Featured Articles

(ARA) — We keep hearing the words “bad economy,” and while views differ on the strength of the recovery, the reality is that most people are still feeling the aftermath of the recent recession. The good news is that you have control over your own personal economy. More than ever before it’s easy to save money and manage your finances. With the abundance of online tools and free apps, consumers can find the best prices and keep track of their spending in mere seconds — they just have to make a concerted effort. “The funny thing is — even in a bad economy — many people packing into malls across America don’t seem very concerned about saving money,” says Trae Bodge, senior editor for The RetailMeNot Insider. “Simply cutting costs on the purchases we make every day can lead to significant long-term savings.” Bodge says that the following smart-buying strategies can help consumers save on purchases they were already planning to make.
  • Compare prices: Before purchasing a product, do some investigative shopping online. Price comparison tools like Red Laser, PriceGrabber and NextTag allow you to find the lowest possible price online. Apps like Invisible Hand do comparison shopping for you in real time, immediately alerting you when the item you are purchasing online is available elsewhere for less.
  • Use coupons: Once you’ve narrowed down the stores with the lowest list prices, make sure you also search for coupons to maximize your savings and stretch your dollar further. While one store may offer an item for a couple of dollars less, its competitor may have a coupon that saves you even more. Sites like RetailMeNot.com allow you to access hundreds of thousands of coupons by category or store for free, serving up deals ranging from free shipping to 30 percent off your purchase or more. RetailMeNot’s Coupons App for iPhone enables you to find deals on items when you are out and about, which is especially important for last-minute savings while shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Be loyal: Do you find yourself shopping online for the same items every month? If so, check to see if those sites offer an auto-delivery service. As a thank-you for ordering regularly, many sites offer you points toward discounts or, as in the case of Drugstore.com, reduced shipping on your replenishment orders. And don’t forget that many credit card companies offer loyalty and/or cash back rewards. Just remember to pay down your balance to avoid getting hit with high interest fees.
  • Save a bundle: Besides finding great deals on individual items, consider combining your purchases. For example, when it comes to travel, you can find great deals on packaged offers that bundle airfare and hotel, using sites like Orbitz and Expedia. But bundling is not restricted to just travel. Did you know that Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Piperlime are owned by the same company and their websites are linked? They offer free shipping on orders over $50 across all four sites — and you know how easy it is to spend $50 while shopping those four great brands.
  • Track expenses: Use a free service like Mint.com to track and categorize your monthly expenses. You may be surprised to learn that you are spending too much of your income in one category (such as fees or shipping) and can make appropriate course corrections to cut unnecessary expenses.
The truth is, you can save money without sacrificing lifestyle by employing these smart shopping strategies. “By year-end,” says Bodge, “you’ll see significant results when you flex your smart shopping muscles.” Just remember, it’s only a deal if you need the item and can legitimately justify the purchase.
(ARA) – As the weather warms up, garage sales begin appearing all over the U.S. Garage sales are a great way to clean out clutter while making some extra dollars for home improvements, bills, vacations or even “retail therapy.” Marcela Iannini, department chair of Advertising and Design & Media Management at Miami International University of Art & Design, says, “Garage sales are great opportunity to employ basic marketing principles in a fun way; a little innovation and creativity go a long way to maximize sales.” “It’s important to start with the basics of marketing – the four P’s – price, product, promotion and place. In garage sales it works best to think of the product as the garage sale itself and the items to be sold as product lines or brands of that product,” adds Cheryl Pilchik, Advertising faculty at The Art Institute of Philadelphia. Dr. Larry Stultz, department chair of Advertising and Web Design & Interactive Media at The Art Institute of Atlanta-Decatur, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta, agrees. “It is imperative to use the same thinking retailers use to maximize the visibility and sales opportunities for a garage sale.” Below are some helpful suggestions from Iannini, Pilchik and Stultz on making the best of your garage sale:
  • Product and price: Product mix is important in retailing. You can either focus on one type of product (kids’ toys or garden tools, for instance) or a broad mix of products. Study sales in your neighborhood to see what works best. Check out the prices, too. You should consider not only the original cost, but also what others charge at sales like yours. Rather than use a lot of time individually pricing each item, consider grouping like items together on large tables, posting the same price for all items on that table – like retailers do.
  • Place (scheduling/location): Think about a high-traffic area – retailers pay a premium for high-traffic locations. Perhaps you can team up with several neighbors and choose the house that has the most street visibility. Knowing your target market is paramount in timing your sale. Consider scheduling with other activities in your neighborhood – art shows or community events will help draw additional traffic.
  • Promotion (advertising/marketing): A successful garage sale requires careful planning and promotion using proven advertising strategies to make your sale stand out. One successful strategy is choosing a theme related to the items to be sold and carrying out the theme in all aspects of the sale. For example, if most of the items to be sold are from the 1980s, you’d play 80s music, have everyone working at the sale dress in 80s style and use 80s elements in your flyers.
Whatever your theme, consider the following to promote your sale:
  1. Neighborhood signs and flyers, placed on local business, PTA and school/church bulletin boards – and where permitted, on street corners or in yards.
  2. Local newspaper listings and online listings like craigslist.org.
  3. A social networking fan page with an event for the garage sale inviting friends and family.
  4. Your own Facebook and Twitter pages to inform your “friends” and “followers” about your event.
  5. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest on the day of the sale to distribute special offers, share photos of items for sale or offer incentives for referring fans or customers.
Give your garage sale a facelift to keep it fresh and appealing. Borrowing effective strategies and tactics used in the merchandising and advertising industries to engage the customer and communicate with them on their terms will help to ensure your success. To learn more about The Art Institutes schools, visit www.artinstitutes.edu.
Are your finances out of control? Do you feel like your money is leaving the second it is deposited into your checking account? You’re not alone. Countless individuals feel the exact same way. Everyone knows working a budget is the hardest part of the journey – it’s making the budget that’s the easy part! Yes, you can make a quick and easy budget. It’s not rocket science, and by the time you’re done, I know you’ll feel better! Here are the 5 steps you need to start your quick budget today!
  1. Gather receipts or a bank statement showing the last month’s worth of history. This will give you a great idea of what your spending is month by month (when you’re not on a budget). This is an awesome starting point from which you can create categories for your budget and see how much you spend in each. Don’t worry about getting everything too accurate – this is a quick budget!
  2. Write down how much your net income is. This will help you determine if your spending is greater or lesser than your income. If your spending is greater than your income, cut up those credit cards! Nobody wins by going into debt except the bank.
  3. Target your top spending categories and make dramatic cuts. When you were gathering your receipts or bank statements, did you notice an area of spending that you really should be spending less in? If so, ask yourself how much you can cut from this category. More than likely, you’ll have several categories that are way over what you should be spending.
  4. Target your current assets that you can’t afford and sell. Hey, you know that fancy new car that is sitting out in your garage? Maybe you should sell if you can’t pay your bills! Or maybe you should sell it to get an emergency fund that will help you when you have those unexpected expenses come up in a few months. When you first start budgeting, it’s nice to have an emergency fund that you can depend on just in case you forget to fund a certain category. By the way, is your house too much for you to handle? Try downsizing and see if that makes a difference!
  5. Understand that these things will take time. Alright, you might be wondering why I’m talking about the big picture ideas in budgeting and not the smaller ones – after all, this article is about how you can make a quick budget! Well, I want these concepts to be in the back of your mind so that when you’re writing your budget, you can be extra frugal!
So there you have it! Soon, you’ll be an expert at budgeting. Make a quick budget today or learn how to budget more comprehensively!
(ARA) – What do time and money have in common? They’re worth a lot, and we could always use more of each. Between managing a packed schedule and trying to stretch every dollar, getting a healthy meal on the table may seem impossible. Smart planning and shopping can make it easier on any budget, so mealtime can be nutritious, tasty and stress-free to prepare. Consider these five tips to plan and prepare quick, nutritious and affordable meals:
  1. Plan ahead: Studies show one-third of Americans decide what to make for dinner at the last minute, which can lead you to choose less-than-healthy foods. Plan your meals ahead of time and go to the supermarket with a shopping list, so you avoid impulse buys. Stick to your list and budget.
  2. Go online to find quick recipes: The Internet offers countless places to find recipes the whole family will enjoy and tips to cut preparation time. Search for recipes that use ingredients that are affordable and easy to prepare. Consider searching for recipes on sites like Mealtime.org and AllRecipes.com.
  3. Keep frequently used ingredients in your pantry: Canned tomatoes, beans, tuna and other foods can be stored in the pantry until you’re ready to prepare a quick and delicious meal. Another plus: A recent study in the Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences shows canned foods help families meet their dietary goals for key nutrients, often at a lower cost-per-nutrient than fresh or frozen varieties.
  4. Look for meals that can be prepared in advance: Cook ahead on days when you have time or double-up on recipes of your favorite soups and sauces; freeze half to use on one of those especially time-crunched weeknights.
  5. Explore protein alternatives: Traditionally, meat has been at the center of America’s dinner plate, but that can be expensive every night. Experiment with non-meat proteins, such as beans, seafood and soy-based foods and try “no cook” meals like salads. Combining seasonal fresh produce in a green salad with affordable protein-alternatives, including canned beans and tuna, helps stretch the food budget and add critical nutrients.
Use these tips to help your family get the most nutrition from every meal by making smart choices from every food group. Remember, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that a healthy, affordable diet should include all forms (canned, fresh, frozen and dried) of fruits, vegetables, beans and seafood. Consider comparing the overall value of fresh, canned and frozen forms of the same vegetable or fruit to decide which best suits your family’s needs.
By: Rochelle Algarra Are you having difficulty understanding or handling your teenager’s personality and attitude? A lot of parents today often find themselves in a similar predicament in which they become desperate and clueless in handling their teenager’s mood-swings, behavior problems and negative attitude towards school, their elders and/or figures of authority. Although this is a common problem in the adolescent stage, it can pose to be a real challenge to many families. To give parents a hand with this issue, boot camps are now being put up whose programs are specifically designed to help confused and troubled adolescents. These camps offer short-term programs which may last anywhere from thirty to ninety days (usually the duration of an entire summer vacation). These programs are geared to help, motivate, and instill a more positive outlook in life for these teenagers. They focus on behavior modification where obedience, respect, and diligence are the primary values taught to them. Teen Boot Camps, however, can be both physically and mentally demanding to teenagers so that there is need for constant monitoring by specially-trained personnel. These high-intensity camps are similar to a military environment where attendees are made to live in tents or barracks which are mostly situated in remote locations, such as the outdoors. Attitudinal modification is the main goal of these programs. Your child will be taught to instill discipline in themselves, and learn consistency and commitment. Additionally, children are expected to learn how to make better choices by rewarding good behavior with special privileges and punishing bad behavior or decisions, usually with physical exertion. Experts believe that such short-term programs are quite effective and more advisable especially in the early stages of intervention. Long-term programs, however, may have the opposite effect or unexpected results. A teen boot camp that applies modern techniques in its courses have higher success rates. Of course, it is also important to realize that each teenager has a unique personality with different reactions to certain stimuli. Hence, effective teen boot camp programs take this into consideration and give each attendee an individualized approach that is specific to his or her needs. Camp personnel are skilled at using the proper method of reaching-out or communicating to whatever type of character a teenager may have. Prior to enrolling your child to a boot camp, parents are first opened to a discussion with a consultant for the administrations to get a complete background about the teenager. This will also help administrators design a program that is best suited to his or her particular problem. Parents are then advised on the next steps to take, what is expected from them and from their teenager, what is included in the program for their child, and what outcome is anticipated when the program ends. An adviser or counselor that is conversant in handling troubled teens and can research the most applicable boot camp or program is the ideal choice and can guarantee a successful intervention. For more information, you can check out how to choose the right boot camps for your troubled teen or get help now and avail of free information and consultation by filling-out the online form at http://www.teenbootcamps.org/online-form.html
By: Jenna Brooklyn Are you a parent keeping a teenager who is at risk? What is the solution to the problem of your children? How can you help them? At what cost? Will your child get assistance elsewhere apart from home than home? Will at risk youth programs make a difference? This is just a tip of an ice berg as parents caring for at-risk youths have more questions than answers each brighter day. With the everyday life challenges that are rife in our society, like separation and divorce, people are exposed to temptations that more often than not young people have no choice but to face problems at whichever places they visit. However, impressive programs for at-risk youth are taking center stage. Under privileged parents are beneficiaries of wilderness camps where they are supported with all the necessary facilities they need. Photos of the venue are widely posted on the site for you. While at the site, course details are blared to give you tips and more information about the youth facility. Moreover, the camps act as a major brainstorming opportunity where partners exchange knowledge through emails and telephones. However, it’s nice to write down a list of your questions before the actual debate begins. Keeping your child healthy is a matter of life and death at this time that it’s smart to choose the best possible camp for the rehabilitation. Keep a breast with the problems of your teen in order to come up with proper questions, though. Consider that solved, what’s the way forward? As it turns out, camps are an absolute out door furnishing idea. You have to enjoy yourself. Individuals share healthy meals before starting a spirited walk to the wilderness where they kick off at risk youth programs. The distressed youths are taught many skills among others how to light fire without matches, cooking food in the wilderness, being responsible, reducing air pollution and the need to face challenging times. The place itself can be a boon to your child. Many young kids about town are green about natural beauty. While in the open fields the teens appreciate nature, watch wildlife and handle demanding physical duties which improves their self esteem and build their muscles. Rehabilitation is important to at-risk youth. They must be counseled by an expert. What muscles up special any camp is the rehabilitation program. It is a regular practice that is taken individually and as a group. Settle for a targeted program that can bring the solution to the problem that lies ahead of the youths. The program ought to be as authentic as possible. A stiff, hard fact is that the youths will consume weeks and months in the camps, but will finally return home. By all means this does not hamper with their academic studies. However, it’s important to incorporate normal school activities as well as the academic studies in the scheme of programs for them to be honored back in their usual schools. At risk youth program has spread its wings and it has schools of high profile. But what there are set to vary as away of making them unique and be discernible. To learn more about At-Risk youth and its programs do check out our site, At Risk Youth Programs. To inquire about the different programs fill out this online form.
Majority of the mortgage programs dedicated to assist single mothers to purchase house are aimed at low-income women. If you are a single mother who is facing financial hardships in buying a home for you and your kids, then you should do adequate research to find out a home mortgage program that suits you best. A large proportion of the houses in the country are owned by single mothers. Single women may be looking for extra security for their kids by securing a home. Many single mothers, who face difficulty in making ends meet, may harbor the hope of owning a home for her and her kids. Different types of programs are also available. You can take advantage of various mortgage programs to fulfill your dream of owning a house. Here we discuss different programs dedicated to the single mothers. 1. Housing Choice Vouchers Program This housing choice voucher program is backed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This is a very good program aimed at the single mothers to purchase a property. The main aim of this program is to ensure that all the households can obtain sustainable housing irrespective of the level of income. The Public Housing Agency is responsible for looking after the funds that have been dedicated for this program. If you are a single mother and if your income is 50% or lower than the state median income, then you may qualify to get this fund. HUD maintains a list of low-priced foreclosed houses. You can use your housing choice vouchers to purchase your home. 2. FHA Programs These are good programs to assist low-income households and single moms who otherwise do not qualify for a home loan. These offers are not directly made by the government. Instead, these are offered by the private lenders. Government serves the role of a guarantor. Since these offers are guaranteed by the government, lenders find these offers very attractive. Another advantage of this program is that this can be offered in unison with other assistance programs. These programs may include housing vouchers, grants, down payment loans, etc. 3. Home Improvement Partnership Programs This program is aimed at helping the low-income individuals in obtaining mortgage loans, construction loans, down payment assistance and many more. In order to become eligible for this program you must fulfill the income requirement. If your income is more than 80% of the median income in your state, then you will not be eligible for this special offer. So, your single motherhood status will not ensure that you will be eligible for this offer. You should also fulfill the low income criteria in order to qualify. In some situations, individual states offer special home purchase assistance programs to help single mothers to fulfill their dream of owning a home. Sometimes, counties and cities also come up with such offer. You need to keep a vigil on these offers so as to make your dream of purchasing a home come true. Author Bio: Jessica Bennet with her vast experience in the mortgage industry has been associated with the MortgageFit Community as a Mentor. Not only does she participate in the community forums t give her suggestions, but also makes her contributions through different articles on mortgage.
(BPT) – Each year, millions of Americans seek hospital care to treat a wide range of medical problems – from accidental injuries to chronic or life-threatening illnesses. While the majority of patients have positive outcomes, it is imperative to remember patient safety should be a top priority for everyone. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) notes patient safety is a serious global public health issue. Even in developed countries such as the United States, as many as one in 10 patients may be harmed while hospitalized. Injury rates are even higher in developing countries, making patient safety a high priority around the world. You can take steps to help ensure your safety whether in the hospital for a planned or unexpected circumstance. Here are three things to keep in mind to make your hospital stay as safe as possible:

1. Reduce infection risks:

Hospital infections are a top concern, especially for surgical patients. According to WHO, hand hygiene is the single most important measure to reduce health-care-related infections. Patients should keep hand sanitizer at their bedside and use it often. Additionally, the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) recommends:
  • Reminding your care team about hand-washing before any direct interaction.
  • Keeping an eye on intravenous catheters and wound dressings, and notifying your health care provider right away if something looks wrong.
  • Taking charge of health problems such as diabetes, excess weight and smoking, which can increase infection risk in the hospital.
  • Following doctors’ directions about breathing treatments to avoid lung infections.

2. Understand anesthesia:

Over the past century, anesthesiologists have advanced patient safety through innovative research, science and technology advancements. Whether in the operating room, procedure room, intensive care unit or pain clinic, anesthesiologists are committed to patient safety. Today, anesthesia-related fatalities only occur in less than one in every 200,000 procedures. To help ensure the highest quality and safest care, anesthesiologists lead Anesthesia Care Teams to supervise non-physician providers during the administration of anesthesia to make critical life decisions when there are only seconds to make them. According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), anesthesiologists have more than 10,000 hours of related medical training and education to diagnose, treat and respond to any medical complications that may occur. In addition to making sure a physician supervises your anesthesia care, it is important to follow all pre-operative instructions from your doctors and get plenty of rest before surgery. Also, be sure your anesthesiologist is aware of your prior anesthesia history and any medications you take. For more information about anesthesia and preparing for surgery, please visit LifelinetoModernMedicine.com.

3. Be aware of setbacks:

While unpredictable progress in recovery is not unusual, it’s important to minimize the risk of avoidable setbacks such as falls and readmissions. Tumbles are a major concern for the elderly, but even younger patients are at risk of falling in the hospital. NPSF often points to research indicating more than 500,000 falls occur in U.S. hospitals each year, causing 150,000 injuries. Muscle weakness, medication-related impairment and age can increase a patient’s risk of falling. Follow your physician’s directions and the hospital’s procedures for surer footing. Before you leave the hospital, make sure you understand the doctor’s after-care instructions to reduce your risk of readmission. Bring any questions or suspicions of complications to follow-up appointments to help your physician assess your recovery. Health care is incredibly intricate and complex, and while medical science has made great strides for patient safety, patients need to play an active role in their care. With diligent research and advocacy for their own health, patients’ collaboration with their care team can make them informed and, most importantly, safe.
In a perfect world, you’d develop a workout schedule for the next six months, stick to it flawlessly and find yourself at the level of fitness you hoped to achieve. But as many know all too well, life sometimes gets in the way, be it in the form of an injury, lack of motivation or simply running out of time. While sticking to a regular workout schedule is a challenge, there are a number of ways to keep you moving both physically and mentally. Making your workouts fun, getting creative with both your routine and schedule, and taking a few simple steps to stay healthy are all great steps toward sticking to your fitness goals. Ryan Sutter, a former professional football player who also happened to be the top choice on “The Bachelorette” in 2003, now finds himself in the role as a fulltime firefighter and family man. Yet he still enjoys amateur athletic pursuits to keep himself if shape, such as mountain bike races and marathons. Sutter offers six tips to fellow weekend warriors looking to stay in shape:
  1. Set successive short-term goals to keep you going. For example, schedule a 5k one month and a mountain bike race for the next. The feeling of accomplishment you get from fulfilling each goal will help you achieve the next. You can even set weekly goals with rewards, such as allowing yourself to order a pizza after sticking to your schedule for that week.
  2. Use peer pressure in a positive way. Enrolling in team sports or group activity can help provide the motivation for sticking to your plan. When others are depending on you, you’re less likely to skip out.
  3. Vary your activity. Run one day, play basketball another and hit the weight room the next. One benefit to a varied routine is keeping you interested, but it’s also great for your body. Different activities use different muscle groups, meaning a varied workout helps you become more comprehensively fit and can help you avoid overuse injuries. “Focus on being an athlete rather than a specialist,” says Sutter.
  4. Listen to your body. You’re likely to have some aches and pains, but those can be reduced with the proper treatment. Always take time to warm up before and stretch after workouts, and ice sore areas after your workout. To make icing easier, keep an ACE Brand Reusable Cold Compress in your freezer at both home and work. More injury prevention tips can be found at www.acebrand.com.
  5. Get creative with your scheduling. Look for ways to make workouts a part of your daily routine. “I really enjoy yoga in the morning with my kids,” says Sutter. Rather than heading out to dinner to catch up with your friend, see if he wants to hit the racquetball court instead. Or maybe you can occasionally bike to work instead of driving, spending the minutes you normally would be sitting in the car working out.
  6. Always keep your gym bag stocked and with you. This way, you can’t back out of your workout because you weren’t prepared. “There are three essentials I keep in my gym bag: food for energy, hydration to keep me going and clean clothes to change into when I’m done with my workout,” says Sutter. “You may also want to keep an ACE Brand Bandage that offers compression to help you deal with any soreness that might arise.”
“The most important thing is to have fun,” says Sutter. “Otherwise, it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re working out in the first place.”
(BPT) – For millions of Americans, the battle against heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions goes on year round. About 600,000 people die from heart disease in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making heart disease the leading cause of death for both men and women. However, despite the grim realities of heart disease, the steps to achieve better heart health can be simple. Experts agree that heart disease can be both preventable and controllable with the appropriate lifestyle changes. Registered dietician Elizabeth Somer, author of “Eat Your Way to Sexy” believes there are clear steps a person can take to turn around his or her heart health. “Many people with heart disease may be able to improve their heart health by making a few changes to what they eat, how much they move and their lifestyle,” Somer says. “There are four key things to think about for heart health: keep your blood fat levels down, keep your blood pressure in check, promote healthy blood flow and circulation, and keep inflammation down.” Here are five simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and improve your overall health.
  1. Take control of cholesterol with oat fiber: Numerous studies spanning a decade or more of research support the claim that dietary fiber from whole grains, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower the risk of heart disease. The fiber in oats is a soluble fiber called beta glucan. This fiber works by flushing cholesterol out of the system. Additionally, fiber-rich foods such as whole grains help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories and so may help with weight management.
  2. Better your blood pressure: Nearly one-third of all American adults have high blood pressure and more than half of them don’t have it under control, according to the CDC. The risks that accompany uncontrolled high blood pressure are serious. However, taking easy steps will lower that risk. Exercising and maintaining a healthy body weight, in addition to eating a low-sodium diet, can all contribute to a healthier blood pressure. Also, if you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, you have more than twice the risk of a heart attack than people who’ve never smoked.
  3. Keep your blood flowing: Products are now available that provide a natural way to help promote healthy blood flow by supporting normal platelet function. A tomato-based concentrate made from select Mediterranean tomatoes called Fruitflow is a natural, healthy and safe ingredient that has been proven through clinical research to keep platelets smooth, thereby promoting healthy blood flow. Try products with this ingredient like Langers Tomato Juice Plus or L&A Tomato Juice with Fruitflow as healthy daily beverage choices.
  4. Decrease inflammation: Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA may help reduce inflammation and may also help lower risks of chronic diseases such as heart disease. Load up on heart-healthy foods like colorful fruits and vegetables, salmon, mackerel, nuts and foods fortified with EPA/DHA Omega-3 fatty acids such as certain milks, snacks and even cooking oils.
  5. Shed the layers: It’s nothing new. We know that being overweight puts us at risk for numerous health problems, including an increased risk of both heart disease and stroke. The change in seasons can serve as the perfect springboard into a new exercise routine. Take advantage of extended daylight hours by sneaking a sweat session into your evening routine and take control of your diet, making sure to cut back on foods with saturated and trans fats.
(ARA) – In a perfect world, you’d develop a workout schedule for the next six months, stick to it flawlessly and find yourself at the level of fitness you hoped to achieve. But as many know all too well, life sometimes gets in the way, be it in the form of an injury, lack of motivation or simply running out of time. While sticking to a regular workout schedule is a challenge, there are a number of ways to keep you moving both physically and mentally. Making your workouts fun, getting creative with both your routine and schedule, and taking a few simple steps to stay healthy are all great steps toward sticking to your fitness goals. Ryan Sutter, a former professional football player who also happened to be the top choice on “The Bachelorette” in 2003, now finds himself in the role as a fulltime firefighter and family man. Yet he still enjoys amateur athletic pursuits to keep himself if shape, such as mountain bike races and marathons. Sutter offers six tips to fellow weekend warriors looking to stay in shape:
  • Set successive short-term goals to keep you going. For example, schedule a 5k one month and a mountain bike race for the next. The feeling of accomplishment you get from fulfilling each goal will help you achieve the next. You can even set weekly goals with rewards, such as allowing yourself to order a pizza after sticking to your schedule for that week.
  • Use peer pressure in a positive way. Enrolling in team sports or group activity can help provide the motivation for sticking to your plan. When others are depending on you, you’re less likely to skip out.
  • Vary your activity. Run one day, play basketball another and hit the weight room the next. One benefit to a varied routine is keeping you interested, but it’s also great for your body. Different activities use different muscle groups, meaning a varied workout helps you become more comprehensively fit and can help you avoid overuse injuries. “Focus on being an athlete rather than a specialist,” says Sutter.
  • Listen to your body. You’re likely to have some aches and pains, but those can be reduced with the proper treatment. Always take time to warm up before and stretch after workouts, and ice sore areas after your workout. To make icing easier, keep an ACE Brand Reusable Cold Compress in your freezer at both home and work. More injury prevention tips can be found at www.acebrand.com.
  • Get creative with your scheduling. Look for ways to make workouts a part of your daily routine. “I really enjoy yoga in the morning with my kids,” says Sutter. Rather than heading out to dinner to catch up with your friend, see if he wants to hit the racquetball court instead. Or maybe you can occasionally bike to work instead of driving, spending the minutes you normally would be sitting in the car working out.
  • Always keep your gym bag stocked and with you. This way, you can’t back out of your workout because you weren’t prepared. “There are three essentials I keep in my gym bag: food for energy, hydration to keep me going and clean clothes to change into when I’m done with my workout,” says Sutter. “You may also want to keep an ACE Brand Bandage that offers compression to help you deal with any soreness that might arise.”
“The most important thing is to have fun,” says Sutter. “Otherwise, it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re working out in the first place.”
Very few Americans are satisfied with their current weights. There are too many good tasting, high-calorie foods, and too few hours available to burn the fat. It can be done easily, and here are the best ways to do it. Remember, weight-loss is best approved by a physician, especially if there are any medical concerns such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, cardiovascular problems, etc. 1. Increase cardio workouts. If you’re in shape and have no critical health concerns, perform an aerobic workout every day of the week. To burn fat, a person needs to work at a certain level and cardiovascular exercise is the answer. Don’t put pressure on yourself with an unrealistic goal, like losing the 20 pounds in a week. Unless you have excessive water weight or are already excessively overweight, you won’t likely drop it that fast. Aerobic exercise, such as running or biking outdoors, or on indoor machines such as the treadmill, stair stepper, stationery bicycle, etc., keeps your heart rate at a certain level. Sports such as tennis racquetball and basketball, though rigorous, aren’t really aerobic because they are stop-and-start activities. If you exercise at a very high level, you burn glucose, but if you exercise at the right level, then you burn fat. The ideal target range is 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. 2. Eat a large, healthy breakfast and lunch and smaller dinner. Your body wont be trying to metabolize large amounts of food at night, during its dormant time while you sleep. You expend energy during the primary time that you’re taking it in. Keep it low fat, but take in most of the quantity in the morning and afternoon. 3. Interval training. Combine aerobic and anaerobic workouts. Perform one or two sets of strength training press, curls, squats, etc. then one minute of jumping rope or fast sprints. The whole purpose of this cycle is to allow your body to have enough oxygen to really burn fat efficiently. A high intake of oxygen is needed in order to metabolize body fat and burn it. Anaerobic or strength training does not really do much for body fat, but if you combine the two (anaerobic plus aerobic) you get excellent results. This type of workout should be at least 30 minutes, but not more than 45 minutes, and you should be stretched-out, warmed up and limber before you begin. Cardio exercise on the exercise bicycle for weight loss is not recommended because the seat carries part of your weight and a person is supposed to carry his or her own body weight for optimum results. 4. Give yourself strength with enough sleep. Get eight hours of good sleep every night. If you can, rest during the day when you get tired. Some people think they increase their energy with coffee, which is an appetite stimulant. Then you eat more. You can make your body feel good in ways other than eating, and appropriate sleep is very important. A positive feeling toward life is another. Work at being happy and content. It makes you feel less deprived if you give up fattening foods. 5. Don’t follow fad diets: make eating right an ongoing priority. With diets that focus on one food group at the expense of another, you’re going to suffer an imbalance of nutrition. Metabolism goes down, craving for food may go up, and all kinds of things go on that give you less control over eating. 6. Cut calories while not slowing down your metabolism. Increase your exercise by a little more and make a slight adjustment to your calorie intake, but not a large one, because you do not want to throw your metabolism out of sync. Reduce your fat intake by 10 to 15 percent less fat per day to begin. Fast exercise burns more fat. 7. Divert yourself at times of craving. Curbing your eating behavior at the times you’re most likely to eat bad foods can involve physical activity, though that doest work for some people. You can do a reduced level of physical activity. Get out of the house and take a walk. Listen to music. Read a good book, but do something to take your mind off unhealthy food! 8. Drink a lot of water. Water helps you feel full, and is needed for flushing out your system. If you think fruit juices, coffee or soft drinks count as eight glasses of water a day, they don’t. Fruit juices, though beneficial in other ways, are higher in calories. Eight cups of caffeinated coffee is a poor substitute for water because you’ll be feeling unhealthy effects of the caffeine. Soft drinks either contain sugar or artificial sweeteners. Sugar gives you useless calories, and too many artificial sweeteners causes headaches. There’s no substitute for good, clean refreshing water! 9. Eat more fiber. Physicians and health experts advise that our bodies are biologically designed for survival and reproduction. Taste buds give us the full flavor of food so that we want to eat and survive. It follows that if your stomach is growling constantly, your mind is sending signals to eat. Fill up with low-fat fiber like brown rice, cereals, fat-free rice cakes, soy chips and other food that will give you that full feeling. Otherwise, you’re fighting your own mind. Be sure to count how many calories you’re ingesting when you go for more fiber. Fat-free food doest mean it will never create fat on you; too many calories, even if they are fat-free, can still pack on the pounds. 10. Consider proper support. Besides supportive people, like those found in Weight Watchers and other weight-loss support groups, you might consider subliminal weight-loss tapes. Or even hypnosis. If done properly, hypnosis has been known to help people lose their desire to overeat. Reduce lifestyle barriers that make weight-loss difficult. This is the real world; consider your own lifestyle, and how that is going to help you. Beware how it will hinder you, too. Do you feel hounded by fat-laden vending machines at work? Do you dislike the gym because you rather be home? Does your mother make you a pan of lasagna every week? Plan ahead for the demons in your life that will try to put those pounds back on

article source: adzines.com

In today’s bustling world we are constantly surrounded by media hype about “Weight Loss” and “Calorie Controlled Diets”. As a Nutritional Therapist, I am often asked “How many calories are too many?” The simple answer to this question is that we are all individuals, and we all require a different amount of calories per day. By following the four steps outlined below, you can determine exactly how many calories you need to consume on a daily basis in order to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Step 1: The amount of calories you require will vary with your age and weight. In order to calculate this place your weight in kilograms into one of the following equations Age 18 29 [(0.062 x weight) + 2.036] x 239 Age 30 60 [(0.034 x weight) + 3.538] x 239 Age 60+ [(0.038 x weight) + 2.755] x 239 This will give you the amount of calories you need to consume on a daily basis. Step 2: The next item that is taken into consideration is your activity level. This is based on your occupational activity level and your non-occupational activity level. For example if you work in an office all day then your occupational activity level will be light. If however, you take some form of exercise in the evening this will be a non-occupational level of moderately active. See below for details. Occupational Activity Level – light with a non-active non-occupational activity = 1.4 for both male and female Occupational Activity Level Moderate with a moderately active non-occupational activity 1.7 for male and 1.6 for female Occupational Activity Level Moderate/heavy with a very active non-occupational activity 1.9 for male and 1.7 for female To calculate the amount of calories required based on your activity levels multiply your daily calories as per step 1 by the number in step 2. Example: 1430 calories x 1.4 (light with non-active) = 2002 calories per day Step 3: For those wishing to lose or gain weight, the amount of calories required per day will need to be increased or decreased. The best way of doing this is to subtract 500 calories from your daily intake for weight loss and add 500 calories to your daily intake for weight gain. By reducing your calorie intake by 500 calories per day this will allow you to lose 500 grams (1lb) per week. Always remember if weight is lost slowly you are more likely to maintain the weight loss. Crash dieting is not the answer. Step 4: The final step in this process allows you to calculate how many grams of fat your daily calorie intake should have and how much should be carbohydrates. No more than 35% of the calories consumed on a daily basis should be made up of fat. To calculate this, multiply your calories per day by 0.35 and divide the answer by 9. This will give you your grams of fat per day. At least 50% of the calories you eat should come from carbohydrates. To calculate this, multiply your calories per day by 0.5 and divide the answer by 3.75. By following these four steps you now have the exact amount of calories you should be consuming on a daily basis. You will soon be losing your unwanted weight and maintaining a healthy and balanced diet in the process.

article source: adzines.com

(ARA) – Health care expenditures totaled roughly 2.6 trillion dollars in 2010, more than 10 times what they were in 1980. Average families are feeling the increases – health insurance premiums for a typical family of four have increased by 114 percent since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And health care costs now make up approximately 6.6 percent of the average family’s budget. It’s true that the health care industry is immense and sometimes seems impossible to navigate but you are not powerless. Here are 10 tips for keeping health care costs manageable: 1. Negotiate with health care providers If you have no insurance, consider negotiating with your medical provider for a discount in the amount that insurance would have required them to write off.  According to Michaelea Holten MIBC program instructor at Everest Institute in Tigard, Ore. “Usually the amount providers are asked to write off is around 30 to 35 percent, which can mean real savings for you.” 2. Pay in full Holton adds, “Many providers offer a ‘paid in full’ discount if you offer to pay services in full at the date of service. This saves providers time and effort following up, so it can often be in their interest to encourage up-front payments.” 3. Stay informed The more prepared and informed you are about your options, the more likely you are to receive better care and ultimately, you may save yourself money. Specifically, this means you should do research prior to getting additional medical services. Many exams and tests are very expensive and may not be considered medically necessary. 4. Be an active and inquisitive patient Remember that you know your body better than anyone. Deborah Jones, medical assisting program chair at Everest Institute in Tigard, reminds us that your medical provider depends on your knowledge to diagnose and treat any conditions. “When visiting a provider, you should always go prepared with a list of questions and concerns. If you take the time to get answers on your first visit, you will save time and money in the long run, as you will have fewer follow-up visits and reduce the potential for misdiagnosis,” she says. 5. Know your health insurance benefits If you have health insurance, make sure you review your explanation of benefits (EOB) when you receive them. Insurance companies make mistakes, so make sure you are reviewing your EOBs for correct information on payments made, deductibles, or denied claims. If you have any questions, call your insurance company. If you wait, then denied claims could cost you hundreds of dollars. 6. Set up a flexible spending account if offered by your employer  If your employer offers a flexible spending account (FSA) as a benefit, take advantage. An FSA is a benefit that employers can offer their employees to help them save money on medical expenses – FSAs allow you to deduct a certain amount of pre-tax income each pay period for medical payments, and thereby reduce what you pay in federal income taxes. However, it is important to estimate your anticipated medical expenses carefully because deductions placed in an FSA must be used within the calendar year, or you forfeit your right to those dollars. 7. Investigate free prescription drug programs Do you have trouble covering the cost of your prescription drugs? Lori Snyder, pharmacy technology program chair at Everest College in Reseda, Calif., suggests that you write to the pharmaceutical company that manufactures your medications. They all have programs which offer prescription drugs at no cost, and you may qualify. 8. Be wary of savings schemes  Take caution when looking at “Medical Discount Plans.” Many discount plans state that they can save you up to 60 percent on medical expenses, if you go to their providers. But some of these plans are simply out for your money. Before signing up for a plan, be sure to do your research by calling the plan’s providers, and getting price quotes for their services. 9. Shop around for treatment services You wouldn’t buy the first shirt you see in a store without trying it on and comparing prices – so why would you commit to the first medical provider you call? In seeking out medical services, call around and ask for the fee schedules of the providers you need to see. They should be able to give you a list of procedures and their costs. Then you can compare prices of different providers prior to choosing. 10. Consider switching insurance providers  Remember, not all insurance plans are created equal. Many employers offer a choice of different insurance plans. Consider reassessing your family’s medical needs on an annual basis and negotiating premiums with insurers. They all want your business.
(ARA) – From take-out to drive-thrus, it’s easy to fall into traps of convenience and temptation when trying to lose weight.  Few people know that better than David Kirchhoff, president and CEO of Weight Watchers International. After struggling with obesity for years, Kirchhoff took control of his health and changed his lifestyle. He chronicles his hard-fought lessons in a candid and humorous way in his new memoir, Weight Loss Boss. Here are five of his top tips to becoming the boss of your own weight loss: 1. Don’t go it alone. A weight loss partner, like a friend or a spouse, can provide motivation and accountability. You’re more likely to go for a walk in the morning if you know your friend is outside waiting to walk with you. Also, seek out social support. From posting updates on Facebook to creating a weight loss blog, sharing your experiences can be motivating to both you and your followers. 2. Choose foods that are big, slow and filling. Instead of trying to get the biggest bang for your buck, find meals and snacks that give you the most food for the calories. Focus on foods with bulk such as salads, broth-based soups and oatmeal, and supplement them with low calorie fruits and vegetables. For snacks, look for low calorie, high fiber options that take a while to eat, such as grapes, sliced apples and fat-free popcorn. 3. Put on an awesome tool belt. Having the right tools and resources by your side will make the process easier by creating additional accountability and controls, such as a scale, pedometer and apps that support a healthier lifestyle. Weight loss programs like Weight Watchers can also provide the additional resources you need to lose weight effectively and learn to keep it off. 4. Establish healthy habits. Create a routine that can make the habit second nature, such as eating a healthy breakfast or working out each morning. To help transition these new routines into autopilot, make sure you have an incentive to do it, and create a routine around it so it’s easier to work into your life. 5. Control your environment. Temptation will eventually win, especially if poor food choices are easily accessible. Banish your trigger foods and replace them with healthy favorites. For example, try replacing that stash of chocolate in your desk with almonds, fruit and beef jerky. Healthy, high-fiber snacks, packed with protein, can satisfy your hunger and help keep you feeling full longer. Stop thinking like a dieter with an eye on the finish line. Instead, think like someone who is trying to establish healthier habits that will stick for a lifetime, and become your own weight loss boss.
Look for the positives! Seek them out – those little scary places that it’s challenging to let yourself go to – the positives are genuinely scary, because they give you hope and it’s hard to let go of all the fears you have right now – so hanging onto them is the easiest path! So try letting yourself go, just for the heck of it! Take that step back from being ‘done to’ and take the initiative. At work, at home or wherever, this can be a great time, if you let it. There are loads of ideas why. Here are eleven of my favorites… 1. Personal Growth Change gives us great moments for self-development and personal growth. It is in times where there is a lot going on, where we have to get out of our box to think, even when change is imposed, that we move forward. 2. Involving Others During change periods we can create relationships that are new – and we, as managers, have a great chance to bring others into our confidence and into our network. 3. Adventure There is something about change, large or small which creates ‘something different’ from our routine day. This is pretty cool really. We are being provided with stimulating mental exercise to make the best of things happening differently. It might not look that way, but change brings adventure! 4. Building it in Learning about big changes, means that we can closely observe why those changes are necessary. We have to make radical changes because we have strayed well off course. So as we learn, we can make provision to have some minor course corrections rather than completely the wrong destination. 5. Challenge In his great book, ‘The Inner Game of Work’, Timothy Gallwey talks about the fine balance between security and challenge being what gets people motivated. By creating new things to learn, to do, we stretch our people – and ourselves. 6. Opportunity Change brings new opportunity. For learning; for understanding ourselves better; for new perspectives; for different roles. These can be grasped personally or they can be dwelt on miserably. The better choice is to go for it! 7. Team Bonding Change exercises, big and small can be great to develop a team. Where there is the opportunity to work together, manager with their closest people there are often places, moments where the team spirit; the trust and the shared commitment – the ‘Dunkirk spirit’ even, enables future potential of a team to be loosened. 8. Honesty Where radical change proves necessary it enlightens those involved that where they are is not where they need to be. Carrying out a review of why serious change is necessary and seeking the real truth is very revealing. The icing on the cake for those involved in organizational change processes is to create a feedback loop that renders future major change unnecessary. 9. Choice Change is not truly necessary. Change is about choice. You have the choice whether to accept it positively or not. It is your choice and everyone has that – believe it or not. No-one is holding you down to prevent you getting away. Take personal responsibility for the choices you make. 10. Focus Change gives the opportunity for and usually gets really down to the gist of the issues that have precipitated the need. This is good. Your organization is realizing that things need to be different, for all sorts of reasons, but usually for the health of the organization and that means you, usually. For some it may mean loss of role, status and even job – now what positive opportunity does that bring! 11. Passion And finally, we have the opportunity to review our own roles, not just in the workplace, but in life too. Are you passionate about your work – or are you just muddling through? Are new opportunities presented to you personally through change – within or without the place where you work today? What is your personal passion and how do you work towards making that how you spend every day of your life? Hey change can be fun, if you let it be. Your life can be a straight line, and if you saw that one ER, what would it mean… Martin Haworth is a Business and Management Coach. He works worldwide, mainly by phone, with small business owners, managers and corporate leaders. He has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website, http://www.coaching-businesses-to-success.com.
Successful people have always had clear, focused goals that guide them to greatness. It took Thomas Edison thousands of attempts and thousands of failures over many years to invent the electric light bulb, but he knew exactly what he wanted, and his goal kept him going until he achieved it The rest, as they say, is history. Michelle Kwan had a goal to be the best skater in the world. Oprah Winfrey was an abused child who determined to make a better life for herself. Successful people always have clear goals. Great musicians, great athletes, successful salespeople and inspiring leaders know what they want in life, and they go after it. Great parents work at it. No one becomes an astronaut by accident! And yet the great bulk of people continue to drift through life with no goals at all, or with only vague dreams, hopes and wishes. No wonder we achieve so much less than we could! For those who have not yet experienced the joy of setting and achieving magnificent goals, here is a powerful set of principles that have worked for thousands of my clients. They will work for you, too. I call them The 4 Steps to Successful Goal-Setting:
  1. Decide what you want. Decide if you would rather have money in the bank, or that new car. Choose the life you prefer! You can’t have everything in life; but you can have anything you choose, if you will focus, pay the price, and pursue it with all your heart.
  2. Clarify your values. Too often, people choose goals that are inconsistent with their priorities and daily behaviors. Do you value health, or comfort? Is financial independence a priority, or merely a wish? In a clash between your values and your wishes, your values will win every time. Be certain your goals are consistent with your most important values.
  3. Write them down! Have the courage to put your intentions on paper, in your own words. Be specific and describe your goals in detail. When will you achieve them? What will success look like? Write down the details and read your goals every day, even take a moment to summarize them every morning. Stay focused.
  4. Take ACTION! To run a marathon, you must jog every day. Building a business requires that you make sales, every day. A loving marriage or happy kids require your time, your attention and your love, every day. Your daily actions need not be profound or heroic, but they must be consistent and persistent. Every day!
Success does not “just happen”. It is built like a work of art. First, it is imagined, then the skills, tools and materials are gathered, and the artist sets about creating a thing of beauty. It takes time. It requires skill, determination, persistence and faith. Just as an artist will make preliminary sketches and work out the details in her mind, so your success requires written goals, careful choices, clear commitments and daily persistence. You can do this. Make something magnificent of your life! About The Author Copyright © by Philip E. Humbert, PhD. All Rights Reserved Email: Coach@philiphumbert.com Website: http://www.philiphumbert.com Visit Dr Humbert’s website for over 250 pages of articles, Top 10 lists, humor, quotes, tips and tools for your success! There’s a free book on making (and keeping!) more money, and a FREE motivational newsletter. Check it out at his website!
“Work on your career and you’ll make a living. Work on yourself and you’ll make a fortune.” – Jim Rohn Regardless of the number of college credits or degrees you have, the truth is that much of your success is determined by your attitude. Education is worthwhile but a good attitude is priceless. If you search for a college that has a concentration of study entitled “Attitude,” you will come up empty handed. Yet, the world would be a better place if we could all major in “Attitude.” If attitude is not taught in school, then how come some people have great attitudes and others don’t? More important, how can you change from a mediocre attitude to a magnificent one? First, to adjust your attitude, you must be brutally honest with yourself and take responsibility for your attitude. You are the only one who can change you. Be accountable for who you are and how you behave. Tell yourself that blame is unacceptable. Second, recognize warning signs like negative thoughts, blame and pessimism. Your mind is like a computer; the beliefs you put in (input) create the actions you take out (output). For example, if you tell yourself that you are “just okay,” you will be “just okay.” What you think about, you will become. Third, use positive affirmations. Tell yourself every day that you are an outstanding person capable of achieving your goals. When the woman at the coffee shop in the morning asks how I am, I flash a big smile and reply “I’m great” or I’m outstanding.” Replace negative and mediocre with excellent and amazing. Stand up taller each morning. Breathe deeply to allow air into your diaphragm. Smile more, even at people you don’t know. Live a new level of excellence every day. Reach higher. Fourth, your subconscious mind operates on images and pictures. Before you go to sleep, envision your ideal day. What are you doing? What are you wearing? Who are you with? Are you in a meeting, confidently speaking before your boss and colleagues? Are you on the beach playing with your children and spouse? See and feel yourself in this moment as a huge success. Do you want a new house, job or relationship? Imagine it as if it already happened. Fifth, write down your goals. The subconscious mind kicks into action when you put your goals in writing. List three short-term and three long-term goals. Then, give your dreams deadlines (a date of accomplishment) and outline the steps you will take every day to reach your goals and dreams. Sixth, put your head down and focus. Successful people do not spend time with negative water cooler gossip and time wasters. Set your goals and get to work. Seventh, think about a successful person you admire. What are his or her personality traits, characteristics and values? Chances are the person who came to mind is successful because he or she decided to be positive and upbeat, to expect great accomplishments and to focus on doing whatever it takes to achieve his or her goals. Surround yourself with cheerful successful people. Eighth, avoid “naysayers” who shoot you down, speak negatively or have poor work and personal habits. Ninth, practice these ways to adjust your attitude for at least 21 days. That’s how long it takes to form a new habit. President John F. Kennedy said, “The human mind is our most fundamental resource.” Your mind is a fertile garden that will grow whatever you plant in it. What seeds are you planting in your mind? Are you planting seeds of opportunity and growth or weeds like cynicism and mediocrity? Life is better when you have a good attitude. So go ahead and give yourself the chance to move from mediocre to magnificent. We all have the tools. The key is to use the resources that we have to become totally amazing! About The Author Susan Young is the president of Susan Young Media Relations, Inc., a New Jersey firm that promotes and publicizes businesses, non-profits and professional associations. She is a speaker and trainer covering topics such as “How to Leverage The Media” and “Communicating with Confidence.” For information, call (732) 613-4790, or visit www.sueyoungmedia.com syoung@sueyoungmedia.com

article source: adzines.com

No matter how ambitious your goal, you CAN achieve it. You do it by taking one little step at a time. Here are a few tips to help you: 1. Visualize Your Goal: The first step is to create a mental picture of your goal. Get very clear on what you want. Are you gaining a new skill? Hitting a new revenue goal? Landing a new important client? See and feel it. 2. Define Your Goal: Be very precise and write your goal down. Outline how much and by when. Add in specific information and resources (money, marketing materials, software, etc.) you will need to acquire to achieve your goal. 3. Post It: Put your goal in a place you can easily see it: next to your desk, on your mirror, in your wallet? Read it several times throughout each day. 4. Support: Who can help you achieve your goal? Who are your cheerleaders? List the people and companies you will need to contact for assistance. 5. Make a Plan: When a goal seems too big, we tend to procrastinate because it is too overwhelming. Breaking it down and focusing on one piece at a time makes large goals more attainable. Develop a series of action steps with dates attached. As you finish each task, check it off and acknowledge yourself. That’s it – five simple steps to achieve anything. As you move along, enjoy the journey. You are learning, growing, and accomplishing. Take time to appreciate your progress. Reaching a goal does not happen by accident. It is a series of intentional small steps, proper planning, and a stubborn commitment to make it happen. ACTION STEP: Why not begin right now? What do you really want to achieve? Write down your goal. You CAN do it! As Business Author and Entrepreneur Mark Victor Hansen says, “By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own.” Wendy Maynard, your friendly marketing maven, is the owner of Kinesis (http://www.kinesisinc.com). Kinesis specializes in marketing, graphic and website design, and business writing. For more marketing tips, you can visit her blog, Kinetic Ideas at: http://www.wendy.kinesisinc.com You can also sign up for Kinesis Quickies, a free bi-monthly marketing e-newsletter. Learn more at http://www.news.kinesisinc.com article source: adzines.com
(ARA) – We keep hearing the words “bad economy,” and while views differ on the strength of the recovery, the reality is that most people are still feeling the aftermath of the recent recession. The good news is that you have control over your own personal economy. More than ever before it’s easy to save money and manage your finances. With the abundance of online tools and free apps, consumers can find the best prices and keep track of their spending in mere seconds – they just have to make a concerted effort. “The funny thing is – even in a bad economy – many people packing into malls across America don’t seem very concerned about saving money,” says Trae Bodge, senior editor for The RetailMeNot Insider. “Simply cutting costs on the purchases we make every day can lead to significant long-term savings.” Bodge says that the following smart-buying strategies can help consumers save on purchases they were already planning to make. * Compare prices: Before purchasing a product, do some investigative shopping online. Price comparison tools like Red Laser, PriceGrabber and NextTag allow you to find the lowest possible price online. Apps like Invisible Hand do comparison shopping for you in real time, immediately alerting you when the item you are purchasing online is available elsewhere for less. * Use coupons: Once you’ve narrowed down the stores with the lowest list prices, make sure you also search for coupons to maximize your savings and stretch your dollar further. While one store may offer an item for a couple of dollars less, its competitor may have a coupon that saves you even more. Sites like RetailMeNot.com allow you to access hundreds of thousands of coupons by category or store for free, serving up deals ranging from free shipping to 30 percent off your purchase or more. RetailMeNot’s Coupons App for iPhone enables you to find deals on items when you are out and about, which is especially important for last-minute savings while shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. * Be loyal: Do you find yourself shopping online for the same items every month? If so, check to see if those sites offer an auto-delivery service. As a thank-you for ordering regularly, many sites offer you points toward discounts or, as in the case of Drugstore.com, reduced shipping on your replenishment orders. And don’t forget that many credit card companies offer loyalty and/or cash back rewards. Just remember to pay down your balance to avoid getting hit with high interest fees. * Save a bundle: Besides finding great deals on individual items, consider combining your purchases. For example, when it comes to travel, you can find great deals on packaged offers that bundle airfare and hotel, using sites like Orbitz and Expedia. But bundling is not restricted to just travel. Did you know that Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Piperlime are owned by the same company and their websites are linked? They offer free shipping on orders over $50 across all four sites – and you know how easy it is to spend $50 while shopping those four great brands. * Track expenses: Use a free service like Mint.com to track and categorize your monthly expenses. You may be surprised to learn that you are spending too much of your income in one category (such as fees or shipping) and can make appropriate course corrections to cut unnecessary expenses. The truth is, you can save money without sacrificing lifestyle by employing these smart shopping strategies. “By year-end,” says Bodge, “you’ll see significant results when you flex your smart shopping muscles.” Just remember, it’s only a deal if you need the item and can legitimately justify the purchase.
Are you looking to get your business certified as minority-owned and need some guidance? First off, what is a certified minority-owned business? Who is eligible? A certified minority-owned business is a business that is supported by the government economically and socially. It is designed to aid minority groups in the United States by providing business solutions for those eligible and assist in distinguishing its brand identity. To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen, at least 25% Asian-Pacific, Black, Hispanic, or Native American heritage, and have proof of your minority through documentation. In addition, 51% of the company’s stock must also either be owned by its owners, managers, or operators to be considered. What’s the big fuss, why get certified? For one, people want to do business with minority owned companies, including the federal government, corporations, and state agencies. The reason being, departments, corporations, and companies must fulfill a certain funding percentage to minorities. Not only must a quo be met, many large companies seek to buy from minority-owned suppliers. By getting certified, you are making your business more marketable. Secondly, having this business certification will guide you to more public and private sector programs and opportunities. Public and private firms search for minority-owned suppliers. By not getting your business certified, you are limiting your business to fewer marketing and business development resources and opportunities. Thirdly, these businesses are important to its customers. See if you qualify and build up your support base. Be one of the businesses that contracts with the government and receive tax dollars to help your business thrive. How can I get my small business certified? Are there more programs and perks? If your business wants to connect with private-sector buyers, simply contact NMSDC’s (National Minority Supplier Development Council) 37 regional councils. NMSDC will provide you with a standard application process along with requested verified documents. The council has many corporate members, including Marriot and Microsoft, and connects to over 17,000 minority-owned suppliers. If you pass the certification regulations, your business may participate in an advanced training program, the Business Consortuim Fund’s Working on Capital Loan Program, and many NMSDC business opportunity fairs. The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Business Development Program helps minority-owned businesses win contracts in the public sector. In order to be approved, the business must be at least two years old and demonstrate its potential for succeed through its tax returns for proof of revenue. Simply register with the Central Contractor Registration database, then follow the SBA’s instructions, and you may be eligible for free one-on-one counseling, specialized business training, and marketing assistance through the local district office. The 2008 training even included programs on developing cost proposals, government contract negotiations, and contract law and the legal aspects of owning a firm. State and Local Programs (MBE) provide programs to those certified. To apply for MBE Programs, contact your state or local program for instructions. The programs offered vary along with its costs, and some include traveling training conferences. All programs are in addition to the programs included within the business contract. The Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program helps minority-owned small businesses in their own unique way. The Department of Transportation (DOT) distributes at least 10% of its money towards contracts for these particular businesses. To apply, contact your state or local transportation entity. Not only must the applicant meet the general minority-owned business certification requirements, but also the applicant must not be of a net worth of more than $750,000, regardless of the social disadvantage. MBE programs may accept a DBE certification as well. How much does it cost? The approximate cost of Certification seems to be about $350-$1,200, depending on the region. Good luck becoming a Certified Minority-Owned Business! What benefits have you experienced from becoming a certified minority-owned business? Please share it with us here! Author: Sasha Vido San Diego Startups http://www.SanDiegoStartups.com

article source: adzines.com

(ARA) – It’s no secret small businesses are essential to the economy. The latest U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners reported women owned 7.8 million businesses and accounted for 28.7 percent of all businesses nationwide. These small business firms generated $1.2 trillion in receipts. Given the challenges facing small businesses overall in this current economic climate, now more than ever women are navigating work-life demands, business management and talent retention issues. In fact, women are more concerned about virtually every economic factor than men, including the effectiveness of government leaders (76 percent vs. 73 percent), commodities prices (76 percent vs. 70 percent) and healthcare costs (75 percent vs. 66 percent), says the recent Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, a semi-annual study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners nationwide. The report also revealed that running a small business causes owners – both men and women – three times as much stress as raising children and twice as much stress as maintaining a healthy relationship with a spouse or partner. However, women do not give themselves the free time that men do – 62 percent compared to 53 percent. “Small business owners are constantly making sacrifices and prioritizing the success of their business over other personal priorities in their lives, but there are some simple ways to maintain a better work-life balance,” says Steve Strauss, small business expert and USA TODAY columnist. Strauss offers the following tips to managing the daily juggling act of owning a small business:
  • Build a diverse support system: While a vast majority of small business owners need some level of financial guidance, often in the form of occasional or ongoing expert advice, the report finds more women than men engage an accountant/bookkeeper (79 percent vs. 70 percent), a financial advisor (73 percent vs. 65 percent) or banker (52 percent vs. 47 percent) to help them run their businesses. Resources such as these can expand your network, provide essential professional support and keep you current on relevant trends.
  • Use tech tools and resources available to you: According to the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report women are actually more likely than men to view technology as a useful cash management tool. For example, female small business owners are more likely to view online banking (78 percent vs. 67 percent of their male counterparts) or direct payments (46 percent vs. 35 percent of males) as helpful in managing their small business. Electronic invoicing, online payroll services and mobile banking are other resources that can help. If you’re not already using these types of tools, be sure to speak with your financial institution about how to better manage your finances and improve efficiency.
  • Boost your competitive edge in the war for talent: The financial benefits you offer current and potential employees can be a dealmaker … or deal breaker. The good news is that small businesses now have access to 401(k) and IRA products designed specifically for their needs and budgets. For example, Merrill Edge Small Business 401(k) is designed for small businesses’ unique needs and offers a simplified, easy-to-manage retirement plan with lower costs than many traditional 401(k) plans, enabling owners to provide an important benefit to their employees. Offering these benefits is more important for women particularly when coupled with the cultural and work-life balance perks that often make small businesses attractive to employees, and they can boost your competitive edge.
With the right expertise and tools, small business owners can be equipped to improve their work-life balance. For more information, visit https://www.bankofamerica.com/smallbusinesshttp://smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/index.jspa and http://ahead.bankofamerica.com/fueling-the-economy/bank-of-america-releases-inaugural-small-business-owner-report/.
If you interviewed business owners of failed businesses, a majority will tell you that they didn’t understand or feel comfortable dealing with the “book work”. Your ability to understand and perform day to day accounting tasks in your small business is a critical success factor. Here are some tips to help you avoid the most common mistakes business owners make. Top 10 Record Keeping Mistakes Business Owners Make
  1. Not having a record keeping system set up (the shoebox approach)
  2. Procrastinating on invoicing customers
  3. Sticking checks in a drawer and forgetting to deposit them
  4. Not tracking carefully which customers have paid
  5. Not tracking invoices that are overdue
  6. Not following up to make sure overdue invoices get paid
  7. Putting “book work” at the bottom of priority list
  8. Sloppiness-not recording checks, recording the wrong amount, etc.
  9.  Abdicating all responsibility-“I have ‘people’ to handle that.”
  10. Creating an embezzlement friendly atmosphere-“I have ‘people’ to handle that whom I trust completely.”
How to Do It the Right Way So You Only Have to Do It Once Set up an accounting system that works for you If you don’t have accounting experience get help from an expert Schedule time each day or week to take care of “book work” Don’t procrastinate or move it to the bottom of the pile If you outsource or hire an employee to perform tasks, follow up to make sure things are happening as they should The way you handle record keeping in your business helps to determine whether you have a healthy cash flow or you’re always on the edge of financial disaster. Caroline Jordan is a small business mentor and consultant helping small business owners understand, diagnose, and improve cash flow in their businesses. For more information and resources to improve cash flow visit http://www.TheJordanResult.com/mastering.html.

article source: adzines.com

Self-Made Millionaires are not smarter or better than you. They have just discovered these secrets and used them to become wealthy. You can do it too. (1) DREAM BIG DREAMS. Thinking Big will change your life. For a crash course on this read “The Magic of Thinking Big.” (2) CREATE A SPECIFIC PICTURE OF WHERE YOU’RE GOING. The more specific you are the more likely you are to get there. (3) THINK AND ACT LIKE YOU’RE THE OWNER OF A BUSINESS, THE BUSINESS OF EVERYTHING YOU DO. Even if you work for someone else, you’re attitude will plant seeds for your independent greatness to grow. (4) LOVE WHATEVER YOU ARE DOING NOW. If you don’t love it, leave it. By saying no to doing work just for money you are magnetizing work to you that you can love. (5) CREATE A MASTERMIND GROUP. Have a regular meeting with others who are committed to building great lives. Share what you’re up to and support each other. (6) ESTABLISH A HEALTHY WORK ETHIC. Make taking action your best friend. (7) COMMIT TO CONSTANT NEVER-ENDING IMPROVEMENT. Every day be searching for how you can learn more. (8) SEE YOUR WORK AS SERVICE. Helping others will grow your business. (9) KNOW YOUR BUSINESS FROM TOP TO BOTTOM. That’s your job. (10) PREPARE FOR OPPORTUNITY. It will knock. Will you be ready? (11) STAY PHYSICALLY FIT. Strong minds create strong bodies. Weak bodies are the result of weak minds. Your physical and mental health are the core of your success in life. (12) PRIORITIZE YOUR LIFE. Do what’s most important first. (13) DELIVER MORE THAN YOUR CUSTOMER EXPECTS. This builds loyalty and repeat business. It feels good too. (14) DISCIPLINE YOURSELF. Fill your life with activities and people that make you grow. Discard activities that have negative results in your life. (15) PAY YOURSELF FIRST. This is the first rule of the wealthy. Put money into savings before you pay bills. And DON’T touch it. (16) MAKE TIME TO BE ALONE. This time is for planning and listening to what’s inside you. Give your creativity time and silence to speak to you. (17) GO FOR GREATNESS. Value the best and don’t settle for less. (18) HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY. Know who you are and what you want. Express this with integrity at all times. (19) MAKE DECISIONS QUICKLY AND BE SLOW TO CHANGE THEM. (20) FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION. Your mindset is focused on success. You will have success. (21) BE DETERMINED TO ATTAIN YOUR GOALS. Tenacious persistence builds confidence which leads to victory. About The Author Sopan Greene M.A. http://www.NetMarketingMastery.com Grab Your 2 FREE eBooks & a FREE report: “Million Dollar Emails” “How To Start Your Own Traffic Virus” & “The 13 Deadly Internet Marketing Mistakes Almost Every Business Is Making…” mail to: webmaster87-5956@autocontactor.com

article source: adzines.com

(ARA) – As women continue to break the glass ceiling in the working world, they also need to keep in mind their potential vulnerability in the financial world. Women tend to be more concerned about monthly expenses than saving enough for retirement, according to a recent survey sponsored by the Retirement Services Division of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). But the reality is that women often live longer than men, and therefore will have to figure out how to stretch retirement dollars longer, says Elaine Sarsynski, executive vice president of MassMutual’s Retirement Services Division and chairman and CEO of MassMutual International LLC. Only 39 percent of women report being confident they know how to calculate how much money they will need in retirement, according to the nationwide survey. And compared to men, women were less likely to increase portions of income saved through work retirement plans, or contribute to a regular IRA account. “Women need to pay attention to personal finances, because one way or another there is some likelihood they will be doing it alone,” says MassMutual Financial Professional Robin Weingast. “More than  50 percent of women age 75 or older live alone, and the median income of women 65 plus is now $15,000, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2011 report on older Americans.” Sarsynski says it is also troubling to note that when people retire early, they are often doing so for negative reasons like declining health, disability issues or unemployment.  A 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Mathew Greenwald & Associates found that to be the case for 50 percent of their respondents. “If you are a woman in this situation, you may be even less prepared to handle such a sudden challenge,” Sarsynski says. For women in all stages of life, here are some financial aspects that should be reviewed and added to a retirement planning program:
  • Bank accounts – If you’re married, sharing joint bank accounts can help highlight how the family income is spent. Chances are you and your spouse don’t earn exactly the same income. Some couples decide to split expenses evenly, while others appropriate the larger income toward the larger bill payments. Whatever you choose to do, consider creating a personal savings account in addition to the household financial contribution responsibilities you already have.
  • Debt – Debt accumulation can cause a strain on a spouse’s credit – and finances – even if it happened prior to the wedding. Determine if you will be held responsible for your spouse’s prior debts, and if so, to what extent? If you are able to keep your prior debts separate, it will help to ensure each other’s property remains out of reach of creditors, protecting your individual credit ratings.
  • Retirement – On average, women tend to spend 12 years out of the workforce due to caregiving responsibilities for children, parents and spouses, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. To top it off, women typically earn 77 percent of what their male counterparts earn. This traditionally results in women contributing less to retirement via 401(k) accounts, or receiving less through pensions and Social Security benefits. Because of these factors, women need to start a retirement planning process earlier in life, either setting additional money aside, or meeting with a financial adviser to discuss options.
  • Insurance – Even with a great retirement plan in place, unplanned factors can impact savings. Disability income insurance can provide a source of income in the event you are unable to work because of an accident or illness. And life insurance can help provide financial security upon death by providing funds for children to attend college, or to help continue with mortgage payments.
  • Maintenance – Make sure to keep retirement savings and insurance on pace with income. It’s important to keep your retirement savings on par with what you earn. If you receive a raise, consider using a portion of that money to increase your contribution to your 401(k) plan. The same goes for disability income insurance protection. As your income rises, so should how you allocate funds to protect it.
Taking a good look at personal long-term plans can help women be better situated for their futures financially. Retirement is an option for all women no matter their life situations, and can become a reality with good planning.
Steve Martin once delivered an opening monologue for Saturday Night Live in which he answered the age-old question “How can I be a millionaire?” His answer was fairly simple and straightforward, “First? get a million dollars.” If at this point you can’t help but feel that Mr. Martin performed an extraordinary feet of oversimplification that night, then I urge you to read on, and hopefully, by the time you finish this essay, you’ll be convinced that becoming a millionaire isn’t nearly as difficult as everyone makes it out to be. Through a simple three-step process which I will lay out clearly, the keys to the millionaire’s club will be shown to be available to anyone willing to merely reach out and grab them. Before you begin any financial strategy, you must realize that there is a vast difference between what you earn, what you own, and what you’re worth. The amount of money that you earn from going to work everyday is known as your income, and has relatively little to do with your financial status. The sum of the value of all of your possessions is known as your wealth, and is a closer guideline. Net worth is the real gauge of how close you are to becoming a millionaire, as it is the value of all of your assets, subtracted by your total debt. Now that you see that having a large income is not the end all guarantee of financial security, let’s move quickly to what you can due to get that million dollars that Mr. Martin so accurately described as the first step to being a millionaire. The first phase in your journey involves understanding that time is of the essence. For those who start investing at an early age, the power of compound interest turns time into their greatest ally in wealth-building. Once you have been investing for long enough, your investments will begin to consistently, and eventually rather impressively, outperform your paycheck. This is true no matter what level of income you have already achieved. If you have an annual salary of $50,000, and invest only 10 percent of that each year, earning a 10% annual rate of return on your investment, in 25 years you will have amassed over half a million dollars. At this point you will be earning over $50,000 each year in interest. Continue saving at that rate for another 10 years and you will find yourself earning $150,000 annually in interest. 10 percent of your income may seem like a lot, but if you can find an investment which directly debits the money from your paycheck each week, you will be surprised to find yourself able to live without it. Another way to ease the pain of that 10% decrease in take home pay is to use part or all of it as an excuse to lower your tax burden, which I will discuss later. Now that you’re salting away 10 percent of your income each week, and can’t possibly imagine affording anymore, let’s talk about how you can make one of your largest living expenses work for you rather than against you. I am of course talking about the money that you spend providing shelter for yourself and your family. Owning a home is the single largest investment that most people will make in their lifetime, and that is why moving from renter to home owner is your next step on the road to becoming a millionaire. The growth in the value of real estate in this country makes owning a home not only a wise investment, but also a hedge against inflation While many Americans pour their money into renting a house, effectively flushing it down a toilet they don’t even own, you should be using yours to cover the mortgage payment of the most profitable purchase you’ll ever make according to some financial experts. While it’s true that owning a home does come with certain expenses which a landlord normally covers for those who rent, the tax advantages which you receive for paying the interest on your loan help to offset your out of pocket expenses. The less money you give to Uncle Sam, the more you have available to turn into improvements which increase the value of your home, as well as to put into your other investments, such as a 401k plan at work, or an IRA. The final step in your quest to become a millionaire is to make sure that as much of the money you earn as possible is there for you to invest. That means giving as little as possible to your greedy Uncle Sam. There are two simple ways to beat the tax man, thereby increasing the amount of money available to help build your net worth. Pretax investment vehicles, such as a 401k, traditional IRA and 529 college savings plans, allow you to lower the amount that your employer deducts from your weekly paycheck to cover your state and federal tax liability. The only drawback to these types of investments is that once you pull the money from the account, taxes are due in full. You do however get the benefit of watching your money grow tax free for years, which allows the concept of compound interest which I discussed earlier to work harder for you than it would if your money was in a traditional savings account. A traditional savings account is one of the worst investment vehicles available. Along with the comparatively low rates of interest which savings accounts earn, any money that you do earn is subject to annual taxation. To avoid paying taxes on the money you withdraw once you become an independently wealthy millionaire, you should set up a Roth IRA. A Roth IRA is funded with after tax dollars, which may leave you wondering how that helps you avoid paying taxes. The fact is though, that in a Roth IRA, all the money you earn is yours to keep. Uncle Sam can’t take a penny of the money that you accrue in interest, meaning in the long run, the tax advantages are far better than any other form of investment. I’ve just shown you in three easy steps how you can take advantage of the unseen forces of the financial world to grow your net worth at an alarming rate, now all that is left is for you to follow my advice and wait patiently for compound interest to work its magic. By avoiding taxes to the greatest extent possible, turning you home into an investment, and most importantly of all, not waiting to start saving, you too can be a millionaire. What you do once you get that million dollars is up to you. Michael Moore is a successful author who provides information on home loans and debt consolidation. article source: adzines.com
Be a slumlord? Okay, I got your attention, now the truth. I really don’t recommend that anyone endanger their renters with unsafe housing. Much of what people call slumlording though, is simply providing reasonable housing for those with low incomes. It is of benefit to the renter AND the landlord. Why Do People Rent Dumps? People rent not-so-nice places because they can afford to. A house that needs paint, has old rusty hinges on the doors, and a dirt driveway – this is a house that cost less to buy, and therefore can be rented for less. Anything major that the landlord does to improve it will result in higher rents, and possibly drive the renter away. In fact, this often happens. A few years ago my own town enacted its first rental regulations. The fifteen pages of new rules included many non-safety-related requirements, like a minimum of windows, to allow natural lighting, bedroom square-footage requirements, and no peeling paint. These things are done in the name of low income renters, and yet the result is always the same: higher rent. With that and the regulations against mobiles homes, low income families are moving further away from town and jobs. I mention all this to let you know that if you offer an ugly, but safe and affordable rental, you are providing a real service. Why Invest In Low Income Housing? If a nice two bedroom house in a small town costs $130,000 and rents for $800, an old mobile home on a lot will probably cost $45,000 and rent for $500. Notice that the house costs almost three times as much, but the rent you get isn’t even doubled. This means the mobile gives you MORE CASH FLOW. That is why old houses and mobile homes (on land) are such good investments. It’s important to note that you’ll have more risk and management problems with low income housing. Repairs come up more often, and rent will be late more often, on average. This is why you deserve a higher rate of return. Otherwise, who would want to provide low-cost rentals? Treat your renters well, and make your places safe. Do these things, and you can enjoy a good return on your investment – even if some want to call you a slumlord. Steve Gillman has invested real estate for years. To learn more, and to see a photo of a beautiful house he and his wife bought for $17,500, visit www.HousesUnderFiftyThousand.com
There are several things you need to think about and check on before you buy a house. Even looking at so many houses can be confusing. Below is a list of the top ten things to help you before you buy.
  1. Pre-qualify for a mortgage. Now you know how much house you can afford before you start looking. This will narrow your search and keep you “real” and not disappointed on houses you can’t afford.
  2. Find a good neighborhood. Know the school district and is it a good one if you have kids attending. Is shopping convenient? Is the area growing and can you look forward to appreciation on your house? What’s the area like? Are you next to vacant land that could be a freeway or a new mall in your backyard?
  3. Log. Log your visits to potential houses. Sounds silly, but after you look at several, it can get confusing later on. Write down advantages and disadvantages of each house. Even draw a simple layout sketch to refresh your memory.
  4. Money. How much more is your house going to cost than just your house payment? Taxes and Insurance. And if you are new home buyer and don’t have a huge down payment (20%) then add in mortgage insurance. Required by the government. Check with your mortgage company. They can give you the rate. Realtors sometimes forget to tell you these added costs. This will be your real payment. You also have to look at utilities. And certainly it would be hard to move into a house without repainting or wallpapering or something.
  5. Shop till you drop. Don’t stop at the 3rd house and say that’s it and pick one. You should look at a bunch of homes to get a good comparison. And you’ll remember number 3 above. You should look at 15 homes at least as an average guideline.
  6. Inspect. Found the house you want? Ready to make an offer? Not yet. Hire a professional inspection service. Once they make their inspection, you are better armed with any potential problems and can adjust your price accordingly.
  7. Let the negotiations begin! Now you are armed with your inspection information, you are ready to negotiate carefully. Put it ALL in writing. No exceptions.
  8. Moving. Allow extra time to move. Something always happens. Make sure you have plenty of overlap and plenty of time to get out of your old house. One word. Rain.
  9. A word on insurance. Shop around. Consider a high deductible. $250 deductible seems a little low these days. And you pay for it. Also, consider your car insurance while shopping. Most offer discounts when they get all of your business.
  10. Real Estate Agents. Yes, you can find a house on your own, but agents are helpful to assess your needs and show you houses that may match what you are looking for. They also get on your side for the negotiating. Get a referral from a friend or family.Buying a house is a big deal. No need to rush. They make them every day. Shopping for financing can be as big a step as actually finding the house. Don’t give up. It’s work. Then you have to move everything.Stuart Simpson has a neat mortgage calculator you can try.
Are you a landlord? Do you want to be? Do you or are you planning on buying residential property to use as rentals? Well if you answered yes to any of the above, this article is for you. First let me start out with the cold hard truth, being a landlord does not mean just collecting a rent check once a month and spending the rest of your time on the golf course. Being a landlord can be frustrating and can take a lot of effort. The other truth though, is that if done right, being a landlord can be fun and rewarding, both personally rewarding and financially rewarding. The key is to know what you are doing and take your job seriously. Here are 5 tips that I have picked up through the years dealing with my portfolio of rental properties. 1 – HAVE A WRITTEN LEASE A written lease is CRITICAL; I cannot stress this enough. A written lease protects you and your tenants and prevents potential misunderstandings from become nightmares. There are tons of places online where you can get sample leases for your state Do not skimp or take a shortcut on this It will only take one time for your lease to save you and it will have more than made the time you spent putting it together worthwhile. 2 – KNOW THE LAW While it is always good to have a competent attorney available to you, it still does not eliminate the need for you to know the laws in your state regarding residential tenancies For example, in Florida, Chapter 83 of the Florida State Statutes covers landlord/tenant law Take the time and read and understand the laws as they pertain to you Just as with the lease, all it takes is one time where your knowledge of the law kept you out of trouble, and your investment of time and research will pay off handsomely. 3 – BE FRIENDLY, FAIR & FIRM One of the things that I have learned is a key part of my success is how I treat my customers (tenants) I have tenants from all walks of life, all economic situations, all races, colors, religious, you name it One thing that they all will say is regardless of what may make them different, I treat everyone the same This is not only because there are laws against certain types of discrimination, but because it builds a stronger relationship with my customer Along those same lines though, I am also firm I am clear from the beginning about how I handle late fees, and other expectations I do not waiver from this. 4 – BE VISIBLE This one can be hard if you are a part time landlord, or have properties spread out over a large area I find it useful to be visible to my tenants and the neighbors of my properties I make it a point whenever I am in a part of town where I have properties, I drive by them If I see someone outside I stop and say hi, if I see a neighbor that I have spoken to before, I say hi to them This helps in a number of ways; first, it lets your tenants know you care about the property Being visible also helps to build relationships with neighbors, which can be a great set of eyes and ears to tip you off about any problems before they get out of control. 5 – NEVER FORGET YOU AND YOUR FAMILY COME FIRST This is probably one of the hardest lessons a landlord must learn. First, ask yourself why did you or are you getting into the rental business? The answer is obvious, you want to make money. Money either for current use or to build a nest egg for later As a landlord you will be presented with a variety of stories and excuses Some of these will be true and others may not be I have found it is easier to deal with the people telling you a story that is just an out and out lie I have no trouble not showing any compassion and simply boiling it all down for them to a simple truth, “You do not pay, you do not stay” The stories that are true are actually the difficult ones I cannot tell you how to handle every situation, and each of us is different in our thoughts and beliefs I can tell you this, as you evaluate how to handle the situation, never lose sight of the fact that the needs of you and your family HAVE TO COME FIRST. I hope this information has been of help. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or check out my website www.landlordtutor.com
(BPT) – One upside to the burgeoning obesity epidemic is that it’s fueling the growth of jobs in the fitness industry. Whether you’re one of those people in need of a personal trainer or you’re looking for work in a dismal job market, the bureau of labor statistics reports “employment of fitness trainers and instructors is expected to grow by 24 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.” According to Jeff Rosga, director of education at Life Time Academy, the training and certification organization for Life Time – The Healthy Way of Life Company, weight loss is a primary driver for people who seek out a personal trainer. “There is a very large population of boomers with the economic means to hire a personal trainer,” he adds. “Their requirements are substantial; they want a high-quality experience in training as well as in-depth knowledge. Some are injured, have functional issues, or simply want to be more physically active, and need assistance in learning how to overcome their challenges.” Demand for personal training is also getting a boost as businesses and insurance companies see the relationship between healthier employees and lower health care costs by persuading employees and members – by virtue of various incentives – to get fit. Phyllis Soltis, 59, from Lakeville, Minn., has worked in administration and was even a police officer at one time. She was drawn to personal training while a member of Life Time Fitness, where she lost 70 pounds. “All the jobs I’ve had involved working with people,” Soltis says. Exercise, too, had always been a part of her life, and as she considered what sort of job change she could make at her age, she turned to personal training and applied to Life Time Academy. Choosing the right certification program matters. “When you earn a certification you are directly linked to the certification body,” says David Van Daff, vice-president of business development and public affairs with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). “The reputation of the certification, both positive and negative, will impact how you are perceived as a fitness professional.” Choosing the right personal training certification can be confusing says Van Daff, who recommended the following considerations when choosing a program:
  1. Industry standards: Earning a certification that is not accepted by respected employers is a waste of time and money.-Contact local fitness centers and ask what certifications they accept. If a certification is not universally accepted, don’t buy it.
  2. Curriculum/faculty: What you study and learn in a certification program should have practical application. In addition, research the credentials and reputation of the faculty. Evaluate their background, accomplishments, testimonials and contributions to the industry.
  3. Advanced specializations: Most successful personal trainers specialize in a particular area. Investigate what specialty credentials and certifications are offered by the certification organizations you are considering.
  4. References: Ask a manager at a fitness facility which certifications best prepare new personal trainers. Having managed personal trainers with varying certifications and education backgrounds, they can provide insight into the value of various certification programs.
A 2012 NASM study found that certified personal trainers who were not previously employed in the fitness industry, on average found employment in less than one month. That was true for Soltis, who graduated from Life Time Academy in December and was immediately employed at Life Time Fitness in Eagan, Minn. Soltis says one of the benefits at Life Time Academy were the weekly in-club labs, something not offered by many other programs. The 120 hours of hands-on experience allowed her the confidence to go from student to trainer seamlessly. “I have specialty certifications through the Academy’s partnership with NASM in corrective exercise and performance enhancement,” Soltis says. Other partners include Yoga Alliance, American Council on Exercise, and Peak Pilates. She said she plans to use her knowledge in power lifting training and competitions to attract a clientele of “women of a certain age” who want to strength train. “Weight loss is a big one too, because of my own experience. I understand it from a personal perspective,” she adds. Pay for noncertified personal trainers range from $18,000-$31,000. As a graduate of Life Time Academy Soltis knows she can expect to eventually earn more than $40,000 a year and the possibility to make more than she has in other jobs. “I see the potential to make more because there are no limits. It’s like being in business for yourself, but not by yourself.”
(BPT) – (ARA) – With the economy strengthening, today’s job seekers have more of an opportunity to find a job than in years past. However, that hardly means that companies are taking the decision to hire lightly. With still unprecedented numbers of applicants vying for each open position, companies are putting a greater emphasis on choosing the best of the group, and they are armed with more weapons than ever to do just that. A heightened quest for information on prospective employees, coupled with the increased ease to administer assessments, means that job seekers are more and more likely to face some form of a pre-hire evaluation as part of the hiring process. “Pre-employment assessments have been one way to help companies make sense of who they have in the pipeline,” says Brian Penner, director of assessment and selection at Prudential Financial. “More and more companies have developed a strong appetite for measuring how people think and act – just think about Facebook to see the value in this. Pre-employment assessments provide information on difficult-to-measure human behaviors that give employers the ability to easily compare one candidate with another in an objective way.” Penner notes that it is important for job seekers to remain confident if asked to take an assessment. “The good news is that assessments cost money, which should signal to you that the company thinks you’re important enough to invest in.” Additionally, Penner shares his top seven tips for job seekers if they are asked to take an assessment as part of their application process:
  • Most assessments today are online and allow you to take the assessment wherever your computer has connectivity to the Internet. This means convenience, but it also means that it is critical that you plan ahead so you can work in a distraction-free area.
  • Get sleep the night before. Being well-rested and alert are the building blocks for success.
  • Be yourself. It is easier to be yourself than someone else. Don’t guess who they want you to be. Remember, you’ve been invited to take the assessment because of your skills and experiences. Those who try to be someone different during the assessment don’t fare as well and come across with contradictory results.
  • Stay relaxed, and as contrary as it may seem, try to have fun with the assessment. There are usually a number of factors that go into the hiring decision and assessments are just one piece of the puzzle.
  • Some tests are timed. In these cases, work quickly and accurately. Instructions will tell you if you’re penalized for a wrong answer. If not, leave yourself time to guess the correct answer when time is running out.
  • Research the employer. See if you can get information on the hiring process. Try to find practice tests.
  • Lastly, almost all assessments measure more than one thing. This means if you mess up one section, don’t give up. Keep trying. Your performance on the entire assessment is what counts and everybody already knows that you’re not perfect, so don’t get frustrated in the middle of the test if you feel you’ve done less well on one part.
(ARA) – Many Americans are involved in prolonged job searches these days. With the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting the unemployment rate still hovering around 8 percent at the end of April 2012, competition among job seekers can be daunting. This is a good time to evaluate your viability in the job market, beginning with an assessment of your skills. Tammy Newsom, Director of Career Services at Brown Mackie College – Birmingham, guides graduates through the process of searching for employment every day. “Employers can be picky. There’s a large pool of applicants to choose from,” she says. “Candidates must be sure to offer a well-rounded skill set, not just technical knowledge.” Newsom reveals several must-have attributes employment candidates should possess. One skill that cannot be overlooked is computer competency. If you don’t know how a right click can help, or you can’t find a drop down menu on the browser, you need to take a class in basic computer skills and learn the programs used in your field. You’ll be glad you did; you will definitely become more marketable. Many companies require candidates to complete the employment application online. “In nearly every industry, everything from scheduling appointments to ordering lunch happens on a computer,” Newsom says. “Colleges have adopted technology, too. Many colleges, including Brown Mackie College – Birmingham, utilize iPads for classroom lectures, and assign eBook reading, to help students keep up with technology.” Communication skills go hand in hand with computer skills. This includes both written and oral communications. Investopedia, a financial business website, names this as a top-rated skill that employers seek. If you can’t write a good cover letter, you won’t get the coveted interview. After all, every company depends on employees to be able to write at least a memo, if not lengthier reports. “During the interview, if you can’t speak well, you won’t get the job,” Newsom says. “Every sector of business looks for articulate employees who can effectively communicate with co-workers and clients and customers.” Another competency that many employers seek as they evaluate qualified job candidates? “A positive attitude,” says Newsom. Quintessential Careers, a website dedicated to helping people find employment, includes this attribute in their list of top skills for job candidates. “A positive attitude is an essential skill to master,” Newsom adds. “A bad one affects everyone around you.” This isn’t something you can fake. “Body language reflects your true attitude, and people can read body language,” she continues. “A good attitude is especially important for managers, who must be approachable by the staff.” Many unemployed people consider going back to school to beef up credentials or train for a different career. “I recommend mapping a detailed plan for finding a place in the job market,” says Newsom. “Education can be costly. Knowing what you want enables you to examine the rewards of gaining job skills versus the financial risk.” “Taking a class or attending a seminar can be extremely helpful,” Newsom says. “It offers the reward of supporting your professional goal. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, no matter how long you have been out of school.” Additional knowledge not only strengthens your skill set and resume, the experience often provides optimal networking opportunities. Colleagues in the workforce can be invaluable to your search for a job. Once you have quantified your skills, take ownership of all you have to offer a prospective employer. “Find your own motivation and passion, and look for creative ways to express your qualifications. Employers look for not only technical capabilities, but also for a good fit into the company culture.” Many well-qualified people don’t get the job because of fit. This is where research on a company can give you a leg up on other applicants. After landing a job, Newsom recommends staying focused on motivation to succeed. “Go above and beyond the scope of your job duties,” she says. “When you see a lack, follow up on it, even if not asked to do so. Maybe you have a suggestion to streamline a process. Maybe you take it upon yourself to wash the office coffee pot. Why take time to perform duties not assigned to you? “For advancement and promotion,” Newsom says. “It demonstrates willingness, thoughtfulness and dedication. It shows you are motivated to be successful.” This type of passion is what employers look for. Whether you’re looking for a job, or you are employed, it pays to grow these qualities within yourself and maintain them. “You can’t be an ‘average Joe’ anymore. He doesn’t stand out,” Newsom says.
(BPT) – Though the U.S. economy has been gradually improving, job changes – both involuntary and voluntary – remain a fact of American working life. “It’s also a fact that bills need to be paid whether you’re employed or not,” says J.J. Montanaro, a certified financial planner with USAA. To help you cover expenses and protect your finances as you transition from one job to the next, Montanaro offers these tips.
1. Decide how to collect your final pay
If leaving your job wasn’t your idea, your employer may provide a severance package to ease the financial pain. Amounts vary, but one or two weeks of salary for each year you’ve worked at the company is typical. If you’re given a choice of a lump sum or a stream of payments, consider these factors:
  • Benefits. If employee benefits (health care, life insurance, long-term care) continue as long as you’re receiving payments, you may want to take the option that prolongs them.
  • Your financial discipline. Afraid you might squander a lump sum? If your severance payment provides enough cash to justify dividing it up, choosing periodic payments will help keep you in paycheck mode.
2. File for unemployment benefits
If your employer let you go – provided you weren’t fired for misconduct – you’ll probably qualify for unemployment benefits. If you quit, usually you can collect benefits only if you left for “good cause,” which generally means there was a problem at work or personal situation so difficult that you had no alternative. If you think you’re eligible, don’t procrastinate. It may take two to three weeks to process your claim, so contact your state’s unemployment office pronto. While each state’s program varies, you can generally count on benefits to last 26 weeks, with federally funded emergency unemployment benefits extending up to 73 weeks in some states. Benefits are based on your income and how long you were employed. If you separated from the military under honorable conditions, you may also be able to claim unemployment benefits through your state of residency. Check with your state department of labor to get the lowdown.
3. Reduce your spending
If your decision to leave was involuntary and your next employment is an unknown, it’s important to preserve your cash while you’re out of work; this can require a top-to-bottom examination of where your money goes. “This exercise can help keep you afloat today and be an engine for paying off debt and saving once the paychecks start again,” Montanaro says. Put off big-ticket purchases and reduce discretionary expenses as much as possible.
4. Strengthen your emergency fund
Use your severance pay, unemployment benefits and any money you can save to build a cash stockpile. Keep enough money in a savings account to pay at least three to six months’ expenses. For a higher interest rate on the rest of your cash, build a short CD ladder or open a variable rate CD. Be careful not to lock away money that you’ll need. If you served in the military and made tax-free contributions to the Thrift Savings Plan, you may be able to tap that money without the taxes and penalties associated with most retirement money.
5. Avoid cleaning your financial slate
While you may be tempted to use your severance or other assets to pay off your car, credit cards or other debt, you may be better off making only the required or minimal payments. This strategy can stretch your cash and help you meet living expenses in case a new job isn’t right around the corner.
6. Review your health insurance options
At most companies, federal law allows you to keep your employer-provided health insurance for up to 18 months. Prepare for sticker shock: You will be responsible for the entire premium – what you paid, plus any amount your employer paid.
7. Protect your retirement
If you have a 401(k) or other employer retirement plan, avoid the temptation to cash it out when you leave. In addition to jeopardizing your security when you retire, you could pay a steep price in the form of income taxes and penalties. Instead, roll the money over to an IRA or leave it in the employer plan.
Feeling overworked and underpaid? If you’re starting to feel like you deserve a raise, here are eight DO’s and DON’Ts to build your confidence and tact (and what to avoid!) in asking for the salary you feel you deserve. DO 1. Devise a “Plan of Action”. First and foremost, get a strategy together. Make a note of the specific projects you’ve undertaken and the results you’ve accomplished. List all of your job skills and the features that make you an asset to this company. Find out what a typical raise is for someone with your experience in your area of occupation. Know the facts and be realistic in your request. 2. Ask for an amount that’s slightly higher than one you would be happy with. If you would be happy with a 5% raise, ask for one a couple of points above it. That way, if your boss starts to negotiate, you won’t feel as if your worth has been diluted any by getting less than what you feel you deserve. 3. Remember, your boss shouldn’t be the only one negotiating. If your company is going through a slow period or the economy is down, try to be flexible and know how to respond if your boss suggests a lower amount than what you may have been expecting. Consider other ways of getting a raise too, such as additional vacation time, employee perks or more time off. All of these can be just as good (if not better!) than an actual amount of money. 4. Choose a specific day and time to meet with your supervisor about your raise request. Avoid choosing a Monday or Friday when bosses are at their busiest. Studies have actually shown that people are more receptive on a Tuesday or Wednesday after lunch. That way, they’re not thinking about the weekend or their stomachs while you’re getting up the nerve to ask about a raise! If you’re afraid of being interrupted during your request, ask to speak to your supervisor for a few minutes after hours. DON’T 1. Raise your tone of voice if your boss objects to your raise at first. Remember, he or she is paying you to do a certain job, and you’re asking for more money to do the same job. Be professional and polite at all times, and listen more than demand. Chances are, if your supervisor doesn’t award you a raise, they might hint at what could else could be done to earn it. If they don’t, don’t be afraid to ask what steps would be necessary to “prove yourself”. 2. Threaten with quitting if you don’t get the raise or telling your boss you have another job offer unless you actually do. He may just call your bluff and let you go! 3. Stumble or beat around the bush with your request. Be straightforward and confident. You are a valuable member of a team and the supervisor hired you because they obviously thought you were the best qualified. If you have “Thank You” notes from customers or letters from the company praising you for a job well done, bring those to your meeting as well, as they’ll help to cement your request and remind your supervisor of your role within the company and its progress. 4. Compare yourself to, or talk negatively about your coworkers or others in a position higher than you. You may think that this will put you in a positive light when it comes to a promotion or a raise, but to your boss, it shows that if you have a poor attitude toward your colleagues, you’ll keep the same poor attitude if you are promoted. Remember, be confident, professional and tactful. If the boss says “no” or wants to “think about it”, open his mind to further consideration by volunteering to do more at the office. Stay an extra hour or help another team on a critical project. This demonstrates that you’re willing to “tow the mark” rather than giving your boss the impression of “gimme the money first and THEN I’ll work”. Good luck! Roger Clark is senior editor at Top Career Resumes and Career Information Resources who provide free information to job seekers on all aspects of finding a new job and Medical Health News where you can find the most up-to-date advice and information on many medical, health and lifestyle topics.

article source: adzines.com

Human Resources personnel, professional recruiters and various other career experts all agree: one of the best ways to prepare yourself for a job interview is to anticipate questions, develop your answers, and practice, practice, practice. There are plenty of websites that offer lists of popular job interview questions, and knowing the types of questions to expect can be very useful. But knowing how to answer those questions can mean the difference between getting the job and getting the “reject letter.” HOW TO ANSWER QUESTIONS First, know these important facts: 1. There is no way to predict every question you will be asked during a job interview. In other words, expect unexpected questions–they’ll come up no matter how much preparation you do. 2. Treat any sample answers you find, such as in discussion forums, books or on Internet job sites, as GUIDES only. Do not use any sample answers word for word! Interviewers can spot “canned” answers a mile away, and if they suspect you are regurgitating answers that are not your own, you can kiss that job goodbye. You must apply your own experiences, personality and style to answer the questions in your own way. This is crucial, and it will give you a big advantage over candidates who simply recite sample answers. 3. Job interview questions are not things to fear, they are OPPORTUNITIES TO EXCEL. They allow you to show why you are the best person for the job, so instead of dreading them, look forward to them! The key is to give better answers than anyone else, and that’s where your preparation comes in. Now, take these actions: 1. Make a list of your best “selling points” for the position. What qualifications, skills, experience, knowledge, background, personality traits do you possess that would apply to this particular job? Write them down and look for opportunities to work them into your answers. 2. In addition to any sample job interview questions you find through various resources, you absolutely must develop your OWN list of probable questions based specifically on the job for which you are applying. Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes? what kinds of questions would you ask to find the best person for this job? 3. Write down your answers to likely questions. Study the job announcement carefully. (If you don’t have one, get one!) Note the phrases they use when describing the desired qualifications. You’ll want to target these as much as possible when developing your answers. For example, if the announcement says they want someone with “strong customer service skills,” make sure you include “strong customer service skills” in at least one of your answers. That will make a better impression than saying “I helped customers.” 4. Review and edit your answers until you feel they are “just right.” Read them over and over until you are comfortable that you know them fairly well. Don’t try to memorize them; don’t worry about remembering every word. Practice saying them out loud. If possible, have a friend help you rehearse for the interview. Be A (Short) Story Teller Make use of this old marketing tip: “Facts tell but stories sell.” During a job interview, you are selling yourself. Whenever possible, answer questions with a short story that gives specific examples of your experiences. Notice I said “short.” You don’t want to ramble or take up too much time; you want to be brief but still make your point. For example, imagine two people interviewing for a job as a dog groomer are asked, “Have you ever dealt with aggressive dogs?” Candidate Joe answers, “Yes, about 10% of the dogs I’ve groomed had aggressive tendencies.” Candidate Mary answers, “Oh yes, quite often. I remember one situation where a client brought in his Pit Bull, Chomper. He started growling at me the moment his owner left, and I could tell from his stance he wasn’t about to let me get near his nails with my clippers. I think he would’ve torn my arm off if I hadn’t used the Schweitzer Maneuver on him. That calmed him down right away and I didn’t have any problems after that.” (NOTE: I know nothing about dog grooming; I made the Schweitzer Maneuver up for illustrative purposes.) Don’t you agree that Mary’s answer is better? Sure, Joe answered the question, but Mary did more than that–she gave a specific example and told a quick story that will be remembered by the interviewers. In today’s job market where there are dozens of highly qualified candidates for each opening, anything you do that will make you stand out and be remembered will greatly increase your odds of getting hired. Keep the Interviewer’s Perspective in Mind; Answer His “What’s in it for Me?” Question While many questions asked during job interviews appear to focus on your past accomplishments, here’s an important tip: they may be asking about what you did in the past, but what they really want to know is what you can do NOW, for THEM. The key is to talk about your past accomplishments in a way that shows how they are RELEVANT to the specific job for which you are interviewing. Doing advance research about the company (such as at their website or at www.hoovers.com) and the position will be extremely helpful. Here’s another example with Joe and Mary. The interviewer asks, “What is the most difficult challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?” Joe answers with, “In one job I was delivering pizzas and I kept getting lost. By the time I’d find the address, the pizza would be cold, the customer would be unhappy, and my boss was ready to fire me. I overcame this problem by purchasing a GPS navigation device and installing it in my car. Now I never get lost!” Mary answers, “In my current job at Stylish Hounds, management ran a special promotion to increase the number of customers who use the dog-grooming service. It was a bit too successful because we suddenly had more customers than we could handle. Management would not hire additional groomers to help with the workload. Instead of turning customers away or significantly delaying their appointments, I devised a new grooming method that was twice as fast. Then I developed a new work schedule. Both efforts maximized productivity and we were able to handle the increased workload effectively without upsetting our customers.” Joe’s answer shows initiative and commitment (he bought that GPS gadget with his own money, after all). But Mary’s answer relates specifically to the job they are applying for (dog groomer). And Mary had done research about the company and discovered it was about to significantly expand it’s dog-grooming operations. So she picked an example from her past that addressed an issue the interviewer was likely to apply to a future situation in his company. See the difference? Here’s one more example. Joe and Mary are asked, “What’s your greatest accomplishment?” Joe answers, “I won two Olympic Gold Medals during the 2000 Olympics in the high-jump competition.” Mary answers, “I was named Stylish Hounds’s Dog Groomer of the Year in 2003 for increasing productivity in my section by 47%.” Joe’s accomplishment is pretty spectacular. But remember the interviewer’s perspective. He might be impressed, but he’s thinking “What’s in it for me? What does being a world-class high-jumper four years ago have to do with helping me to increase sales in my dog-grooming department?” Mary’s answer is much less spectacular than Joe’s, but it’s relevant to the position and indicates that she has what it takes to be successful in this particular job. It tells the interviewer, “I have what you’re looking for; I can help you with your specific needs.” Looks like Mary has a new job! Do Not Lie Last but not least, tell the truth. It’s sometimes very tempting to “alter” the truth a bit during a job interview. For instance, say you quit instead of being fired. But the risk of being discovered as a liar far outweighs the potential benefit of hiding the truth. If you are thinking about telling a lie during the interview, ask yourself these questions (this technique has helped me make many major decisions): “What is the BEST thing that could happen? What is the WORST thing that could happen? Is the best thing WORTH RISKING the worst thing?” In this instance, the best thing would be getting the job. The worst thing would be getting discovered as a liar, which could lead to getting fired, which could lead to unemployment, which could lead to more job searching, which could lead to another interview, which could lead to the stress of deciding whether to lie about just getting fired, and so on? a cycle that can go on indefinitely. Is all that worth getting the one job, perhaps on a temporary basis? Always consider the consequences of your actions. In Summary, Here’s What You Need To Do When Preparing To Answer Job Interview Questions: 1. Study the job announcement. 2. Research the company. 3. Anticipate likely questions. 4. Prepare answers to those questions that are relevant to the position and the company. 5. Promote your best “selling points” (relevant qualifications, capabilities, experience, personality traits, etc.) by working them into your answers. 6. Practice. Practice. Practice. Bonnie Lowe is author of the popular Job Interview Success System and free information-packed ezine, “Career-Life Times.” Find those and other powerful career-building resources and tips at her website: http://www.best-interview-strategies.com.

article source: adzines.com

With the advent of the Internet, many of us have the opportunity to apply for work through email. However, just because this is the Internet and email is so fast and convenient, that does NOT mean you should give up professionalism and polish! FIRST IMPRESSIONS COUNT. I recently looked over a few emailed applications, and let me tell you, it was an eye-opening experience! Here are a few examples of how *not* to do things…
  • One person simply forwarded the job description to the hiring company. There was no explanatory letter, no name (just some garbled email address), no nothing. Why should a company want to hire someone who can’t be bothered to make an effort?
  • Several people got the name of the hiring party wrong. Some misspelled it, others substituted someone else’s name.
  • Spelling mistakes, typos, grammatical errors, and formatting problems like you wouldn’t believe. One person said that her greatest strength was her attention to ‘detal’ (should have been ‘DETAIL’); another said it was his responsibility to ‘a tent to customers’ (‘ATTEND to customers’).
It almost goes without saying that you should always follow the application instructions provided. If you’re inquiring or applying for a job – regardless of whether it’s online or in the ‘real world’ – there are certain rules of etiquette that apply:
  • GREET THE PERSON. Don’t just barge in and start writing. A simple “Dear ___” is great.
  • CORRECTLY SPELL THE COMPANY NAME AND THAT OF THE HIRING MANAGER. If you don’t know how to spell them, take a few seconds and find out.
  • INDICATE WHAT POSITION YOU’RE APPLYING FOR. Be specific; the company may be hiring for more than one job.
  • PROVIDE A BRIEF SUMMARY OF YOUR RELEVANT SKILLS. Keep it short and to the point.
  • CHECK YOUR SPELLING AND GRAMMAR. It takes just a few minutes. If you are not confident about doing this yourself, ask a friend or family member to check it over for you.
  • BE COURTEOUS! Don’t make demands. Remember that the *only* thing the hiring manager sees is your email – he or she can’t see your facial expressions or body language, so take extra care in the words you select and how you put them together.
  • FORMAT YOUR EMAIL TO 60 CHARACTERS PER LINE. Many email programs automatically ‘word-wrap’ somewhere between 60 and 70 characters. Add a hard return when you reach 60 characters on a line; this will ensure the company gets a nicely formatted application, just like you intended.
  • TELL THEM HOW TO CONTACT YOU. As the bare minimum, leave your phone number and email address.
  • AND FOR GOODNESS SAKES, TELL THEM YOUR *NAME*. This is so obvious it’s painful, yet I’ve seen dozens of applications there are not signed. End your letter with ‘Sincerely’, ‘Regards’ or ‘Yours Truly’, and then sign your name.
Competition for home based jobs is fierce, and companies can afford to be choosy. Don’t give them a reason to pass you by! Professionalism still counts – even on the web. About The Author Angela is the editor of Online Business Basics, a practical guide for eBusiness beginners. You can find OBB along with solid home business ideas, freelance and telecommuting job updates, free magazine subscriptions, and much more at eWorkingWomen, http://www.eworkingwomen.com/join.html. Come find out how you too can work from home!

article source: adzines.com

(ARA) – Most of us have been there, nervously anticipating an upcoming job interview. When we’re nervous, our body language tends to give us away. Signs take many forms. We may stammer, clench our fists, clear our throats, or tap our fingers. Certainly, during a job interview, we want to hide this telltale behavior. So what can we do to calm the jitters? Brenda K. Raye, director of career services at Brown Mackie College – North Canton, provides some answers. She understands the jitters from both sides of the table – as a job candidate facing an important interview, and as an employer interviewing applicants who exhibit classic signs of nervousness. “‘Relax,’ is the first thing I tell students and graduates,” she says. However, that is easier said than done. Relax. “Be you,” she tells those she coaches. “They already know you have the skills to perform the job. They got that from your resume. Now they want to see your personality. Employers look for the best fit within the company or team.” This different perspective seems to help ease anxiety for many who face an important interview. In addition, job applicants may want to support calmness with a relaxation exercise. Methods of relaxation vary from deep breathing, as recommended by eHow, to listening to music and having a good laugh, according to The Undercover Recruiter. Know your work ethics. Raye typically asks those seeking employment to create a list of work ethics, like hard working, dependable and the ability to work with a team or individually. “Write those ethics down,” she says. “When prospective employers say, ‘Tell me a little about yourself,’ you can respond with descriptors of your work ethics instead of talking about your kids, living arrangements, or your dog. Stay focused on the job.” Your work ethics are your soft skills; the attributes you bring to the job in addition to technical skills. “Use every moment to sell yourself,” Raye says. Practice, practice, practice. Be prepared. Have your family give you practice interview questions. “A few practice runs can give a big boost to your self confidence,” says Raye. The Work Coach Cafe concurs, and offers some interview questions typically asked for your practice session. Practice can help you become more comfortable when talking about yourself, and may point out any subconscious habits, like frequent use of “um,” or “you know,” when speaking. Prepare your own questions. Once you have practiced answering interview questions, you will want to prepare to ask a few questions of your own. “Do not ask about salary or benefits,” counsels Raye. “But do ask for a business card.” You will need the contact information later for a thank you card or letter. “And yes, you will write a thank you note if you are serious about wanting the position,” she states. Email thank you notes are also acceptable. Raye suggests asking about the next step in the process of filling the position. The answer provides you with timing of the hire. She also recommends asking about the work environment. “You may get a tour of the work area at this point,” she says. Give yourself credit. If you are still a little nervous after all of your practice and preparation, Raye offers this advice: “If you landed an interview in the first place, that alone should let you know you’re doing a good job. You are confident enough in your skills to apply for the position. You applied correctly, and your resume has made a good impression. You can feel good about it. That in itself can cure jitters,” she says. “People put a lot of pressure on themselves. They forget to be proud of all they have accomplished so far.” Be honest. Anxiety levels vary widely between individual people, and manifest in many different ways. If you feel you won’t get through an interview without seeming flustered because of nerves, Raye recommends taking the tack of upfront honesty from the start. “Let an interviewer know you are a bit nervous about the chance of landing the job of your dreams,” says Raye. “Most interviewers will appreciate your straightforward approach.” Raye advises job candidates to face interviews with confidence. “When you are seeking employment, remember it’s not what the company can do for you, it’s what you can do for the company,” she says.
(ARA) – When searching for employment in today’s highly competitive job market, the process often seems like one hurdle after another. Once you have prepared a letter-perfect resume, you face the hurdle of landing an interview. After securing the interview, the next hurdle poses itself in the form of surprisingly tough interview questions. In the past, job interviews were all about your knowledge and technical skills. Not so today. Jason Keller, director of Career Services at Brown Mackie College – Indianapolis, offers advice on how to prepare for your next interview. “Interviews today are much different than they were in the past,” says Keller, who has 16 years under his belt in the staffing and recruiting industry. “The processes of human resources have evolved to include a different type of question: the behavioral question.” These are not so easy to answer. “Behavioral questions tend to put you in a scenario to find out how you have handled different business-related situations,” Keller says. “The prospective employer is trying to figure out future reactions based on your past experiences. This gives the interviewer some hidden information about you – things you can’t put on a resume.” Don’t be surprised if you are asked to give an example of a time when you had to think out of the box, or when you went above and beyond the call of duty on the job. Monster, an online employment resource, advises candidates to be ready for anything. “Take your time,” says Keller. That’s the first thing Keller tells job candidates. It translates to, “Don’t say the first thing that pops up in your head during an interview.” Those preparing for interviews with Keller learn that it is OK to ask the interviewer to repeat or rephrase the question. It is also OK to repeat part of the question at the beginning of your answer. “It verifies that you understand the question and lets the interviewer know you are listening,” he says. This can help to keep your answers focused on the question. Keller advises job seekers to answer only the specific question asked. “Don’t go off on a tangent about other situations,” he says. “If it helps, take a deep breath while collecting your thoughts.” When faced with a question about a specific scenario, Keller says, “Never answer with, ‘I can’t think of anything right now.'” If the question deals with a situation that you have not encountered in your career, be honest about it. Keller gives an example of how to respond in this circumstance. “I haven’t experienced that yet in my career. If I did, here’s what I would do,” he says. Some of the more difficult questions to answer deal with negative situations, such as working with a co-worker you disliked, or having trouble getting along with a supervisor. This type of question seems to be in direct conflict with the often-given advice to stay positive during an interview. However, Keller advises to put a positive spin on negative questions. “A simple explanation of differences in work styles can directly address this type of question,” he says. “You can say something like, ‘My previous supervisor was a micromanager, and I don’t work best that way. I tend to work better in an environment where ideas are fostered, and clear priorities are set.” This answer addresses the question, yet preserves the wise philosophy of not saying anything negative about a previous employer or co-worker. One question that many people dread relates to a gap in the employment history. What did you do while you were unemployed? “Be honest,” Keller advises again. “Everything you say can be verified. Any falsehoods will be discovered.” So what do you work on when you don’t have a job? “Do volunteer work,” Keller says. “It shows initiative. Help a shelter, a charity, or an industry association while you are looking for a position that would be a good fit.” “Potential employers use the interview to evaluate your communication skills, especially when the position involves interacting with clients, or a health care position where you will be required to interact with patients,” says Keller. “Anyone dealing with people must know how to communicate effectively. Knowledge of the field won’t help if you can’t get people to warm up to you and feel relaxed.” Keller suggests that interview candidates practice answering questions with a friend or family member before the actual interview. About.com provides a list of common difficult interview questions. “I’ve had people come back and say, ‘I never thought they would ask me that,'” says Keller. “It is best to be prepared.”
(BPT) – Throughout the busy school year, many high school students across the country are already taking steps to explore college and other post-graduation opportunities. In fact, in today’s challenging economic climate and competitive job market, it has become increasingly important to begin planning for future career options at an early stage. One area that is particularly ripe for opportunity is in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). In August, U.S. News & World Report reported that there will be a need to fill over 1.2 million STEM jobs in the U.S. by 2018. STEM careers offer lucrative and stable opportunities; for example, pharmacist jobs boast median salaries of $105,000, with a projected 25 percent job growth rate between 2010 and 2020. STEM fields are also drivers of innovation: Experts note that those working in STEM are overwhelmingly responsible for creating breakthrough inventions compared with non-STEM counterparts. Despite the promise these career paths offer, less than one-third of eighth graders in this country are proficient in mathematics and science and fewer than 15 percent of U.S. undergraduates receive science or engineering degrees. This academic lag has resulted in the country’s STEM workforce hovering under 3 percent of the total working population. “It is important to close these gaps because STEM fields have an enormous impact on our country’s growth and also provide rich opportunities for our youth,” says John Jones, R.Ph., J.D., who is a senior vice president at OptumRx and the chair of the Pharmacy is Right for Me educational initiative. “We should reach students early in their education to get them thinking about the opportunities the sector has to offer, and begin taking those first steps toward building careers in the diverse STEM arena.” So how can parents and caretakers help kids embark upon successful professional journeys in STEM and related fields? Jones recommends taking the following steps: 1. Engage young students early on and provide them with an educational roadmap. -Students may not consider careers in STEM fields because they simply do not know about what those pathways can offer. Help expose kids as early as elementary and middle school to the types of unique and exciting options found through STEM. Work with your children to build a strong foundation in math and science skills, which are essential to pursuing STEM opportunities at every level – from technical positions to those requiring advanced degrees. 2. Encourage hands-on learning. Gaining real-world STEM experience through internships, summer jobs, or even participation in student innovation competitions can help kids get excited about future possibilities and apply their science and math education in creative ways. Shadowing STEM professionals in the local community can also provide a deeper understanding of what STEM professions involve on a day-to-day basis. 3. Seek out additional support both in your local community and online. Preparing for post-high school and post-college life can be extremely challenging, even with parental support. Encourage children to seek additional help at school by speaking with their guidance counselors. Find mentors at school or in the local community to provide professional guidance. Use credible Web-based resources for educational and financial information. Online resources, such as those offered through Pharmacy is Right for Me’s website, Facebook and Twitter channels, can help young students navigate through the challenges of reaching their long-term goals. Despite the challenging job forecast, there is a wide range of prospects open to students in the thriving STEM industries. Engaging the next generation of STEM leaders by getting kids excited about these careers can help secure successful futures for youth.
(BPT) – For many parents, slipping grades and missed assignments can be sure signs that their child is in need of help academically. And whether your child needs assistance to get up to speed with the rest of the class or is looking for help to get ahead on their SAT’s, there are a variety of tutoring options available. “Keep the lines of communication open with your child’s school,” recommends Amanda Bates, an English teacher and coordinator of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program at Rim of the World High School in Lake Arrowhead, Calif. “If your child seems to be struggling, reach out to his/her teacher and have a frank discussion about what you’re seeing at home and what they experience with your child in class to determine the areas your child needs help in and what the best course of action may be.” “The drop of a single letter grade, diminishing enthusiasm about school or complaints that school is ‘too hard’ can all be signs that your student is dreading a particular class or subject,” says Adriene White, center director for Sylvan Learning – Long Beach. “The issues they are having can be clues that they need help with time management and study skills, test preparation or with a particular academic subject.” “If your child is spending excessive amounts of time on homework, it could be a sign that he or she doesn’t understand the skill or concept needed to complete that homework,” says Dr. Dominick P. Ferello a professor in the College of Undergraduate Studies at Argosy University, Tampa. “If your child is laboring over words when reading out loud and can’t retell the story they just read in their own words, your child likely needs help with reading.” “There is a range of tutoring options available to parents,” says Bates. “For some students, there may be a volunteer or specialist at the school who can assist with their needs. For those who may need help outside of the classroom, your child’s school or school district should be able to provide you with a list of private tutors and tutoring centers that can provide more in-depth assistance for your child outside of the school day.” “The right tutor can make all the difference in the world when it comes to improving your child’s academic success,” says Ferello. “Whether you seek out an individual tutor, or look into a tutoring service, the qualities you need to look for are the same,” says White. “First and foremost, the tutor should be properly trained in teaching to the individual. It’s also a fact that tutors who receive intensive and continuous training are more effective than tutors who don’t. Inquire about a tutor’s experience, credentials and specialties. Get references. Ask those other parents how the tutor performed.” “Look for a tutor who does an assessment to help them understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses,” says Ferello. “Knowing where to start and what to focus on saves critical time when a child already is falling behind. Ongoing assessments throughout the course of your child’s tutoring also allow the instruction to be fine-tuned and personalized to your child’s specific individual needs.” “A good tutor builds a rapport with their student,” says Ferello. “Learning takes place when your child is comfortable with his tutor and when you are comfortable with the approach they are taking.” “Remember that a tutor doesn’t remove you as a parent from the learning process,” says Bates. “Stay involved, set goals for the tutoring experience and check in on your child’s progress. Once you’ve reached your goals, keep an eye on your child’s studies to make sure they stay on track academically.”
(BPT) – In a world that is defined by rapid change – particularly in technology – there are concerns that students today won’t be prepared for the challenges of the future. Of all U.S. high school students who graduated in 2011, only 45 percent were ready for college-level math and 30 percent for science, according to ACT, a college-entrance testing agency. As jobs increasingly require proficiency or expertise in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math), it’s more important than ever that children are inspired to explore these subjects and understand their real impact on our everyday lives. STEM drives an incredible number of the innovations we see today, from the fastest jet planes to the cars in our driveways to the televisions in our living rooms. Even the video and computer games that children and teenagers turn to for entertainment are based on STEM. However, interest among students in these important subjects is lagging. And with the extraordinary number of careers and opportunities for growth in STEM fields, many organizations in both the private and public sectors are taking action to bolster student interest and enthusiasm in this area. Samsung, for example, is working to make STEM fun and exciting with their STEM education program called Solve for Tomorrow. It’s a national contest that encourages teachers and students to creatively use STEM to explore and improve their local environment and community. “Our goal is to raise awareness and interest in STEM subjects, while providing teachers and students with the resources they need to innovate and grow,” says David Steel, executive vice president of corporate strategy for Samsung Electronics North America. “We as a nation need to make STEM education a top priority,” says Betsy Landers, President of the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), who joined as a program partner this year. “According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 15 of the 20 fastest growing occupations projected for 2014 require significant mathematics or science preparation. It is clear that making STEM education a priority is important, for our nation’s short and long-term future. We commend Samsung for their efforts in making a difference in the education and lives of children.” To learn more about the contest, please visit Samsung.com/solvefortomorrow. As the world continues to change in unexpected ways, the demand for technological developments will only increase. By equipping students of today with knowledge and interest in STEM subjects, we’re fostering the innovators of tomorrow.
(ARA) – Every two years, girls all over the world are captivated by the achievements of female athletes competing in the Olympic Games. Their successes inspire girls to try new things or pursue achievements they may not have thought possible. While not everyone wants to be an Olympic athlete, every girl should be encouraged to go for the gold when it comes to her goals and dreams. Five-time Olympic medalist Veronica Campbell-Brown didn’t let anything stop her from pursuing her dream to compete in the Olympic Games. Through hard work, perseverance and dedication, she became the second woman in history to win two consecutive 200-meter track and field events at the Games. But she also knows she couldn’t have done it on her own. She credits her support team – family members, coaches and trainers – for inspiring her every day to achieve small victories, which led to her greatest achievements. In the spirit of the Olympic Games, Campbell-Brown has partnered with Always(R), the leader in feminine care, to support the Always “Baton Connection” Facebook program, which celebrates the inspirational support system important in anyone’s life. On Facebook, Always fans can “Pass the Baton” to show their appreciation to those who inspire them. With this passing of a baton, the hope is recipients are inspired to do the same. “I’m lucky to have strong female role models in my life who have always encouraged me to pursue my dream of becoming an Olympic athlete,” says Campbell-Brown, who is a hopeful to compete in her fourth Olympic Games this July. “Whether it was a small victory or making it to the world stage at the Olympic Games, these women, like my mom, helped me reach my full potential and I can’t thank them enough.” Campbell-Brown hopes to continue to inspire girls and offers the following tips to help them achieve their dreams like she did: * Make a plan. Write down goals and brainstorm some smaller steps that will help achieve them. Don’t forget to celebrate the daily victories that happen on the road to the larger ones. * Practice. Practice can help you learn, adapt and improve. Anything new may be difficult at first, so be patient. It will get easier. * Track your progress. Every now and then, take the time to assess your progress. How far have you come? How far do you have to go? What could you change to be better tomorrow? Take the time to reflect, readjust your plan, and keep moving forward. * Find a mentor. Coaches, mentors, teachers and trainers all exist for a reason – we need help achieving our goals. Find someone that you trust and who can give you guidance in achieving your goals and steering you along the right course. We all need a little inspiration sometimes, and your mentor can help to give you the push you need. * “Pass the Baton.” We all have women in our lives who have inspired us at one point or another. Whether it is a mother, a sister, a friend or a teacher, take a moment to say thank you and “Pass the Baton” to thank the women who have helped you along the way. To “Pass the Baton” to an inspiring woman, visit and “Like” www.facebook.com/always and “Pass the Baton” to a woman who was a source of help, support or inspiration. If that woman is on Facebook, a notification will pop up to alert her that she has received an Always Baton. The Always Baton Connection Program is only available in the U.S. for girls and women 18 years of age and older and for girls and women 19 years of age and older in Canada. Whether it’s running a marathon or even a goal to get up earlier in the morning, we all can aspire to achieve our goals and dreams. No one has to do it alone, and we all have someone in our lives who has inspired us. In the spirit of the Olympic Games, take a moment to recognize the people who believe in and support you.
(ARA) – Everyone is born with about 100 billion brain cells. We form new connections between these cells throughout life, but the rate is particularly high when we’re young. Since those connections facilitate thinking and learning, parents who want to help give their children an intellectual edge should consider the brain-healthy choices they make each day. “Making the effort to nurture your child’s brain with both proper nutrients and varied experiences, especially when they are young and developing at such a fast rate, is crucial,” says speech pathologist Lauren Zimet, founder of Early Insights, LLC, and an expert on childhood brain development. “The connections in brain circuitry can be enhanced through the environments and activities a child is exposed to, and participates in, as well as the nutrients a child consumes.” Zimet offers five tips to help parents enhance healthy brain development in their children, positioning them for success in school today, and well into their future: 1. Select a rainbow It’s no secret that the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables are numerous, but thanks to the results of ongoing research, you can confidently add brain health to that list. Encourage your children to eat a colorful array of produce (organic when possible) each day so they get the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals needed to nourish and protect their growing brains. If your child is resistant to eating produce, encourage them to come shopping with you and select something new to try. Kids are more likely to eat what they have selected themselves. 2. Relax the right way While it’s true that exercise boosts brain power, it’s also important to teach children how to relax. Balancing activity with relaxation is important so that kids don’t get too stressed, which can impact the brain’s development and lead to learning and behavior problems. Teaching children early on the benefit of setting goals, working towards those goals, and giving their brain and body time to relax are important life skills. When it’s time to relax, skip the TV and teach your child that taking a walk in nature, reading a book or drawing are great ways to unwind. Deep breathing is also an excellent practice to teach children of all ages. 3. Eat omega-3 brain food Omega-3 essential fatty acids are critical to a child’s brain development. They are called “essential” because we need them for optimal health. The problem is that our bodies cannot manufacture them and we can only get them from the food we eat or supplements we take. While fish, nuts and seaweed are good omega-3 sources, kids typically don’t gobble down these foods. That leaves many parents worried that their kids aren’t getting enough, and with omega-3 deficits linked to ADHD, dyslexia and other behavioral and psychological disorders, many are turning to supplements for their children. Experts agree that the safest, most reliable source of the most important essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA) is a high quality fish oil supplement. Fortunately, there are purified, molecularly distilled fish oil supplements that are manufactured with kids in mind. Parents should be sure to choose one of these chewable, tasty options like those by Nordic Naturals to ensure success in getting their children to take the supplements. 4. Happy brains are hydrated brains Staying hydrated is important for growing brains and bodies. Water can improve energy, increase mental and physical performance, remove toxins and waste from the body, and keep skin healthy and glowing. Based on the trillions of cells in the body that need water to function, most nutritionists agree that children need more, not less H20. To estimate how many ounces of water your child should drink daily, divide his or her weight in half and aim for that number of ounces per day. 5. Be a positive support system early on Learning is a complex process, but children will be more open to trying new things when they know their parents believe in them. Acknowledging effort, instead of the outcome, strengthens a child’s belief in himself or herself. Teaching goal setting, prioritizing activities and working off of check lists exercises the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in the brain. Experimentation through trial and error is the way the brain learns best. “Giving your child’s brain what it needs to grow strong can help him or her at school and in all social situations,” adds Zimet. “Utilizing these tips is a great way to help position your child for success in the coming school year, and beyond.”
Today’s 20-somethings can have bright financial futures by following a few simple steps (ARA) – Despite a turbulent job market and economy, if you are a recent college graduate, there is much to be optimistic about as you leave campus and head out into the real world. No one ever says life on your own will be easy, but post-graduate financial bliss can be a reality. These six tips from Thrivent Financial offer a starting point for recent graduates who are ready to put their education to work for a secure financial future. Get real about your paycheck Compared to the minimum wage jobs you survived on through college, the annual earnings at your first post-graduate job may give you dollar-sign eyes. Don’t be fooled though; after taxes, benefits, living expenses and student loan payments, your remaining monthly spending money could amount to less than half of your gross income. Being realistic about your paycheck doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun, though. That new car may have to wait a while, but with smart budgeting you can still enjoy the finer things in life with a clear conscience. Your credit score matters Thought you were done worrying about test scores? Think again. Whether you want to get an apartment, mortgage, car or a new job, your credit score says a lot about you and can make or break these important investments. Free credit reports are available at www.annualcreditreport.com, and for a small fee you can also obtain your credit score. Examine your report regularly for accuracy, and pay off any existing credit card debt as soon as possible. Credit card interest is wasted money, and outstanding debt can hurt your credit score. Take care of yourself first After expenses and taxes, your paycheck may look too slim for comfort, but protecting your assets, health and income is worth the additional cost. If you have an apartment, renter’s insurance is a relatively inexpensive way to protect your possessions. Health insurance is also a must, whether you get it through your employer or stay on your parents’ plan. Your paycheck is worth protecting, too. Disability income insurance is not just for those with physically demanding jobs, as most beneficiaries are on disability from illness, not injury. Preparation for the unexpected comes at a small price considering the costs associated with the alternative. Save for the fun stuff Again, being responsible with your finances doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. You have worked hard to start your career, and deserve to reward yourself. The best way to spend smartly is simply to spend less than you have. Diligent saving allows for the occasional splurge without having to feel guilty or anxious about your decision to spend. Consider directly depositing a certain amount from your paycheck into a savings account for a “fun fund.” Save for the grown-up stuff, too Your parents’ nagging may start to quiet now that you’ve graduated, but their retirement planning advice is worth listening to. Start investing now, you won’t regret it. As you barely scratch the surface of your career, retirement seems a long way off, but successful investors understand that the longer your assets remain invested, the greater their potential for growth. The cash you forfeit now will pale in comparison to the amount you’ll end up getting back at the end of your career if you start as early as possible. Don’t pass up free money Many employers offer pretax savings through their retirement accounts. Because your retirement contributions come out before taxes, your taxable income is decreased, saving you money. For example, a $100 contribution from your earnings to a pretax retirement account would reduce your paycheck by only $75 if you’re in the 25 percent tax bracket. If your employer matches a percentage of your retirement contributions, it is wise to contribute the maximum amount of their match so as not to pass up on “free money.” Money is just one of many aspects of adulthood that college graduates must meet head-on to start living independently. Personal finance may seem daunting, but don’t be discouraged. The above-mentioned tips boil down to common sense: spend less than you earn, stay protected through proper insurance, maintain good credit and save for the short and long-term, and you will be off to a great financial start in the next chapter of your life.
ARA) – The growth of a college student from the first year of instruction to the final days as an undergraduate is immeasurable. But what happens in the time between these two milestones? Book reading, paper writing and party going generally make the list, but employers are telling us to add another item – practical on-the-job training. Internships have become an essential key to compete post-graduation, so make your work count. Start building your company “wish list” early on and you’ll be able to find the right spot to gain true hands-on training, says Jennifer Mleko, director of career services at The Illinois Institute of Art – Schaumburg. “You should be identifying potential employers, reading industry publications in your field of interest and building a network of contacts starting the first or second quarter of school,” according to Mleko. Julianne Pelfrey, director of career services at The Art Institute of Ohio – Cincinnati, advises students to start the research process as early as six months prior to the anticipated start date. “You should eye small to mid-sized businesses,” according to Pelfrey. “Internships with smaller companies typically provide more opportunities for junior employees to gain practical experience. There’s a greater chance for involvement in a project from conception to production with these organizations.” Both Pelfrey and Mleko caution against limiting options by solely seeking paid internships. Students should focus on job duties, experience gained and opportunity for growth – in your education and your career. No amount of cash flow trumps the chance to vet out potential career paths. But what about the actual application process? How are you to compete with other star students vying for the same role? These simple steps may land you in a recruiter’s office sooner than expected: First is the cover letter. While we would love to think these have become a thing of the past, the introductory notes fill an employer in on what students are hoping to gain from the work stint and which past experiences will serve them best in the desired post. Passion, drive and desire to learn are what managers are yearning to see. Next step is the resume; Pelfrey says it’s time for students to pull away from traditional business templates and up the ante with personality-driven resumes. “Design should never overcome content, but employers love seeing ingenuity and creativity from their future proteges,” she says. If you’re light on employment history, bulk up the resume with applicable classroom projects, freelance samples and pro-bono work. And don’t forget to highlight transferable skills. Mleko says, “The purpose of a resume is to emphasize experience by showing variety and a diverse skill set. Whet the recruiter’s appetite by showing what you can bring to the table and tailoring your resume to the job you’re applying for.” The last piece of the puzzle might be the most important tip for workforce newcomers: professional portfolio. Yours should be stocked full of writing samples, design projects and inspired original pieces. Even works in progress will get hiring managers going, so invest the time in selecting a collection that represents range and competencies. Pelfrey and Mleko stress the importance of having at least one internship under your belt come commencement time, but the more the better. With the “wish list” made, a target in mind and submissions ready to go, students can lock down invaluable internships. Forget making copies, your internship is about making career connections.
(ARA) – Sending a student to college is a proud time for families. But with tuition costs rising and families continuing to face financial challenges, many are taking another look at how to pay for college. According to the latest Merrill Edge Report, 56 percent of parents have paid or expect to pay more to send their first child to college than they had originally anticipated when the child was born. When asked why they are paying more, one in three parents who currently have a child in college or have one that has graduated said it was to keep their child out of debt. “Paying for college is a big priority for our clients and with costs continuing to rise, we’re telling them it’s never too early or too late to readjust their financial plan for the true price of college”, says Dean Athanasia, preferred and small business executive at Bank of America.”Though it’s daunting, there are many steps you can take to prepare to send your child to school.” Estimate the costs The first thing you should do is estimate how much college will cost and what you can afford. To do this, you can take advantage of a number of tools online, such as Merrill Edge’s College Planning Tool. Once you calculate how much you’re able to spend, sit down as a family and go over your finances. Establish how much you’re able to afford and how you’ll pay for any additional costs that arise – for example, through your child taking on part-time jobs or student loans. Your child may have his sights set on a more expensive school, but after analyzing your finances your family may decide a more affordable university closer to home is the way to go. Invest early It all depends on your financial plan, but the sooner you can start saving for college, the better. Among parents who saved for college, 68 percent began doing so before their child reached the age of 6, according the 2011 Merrill Edge Report. And of those parents who saved, 38 percent wish they began earlier. There are specialized ways to save for college education. Some college savings plans offer favorable tax incentives and flexibility in who can contribute to the plan, giving you more opportunity to save. In order to decide which account best fits your financial plan, conduct research on your own or ask a financial adviser for help. Once you do, set up an automatic withdrawal from your paycheck to ensure you’re putting some money away each month. Find additional funding If their savings aren’t enough, many families consider financial aid, such as Stafford and Perkins loans. The important part of taking out loans is for your child to have a plan to pay them back, which can be a struggle without proper consideration. Grants and scholarships remain an option but beware that the current economy has restricted many of these funds and they are therefore becoming scarcer than in the past. In the end, remember that you’re saving for a great cause, however expensive it is. By planning ahead, saving early and supplementing your savings with the variety of resources, your child’s education can be one of the richest investments you make.
(ARA) – Got your extra-long sheets? Check. Flip-flops for the shower? Check. What about your school-branded hoodie, hat and T-shirt? You may think you’ve thought of everything for your first year of college, but without a plan to achieve success you are still unprepared. Sara Rathburn, associate dean of Student Affairs at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and Maximillian Matthews, student engagement advocate and coordinator of Academic Support at The Art Institute of Washington, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta, offer habits to help you make the most out of your college experience and lay the foundation for an academically successful future. 1. Get involved “Freshmen who feel connected to campus through student organizations and campus events tend to strive for success,” says Matthews. Getting involved will not only enrich your college experience, but it will also pay dividends once you graduate. According to Rathburn, “Your college degree will one day show that you have knowledge in a field. Your out-of-class experiences will demonstrate that you have a skill base to go along with that knowledge.” 2. Get out of your comfort zone Don’t be afraid of new experiences. “College is a time to test yourself – make mistakes, grow your strengths,” says Rathburn. She recommends trying something completely new, such as joining a club dealing with a topic that is foreign to you. 3. Manage your time “Make the most of every minute,” says Rathburn. “Every hour of every day presents a choice – decide early on in your college experience that you will make the most of your time.” Matthews agrees. “Freshmen should get in the habit of prioritizing and planning ahead to balance their workload and increase productivity,” he says. 4. Manage your money College not only helps you prepare to pursue a successful career, but can also teach you the skills that are necessary for financial success in the future. Rathburn suggests making meals instead of eating out, taking advantage of free local events, and making sure what you want is really what you need. “Don’t sacrifice a financially secure future for fleeting fun now,” she says. 5. Go to class Even on days when you feel like sleeping in, Rathburn recommends making it a habit to go to class. She encourages students to make the most out of their time and financial investments. 6. Overcome fear of seeking help – talk to faculty and staff Both Rathburn and Matthews recommend communicating with your professors. “Freshmen should get in the habit of letting their professors know when they will be late, absent or have questions about class material,” says Matthews. Rathburn adds, “Speak up and make yourself known. Building connections can lead to greater opportunities today, tomorrow and in the years to come.” 7. Personal organization “Develop a system that works for you,” says Rathburn. She recommends starting a filing system that is simple and can be built upon. 8. Learn about resources Whether you need a tutor, help with a resume, or have questions about financial aid, campuses offer a variety of resources designed to help guide you through every aspect of your college career. Matthews recommends attending campus events, especially orientation. “Freshmen need to know who to go to when they need help, not only in academics but in financial aid and career counseling. This is why freshman orientation events are essential.” 9. Remember your goals “Stay focused,” says Rathburn. “You are starting college for a reason – remember that reason. Let that reason motivate you when you are bogged down with homework or struggling with an assignment.” 10. Be an active learner “Active learning means concentrating on the current task, taking notes and asking questions,” says Matthews. He says that if freshmen practice active learning from the beginning, “it will be natural for the remainder of their time in school.”