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$50,000 Suits Perfectly Fit South Korea’s Upper Class
If you frequent YouTube, you might notice the number-one video is from South Korean pop star PSY (he of “Gangnam Style” fame), showcasing South Korea as a cultural powerhouse and an economic force. And it would seem that almost every American has purchased at least one of the quality creations coming out of this Asian country—everything from Samsung cell phones and flat screens, to Hyundai or Kia cars.
In addition to being one of the top-five car brands worldwide (it produced more than 7.5 million vehicles in 2013), Hyundai has a lesser-known corporate branch serving South Korea’s new millionaires and billionaires the finest clothing from around the world through its upscale department stores in Korea.
One example is the Kiton suits that the new Korean upper classes are wearing. Handmade in Italy and distributed by Premiere Opportunities Group (OTCQB: PPBL) throughout Asia, the suits are being prominently displayed in 10-foot-high glass cases in Hyundai’s key department stores. Hyundai and Lotte stores merchandise the luxury brands from Premiere Opportunities Group, including Kiton, Brunello Cuccinelli, Jones NY, and Premiere’s own U.S.-made brands like CABE Designer Apparel (www.CabeStudio.com), CynLuca Swimwear (www.CynandLuca.com), and Avani Activewear (www.AvaniClothing.com), to a growing class of prosperous, fashion-conscious Asian customers.
As an example of just how far South Korea has come from its humble beginnings, Forbes’ list of the top-50 richest South Koreans shows that the small country (there are 50 million people in-state) has a per capita income on par with the U.S. in purchasing power at about $35K, and has quickly moved to the forefront in regional per capita income growth. Although South Korea clearly has an appetite for $50,000 suits from Kiton, the Italian fashion house’s worldwide production is limited to just 20,000 suits per year.
Premiere, soon to be known as Global Fashion Group, is about to establish a footprint in China, the wealthiest and largest economy in Southeast Asia through the relationships it has with other department store chains in the country. With only so many Kiton suits to adorn its stores, Premiere’s other lines will soon be marketed to similarly well-heeled consumers in Mainland China and the rest of Southeast Asia.
Premiere Opportunities Group, Inc. is currently trading as a penny stock but has the potential to see a sizable appreciation over the next few years because of its dynamic leadership and expected growth in top-line revenue and bottom-line profit.
Potential investors should confer with their investment advisors, accountants and attorneys before risking their funds.
Credit-by-Exam: Higher Education’s Best Kept Secret
Check cashing services may provide convenience for college students when tuition refund checks arrive, but the cons may outweigh the pros.
According to a recent study, “The Assessment of Unbanked U.S. College Students and Use of Nontraditional Banking Products,” one contributing factor of the popularity of check cashing services among college students is that approximately 3 million American college students don’t have checking or savings accounts of their own. In addition, 20 percent of college students avoid the banking system and cash checks, carrying cash.
“Often, these students turn to check cashing services to generate cash when they need it — especially when large tuition refund checks arrive,” says Mary Johnson, a financial literacy expert at Higher One. “However, what they fail to realize is the considerable fees check cashing services charge and how unsafe it is to carry large amounts of cash.”
Most check cashing services charge exorbitant fees that students might not realize until it is too late — sometimes as high as 6 percent. These fees can be especially high if the check is for a large amount, such as a student financial aid check.
According to Higher One (www.higherone.com), a company that partners with colleges to reduce the use of paper checks by distributing financial aid electronically to students’ bank accounts, the average financial aid check is more than $1,400 — that’s a lot of cash to carry around. But many students choose to manage large amounts of cash without going through a bank. In fact, the aforementioned study also showed that 646,000 current college students who reported receiving financial aid also reported having cashed a check outside a bank through a check cashing service or similar business that can charge exorbitant fees.
“Financial aid dollars may be the first time students have access to large sums of money,” says Johnson. “Non-traditional students may have had bad experiences with accounts in the past, and younger adults may not have had as much experience with banks.”
No matter why students don’t use bank accounts now, the benefits of using them include smart money management because you can keep track of spending with transaction records. It’s important to educate students about how bank accounts can be as quick and convenient as a check cashing service, but safer with FDIC insurance and fraud protection, Johnson notes.
How Harnessing Solar Power Can Slash Energy Bills
Are you fed up with excessive electric bills? Well, look no further than solar-energy systems.
Did you know that you could cut your electrical costs and show off your environmental savvy by installing solar panels? Last year, 792 megawatts of residential solar systems were installed in the U.S.—enough to power the equivalent of more than 130,000 homes.
A case study: Cheryl and Robert Boland of Apple Valley, Calif., cut their monthly electrical bill from approximately $300 to about $1.75 by installing solar panels on the roof of their home.
“When I compare the cost of installing the system with what we will save on our bills over the next two decades, solar gives us an incredible return on investment,” says Cheryl. “For us, it was all about the money.”
Think you might want to give solar panels a try? Consider these four key points:
Quality products. Solar panels are a long-term investment in your home; you want them to last. A quality system should last for at least 25 years. The Bolands purchased their solar panels from longtime American manufacturer SolarWorld.
Experienced installation. A qualified, experienced installer not only designs your solar panels, but can also save you money by guiding you through the process of securing tax rebates and financing options.
Intelligent design. Your residential solar system must be designed to produce the right amount of power for your home and lifestyle. A good installer will review your previous year’s energy bills and analyze the orientation and shading of your roof to determine the best design. Check your installer’s credentials for signs of trustworthy certification, for instance, as a manufacturer’s authorized installer.
Guaranteed performance. Be sure to choose solar panels that have gone through a factory-tested process called “plus sorting,” which ensures the panels have met or exceeded their nameplate power rating. Panels that don’t undergo this process are as much as 5 percent less efficient than advertised. And don’t forget the warranties.
Big Tobacco Beware, Vapor Cigarettes Are Here
For decades, tobacco companies cornered the market on cigarette sales. However, sales have been taking a nosedive lately, and the once-booming industry is seeking to protect its multi-billion-dollar bottom line by concentrating on its global reach in Asia and other continents.
Besides the usual suspects as reasons for the decline—health risks and cost at the forefront—other obstacles exist. In 2008, China became the first country to introduce a non-tobacco alternative known as the “electronic cigarette”—also known as the “vapor cigarette.”
“Consumption of e-cigs may overtake traditional cigarettes in the next decade,” predicts Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog. “And they’ll only evolve and improve as time goes forward—at far less risk. The technology portion of it is sort of like Apple. This is just version one.”
Vapor cigarettes are battery-powered inhalers that heat tubes to turn a liquid solution into vapor at much lower temperatures than tobacco-based cigarettes. Instead of “smoke,” they produce water vapor that mimics the feel of smoking and contains approximately the same amount of nicotine as a conventional cigarette.
While not marketed as a way to quit smoking, many believe it can help defeat the addiction, noting that other benefits include not burning tobacco, and they don’t emit secondhand smoke or produce ash.
With more than 40 million smokers in the U.S. making up big tobacco’s demographic (and many of them looking for alternatives to smoking), a sizable windfall of both money and market for companies like Icon Vapor (OTCPK: ICNV), an independent, ultra-premium quality vapor cigarette company.
To date, vapor cigarette sales have doubled every year since 2008, according to UBS Financial Services, and were due to break the $1 billion bar this past year, although sales figures for 2013 have not yet been released. This means a potentially lucrative future for Icon Vapor.
“Icon Vapor’s goal is to provide a sensible, safer, cost-competitive alternative to the tobacco-based cigarette,” notes Daniel Balsiger, president of Icon Vapor. “We also believe that an informed consumer will carefully consider who they purchase vapor cigarettes from, and that Icon Vapor will distinguish itself in the marketplace as a superior product to big tobacco’s recent efforts to diversify into that space.”
Icon Vapor recently unveiled an innovative marketing platform that offers an excellent opportunity for those wanting to enter this growing, lucrative market—with its goal and structure designed to give profits back to the average person just by sharing the word.
Take Ownership of Your Vacation Time
As the weather heats up, more people imagine themselves in a new destination taking a much-needed break from their daily routines. But research shows that many Americans never take that all-important next step: actually planning a vacation.
According to a 2013 Expedia study, Americans collectively failed to take an estimated 577 million available days of vacation this past year. That vacation time amounts to billions of dollars in compensation Americans are giving back to their companies. Studies even suggest the valuable health benefits of vacationing and the enhanced productivity refreshed workers bring back to the office. But navigating schedules that are constantly changing often foils plans, leading many people to forget about planning altogether.
To avoid falling victim to these obstacles, here are some tips:
* Value your vacation days. Paid time off is as much a part of your compensation package as your salary. Just as you probably wouldn’t refrain from cashing in one of your paychecks, don’t forget to cash in on the vacation time.
* Commit to travel. Embracing regular travel gives you the breaks you need to relax and unwind. Vacation ownership, or timeshare, offers travelers a great way to commit to getting away regularly. By prepurchasing your vacations for years to come, you can look forward to always having somewhere to go.
* Head somewhere new. Vacation ownership doesn’t mean you’re limited to one beach, mountain, or even country for every future vacation. Vacation exchange programs offer you choice and flexibility. RCI created the concept of vacation exchange 40 years ago and forever changed the timeshare industry. Today, members of RCI can experience destinations all around the world, with nearly 4,500 affiliated resorts to choose from in more than 100 countries.
* Jump-start your planning. Planning a vacation in advance can help avoid the difficulty in scheduling many Americans experience. If you need to travel between school years or major events, or you have a specific type of destination in mind, choose a vacation option with the amenities you want and availability you need, and put your vacation request in early.
* Don’t turn vacation into telecommuting. Booking your vacation early can help you plan for your absence at work. Decide which projects to take care of in advance, which to delegate and which can wait for your return. Then, be clear in setting expectations about your availability with your colleagues and clients.