Blog Blog Copyright by en Sun, 18 Feb 2018 20:56:23 -0500 3 Ways to Prevent Common Forklift Accidents

One of the most reliable equipment in the industrial field is the forklift and based on research, it is involved all over the United States in more than 856,000 task. It helps to make things easy for laborers to do their job in lifting and moving things in a certain distance and place. It may sound friendly, however, misfortunes with forklifts are currently increasing.

Usually, accidents happen because of unbalanced load that can cause a forklift to tip over, sometimes pinning and pushing a person against another thing that stands on its way makes it very fatal for its operator and unwanted victim.

There are approximately 61,800 minor injuries, less than 35,000 major injuries and 100 deaths that forklifts are responsible for these incidents according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of Depart of Labor in the United States.

Precautionary measures, training and adequate knowledge in operating forklift could lessen the said accidents and increase the trust rate of having one in your work or business. In order for us to help you avoid this threat when working with forklifts, we listed down the right safety measurements that you would really need.

Keep up with Training

Department of Labor’s OSHA mandated every operator to have a proper training in working with forklifts. Not to mention about their $2 million collections every year because of the violation of some companies and establishments that didn’t meet this requirement. A study even showed that accidents with this machine come from lack of training.

An annual review exercise aside from new hires creates an association with tenured ones that could help them grow as an operator as well. On the side of the fact that this training is necessary to avoid foreseen accidents, it is actually a great kick-start as well for those who are new to this environment.

Speed Management

It’s actually time savvy for everyone when we accelerate above the norm. But this thinking is not appropriate when it comes to forklifts. Using it too fast is one of the main reasons why accidents are being associated with the said equipment. Regulating the speed based on the weather conditions and driving situations is a must to prevent unwanted injuries and worse, even death! Remember, it can happen anytime and the only thing that can resolve this are safety measures that should be understood every now and then.

Operators should maintain the forks not to be leveled more than 4 inches above the ground. Slowing down won’t hurt in driver’s safety especially in sharp corners that are really tricky to travel on. But for those who have loads greater than 10,000 lbs., their forks should be elevated 8” off the ground to prevent forklifts tip over that gives a result for the 14% of accidents happening with the same cause.

Ensure Safety of Surrounding Pedestrians and Workers

Confidently speaking, it is really the machinist’s responsibility to avoid nearby workers even when the forklift is not moving. They might think that since it is not powered, anyone can always pass through a forklift but they never see it in a different picture. The hazards tangled within forklift and the vicinity made it more complicated for some to understand the accidents. But one thing’s for sure, making the trail visible for the handler will make things easier for them in order to finish their work and help the others proceed with their own specialization.

Placing safety lights in front of the forklift and at the back of it is a big help for others to be notified instead of getting caught in an accident! Sometimes, several signs and ads to inform employees in the area to be careful with forklifts are applied but they tend to ignore it, not because it looks very easy to use but with the fact that operators are expected to avoid them. A helper that can check everything for drivers when they have big loads will make them at ease to proceed with what they’re doing, and will also increase hazard literacy in this industry.

Sure there are more things to remember but these are the foundation that will help any driver master the safety measures in using forklifts. This equipment looks subtle, but it is chaotic in a way when improper usage and lack of skills combined with making it work. Simple guidelines and awareness will prevent statistics regarding forklift accidents increase.

Business and Law Editor Thu, 15 Feb 2018 10:18:39 -0500
The Main Differences between Extra Virgin and Regular Olive Oil – and which is Best for Your Business

Olive oil is one of the most popular oils in the world today, and if you use it regularly for your business, whether you have a restaurant or a food business where you mix olive oil with other food items, you should know that it is comprised of different kinds. The most common, of course, is olive oil and extra virgin olive oil, but what exactly do you understand about the differences between the two? Here’s what you need to know about the main differences between extra virgin and regular olive oil – and which is best for your business.

The basics of olive oil

Basically, olive oil is the oil extracted from the olive fruit. Whilst this sounds quite straightforward, there are still plenty of varieties of the oil extracted from olives which are distinguished not by their type, but rather by the process through which the oil is extracted. Another distinguishing quality between the kinds of olive oil is the additives that they are comprised of, as well as the level or degree of free oleic acid in the oil.

Olive oil grading

If you place a bottle of extra virgin olive oil and regular olive oil side by side, you will notice a difference in colour. Extra virgin olive oil tends to be darker green, whilst olive oil has a lighter yellow tinge. The difference in colour, however, will often depend on the brand, and you can’t use it to determine the oil’s grade. The colour of the oil is only one factor, as there are the quality and the taste to consider as well.

In other words, olive oil is actually graded based on its acidity level – or its level or degree of free oleic acid. The amount of the acid in the oil is an indication of the extent of fat which has been broken down, turning the fat into fatty acids.

The difference between refined and unrefined

As confirmed by bulk olive oil suppliers like the Kiril Mischeff Group, olive oil is distinguished into two categories as well – refined or unrefined. An unrefined oil will often be untreated and pure, whilst refined oil will often be treated in order to get rid of ‘flaws’ which can affect the oil’s salability.

Here’s another distinct difference: refined oil hardly has any olive ‘smell’ or aroma, colour, or flavour, and it has no bitter taste. Extra virgin olive oil is referred to as an unrefined olive oil, and it is of the highest quality.

What to use

Extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoking point compared to other oils, and whilst you can cook with it, it’s better to use it in dips, salads, cold dishes, and so on, and to use regular olive oil for baking and cooking.

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Business and Law Editor Tue, 13 Feb 2018 07:57:58 -0500
"Experts" Are Not Always Right About Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin peaked about a month ago, on December 17, at a high of nearly $20,000. As I write, the cryptocurrency is under $11,000... a loss of about 45%. That's more than $150 billion in lost market cap.

Cue much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth in the crypto-commentariat. It's neck-and-neck, but I think the "I-told-you-so" crowd has the edge over the "excuse-makers."

Here's the thing: Unless you just lost your shirt on bitcoin, this doesn't matter at all. And chances are, the "experts" you may see in the press aren't telling you why.

In fact, bitcoin's crash is wonderful... because it means we can all just stop thinking about cryptocurrencies altogether.

The Death of Bitcoin...

In a year or so, people won't be talking about bitcoin in the line at the grocery store or on the bus, as they are now. Here's why.

Bitcoin is the product of justified frustration. Its designer explicitly said the cryptocurrency was a reaction to government abuse of fiat currencies like the dollar or euro. It was supposed to provide an independent, peer-to-peer payment system based on a virtual currency that couldn't be debased, since there was a finite number of them.

That dream has long since been jettisoned in favor of raw speculation. Ironically, most people care about bitcoin because it seems like an easy way to get more fiat currency! They don't own it because they want to buy pizzas or gas with it.

Besides being a terrible way to transact electronically - it's agonizingly slow - bitcoin's success as a speculative play has made it useless as a currency. Why would anyone spend it if it's appreciating so fast? Who would accept one when it's depreciating rapidly?

Bitcoin is also a major source of pollution. It takes 351 kilowatt-hours of electricity just to process one transaction - which also releases 172 kilograms of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That's enough to power one U.S. household for a year. The energy consumed by all bitcoin mining to date could power almost 4 million U.S. households for a year.

Paradoxically, bitcoin's success as an old-fashioned speculative play - not its envisaged libertarian uses - has attracted government crackdown.

China, South Korea, Germany, Switzerland and France have implemented, or are considering, bans or limitations on bitcoin trading. Several intergovernmental organizations have called for concerted action to rein in the obvious bubble. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which once seemed likely to approve bitcoin-based financial derivatives, now seems hesitant.

And according to "The European Union is implementing stricter rules to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing on virtual currency platforms. It's also looking into limits on cryptocurrency trading."

We may see a functional, widely accepted cryptocurrency someday, but it won't be bitcoin.

... But a Boost for Crypto Assets

Good. Getting over bitcoin allows us to see where the real value of crypto assets lies. Here's how.

To use the New York subway system, you need tokens. You can't use them to buy anything else... although you could sell them to someone who wanted to use the subway more than you.

In fact, if subway tokens were in limited supply, a lively market for them might spring up. They might even trade for a lot more than they originally cost. It all depends on how much people want to use the subway.

That, in a nutshell, is the scenario for the most promising "cryptocurrencies" other than bitcoin. They're not money, they're tokens - "crypto-tokens," if you will. They aren't used as general currency. They are only good within the platform for which they were designed.

If those platforms deliver valuable services, people will want those crypto-tokens, and that will determine their price. In other words, crypto-tokens will have value to the extent that people value the things you can get for them from their associated platform.

That will make them real assets, with intrinsic value - because they can be used to obtain something that people value. That means you can reliably expect a stream of revenue or services from owning such crypto-tokens. Critically, you can measure that stream of future returns against the price of the crypto-token, just as we do when we calculate the price/earnings ratio (P/E) of a stock.

Bitcoin, by contrast, has no intrinsic value. It only has a price - the price set by supply and demand. It can't produce future streams of revenue, and you can't measure anything like a P/E ratio for it.

One day it will be worthless because it doesn't get you anything real.

Ether and Other Crypto Assets Are the Future

The crypto-token ether sure seems like a currency. It's traded on cryptocurrency exchanges under the code ETH. Its symbol is the Greek uppercase Xi character. It's mined in a similar (but less energy-intensive) process to bitcoin.

But ether isn't a currency. Its designers describe it as "a fuel for operating the distributed application platform Ethereum. It is a form of payment made by the clients of the platform to the machines executing the requested operations."

Ether tokens get you access to one of the world's most sophisticated distributed computational networks. It's so promising that big companies are falling all over each other to develop practical, real-world uses for it.

Because most people who trade it don't really understand or care about its true purpose, the price of ether has bubbled and frothed like bitcoin in recent weeks.

But eventually, ether will revert to a stable price based on the demand for the computational services it can "buy" for people. That price will represent real value that can be priced into the future. There'll be a futures market for it, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), because everyone will have a way to assess its underlying value over time. Just as we do with stocks.

What will that value be? I have no idea. But I know it will be a lot more than bitcoin.

My advice: Get rid of your bitcoin, and buy ether at the next dip.

Ted Bauman joined The Sovereign Investor Daily in 2013. As an expat who lived in South Africa for 25 years, Ted specializes in asset protection and international migration. Read more of what he has to say about offshore living here.

Money and Finance Editor Mon, 29 Jan 2018 02:54:31 -0500
What You Need to Know About General Surgeries

General surgery is a specialty, which focuses on different abdominal contents like the bile ducts, the appendix, the gallbladder, the pancreas, liver, colon, small bowel, stomach, and esophagus. Most times, it involves the thyroid gland, but this mainly depends on the referral patterns. General surgery also deals with different diseases that affect hernias, peripheral vascular surgery, trauma, soft tissue, breast, as well as skin. Procedures like colonoscopy and gastroscopy are also included here.

The scope

Trauma surgery

In many locations, the responsibility for trauma care usually falls under general surgery. There are surgeons who obtain more training to offer critical care. The general surgeons should be in a position to handle all sorts of surgical emergencies. They are often called so as to handle patients who are injured critically or those that are very ill. They are required to perform different procedures so as to stabilize the patients. They should be able to do thoracotomy, emergency laparotomy, compartment fasciotomies, cricothyroidotomy, and thoracostomy so as to staunch any bleeding. These are the people you will find in trauma or surgical intensive care units.

This area also covers emergency surgery like organ perforations, bowel obstructions, infections, and bleeding. Gallbladder removal is one of the surgical procedures that are very common all over the world. It has to be done electively. However, the gallbladder is at risk of being inflamed acutely and may require one to get an emergency operation. Other common emergencies include small bowel obstructions, rupture of the appendix, and infections in the appendix.

Laparoscopic surgery

This is a specialty that is new. It mainly deals with techniques for access where cameras, as well as small instruments, are inserted through small incisions. A lot is evolving from the concept such as robotic surgery. Colons, appendices, and gallbladders can actually be removed by application of the technique. Hernias can be repaired using the method. It is possible to perform bariatric surgery in this way and there are many benefits that are associated with this. They include the reduction of complications of surgical wounds, especially in the obese patients. It is important that the general surgeons be well trained in the area and proficient too.

Colorectal surgery

General surgery also deals with lots of minor and major rectal and colon diseases. This includes the inflammatory bowel diseases like Cohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. Others are hemorrhoids, gastrointestinal bleeding, treat cancer, colon cancer, and diverticulitis.

Breast surgery

General surgery also handles lots of breast surgery that is non-cosmetic. This includes mastectomy all the way to lumpectomy. This usually pertains to the diagnosis, the evaluation and the treatment of cancer.

Vascular surgery

Vascular surgery is also a specialty of general surgery. However, for this one needs to have special training in the area. This area is usually handled by specialists. Most of the times, the general surgeons can actually handle the minor disorders.

There are many other areas covered by general surgery. These areas include endocrine surgery, transplant surgery, surgical oncologists, cardiothoracic surgery, pediatric surgery, and so on. Minimally invasive surgery has become prevalent in the present day. Robotic surgery has come with a lot of enthusiasm even though it is very costly.

Dallas surgical center offers all-round medical treatment including general surgery. There is a team of medical experts who are trained and capable of handling different surgical procedures. Visit for more information.

Health and Fitness Editor Wed, 27 Dec 2017 02:56:53 -0500
10 Easy to Minimize Household Expenses Are you running out of money before you run out of month? Running a household can be expensive. With so many different expenses, it’s easy for the costs to get out of control unless you’re careful. You can certainly find more exciting ways to spend your money than paying too much to your auto insurance company! You can even add to your savings account each month.

Avoid spending more than necessary on your household expenses:

  1. Always ask if a generic version is available for your prescriptions. Generics can cost as much as 85% less. There are also online services that will inform you of the best prices for your medications. is a well-known example.
  2. Find ways to spend less money entertaining your family. Matinee movies are typically half the price of later showings. The park near your apartment is free. During much of the year, the weekends offer various festivals and fairs that can be both fun and inexpensive.
  3. Cable TV. How many of your 172 stations do you actually watch? With much less expensive options like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, you might find satisfactory options for less money.
  4. One of the reasons most monthly plans are so expensive is that the cost of the phone is included. You didn’t really think that fancy phone was free, did you? After your 2-year contract is up, you can continue using your phone and switch to a month-to-month plan that only costs about half as much.
  • If you can do without a smart phone, there are options for as little as $15/month for basic phone and text message service.
  1. Food is a significant and ongoing expense for all families. Eating out is especially expensive. Whether it’s morning gourmet coffee, going out for lunch every day, or taking the family out for dinner.
  • The grocery store can also be an expensive place if you fail to keep the cost in mind. A family of four can easily spend $800 a month on food. This is an excellent category to minimize your expenses.
  1. Plant a garden. Not only can you grow a lot of your own food for practically free, but also there always seems to be more than you can eat. Take the excess to a local farmers’ market and make a profit. Put that income towards the food purchases your garden can’t satisfy.

  2. Refinance your home or automobile. Compare the interest rate of your loans to the current interest rate. You might be able cut your monthly payment considerably. Be sure to factor in the cost of refinancing.
  3. Shop around for new insurance quotes. It’s a good idea to check your insurance rates each year. Do some research and ensure that you’re paying the lowest rate for the coverage you require.
  4. Ask for a reduction in your credit card interest rate. Many credit card companies will lower your interest rate if you just ask. They’d rather receive less interest than risk having you transfer your balance and cancel your current credit card account.
  5. Buy second-hand clothing. It’s easy to find perfectly good, brand-name clothing for as little as $2 per item. Consider how many pieces of clothing you own that you barely wear. There’s a lot of used clothing out there that’s practically brand new.

It’s easy to believe that you’re already spending as little as possible on your household expenses. However, there are many ways to trim your expenses without dramatically altering your lifestyle. Spend your money on something more enjoyable or grow your savings for the future.

Money and Finance Editor Sun, 19 Nov 2017 18:04:29 -0500
8 Steps to Becoming a Top Earner in Your Field

In most fields, whether medicine, law, business, consulting, or accounting, there are a select few that make far more money than the rest. There are steps you can take to become a top earner in your field of employment. Is it luck? Do you need to be extremely charismatic? Do you require some special talent? No, no, and no.

Consistently being a little bit better than your peers and focusing on success is all that’s required.

Separate yourself from the rest in these ways:

  1. Have a goal. Achieving exceptional results requires a goal or luck. Luck is uncontrollable, so focus on creating a goal instead. Have a specific goal in mind that includes a specific dollar amount and deadline. Wanting “a lot of money” isn’t an effective goal.
  2. Keep money in mind when making decisions. When choosing a career, consider the earning potential. A personal trainer could choose to focus on bodybuilders or high school athletes. One that works with famous actors, executives, or professional athletes has far more opportunities to earn a large income.
  3. Find a mentor. A suitable mentor is someone that has accomplished what you wish to accomplish. It would also be advantageous if they had a genuine interest in providing guidance and advice.
  • Following in the footsteps of someone that’s already successful can save a lot of time.
  1. Spend time with those with similar goals. There are others with the same goals and aspirations as you. Seek them out and become friends. Find those that are already successful at the level you hope to attain. You’ll learn things you’re unlikely to learn from your current crowd.
  2. Seek to enhance your performance each day. There are a few fields where the participants regularly attempt to enhance their performance. Musicians, artists, and athletes regularly spend time getting better at their craft.
  • How often have you seen a lawyer or a manager set aside time to boost their skills? Rarely, if ever.
  • If no one else is striving to become more skillful, how much competition do you have?
  1. Increase your knowledge each day. Gaining more knowledge will allow you to apply your skills more effectively.
  • Thirty minutes each day is enough to get ahead. Spend this time reading books or researching your field online to seek a higher level of understanding.
  1. Get used to being uncomfortable. As you stretch yourself to think and do new things, you’re going to feel that uncomfortable twinge we’ve all felt. It’s just a physical sensation, like a sore toe or a hand that’s fallen asleep. There’s no reason to let it control your thoughts and actions.
  • Why would you quit because of a slight queasy feeling in your stomach? Your subconscious knows which buttons to push to encourage you to quit. Avoid giving in.
  1. If there’s one trait found in all top earners, it’s perseverance. It’s not difficult to be incredibly successful if you’ll keep getting better and refuse to quit. In fact, it’s just about impossible to fail. Some days are more promising than others, but great days are on the way.

Becoming a top earner is well within your reach. Have a goal and keep it in the front of your mind. Find a successful mentor. Continue to learn and increase your skills and knowledge. Persevere until your goal of becoming a top earner has been reached.

Money and Finance Editor Wed, 18 Oct 2017 12:51:30 -0400
Some Tips to Save Money When You Travel

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, your next trip doesn't have to cost a small fortune. Regardless of your current financial situation, it's wise to plan ahead so your travel adventures don't derail your budget.

According to, one of the most common areas that folks exceed their budgets is excessive spending on vacations and other forms of travel!

The good news is that there are several ways you can reduce your travel costs, whether you’re trotting the globe or just taking a brief excursion to a nearby city!

Follow these steps to reduce your travel expenses:

Book early

You can save a lot on the cost of your tickets and reservations by booking well in advance. Early planners also grab the best hotel and transportation deals by booking way ahead of time. 

It's not uncommon to save 50% or more on the cost of your airline ticket if you can make your reservations 6 months in advance of your trip.

You can save even more on your airline costs by using nearby regional airports rather than flying directly into a large city.

If you’re required to travel on short notice, seek out the services of a travel club or online travel site that offers price comparisons, discounts for bundles, and special rates for members.

If you’re traveling internationally, use the train or bus to save big. Go directly to the provider's website at least 2 to 3 weeks in advance to save up to 50% on train and bus tickets.

If you’re planning to make stops in several international cities, consider buying a rail pass for your entire route for additional savings.

If you plan to attend a concert or theater event, get your tickets online rather than waiting. Online coupons and discounts can help you save up to 45% off the price you would pay at the box office.

Travel during the off season

Hotels, hostels, and resorts offer steep discounts to travelers who visit during a specific location's "off season."

Most hotels and resorts offer lower rates for rooms booked for Sunday through Wednesday nights, rather than the weekend.

Be selective when deciding which activities you want to do on your trip

It's easy to fall for local "tourist traps" when you’re on a vacation in an unfamiliar location. Entrance fees and other charges quickly add up.

If there are attractions that you’d really like to visit on your trip, look for free ways to enjoy the site. A great way to enjoy a site for free is to picnic and play on the grounds outside rather than paying entrance fees to take an inside tour.

Reducing the number of locations that you explore on your trip will help you preserve your energy levels as well as your wallet!

Buy groceries rather than dine out

Shop at a local grocery store to provide some of your meals and snacks each day.

Many hotels offer their guests complimentary breakfasts during their stay. Be sure to take advantage of this deal if it's offered!

When dining out, do so during lunch hours to receive special offers and discounts.

It’s unnecessary to go into debt or exhaust your life's savings just to have a good time when you travel. These simple, money-saving tricks will help you stick to your budget, even when you’re on vacation!

Travel Editor Fri, 15 Sep 2017 03:45:44 -0400
13 Things You Can Do When You Can't Take a Vacation

It’s been called a staycation, or a vacation spent on your home turf. It’s possible to have a better vacation at home, since you’re saving so much money on travel, lodging, and food. You can spend some of that money at a high-end restaurant or golf course. There’s no reason to be upset if you can’t afford a week in Paris. You can find plenty to do at home!

Avoid the stress of traveling, sleeping in a different bed, and paying too much to eat every meal at a restaurant. Spend that money on more enjoyable activities.

Enjoy your vacation at home:

  1. Spend the day at the beach. If you’re lucky enough to live near a lake or the ocean, a day at the beach is a good way to spend the day. Work on your tan and get some exercise swimming.

  2. Spend the day at the pool. Those without access to a beach can take advantage of the next best thing: the local pool. Splurge for snacks and live it up.

  3. Go for a long bike ride. Your bike might be hiding behind the lawnmower or beneath the rake, but it’s ready to go. Add some air to the tires and go out for a long ride. Look online for bike paths and popular routes.

  4. Have a picnic. Whether it’s at the park, pool, or beach, a picnic provides a relaxing, enjoyable time. Pack your favorite foods and bring your favorite people. A bottle of wine can be a nice touch.

  5. Attend a sporting event. Professional sports are exciting, but expensive. If an NBA game is out of your budget, check out the local high school team. Sports can be exciting at any level.

  6. Read a book. It can be hard to find time to read when you always seem to be busy with work. Take advantage of your free time and relax with a good book. You might even find the time to get a library card. Then your books are free.

  7. Visit a local museum or zoo. Most people go out of town to visit the zoo or museum. Now is the time to check out your local offerings.

  8. Spend a day at the movies. Pack in three or more movies in the same day. The real cost is the food. Consider watching one movie, then heading out for lunch. You’ll be full and satisfied for the next couple of movies.

  9. Have friends over for a movie night. Stay at home and rent movies on demand. Invite over a few friends and tell them to bring their favorite snacks.

  10. Rent a boat. Rent a speedboat or sailboat for the day. Test out your skills and spend some quality time on the water.

  11. Check out a local band. Get out for an evening and enjoy the local music scene. Enjoy the nightlife for a change of pace.

  12. Go out for a fancy lunch. Since you’re not spending money on a vacation, you might have the funds available to have lunch at that fancy restaurant downtown. Splurge a little bit and enjoy yourself.

  13. Work on your golf or tennis game. You’ve always said you’d be great at golf if you just had the time to practice. Now you have the time. Consider taking a few lessons and concentrate on improving your game.

A staycation can be a better option than going out of town. The sights might be familiar, but you’ll have more money to spend on entertainment if you stay at home. Use your vacation time wisely, get out of the house, and enjoy your time off.

Travel Editor Wed, 16 Aug 2017 14:40:38 -0400
5 Inexpensive Home Improvements to Instantly Increase Your Property Value

In order to increase your property value, it's important to pay attention to the desires of prospective buyers when doing upgrades in your home. However, bringing your home up-to-date needn't cost you an arm and a leg. In fact, it'll generally cost you an afternoon and less than $1,000 to create the look buyers and appraisers are fawning over.

Try these inexpensive home improvements that are sure to increase its value and aesthetic appeal:

1. Crown Molding. Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on having luxurious crown molding installed, you can create the look yourself by using inexpensive faux techniques!

Using a nail gun, nail decorative molding to the top of the wall adjacent to the ceiling. Four inches below this molding, nail another stripe of this decorative molding throughout the room. Then, simply paint the blank 4-inch area with white paint.

2. Hardwood flooring. Hardwood flooring is generally a very costly endeavor, often costing more than $4 per square foot. However, bamboo flooring is surprisingly inexpensive, costing as little as $1.79 per square foot.

For a 1,500 sq. ft. home, the cost of purchasing bamboo flooring for the price mentioned above would be approximately $2,700. However, keep in mind that it generally isn't recommended to lay hardwood in bathrooms and kitchens. Therefore, omitting these rooms would result in an even lower cost.

Many homes have hardwood flooring only in the entryway, living room and dining room. The kitchen and bathrooms are generally tiled, and the bedrooms and upstairs hallway are carpeted.

3. Landscaping. Your home's curb appeal will set the tone for how a buyer will feel before even entering your home. If your landscaping is lacking and the siding of your home is dingy, they won't expect much of the interior.

Tidying up can go a long way. Rent a power washer to deeply clean your home's siding, deck, driveway and entryway. Renting a power washer can cost as little as $70, but it can increase your home's curb appeal exponentially.

Planting flowers and plants on both sides of your porch to flank your entryway is a nice way to say "welcome home" to buyers (and the appraiser). To save money, purchase plants and flowers that are in season. You can also plant flowers as bulbs to save a few dollars, though the effects will not be instantaneous.

Exterior shutters add traditional charm to your home. The best part is that you can purchase shutters for as little as $65 each at home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot.

4. Add a backsplash. A backsplash is to the kitchen what eyebrows are to the face - it frames the room. By simply adding a backsplash to the bare space between your countertops and cabinets, you can transform your kitchen from blah to ta-da!

While kitchen backsplashes are generally a high-cost project, you can minimize this expense by using a low cost tile for the majority of the backsplash and placing a stripe or pattern of luxurious coordinating tiles throughout.

Consider using unconventional materials, such as tin ceiling panels, vinyl tile flooring, or even painting a backsplash by using faux finishing techniques. Out-of-the box creativity can often pay off nicely when re-decorating.

5. Upgrade a bathroom. A bathroom upgrade needn't cost $10,000 in order to look beautiful. Rather than adding a new garden tub or replacing a vanity, make small upgrades in order to achieve an equally impressive impact.

Frame your builder-grade mirror by using a $100 mirror framing kit from companies like MirrorMate or Moen.

Add new hardware to your vanity for less than $25.

Paint an outdated vanity for less than $25 and paint over tired laminate with a $50 faux-granite countertop paint kit from a company such as Giani.

Remember to apply a fresh coat of neutral paint to the walls.

In total, your bathroom upgrade would cost approximately $200. Now, that's a big bang for your buck!

As a homeowner, it's your responsibility to ensure that your home is up-to-date in the real estate market to routinely increase your home's property value.

In reality, your home is only worth as much as a buyer is willing to pay for it. Therefore, it only makes sense to upgrade your home with the trimmings you know are sound investments because they're highly requested features by buyers.

Real Estate Editor Thu, 06 Jul 2017 20:35:07 -0400
Wholesale Real Estate: What You Need to Know Want to invest in real estate with no financial risk and no money or credit? Wholesaling houses is a popular choice. I personally think wholesaling can be a challenging way to get started, but the fact that you can get started in real estate investing without any barrier of entry makes wholesaling an attractive option. If you can get good at this side of the business, you will be success with anything you want to do. The reason I say that is finding deals is what makes a wholesaler successful. If you can get good at finding deals, you have unlimited potential.

Once you find a deal, you need to understand how to sell it to make your profit. Here are four ways you can structure your wholesale properties.

Contract Assignment: This is the easiest, but comes with some risks if not done correctly. It is also somewhat restrictive as bank owned properties will prevent this. This works well when you negotiate your deals directly with the seller. The way this works is you will get a house under contract and then you will assign your rights in the contract to another buyer for a fee. That new buyer will take on the rights and responsibilities in the contract and will close in your place. It is best to get your fee paid up front, but it is very common to get your fee when your buyer buys the house. Here are a few things to keep in mind when assigning contracts.

Be sure that you always disclose to your seller that you are or may assign the agreement to another buyer for a fee. I suggest you actually put this in the contract. Sellers should be OK with this if you are transparent that you are an investor who buys houses for a profit before you start to negotiate.

I would get money from your money that is at least enough to cover any earnest money you put up with your seller. That way if your buyer defaults on the agreement you at least cover your costs. Always try to get the entire fee paid when you assign the contract.

I like this way the best because it is easy to do on your end, it is easy for the buyer and the buyer's lender, and it is the cheapest way to go.

Double Close: This just means that you actually buy the house and then resell it. There are several ways to do this, but the most common is to buy and sell in the same day or within a day. Typically, you will need to bring in financing to get your closing done with the seller, which is why this is my least preferred method to wholesale. Also, because you have two closings you will have two sets of closing costs, so it is the most expensive way too. With that said, some wholesalers prefer this method because they do not have to disclose to the seller their intent to resell and they can both keep their deal with the seller and their deal with their buyer private. It is believed by some that this is a good way to protect your profits. The information will all become public record at some point, but that is well after the closing.

This is the method you will use by default if you do not do your contract on the front end correctly, so we do see double closing frequently.

Flip the Entity: This has become the most common way to wholesale in my market. Most, if not all, the successful wholesalers will use this strategy. Especially when wholesaling foreclosures where contract assignments are forbidden.

The way this works is the wholesaler will set up a separate entity, like an LLC or a Trust, and put that entity as the buyer of the house to be wholesaled. They will then sell the entity itself for a fee. The benefit with using this strategy is that actual contract on the house does not change. Since the buyer of the house is the entity, there are no issues with any regulation or assignment restrictions. The downside is it could be more work because of the extra step to set up the entity, and there could be additional fees to register the entity with the state. The risk for the buyer is whenever you buy a company you are buying all of it. So, if the entity was used in another transaction and owes money to anyone, the new buyer could be on the hook. Knowing this, the best way to do this transaction is with a brand-new entity used for this one purpose.

Relationship Close: I don't know if there is an actual name for this method. In fact, it is rarely seen. What I mean by relationship close is that you have such a strong relationship with a buyer that you write offers in the buyer's name. For this to work, you should be a licensed agent and preview houses for your buyer. You would need to understand their criteria and only offer on houses they will want to buy. I have a client that works this way. He has an agent write his offers and the agent/wholesaler gets paid a commission with each successful closing. They do 2 to 3 deals a month with this strategy. My client just signs contracts without looking at them at this point and trusts what the wholesaler is putting together solid offers. There is always an inspection clause protecting the buyer and the agent, but more than 9 out of 10 houses that go under contract close. That is because the agent/wholesaler knows the business and knows what this buyer will buy.

I would stay away from this method, especially if you are just starting out. A lot can go wrong. I wanted to mention it because it is one of the 4 ways that I see people wholesale. If you are just getting started I would focus on contract assignments and then flipping the entity.

Real Estate Editor Thu, 29 Jun 2017 07:30:38 -0400
What Is Serverless Computing and Whay It's Important

The term serverless grew in popularity as Amazon first launched AWS Lambda in 2014. Since then it has grown in both usage and reference, as more and more retailers enter the market with their own solutions.

Serverless Computing is a computing code execution model where the developers are relieved of several time-consuming activities so that they can focus on other important tasks. This trend is also known as Function as a Service (FaaS) where the cloud vendor is responsible for starting and stopping a function's container platform, check infrastructure security, reduce maintenance efforts, improve scalability, so on and so forth at low operational costs. The aim is to develop microservice oriented solutions to help decompose complex applications into small, easily manageable and exchangeable modules.

This brings us to the question - are there really 'serverless' computing services?

Of course, it is only logical that there should be servers in the background, but developers need not bother about the operation or provisioning of these servers; the entire server management is done by the cloud provider. Thus, the developer can devote more of his time to creating effective and innovative codes.

Here is how it works:

  1. Being serverless, the developers are relieved from the tension of server operation and maintenance and hence, can focus on the codes.
  2. The developer gets access to a framework with which he can create codes, which are adaptable for IoT applications as well, and that means handling the exodus of inputs and outputs. The cause and effect of the code will be reflected in the framework.
  3. It takes on the role of a service, by providing all requisites for a functioning application.

The upsides and downsides of serverless computing

Serverless computing has the following benefits:

It Saves Time and Overhead Costs

Many large companies like Coca- Cola and The Seattle Times are already leveraging the benefits of serverless computing to help trigger code in response to a series of pre-defined events. This helps them to manage their fleet of servers without the threat of overhead costs.

One of the main attractions of serverless computing is that it is a 'pay as you use' model. You just need to pay for the runtime of your function - the duration your code is executed and the number of times it's been triggered. You don't have to incur the cost of unutilized functions as seen in a cloud computing model where even 'idle' resources must be paid for.

Nanoservices takes Serverless Computing to a Whole New Level

Serverless architecture gives you the chance to work with several architectures including nano-services. It is these architectures that help you structure your serverless computing application. You can say that Nanoservices is the first architectural pattern because each functionality comes with its own API endpoint and its own separate function file.

Each of the API endpoints points to one function file that implements one CRUD (Create, Retrieve, Update, Delete) functionality. It works in perfect correlation with microservices, another architecture of serverless computing, and enables auto scaling and load balancing. You no longer have to manually configure clusters and load balancers.

Enjoy an Event-based Compute Experience

Companies are always worried about infrastructure costs and provisioning of servers when their Functions call rate become very high. Serverless providers like Microsoft Azure are a perfect solution for situations like this as they aim to provide an event-based serverless compute experience to aid in faster app development.

It is event-driven, and developers no longer have to rely on the ops to test their code. They can quickly run, test and deploy their code without getting tangled in the traditional workflow.

Scaling as Per the Size of the Workload

Serverless Computing automatically scales your application. With each individual trigger, your code will run parallel to it, thereby reducing your workload and saving time in the process. When the code is not running, you don't have to pay anything.

The charging takes place for every 100ms your code executes and for the number of times the code is triggered. This is a good thing because you no longer pay for an idle compute.

Developers can Quit Worrying about the Machinery the Code Runs on

The promise given to developers through IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)- one of the service models of cloud computing and serverless computing is that they can stop worrying about how many machines are needed at any given point of time, especially during peak hours, whether the machines are working optimally, whether all the security measures are offered and so on.

The software teams can forget about the hardware, concentrate on the task at hand and dramatically reduce costs. This is because they no longer have to worry about hardware capacity requirements nor make long-term server reservation contracts.

Downsides of serverless computing

Performance can be an issue.

The model itself means you'll get greater latency in how the compute resources respond to the requirements of the applications. If performance is a requirement, it's better instead to use allocated virtual servers.

Monitoring and debugging of serverless computing is also tricky.

The fact that you're not using a single server resource makes both activities very difficult. (The good news is that tools will eventually arrive to better handle monitoring and debugging in serverless environments.)

You will be bound to your provider.

It's often hard to make changes in the platform or switch providers without making application changes as well.

The serverless architecture is an innovative approach to deploying as well as writing an application that enables the developers to focus on code. This kind of approach can decrease time to market, system complexity and operational costs. While the third-party services like AWS Lambda are leveraged by AWS to eliminate the need to set up as well as configure virtual machines or physical servers, it also locks in the application as well as its architecture to the particular service provider. In the near future, more movement towards the unification of FaaS frameworks or APIs like IronFunctions can be expected. This will help to eliminate vendor lock-in and allow us to run serverless applications on various cloud providers or even on-premises

Computers and Technology Editor Fri, 09 Jun 2017 15:27:13 -0400
Why It's Very Important to Have A Investment Portfolio

Investing is not a game. Not for the weak hearted. Stock markets move up and down. One cannot just predict the market. Not possible to predict its movement. Hence cannot time it's up and down. One can build a solid portfolio so as to possibly succeed. Few considerations to keep in mind.

Invest with a goal in mind - As discussed in one of the point, the purpose of investing should be kept in mind. Even before starting with the investment. One should know what it will cost to achieve that purpose. Purpose shows the path to investment. Always correcting it when invest is going off the path. Yogi Berra, a wise baseball philosopher sums up "If you don't know where you're going, you'll miss it every time."

Your present situation and risk you can take - What is the financial position today? How much one has earned and how much one has saved till date. In future date what will be the need. How much earning should be there so as to save enough amount to fulfill the required goal.

If the savings is insufficient then that saving should be channelized for investment. Then the amount will increase in the shorter period. When investment comes into picture the topic of risk arises.

All investment carries risk. The level may vary from type of investment. One extreme is high-risk takers and another extreme is risk-averse. This depends upon nature of the individual and the circumstances.

With risk comes the reward. High risk, high rewards. Low risk, low rewards. Usually, individuals take the middle path. Medium risk and medium rewards. One can take help of the best share tip provider to ease the situation.

Purpose - There should a definite purpose or goal for investment. It should personal one like a holiday abroad or buying a home or marriage or education or retirement or anything. Once the purpose or goal is set, next is setting the time to achieve it. It can be a week or month or a year or a decade.

Example, going for a holiday trip to Europe next summer. Here the purpose is holiday trip. Time duration is 2 years. What you want to do and when. Get nifty future tips, two-day free trial.

Quality, not quantity - For the long term, it is the quality which lasts, not quantity. Whatever be the components of your portfolio, see that it maintains quality. Because one's holdings are critically important.

Diversified investment - The portfolio should not be put up in a haphazard manner. It should be put up with proper planning. It should be put up after considering the fundamental and technical's of the securities.

The portfolio should be diverse across sectors (IT, banks), caps (small, mid, large) industries (cement, mining, pharma), bonds, fixed deposit, provident funds, precious metals and stones (gold, diamond), MFs, real estate, geographical regions, commodities tips etc.

Here risk tolerance of the investor should also be taken into account. Certain investments are risky in short terms but are not risky in long term. There are many share market advisory company who can calculate the risk associated.

In shares, one should look for cash flow, product, profits, dividend history, management, place of among peers, etc of the company.

Current market shares may be expensive or cheap, which depends upon present political environment, demand and supply, etc. Buy only quality 'A' listed shares.

Mudassir Hasan is a financial enthusiast and likes to share his knowledge on Indian financial market. He also provides commodity tips, share market tips and nifty tips.

Money and Finance Editor Mon, 29 May 2017 03:24:22 -0400
Is AI the Next Tech Bubble?

Did you know that five of the biggest tech giants viz. IBM, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Amazon have recently formed a partnership for the research and development of Artificial Intelligence?

And these market leaders form just the top of the cream. Thousands of startups like Kwiziq, JamieAI, and Verv are blooming across the globe, investing in the development of upcoming AI era. So what is it that all these businesses have found in the potential of this technology that is driving them to hustle? And more importantly, why is it important for your business to participate and adapt to this futuristic technology?

More efficient digital assistance

Machines have since the beginning set themselves as important because of their ability to enhance human efficiency. Let's just assume what change in efficiency can be brought upon when these machines become actually intelligent; when they can make best possible decisions on their own, without being affected by the limiting constraints of human beings? There will be fewer errors, less unpredictable problems, and fewer delays, all of which will have a cumulative effect on the overall efficiency of any system.

Digital marketing at its best

Many companies are already in the process of garnering the potential power of artificial intelligence and are working with intelligent chatbots to enhance their marketing efforts. It is no wonder they have taken this route. Chatbots and other similar AI marketing solutions can take digital marketing to its extreme, where you can solve the queries of your potential customers, create interactive marketing campaigns, and resolve many repetitive and monotonous tasks without having to invest in multiple resources.

Limitless exploration

When it comes to exploration, biological boundaries of humans have always been considered as the biggest limitation. And it is not just the biological needs that have kept us from exploring inhospitable environments of space or underwater. These limitations are also in the form of our sensory perceptions. There are many wave patterns and frequencies that humans are simply unable to detect, this is why machines like the thermal camera that detects infrared waves have become so important for the seamless exploration even of our immediate environment. Machines with artificial intelligence can remove all these problems with a single stroke.

Wide application scope and new opportunities

As opposed to the most recent technological developments, AI becomes more desirable because of its far-fledging application. Since most of the present technological advances are limited to the technological ground only, the field was losing its significance in other spheres of life. But with AI, such is not the case. Its potential has made it a most sought-after invention in the areas of medical science, financial systems, air transport, heavy mechanical industries, and even art.

Transitional Shift

Unlike social media, AI is not a booming phase. It is the development of a completely new ecosystem that will change the technology as we know it today. There is no limit to what the future may hold when we come to the peak of AI development when intelligent machines will be working without the biological constraints of human bodies. It will continue to evolve at an exponential rate, solving perhaps, some of the most profound mysteries of the universe.

At present, even with all its advancements, AI can still be considered in its newborn stage, and for all those businesses that aspire to survive and thrive through this transitional shift, it is extremely important for them to adapt.

Computers and Technology Editor Thu, 04 May 2017 03:15:41 -0400
DUI Lawyer - What They Do

DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence but in some states it is called DWI, Driving While Intoxicated. There are strict laws in all of fifty states for those that are caught doing driving when they are intoxicated. If you are stopped for suspicious behavior the law enforcement officer can do a field sobriety test if the drive has slurred speech, has a strong odor of alcohol on them or general incoherence. They can also ask permission to do a BAC, which stands for Blood Alcohol Content test if the driver does not demonstrate good motor skills or judgment during the field tests. The BAC test will show the percentage of alcohol that is in their bloodstream and if it is over the legal limit, which in many states is 0.10% BAC, the driver can be arrested for DWI.

If a person is caught DUI it can have severe consequences. This is why many hire a DWI lawyer to help them get the minimum required sentence. The DUI lawyer is the type of lawyer that will handle all aspects of the case from the beginning to the end. When you hire them they will set up a consultation so they can explain all the possible scenarios that you could face if convicted of this crime. It could result in a revoked or suspended driving license, jail time, fines, fees, or a combination of any of these. An experienced DUI lawyer will generally challenge the arrest and try to convince the Court to lower the charges. They may even attempt to have the sentence against the defendant, one charged with the DUI, reduced. The DUI lawyer will also dispute whether the law enforcement officer was within their constitutional rights to stop the car. The lawyer may also in court question whether the test done was accurate or not.

They will also clarify any legal issues and make sure that you understand what is happening now and what could happen in the months following. For example, the lawyer can give you the details on what type of sentence is expected for someone who is convicted of DUI for the first time versus one who has been convicted before. With a DUI there are generally several hearings in Court, starting with the hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles, ending with the State or County Court. At each hearing the DUI lawyer will be there to advocate for the defendant.

When you are charged with a DUI take the time to research lawyers that specialize in this field. When choosing a DUI lawyer choose one that has a good track record with a lot of wins in court. You also should consider the fees they charge, per hour or a flat fee.

This article is penned by Lora Davis for Miley Law Firm. Miley Law Firm's Las Vegas lawyers are sensitive to clients' needs. While listening to each client's individual concerns regarding criminal, divorce or personal injury cases, we are dedicated to providing a seasoned, experienced team that will help in getting your desired results. If you are looking for DUI defense lawyers in Las Vegas or need the services of a Las Vegas DUI lawyer then call (702) 942-0600.

Business and Law Editor Sat, 29 Apr 2017 02:46:54 -0400
10 Tips to Successfully Changing Careers

Are you ready for a career change? It’s never too late to try a new career on for size. But, changing careers can be a significant challenge, depending on your career of choice.

However, if you’re committed, there’s no reason you can’t find a new line of work that fulfills you and pays the bills.

Think hard before you leap. You may have quite a bit of work ahead.

Try these activities to successfully make a career change and do the work you were meant to do:

  1. Make a list of what you don’t like about your current position. If you’re considering a change, there must be something that’s rubbing you the wrong way. It might be your company, the people, or your position. Maybe you just weren’t cut out to be an accountant. Consider the things you don’t want to see in your next career.

  2. Make a list of what you do like about your current position. It can’t all be bad! What are things about your current company and position that you enjoy? What would you like to see in your next position?
  3. Consider your values. Perhaps your most important value is helping people, but you spend your days driving a beer delivery truck. A position helping others directly might be more to your liking. List your values and consider careers that dovetail with them.

  4. Brainstorm a list of career possibilities that take into account your likes, dislikes, and values. Now that you’ve given some thought to what you like, don’t like, and your values, think of careers that can satisfy all of those requirements.

  5. What else do you need? If you’re planning a significant change, you’ll probably need to learn a few new skills. You might even need to go back to school. Consider what you need to add to your resume and make a plan to make it happen.
  6. Set a goal. Know what you want and put your vision to paper. Read your goal each day. Develop a reasonable plan to reach your goal in the near future. Create a goal that inspires you.
  7. Applying for an existing opening that is known to the public is like trying to win the lottery. Your best bet is to leverage the people you know. Try to get the inside scoop on your dream job. Let everyone know you’re looking to make a change. Be careful not to burn any bridges at your current job until you’re ready to move on.
  8. Contact headhunters. A reputable headhunter only gets paid when they find you a job, and they are paid by the employer. You’re also likely to get a lot of good advice. After all, they know what companies are looking for right now.

  9. Be willing to take a step back. You might have to take a demotion or a pay cut in order to change careers. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a small step back to eventually take a greater step forward.
  10. Be patient. Finding a new position is usually challenging. Finding a new position in a new field is considerably more difficult. You must be patient and persistent. Expect that it will take some time, but keep working hard toward realizing your dream.

Few things will change your life more than a change of career. It’s worth the effort to find a job that you love. After all, you spend 40-plus hours each week doing it. Take the time to make a wise decision and then put a plan in place. It might be the beginning of a new adventure.

Business and Law Editor Thu, 06 Apr 2017 02:42:30 -0400
Is Investing for Growth Right for You?  

You may have heard terms such as value investing and growth investing. Although both types of investing involve buying stocks and then selling them at a profit, there’s a big difference in the two investing techniques.

The difference between value and growth investing is an important distinction to be aware of, as it could help you figure out which type of investing suits you best.

Value investing places a premium on using company financial data and analytics to determine whether its current market price is lower than its value. Once this is assessed, investors will buy stock in a company with the expectation that the share price will eventually shift to represent the actual market value.

Growth investing takes a more holistic and macroscopic approach, focusing on large economic trends.

While a value investor might avoid investing in a company with higher share prices, a growth investor may buy the stock if the industry itself is showing growth.

How do you figure out which style of investing is right for you?

You might be a value investor if…

  1. You're a numbers-oriented investor. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. Many investors that take a numbers-oriented approach consider this a more reliable investment strategy.
  2. You choose stability over risk. Value investing is always considered a more stable investment strategy. If you follow this approach, you’ll purchase stock using a “margin of safety” that allows for small errors in the calculated value of a stock.
  • By taking such a conservative approach, you minimize the risk of loss, as you ensure that you are buying stock that is significantly undervalued to begin with.
  1. You like to analyze historical trends. You might be thinking to yourself, “How else could anyone invest in a stock without analyzing historical data?” That's a valid point. However, growth investors use different strategies that we discuss below.

You might be a growth investor if…

  1. You follow technology trends in the news. Time and time again, the biggest growth stocks are related to the trends with the largest potential for rapid growth. Knowing which new form of technology is going to catch on will allow you to select a company that manufactures or supplies that technology. This is a recipe for success for any growth investor.
  2. You're a “big picture” kind of person. If you’re able to see the big economic picture regarding where our society is going and what's going to become important in the coming years, you may do just fine as a growth investor.
  • Growth investors can perceive glaring needs in an industry and recognize when a company is providing a way to address those needs.
  • For example, currently, there’s a growing trend towards green energy and environmental conservation. As a growth investor, you might see the value in investing in companies that provide sources of green energy such as turbines and water powered systems.
  1. You like big returns and dramatic growth. A value investor's potential for higher earnings is limited. This is mainly due to the fact that calculating the value of a stock and comparing it to the share price does not take into consideration a company's larger role in providing a much-needed service or product to the market at a particular point in time.
  • Growth investors look for a company with the potential to meet a need that is not currently being met. If and when the demand for their products or services materializes, the value of the company can increase dramatically.

If you're still not sure whether value investing or investing for growth is right for you, it might not be a bad idea to follow the lead of a pretty savvy investor like Warren Buffet. Most people would consider him successful at what he does and nearly everyone heeds his advice.

Buffet recommends using a combination of these two investing approaches so that you can enjoy the benefits from each one. As with most things in life, moderation is the key to success.

Money and Finance Editor Thu, 23 Mar 2017 12:35:47 -0400
15 Easy Ways to Stick to Your Diet at Work

Deadline pressures and birthday parties can make it difficult to stick to your diet at work. These are some changes you can make in the way you eat and other activities that will help you avoid putting on extra pounds from nine to five.

Eating Strategies to Use at Work

  1. Stay full. It’s easier to resist temptation when you’re free from hunger pangs. Start each day with a nutritious breakfast. Make time for lunch and snacks. As a bonus, you’ll also feel more alert and energetic.
  2. Stock up on healthy snacks. If the vending machines are full of candy and crackers, you can provide your own treats. Store yogurt and baby carrots in the office refrigerator or in your own freezable portable lunch pack. Keep a bowl of nuts on your desk.

  3. Drink water. Carry a steel water bottle with you to sip water throughout the day. You’ll feel full while consuming fewer calories.

  4. Eat mindfully. Sitting down to eat helps you become more aware of your food. Chew slowly and pause between bites.

  5. Focus on conversation. Birthday parties and other gatherings are great for getting to know your colleagues better. Switch your attention to socializing so you’ll forget about multiple trips to the buffet table or cake platter.

  6. Bring in healthy potluck dishes. Sign up to bring in a delicious green salad or three bean chili. It will make a nice break from the usual cheesy casseroles and chips.

  7. Advocate for healthy fare. If you’re planning the menu for office functions, serve steel-cut oats for breakfast or fish for lunch. Collect take-out menus from local ethnic restaurants for balanced meals that may cost even less than super sized sandwiches.

  8. Suggest happy hour alternatives. You can still get together with your colleagues after work. Organize a softball league or volunteer as a group at a food kitchen if you’re looking for more ideas than drinking beer.

  9. Share the goodies. If vendors send you ten pound boxes of chocolate every December, put them out in the kitchen or lobby immediately. You’ll make friends fast.

Other Strategies for Sticking With Your Diet at Work

  1. Put on a sweater. Evolution has designed our bodies to seek food when we feel chilly. A sweater will help you deal with excessive air conditioning.
  2. Manage stress. Alleviating stress reduces the risk of overeating. Listen to instrumental music or take deep breaths while you work.
  3. Squeeze in some exercise. Burn more calories. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Visit the gym before work or learn exercises that you can do in your chair.

  4. Get adequate sleep. A well-rested body digests food more efficiently. Individual needs vary. Experiment to find the right amount for you and develop a consistent schedule.

  5. Brush your teeth. Brushing and flossing is one simple way to discourage eating more than you intended. Put together a small dental kit for your desk drawer or handbag. For times when it’s impossible to brush, chewing sugar free gum provides some of the same benefits.

  6. Enlist support. Since so many people struggle with overweight issues, you’re likely to find support among your colleagues. Ask your human resources department about employee wellness programs. Creating a culture of health has been proven to be good for productivity and fosters better health.

What’s good for your career can be good for your waistline too. Planning ahead makes it easier to eat sensibly during the workday and taking care of your overall health increases your chances of success in every aspect of life.

Health and Fitness Editor Thu, 02 Mar 2017 07:30:53 -0500
Is It a Good Idea to Use a Pre-Paid Legal Service?

Nearly everyone has been exposed to offers for pre-paid legal services at one time or another. While the United States has more lawyers than any other country in the world (and more lawsuits, too), pre-paid legal plans have never become very popular here. They are quite popular in Europe, however.

Are they a good thing? Are they a scam? It really depends on what type of legal services you're likely to use. Read on and see if it makes sense for you.

What exactly is a pre-paid legal plan?

A pre-paid legal program is similar to an insurance policy. The subscriber pays a recurring fee for certain legal services; the services might be included with the subscription fee or offered at a reduce rate. Plans vary dramatically in what they offer and their cost. Be sure to know what you're getting before you sign on the dotted line.

The Advantages:

  1. Low cost services. If you know you're going to have a regular use for a lawyer, it can be beneficial. For example, if you're a real estate agent, you could have all of your clients sign up for pre-paid legal services and then use the service for deed preparation. You would likely get a commission and the client would save a little money.
  • Keep in mind that the services are not for commercial purposes, so in the above example the real estate agent couldn't use the services for the legal needs of his real estate business. However, the people buying / selling their property do make out well.
  1. Free phone calls. Most plans offer free advice over the phone. Over 50% of legal issues can be handled with a phone call and a little follow-up.
  2. Minor legal issues are essentially free, provided that you are paying your dues.

  3. Free legal forms. Pre-paid plans offer a library of free legal forms that can be used by members.

The Disadvantages:

  1. Legal problems can still cost a bundle. If you ever have to actually go to court, the included services run out quickly. You may be entitled to a specific number of hours for 'free', but preparing for court can take hundreds of person-hours. While you might get a discount for those hours, you could get the same discount elsewhere if you shop around.
  2. The quality of legal representation might be less than stellar. The member law firms tend to be new lawyers or less-successful law firms, growing their businesses with discount services. In fact, when a pre-paid legal company was sued recently, they hired a high-powered Manhattan firm to represent them, not one of their pre-paid legal affiliates.
  • So common or minor legal issues are fine for them to handle, but you may want to look elsewhere for legal help on complex issues.

Who should consider using prepaid legal services?

If you're likely to have a significant amount of legal busy-work in the near future, they can make sense. If you need to have your will reviewed and you're buying a house and selling a business in the same year, then it can make a lot of sense.

If you don't have any foreseen legal issues or do have major legal issues, a pre-paid plan probably isn't in your best interest.

Pre-paid legal services are here to stay, but it is doubtful they’ll ever be widely accepted. The average person rarely needs a lawyer. When they do need a lawyer, the limited services and questionable skill of the legal provider might not be sufficient.

Do some research and see if it makes sense for your situation. Just be certain that your source of information isn't just trying to sell pre-paid plans. There may be times in your life when a pre-paid legal plan can save you some money and other times that you can do without.

Business and Law Editor Sat, 11 Feb 2017 12:18:07 -0500
4 Tips for Creating a Solid Budget

If you knew of a tool that could bring your mind, family, and finances into harmony, dramatically reduce stress, and make the challenges of life much more manageable, would you take advantage of this tool?

Such a tool does exist. A budget allows you to take control of your finances, instead of your finances controlling you.

You can create a budget that supports your dreams while making sure the necessities are taken care of.

Simply follow these steps to experience peace of mind and excitement about your future:

1. Find the starting line.

The first crucial step in creating a household budget that works is to list all of your income and keep track of every dime you spend for a month. Before you can know where you're going, you have to know your starting point.

You'll be surprised to learn where your money goes each month. This awareness alone may change your spending habits for the better.

2. Use credit wisely and sparingly.

In college, using credit cards can seem like no big deal. Credit card issuers often give special deals and incentives to lure college students into applying for credit they don't need. With large spending limits and small incomes, credit cards tempted you to live a lifestyle you can't afford.

Credit, used properly, can provide convenience and peace of mind in knowing that you're covered in the case of an emergency. But the temptation is great to live outside of your means and worry about paying for those purchases later. The fewer credit cards you sign up for, the less you'll be tempted to spend away your future financial health.

3. Keep your checkbook balanced.

One of the simplest and most productive habits you can incorporate into your personal financial success plan is to maintain a balanced checkbook. Keep track of everything that goes in and out of your account by writing it in your check register or in a spreadsheet. At the end of the month, compare your checkbook to your bank statement.

When you're keeping track of what you spend, you may feel less tempted to waste money on impulse purchases. You'll always know when the money is almost out. This can save you a lot of money on overdraft fees and a lot of headaches.

4. Reduce expenses.

There's no secret to a successful budget. It's as simple as keeping track of your income and expenses, increasing your income or lowering your expenses until you spend less than you earn, while also saving for a rainy day.

Once you have a good grasp on what you're spending and where, find places to cut back and put the money you save into a savings account for a rainy day. Clip coupons and look for grocery sales. Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Turn the air conditioner off when you leave the house. And cook ahead of time to save on the expense of eating out.

Financial pressures can make all of life seem overwhelming at times. If you implement these simple steps and commit to maintaining a rock solid budget for your family, you'll experience financial peace and prosperity. Beyond that, however, every area of your life will improve as you're more relaxed and at ease with the peace of mind you've achieved.

Money and Finance Editor Tue, 24 Jan 2017 08:39:01 -0500
12 Essential Secrets to a Balanced Diet When You’re Lactose Intolerant

Lactose intolerance can make eating a balanced diet more complicated. If you’re one of the millions of people who have trouble digesting milk products, there are plenty of delicious ways to get the nutrients you need from both dairy and non-dairy foods.

Dairy Foods

  1. Control serving sizes. Lactose intolerance is usually a matter of degree. Find your individual comfort level by cutting out all dairy foods and then adding them back into your diet a little at a time.

    • By eating dairy products in moderation, you can probably avoid the typical symptoms like cramps, gas or bloating that usually occur within 2 hours of eating a trigger food.
  1. Combine dairy products with non-dairy foods. You may be able to tolerate trigger foods better if you pair them with other stuff. Try putting milk on your cereal instead of drinking a glass by itself. Serve ice cream on a slice of pie.
  2. Eat a lot of yogurt. Even though yogurt contains the sugar (called lactose) that your body has trouble digesting, it also produces the lactase enzyme that solves that issue.
  • Frozen yogurt lacks live cultures, but many yogurt products are loaded with active bacteria that will protect you from any discomfort.
  1. Say cheese. Cheese is another winner. Hard cheeses like cheddar are naturally lower in lactose than the soft and creamy styles like Brie. Cottage cheese and Feta are also good choices.
  • With growing awareness about lactose intolerance, you also now have the option of lactose free cheeses.
  1. Look for special formulas. Virtually all dairy products, including milk, now come in lactose free and low lactose versions. With an estimated 30 to 50 million people in the U.S. alone being sensitive to dairy products, there’s a huge market for producers to cater to.
  2. Read package labels carefully. Watch out for milk products in places where you’re unlikely to suspect them. Many processed foods contain dairy products, as do certain organ meats and even lima beans. Read labels to see if what you’re buying contains whey, caseinates, milk solids, curds and other ingredients that could spell trouble.
  3. Consider supplements. You might find that lactase enzyme supplements enable you to keep eating dairy products. Ask your doctor if they’re right for you.

Non-Dairy Foods and Other Strategies

  1. Learn about non-dairy calcium sources. Calcium is essential for healthy bones, nerves and blood circulation.

    • If you think you need more calcium, try non-dairy sources like broccoli and other green vegetables or fish with edible bones like salmon and sardines.
  2. Mind your vitamin D intake. Vitamin D is also important for your bones and general wellbeing. While milk is fortified with this essential nutrient, so are many other foods like bread and breakfast cereals. Natural sunlight also helps your body make its own vitamin D.
  3. Order Chinese food. Eating out can sometimes pose difficulties when you’re trying to avoid lactose. Most Asian cuisines rarely use dairy products, so you should find plenty of dishes on the menu that are appealing and safe.
  4. Learn new recipes. At home, you can modify many recipes that use dairy products to suit your needs. For example, fruit pulp can stand in for butter.

  5. Be prepared for age-related changes. Many people become more sensitive to milk as they grow older. Knowing your options will help you to keep eating well.

Lactose intolerance is usually easy to manage. Find your individual comfort level with dairy foods, opt for the safest choices like yogurt, and get calcium and vitamin D from non-dairy sources if needed. Your doctor or a nutritionist can help you design an eating plan that will keep you well nourished.

Health and Fitness Editor Thu, 12 Jan 2017 11:44:15 -0500