Traveling the World – Do You Have Family You’d Be Missing?

If you are planning on traveling the world, you are no doubt wondering if you have family you’d be missing. Probably wife, husband, kids, parents and siblings would be the most missed during world travel. Since I am personally planning a trip around the world next year, here are my reflections on this subject.

World travel opens up one’s spirit like nothing else. Changing one’s environment, even for just a while has the effect of clearing up one’s perspective on life and helps to shape it’s future. Of course, the comforts and stability of home are far more reassuring and easy to do than taking off, gallivanting around the world. Family is a significant magnet to staying comfortably at home and never leaving one’s province. Is that what you want for yourself though… to never have seen the world but at least to have been with the family every single day of our life?

To me, when you decide to shape your life by traveling you get a global vision of the world, the state of your own affairs, your community and your family. Traveling tends to make you be more open to all kinds of people and helps you be more self sufficient and appreciative of your own familiar surroundings. Gone is the monotony and wonder comes back into every day life. After having missed your family during travel, you will tend to be way more affectionate, expressive and tender with your loved ones after your return.

Once you arrive from a trip, especially a trip to lesser developed countries, you will be so grateful for your own comforts at home. Another wonderful effect of travel is that travel makes you that much more interesting. Imagine the positive effects you will be having upon your family when you report to them all kinds of experiences from across the world. You will ultimately enrich your family’s life by showing them pictures of your travels and by retelling the stories of the awesome, scary and fun experiences you had on your trip.

Focus on savoring the experience of travel. Make the most of every minute on your trips and keep souvenirs and memories of each place you visit so that you are well equipped to tell the stories of your travel to your family. If you are missing your family a lot during travel, you can document, take pictures and videos of the travel locations you go to with your family in mind. Speak to them in the video and tell them what you are experiencing and that you miss them. This will alleviate your sorrow and help you feel as though your family is with you on your tip. Skype, email, facetime on iPhone and Facebooking can also be great tools in staying close to your family without depriving yourself of world travel and the expansion it will bring to your soul.

VPN Solutions for Small Businesses

Small businesses have a need to be significantly more sensible with their finances than do large corporations. This sometimes means that employees actually cost the company less if they can do their work from home. For most IT professionals, it’s not imperative that they’re located in the same building that the machines they work on are located in. With a good VPN, they can access those machines securely over the Internet and there’s no need to provide an office.

Understanding Servers and Server Techs

Some of the best server techs you’ll find don’t actually log onto the machines that they service in the same way that you log onto your computer. In fact, what they do is log onto an interface that gives them a text prompt. If you know servers inside and out, this actually gives you a lot more control over the machine and that’s just what these technicians are looking for. This type of interfacing with the server consumes very little bandwidth.

There are some server techs that prefer the GUI interface and a VPN can allow them to access that securely. VPN technology, in fact, has allowed server administrators to manage remote locations for many years now. It’s not a new technology. The technology is time-tested and true, so a lot of businesses have been relying upon it for a long time.

Finding Providers

Setting up a VPN from scratch is likely going to be beyond the skill level of the average tech. There are third-party providers, however, that sell VPNs to businesses and that provide a very high level of service. For professional users, you’ll generally want the following:

– Unlimited bandwidth

– Secure connections

– Several different servers

The provider can help you set up the technical aspects of their product, which usually differ a bit from provider to provider. With the right VPN installed, you can let your employees access your servers from anywhere without worrying about a huge security hole being created in the process. This is a great way for a small business to save money on office space.

If you have remote employees, such as travelling sales people, this is also quite useful. The VPN allows them to access the network resources they may need safely no matter where they’re located at the time. This can improve communication and efficiency tremendously and ensure that people don’t end up cut off from the company when they’re out on the road.

Sports Betting Odds

If you enjoy sports gambling you are no doubt familiar with the sports betting odds. You probably also know that there is much more you need to know about these sports betting odds before you can bet successfully. You’ll want to know how the odds were arrived at, because there are always many factors that can affect the outcome of a sporting event. It doesn’t matter it it’s a team sport such as football or baseball or an individual sport such as NASCAR racing or tennis, there are always a number of things to analyze.

The best way to get the information you need to analyze the sports betting odds is to look at the recommendations of an expert at a good sportsbook. For example, you know that an injury to an athlete can affect both individual performance and impact the performance of a team, but while you may hear that someone has been injured, you may not know how serious it is. An expert at a good sportsbook will know and will look at what effect it will have. If the injury is to a key player on a pro football team the expert will know if the player will miss one or more games or be able to play with the injury. The expert will also know how the injury impacts the sports betting odds on the next game the team will be playing.

Relying strictly on the basic sports betting odds is tricky and will make it more difficult to place winning bets. So increase your chances of success by consulting a sportsbook expert. Then place your bets with confidence.

Real Estate Investment Software – How it Really Helps Agents to Sell Income Property

Any real estate agent can sell income property without real estate investment software. After all, they are licensed to sell property and at the end of the day they only have to match up a willing buyer with a willing seller to make a deal; just the way they do with residential properties. Hey, it’s not rocket science.

In fact many agents do sell income property without ever investing in real estate investment software. That is, they take a listing on (say) a duplex, post it in the MLS or other appropriate website with little more than a price and location, and then simply wait until another agent comes along with a willing buyer for the property. Subsequently, of course, if the property does sell and close, the agent rejoices that he or she made a commission and goes off to celebrate; we’ve all been there. Fair enough.

But here’s the catch.

When agents service rental property in the same manner as they do residential property, namely without any regard for a cash flow, rate of return, or profitability analysis provided by real estate investment software, they run the risk of losing money on each transaction as well as maybe the opportunity to service more income properties (possibly translating into additional transactions and commissions) in the future.

Let me explain.

Brokers and agents that adopt this “throw it up against the wall and hope it sticks” mentality with income property are almost assured that they will lose half their commission to a selling broker. Why, because they are not sufficiently prepared to market the property in a manner that might prompt an investor to approach them directly. Real estate investing is all about the numbers, and if an investor is unsure about the listing agent’s ability (or concern) to adequately crunch those numbers on rental properties, they typically turn to someone else for representation. It happens.

But having said that, it’s not uncommon for many transactions to include both a listing and selling broker (even with rental property) therefore the idea of not double-ending a deal and getting the full commission is generally acceptable and might not really be considered a loss; at least not enough of a loss to warrant using real estate investment software to increase the odds.

Okay, but there’s more.

What residential agents really suffer when they ignore servicing income property correctly (without knowing it) is the lost opportunity to acquire real estate investors as customers. The logic is straightforward. Because real estate investing is about cash flows, rates of return, and profitability, the only proven way for a broker to win the hearts and minds of investors is to demonstrate a degree of willingness and proficiency to adequately present those numbers. Put yourself in their shoes.

Say, for example, that you are about to risk your personal funds to purchase an apartment building (yes, real estate investing is a risk), who would you rather work with, an agent who appears to know nothing about rental property and has neither the resources or understanding to present the data, or an agent that does? Of course, it’s a rhetorical question with only one reasonable answer, but you get the idea.

So here’s the bottom line.

If you are planning to sell, or want to sell income property (why wouldn’t you?) then by all means do it correctly with an eye on broadening your business and seizing every opportunity to benefit your business by making sure that you are perceived as one committed to real estate investing and fully prepared to assist investors with a rental property decision. Real estate investment software makes that possible; and it’s just too affordable for you not to have it in your arsenal of tools.

Pet Care During Easter Holidays

Okay, so the end of the fasting period approaches and brings with it the time of the year to feel good about eating and feasting. It will soon be Easter time – Easter bunnies, eggs, marzipan, chocolates, drinks and a host of other things that make us feel good but are potential hazards for our pets.

Yes, every holiday season brings with it added responsibility for pet parents. Read on to find what we can do to ensure that our pets too enjoy these Easter holidays without getting hurt or falling sick.

Chocolate is the number one potential health hazard on all lists featuring pet hazards. And for good reason too. It contains theobromine and caffeine that can lead to an increase in heart rate and rise in blood pressure. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include hyperactivity, thirst, vomiting, and diarrhea. Timely treatment is crucial or fatalities can occur in as less as three to six hours. So, keep those boxes of candy away from Fido and Whiskers.

Plants – Many plants, in fact more than you’d ever know, are harmful to pets. Of course, they are distributed all over the globe and all won’t have a presence in your neighborhood. Still, you should know that Easter lily is poisonous for your pets. If your cat nibbles any part of this plant it can lead to kidney failure very swiftly. If treatment is not provided within three hours, the damage to the kidneys cannot be undone.

Decorations & Wrappers – These represent toxic as well as choking hazards. Wrappers covering food items may have some pieces or tit-bits adhering to them and these are dangerous temptations for your pets. Decorations made of plastic, rubber, tinsel can cause intestinal blockages if swallowed and then surgery is the only option. Basket Grass is another indigestible decoration that can cause intestinal problems if ingested.

Food Items – Food and drinks meant for human consumption may or may not agree with pets. Garlic, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and grapes are just some of the food items that will harm your beloved pet if it ingests these. Signs and symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, irregular heartbeat. If left untreated it can lead to severe dehydration or even death.

Common sense due diligence such as keeping the garbage bags sealed, not having toxic garden plants in the yard, keeping the pets on leash or segregated when having a party, not leaving scraps of food behind, etc can help save your pet’s life. Make Easter hazard-free for your dear pet and enjoy.

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What About Paying Discount Points on a VA Loan?

Right now the VA mortgage market is very hot and many veterans and service members are getting flamed with fliers that offer all sorts of super low interest rate deals. Understandably, many service folks are a bit confused and unsure if any of the deals are right for them. The interest rate to closing cost ratios are the important parts of these offerings.

What Is a Discount Point?

Closing costs are greatly influenced by discount points. A discount point is an amount of cash you pay to land a lower interest rate. The lower interest rate you choose, the higher your discount points will cost, and the cost will become a part of your closing costs. Lenders always advertize their lowest possible rates. But these lower rates will have higher closing costs. Paying these costs are not for everyone.

Questions About Paying Discount Points on a VA Loan

Of course, everybody has a little different financial and lifestyle situation so it is important to ask yourself certain questions to understand if paying discount point dovetails with your lifestyle. Here are a couple:

How long am I going to use this loan?

Do I need low payments now or good equity in the future?

VA Loan vs. Home Loan

Do not figure a loan as your home. A loan is an instrument to finance a home. You may need another loan in a few years. When a veteran or service member is asked how long they will use the loan, they automatically think about how long they will live in their particular house. You may not have the same loan in five to seven years. Here are a few reasons:

Sale of the present property. Sale of the property to take equity and get a better deal. Duty station transfers. Family keeps growing — bigger home. Family shrinking — smaller home. Refinancing — market rebounds and equity improves. Cashing money out to pay off high interest debt. Home improvement needs. Cash needed to get kids into college. Cash out for good investment deals that may come up.

Get Your Savings Now or Equity Later

If your are looking to refinancing to accomplish certain cash needs, you probably will not keep your present loan longer than seven years. So, it does not make sense to pay for discount points now. (You may want to look into the new Streamline or VA 5-year Hybrid loan.)

Of course, the lower the rate you choose, the cheaper your monthly payments, but the higher your closing costs. Should you keep the loan for a number of years, you will get those extra closing costs over time and come out shining. However, if you pay off the loan in the five to seven years, you will probably lose money by paying the points, but that does not necessarily mean that would not still work for you.

Hard Times

Everyone of us has a cash flow problem sometime in life. Should you find yourself in this circumstance, paying the discount points to get your monthly loan payments in hand may well be worth the cost. Some money may be lost in the long term, but if the extra cash available helps you lower your other debt or avoid the problems of running from payday to payday, the cost will probably be worth it.

Paying Discount Points on a VA Loan Not For All

Understanding discount points and their relation to closing costs is an important consideration when shopping for a VA loan. If you have a financial game plan and an adept VA loan officer, you will understand if the option will work for you.

Stick To A Healthy Lifestyle – How To Eat A Balanced Diet For Weight Loss

What is the best diet for weight loss? If you search online and browse in bookstores, you’ll find hundreds of them. But you have to be wary. A lot of them look attractive, but they might not be the healthiest option for you. There are many weight loss diet plans that tend to overcomplicate your eating and weight loss habits, too! What then is the best diet for weight loss that you should follow?

Cut Back Your Fat And Sugar Intake

First thing to consider is to apply the combination of eating healthy and at the same time curtailing your fat and sugar intake. More importantly, you should be physically active. An effective exercise routine should be part of your weight loss plan.

If you’ve been inclined on eating sugary and fatty junk foods and have limited physical activity, you basically need a change of lifestyle so that you will lose weight. Not that you have to do it drastically. Healthy weight loss needs you to adjust your healthy eating plan gradually. If you force and do it abruptly, dieting could be hard on your body. Likewise don’t be too keen to overwhelm your body with heavy exercises at the beginning. Don’t be so hasty in running a marathon if you’ve had zero exercise in the first place. In your diet and exercise plan to lose weight, take time to commence with it one baby step to the next at a time.

How to begin your diet for losing weight? Make a start by stopping your weight gain. That is, you should stop gaining weight first. Be careful with the foods that you eat. Restrict your consumption of sugars and fats. The best diet for weight loss includes a balanced diet. Take note that numerous fad diets do not fall into the category of balanced diets at all. Some of them would require you to eat too much of one nutrient, such as protein while skipping another important food group such as whole grains. Often, fad diets also cut out dairy foods in your meals. These diets are not filling and healthy.

Eat A Healthy And Balanced Diet- Change Your Lifestyle

Vegetables are part of a healthy diet and eating them will make you lose weight. However, see to it that your vegetable consumption can be a sustained eating habit and lifestyle. For a balanced diet to burn calories and shed pounds, prepare 3 servings of fruits and veggies, 2 servings of dairy foods (at least), 1 or 2 portions of meat and nuts and seeds for your meals.

In the process of losing weight, detoxify your body. Cut out your intake of fatty and sugary foods. While doing so after some time, you’ll notice that you’ll get rid and get used to skipping sweets and fatty foods wherein you’ll feel you’re as healthy as can be.

Apply The Magic Formula For Weight Loss- Burn Calories

Healthy weight loss is not all about dieting. To optimize your health and fitness program, you have to exercise. The magic formula for fast and healthy weight loss remains, and that is to burn more calories than you eat. Fifteen minutes of exercise a day is sufficient for an effective health and fitness program. You simply won’t lose weight but will feel healthy and energized as well.

Make that decision to lose weight and be healthy. It’s a wise decision that will affect the longevity and quality of your life. Adhere to a healthy and balanced diet for weight loss, exercise regularly and limit your consumption of junk food. You’ll be healthier and happier and have the zest to succeed in life.

Can the California Lemon Law Protect Us in This Crazy Situation?

Well, here I go again. I have another absurd situation to write about concerning the California Lemon Law. If you’d like some interesting reading, continue. Then maybe you’ll take action and find out if your “lemon” automobile qualifies under this law.

For the sake of anonymity, I will call this man Jay Jones and this has to do with the purchase of a pickup truck from a major American vehicle manufacturer. And you’ll want to read on because this one is amazing but it is a very crazy situation. Can this California law actually cover a car in this type of absurd condition?

As you know, if you live in California and you qualify by meeting certain requirements and having your paperwork in order, and you believe you have purchased a “lemon” then you can file against the manufacturer. Under the California Lemon Law, I’ve seen people get their money back, the car replaced, punitive damages and even the attorney’s fees if any were incurred. So while you are reading this example of what can be covered under this law, keep that in mind.

Anyway, Jay’s credit, due to his business going under, was not the best. Because of that, he didn’t qualify for a new truck but qualified for a demo. The salesperson told him that even though it wasn’t the truck he wanted, to keep up the payments to prove he was a good risk and in 12 to 18 months, he could trade it in for the one he wanted. At the time, it seemed like a great deal and he bought the demo pickup. He had no idea that the California Lemon Law even existed. Why would he have to know that? He thought he was purchasing a perfect vehicle that was a demo with a few thousand miles on it. He never thought that within a short amount of time, he would be in the middle of something he never counted on!

There was such a rush to get the truck that Jay did not read the fine print of the agreement. In the purchase papers it stated that this specific vehicle was bought back from a first owner because of transmission problems, but that it had been repaired. The warranty was still good on the truck. This is a point that is very important. Again, he had no idea that very soon he would need to learn all about the California Lemon Law.

Jay moved a month after his purchase to another state. During the next few months, Jay experienced many problems and spent nearly $1,000 trying to fix the transmission. Being out of state, he had to take money out of his pocket or travel back to the original dealership which was several hours away. With gas being so high, he chose to have it fixed where he lived. Even with the repairs, he still had issues with the tranny slipping, etc.

One year went by and Jay couldn’t wait to trade in this truck and get a new one. It cost him money and much aggravation. This time, Jay was smart and spoke to friends about the California Lemon Law. But he figured he wouldn’t have to deal with it because he was going to trade it in like he and the salesman spoke about one year prior.

When he tried to trade it in like was originally planned, the dealership refused to take it back. After much investigation, Jay realized that the truck was a lemon and the dealership had to take it back from its original owner!

Jay sued the dealership for fraud, breach of warranty and many other allegations. Within 30 days, the dealership and manufacturer responded and the case was settled out of court without any money taken out of his pocket.

So, can this vehicle law in California help you, the consumer, even in a crazy situation like this? Yes and hopefully you’ll realize that the California Lemon Law work for you too without any cost to you whatsoever.

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The Best Time to Invest in Stock Funds and Bond Funds

Individual investors should invest money in stock funds as well as bond funds in order to give their investment portfolio balance. There is a best time to invest money in both, and there is also a worst time.

Mutual funds are longer-term investments and timing is not normally the major issue for investors. But what if you suddenly find yourself with a lump some of money (like inheritance, or from a 401k) that needs to be invested somewhere soon? This could happen when the timing is good, or it could happen at one of the worst times. Here we look at the best time to invest money in the past, and then look forward to 2015, 2016 and beyond.

Probably the very best time to invest money in stock funds was in 1982 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average bottomed at 777. In the year 2000 (18 years later) it hit an all-time high of 11,723… up over 1400%, with the NASDAQ up over 3000%! The year 1981 was optimal timing for bond funds, as interest rates peaked and they were paying dividends of 14%, 15% or more. To most of you 1981 and 1982 are ancient history, but if you understand what happened then you might better understand what could happen in 2015, 2016 and beyond.

The best time to invest money in stock funds is after stocks have been beaten up significantly; and investors START to see a light at the end of the tunnel. By 1982 interest rates and inflation had reached record HIGHS after several years of rising and acting as a major drag on both corporate profits and stock prices. When interest rates turned around and started to fall the stock market shifted gears and headed north.

In 2015 and beyond we could be looking at the flip side of the above scenario, because interest rates have hit record LOWS and inflation has been low. The market has been hitting all-time highs, and has been up six years in a row. A significant reversal of interest rates could signal a change in market trend and spell bad news for investors.

The best time to invest money in bond funds is when interest rates are high and start falling. The worst is when interest rates are low and starting to climb. The value of their portfolios goes UP when rates fall; but goes DOWN when rates rise. By the time interest rates peaked in 1981, some investors in these funds were approaching losses of almost 50% as fund share prices (values) plunged. If interest rates soar in 2015 and beyond investors could again suffer severe losses.

Many of today’s investors are unaware of this risk because they have never personally experienced a period of rising interest rates. Rates have generally been falling for many years and are now so ridiculously low that they can’t go much lower. This is not cheerful news if you have money that you need to put to work in 2015 and beyond. The question now is what to do about it.

Include some safe alternatives in your portfolio, like money market funds and short-term CDs. Go with conservative, high quality intermediate-term bond funds and blue-chip stock funds that pay good dividends. Pay attention to your portfolio and the financial news. If you start losing money and rising interest rates start making headline news, this could be your signal to cut your exposure to funds and increase your holdings in safe alternatives.

In the past there was little need to be concerned with the best time to invest money in stock funds and bond funds, because losses in one were generally offset by gains in the other. In 2015 and beyond both face the same threat: rising interest rates. Good luck, and keep your eyes open as this brave new world unfolds.

Car Insurance Vernacular – Minimums, Liability, Comprehensive, and Full Coverage

If you happen to own a vehicle, it is important to know that the law makes it mandatory for the vehicle owners to avail insurance coverage for their vehicles. It is required in all the states. The owner has the choice to decide upon the type of insurance coverage; however the owners have to carry some kind of liability coverage which can compensate for the expenses occurring due to personal injury and property damage.

The mandate exists because if you get injured in an accident, or accidentally damage someone property, you do not have to pay the grieved party – the insurance company does it for you, and in case of personal injury the company pays the medical bills. It is worth knowing about some of the common insurance coverage options generally offered by the insurance providers. The plans are available for long durations. A few companies also offer plans for short term car insurance, if your premium budget is less. The plans are narrated below.

Liability coverage

This is the main and the most important aspect of insurance coverage. This plan protects the “insured” against the litigation and lawsuits filed by people who have suffered some kind of property damage, or received some kind of bodily injury, due to some action or activity carried out by the “insured”. It is worth knowing that insurance companies do not pay anything “under the sum” i.e. there are limits involved while paying the compensation. So if the accident involves more than one person, the insurance provider would pay up to the maximum limit signed within the plan. The remaining amount, if needed, is to be paid by the “insured”. The coverage is available for both new cars for sale, and also for used cars.

Medical coverage

This plan happens to be one of the most important forms of insurance coverage for majority of the people across the world. In most of the countries, medical expenses and fees tend to be high. So individuals work out this particular form of insurance coverage very carefully. The insurance provider pays all expenses arising due to hospitalization carried out for medical or surgical treatment, ambulance charges, nursing fees, and even expenses incurring during funerals. Medical coverage only provides compensation for any or all expenses associated with medical activity and/or treatment, and this can even include physiotherapy charges. However, the compensation is provided only up to the specified limit, so if the hospitalization is longer, and the medical bills mount up, the insurance provider will redeem a maximum of the signed amount mentioned in the plan.

Uninsured motorists coverage

This plan is recommended to secure protection against expenses occurring when the entity responsible for your damage is not known, and is not available. Typically the plan provides compensation for hit-and-run type of scenarios, when the person responsible for the accident or damage flees from the scene of the accident. The plan is also popularly known as the “UM” plan. Again there is a fixed limit up to which the insurance provider will pay, and only if the entity responsible for the damages is unknown. Many auto companies offer new car insurance while buying your car, so you do not have to find an independent insurance provider.

Automobile damage coverage

This coverage is also important for vehicle owners, since it provides coverage in the event your car gets damaged in an accident, and you incur a substantial “repairs” bill. The plan is actually offered in two parts:

The collision coverage

As the name suggests it covers any damages occurring due to any kind of impact or collision.

Other-than-collision coverage

This option is also known as the “OTC” plans, and provides coverage for other factors such as theft, fire, explosion, earthquake, flood, vandalism, and even animal accidents. Again there is a fixed upper limit, for both the options, up to which the insurance provider will compensate for.