The Business of Death: How Much Money Funeral Homes Makes

The Business of Death

It is a scary thought, but we’re all going to die someday. It’s not something we can avoid, it is certainly not something we can hide from, so we might as well embrace it, right? Well that’s exactly what many businessmen and women are doing, profiting from an incredibly lucrative industry that is worth billions a year.

Every day over 150,000 people die. There are diseases sweeping through major populations, there are new cases of suicide every minute and then you have the many truck accidents and car accidents that kill thousands of people a day (click here to learn more).

So just how are people profiting from all of this?

The Funeral Business

A funeral is a ritual that most of us in the Western world go through, and it’s a very expensive one. It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime things that we will all need and don’t mind spending a lot of money on. Also, unlike weddings, a funeral is the end, not the beginning, so for many it’s the last chance they will have to blow the money they spent their life earning.

This, combined with the millions of people that die every year, is why the funeral industry is worth over $11 billion in the United States alone. The average funeral costs over $6.500. This is a fraction of the cost of the average US wedding but for many of us it will still be one of the ten biggest expenditures of our entire life.

This money is spent on coffins, burial plots and a service that takes the stress out of the situation. A lot of it is profit, with people paying for a service, but it’s one that is shared out between a number of people, from the funeral home to the landowners and coffin makers.

Is a Rethink Needed?

One of the biggest changes in this industry right now is the shift toward environmentally friendly funerals, as well as funerals that offer something a little different. People are tiring of the traditional, and when you consider how much waste is involved, this could be a good thing.

Since 1960, the number of Americans choosing cremation has climbed from 3.56% to 42%, taking a chunk out of the 104,000 tons of steel that are used to build caskets every year, not to mention the acres of land that is taken up by those resting in peace.

Wicker coffins, ash scatterings, memorial diamonds, cardboard coffins and even viking burials are all helping to reduce the damage done to the environment by the business of death, but at the same time they are helping more businesses to earn their slice of the pie.

As gory as it sounds, this is a very lucrative business and with the population ever increasing, it’s only going to become more lucrative. It’s something that many businessmen and women just can’t bring themselves to do, which means that the number of potential customers is climbing at a far greater rate than the number of companies that can cater for them.

In that sense, it’s the perfect business and one that is just waiting for an intrepid entrepreneur to clean up. But, understandably, many are staying clear and focusing on the living instead.

Five Fast Rising Industries that Will Shape the Future

Five Fast Rising Industries

Trends come and go. They rise in popularity and everyone jumps on the bandwagon. If they can withstand the additional weight, they will last and help to shape the future. If not, they will collapse in on themselves and become a footnote in history. You can predict the future based on current trends that seem to be holding against the strain of popularity, and these are the industries that are currently shaping the way we live and the ways in which they are doing it.

Competitive Gaming

Also known as eSports or Pro Gaming, this is basically playing video games as a sport. It has grown in popularity considerably over the last few years and players, teams and organizers make millions from it. It is the fastest rising global sport and could topple soccer within 2 decades.

This will lead to great things for the entertainment industry, but it will also lead to a future where the world’s biggest sports stars, as well as the kids who aspire to be them, learn their craft through years spent sitting in chairs hunched over keyboards or controllers. Stimulant abuse, carpal tunnel syndrome and insomnia is rife among pro players and already there is a generation of kids aspiring to follow in their footsteps, neglecting the great outdoors and active pursuits in favor of TV screens and chairs in their bedrooms.

We’re all for gaming and we’re big gamers ourselves (see our pages on NaughtyDog and Bethesda), but practice makes perfect and more practice is key as industries become more competitive. That could lead to disaster here.

Personal Injury

The United States has always been a very litigious society. Every year it seems like there are more lawyers, more cases and more reasons for the media to moan. In actual fact, the media are just exaggerating most of this and frivolous cases are on the decrease. However, personal injury law is still strong and highly profitable, while medical malpractice, dog bite attorneys and other areas are growing in popularity (click here to learn more).

To make matters worse (or better, depending on how you look at it) the rest of the world is now following suit. The UK is more litigious than ever, most first-world countries are adopting the USA’s attitude and before long we’ll all be the same. This will make the world a better place for consumers and it will force big business to stay clean, but it could also cripple many smaller businesses following small mistakes.

Healthcare

The healthcare sector is always growing and this is the case worldwide. Medical science is getting more advanced with each passing year. More illnesses and diseases are becoming curable, we’re all living longer and this means that there are more patients and more demands on healthcare providers.

This is increasing the profitability of private hospitals, it is increasing the number of insurance companies and is is also forcing governments to rethink the way they operate. The US is being forced to consider more universal healthcare, ensuring those with little to no income don’t get left behind. While the UK is on the other side of the fence, with it’s free universal healthcare system becoming crippled by the increased demand.

Supplements, Teas and Diets

We’re far more concerned about our health than we have ever been and for the first time in generations there are more people concerned about feeling good and staying healthy than just simply looking good. Tanning beds, steroid injections and fad diets are being phased out in favor of superfoods, healthy detox teas and well-being supplements.

This has shaken up the healthcare industry in many ways. On the one hand, there are more weight-loss scams than ever, but on the other hand there are also more regulations, more companies focusing on quality, organic products and more research being done into products that are effective and potentially life-extending.

That’s why we now know about the many benefits of turmeric tea, why we know about the potential life-extending benefits of resveratrol, and why so many more superfoods are being discovered with each passing day.

Why the US Debt Situation Should Worry Everyone

US Debt Situation

Ever since the US national debt crossed the psychological $20 trillion barrier, Americans have become more and more concerned about their future. And the latest headline regarding this issue, has only increased these worries. The nonpartisan CBO (Congressional Budget Office) has reported that America is well on course to top a $1 trillion budget deficit per year by 2020. In 2018, CBO says that the budget deficit will hit $804 billion, representing a 21% rise from 2017 levels.

Federal Government Deficit

Granted, it will not be the first time the federal government deficit hits $1 trillion a year – in fact, America ran annual deficits of over $1 trillion every year from 2009 to 2012. But unlike that period (just after the global financial crisis), when the US government ran an aggressive economic stimulus program as well as increased social safety net spending, the current deficit increases come when unemployment is at record lows and the economy is witnessing steady growth. It is this timing that is scaring economists and should concern every American.

There is always a case for budget deficits in times of recession, as they help in stimulating the economy. On the other hand, in times of full employment and overall good economic growth (as we are now), the general wisdom is to reduce federal deficits. But instead of repairing the roof during sunshine, the US government is perforating the fiscal roof even more. But how did we get here?

The explanation is rather straightforward; increased government spending and reduced revenues. The situation is getting direr as Trump and the Republican congress passed a new tax law in the last quarter of 2017. The law, among other measures, cut corporate taxes from 35% to 21%, with the expectation that this move will spur economic growth and limit, or even eliminate, any additions to the deficit. But the CBO report estimated that the law would only boost economic growth by 0.7% over a decade. During the same period (2018-2028), CBO estimates that the law would cut government revenue by $1.3 trillion, and when costs of servicing the debt are included, the overall contribution of the law to the federal government deficit would top $1.9 trillion. Another major reason for the rising US wage debt has been an aging population.

Currently, the number of people over the age of 50 has more than doubled in fifty years, and that number can only increase. This comes with spending obligations, such as Medicare, Medicaid and social security payouts. The shrinking working population will now be supporting older Americans, and there is only so much tax they can pay. This means that the threat of a debt-inspired financial crisis is more than imminent.

The Effects of Growing US Debt to Economy and Financial Markets

US Debt Situation What Is

Debt, especially growing debt, must always be a worry. Logically, the chances of an economic crisis rise when debt becomes bigger. In the US, there should be even more concern as we are entering uncharted pathways; the debt levels currently equal the size of the entire economy, and if it worsens, as it is predicted, the impact on the economy can be catastrophic.

In the short term, higher debt will discourage investment as investors anticipate slow economic growth. This will have ripple effects that will trickle down to the American populace. There will be slower wage growth, but higher interest rates on almost everything from mortgage loans to credit card loans. This will significantly increase the cost of living for Americans.

Higher debt also means higher debt servicing payments. In fact, CBO estimates that in 10 years, interest costs will more than triple, and that 100% of US revenue will go to mandatory spending and debt servicing. This will limit infrastructural spending and other key expenditure that can spur economic growth.

Additionally, higher debt also reduces fiscal flexibility. When the US government last ran $1 trillion deficits, it was to help alleviate the consequences of the Great Recession. With the current huge debt, the US simply cannot afford a recession as it has less space to react to any huge economic crisis. A financial crisis now will no doubt be very devastating.

The US Debt and the Financial Markets

For the financial markets, the current debt headlines only heighten anxiety and uncertainty. Markets do not enjoy such state of affairs, and volatility will be the result, as it has been for almost all of 2018. The stock market will be the hardest hit, as a higher interest rate regime will not only cut into corporate profits, but also discourage additional investment by companies.

The commodities market will experience an influx of investors targeting precious metals, such as gold and silver, which are considered safe havens. These metals, as well as oil, should see higher prices as investors seek to preserve their wealth.

While traditional financial markets will become inherently risky, investors who seek to profit from volatility will find CFD trading platforms very attractive. These platforms allow traders to speculate on the price movement of assets, rather than explicitly owning them.

This means volatility, which is characterized by wild price swing in either directions, will create numerous lucrative trading opportunities in virtually all financial assets. With the US debt cloud hanging persistently, CFD trading platforms should attract profit seeking investors who are wary of reducing their risk exposure in the wake of a looming financial crisis.

Estate Planning Basics for Business Owners

Estate Planning

Business owners and entrepreneurs who focus all of their time on growing their business and none of it on installing backup plans, run the risk of developing serious issues and inescapable problems when something goes wrong. Estate planning is one of the ways that they can avoid such a calamitous occurrence, so make sure you have all of the following in check while you grow your company.

You should also take a peek at this guide on 10 estate planning documents you could be missing created by legal experts who deal with this sort of thing on the daily.

A Will

Even if you have a next of kin who will receive your assets when you die, you should still create a will. It avoids probate issues and makes the process very straightforward. This is even more important if you have multiple beneficiaries or if you have family members, associates or friends that you want to receive specific assets, and others that you want to leave out altogether.

Families fall out, grudges are formed, and few of us want to think that when we die the people we hate the most in our family end up staking a claiming to our assets ahead of the people we love the most.

Creating a will doesn’t need to be a big legal mess and it is actually quite straightforward. But by avoiding this simple process you are creating a potential legal mess for your loved ones after you die and they are forced to pick up the pieces of your life.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is often thought of as the person who will decide whether to pull the plug or not if you are in a vegetative state with little chance of recovery. However, it goes much deeper than that. If you run a business then the most important aspect of electing a power of attorney is having someone who will take over business affairs when you are not in a fit state to do so.

You might be incapacitated, comatose, or otherwise in a position where you are unable to choose someone to run your business for you. Having a power of attorney elected beforehand simplifies this process and eliminates that risk.

Buy-Sell Agreement

This is an agreement that helps to redistribute your assets in the event of your death. A dead person can’t run a company and the person in receipt of their shares may not want to run it either. By creating this agreement you are giving your business partners the right to buy your assets from whoever receives them, or even from you. This means that the money can go to your next of kin instead of shares and the business can remain in control of your former business partners.

Succession Plan

This helps to initiate a seamless transition, moving the ownership of the business from one party to another. It will be used to establish new owners, new shareholdings and anything else that needs to be changed in the event of your death.

Estate Planning of All

It’s worth noting that these plans should be initiated by everyone in the business, not just yourself. You also want to be covered in the event that your partner dies. It works both ways, so if you get your estate planning in order then make sure you business partners do the same thing.

The Biggest Recent Scandals and Controversies in Big Business

Biggest Business ScandalsThe world of big business is littered with controversy, frauds, and other scandals. As we delve deeper into the social media age, it’s not as easy for the companies behind these scandals to hide their misdeeds, which is why they seem more common now than ever. What follows is a short list of the biggest scandals to occur in the world of big business over the last few years.

The Sony Pictures Hack — 2014

In 2014 a hacker group calling itself Guardians of Peace hacked Sony and released personal info, emails and more from their employees. While seemingly innocent on the surface, this hack meant that everyone was able to see what was going on behind the scenes at Sony Pictures.

The goal of the hack was to force Sony to pull its film The Interview from release, but it ended up exposing messages between some of the highest members of the group, including comments made about actors and actresses and even some about the then president Barack Obama. It was a huge embarrassment for the group and most of the people involved.

Volkswagen Cheats Emissions Tests — 2015

In 2015 it was reported that VW had been cheating on emissions tests, which resulted in their diesel cars being recorded as much more environmentally friendly than they actually were. This was a massive scandal at the time, one of the biggest to ever hit the car industry and one that rivaled everything that Chevrolet have ever got themselves involved with. It was a scandal that cost them over $87 million according to some estimates at the time.

Turing Pharmaceuticals and Martin Shkreli – 2015 to 2017

Martin Shkreli was the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. He made a name for himself in 2015 when he bought all rights to an important HIV/AIDS drug and then hiked up the price by 5,000%. This practice is actually very common in the pharmaceutical industry, but what made this case unique was the sheer size of the price increase and the fact that Martin Shkreli didn’t exactly portray himself with decorum on social media in reaction to the outpouring of hate.

Martin Shkreli found himself at the center of more controversy in later years after he was charged with defrauding investors and manipulating the stock price of his company. The “Pharma Bro” as he was named was sentenced to a seven year prison term and ordered to pay fines and to forfeit millions of dollars in assets.

Harvey Weinstein and Similar Allegations — 2011 to 2017

Harvey Weinstein, the producer behind many top Hollywood films and a key player in the showbiz industry, was outed as an alleged sexual predator in 2017, with countless actresses coming forward to report him for sexual assault. He allegedly tried to silence them, and according to reports by his victims, throughout his career he used his power to threaten them. In 2017 pressure mounted and he lost everything, although he continues to deny the crimes alleged against him.

The people at the top usually have the power and the money to get away with their crimes, but recently that hasn’t been the case and justice is catching up with them. The world’s biggest legal teams and corporations are now working against people like Jimmy Saville and Bill Cosby, and not for them.

Of course, a few innocents have been stung with controversy, but there are child abuse charges defense attorneys to ensure they don’t get charged unless they did it. When the evidence is there and it’s clear they did, however, the prosecution and the public can be unrelenting, and rightly so. In Jimmy Saville’s case he was able to get away with abusing children throughout his life and the stories didn’t leek out until after he had died, mainly because the BBC were alleged to be blocking them.

But this case was a turning point. The BBC eventually did the right thing in turning on him, as did his former friends and family, and now Saville’s legacy will be that of a sadistic, evil predator, as opposed to a children’s entertainer. The same will happen with Weinstein, although in his case he’s still alive to witness the demise of his career, his reputation and the power that he once used to exploit his victims.

Cases like this are always horrible to read about, but thanks to outpouring of support and honesty they should occur less frequently in the future.

The 10 Most Expensive Cities in the United States

Most Expensive Cities in the United States

The United States is the richest country in the world, but there is a huge disparity between its richest and its poorest, which is why it tops the list for overall wealth, but still struggles with homelessness, unemployment and severe poverty, the likes of which you usually don’t see in such grand first-world countries. But where is all of that money going—where are the richest cities in the US and where are the most expensive ones to live?

Washington, D.C.

The seat of government is also one of the most expensive cities in the US. It’s big on tourism and this industry is part of the driving force behind rising property, grocery and entertainment prices. After all, those restaurants charge those premiums because they know tourists will pay them, but it means that the locals also end up footing the bill when they decide to enjoy a night on the town.

Boston, Massachusetts

The biggest city in the country is also one of the most expensive. One of the things that makes Boston so expensive is healthcare, as you’ll pay between 1/5th and 1/4th more than you will in other major cities. The cost of living is also very high and there is a premium charged on groceries and on eating out.

Unlike other expensive cities in the country, the median household income isn’t quite enough to cover the cost of basic living and this city is a long way from allowing the average resident to live comfortably within their means.

Honolulu, Hawaii

This is one of the tourist capitals of the United States, so it only makes sense that it is also one of the richest and most expensive cities in the country. They also have to import a lot of the products you see in grocery stores, which is part of the reason you’ll pay nearly twice the national average for staples like eggs and milk. Utilities cost over 70% the national average as well and that’s before we even touch upon the cost of eating out.

It’s a beautiful part of the country, but you pay a premium to experience it every day.

New York City, New York

This is the financial capital of the United States, if not the world. New York is home to the world’s two biggest stock exchanges, some of the biggest companies in the country, and so much more. It seems like everything in the Big Apple is grand and rich. Personal injury in New York is a colossal business and one we’ve covered before; sport is even bigger, with several teams in the NFL alone; shopping is massive, with customers traveling from around the world. There’s just so much to see and do. It really is the embodiment of the American Dream and that’s why it is and likely always will be the richest city in the United States.

It’s also one of most expensive when you factor in things like the cost of food, but if we’re talking about property and several other things then one city tops it.

San Francisco, California

This is the richest city in the US and the one where you’ll pay more rent than anywhere else. In fact, a one-bedroom apartment here costs more than the same apartment in New York. At more than $3,500 it’s the most expensive rental price in the US and it even tops some of the world’s biggest and richest cities.

San Francisco is a grand and glorious place to live. It has so much to offer, with rolling hills, glorious sunshine and a bridge that is instantly recognizable. You might get what you pay for, but it all depends on your perspective and we’re sure many of you would prefer to be living in New York and paying a little less for the pleasure.

Major Stock Market Crimes Throughout History

Major Stock Market Crimes Throughout History

Playing the stock market can be very lucrative. That’s especially true if you know how to work the system. Unfortunately, there are some people over the course of history who have done just that. They’ve played the stock market, effectively ripping people off. Sometimes to the tune of millions of dollars. Want to know more? Here are some major stock market crimes throughout history.

Bre-X Minerals

Back in the 1990s, it was just as easy to catch Gold Fever as it is today. That’s why everyone was so thrilled when Bre-X, a Canadian company, announced that they’d discovered the end of the rainbow.

Bre-X owned property in Indonesia, which they said held over 200 million ounces. Upon the announcement, Bre-X stock skyrocketed. The new price was $280, and those who owned Bre-X stock literally became millionaires overnight.

Unfortunately, Bre-X was lying. The truth began to come to light when geologist Michael de Guzman reportedly committed suicide. The body was found several days later, and it appeared that the death wasn’t self-inflicted, after all. Investigation commenced, and it was discovered that the mine was fraudulent.

Bre-X stock price plummeted to mere pennies just as quickly as it had risen. Unfortunately, this stock market crime carried casualties.

Enron

Unless you were hiding under a large rock in 2001, you’ve heard of Enron. This Houston-based energy company dominated the news in the early part of the decade as Enron executives’ white collar crimes became evident.

For years, Enron had “cooked the books” to keep from revealing millions of dollars of debt. They used shell companies to hide the debt, and as a result they were able to report financial stability, even success.

At the beginning of the Enron drama, share prices were listed at over $90. But as the deceit unfolded, they tumbled to just $.70.

Madoff Investment Securities

Just as you’ve likely heard of Enron, you’ve probably heard the name “Bernie Madoff.” Bernard Madoff, founder of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, ran one of the biggest stock market crimes in history.

In 2008, Madoff began what’s called a Ponzi scheme. In short, a Ponzi scheme is an “investment strategy” which promises high returns in a short time with little risk to investors.

How did he do it? Quite simply. Bernie Madoff was, in fact, seeing losses to his hedge fund. But he kept those losses hidden by paying investors with the investments of other investors. Sound smart? Kind of. This was a scam that lasted 15 years. But the gig was up in 2008 when his own kids turned him in. He was sentenced to 150 years in prison.

Centennial Technologies, Inc.

In perhaps one of the most creative stock market crimes throughout history, Centennial Technologies recorded $2 million in revenues. The company claimed they were selling computer chips, a hot commodity back in the 90s.

What were they really doing? Selling fruit baskets. Centennial employees were shipping fruit baskets to customers, then created fraudulent sales records. During that time, the stock price rose to $55.50, a 450% increase.

The SEC investigated the company and CEO Emanuel Pinez was arrested. Investors had lost over $150 million, and the CEO was sentenced to five years in prison.

The Increasing Legal Costs all Major Blue Chips Face

Legal Costs Blue Chips

At any given time, every single blue chip company in the world is embroiled in a number of legal disputes, ranging from taxation issues to working conditions, pension problems and more. This is testament to the litigious society in which we live, as opposed to any maliciousness on behalf of these big companies (most of the time anyway). After all, actors, businessmen, sports stars and even writers find themselves involved with similar struggles on a day-to-day basis.

To the average person, a lawsuit is only worth pursuing if there is potential for a big payday at the end of the struggle. The average man and woman on the street can’t afford to rack-up legal bills in order to defend their reputation against libel and slander, or even to counter legal claims made by others. But to these companies it’s just another part of day-to-day operations.

There are a few cases that appear more than others though, ones that seem to have been costing the world’s biggest companies for years and will likely continue to do so for many more years to come.

Big Banks in Big Trouble

Over the last couple decades, the biggest banks on the FTSE 100 (the major index on the London Stock Exchange) have been paying out an astronomical amount in legal fees, essentially covering for their mistakes and trying to stay in the government’s good books. Of all of the legal costs accrued by the 100 blue chip companies in this index, half are paid out by the banks, which number fewer than half a dozen.

In total, these banks are setting aside more than £30 billion (about $40 billion) every single year, covering everything from LIBOR and FOREX manipulation disputes to PPI misselling. This combined total is more than the total annual revenue of Barclays, TSB and Standard Chartered put together, two of which are included in that $40 billion figure mentioned above.

False Advertising

In recent years Volkswagen have been tied up in an emissions scandal that will likely cost them tens of billions, money they will still be paying for years to come. When you factor in the loss of business and the general damage they have caused to the public’s perception of diesel cars, their total loss will actually be much higher. The VW Group have a revenue of close to $250 billion, so there is a lot to lose, but a small fraction of that is profit and they will be seeing a lot less of that for years to come.

At its heart, the emissions scandal was basically false advertising, albeit to a much more fraudulent extent (they were passing off their cars as being more environmentally friendly than they were, knowing it would drive up sales and drive down taxes). This is something that has caught many big companies out and VW are by no means the only ones suffering.

Danone were once fined close to $50 million for making a claim on their Activia yoghurts that something was “scientifically proven” when there was no such evidence baking it up. In the 1990s, Airborne were also hit with a substantial fine for claims that they made, while multi-million dollar false-advertising fines have also been paid by everyone from Extenze to Kellogg.

And believe it or not, even Red Bull were sued for claiming that their drink could “give you wings”.

The Mistakes of the Past Cause the Health Problems of the Future

Imagine for a minute that you run a manufacturing business and someone approaches you with a material that can essentially guard against fire and electrical issues, providing insulation and absorb sound, all for a rock bottom price. And not only is this a miraculous material, but there are no major health warnings and it has been mined by humans for 4,000 years.

You would probably take them up on the offer, right? Well, millions did. The problem is, that material was asbestos and as we all now know, it is highly dangerous and has since led to countless health problems for the workers that were exposed to it.

Asbestos is no longer widely used, but the conditions it caused are still prevalent, so much so that there are law firms setup primarily to help clients with asbestos-related diseases. Companies that used it and exposed their employees to it are still paying the cost, as are governments the world over. And rightly so, because families and individuals have been paying with their lives and their health.

Asbestos is not the only incident where a commonly used product previously thought to be safe and groundbreaking has gone on to ruin lives and bring the companies that used it to their knees. Over $50 billion is said to have been paid out on asbestos lawsuits alone, and then you have the payouts associated with damaging drugs like Thalidomide and chemicals like Radium.

But what is perhaps most surprising in these cases is that the companies at fault for manufacturing and distributing, usually bounce back, a benefit that will never be bestowed on the millions that suffered because of them.

The German manufacturers of the Thalidomide drug, which caused horrible birth defects in countless Americans and Europeans, were sued repeatedly and even tried for manslaughter, and yet the company remains to this day. In fact, they are the ones responsible for creating the opioid Tramadol, which has created a few problems of its own.

In other words, the little guys can fight back and get a little justice, but nothing stops these multinational from marching on. Whether you see that as a good thing or a bad thing is entirely down to perspective.

Is a Rolex, Tag or Omega a Good Investment? (Investing in Watches)

Investing in Watches

This is a question that has personally always interested us. We love to collect and invest and if we can combine that with a hobby, purchasing something we like and enjoy and potentially profiting from it further down the line, then even better. But is this possible to do with premium watches like Rolex, Tag and Omega?

That’s the question posed for this investment guide and it’s one we will look at here, seeing how watches like Rolex’s have held their value over the years and establishing whether or not they are a worthwhile investment.

Stocks vs Watches

Stocks vs Watches

Before we look at each of the big brands in turn and at the merits of investing in timepieces, let’s see what happens when you compare watches vs stocks over the last few decades.

Brands like Rolex really came into their own during the 1960s, when they began to be perceived as a brand of the rich, the famous and the wealthy, and when their value began to rise significantly to reflect this.

In the mid 1960s and early 1970s Rolex were releasing timepieces such as the Explorer, which had a retail price of less than $200 back then (before your eyes pop out of your skull, this was still considered a lot of money. According to DollarTimes  it equated to about $1,400 in today’s money)

However, that watch today has a price tag of between $5,000 and $20,000, depending on the model and the state of the timepiece. If we suppose that you bought the first release and that you kept it hidden from harm for 50 years, then you’d be making a 100x return on your initial investment.

This equates to an annual increase of around 9%. If you invested in the S&P 500 instead then your return would be closer to 10%. Based on that, stocks would be the better option, but only just, and what would you prefer to have owned for 50 years, a piece of paper or one of the most expensive watches in existence?

The Cons of Investing in Watches

The main issue with investing in these watches is that big brands seem to have their heyday. This is when their products retain the most value and can go on to be worth significantly more than they were at the time of purchase.

The 1970s and 1980s were the best time to buy Star Wars memorabilia; the 1920s through to 1950s was the best time for comic books; the 1950s and 1960s was the best time for Gibson guitars. That’s not to say that they don’t continue producing valuable products, because they do, but rather that they will never replicate the sort of price increases you could get during those specific eras.

This is especially true in the modern world, where there are more brands than ever and where every successful company is producing more stock than ever. Take comic books as an example. The reason the headline-hitting million-dollar comics sold for so much is not just because they were the first in a series, but because they signaled a breakthrough for the company and the medium in general, and they came at a time when very few books were produced.

Watches like Rolex and Omega are similar. They have had their heydays and those vintage pieces will likely always increase in price, but the new watches probably won’t have as much of an impact in the future. The world will move on to new brands and new trends and while the classics will continue to hold the public’s interest, the new stuff won’t.

Of course, you could just invest in the vintage pieces, but even then there are problems. If you buy a watch that is 50 years old and keep it in very good condition then it will probably be worth more than it is now in another 10 or 20 years, but the value will not rise as sharply or as swiftly, because you’re now selling a valuable collectible that you paid top dollar for, as opposed to a vintage piece you got for retail price.

Of course, another con to investing in watches is the fact that you are unlikely to make anything at all in the short term. You will likely need to be sitting on a time piece for at least 5 or 10 years before the value starts to rise significantly, assuming it ever does.

The Pros of Investing in Watches

Investing in Premium Watches

There are some benefits to investing in watches. It’s not all doom and gloom. For instance, if the watch was produced in limited numbers, was once owned by someone famous or contained precious metals, then it has inherent value that will always attract interest from buyers.

What’s more, while stocks can be high one day and gone the next, a watch with a strong inherent value will always be worth something and even if it’s not, at least you can still use it for the reason it was intended.

Watches from established, historic brands will also always appeal to a certain demographic, even if they have fallen out of favor with the general population. The current trend towards vinyl and old-school cellphones like the Nokia 3310 is a great example of this. Simply put, in a world of mass production and machine made products, people yearn for something traditional, something nostalgic. If you have a handmade or hand finished watch from a legendary and traditional brand, it could be akin to holding the first print of the first Pink Floyd vinyl today.

And whether you make money or not, the best thing about investing in watches is that you also get to own and experience these timepieces for yourself. So much work goes into the watches created by Swiss brands like Rolex and they are a true joy to behold. If you have a passion for them like we do, then investing in watches will be as much of a hobby as it is an investment opportunity.

So, put your money where your mouth and your hobby is and start investing in premium and vintage timepieces today.

The Financial Cost of Divorce (Rates, Stats and Facts in the US)

Cost of Divorce

Divorce can be expensive. You probably didn’t need us to tell you that. It is a common trope in TV sitcoms and romantic comedies and it’s something we also see everyday with celebrities and business owners whose divorces result in massive settlements and all kinds of resentment. But just how much does the average divorce cost in the United States, what is the divorce rate here and how does the US compare to other countries around the world?

Cost of Divorce in the United States

Before we get to the divorce rate in this country and its individual states, let’s look at the average cost of filing for a divorce. You will pay a filing fee to initiate the process and you will also need to pay for an attorney, typically by the hour. This can run-up a rather large bill, the total of which will depend on which state you reside in (as discussed below).

The average cost of divorce across the US is between $15,000 and $25,000, most of which ends up in the lawyer’s pockets. This is the amount that both parties will pay to get through the process and it does not include any possessions or money that changes hands. It also doesn’t include any assets that changed hands, any child support that was ordered to be paid, etc., So for many couples in the US this amount could just be the start.

What’s more, a huge number of Americans put themselves through this process every single year, helping to fund an industry that is said to be worth over $28 billion for the legal firms that help couples in this situation.

The US Divorce Rate

The rate of divorce in the United States is often quoted as being between 40 and 50 percent. However, this doesn’t apply to all states. California, for instance, has a higher rate at 60%, which is inflated by states like Orange County, which has one of the highest rates of divorce in the United States. It also doesn’t apply to all marriages, because if the couple have been married before then the rate increases even further.

When you take a closer look at marriage and divorce, the statistics are a little less doom and gloom. It is true that the average marriage in the US has at least a 50% chance of ending in divorce, but it’s also true that there is nearly a 70% chance that it will last for at least ten years and the odds that it will survive more than two decades is greater than 50%. Also, while the stereotype is that men stray and women stick, the stats seem to suggest the opposite and it is women who are more prone to ending the marriage. In fact, the odds of a marriage lasting 20 years are 52% for women, but 56% for men.

The Lowest Divorce Rate in the US

Divorce Rate

If Orange County has one of the highest divorce rates of all US counties, then which county and state has the lowest? You might expect it to be a religious state or a state in the Mid-West, but it’s actually New Jersey. The odds of the average couple ending their marriage in divorce

The Cost of Divorce in the US is lower here than in any other state. What’s more, second on the list is neighboring New York, followed closely behind Washington D.C.. Pennsylvania is also in the top five, just behind fourth placed Hawaii, suggesting that New England is a haven of sorts for marriage.

Most Expensive States to Divorce

Based on the average hourly fee of local divorce attorneys and the cost of filing for a divorce, the state with the most expensive divorce in the US is California, which is probably less of a surprise than the stats quoted above. The average hourly fee for an attorney is just over $400 in this state, and you’ll pay between $400 and $500 on average to file for a divorce.

The attorney fee is actually the third highest in the US, but only just, and the divorce filing fee is the highest, which is why the Golden State sits top of this list.

Cheapest States to Divorce

As for the cheapest, Wyoming tops this list, with an average attorney fee that clocks in at less than $200 an hour and a divorce filing fee of just $70 in many counties. North Dakota is also very cheap and South Dakota is only marginally more expensive, putting these two states in the top 3.

The US Divorce Rate Compared to Other Countries

The US is probably the most litigious country in the world. You don’t have to go far to find a quality, fully licensed attorney in this country. There are thousands of specialized lawyers for all kinds of sectors and family law, which focuses on divorces, annulments and other issues, is one of the most saturated sectors.

As a result, you could be forgiven for thinking that the divorce rate was higher here than in other countries and that the average settlement was also higher. But that’s not quite the case.

The divorce rate in the US is actually on the short side of average when compared to Europe and it’s much less than countries like Belgium, where the divorce rate is as much as 70%.

If you focus just on the cost of divorce in the US, then it is quite a bit more than most other countries. Take the UK as an example. It is very easy to settle a divorce for free or with legal aid in the UK, but even if you go down the paid route you will pay less than £1,500 (about $2,000) to cover the basics of filing, settling and getting consent. In Scotland it is even cheaper. Not only is it just as easy to do it for free north of the border, but the paid options can ensure everything gets settled for less than £500, or about $750.