Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Real Estate For the WIN!

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article stating that a staggering 95% of Americans will face financial difficulties at retirement. 95% means that only 5% of the US population will retire with dignity and into a lifestyle that they can enjoy with financial freedom. How do you become a part of the exclusive 5%? It doesn't take an economics degree to know that it's not going to happen by saving change in a jar, or sticking money in the bank (nowadays, those 2 are pretty much the same thing except the jar isn't quite as annoying). The reality is that more people have become financially independent through real estate than by any other means. Real estate is without a doubt the most powerful way to build wealth.

Let's consider the options when it comes to building wealth. We can immediately dismiss any jobs or careers. It does not matter what job title you have or what career choice you make, nobody has EVER built true wealth through a job. A job is simply trading hours for dollars and the moment you stop giving your hours, you stop getting the dollars. The job is merely an asset that provides the initial capital to build the wealth.

The next option is the "safe route", things like savings accounts, CD's, bonds and money market accounts. Historically these options barely outpace inflation if they outpace at all. The end result is the equivalent of parking your money somewhere. There is absolutely a place for these engines in your portfolio, but building wealth is not what they are for. I am a fan of Dave Ramsey's analogy of these types of accounts as insurance. You need them and they have a function, but that function is to act as insurance during stormy times so you don't bottom out. They never have and never will build REAL wealth. I defy anyone to show me one millionaire who ever built their wealth from a money market account.

The stock market is always fun... and harrowing, stressful, confusing, etc. The truth is you have no control over the companies you invest in and when losses come, they come big and hard. There are virtually no tax advantages to owning stock either. I'm not saying you should never own any stock, I am merely saying that playing the stock market with your retirement fund is the epitome of risky and has a better than not chance of leaving you broke and sour in your golden years.

Historically, real estate provides reliable, consistent and stronger returns than any other investment. Using the median price for a single family home; a home bought in 1950 for $7,400 would value at $217,000 in 2007. Obviously there will always be fluctuations and dips here and there, but in the end real estate will show a steady appreciation in the long run.

If you ask 100 random people over the age of 50 what was the best investment they ever made, I would almost guarantee that the vast majority of them would say their home. I'll also be willing to bet that if they could do it all over they would try and buy a few more.

Here's a thought experiment. If you were to purchase a $125,000 home today with an investment of $15,000 and rent it out simply to break even on the mortgage, tax and insurance payment; at a conservative 4% appreciation on a 30 year note that home would be worth $405,000. That's a $280,000 profit on a $15,000 investment, not too shabby. Retirement wouldn't be too bad with that little $15,000 investment.

The concept of leverage allows you to take advantage of owning something worth of 15 times your initial investment and still be able to capitalize on 100% of the appreciation of that asset.

I can hear you now saying, "that's awesome... but 30 years is too long to wait to retire". Well, there are lots of solutions to that in real estate. Let' go with the simplest option which involves paying your loan off early by paying a little extra each month (again something you can build into the monthly rent while you are renting out your property).

Let's break down our $125,000 home from the example above and see what happens when we pay just a little more each year on the loan. Note that this is the extra payment per year.

    If you were to make an additional $1,000 payment per year that same loan would be paid off in 22.5 years!
    An extra $2,500 per year pays it off in just 17 years.
    And finally, an extra $5,000 per year (scenario #1) pays it off in only 12.3 years.

Loan scenario 2 is barely over $100 a month in extra payment.

Of course there is nothing stopping you from repeating this scenario over and over until you quickly find yourself with the title of "real estate guru" and all of your friends wonder how you did it. It all started with 1 choice to invest in 1 property and then...

Mikel K Smith

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Believing Without Seeing

December is an interesting month for people, the deluge of the Holiday's, the wrapping up of another year, the anticipation of the next and the lingering question of what all of it means. Will I spend another year at this job? What changes are on the horizon? Will it be the same office party next year? Will it ever get any better than this? December finds us looking out at our world to access what's working and what's not, when perhaps the answer to that question is closer than we think.

Each person possesses the power to transform their lives. We deny this power because it is easier to believe that we are in a world that is happening to us, rather than we are creating the world we are living in. Once we accept the premise that we are the creators of our world and that we have the power to build what we want-focus becomes the operative stance. Can we stay focused on what we want to create even while it is in the process of being created?

Life would be wonderfully magical if we could instantaneously make our wishes come true. A new house, a better job, the perfect mate-so amazing it would be to wake and create it on the spur of the moment. While we can have it, and often much more quickly than we imagine, the work, or the leadership, comes in being able to stay focused on the vision while the rest of the world is shifting to support it. Yes, the rest of the world must shift to support it, because every thought, every action, we put out in the world is what makes the realization of our dreams possible and in creating them must come after shifts take place in the physical environment. These shifts can happen easily and will always take time to manifest; so seeing may be believing, but without believing we may never see it.

The challenge is believing in our worthiness and desire in the face of what appears to be stagnation or inaction-especially in the areas or places that mean the most to us. Consider this: have you ever flippantly yearned for something, perhaps tickets to a big game or new pair of shoes-something that you wanted but it didn't mean the world to you, so you put the desire "out there" and didn't think much about it? Often, what we want appears because we weren't constantly checking to see if it was happening, we allowed what we wanted to come because we weren't focused on if it happened or not. Other times, what we want may come to us although it may not look the way we thought it would look. Did you get tickets to the game in your boss's box where you may have to talk business while watching? Were the shoes you wanted on sale but in a different color? Recognize how often you really get what you want, even if it doesn't always look like you thought it would.

So why is this so hard? Because the belief that it really isn't going to happen is often so much easier that trusting that it will. Using love as the basis for our actions, words and deeds puts us on the right path to staying in the place of possibilities. Love is expansive, love doesn't have bounds, love doesn't create walls or blocks, it flows, it is easy and it feels good--and leadership is love in action. One thing that you can do this Holiday Season (and beyond) is to be our best and anchor every action we take in love. If we do nothing else our world will change in profound and amazing ways.

This December when the nostalgia for the magic of bygone days or the yearning for a shift in your circumstance occur: stop, breathe and visualize what you want your life to look next year and know it will be so. If you can believe without seeing, next year you will see a very different picture. Lead your life as you want it to be and that means being a leader every day and every step of the way.

By Kathleen Schafer

Friday, November 04, 2011

Phone Cards - Be Certain What You're Buying

Phone cards are an excellent way to stay in touch with family and friends without ending up with an astronomical phone bill at the end of the month. But before you choose the phone card that seems to be the cheapest available, be sure you know all the details of how that particular phone card works.

Some phone card companies have a service charge for each call you make using the card. That means that you'll lose several minutes each time you use the card - typically anywhere from four minutes to eight or even ten. If you have a phone card company touting their "three-cent a minute" rates, be sure of their service charges. If you're also losing an additional ten minutes for every connection you make, the rates go up considerably.

One gimmick used by phone card companies is that they give you a price "per unit" instead of "per minute." The significance is that there are different costs for different phone calls. You may pay only a penny or two per unit, but you may find that you're being charged several units per minute. For example, if you pay two cents per unit and you're phone call costs ten units per minute, you're paying twenty cents a minute - significantly higher than the many reputable phone cards. Per unit cards may very well be a good deal, but find out how many units you can expect to pay for phone calls before you shell out the money for one of these cards.

Rechargeable phone cards are sometimes an excellent deal because the additional minutes you purchase are often cheaper than the original cost of the card. If you think about it, it's fairly easy to see why. Instead of buying another pieces of plastic, you're simply buying the service - less cost to the company.

Buying larger amounts is also typically a good way to get the best deal on a phone card. Companies typically offer a better price per minute if you purchase a card with two or more hours of calling time than for a card with only a half hour. Again, it's a simple matter of marketing and you can see that the cost of producing the plastic card is a factor in that cost.

There's no doubt that phone cards are a good way to stay in touch, especially in some situations. Taking time to choose a reliable company for your phone card purchase is an important step in being sure you make the best selection for your phone card company provider.

By Mark Lambie

Thursday, June 03, 2010

AT&T announces sweeping changes to data rates

AT&T today announced sweeping changes to its data plans for iPhones and iPads. Here’s the gist:
  • No more “all you can eat” data for mobile phones (beginning June 7)
  • DataPlus plan - $15/month for 200MB + $15 per additional 200MB
  • DataPro plan - $25/month for 2GB + $10 per additional 1GB
  • Current unlimited data customers may continue with their unlimited plan
  • iPad gets same plans
  • DataPro plan customers can pay $20 extra ($45 total) to share their 2GB of data between phone and tethered device
Each plan includes unlimited access at no additional charge to more than 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots in the U.S. To prevent accidental overages AT&T will offer automatic text and email alerts at 65, 90, and 100 percent usage of your monthly allowance. Gizmodo offers a comprehensive breakdown.

Given that 98% percent of its customers use less than 2GB of data per month (at least according to AT&T) I’m fine with the new rates as they’ll mean a reduction for most customers.

I just hope that AT&T includes the iPad in its tethering plan and that it doesn’t require a contract extension if you change data plans.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Secrets to Saving Money with Prepaid Phone Cards

Prepaid prepaid phone cards allow the user to purchase a specific dollar value of calling time and to have the cost of each call deducted from the account balance. Sold at many retail locations as well as on the Internet, you can buy them at relatively cheap prices and use them from almost from anywhere.

But are these phone cards really a great deal?

Have you seen calling cards at your local convenience store or gas station and wondered how they work? Maybe you have heard about the great long distance rates that calling cards offer, and are curious about how they can offer such great prices?

Are you really getting any minutes with such a deal?

If you want a prepaid phone card, be sure to get the best card for your needs. Calling cards from different companies have a wide range of fees and restrictions. By comparing phone cards before you buy, you can make certain to get the most bang for your buck.

Don't get cheated on your phone card. With calling card companies, as with any product or service, there are good deals, bad deals, and outright frauds. Learning what precautions to take when buying a prepaid phone card could save you money and trouble. Learn how to select a good prepaid card, and what to do if you get cheated.

Don't leave home without it. Whether you use them to make sure you can always use a phone booth in an emergency or to keep in touch with your loved ones on the road, prepaid calling cards can be extremely handy. This is just one idea for how prepaid phone cards could be useful for you and save you in a tight spot.

Prepaid phone cards are an excellent way to save on international calls. By buying minutes in bulk, calling cards can offer rates at a fraction of the price of regular carriers, without complicated calling plans.

Keep in mind that you can donate calling cards to the military. Calling cards are an excellent way to show your support for our troops and to help a lonely soldier overseas stay in contact with his friends and loved ones.

Also, many of the credit card companies offer cards that have all of the usefulness of having a prepaid phone card on hand in case of emergencies, without many of the hidden fees and inconveniences.
It's only by comparing each of the plans that you will find the best one for you.

Karen Kirby

Friday, March 27, 2009

History of Nautical Flags

History of Nautical Signal Flags:

The International Maritime Flag System has been used for over 150 years by sailors and boaters to signal between ships and shore. In 1857, the British Board of Trade published the International Code of Signals for the means of maritime communications. The original Code included 18 signal flags, which could communicate as many as 17,000 different messages. In 1932, the Code was expanded to include six additional languages: French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Norwegian. By 1969, Russian and Greek languages were added and each of the alpha-numeric nautical signal flags was assigned a meaning under the International Code of Signals. Besides providing maritime communication, signal flags today are used to dress ships for ceremonial and festive occasions. Mariners string the flags end-to-end and hang them from the rigging in a bow-to-stern direction.

Signal Flags: Colors and Meaning:

The signaling flags are composed of different colors, shapes, and markings, which used alone or in combination, spell out different messages. The flags include 26 square flags for the letters of the alphabet and ten numeral pendants. The colors of the flags were selected because they are the most distinguishable at sea - red, blue, yellow, black, and white.

One-flag signals are urgent or common signals. Two- flag signals are mostly distress and maneuvering signals. Three-flag signals are for points of the compass, relative bearings, standard times, verbs, punctuation, general code, and decode signals. Four-flags communicate geographical signals and names of ships. Five-flag signals communicate time and position. Six-flag signals are used, when necessary, to indicate north or south or east or west in latitude and longitude. Examples of two-flag signals include:

AC I am abandoning my vessel.
AN I need a doctor.
BR I require a helicopter.
CD I require immediate assistance.
DV I am drifting.
EF SOS/MAYDAY has been canceled.
FA Will you give me my position?
GW Man overboard. Please take action to pick him up.
JL You are running the risk of going aground.
NC I am in distress and require immediate assistance.
PD Your navigation lights are not visible.
PP Keep well clear of me.
QD I am going ahead.
QT I am going astern.
QQ I require health clearance.
QU Anchoring is prohibited.
RU Keep clear of me. I am maneuvering with difficulty.
SO You should stop your vessel instantly.
UM The Harbor is closed to traffic.
UP Permission to enter Harbor is urgently requested. I have an emergency.
ZL Your signal has been received but not understood.

If you would like to add to your nautical d├ęcor with signal flags of your monogram or name now you can at Our flags are hand crafted wooden signal flags, made of North Carolina Pine.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Ghost Malls! - Hyper-Consumption Kills The American Dream

Prediction ... Malls across the nation will first become ghost-malls as America's obsession with hyper-consumption has come to an end. What started twenty years ago as the biggest over-consume, live-beyond-your-means, it's-going-to-last-forever mindset has come to an abrupt halt. So abrupt that, the perpetrators of this phenomenon, all slammed into each other like a chain-reaction crash on an icy freeway. The consequential damage to the economy and the country's financial systems is beyond anything most people have ever seen in their lifetime. People hope that we are on the verge of change. We are. Just not the type they were expecting.

Entire chains of the same stores they used to frequent on a regular basis (or maybe even work at) have disappeared forever. Increased store closings and bankrupt commercial landlords are coming next. This will force the closing of half the malls in the country turning them into ghost malls, not unlike the rotting ghost towns of the Wild West that disappeared after the Gold Rush.

So what will happen to all these empty malls...these wastelands of commerce that, for so many years, were the destination for bored compulsive shoppers, seniors who used them as a indoor track, and the breeding ground for teenage hooligans? Perhaps they should be converted into shelters for the unemployed and homeless by city and state governments, housing thousands of people and families. After all, these abandoned malls are already set up with fully-functional food courts. These food courts could cook enough food daily for thousands of economic refugees. It wouldn't be hard for the government to bring in several fast food companies or create a large soup kitchen operation. Next, you would have to build more restrooms and shower facilities. The abandoned stores would be retrofitted with rows of bunk beds dorm-style, maximizing vertical and horizontal space, making room for thousands of out-of-work people who lost their homes to foreclosure. The abandoned movie theaters could be converted to training centers to retrain people for new careers. Children could engage in supervised play in the parking lots. One store in the mall could be turned into a job resource center where able workers gathered daily to be picked up for all types of temporary work. . . accountants, sales people, telemarketers, office workers, retail clerks, truck drivers, warehouse workers, stock brokers, derivatives traders, and hedge fund managers. Most stores had high-speed Internet connections. A learning center / library / computer lab would be available to all for kids to do their homework and adults to find jobs.

So, what have we got to lose? The most expensive part -the physical structure - is already there. It's just waiting for people who need help to move in.

Ray Holley, manager

Channeled Readings, LLC

Friday, November 28, 2008

Presidential Pardons and the Auto Industry

I have been reading how President Bush might pardon some people in his administration prior
to leaving office. I also read these pardons are absolute and cannot be reversed. I beg to differ.

According to the rules regarding presidential pardons, the following must hold true, otherwise these pardons are null and void.

Before a Presidential pardon is issued,

1) the person must have been convicted of the crime of which they are accused.
2) the person must have been in prison for five years prior to being pardoned.
3) the person must show remorse for their crime.

If President Bush pardons anyone in his administration before these terms are met, the pardon can and should be overturned by the President elect. As there are many people the new President is bringing into key positions, I am sure at least some of them already know the rules governing pardons.

Something Congress should do, before giving any money to the automotive industry, is insist on seeing their entire balance sheet, including stock assets. For years the automobile industry has taken profits and invested in the oil companies. It is time to put that money back into their companies, instead of asking the American taxpayers to bail them out.

The big three have been producing automobiles in Europe that get approximately 75 (seventy-five) miles per gallon. General Motors recalled all their electric cars and crushed them. Then General Motors sold the battery patent to Texaco. This was done to increase the value of their oil stock portfolios. Obviously, their top priority was no longer producing automobiles in America that people wanted, but
to expand their other areas of operation. Now they are crying crocodile tears and saying bail us out?

To show the arrogance of the top executives of the Automobile industry, all one had to do was watch their antics before Congress. Not only did they go to Washington in private jets, but when asked what they personally would give up, one said his bonus and another said 'he is all right with the way things were' - in other words, he would give up nothing - not salary, not bonus, not private jet, but he wants tax payer money.

I think it is time for every private industry clamoring for a free hand out, and for Congress, to realize we Americans are not stupid. We have a pretty good common sense idea regarding what is happening in this country and why. The Preamble says - We, the People - not we the corporations. I think it is time for our government to remember that.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Mayan Caves - A Large Part of Belize's Tourism Industry

The Central American country of Belize gained its independence from Great Britain in 1981. It is in a tropical region, located in between Mexico and Guatemala and to its east is bordered by the Caribbean Sea. Belize is a very culturally diverse nation, and the only Central American country that has English as its official language. Spanish and Belizean Creole or Kriol are also spoken by the ancestors of the Mayan, Spanish, British, African and other ethnic groups in the region, with Kriol being the most popular language actually spoken by the people.

Belize's limestone rich mountains are also home to many caves, and these caves were the home to the religious ceremonies of the Mayans. Archaeologists discovered the use of these caves dates back as far as 1000BC, or more than 3000 years ago. The Mayans believed that the natural karst topography of the region that lends itself toward these types of caves in the sides of limestone or dolomite rock were actually passage ways to the underworld, or the world of the dead.

This tangible ancient history has made Belize a natural tourist attraction for anyone with an interest in the mystical, the ancient, or simply beautiful landscape. The tourism industry in Belize accounts for 25 percent of all employment in there and 18 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product. The interesting habits of the Mayans during their rituals also makes the goings on inside the caves in Belize so fascinating to many people. There is some evidence that many sacrifices of humans of all ages were likely a typical occurrence.

The Caves Branch Cave System is a very popular tourist destination. Cave tubing tours allow visitors to ride the rivers inside the caves on inner tubes in guided tours of the ancient site. There are also caverns including the Actun Tunichil Muknal, or more easily pronounced ATM, that are accessed on foot. Visitors walk through the river and once inside the cave are able to climb above the water. Inside ATM are many representations of pottery and skeletons.

There is one skeleton of a teenaged female sacrifice victim inside one area of the cave called the Crystal Maiden that has been covered in a sparkling stone over time and who draws a lot of visitors to the cave. Visitors in canoes, on inner tubes, and those swimming and hiking on foot frequently visit Belize to navigate the caves.

Because tourism is such a large part of Belize's economy, there is a lot of attention paid to ensure the safety and entertainment of the tourists that come to this country. The Belizean Tourism Department plays a large role in trying to educate the tourists that come to their country of the rich heritage and long history of the region.

Larry Pudoky frequently produces detailed articles on areas relating to portugal. Through his detailed publications, the writer established his deep knowledge on issues dealing with faro portugal.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mother’s Day Italian Charms

World’s Greatest Mom Laser Charm
World’s Greatest Mom Laser Charm
Remember when the circus came around and the title was called, “The Greatest Show On Earth?” Well, instead of that phrase, we made a slight alteration for Mother’s Day. Show your mom that she’s the world’s best mom with this laser charm!

Heart My Mom
Heart My Mom
Here’s a perfect charm dedicated to the only woman in your life who loves you unconditionally. Wearing this precious picture charm shows the world how much you appreciate and love your mother.

I Love U Mommy Laser Charm
I Love U Mommy Laser Charm
What a cute way to show all the new mommies out there that their young ones love them! Cute and playful phrase I Love U Mommy is laser inscribed into a high-grade stainless steel base. Words are permanently etched into so they will never wear off.

With Love Mother’s Day Laser Charm
With Love Mother’s Day Laser Charm
This charm couldn't get right to the point any better than what's written on it. Charm features the words "With Love, Mother's Day" surrounded by an array of little black hearts. Mom will cherish this beautiful charm forever.

SUPER MOM Laser Charm
SUPER MOM Laser Charm
It's no secret that all moms are super, but you just don't go running around every day telling her that. Well now you can tell her with this cute charm boasting the phrase SUPER MOM that almost fills up the whole charm base!

Mom Heart
Mom Heart
Elegant and refined Mom Heart Laser Italian Charm will highlight your bracelet. Mom is engraved in a heart outline on a high quality stainless steel link. Very beautiful and elegant charm to show mom your love.

Happy Mother’s Day Laser Charm
Happy Mother’s Day Laser Charm
Mothers do not get the credit they deserve. We only give them one day out of the year to praise them and show them how much we appreciate them, when we should be doing this all year around. Show your mom how much she means to you with this Happy Mother’s Day laser charm. Words are laser engraving into stainless steel so they will never wear off.

More Mother’s Day Italian Charms at Italian Charms Market

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Celebrate Mother's on Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is almost here. This is the time when we take a moment to really appreciate our Mothers. We do love them but how often do we honor and show them with special tokens that we really care.

We could never repay our Mothers for all they have sacrificed for us. My Mother is priceless. Many people will be sad on Mother’s day, but remember that she lives on in our hearts.

Usually on Mother’s Day, there is a barbecue at our house for all the Mothers in our family. Some Mother’s appreciate gifts while others are contented with being feted on Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day is celebrated on different days in other countries depending on the origination of Mother’s Day. Originally, the US copied the UK where Mother’s Day was a call to unite Mother’s against war. Now they are totally different in that the US celebrate Mother’s day on the second Sunday in May and is an occasion to celebrate Mothers and Motherhood. In the UK, Mother’s Day is related to the Church. The Mother Church is visited by all and is a means for Children and their Mother to unite.

Mother’s Day has now been copied from the US by several other nations. It now represents a Day where we celebrate with our Mothers by taking them out to restaurants, sending them flowers, buying them special gifts or, like us, just having them over for a barbecue.

The Author is a stay at home Mother having been disabled by the disease RSD. She has her own website dedicated to health and wellness and talks about diverse subjects visit

Sunday, May 06, 2007

VPN Remote Access To Your Office

The major USP of our small business customers is the capacity to access their workplace computers and network from home. Everybody loves working from home, as it saves them the commuting time and allows you to complete lot of your tasks from home. This can be achieved in either of the two ways: VPN (Virtual Private Network) and Terminal Services.

VPN lets you connect to your office network as though you were physically present in your office. However you need to configure your PC for the same. Start by enabling the incoming VPN connections on the remote computer (normally office computer). If you are using Windows XP Professional, right click on "My Network Places", then left click "Properties", select "Create New Connection", followed by "Setup Advanced Connection" and then "Accept Incoming Connections". Click “Next” twice and then choose "Allow Virtual Private Connections", followed by a user on that computer that becomes your login info. Ensure the user must have a password. Now click “Next” and ensure "TCP/IP" is highlighted. Then click “Next” and the job is finished. If the access to your remote computer is restricted by a router/firewall then you need to configure port forwarding to the remote computer. Port forwarding implies opening port 1723 to the remote computer.

Next you have to configure your home computer. Right click on "My Network Places" and then left click on "Properties". Choose "Create New Connection", followed by "Connect To The Network At My Workplace". Now choose "Virtual Private Network Connection" and type any name. Type the public IP address of your office for host name or IP. You can get the IP address by starting your web browser and visiting from your office. Note down is number because you are going to type it in the hostname field. Click “Next” and “Finish”. Now you can login with the user name and password.