Maybe the strongest pr on planet earth

Strong for business, non-profit and association managers when they use the fundamental premise of public relations to produce external stakeholder behavior change – the kind that leads directly to achieving their managerial objectives. And strong when they do something positive about the behaviors of those outside audiences that most affect their organization. And finally, if this is you, really strong when you persuade those important outside folks to your way of thinking, then move them to take actions that help your department, division or subsidiary succeed. On the other hand, not so strong when you limit your PR activity pretty much to placing product and service plugs on radio and in newspapers. In short, your public relations effort really must involve more than press releases, brochures and special events if you are to get your PR money’s worth. The fundamental premise of public relations says as much: people act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done.

When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired-action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public relations mission is accomplished. The strength of that blueprint can appear in results like these: new thoughtleader and special event contacts; membership applications on the rise; new community service and sponsorship opportunities; prospects starting to work with you; new feedback channels; customers making repeat purchases; stronger relationships with the educational, labor, financial and healthcare communities; improved relations with government agencies and legislative bodies; new proposals for strategic alliances and joint ventures; promotional contest overtures; enhanced activist group relations; capital givers or specifying sources looking your way, and even a rebound in showroom visits. But first, the division of labor. Just who is going to do the work? Your own full-time public relations staff? People assigned to your unit by a parent organization? An outside PR agency team? Regardless of where they come from, they must be committed to you as the senior project manager, to the PR blueprint and its implementation, starting with key audience perception monitoring. An alert.

Just because someone describes him/herself as a public relations person doesn’t mean they’ve bought the whole loaf of bread. Be sure the PR people assigned to your unit really believe why it’s SO important to know how your most important outside audiences perceive your operations, products or services. Make sure they accept the reality that perceptions almost always lead to behaviors that can help or hurt your unit. Trace out the PR blueprint for them, especially your plan for monitoring and gathering perceptions by questioning members of your most important outside audiences. Questions like these: how much do you know about our organization? Have you had prior contact with us and were you pleased with the interchange? How much do you know about our services or products and employees? Have you experienced problems with our people or procedures? If you can afford the considerable expense of a professional survey firm, by all means use it in the perception monitoring phases of your program.

But keep in mind that your PR people are also in the perception and behavior business and can pursue the same objective: identify untruths, false assumptions, unfounded rumors, inaccuracies, misconceptions and any other negative perception that might translate into hurtful behaviors. Now you establish a PR goal that stands a good chance of doing something about the most serious distortions you discovered during your key audience perception monitoring. It could be to straighten out that dangerous misconception, or correct that gross inaccuracy, or stop that potentially fatal rumor dead in its tracks. And, of course, you must have the right strategy, one that clearly shows you how to proceed. Please note that there are only three strategic options available to you when it comes to handling a perception and opinion challenge.

Change existing perception, create perception where there may be none, or reinforce it. Since the wrong strategy pick will taste like capers on your strawberry shortcake, be certain the new strategy fits comfortably with your new public relations goal. You don’t want to select “change” when the facts dictate a “reinforce” strategy. Here, the PR staff must prepare a powerful message and aim it at members of your target audience. As is usually the case, crafting action-forcing language to persuade an audience to your way of thinking is hard work. Which is why your crew must create some very special, corrective language. Words that are not only compelling, persuasive and believable, but clear and factual. Only in this way will you be able to correct a perception by shifting opinion towards your point of view, leading to the behaviors you are targeting.

I’d run it by my PR colleagues for impact and persuasiveness. Then, fine-tune it before selecting the communications tactics most likely to carry your message to the attention of your target audience. You can pick from dozens that are available. From speeches, facility tours, emails and brochures to consumer briefings, media interviews, newsletters, personal meetings and many others. But be sure that the tactics you pick are known to reach folks just like your audience members. As you know, the credibility of a message is often dependent on the means used to deliver it. So you may wish to unveil it before smaller meetings and presentations rather than using higher-profile news releases.

It won’t be long before calls for progress reports are heard. This tells you and your PR team to start work on a second perception monitoring session with members of your external audience. You’ll want to use many of the same questions used in the first benchmark session. Difference this time is that you will be watching very carefully for signs that the bad news perception is being altered in your direction. Should the program’s momentum flag, you can simply accelerate matters by adding more communications tactics as well as increasing their frequencies. Yes, what you really want the new PR plan to do, is to persuade your most important outside stakeholders to your way of thinking, then move them to behave in a way that leads to the success of your department, division or subsidiary. Indeed, this could be the strongest public relations on the planet. end Please feel free to publish this article and resource box in your ezine, newsletter, offline publication or website. A copy would be appreciated at bobkelly@TNI. net. Word count is 1175 including guidelines and resource box. Robert A. Kelly © 2004.

Current postage rates

The Postal Service revenue only comes from the customers that use the postal services. So, this is just a business like all the other businesses. Unfortunately this will also force the Postal Service to frequently raise the current postage rates in order to cover the unexpected increases in the costs and to sustain the high quality level of the postal service. As Postal Service officials say, the company managed to save about $8.3 billion over last three years and new current postage rates increase in price are not expected until year 2006. Their strategy is to focus only on productivity. In this way, they have managed to reduce the total work hours by a cumulative 728 million since year 1999. As the official statistics say, the career postal employment now is virtually at the same level it was in 1984, just over 700,000, while mail volume has increased by 65 billion more pieces to an additional 48 million new addresses.

This seems to be quite an effort and reveals true concerns to higher efficiency and productivity and keep current postage rates current. Current postage rates, this year the postal service will not increase any price. Instead it is planning to obtain a special reduction of 23 million work hours that will allow cost savings of almost $1.4 billion. The numbers are very impressive as long as industry analysts predict some major decline in first-class mail volumes and higher fuel costs.

Despite these economical threats the postal service will continue to operate solely from revenue generated from current postage rates, and it's own products and services.

How to build a business ethics program

Recent corporate financial scandals have highlighted the importance of business ethics and legal compliance. Yet a recent National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) survey of 280 corporate CEOs and directors found that "only one of three directors felt that they were highly effective in ensuring legal compliance". Building an Ethics and Compliance Program Most companies realize that they need to develop and implement a business ethics and compliance program. An effective program can: Establish a code of conduct that reduces risk of criminal behavior Detect wrongdoing, foster quick investigations, minimize consequences Demonstrate company’s ethical/legal philosophy during an investigation Reduce fines if company is found guilty of wrongdoing Enhance company reputation and stature Looking at the Options But how do you build an effective program? Companies find themselves with three options to build the program: Develop in-house from scratch Hire an external consultant Use a pre-written manual And most of these companies learn a few lessons - sometimes the hard way. Making a Strong Decision Developing a program from scratch can be very time consuming and costly. Also, the company might not have the knowledge or understanding of the complexity involved. But hiring an external consultant is not always a cost effective option either. So what’s left? Developing Your Ethics Program By using a pre-written template or manual, many companies have found it easier to develop their business ethics program. And to do this, they look for what a strong program needs. A highly effective tool for creating, organizing and implementing a sound business ethics and compliance program should provide: Sample policies and procedures Step-by-step instructions for the development of a program A business ethics training program outline with classroom materials and a detailed session leader’s guide Business ethics and compliance officer position description Templates for employee involvement Sample code of conduct Implementing Your Ethics Program If the company board has committed to a strong business ethics and compliance program, the next step is to put the manual in the hands of corporate executives responsible for implementation. Used properly under advice of legal counsel, this efficient tool will yield a solid program that the board can understand, endorse, and monitor for effectiveness. With step-by-step guidelines and accompanying examples of policies, procedures, training program, and employee survey, an effective tool provides an excellent road map for implementing an ethics and compliance initiative. Maintaining a Culture of Integrity Companies should make certain that their ethics compliance manual provides fully editable MS Word files with sample policies, surveys, forms and training session outlines. Also, businesses should ensure their ethics compliance system manual is fully endorsed by The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) as a tool to maintain a culture of integrity.

New christian community website

Christian community website construction requires a lot of care and research since there has to be in depth information relating to various issues. These days, a number of communities operate their own website. It is not necessary that the same template be followed for other Christian community websites. However, some of the basic components of the Christian community website as described here could be followed. It will drive more visitors to the website apart from increasing its visibility on the worldwide web. The website should also be enabled with search engine optimization by using key words relating to Christian community. The Home page of the website should discuss your mission and objective apart from describing the organization promoting it. The web page should contain lots of graphics, images and text relating to Christianity. This will be visually appealing to visitors interested in Christian community. You can also feature more Christian communities of the world or the neighbourhood by providing important details about them. It could also contain resources relating to Christianity. If possible, provide resource links to services and news relating to Christian community.

Try and register to various applications so that subscribers or visitors to the website can be provided with news feeds and blog services. There should be separate sections dedicated to Christian community. The sections could feature resources on the Gospel, the Sacrament, the Bible and other study material relating to Christianity. Processes and procedures could also be defined on various aspects of Christianity such as priesthood, pastor and social service. You can also list the seminaries of the area in which the visitors to the website are interested in taking a first look. The website should feature an additional section about the organization promoting Christianity. You could explain the funding model and how people can contribute in your efforts to meet the end result through collective support. However, your mission and vision for the organization has to be spelt out clearly. Make sure that the transparency in the data is of the highest order.

Do not provide scope for any suspicion. The disclaimer of the website should be candid and approved by the senior most position of the organization. You can make the website interactive by providing a platform for discussion on Christian community. In an effort to attract youngsters, you could list Christian community classifieds and Christian jobs. There are several links on the Internet, which provide information relating to Christian jobs. Ensure that these links are present on the webpage of the website.

Make sure that the links are appropriate and open quickly when clicked. To attract youngsters interested in Christian service such as social welfare activities, aiding the physically challenged or raising funds for social cause, you can invite the participation of the persons visiting the website. You can elicit their reaction towards various initiatives being launched by the organization. If possible, conduct an online survey of all the people visiting the website. There are some people, who visit the website seeking divine intervention. Ensure that there is adequate data on the website to the guide these people to the right persons within the organization or the church.

Working at home isn t all fun and games

I enjoy telling people that I “work at home.” I can see that wistful look in their eyes, and I can hear it in their voices when they say, “That must be nice.” And then for about five minutes, they do a little daydreaming about what it would be like to “work at home.” I never explain to them about the measure of self-discipline it takes, and how great are the temptations to take a “break” and reorganize my sock drawer when I find myself faced with working on a project that is less than interesting (or worse yet, “not as profitable” as other projects). Why burst their bubble? Let them daydream awhile….

Working at home can be all the wonderful things that those people daydream about. Setting my own hours, working at my own pace (project deadlines permitting), running to the market at 1 o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon when there’s nobody there---these are just a few of the plusses of working at home. For parents (whether it is the mom or dad, or both working at home), being able to adjust their working schedule to school schedules, being able to take the kids to the orthodontist or to soccer practice, working at home is a definite plus. For people who don’t work at home and who want to work at home, it is probably hard to think of even one minus. But the fact of the matter is, the minuses do exist---in abundance. It is not my purpose here to ruin all your hopes or plans to establish yourself as a work-at-homer. In fact, I do encourage you to follow that dream and be your own boss. However, I want you to take just a few minutes to take stock of your situation and once and for all decide if working at home really is in your best interest. First, and obviously, you have to have a job skill that is amenable to the at-home environment.

If you trim poodles on the weekend and think you can turn it into a full-time at-home business, then look around. Do you live in a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor and just do your neighbor’s poodle once a month (but you do it really well)? Or do you live a four-bedroom ranch house with a three-car garage that can be made over into “Donna’s Clip Joint” and happen to live in an urban neighborhood where everyone has pets? And even if you do, what about all the permits that you will need? Will you be able to pursue this type of work at home, and do so legally? The most applicable work-at-home job skills involve the use of a computer, the Internet, phone, fax, and other small business/office machines. You can hardly drive from home to the grocery store without seeing those signs nailed to telephone poles: “Got a Computer? Earn up to $2000 at home!

” Of course, you can, but can you? For the sake of argument, let’s presume then that you have a computer and an assortment of small business machines, and that you do indeed have some skill that you believe can be marketed. Let’s focus on you for a minute: Are you self-disciplined? Are you organized? Do you have the proper workspace where you can work undisturbed? Are you able to face a workday where you have no supervision or guidance? Can you work at home, day after day, without having the people contact that you would typically find “on the job”? When you have overlapping projects, will you be able to cope with the necessary prioritizing so that you get the time-critical job done on time without jeopardizing the next job in line? The list of questions goes on. And this doesn’t begin to address the “what ifs” that go hand-in-hand with working at home. What if you don’t have any work this week? What if work doesn’t come in the week after that? What if you get sick and can’t finish a project on time? What if your client doesn’t pay you on time? What if your client doesn’t pay you at all? Financial gurus recommend that we all should have three months’ wages tucked away in a “bail out” savings account so that in case of illness or work stoppage, we can “bail out” our sinking checking accounts and pay the bills, pay the rent, buy groceries. Let’s face it, how many of us really have three months’ salary bankrolled? Most of us are lucky if we have one months’ salary in a demand savings account that’s hooked to our checking account that gets dipped into on a more regular basis than we’d like to admit. If that is the case, then are you really in a position where you can handle the uncertainties of establishing and maintaining a work-at-home business? This isn’t to say that even if all these things are true, that you shouldn’t make the move to be your own boss and work at home. I’m a perfect example. I did have the fortunate circumstance that I had a husband working full-time and earning “decent” money (not a fortune, not more than enough, but “enough”). He believed in me and gave me great support while I established my business. It took me more than five years to get to the point where I can count on having work just about every day (based on a five-day, 50-week “normal” annual work schedule). During that time, I had periods when I didn’t work for five weeks or more (and even still, my primary client goes through a month-long “dry spell” while their organization holds its annual meetings). It took me over three years just to finally break the “one client” barrier (I now have five “regular” clients). The point here is that I did it; I built my own at-home business, and I now think of myself as “successful.” I don’t earn a fortune, but I “make a living at it.” I don’t think that anyone could ever honestly tell you that there is one no-fail method of how to become your own boss and establish a “successful” at-home business. The variables are endless and there is no way to provide you with a formula for how you go about setting yourself up as an entrepreneur. In the end, becoming successful and realizing your dream of working at home depends on you, and you alone. You must have a marketable skill; you need adequate workspace and supporting equipment; you must have the personal demeanor that lends itself to this type of work environment; and you must have confidence in yourself. With these things, you can be a success. You’ll be able to tell people, “I work at home”…then stand back and watch them daydream.

Tips for making your work at home business work for you

After a careful thinking and spending hours and days together on the net, you have finally chosen your work at home opportunity and you look forward for a fast income from your business. But to your dismay, you are not able to find that much success, as you had imagined. One of the main reasons could be that you were not contributing your time and concentration as you had planned earlier. When you do a self assessment you will find that you had not taken your home business as serious as you had thought. Why? Most often the reply to this question would be that you had too many distractions from your work since it was just at home only. As you had no boss to report about your work, you took it at ease. You find time for everything else at home, but not for your business. You thought now your online business would run on its own. You are wrong. You should set up a proper time to make your home business a success. I have found the following tips helpful to me. Keep away from distractions. I choose a time where less distractions are expected and I have informed my friends and relatives also accordingly. So they know I will be busy with my work on the computer and many of them avoid calling me during that time unless it is urgent. Before switching on my computer itself I will plan what I am going to do today for my business. Only then I will look at other offers waiting for my attention in my mail box. After finishing my regular promotion job, I will take up my other things. Otherwise my work will get neglected and I get distracted to other hype opportunities. I will switch off the television when I am working at home. Otherwise without my knowledge my attention will be diverted to the TV program. When I am doing something very serious which requires more attention such as making an online transaction etc, I will either switch off the mobile or at least leave it in silent mode, so that I won't get distracted if it happens to ring during that time. Conclusion: If you take care of the distracting factors affecting your business, you will find that you can make your work at home business work for you in a more successful way.

No business is safe from environmental disaster

Protect Your Assets and Future with Pollution Liability Insurance (ARA) - Fears that the environment will suffer under the Republican administration are misplaced, say the world's leading pollution liability experts. Thanks to privatization and the shift to state enforcement, pollution is being rapidly uncovered. Good news for Mother Nature -- devastating news for those footing the clean-up bill. The fact is, nearly every business -- from farms and schools, to contractors and developers, to printers and manufacturers--is a potential polluter facing third-party liability claims, clean-up costs, business interruption, and damaging publicity. That's according to the environmental insurance experts at Assurex International, the world's largest privately held risk management and commercial insurance brokerage group. Ironically, business owners who devote considerable resources building healthy organizations often risk it all by neglecting pollution liability insurance coverage. They mistakenly believe their companies are free of environmental exposures, or that pollution coverage is unavailable or unaffordable. Both assumptions are false and potentially costly to businesses large and small. Former and current land and business owners, waste generators and transporters all can be held liable for environmental exposures. "Acquire a company that buried tanks 15 years ago, construct homes on arsenic-laced farmland, build a school on toxic land, and you'll share liability with the polluter--unless you have environmental liability insurance," notes Assurex President and CEO Thomas W. Harvey. Environmental insurance helps offset costs associated with pollution clean-up, business interruption, lawsuits, construction delays and property value diminution. "Environmental insurance can mean the difference between business survival and devastating financial loss," says Harvey. You don't have to be a chemical manufacturer or other big operation to be at risk of environmental liability. Businesses large and small are potential polluters. For a small, neighborhood grocery store, just one broken bottle of ammonia could release fumes, overcome shoppers, and create potential liability problems. On a somewhat larger scale, take the case of the entrepreneur who bought an aging fast-food restaurant. While remodeling, the new owner discovered underground storage tanks buried 20 years earlier when a gas station sat on the site. The new and previous owners shared responsibility for removing the tanks at a cost of $20,000 to $1 million-plus. With an environmental liability insurance policy in place, clean-up costs might be covered. Large organizations experience environmental surprises, too. When construction began on a $200 million school complex in Los Angeles, officials had no idea their state-of-the-art learning center sat on toxic land. Once environmental contamination was uncovered, construction on the nearly complete building stopped. Had a site survey been conducted prior to construction, this costly disaster might have been avoided. While a site survey should be part of any merger, acquisition or real estate transaction, surveys sometimes fail to unearth exposures. Environmental insurance, on the other hand, is a certain way to transfer risks and mitigate financial losses. According to Brad Maurer, an environmental insurance expert with New York City-based Assurex Partner Frenkel & Co., most business executives would be surprised to learn what's covered by an environmental insurance policy. "Insurance can cover existing exposures today, as well as future risks. Even known environmental conditions may be covered, if surveys indicate there is no immediate health threat," notes Maurer. "Environmental insurance policies are becoming popular tools for real estate and business transactions," adds Maurer. "Environmental insurance allows buyers and sellers to transfer a deal's environmental risk to an insurer, rather than wasting time and money negotiating who will bear and fund the risk." The Assurex environmental risk management experts identify six pollution-related losses typically covered by insurance: Defense costs incurred when a third party files a lawsuit against the insured. Defense costs related to government-mandated clean-up. Internal business expenses, including business interruption costs related to clean-up. Development delays when chemical drums or other environmental conditions are discovered on construction sites. Property value diminution. In addition, banks and other lenders may purchase insurance to pay off property loans after environmental conditions are discovered. The pollution liability experts at Assurex offer tips to help business and land owners avoid environmental disaster: Consult with an experienced insurance broker familiar with the environmental risks facing your company and industry. A pollution liability expert will know what coverages exist, which insurers will underwrite your risk, and how to negotiate the best coverage at the most attractive cost. The benefit of consulting a knowledgeable professional is demonstrated by the experience one Assurex Partner had with a major food wholesale client. A food industry specialist, the broker contacted an underwriter who was equally knowledgeable of the client's risks. Because the Assurex Partner/underwriter team recognized ammonia as a common refrigerant and potential polluter, the wholesaler was covered when an ammonia cloud from the plant closed one of the East Coast's largest bridges, sending toll workers to the hospital and commuters to alternate routes. Don't let an environmental crisis blind-side you. Do the necessary due diligence, and look deeply into the past of any business or property you plan to buy. Before purchasing property, always hire an engineer to conduct a Phase 1 Environmental Assessment. Had residential developers surveyed the notorious Love Canal before constructing homes and a school on the site, children, teachers, and parents would not have been exposed to this deadly cancer cluster. Transfer your risk with environmental liability insurance. Quotes are free and coverage is broader and more affordable than ever. Environmental insurance offers an economic way to address uncertainty. The property that looks like a tranquil pasture today might once have been the site of toxic dumping. Current owners, former owners, waste generators, and transporters can all be held liable, retroactively to the 1920s. Environmental insurance offers peace of mind by transferring risk and liability away from you to the insurance company. Don't let an inexperienced insurance agent practice on your company. Environmental exposures and insurance coverages are complex. A novice, unaware of available pollution endorsements, might not realize that a pollution liability policy alone does not always offer adequate coverage. For additional information about Assurex International, visit assurex. com.

Getting money to start a new business

Starting a new business can be an exciting venture… unfortunately, it can also be quite expensive as well. In order to get the money that you need to get your business off of the ground, you might be considering a loan from a bank or other lender; you should keep in mind that there are some other alternatives for funding that might serve you well in addition to traditional loans. Of course, before you can do much work toward getting the money that you want you'll need a business proposal… and you'll have to be willing to consider a variety of different funding options. Drafting a business proposal The first step toward getting the money that you need for your new business is creating a business proposal. This can require a lot of research and estimations, as it should include sections on how much money you'll need, how much money you hope to make, what competition you'll face, what equipment and training your employees will need, and other statistics that may vary depending upon what sort of business you're planning on opening. It's best to do additional research on business proposals, so that you know that you haven't left out anything that's vitally important. Business grants Once you've created your business proposal, you should begin looking for business grants that you might qualify for and begin submitting applications. Business grants work much like a business loan, with the exception that the money issued with a grant does not have to be repaid. Any business grants that you can receive will be a great boon to your business, as it means additional funds as well as the knowledge that someone believes that your business will succeed. Business loans You will likely be in the market for business loans and will need to supply the banks or other lenders with copies of your business proposal so that they can see exactly what the money is needed for. It's important to remember that if you're just starting out into business then you may have a bit of difficulty in getting a business loan because many lenders don't want to invest their loans in a business that they have no guarantee will succeed. This is another reason why you need a thorough business plan… the more information that you can present to potential lenders, the more likely they are to believe in your business and give you the loan that you need. Personal loans for business If you're unable to get a business loan for the money that you need, you might want to consider taking out a personal loan for the amount instead. This can be dangerous, since you'll likely be using home equity or other high-value collateral to guarantee the loan, but it is a much more likely method of getting the loan that you need if you're just starting out in business. Investors One other method of getting the money that you need to start your business is to find potential investors and allow them to invest in your business in a manner similar to how they would invest in a publicly traded company. This can be one of the more difficult methods of getting business startup money, since it requires that you find individuals who both have the money to invest in your business and who are willing to make that investment. Having investors can save you a lot of time that would otherwise be spent working out loan details, though, and often allows you more freedom in how you structure your business. You may freely reprint this article provided the following author's biography (including the live URL link) remains intact:

Business financing made simple

: Do you have a new or growing business? If you do, sooner or later you will need business financing. Of course, if you are like most business owners, your first inclination might be to look for a business loan. Unfortunately, business loans can be very hard to get, take weeks to set up and don’t fit too well with most businesses. You might be better off looking for alternative business financing products. I am going to discuss two alternative business financing products.

As opposed to the traditional business loan, they are easy to obtain, can be set up in days, and they grow as your business grows. Invoice Factoring If your biggest business financing challenge is that you have clients who take as long as 60 days to pay their invoices, then the solution is to factor your invoices. Factoring, or invoice factoring as it is often called, accelerates your clients’ invoice payments and gets you paid in about 2 days. Factoring does not involve changing your customers’ payment habits, but rather, financing your slow paying invoices through a factoring company. With factoring, you can capitalize on your invoices and get the funds you need to meet payroll and pay suppliers.

Purchase Order Financing If you are a reseller or wholesaler and your biggest challenge is that you cannot afford to pay your suppliers, then purchase order financing is the best tool for you. Purchase order financing provides you with the necessary funds to pay your suppliers (usually by a letter of credit). This enables you to buy the goods to fulfill your orders and make the sale. Both purchase order financing and invoice factoring can be obtained from a factoring company (rather than a bank). Both solutions are very affordable, but they work best when the business has profit margins of 15% or more. So, if you own a business that needs financing, be sure to look at these non-traditional business financing tools.

Investors avoid these 5 common tax mistakes

For many investors, and even some tax professionals, sorting through the complex IRS rules on investment taxes can be a nightmare. Pitfalls abound, and the penalties for even simple mistakes can be severe. As April 15 rolls around, keep the following five common tax mistakes in mind – and help keep a little more money in your own pocket. 1. Failing To Offset Gains Normally, when you sell an investment for a profit, you owe a tax on the gain. One way to lower that tax burden is to also sell some of your losing investments. You can then use those losses to offset your gains. Say you own two stocks. You have a gain of $1,000 on the first stock, and a loss of $1,000 on the second. If you sell your winning stock, you will owe tax on the $1,000 gain. But if you sell both stocks, your $1,000 gain will be offset by your $1,000 loss. That’s good news from a tax standpoint, since it means you don’t have to pay any taxes on either position. Sounds like a good plan, right? Well, it is, but be aware it can get a bit complicated. Under what is commonly called the “wash sale rule,” if you repurchase the losing stock within 30 days of selling it, you can't deduct your loss. In fact, not only are you precluded from repurchasing the same stock, you are precluded from purchasing stock that is “substantially identical” to it – a vague phrase that is a constant source of confusion to investors and tax professionals alike. Finally, the IRS mandates that you must match long-term and short-term gains and losses against each other first. 2. Miscalculating The Basis Of Mutual Funds Calculating gains or losses from the sale of an individual stock is fairly straightforward. Your basis is simply the price you paid for the shares (including commissions), and the gain or loss is the difference between your basis and the net proceeds from the sale. However, it gets much more complicated when dealing with mutual funds. When calculating your basis after selling a mutual fund, it’s easy to forget to factor in the dividends and capital gains distributions you reinvested in the fund. The IRS considers these distributions as taxable earnings in the year they are made. As a result, you have already paid taxes on them. By failing to add these distributions to your basis, you will end up reporting a larger gain than you received from the sale, and ultimately paying more in taxes than necessary. There is no easy solution to this problem, other than keeping good records and being diligent in organizing your dividend and distribution information. The extra paperwork may be a headache, but it could mean extra cash in your wallet at tax time. 3. Failing To Use Tax-managed Funds Most investors hold their mutual funds for the long term. That’s why they’re often surprised when they get hit with a tax bill for short term gains realized by their funds. These gains result from sales of stock held by a fund for less than a year, and are passed on to shareholders to report on their own returns -- even if they never sold their mutual fund shares. Recently, more mutual funds have been focusing on effective tax-management. These funds try to not only buy shares in good companies, but also minimize the tax burden on shareholders by holding those shares for extended periods of time. By investing in funds geared towards “tax-managed” returns, you can increase your net gains and save yourself some tax-related headaches. To be worthwhile, though, a tax-efficient fund must have both ingredients: good investment performance and low taxable distributions to shareholders. 4. Missing Deadlines Keogh plans, traditional IRAs, and Roth IRAs are great ways to stretch your investing dollars and provide for your future retirement. Sadly, millions of investors let these gems slip through their fingers by failing to make contributions before the applicable IRS deadlines. For Keogh plans, the deadline is December 31. For traditional and Roth IRA’s, you have until April 15 to make contributions. Mark these dates in your calendar and make those deposits on time. 5. Putting Investments In The Wrong Accounts Most investors have two types of investment accounts: tax-advantaged, such as an IRA or 401(k), and traditional. What many people don’t realize is that holding the right type of assets in each account can save them thousands of dollars each year in unnecessary taxes. Generally, investments that produce lots of taxable income or short-term capital gains should be held in tax advantaged accounts, while investments that pay dividends or produce long-term capital gains should be held in traditional accounts. For example, let’s say you own 200 shares of Duke Power, and intend to hold the shares for several years. This investment will generate a quarterly stream of dividend payments, which will be taxed at 15% or less, and a long-term capital gain or loss once it is finally sold, which will also be taxed at 15% or less. Consequently, since these shares already have a favorable tax treatment, there is no need to shelter them in a tax-advantaged account. In contrast, most treasury and corporate bond funds produce a steady stream of interest income. Since, this income does not qualify for special tax treatment like dividends, you will have to pay taxes on it at your marginal rate. Unless you are in a very low tax bracket, holding these funds in a tax-advantaged account makes sense because it allows you to defer these tax payments far into the future, or possibly avoid them altogether.

Your dolphin e mail caught in spam tuna net

Let me ask a couple of questions: If (potential) customers sends an e-mail to your company, do they want to receive an answer? If you, in return, e-mail your customer, do you expect that your e-mail is delivered to the customer? Well, in my case, I answered "YES" on both questions. After all, the customer asks for an answer, so it's normal to expect that when you send an e-mail in return, that the customer receives it. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. It is highly important that you get this point, so let me rephrase that: If you send an e-mail to a customer that the customer wants and expects, it may be that (s)he never receives it! I've investigated this issue, and the cause of this is the filtering of e-mail by the ISP of the customer, to prevent unwanted SPAM (unsollicited e-mail) to make its way into their mailbox. But not only genuine SPAM is filtered out. Even e-mail that the customer wants (and often expects) to receive, may be caught up in this filter. It's happening so often, there's even a term for it: "false positives". Sometimes this stays unnoticed, because the customer doesn't get a mail telling her that it was filtered out. Or you don't get a reply from the ISP/filter that your mail didn't pass. Your "dolphin" e-mail can essentially be caught in SPAM filter "tuna nets". This can impact businesses on many levels: Potential customers do not convert into real customers, because they never "heard from you". Unhappy customers as they "never get an answer on their support requests". Unhappy Customers that don't get the info / product they paid for (download instructions for digital products are often delivered by e-mail) When this happens, the customer usually points the finger to the business... ...YOUR business was not responsive; ...YOUR business didn't resolve the customer's issues; ...YOUR business did not deliver! But, of course, you are not to blame. You responded! You resolved! you delivered! It's the customer's ISP that didn't deliver. An e-mail your customer wanted, and expected. Mistakes do happen. But sometimes, ISP's and mail service businesses have no interest in righting what went wrong. And since they are not blamed, they get away with doing nothing. But in the mean time, your and my business is hurt by this. So, it is time to point customers in the right direction. If more and more customers know where to complain if they do not get the e-mail they wanted, chances are that the ISP and/or mail service are forced into action. There's a lot an ISP or mail service can do. Customers should have the possibility to "whitelist" you. A "whitelist" is a list of e-mail addresses or domains from which the customer allows mail to continue, even when the filter thinks it's "junk". One option that's not an option is to ask customers to switch off the filter. SPAM is just too big a problem for this. Another company that have taken the heat for filtered mail is SiteSell. They're blamed for not delivering as promissed, because their e-mail was filtered out. And they hit a wall of unresponsiveness when they tried to right this. Or was it that their requests were filtered out? ;-) As they understood how this is hurting their business, and many other businesses around the globe, they decided to take action, and point customers in the right direction when wanted e-mail doesn't make it into their mailboxes. So they created the "Deliver my mail!" initiative, which I fully support. I invite you to join them and me. Read more about "Deliver my Mail!" on: http://deliver-my-mail. sitesell. com/sls. html Let's take a stand, and educate customers on what to do if they do not receive e-mail they really wanted to get. Let customers demand:

Increasing health club profits through retail

Copyright 2006 The Fitness Consulting Group A common misconception in the fitness industry is that a profit center’s only purpose is to keep the members happy. We all want to keep our members happy, no doubt, and do it at a reasonable expense. Having a multiple profit centers, that truly are profitable, can set your facility apart from the competition on the service and financial fronts, while still keeping the members interests in mind. When most people think of profit centers in our industry, they immediately think of the ‘smoothie bar’, or ‘pro shop’. These centers can range from a drink cooler and a clothes rack, to a 3000 sq. foot retail store. Either end of the spectrum might be right for you. To understand what to expect out of your retail profit center, you need to first understand exactly what your business is. You are a retailer whose life or death depends on creating an impulse to buy. Not to say that you are never a ‘destination’, because there is the occasional customer who will break from the office to get a smoothie at your place, but the majority of your sales will come from impulse purchases. With this in mind, you must be able to create those impulses at every possible opportunity. First and foremost, your retail center has to be near the front door. Near the front counter, if not between the counter and the front door. This is the prime real estate within the facility. If you are near the front door, and I mean within 30-50 feet, you are guaranteed that every person who walks through the front door will have exposure to your products. This is true for all of your profit centers, each need to have a presence upon entry into the facility. However, getting back my earlier statement, retail depends on impulse, you must be right in the consumer’s face in order to be able to create that impulse. Your drinks and bars should be out front, nearest the line of traffic in and out of the front door. This is done for the same reason the gum and candy are at the check out counter at every gas station. In your face, creating an impulse. These products are also very inviting. Bright colored drinks means flavor, and that draws the potential consumer in. An open cooler with drinks and ice is a very attractive presentation, especially after a long workout. Clothing, apparel, and tanning supplies are also colorful and look nice when neatly organized along walls and shelves. Organization and full racks and shelves give the appearance of a healthy store, and consumers find that attractive. Empty, unorganized shelves make items hard to find, nothing jumps out at you, and gives the perception that whatever is left has been picked over and is probably ‘junk’. While setting up your retail area, you must be aware of your promotions and the perception consumers may have. There are is an endless number of ways to do promotion, but only two basic types of promotion, passive and active. Passive is the most common, the least effective, and requires the least amount of effort and creativity. Passive is putting up a SALE sign on your clothes rack, or your drink cooler. Passive promotion does not require any interaction with your potential customer. Active promotion requires that the potential customer reacts in some way with the promotion. Having employees carry samples around the facility and offer them to members is a very effective active promotion. If you do a food drive for Thanksgiving, offer a coupon for a free smoothie for every canned food donation. Open up a pair of lifting straps and set a dumbbell out, let them try out a set of straps. There must be, of course, some limitations, but you can adjust your promotion according to your needs. Most, if not all, promotions will be better served by using some type of signs. Don’t overdo the signs, they will lose effectiveness. The member base my already be desensitized to the effects of signs, so you need to be creative with design and placement. Product promotion is an art form, and is vital to maximizing retail sales. Knowing your target market and being able to effectively appeal to them may be a simple science in itself. Do you know your customer base demographic?? Do you provide products that appeal to them?? Or do you provide what you think should be sold in a fitness facility?? You probably wouldn’t find wrestling magazines in a Christian bookstore. The same principle applies to your retail center. Is the traffic primarily bodybuilders? Then you should have weight gainers, creatine, tanktops, etc. If the traffic is made up of a younger crowd, they prefer energy drinks and tanning supplies. Not to say you can’t expand on those lines, but you have know your target market, or you’re going to be trying to sell products to people who don’t want them. You can get an idea just by watching members come and go. Certain traits are obvious, male or female, gray hair, overweight, just to name a few. You can probably look at the members profile and get more information than that. It may require a little bit of extra work and time, but any information you acquire about your target market will be valuable. Once you recognize your target market, then comes your opportunity to educate them. Retail centers cannot depend on monthly health magazines to properly educate their customers. You should provide credible literature in and around your center. A poster on the drink cooler explaining what drink is best at what time. An ingredient list and description for protein shakes. Most importantly, you have to educate the staff, because they will be the face of the center. They will interact with the customers daily, and you want them to know the products as well as you do. Over time, they will develop relationships with the customers, and those relationships translate directly into purchases. When an employee demonstrates a knowledge of products over time, the customer will go to that employee first when a need or question arises. Product education for employees is as important as knowing how to use the cash register. You do not want to let your profit centers become financial drains on you or the club. Poor management, uneducated employees, bad marketing and promotions, and not knowing your customer are sure ways to have your center bleed financially. Each of these problems are correctable, but not until they are truly identified.

The pros of purchasing off plan

The general lack of stability or guarantee of returns available from the stock market coupled with a global housing boom have resulted in many more investors putting their hard earned sums of cash into real estate around the world over the past year or so. Some of these investors have simply purchased second homes, some have developed and flipped houses while others have bought into real estate investment funds and trusts for example – but the one thing that many of those profiting from property have in common is consistently cashing in on off plan real estate developments. And even if the global property market is about to take a tumble into recession as some doom and gloom-mongers will have you believe, there are still profits to be made from off plan properties. Here are my five pros of purchasing off plan: - 1) By buying before a single layer of bricks has been laid you have complete control over the internal layout and finish of your property. If the home is to be a holiday or second home you can customize it to your tastes, alternatively if it is to be let out or flipped and sold on for profit you can customize it to fit your target market. If you’ll be corporate letting the property you can spec it up to the max, if you’re going to be selling to a family you can ensure there’s at least a second bathroom and that the bedrooms and family spaces are decorated appropriately for example. Basically, buying off plan gives you more control! 2) You are buying the off plan property at today’s prices – you are fixing and future proofing the cost of the property meaning that not only can you budget to afford it, but you will also benefit from any natural periods of inflation that the local real estate market enjoys meaning that when the property is completed in twelve to eighteen months time you will benefit from any increase in the underlying value of the house. The equity growth potential from buying off plan is a great plus! 3) You will have the full period of the build duration to pay for your property meaning that you don’t have to find a large capital lump sum up front to afford it. You can work and save to meet the stage payments throughout the build process making buying off plan an affordable way to acquire a home! 4) You need never pay in full for your off plan property – yes – you heard me right! Instead of making the final lump sum payment on your off plan property you can flip it by putting it on the market as it comes to completion. You will take back what you put in to the property plus all the profit and you need never make that final payment if you time your investment right. 5) Many constructors encourage investors to buy off plan as it allows them to use your funds to pay for the building of the development - in return they offer you guaranteed rental yields for a fixed term. By buying such an investment property off plan you will future proof the price you pay for it, you will benefit from any natural inflation in the housing market during the build period, you will then also generate a fixed rental sum annually for a given period and throughout that period as well you will reap the rewards of housing market inflation in terms of the rise in equity that your property will gain meaning profits all round from off plan properties!

Credit over the limit

Imagine you had a credit card was a $500 limit, and in the run-up to Christmas, you nearly maxed out your card. Before taking that last shopping trip of the season, you went online to check your balance and saw that you had $19 of available credit. "No matter," you say to yourself, "I'll pay the balance in full when I get my Christmas bonus from the office." The only other charge you made was for a couple of mochachinos at the local coffee house, but two days later you were shocked to learn that you somehow went over your credit limit! Worse yet, your card company hit you with a $29 fee! The Mochachino That Broke the Camel's Back This can happen a lot easier than you might expect. In the above example, you may have recently "paid at the pump." Oftentimes a gas station charges your card only $1 at the point-of-purchase and applies the remainder of the charge to your card later that day (or the next day). Let's say you had $17 in gas that you forgot about. That would reduce your available credit to $3 ($19 - $17 + $1 for the refunding of the temporary charge). Then when you bought two $2.50 drinks, you pushed your balance to $502, exceeding your credit limit by $2, and receiving a whopping $29 fine. It happens all the time. The real question should be, "Why do credit card companies let this happen?" After all, couldn't they just reject your card at the coffeehouse? The gas station reserves the funds on your card even before it charges them, so shouldn't you not be able to buy the coffee and go over your credit limit? It depends. Some people would find this embarrassing fate more horrible than the $29 over-limit fee, particularly if the second coffee was for a romantic interest or client. But the reality is that credit card companies exist in the world to make money. There's nothing wrong with that, but you need to be aware of the fees and expenses associated with your card and do your best to avoid them. Tips for Avoiding Over-Limit Fees 1. Use a separate card for your gas purchases. Since "pay at the pump" can distort your true balance, it is wise to use one card exclusively for gas. This can be an actual gas card or just a regular card card that you designate as your own gas card. It might be okay to have some recurring charges (cable bill, subscription charges, etc.) also on the card, but don't use it to make "discretionary" purchases. If you have $200 of recurring charges on your card and you typically spend $80 a month on gas, this means you'll only need a card with a $300 limit. Then again, $500 would be better for a little cushion in case you spend more on gas - either because you take a trip or because gas prices to through the roof! 2. Check your balance on a daily basis. If you maximize the benefits of your credit cards by nearly maxing them out each month and then paying off the balance in full, then you need to spend a little more time making sure managing your cards. Check your balance online every day and look at the itemized charges. Sometimes charges don't show up right away, so be on the lookout for anything that's missing. And if you do use your card for gas, make sure you keep your gas receipts so you know how much you really spent when your statement still says "$1." The Real Cost of Exceeding Your Limit No one likes paying $29 extra for a couple of coffees, but the even greater cost of going over your credit limit is the damage it does to your credit. Many card companies begin charging you the maximum interest after just one overage - and not the card you went over on. An entirely unrelated company might also jack up your interest rate, even though you've always paid your bills on time with them, so do everything you can to avoid going over. Credit cards are wonderful tools, but they come with serious responsibilities. You should be using a credit card to your advantage - whether that means getting an interest-free loan every month by paying your balance off in full, or just the simple security and satisfaction that having extra buying power at your fingertips can bring. But when you start paying $29 fees and higher interest, you are letting the powerful tool wield itself against you. Be a smart consumer, but also check the over-limit fees and practices of cards before you sign up for them. No one intends on exceeding their credit limit, but it does happen to most people, so be aware! Sincerely, James

Create a magic connection with clients leads and business associates part ii

Part I of this article explored how strategies of Neuro-Linguistic Programing (NLP) can be used to gain instant rapport with clients, leads, and business associates, and more specifically, how to use physiology, matching and mirroring, to create instant magic communications. Now, how can tonality and words establish rapport? TONALITY While physiology accounts for 55% of communication among humans, tonality accounts for 38%. Most people have had the experience of someone saying, “I’m fine. Nothing’s wrong.” While the literal words indicate that this person doesn’t have a problem, everyone knows that the tone used can speak louder than the words. Someone yelling “I’m not mad,” isn’t convincing. If this happens in a sitcom, we laugh. In real life, we dismiss the words and read the meaning from the tone of voice. Often tonality is more subtle than these examples, but it is still a powerful communicator. Boredom, excitement, anger, melancholy, disbelief, questions, enthusiasm, honesty are more often communicated through tone, rather than words. What do you wish to communicate to clients, leads, or business associates? Make your tonality appropriate. Many people do business exclusively over the phone. When talking on the phone, it is crucial to be aware of tonality. In a phone conversation, both people are communicating via their tonality, often unconsciously. Don’t leave tonality to chance. Enthusiasm, charm, friendliness as well as boredom, depression, and annoyance are communicated through sound. TONALITY Tonality includes: Tone (pitch: high, low) Tempo (speed: slow, fast) Timbre (quality: clear, raspy) Volume (loudness) If you are talking to someone, who has a high-pitched voice raise your pitch a little. Like matching and mirroring, you don’t want to imitate. Don’t be dramatic, be subtle. Match the last few words someone says. Speed is important. People who talk fast are often impatient with people who speak slower. People who speak at a slow speed are often turned off by people who speak rapidly. For someone who naturally speaks fast, slower speaking people seems to take forever to say something. For someone who naturally speaks slowly, the fast talker seems hyper, insincere. The cliche “fast talking city slicker” captures this idea. I was in New York giving a presentation; the person who presented before I did took more than her a lotted time. My presentation was cut short. I began speaking at what I considered high speed and told everyone that I was talking fast because I wanted to get through my entire presentation. Several audience members laughed and said, “We’re New Yorkers. No matter how fast you talk, it won’t be too fast.” I couldn’t match their speed. In contrast to New Yorkers, I visited a friend in Georgia whose southern drawl was slow, hypnotic, and relaxed. Notice timbre and volume! Volume of voice can be very effective with someone who is angry. A few years ago, I unwittingly angered another professor. As he became more angry, his voice grew louder. I kept my voice low and soft, believing that would calm him. I watched rather mystified as he grew more angry as I controlled my voice, trying to sound calm and in control. If someone is angry, try matching the volume of his voice without matching the anger. It might feel strange, but matching the volume creates rapport. There is one other thing to keep in mind for phone rapport. If you are the person calling, you set the pace for the phone call. If you have high energy, excitement, enthusiasm, you will put the person on the other end of the line into a better mood. You can maintain the energy, excitement, and enthusiasm while matching tone, temp, timbre, and volume. This was model for me about a year ago. I wasn’t feeling great and was rather down in the dumps. I phoned a business. The woman who answered the phone was energetic and excited. I immediately felt a shift in my mood. When I hung up, I was in a better mood. A few weeks later when I met this woman, I was predisposed to like her. She had immediately established rapport with me. Use your physiology to get you in an enthusiastic mood: sit up straight, smile, and tell yourself you’re excited. Then dial the phone. WORDS Words may only account for 7% of our communication, but it is an important 7% and complex than other ways of establishing rapport. When communicating, predicates (verbs), key words, common experiences and associations are vital in establishing rapport. Common experiences and associations are obvious. These areas are often the bases of friendships and business associations. It goes without saying that establishing a common bond with a client, lead, or business associate is good business. Be honest when doing this. Key words sometimes slip by under the radar. Begin to listen for key words or phrases that someone repeats. This is a simple way of establishing rapport. Repeat back key words. Slip them naturally into the conversation. Again use caution. Predicates are more complicated. This is going to be the abridged version. Most people have preferred verbs that they repeat. This is more important than key words because the verbs signal a way of thinking. There are four primary modes of thinking: visual, auditory, kinesthetic (feelings and touch), and audio-digital (self-talk). What this means is that people process information through their preferred mode of thinking. I am audio-digital, so I am in a constant mode of checking things out with myself and talking to myself internally. My son is visual. He thinks in pictures; he sees, visualizes. VISUAL: Someone who is visual will use words like see, picture, clear, foggy, vision, appear, look, reveal, view. AUDITORY: Auditory people use words like hear, clear as a bell, that rings true; harmonize, resonate, tune in, tune out. KINESTHETIC: Kinesthetic people use words like feel, touch, get a handle on, grasp, tap into, hard, concrete, catch on. These people think in terms of feeling and touch. AUDIO DIGITAL: Audio digital people use words like understand, perceive, think, sense, experience, insensitive. These people do a lot of inner self-talk. They are very linguistically cognitive This discovery will help you communicate more clearly, using someone’s preferred way of thinking rather than your own. If someone is visual and you are talking to her using audio predicates, it’s likely that she’ll miss your point. Consider how this knowledge could change family dynamics? Or your business environment? Communicating clearly could skyrocket to new levels. As you begin to see and hear how this works, it is easy to come to an understanding of and get a handle on how people connect. Notice that the last sentence used all four modes If someone is audio, you might say, “I hear what you’re saying.” or “If this opportunity rings true for you, then . . .” With someone who is visual, you might say, “I can picture that,” or “If you can see yourself with this product, then . . .” What you are looking for is their way of processing information, and you are using their preferred mode of communicating to communicate clearly with a client, lead, or associate. I’d suggest practicing one area at a time. Start with matching and mirroring someone’s posture, or expressions, or blinking. Take it slowly. It’s like learning anything: practice creates ease. Then move on to voice and words. You’ll discover that you will become much more observant and more conscious of what you do and what others do. You’ll also become a better communicator. Always use these strategies with integrity. You can use magic to make connections with others. Do it consciously and with volition. Make win win situations. If you win and if your client or lead wins, you have created magic.

How to have an effortless life

Isn't that an appealing title? How to Have an Effortless Life! Well guess what? The only time your life will be effortless is when you're buried six feet under. It takes effort to get results, and not just any effort, it takes smart effort. You cannot expect to achieve anything without doing something. Unfortunately in our society today, people are making an enormous effort to keep themselves busy all day, yet for many they look at what they have done and realised that much of the time had been wasted. They review their day and wonder what they had achieved. You need to plan, focus and take action on what you want to achieve to get the outcome you desire. You need to get organised!

My Story Last week I was in a shop trying on a shirt and I asked a lady who was also in the changing rooms how it looked on me. (I don't bother asking the sales assistant as they usually tell you it looks great regardless of whether it does or not). She thought it looked great and I must confess, I thought so too! Still, being a woman I like to have someone else to confirm it. Now here's what I found both flattering and interesting. The lady said "The shirt looks great, I wish I had the same body". She was referring to my body! That got me excited! That's the first time someone had said that to me. Mind you this woman was about 15 kg overweight and would probably think that about anyone who was smaller than her. I replied "Thank you! (and then blurted out in a nice way) However, you could too, just exercise regularly and eat healthily". I forgot to mention she had an open packet of potato chips in her bag. This lady probably thought I was born this way, one of the lucky ones who could eat and drink anything they wanted and walked occasionally for exercise. It takes effort What this lady didn't know was that every morning I drag myself out of bed at 5.30 a. m. to work out at the local gym. And I do that regardless of how cold or wet it is, how tired I am, whether it's summer or winter. I pay the price to get the results. I'm also particular about food, trying wherever possible to eat low fat, low sugar food and drink plenty of water. If there's an easier alternative, a magic pill which will miraculously keep the weight off, body toned and make me feel great consistently without harming my health, please let me know. Until then, I'll keep paying the price and making the effort because the results are worth it. Pay Yourself First Having read the last couple of paragraphs you might say "why doesn't she exercise later in the day?". The reason I don't is that I am a "morning" person and know that by going to bed earlier and getting up early I can get it over with first thing. Otherwise if I chose to exercise later, chances are circumstances would arise and I'd postpone it. One of my coaching clients is a runner. He originally rang me because his work and his life was out of control. He runs 20 kms a day and has done so for many years. I asked him how did he manage to religiously run every morning before work yet couldn't seem to leave the office by 5.30 p. m. each night. He answered "It's easy to jump out of bed in the morning and run, there's nothing or no-one able to stop me at that hour (5.30 a. m.). Yet when I'm at work there are too many demands on my time and they seem to always arise late in the day." Learn to pay yourself first. Just like George Clason wrote in his book "The Richest Man In Babylon", take 10% of whatever you earn and pay yourself first. Use it to invest, otherwise there will never be anything left once you pay everything else. And I'm sure many of you can relate to that. How to Pay Yourself First You need to make yourself the first priority. Ensure you allow time each and every day to action your own personal agenda. Here's a couple of ideas to get you started: Block out time each day in your diary for your exercise. Eg. Walk at 6.00 a. m. or lunchtime. Plan that first. Block out time each day to follow up on your personal issues. Eg. Book dental appointment, respond to phone calls, contact bank. Do that early in the day otherwise you'll run out of time and leave it Make sure that you stick to it. Learn to say 'no' if other people want to make other plans for you during those 'me' times. You must take care of yourself first. You have the power to say 'yes' or 'no' to other people's demands on your time. Treat yourself as your no. 1 priority. The Final Word When you decide (yes, that right), it's when you decide to make yourself the highest priority in your life, you'll find how much easier it is to live your life. When you decide you're worth it, it will be easy for you to say 'no'to other people's demands/requests. Of course, you'll need to learn how to organise yourself so that you are effective as possible. Have a great week! Lorraine Pirihi

Getting a loan from a non traditional lender

Sometimes you might find that a traditional lender such as a bank simply can't meet your loan needs. Perhaps the interest rate that the bank offers is simply more than what you're wanting to pay, or you might not be able to reach the bank during normal business hours in order to submit your loan application. Regardless of the reason that traditional banks are unable to help you with your loan, you need to find an alternative lender that can process your loan and get you the money that you need. Luckily, there are a large variety of non-traditional lenders that can not only get you the money that you need but can offer competitive if not better interest rates than your local banks. Below you'll find information on some of the alternative lenders available, as well as information of finding the one that's right tog et you the loan that you need.

Finance and Loan Offices The most common non-traditional lenders are finance companies and loan offices. Unlike traditional banks, these companies exist solely for the purpose of providing loans to individuals… even individuals with poor credit who might not be able to get a loan at a traditional bank. Most of the loans that are provided from finance companies and loan offices are secured loans, meaning that they require some collateral to secure the loan and guarantee repayment. Some specific types of loans, such as automotive financing, allow the purchased item to serve as collateral for the loan so that additional collateral is not required. Mortgage Companies If you're in the market to buy a new house or other piece of real estate, you might want to consider a mortgage company instead. These lenders specialize in home and property loans, using the purchased house or property as the loan's collateral. Mortgage companies are often willing to work with individuals who have a variety of different credit ratings, so that even those individuals who have had credit problems in the past will have an opportunity for home ownership. Online Lenders A variety of online lenders exist, offering loans for just about any purpose that you can imagine. Many physical banks, lending companies, and mortgage lenders have an online presence, but there are a variety of lenders that exist with only an online presence. The loans offered by these online lenders can often carry a better interest rate than an individual might expect to be able to get, due at least in part to the reduced cost of doing business exclusively online. In addition to the potential for lower interest rates, online lenders often offer faster loan decisions and more options when it comes to repayment of the loan. Finding Your Loan When you've begun exploring your various loan options and are ready to apply for a loan, it's important to take the time to shop around and make sure that you get the best deal that you can. Visit several different lenders, requesting loan quotes from each one, and take the time to get online and request loan quotes from several online lenders as well. Carefully compare the loan offers that each lender gives you, making sure that you take the interest, repayment terms, and any other loan-specific terms and costs into consideration to find the loan that is the best overall instead of simply the one with the lowest interest rate. By taking the time to shop around and compare loan quotes, you are much more likely to find the best deal for a loan that you otherwise might have missed. -- You may freely reprint this article provided the following author's biography (including the live URL link) remains intact:

Changing jobs don t let your 401 k slip away

Changing Jobs? Don’t let your 401(k) slip away. Today’s job market is more transitory than ever. And, as more and more individuals switch jobs, they begin to wonder what they should do with the money they have accumulated in their employer-sponsored retirement plans such as their 401(k) plans. The good news for 401(k) plan participants is that your retirement plan assets are very portable so you may be able to keep your existing 401(k) plan assets in a tax-deferred environment. The trick is to resist the urge to use the monies.

After tucking money away in your 401(k) for quite some time, you may be tempted to use it to treat yourself to a new car or some other indulgence. Because it could literally take years to replace your existing 401(k) funds, you should think carefully before prematurely taking money from your retirement savings. A hasty withdrawal decision by someone under age 55 could easily wipe out a third of your 401(k) assets. If you decide you want a lump-sum withdrawal paid directly to you, the 401(k) plan trustee must withhold 20% for federal income tax and, if you do not attain age 55 prior to the end of the year in which you separate from service, the trustee must also withhold an additional 10% premature distribution penalty.

So you will receive a net payout of 70 to 80% of your existing 401(k) plan account balance. After age 55, however, the premature distribution penalty is no longer imposed if your withdrawal is prompted by your separation from service with the employer sponsoring the plan. Of course, if you choose to take a withdrawal, you may, within 60 days of the distribution, subsequently decide to deposit it into an IRA as a qualified rollover. However, for the withdrawal and re-contribution to be a tax neutral event, you would need to deposit the gross distribution amount into the IRA, which means you need to replace the withheld monies with funds from another resource such as your personal savings. If you can resist the urge to take a withdrawal when you change jobs, you are one step closer to making a distribution decision that will preserve your hard-earned money. To be in the best position to make an informed decision, you should consider other options available for your existing 401(k) assets, such as: • leave your assets in the 401(k) plan, • transfer your assets to a new employer’s 401(k) or retirement plan, or • roll your assets into an IRA. Leaving your assets in the 401(k) plan may not be your best option. It depends on your existing 401(k) plan’s provisions. Some plans have limited investment options for employees who have separated from service and some have restrictive distribution options. However, most plans do allow employees who separate from service to roll their 401(k) assets to a new employer’s 401(k) plan, or retirement plan, or to roll to an IRA. Transferring your existing 401(k) assets to a new employer’s plan may be an option. To do so, you must first meet the eligibility requirements of your new employer’s plan. Additionally, the trustee on the new plan must agree to accept your assets, which may be a concern, especially if your existing 401(k) assets include shares of employer stock. Information on other considerations involved in transferring your existing 401(k) assets to your new employer’s 401(k) plan is available from your new employer. A direct transfer to an IRA avoids the mandatory withholding of the 20% for income tax and the 10% for the premature distribution penalty, if applicable. Your 401(k) plan trustee may simply transfer your plan assets electronically or may cut a check payable to your IRA. Once in your IRA, the assets continue to accumulate tax-deferred. One of the more attractive aspects to rolling your existing 401(k) into an IRA is your control feature. Not only do you have more control over your investment options; but, you will also have more control over the timing and manner of your distributions. Your 401(k) plan account balance represents your savings; therefore, it is important to make informed distribution decisions that will preserve your hard-earned money. To learn more about the portability of your 401(k) assets, or for more information on preserving your 401(k) assets and 401(k) retirement planning strategies based on your particular situation, please contact a Financial Advisor for a complimentary consultation.

Questions to ask yourself to prevent costly errors on your printing jobs

I remember having to write about an article on how your graphic designer can cost you money. Sure, your graphic designer can have all the blame when you find out later that your material cannot be run through the press right away because there are changes to make and errors to correct. However, you as the client may also prevent errors from happening, especially costly ones, when you yourself are aware of several things at the onset of the job. I found the following questions from another designer helpful when dealing with printing projects. I would like to share it with you: To check on configuration and presentation, were you able to do a "dummy" or a mock up of your job? Can we print on a smaller press, and thus save money if we change the dimensions of the job? Are you sure about the quantity? (Re-runs cost lots more than extended first runs.) Has the job been proof-read by several people before press time? Different sets of eyes see different sides to the job. Are the photos in the document checked, or retouched? Some photos need to be retouched because color prints can get darker after scanning; large reductions make shadow areas heavier. Do you need a color key as well as a blueprint? Blueprints do not always indicate color breaks and trapping clearly. Is the paper opacity sufficient or will there be see-throughs in the job? Is the texture of the paper alright or will the job have to be laser-printed afterwards? Is there a stock that we can substitute to save money but still look as good? Will ink colors change when printed on a given sheet? (Printing inks are transparent. Its result on the paper depends on the brightness or "yellowness" of a white paper, and more dramatic changes when transferred to colored papers.) Is it necessary to use additional plates or tint underlays to get the right result for ink coverage? Should we use one or more Hexachrome inks in the process spectrum to enhance color brightness and luminosity? Does the sheet need a varnish or should we consider aqueous coating to guard against fingermarks and scratches? Can we print four colors on one side of the sheet and black on the back-up to give the illusion of a "four color process throughout" job? Can it be press-scored instead of die scored to save money? (Folds that go through heavy solids may require a channel or die score.) Do we have to parallel fold for correct line-up of bridge (cross-over) pages? Can we run any of the elements on combination to saving on costs? Learn to be responsible and take full control of your jobs. Ask these questions. You might just save yourself from paying too much. About Color Printing Wholesale Color Printing Wholesale is a company that offers a wide range of quality digital printing services from brochures, flyers, business cards, postcards and posters, to digital, inkjet and web solutions, as well as laminating services. For further information, visit their website at http:// colorprintingwholesale. com/category/BROCHURE/Brochure-Printing-Services. html.

Options for individuals with bad credit

If you've had problems with your credit in the past, you might think that your options are extremely limited in regards to financial matters. While it's true that it can be more difficult to find loans and credit cards when you have bad credit, that doesn't mean that it's impossible. In fact, there are some banks and other lenders that make a point of supplying those individuals who have bad credit with the loans or other services that they need. Not only can this fill the need that they have for financial services, but they also may be able to improve their credit rating while making payments on their new loan or credit card. Below you'll find some information on how your credit becomes bad, what you can do to fix it, and what loan and credit card options are available for you even if you do have bad credit.

Defining Bad Credit The first step in getting rid of bad credit is knowing exactly what it means to have bad credit. Basically, having bad credit means that you've had problems making payments in the past… unfortunately, it was more than just once or twice. Each time you miss a payment, there is the potential for a negative report appearing on your credit score… miss enough payment dates, and the negative reports start to drag down your credit score. The lower your credit score is, the worse your credit rating is… and the negative reports that are filed on your credit history can last for up to seven years before they expire. Credit Repair It is possible to fix your credit and improve your credit score, but it can take time… don't be fooled by advertisements that say that they can fix it instantly, because not only is it untrue but in some of the cases what they do can also be illegal. In order to fix your credit rating and improve your score, you'll need to begin repaying some of your old debts so that they stop adding new negative reports as well as begin establishing new lines of credit so that you can get positive reports added to help bring up your score faster. Once you've repaid your old debts and begun making regular payments on your new debts, you might have to wait a bit before your score starts to improve… after all, you're not going to fix years worth of credit problems in just a few weeks. As time goes by, however, your positive reports will begin to outweigh the negative; at the same time, your older negative reports will begin to expire. It's important to make sure that you keep up with your new payments, though… you don't want to start causing further credit damage after you've finally begun to improve your score. Loan and Credit Card Options There are a variety of loan and credit card options available for individuals with bad credit, both at banking and finance companies as well as online. It's important to remember that you'll be paying a much higher interest rate than you might with a good credit rating, however, so you should take care to do a bit of shopping around so as to find the best interest rate that you can. The collateral that you use will also make a difference, as high-value collateral can reduce interest rates even on bad-credit loans. Choose your loan or credit card carefully, making sure that you'll be able to keep up with the payments, and you should be well on your way to a new credit rating. -- You may freely reprint this article provided the following author's biography (including the live URL link) remains intact:

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