Signs That It’s TimeTo Redefine Yourself

Every day when we wake up, we make a decision. We decide to follow our routine or we decide to go off script and shake things up a bit. For those who are creatures of habit, routine is comfortable, easy and produces very little stress. The problem with this is, after a while you stop growing.

The ability to reinvent and redefine yourself is a bold, daring and purposeful choice. It doesn’t just happen. You have to make a conscious, intentional choice and then follow through.

So how do you know when it’s time for a system upgrade? Look for these signs…read more

Featured image by BK on Flickr

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Your Skin Is A Direct Reflection Of Your Digestive Health

There is a direct digestion to skin correlation. Some of our most common skin problems are directly attributed to our diet. Researchers as far back as 1930 suspected a link between digestive and skin health and modern research has definitively confirmed that there is, indeed, an important connection. And to put it quite frankly, if you want to heal your skin, you must heal your gut. Here’s how: read more

 

Lack Of Mentality Clarity And Focus Are Symptoms Of A Serious Problem

Ever have those moments where it feels like you just can’t think straight? When it comes at the end of a very long day or after an intense mental activity, you feel tired, unfocused, and can’t seem to get your head in the game. That haze of mental obscurity is what many refer to as brain fog.

The causes of brain fog generally fall into one of two main categories — either it’s lifestyle-related or a side effect of a medical condition or medication. The most common causes, by far, are related to nutritional and biochemical imbalances that affect the brain and central nervous system of the body, which can be easily corrected with four very simple lifestyle changes. Read more

Featured image by Jessica Cross on Flickr

10 Vitamin D Rich Foods You Should Definitely Include In Your Diet

Vitamin D – aka “the sunshine vitamin -” is critical to our overall health and feelings of wellness. It is a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3. It can affect as many as 2,000 genes in the body.

Vitamin D deficiency is a global epidemic.An estimated 1 billion people do not have adequate vitamin D levels. And 64% of Americans do not get the sufficient amount of vitamin D to keep all of their tissues operating optimally.

Here are 10 food sources that will help increase your intake. Read more

The Art Of Giving Good Gifts

If you are like me, you view gift giving as a sport. You work hard to find THE perfect gift for each person in your life. You agonize and vacillate between items. Then comes the moment of truth. Game time. The presentation of the gift…

And then…

the giftee receives your masterpiece of perfection with mild enthusiasm and a half-hearted “thanks…” What happened? Where did you go wrong?

The science of gift giving 

We’ve all been there. Despite our best intentions, we end up purchasing gifts that aren’t what recipients want or need.

According to research, there is a methodology to being a good gift giver. Read more

50 Small Acts To Enhance Your Relationship

Romantic relationships seem to require a lot of time and energy once the initial honeymoon stage is over. Keeping the spark in a relationship doesn’t have to entail big, elaborate declarations of love. It’s actually the little things that make your partner feel most loved.

Here are 50 small thoughtful ideas that can make your spouse feel loved and valued: Read more

Saying “I Do” Happens Daily

One of the most popular misconceptions surrounding marriage is that once you make it through the wedding day–with all of its pomp and circumstance–say your “I do’s,” you ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. Nothing could be further from the truth. Marriage is a daily choice, not a one-time event.

Read more.

Featured image by christianbed.com on Wikimedia.

Everyone Is An Entrepreneur…Really?

“One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves. You don’t choose your passions; your passions choose you.” ~Jeff Bezos

Entrepreneurship is the sexy new trend. It is chic, stylish, innovative and progressive to create, nurture and establish your own brand. This concept has morphed beyond merely owning your own business into a guiding philosophy of life–a religion almost. I know you’ve heard the entrepreneur gospel being preached–every human being is an entrepreneur because life itself is such an uncertain entrepreneurial challenge.

Before you take the plunge and become the next entrepreneurial statistic (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, approximately 50% of small businesses fail in the first year and 95% fail within the first five years) here are a few things you may want to consider:

Being an entrepreneur is more than a sexy idea and a “paradigm shift” in your job status.

Owning a business is a hardcore, capitalistic, rigorous endeavor requiring an abnormal amount of grit and tenacity. It’s about facing indecision, insecurity, instability and borderline insanity–without flinching. True entrepreneurship requires divergent thinking.

Entrepreneurship involves actually owning and running your own business.

Entrepreneurship is a whimsical term that makes us fantasize about the good life. We imagine ourselves jetting off to attend high-powered meetings in contemporary glass offices with a dutiful and extremely loyal assistant in tow –anticipating our every need. We wear cute clothes, speak “entrepreneurese,” and vacation in exotic locations.

The term “small business owner” actually means going to bed after midnight and waking up at the crack of dawn to get things done. It’s about spreadsheets, profit and loss statements, inventory management, advertising, hiring extra help and then turning around and letting that help go. Small business owners have to get things done for themselves–often times– by themselves. It is a gritty, get your hands dirty, do whatever needs to be done kind of gig. While it appears to be the mainstream approach to “getting a job,” it actually is counter-cultural because it involves tremendous (calculated) risk and contemporary society tends to discourage risk taking. And the biggest risk isn’t financial, it’s the emotional toll that this kind of failure can have on your soul. The stakes are high and failure is expensive.

Entrepreneur does not equal boss. Entreprenuer=Business owner and business owner=slave labor. 

Want to be you a CEO, your own boss and the big chief?  Here is another reality check: If you own a business and you provide goods, a service or have clients–you are not your own boss. Customer demand sets your hours, your processes and procedures, drives your prices and dictates your existence. You are at the mercy of your customers.

Another truth about business ownership is that most businesses operate at a deficit for at least the first year. That means that you are essentially working for free. That is a real, hard fact and a lot of new ventures fail because they neglect planning for the financial inconsistencies business ownership brings. With a regular job, you know exactly how much you have coming in and when you will be paid making budgeting so much easier. When you first start a business you don’t have this luxury. Each month can fluctuate – and with that so does your attitude, belief and lifestyle. For some, this is extremely motivating and a catalyst to their success. Knowing that it’s all or nothing can drive you forward or crazy. Either way, the adjustment can be brutal.

You decide…

This article is not written to deter you from starting a business–it is designed to help you make your own decision and not feel inadequate because you are not “entrepreneurial.” It was written merely to cause you to pause and think for a moment.

Are you passionate about your business idea or are you going into business because everyone has told you–you should? Do you have the financial intelligence and business acumen to actually run a business–manage inventory, project expenditures and losses and understand tax laws, potential liabilities and regulations for your particular industry? Do you have a business plan? Do you have the necessary capital for start-up costs? Are your personal finances in order (little to no debt, savings and an emergency fund in place)?

Are you ok with the fact that there are no paid sick or vacation days and no established retirement or health care plan? Are you prepared for the toll this type of undertaking can have on you emotionally and socially?

And what if you fail?

“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” ~Winston Churchill

Getting comfortable with the stark reality that your business may fail is paramount to life as an entrepreneur. There is risk involved and you must turn and squarely face that possibility. Over half of start-ups fail within the first 5 years. The odds are stacked against you. Careful consideration must be given to how failure may impact you and more importantly those around you and those dependent upon your income.

The most apropos description I have found concerning those truly fit for entrepruenuership  comes from Apple’s Think Different ad campaign:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward…

Mortgages Made Simple: A Beginners Guide For First Time Homebuyers

Buying a home – especially your first home – can be both an exciting and daunting endeavor. The mortgage process can be confusing, time-consuming and costly if entered into haphazardly.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way.

While each situation is unique and the process will vary individually, having a basic understanding of the types of mortgages, interest rates, and loan jargon can greatly expedite the process, reduce stress and equip you with knowledge to get a mortgage that’s right for your financial situation.

So let’s get started! Read more

 

Balance Transfer Credit Card —What’s Really In It For You?

Let’s play pretend. Come on—it’ll be fun…

Let’s pretend you have credit cards from—oh I don’t know–Macy’s, Nordstrom, CVS or Walgreens, Target, one with your banking institution and that Visa you’ve had since college. All of the cards have different interest rates and the payments are scattered randomly throughout the month. Because of this erratic schedule, you are occasionally late on one or more of the cards every month. Over time, you rack up a ton of late fees and your credit score plummets. If only there was a way to eliminate the hassle…

And then you see it.  A credit card that allows you to transfer the balances of some or all of your credit cards to just one card—at 0% interest. All you have to do is apply. Sounds pretty attractive, right?

You can’t lose. Most of your bills will be consolidated, which makes tracking payments and purchases easier.  Plus, you’ll only have to make one payment a month instead of four or five smaller payments, and you’ll save tons of money on interest.  It’s the answer to your prayers.

Or is it?

In a perfect world

Balance transfer credit cards can save you money on finance charges, late fees, and interest payments by allowing you to consolidate some or all of your credit debt into one card with a low annual percentage rate (APR).

To demonstrate, let’s say you have an outstanding balance of $5,000 on your Macy’s card and the APR is 18 percent. If you transfer the entire balance to a card with a 0 percent interest rate for a 12-month period, you save more than $800, even with a transfer fee of 3 percent.

In the real world

In most instances, you’ll need to have good to great credit—meaning a credit score of at least 720- to qualify for a balance transfer credit card. Most cards also charge a transfer fee for each balance you transfer to the new card; they range anywhere from a flat rate of $10 per transfer to three percent of the total balance being transferred. In addition, annual, membership and late fees may also come with the new card or line of credit.

It gets worse. With most balance transfer offers, the initial incentives that attracted you to the card—low-interest rates and no annual fees—are only available during the introductory period. The introductory period could be as long as 18 months or as short as six.  Once the introductory period ends, the APR sky rockets to the true rate of the card, which could be higher than what you were paying initially.

And late payments really cost you. For most cards, a late payment means forfeiture of all of the benefits associated with the introductory period.

To further confuse matters, most cards have low-interest rates that only apply to the balance transfer—any additional purchases will be charged be at a much higher rate.

For example, if you were to select the BankAmercard Credit Card for your balance transfer, you would need to qualify for the 0% introductory rate which lasts for 18 billing cycles. However, this rate only applies to the one-time balance transfer. All other purchases, cash advances and any other balances you may want to transfer will be charged at a much higher APR— for this particular card, it could be as high as 21.24%.

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To transfer or not transfer that is the question

The answer to this question will vary from person to person and depends on your unique situation. In order to help you navigate this tricky terrain and get the most bang for your buck, here are a few things you should consider.

The first thing you have to remember is that credit card companies, banks, and lending institutions are for-profit businesses. Meaning they are in business to make money—not to save you money.

Secondly, there are several factors that you must consider when deciding whether or not a balance transfer is right for you long term such as:

  • Your credit score
  • Amount of the balance being transferred—some cards make it profitable to transfer large sums, while others are better for smaller debts
  • Your current interest rate on the debt
  • The short-term “teaser rate”
  • The APR after the introductory period
  • Balance transfer fee
  • Membership fee
  • Annual fee
  • Policy concerning late payments (associated fees and loss of benefits)
  • Credit card perks—cash back rewards, earning points and others

Lastly, consider your reasons for transferring your balances. The first reason is obviously to save money. But beyond this fundamental reason you also need to assess your commitment to paying off the balance quickly, and not using the cards from which you initially transferred the balances. Credit card companies have weighed the odds of offering these kinds of incentives and the odds are heavily in their favor. Most people who transfer balances end up incurring more debt than they had initially.

no

In a nutshell…

A balance transfer is probably not the best option for you if you…

  • have poor or “so-so” credit,
  • are frequently late making payments or miss payments
  • are tempted to use the new line of credit or continuing to use the cards you are transferring the balances from
  • will not be able and committed to paying off the balance during the introductory period or shortly thereafter
  • are not truly interested in eliminating debt

For those of you that can favorably check off everything on the list above, let’s move on…

credit-cards

Determining the best offer for you

When sifting through all of the credit cards offering balance transfers, be sure to read the fine print and analyze all of the terms and conditions during the introductory period and after.

Here are a few key elements to identify during your search:

1. Look past the smoke and mirrors

You have to look past the introductory interest rate and the fees that are waived during that time. Mike Sullivan, director of education at the non-profit financial education firm Take Charge America, says that it’s important to consider more than just the APR when looking at a balance transfer card.

 “A lot of times people just look at the balance transfer terms and that’s a mistake,” Sullivan says. “Finding the right card is probably the best thing you can do. Teaser rates are fine, but I suggest going to websites and seeing which cards offer which rates. You may think that 9.9 percent APR is good, only to find out you qualify for 4.9 percent.”

It is important to see the big picture. Look at the final APR and all of the fees associated with the new card. Fees can potentially erode most of the card’s value, and the initial rate you were offered might not be what you actually get when it’s all said and done. If a card comes with a three percent transfer fee and your balance is $10,000 that is an additional $300 you have to cough up before the transfer is even in place.

Remember, credit card companies are in the business of making money not saving you money.

2. Beware of the bait-and-switch

This occurs when you receive those balance transfer pre-approval offers. You are quoted a credit limit and a low-interest rate but approved for a card with a lower limit and higher interest rate than advertised.

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3. Understand how the balance transfer will impact your credit

To get an idea of how a balance transfer will affect your credit score, you’ll need to understand a few basics about your credit utilization ratio. This ratio is simply the amount of credit you’re using (or what you owe on your credit accounts) divided by the amount of credit you have available.

For Example, say you have 3 credit cards:

Card 1: Total amount available: $5,000, balance: $1,000

Card 2: Total amount available: $10,000, balance: $2,500

Card 3: Total amount available: $8,000, balance: $4,000

Your total credit line (or amount available) across all three cards is $5,000 + $10,000 + $8,000 totaling $23,000, and your total credit used is $1,000 + $2,500 + $4,000 totaling $7,500. Your credit utilization ratio is $7,500 divided by $23,000, or 32.6%. Meaning, you are using 32.6% of the total credit available to you.

The safest way to obtain and keep a higher credit score is by keeping your credit utilization ratio below 30 percent, or –in other words– never use more than 30 percent of the total amount of credit available to you. Most financial experts agree that when you do a balance transfer, you should destroy the card or cards from which you are transferring the balances from, but leave the accounts open so you don’t lower your credit utilization score.

It’s also important to understand that transferring your debt to a different card does not eliminate it—it just shifts it. A balance transfer can initially positively impact your credit but the long term effects could be detrimental. However, transferring your debt to a lower interest card and then aggressively paying it off can significantly raise your credit score.

Caution

I can see the wheels turning in some of your minds—you are thinking that if you transfer your balances to a low-interest rate card and then when the introductory period ends you can simply transfer the balance again and so on—and essentially never pay interest… Great idea but it won’t work. In fact, moves like that can damage your overall credit score. When you continuously open new low-interest accounts while maintaining high debt levels, lenders will view you as a risk, which will make it harder for you to purchase big-ticket items such as a home or car using credit.

Final Word

Transferring your balances to a low-interest credit card is a great idea if you are actively working to eliminate debt, have the discipline not to incur new debt or use the old lines of credit, compare offers, read the fine print and clearly understand all of the terms and restrictions that may apply.

 

 

 

Caveat Emptor! 4 Major Retailers Sued In Fake Pricing Scheme

A lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court against four retail giants claims that they all misled consumers by listing inflated original prices when displaying and advertising sale prices. This deceptive pricing trick manipulates customers into believing that they are receiving a tremendous value on merchandise through impressive advertised discounts. However, in most cases, they are getting little to no cost savings.

Read more.

10 Quick And Healthy Lunch Ideas That Fit Your Busy Schedule

In today’s society we are all overworked, pressed for time, and stressed. We all want to be more healthy and most people make a concerted effort by eating better, moving more, and getting to bed earlier. But if you’re like me– it’s an uphill battle.

Don’t let your busy lifestyle impede your progress towards gaining optimal health. A healthy lunch can help keep you focused, prevent the 3 PM energy slump, boost your mood, and save you time and money in the long run.

Here are 10 quick and healthy lunch ideas designed to fit your schedule. Read more.

There Is Wisdom In Your Wounds

Struggle, failure and pain are all intricate pieces of the puzzle that makes you who you are. When you shy away from struggles, run from failure or hide your pain, you become an incomplete picture. What most people fail to realize is that wisdom, strength and fuel for the future is wrapped up inside that pain.

If you have experienced tragedy upon tragedy, and endured immense amounts of pain–I have good news–you are destined for greatness. Read more. 

Featured image by BK on Flickr

Learn To Work Smarter Not Harder. Here’s How.

So much of our time and energy is wasted doing things that produce little to no real or valuable output. Imagine what you could accomplish or where you could be if you were able to cut your overall lack of productivity in half?

One of the top ways to make the most of your time is to utilize the 80/20 rule.

Read more.

Finally! Proof That Women Are Smarter Than Men

Finally! Research has proven that women need more sleep than men because they are smarter. It’s a scientific fact.

Ok… not exactly.

What research has been able to prove is that women have more complex brain activity than men.

According to Dr. Apostolos Georgopoulos, the director of the Brain Science Centre at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center:

“Women’s brains are definitely different from men’s brains… What we have found is that women, in many different tasks, process information about five times faster than men, and use much less of their brain to do identical cognitive performance.”

Read more.

Featured image by: Allan Ajifo on Wikimedia Commons

Holiday Travel Tips

Time to visit Grandma and the in-laws for Christmas or maybe you want to spend New Year’s Eve in Paris? Even if you’re simply planning a few hours drive to see family, traveling over the holidays can be hectic, expensive and stressful. Here are a few tips to help you maintain your sanity during this year’s travel rush. Read more…

Featured Image by TheeErin on Flickr 

Successful People Share These Two Characteristics

So what makes some people successful and others mediocre? Is it innate talent, education or just plain ole good luck? Is there some secret formula that some discover and others don’t? Could it be as simple as being in the right place, at the right time and knowing the right people? The answer to all of those questions is–yes. All of those elements are factors in determining your level of success. However, the two most important characteristics that ultimately determine success are… Read More

Learn How Yoga Helps the Mind-Body Connection to Alleviate Pain

We all know that stretching, to some degree, helps to relieve muscle tension and tightness. However, some complain that the benefits of stretching provides only short-term, minimal relief at best, making it a waste of time and energy. In order to truly understand muscle tightness and how to reap the benefits of stretching, one must first understand the complexities of the muscle and brain connection.

Muscle tension begins with messages from the brain to contract certain fibers in your body. Chronic stress, however, leads your brain to contract muscles of your body that are not needed in order to perform particular tasks. In these instances, stretching alone will only provide minimal relief for muscles. Read More

Featured image by: moonlightsleeper via Flickr

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