will change and will change for the better. Others have already been married and have gone through a divorce. They may see marriage much different from a younger couple contemplating marriage for the first time. Regardless of whether you are thinking about marriage for the first time or a second marriage, the financial benefits for marriage need to be considered. The benefits of marriage are numerous, and a complete listing is outside the scope of this article. However, the following are a few that stand out among the financial benefits of marriage.

Medical insurance
If one person does not have medical insurance but the other does, it is possible to add a spouse to the insurance policy. Healthcare costs can be tremendously expensive and is one of the leading reasons for bankruptcy. Health insurance through your spouse can mean the difference between losing all of your assets or remaining solvent. If both people already have insurance, the person with the policy having less coverage can switch to their partner’s policy. If both people are working and have medical coverage, then they are both protected if one of them were to lose their job. The unemployed person can simply be added to the other person’s policy

Pooling money to invest in the future
Married couples can combine their incomes to save for a major purchase such as a house. Married couples are more likely to buy a house than two people who simply cohabitate. Marriage is a legal commitment, and a couple is more likely to have confidence in each other because of the marriage.

Lower taxes
If you listen to most people, you would think that taxes go up when you get married. In fact, it even has a name. It is called the marriage penalty, and it is true that certain couples when they marry will experience higher taxes when both incomes are combined. However, this is only true when both people have high incomes. The truth is, if one person has a high income and the other a low income, there is a likelihood that the lower income will result in a lower tax bracket for the couple. If only one person is working and the other has no income at all, the non-working spouse becomes a tax shelter, and the financial benefits are great.

Advantages in saving for retirement
Even though it may not be possible for a person to contribute to an individual retirement account because of a low income, once this person gets married the incomes of both spouses are combined. A contribution may now be possible. In fact, the contribution limits are raised; therefore, the tax break is greater.

Conclusion
Whatever your motivations for marriage are, it is the financial benefits than are critical. There is nothing wrong with being in love, but the practical aspects of marriage are financial, and for many people, it is the financial benefits that are felt by a couple everyday they are married.

Money Saving Ideals for B2B CFOs

A B2B CFO who wants to save money and reduce expenses faces an uphill battle. Budgets are difficult to cut; people from all over the company will object to the ideas of an established CFO. While true, if a CFO wants to keep his or her job and ensure the firm stays in order, he or she must take action. Here are four money-saving ideas for a B2B CFO.

Employee pay: Let’s face it; a company spends plenty of money on payroll. While a CFO doesn’t need to drop employees, it is wise for him or her to look at this further. Often, when trying to save money, a business will bring in contractors to complete certain tasks. Think about it, a CFO can save his or her company thousands of dollars a year just by bringing in a part-time contractor. Whether looking for someone to program a website or balance the books, a corporation can cut its expenses when hiring an independent contractor. While often an unpopular way to cut expenses, it is a quick way for a business to save money and still enjoy quality work from its staff.

Re-negotiation contracts with local service providers: If you run a mid-sized business, your CFO probably has plenty of contracts with local companies. For example, if you pay a cleaning company, shredding firm, or even a storage facility you may be overpaying. To figure this out, a CFO must contact other providers in the area and ask for a quote. With a short 20-minute phone call, a CFO can find a lower price for vital services. Often, after talking to another service provider, a CFO can coax the current provider to lower their fees slightly. If price negations are unmet to the CFO’s budget needs, then re-evaluating the need for the service at hand in general may be the next step. If the service is still generally a necessity for the vitality of the company, then often times there are situations where the service can be done in-house. For example, instead of outsourcing storage space or services, a business can find resources in bulk to purchase such as metal bins, pods, crates, etc. and keep in-house to manage at their own discretion. Since it only takes a few minutes to follow these steps, a smart CFO should do this every year or so and in the end it will come down to the company’s demands and resources available.

Outsource: A CFO should consider outsourcing. With some tasks, it is not pertinent to use employees from the United States. Whether you want to outsource your call center or tech support, you can do so with ease. Then, the company will save thousands of dollars a month as employees working in areas with lower costs of living will not demand higher pay. If not practical, a CFO should consider a moving some operations to a lower cost-of-living state. For example, credit card companies often host their tech support office in places like Iowa where expenses are lower. Either way, a CFO in a high cost-of-living city should consider outsourcing some non-essential operations to another area with lower expenses.

Online marketing: With SEO, social media and other tricks, a company can attract plenty of followers. In the past, a CFO would need to dole out plenty of cash to the marketing department. However, with a well-managed online presence, an organization will save thousands of dollars. At the same time, if a business runs a formidable campaign, it will bring in plenty of excited customers from all over the place. In the end, if practical, a CFO should divert funds and resources to an online marketing campaign.

With these four simple ideas, a CFO can help his or her company saves plenty of cash. While not always easy, when done in a tactful manner, the business will save cash and increase its profits without creating havoc or causing problems for current employees.

Why You Should Use a Tax Preparer Even For Your One-Person Company

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As a self-employed business professional, you may regularly try to keep your expenses to a minimum, and this may mean that you try to do as much of the work as possible on your own. There is cost associated with outsourcing certain tasks to other professionals or contractors, and you may think you can save money by doing the work on your own.

This is true in many cases, but there are some instances when there is a true benefit to you to outsource the work to an expert. When it comes to preparing the tax return for your one-person company, there are numerous benefits and advantages for doing so. With a closer look, you may see that it is far more cost-effective to pay for tax preparation services than to attempt to do the work on your own.

Save Time

Tax code changes from year to year and from city to city, and it can be time-consuming and frustrating to attempt to keep up with all of the changes that take place even over the course of a few months. However, you must be aware of these changes if you want avoid paying more than necessary in taxes to the IRS. A professional accountant, CPA or local tax preparers in Orlando and other regional cities can all facilitate this process and can save you a considerable amount of time. This is a professional who is always updated on changes to the tax code, so you can always expect knowledgeable assistance from this professional.

Find Deductions and Credits

Each year, your own tax situation can change. In addition to changes to the tax code that can impact the deductions and credits you qualify for, changes in your business can also impact the deductions and credits that you can qualify for. For example, you may have purchased equipment that qualifies for a depreciation deduction, or you may have made energy efficiency improvements that qualify for credits. You do not want to pay more money in taxes than necessary by overlooking these deductions and credits, and your accounting professional can help you to determine which tax-saving credits and deductions you qualify for.

Avoid Penalties

There are several reasons why you may have to pay a penalty fee to the IRS. For example, if you do not file your small business tax return on time or if you do not file an accurate return, you may be required to pay the taxes due plus penalties, and interest charges. This can be costly and burdensome for your small business to deal with, and these penalties and fees can be avoided altogether when you have a professional prepare your small business tax return.

The bottom line is that you may be able to avoid paying the professional service fee to an accountant or tax preparer when you prepare your own small business tax return. However, this is a nominal fee in comparison to the hundreds or even thousands of dollars that you can save by using these professional services. From avoiding costly penalties to finding more deductions and credits that you may qualify for, the fact is there are many financial benefits associated with using professional tax services to prepare your tax return. You can easily learn more about the services of a tax preparer and set up a time to meet with a preparer personally about your current year’s tax return.

From the Cradle to College: What Does it Actually Cost to Raise A Child in Today’s Economy?

Since 1960, the United States Department of Agriculture has generated baseline expenditures for the costs of raising a child from birth through their 18th birthday – it doesn’t include the costs of sending the child on to college, or expenses incurred if a child returns to the home in their 20s.

Those reports showcase just how stark the current economy is. From 2003 to 2013 – the most recent year that the abstract has been published, the cost of raising a child in constant dollars has gone up by 40%, while household income has risen by 5%.

Raising a child has several co-factors that alter the cost: Living in cities tends to make the cost of raising a child rise, though less so than the typical increase in income; in terms of family financial stress, it’s slightly less economically disadvantageous to raise a child in the city even though the total expense is higher.

The second cheapest place to raise your child is in rural America, where the costs of the most expensive factors, notably housing (roughly 31% of the total) is less. Children are also cheaper to raise in batches – hand-me-down clothes help a lot, and having multiple children reduces the per-cost surcharge for housing costs.

Categorical Comparisons

Compared to the 1960s, housing as a percentage of the total expenditure has remained roughly constant. The cost of food has dropped by 50% – it was 24% of the total tally in 1960, and is 16% now; likewise clothing has gotten much less expensive — which will come as a surprise to anyone who’s tried to buy clothes for a teenager. The difference is 11% in 1960 and 6% now. Both of these are signs of increasing agricultural efficiency and industrial automation.

Where costs have gone up are health care — we aggressively treat more diseases and conditions in children now — and in the cost of child care and education, which has exploded with the rise of the two-income family compared to 1960. Once inflation-adjusted dollars are used, the overall cost of raising a child has risen from $192,000 in 1960 to a median value of $234,000 in 2014.

Cost-Cutting Measures

While nobody is advocating massive cost reducing strategies when it comes to raising a child, there are some places where things can be trimmed. If you’re about to move, look for a balance between a good school district and home prices; higher priced homes, past a certain point, don’t correlate to a substantially better educational experience.

Look at having your children work outside the home for pocket-money. Mowing lawns for the neighbors isn’t demeaning; it’s a way for your children to appreciate the value of hard work and doing a job to the satisfaction of someone else, while they earn their own pocket money.

While food as a percentage of total expenses has shrunk, eating habits have gotten noticeably worse. Pack lunches for your children – take the time on Sundays to pack a week’s worth of lunches and freeze them; they’ll be less expensive than eating out and will generally be healthier.

Conclusions

A large part of childcare costs stem from out-of-home daycare, which is nearly unavoidable in two-income or single-parent families – and the added features that come from raising a child in the 21st century, like cell phones, data plans, and laptops for schoolwork. Medical costs have also gone through the roof, largely as school districts try to protect themselves from lawsuits stemming from injuries and treat everything involving a child as an ER visit.

3 Reasons To Invest In Bitcoin and 3 Reasons Not To

Bitcoin has attracted a lot of buzz in the media recently. It’s a computer-based currency that governments can’t trace, which has some people very interested. Bitcoin is a brand new kind of medium of exchange, and most people don’t know whether it is worth investment or not. Here’s a list of some pros and cons of this crypto-currency to get you thinking:

Invest In Bitcoin Because Of Its Independence

Bitcoin exists outside of national governments. That means that no government can track it, issue it, rescind it, stockpile it, or control it. That can be helpful for a number of reasons. For example, some people live in areas with unstable governments, or where the government controls the local currency and makes it hard to buy outside goods. Bitcoin isn’t subject to the vagaries of government policy.

Because It Grows In Value

Bitcoin’s value in dollars has climbed as interest in the currency grew over time. More interest translates into more demand, which increases the price of a Bitcoin. That means that aside from its other features, Bitcoin has become an asset for investment like any other- buyers can hold onto it and hope that it will be worth more than when they bought in. It has risk like any other asset, but it might just be worth some money to see if it really takes off.

Because It Might Be The Future

There’s a chance, however small, that Bitcoin becomes the way people do business: Bitcoin might replace other currencies in all transactions. If that happens, it would certainly be better to be holding Bitcoins rather than dollars or euros. Again, this is by no means guaranteed, but Bitcoin does hold the potential to change the way people buy and sell. If it transforms the financial landscape, it will be a very nice thing to own.

Don’t Invest In Bitcoin Because It Is Unstable

Without any backing or government support, the value of Bitcoin can fluctuate wildly based on rumors, big purchases, and other issues. Having a currency that is just as volatile as a stock is a recipe for confusion. Why get into something when you have no idea how much it will be worth in a month? It might double in value or crash to zero. At least with stocks, you can spread out the risk and diversify.

Because It Is Unsafe

Bitcoin, and the exchanges on which people trade it, periodically undergo more or less successful hacking attempts. The exchanges also occasionally shut down, leaving all participants without their money. You are never quite sure if your Bitcoins are safe, or that nobody has found a clever way to duplicate them. The more interest they attract, the more they will be the target of fraud.

Because It Is Not Real

Bitcoin does not represent a real-life asset. Having a Bitcoin worth $250 does not make you $250 richer until you manage to find a person willing to give you $250 for your Bitcoin. You cannot trade it in for a stock, a metal, or anything else. It has no value aside from market whims.

Remember that all investments have risk, and also that with risk comes reward. Choose for yourself: it’s certainly an exciting time!

6 DIY Projects Better Left To Experienced Pros

Entire cable stations devoted to the do-it-yourself lifestyle have empowered homeowners to try their hand at becoming a contracting pro. This zeal to become the next Bob Vila has led to disastrous home additions, unsafe buildings, and homeowners with big bills and unfinished projects. Some projects are the perfect venue for the DIY culture. Other projects should be left to contractors and construction pros.

diy couple

1. Home additions and structural work: Erecting solid walls isn’t the only project required for a new addition. A homeowner must also deal with laying the foundation, getting the electrical system right, and even installing the plumbing. The number of responsibilities for a DIY home addition are too great to list and beyond the scope of the average homeowner’s skill set.

2. Replacing the plumbing: Old homes usually need new plumbing systems and new homes occasionally suffer from a burst pipe or a mysterious leak. Replacing one of the pipes under the sink is an appropriate DIY project. Replacing all the pipes in the wall of the bathroom is definitely something to leave to the professionals. What a hassle it would be to handle a giant repair job and close up the wall, only to find that a leak remains.

3. Security systems and alarm installation: Store-bought home security equipment might be easy to install, but it’s not going to be monitored and there’s no guarantee that the devices will keep thieves and criminals out of the home. If a homeowner chooses it, a professional system offers active monitoring as well as a system where everything is connected and part of a live barrier of security protection.

4. Repair or replacement of the electrical system: New wiring of any kind tends to be a project best left to someone who has experience with the complexities of home wiring schemes. Major rewiring requires observance of city building codes, and a homeowner won’t know these specifics. Additionally, improper installation of electrical wires could create a fire hazard in the home. Old wires are dangerous, but improperly installed wires are just as much of a danger to families.

5. Paving the driveway: Whether a homeowner chooses beautiful paving stones or a traditional slab of concrete, the art of a smooth driveway is a project that could take a homeowner months. Paving crews take no more than a few hours to complete the entire job and a homeowner won’t have to live without a driveway for months and months until the last paving stone is in place. A DIY driveway is an excruciatingly long project, even if a homeowner manages to get the job done without error.

6. Knocking walls down: The idea of an “open concept” floor plan is a popular topic in real estate and home improvement conversations, but this project could lead to disaster and a destabilizing of the entire structure of the home. A house is built with important beams and supports that must not be moved or cut. Doing so means that the house could collapse without warning.

Don’t destroy a dream home by starting projects that are too complex and which require professional experience to complete. Homes today have many safety codes and regulations that must be followed, and a DIY homeowner could get in trouble by trying to take on a project that’s too complex and dangerous.

What Are Derivatives and Why Is Wall Street Rolling the Dice Again?

Wall Street seems to be tossing around the word, “derivative” a lot lately. What are derivatives and why is Wall Street so obsessed with them?
What is a Derivative?

A derivative is a financial investment that receives its value based on some event occurring. A good comparison is a sport’s gambling bet paying you if your team scores the first touchdown. Futures, forwards and swaps are all examples of financial derivatives.
Why Does Wall Street Use Derivatives?

Why do you purchase insurance or wear a seat belt? You take actions to hedge against a potential danger that may or may not occur. Actuaries can estimate the chances of an event occurring based on historical data. Derivatives are risk management.
Concrete Derivatives Example

While many homeowners might consider an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) because it is more affordable, they also might want to hedge their bet. If interest rates increase dramatically, then their monthly payment will also.

Investors purchase Interest-Rate Swaps (IRS), which will pay them if interest rates reach a certain level. For example, if your ARM is 4% today, then you might be forced to pay $900 more each month if the rate increases to 5%. By purchasing an IRS derivative contract that pays you $1,000 if your ARM increases to 5%, you can offset the increase in your monthly mortgage payment with the money paid by the IRS contract.
Nothing was Fixed in 2008 Bailouts

The banking system has many secrets, one of which is that the 2008 bailouts did not fix any of the underlying problems with the Wall Street system. A few of the rotten apples were not removed from the barrel as one would expect, but instead merged with other barrels of apples. This has lead to healthy banks being weighed down by the same toxic derivatives that destroyed Lehman, Bear Stearns and AIG.

One bad apple spoils the bunch.

The truth is that the modern-day Wall Street bankers are not following the conservative rules of banking. When a bad bank goes under, the toxic assets should be written-off. The problem is that many of these banks hold the same toxic assets. The entire banking system is in jeopardy. They have created a house of cards built upon derivatives.
Pyramid of Derivatives

Here is an analogy to help you understand why Wall Street is rolling the dice again after the collapse in 2008. Let us say that your workplace has a refrigerator where everyone keeps their lunch. Well, one of the employees, we will call him Morgan is really lazy. Instead of buying his own lunch, he steals one of the lunches in the refrigerator and puts a paper IOU in place of it.

That is basically what the banking system did in 2008. It knew that the assets of Lehman, Bear and AIG were worthless (they used the term “toxic”); but instead of replacing those toxic assets with valuable assets, they simply wrote an IOU on the government balance sheet. Now, instead of valuable assets, the banking system is full of IOUs. So while some might wonder why Wall Street is rolling the dice again with toxic derivatives; perhaps, these IOUs are all that is left in the system.

Why You Should Read Every Word of a Contract Before Signing

Before signing your name to a contract, it is important to read every word. Even a single sentence could have implications that could ruin your financial future. Once you choose to sign a contract, there is no way to reverse your decision. As a result, you could face unforeseen consequences that you could carry with you for the remainder of your lifetime. You should also read the contract to ensure that you understand all of your contractual obligations.

Understanding this information can help you to avoid penalties that could hurt you later down the road. This article will take a look at why it is important to read every word of a contractual agreement before signing.

1. Unfavorable Terms are Usually Hidden

A contract created by the other party is usually designed to convince you to sign it. As a result, unfavorable terms are usually hidden within the agreement. Research has shown that readers are most likely to read the first sentence of each paragraph. Readers are also more likely to ignore terms that are written in smaller fonts. In most cases, the other party is aware of these human tendencies. Therefore, you can use this information to your advantage. Make sure that you read the entire contract to discover terms that are likely to be unfavorable. Most of these bad terms will be hidden in the middle of paragraphs, in small fonts, or near the end of the document.

2. Unintended Consequences

Many individuals who sign a bad contract are in a hurry to get what they want. As a result, they are unlikely to carefully evaluate each contractual term. Since the consequences of a bad contract can extend for the remainder of your lifetime, it is important to consider how individual terms could have unintended consequences. In many cases, individuals are unaware of what these consequences could be. As a result, it may be advantageous for individuals to ask a professional attorney for advice. It may also be possible to talk to another individual who previously entered into the same agreement. By doing this, you can reduce your chances of entering into an agreement that you will later regret.

3. Understanding Your Obligations

It is also important to read the full terms of an agreement to understand your obligations. In many cases, disputes arise due to ignorance by the other party. Courts in the United States have long upheld that individuals who are ignorant about certain terms cannot receive any extra leniency. The only exception to this rule is if the other party acted in bad faith. In the vast majority of cases, victims of bad contracts usually end up having to pay for their mistakes. Therefore, it is important to fully understand your obligations under the contractual terms. The easiest way to do this is to simply read the entire agreement. Make sure that you ask questions if there is something that you are unsure about.

4. Contracts Can Be Changed

The terms of a contract can always be changed. If you study the terms and find something that you are uncomfortable about, the other party might be willing to remove the unfavorable terms. Even unethical individuals are often willing to make these concessions. Make sure that you read the entire contract to find terms that might need to be changed. If the other party is not willing to change these terms, do not be afraid to walk away from the deal.

Simplifying the process can also help greatly. A variety of new options are now available, including electronic signature tools, that make the process of signing documents faster and easier on both individuals and businesses. This is just part of being organized, which will also help you to make sure you’re not agreeing to contractual obligations that you don’t understand.

5 Expenses You Didn’t Know You Could Write Off With Your LLC

So you run an LLC and you know that before long it will be time to file taxes. Everyone knows that paying taxes are not fun at all, but with deductions it can reduce the amount you owe and thus make it a little more bearable. The following list should help you by showing you some not so well know deductions that you can write off. I am not a tax professional, so all information should be gone over with your tax preparation company.

First-Business Insurance: So most businesses carry some form of insurance to protect themselves as well as the customers they work for. And we all know that business insurance is not cheap at all. So the IRS will let you write off the cost of having business insurance, and that is great news for many small business owners.

Second-Health Insurance: Since everyone has to have health insurance now, you might as well take the write off for it. If you own a small business and pay out of pocket for your health insurance you can write that expense off of your taxes. That includes insurance for you and your spouse as well as children up to 27 years old.

Third-Employee Pay: Paying employees is often the largest expenses that a business has. Writing off this expense will be huge for many owners. According to the IRS, as long as the expenses are reasonable you are allowed to write it off! So as long as you claim that your employees made a reasonable wage, there should be no problem.

Fourth-Home Office: Now everyone knows that an office can be a write off, but what happens if you run a service business that works at the client’s home or office? The IRS says that you can write off a home office as long as you use that portion of your home ONLY for business. You also need to use it on a regular basis. That can be only once a week if you use that space to do paperwork like invoicing and payroll. When you use the home office write off you also get the chance to write off a good amount of other things. Some of them are water and electric, repairs and even landscaping. Don’t forget the housekeeper as well!

Fifth-Training: If you bought some training DVDs for the office staff, or paid for the sales team to go to a training seminar then you are in luck. All training and education expenses used to further your current area of business can equal a large write off for you. So don’t be afraid to throw out the old VHS tapes sitting on the shelf collecting dust. Don’t forget that when you replace them, you need to watch the new ones!

Hopefully this list will help reduce the pain associated with filing taxes. These are just a few of the many write offs that the IRS offers to business. Don’t forget that a tax prep company should be aware of all the different write offs and what you do and don’t qualify for. But remember above all else, don’t take a write off if you didn’t earn it!