Are You the Prey, or the Hunter?

This article is all about reinventing yourself and changing your circumstances. It's obvious to me, that you have told yourself you want to reinvent yourself. I know that, because you searched for this article, or clicked a link to get here. Today, I want to talk about really reinventing yourself and changing your mentality. What I am talking about is shifting your thoughts from those of being the prey, to the thoughts of being the hunter.

Think about it, if you are prey, you can still reinvent yourself and change the circumstances and current reality for you and your family. You can take some courses and get some education. You can start exercising and eating better. You can read books about how to Reinvent Yourself at 50, or 30 or 60 or however old you are. But until you decide to become a hunter, you will always be prey.

What does it take to become a hunter? In my mind, the biggest thing is this, you can't be afraid to talk to people. By people, I mean both acquaintances, co-workers, and people you are comfortable with as well as talking to strangers and people, you have only met briefly.

Another big thing you have to set your mind to, is that it is OK, if someone tells you no! You have to have the idea that, when you get a no, you are 1 step, 1 phone call or 1 conversation closer to getting a yes. If someone tells you no, you have to pick yourself up and go on to the next thing.

The next biggest item it takes to change to a hunter mindset, is the ability and the willingness to take charge of a situation. If you find yourself in a group, at work or at a meeting of some sort, and it is clear that there is a task at hand. If everyone sits back waiting for the others to assign tasks and verify things get done, then nothing will get done. Usually what happens is that a Hunter has to come over and take charge. If you are in a competitive environment, like the workplace acting like prey, then you will get eaten by one of the hunters.

What does it take for you to switch your mindset, from being the hunted, to being the hunter? It only takes a decision on your part! All you have to do is to say, I will be the one that steps up and assigns the tasks and insures things are done. Making sure the job gets done, is all about setting expectations and accountability. If a list of tasks needs to get accomplished. Assign them to the ones best suited, to efficiently and effectively accomplish them. Set up a periodic meeting and announce the meeting in advance. During the meeting, make sure to hold the members of the group accountable, and you as the leader will monitor their progress, in a group setting.

* Remember, you can't be afraid to talk to people and it is OK to be told no. When told no, you are 1 no, closer to a yes.

* Be willing to take charge and step up. When you step up and take charge, make sure those in authority know you are in charge, and that the job will get done.

* Setting expectations - make sure all tasks that need to be accomplished are clearly identified and that everyone knows exactly what needs to be done, when the tasks need to be completed, and who is assigned responsibility for completing the task assigned.

* Delegating the work - In the expectation discussion above, I didn't say who is responsible for doing the work required to complete the task. Being responsible for a task simply means insuring it gets done. If you work smart, you will delegate and recruit others to do the work all the while insuring it gets done on time and completely.

* Accountability - set periodic meetings to monitor task progress and hold people accountable if they haven't done what was promised and what they committed themselves to complete previously. When expectations are clearly set, the next step is to make sure the tasks all get done, by holding those assigned the tasks, accountable.

* Follow Through - after the tasks are completed. Make sure those in authority are advised that the job is completed, and that you will be monitoring the project or task to insure the accomplishments your group worked so hard to complete are maintained. Make sure those in authority understand that you are ready for the next task.

Once the people in authority, know that you took a task, made a plan, worked the plan, and were able to accomplish the goal(s), you will be considered the next time a task needs to be accomplished. After you successfully complete several tasks, you will be seen as a valued member of the team and one that can be depended upon.

People Skills, like Team Building, Coordination, Leadership and Management, are all traits that managers look for in their team members when they need to promote individual contributors into leadership positions. A good manager is always looking for leaders with drive, ambition and people skills. You never see prey in positions of leadership anywhere, you only see Hunters. Since you have decided to reinvent yourself a bit, make sure you are a hunter and not the prey!

Accidents Claim

An accidents claim is the process of asking for compensation for damages or injuries that are the result of an accident. If you have been in an accident recently, whether it be a traffic accident, a bicycle accident, a bus accident, or some other type, here's what you need to know.

When can I make an accidents claim?

To qualify you need to have two things. First, you need have an appropriate insurance policy taken out. You need to have your insurance fully organized and paid up-to-date to be eligible to claim. Second, you need to have been unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident where you incur cost from injury or some sort of property damage.

What do I need to do?

You need to start the claims process as soon as it's safe to do so after the accident occurs. The longer you wait, the harder it's going to be to make a straightforward, successful claim. As time passes evidence of the accident fades or is lost. On top of this, people's memories will fade the longer you wait. Don't delay!

The first thing you need to do is to contact your insurance company's customer service line or dedicated claims line. Your company will ask you for some basic information about the accident. At a later date they will send you accidents claim forms which you will need to fill out.

Make you sure include all relevant information, provide copies of police reports, and answer any questions your insurance company has. If you leave out any information, you could complicate the claims process, lose a substantial amount of compensation money or even disqualify completely.

Once you have filled out all the relevant forms, your company will file your claim. They will then assign a specially trained "adjuster" to your case. The adjuster will assess the physical evidence of the accident, interview you and any other people involved in the accident, consult with other professionals and decide whether your claim is legitimate or not. If they decide you have a legitimate accidents claim, they will decide the monetary amount of your claim and you will receive your compensation.

Five Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safe

If you have a loved family dog or puppy, keeping it safe for a long time to come is undoubtedly a concern you have. There are several steps you can take to make sure your dog says safe and has a long and happy life.

First, make sure your dog is properly registered in your city (if required) and has all the proper tags. Not only should you have your dog license tag, but also an address tag in case your pet ever gets lost. Make sure your address tag has both your address and phone number, so it will be easy for you to be contacted if he is found.

Second, make sure your dog is properly vaccinated and has regular check ups. There are several common dog illnesses that your dog should be regularly screened for, and he should have his teeth cleaned regularly as well. You should also have your dog neutered or spayed.

Third, be sure to provide your dog with the best diet possible. Fortunately, there are some real quality dog foods available these days, just make sure you pick one that his all the nutrients your dog needs. If you can afford one that contains organic ingredients, even better. Part of a good diet is making sure your dog does not become overweight as well. By keeping your dog's weight in check, you will be taking a huge step in terms of his overall health and well being.

Fourth, look after your dog's mental health as well. Dogs need both mental and physical stimulation. Take your dog for frequent walks, play with him regularly, and just spend time petting and otherwise showing him affection.

Finally, you should be prepared in advanced financially for any health problems or accidents. You can do this by purchasing a quality dog health insurance plan or putting aside some special savings in case of such an unfortunate event. By knowing that you are ready to handle the expenses for any unanticipated event, you will provide peace of mind for yourself as well as make sure your dog receives the care he needs when he needs it.

Taking care of a dog requires a lot of time and effort, so if you are considering adopting or purchasing one, be sure you are fully prepared for the responsibilities involved. But with these responsibilities comes the joy of having a loving pet companion as well, which is well worth the effort involved.

Home Remodeling Tips for Finding a Reliable Contractor

A home renovation or remodel can be a costly and life-altering undertaking. You don't want to spend that kind of money and invest that much time, not to mention the inconvenience of giving up your personal space, on a job that is not done exactly as you specify. In order to ensure a top-notch job, you need the right company handling the work. When it comes to home remodeling, here are a few basic, simple tips for finding a reliable contractor.

It is essential that any contractor you hire to perform work in your home be licensed and insured. That means they've proven their ability to do the work to the licensing board and they have an insurance company that will cover the cost of any damages to your home that result from their negligence or ineptitude. While your cousin's nephew might be a whiz with a hammer, if he is not licensed and insured, he is not the contractor you want.

Secondly, check any and all potential contractors for your job out with the local Better Business Bureau and, if possible, get references from some of their other customers. Many of these contractors will have websites or photo albums showing you the work they've done in the past. Seeing past success will boost your confidence in their ability to do your remodel right.

Finally, do shop around. Two equally qualified, licensed and insured contractors may have very different price quotes. Get all quotes in writing and request a guarantee. After all, you want to be able to recommend them to your friends. So, when it is time for home remodeling, just follow these tips for finding a reliable contractor and you can rest easier knowing the job will be done the right way by the right people.

What Happens When You Default on an SBA Loan?

What happens to my SBA loan when my business fails?

So your business is struggling, and you are wondering, what happens to my SBA guaranteed business loan?

What indeed...

Let's answer that question by first understanding what the SBA guarantee actually means. The guarantee is actually for the BANK, not the borrower. Which means that if your business fails, the SBA will pay back a portion of the loan to the bank, assuming the bank has followed the necessary steps in servicing the loan (more on that in another post).

Many business owners falsely assume that the guarantee means that they are "off the hook", and that the loan is satisfied by the guarantee. After all, the borrower paid 3% for this guarantee...it was insurance in case things didn't work, right?

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

The SBA guarantee only protects the bank's interest, and provides nothing but trouble for a borrower in default. This is because a bank that has this "insurance" policy acts very differently than one that may be exposed to a large loss from a defaulting commercial loan. The bank will do EVERYTHING in its power to protect that insurance policy, including shutting down a healthy, but struggling, company.

Moreover, the bank's ability to work or be flexible with a company that is faced with defaulting on their SBA loan is severely limited by SBA regulations.

In short, the SBA is acting as an insurance company, and the bank is the client. The SBA doesn't want to pay out unless they absolutely must, and so they limit the bank's ability to be flexible with the borrower. I know, this sounds crazy, but it's how the system is put together.

So, understanding that the guarantee is just for the bank, what happens next?

Well, after the SBA pays the bank, the SBA comes after you, the borrower, for the deficiency. The full deficiency. For example: if you borrowed $500,000, your company failed, and the bank got 80% repaid from the SBA ($400,000), you figure that your personal guarantee would be limited to owing the SBA $100,000, right? Wrong. The SBA will look to you for the full $500,000.

In any case, if you are faced with a default, you need help. Even though the bank has limited ability to be flexible, there are ways to settle the debt with the bank AND the SBA. Find yourself a knowledgeable, ethical, professional who can help you through this process and you can actually save your company, save your house, and settle the personal guarantees for pennies on the dollar.

How GPS Fleet Tracking Can Improve Safety and Reduce Liability for Your Business

Companies that rely on vehicle fleets have unique costs associated with doing business. Mobile assets require significant capital investment. In addition, fuel and maintenance costs can take up a significant portion of a business's profit margin.

However, there are additional hidden costs that many fleet managers overlook in the course of doing business. Lack of proper safety measures for vehicle fleets can incur significant out-of-pocket expenses, increase liability and put lives in jeopardy.

Many companies find that installing GPS vehicle tracking on their fleet vehicles provides one sure way to improve safety. GPS tracking offers a wide variety of features and benefits that businesses with vehicle fleets can utilise to significantly improve their safety records and protect their business from undue costs.

The Focus on Safety

By improving the safety of drivers and vehicles, businesses can significantly reduce payouts for accidents and violations. Many business owners do not realise that the true cost of an accident is 2 to 10 times more than the direct cost of the accident.

  • The total cost of vehicle accidents include a variety of factors including:
  • Lost time by employees at the scene of the accident
  • Lost revenue because equipment is not producing income
  • Failure to fill orders or meet deadlines
  • Lost time by rescheduling missed jobs
  • Lost time on accident investigations and reports by management
  • Possible increased insurance premiums
  • Public relations damage

You may also be faced with the costs of replacing an injured driver. Costs include advertising the position, time spent in the application process, driver performance tests, drug screening, background checks, orientation, training and much more.

In addition, you will temporarily lose productivity as a new driver will not be as fast and efficient as a veteran driver. And even veteran drivers that do return to work after an accident injury will most likely not be at 100 percent right away.

Injured drivers can also lead to increased workers compensation claims and law suits. Losing claims can lead to significant settlement costs, as well as attorney fees and time spent defending the business.

Improving safety also limits your liability to claims from the public at large. Improper safety can obligate your business to pay damages to people injured in an accident and property damages. Settlement costs for hospitalisation, pain and suffering and other injuries can quickly spiral out of control and ruin your business.

By focusing on safety, your business can decrease insurance costs. An outstanding safety record can lower your risk to insurance providers which may result in lower premiums. In addition, many insurance companies offer rate reductions for additional safety equipment including GPS tracking devices.

A poor safety record may serve as a red flag to clients. Improper safety can result in interrupted service to clients and prompt them to search for other vendors. If your business has a great safety record it can help you keep client contracts and increase renewals.

Government Regulations

Government has long been a proponent of safety. In the UK, the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations lay out safety and maintenance requirements for work vehicles. And in Ireland, work vehicle safety is covered under the Safety, Health and Welfare Work Act 2005.

By law, every employer must make sure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.

Unfortunately, accidents are simply an eventuality if you have a vehicle fleet. However, you can reduce your exposure to accidents and violation by utilising proven safety measures.

GPS vehicle tracking is a proven, cost-effective way for businesses with vehicle fleets to improve safety in the three areas that cost businesses the most: driver behaviour, vehicle maintenance and asset safety.

Improving Driver Behaviour and Reducing Speed

According to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS), 87.2 percent of all at-fault large truck crashes are driver related.

Even with the most aggressive driving policy, you cannot be out on the roadway with all your drivers ensuring proper safety compliance. GPS vehicle tracking has been found extremely useful in giving business owners the ability to monitor and improve driver behaviour.

Speeding is a factor in nearly 23 percent of all at-fault large truck crashes according to the LTCCS. By ensuring your drivers obey the posted speed limits, you can significantly decrease the chances of your vehicles being involved in a serious accident.

Many GPS tracking solutions track vehicle speed and offer extensive alerting features that notify you immediately when a driver has exceeded a speed threshold. These alerts can appear immediately on-screen, be sent via email or mobile phone, or can be flagged in management reports.

Speed alerts allow you to immediately take corrective actions toward the offending driver. In addition, you can access a database of speeding violations for drivers to find those that

continually break speeding policy. This allows you to take more long-term corrective actions to break continual bad driving habits.

Speeding was a major concern for Ian Stirling, owner of Ian Stirling Haulage. Based in Renfew, Ian Stirling Haulage has provided haulage services to its clients throughout Scotland for over 20 years.

Mr. Stirling installed a GPS system on his fleet that includes speeding alerts to notify him if a vehicle exceeds a set speed threshold. The alerts can be set to notify him immediately of an infraction and are also flagged throughout the system's management reports.

As a result of installing GPS tracking, Ian Stirling Haulage has drastically improved safety for its drivers.

"Drivers can sometimes get distracted out on the road," said Mr. Stirling. "GPS tracking helps them keep their speed down and has even changed their driving style."

Driver Confusion and Unauthorised Usage

According to the LTCCS, driver unfamiliarity with the roadway is a factor in 21.6 percent of all at-fault large truck crashes. GPS vehicle tracking solutions that include exceptional mapping functionality can help reduce driver confusion in unfamiliar areas.

GPS tracking systems that use concise mapping, like Google Maps API Premier, can help dispatchers provide proper routing instructions to drivers and get them safely to the next job site. In addition, good GPS tracking includes up-to-the-minute traffic information that can help drivers avoid accidents and other hazards on the roads.

Unauthorised vehicle use by employees opens your business up to a wide range of liability issues. Many businesses allow drivers to take their vehicles home and many even allow drivers to use their vehicles for limited personal use.

Unfortunately, some employees abuse this privilege and use their vehicles for extended unauthorised journeys. If a driver gets into an accident during one of these journeys, your business may be liable for significant financial obligations.

Some GPS tracking solutions feature alerts that notify you when a vehicle starts up or moves during unauthorised hours. In addition, some systems can show you historic route information, so you can see exactly where your vehicles travelled during any time. You will know exactly when an employee used the vehicle, how long they drove the vehicle and where they went.

The historic journey function can even show you if drivers take their vehicles to unauthorised areas during the regularly scheduled work day.

For example, Best Electrical, an electrical contractor based in London, uses GPS vehicle tracking to monitor excessive vehicle mileage and unauthorised vehicle usage on off-days.

According to Robert Ranson, Director of Operations, Best Electrical mainly services maintenance and emergency calls. Technicians are available 24/7, which requires that his engineers take the company vehicles home.

Unfortunately, that meant Mr. Ranson had no idea if the vehicles were being used for unauthorised journeys or if employees were arriving to their first job site on time.

With GPS vehicle tracking, Mr. Ranson can use live tracking to monitor the location and status of all eight vehicles in his fleet. In addition, activity alerts let Mr. Ranson know if an engineer shows up to their first job on time or if they left their house on time in the morning.

"We have significantly reduced personal use of our vehicles since the drivers know I monitor usage," said Mr. Ranson. "And for my own sanity, I now know that my engineers are where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there."

Proof Against Fault

In addition to improving driver behaviour, GPS fleet tracking can be used as proof against fault in accidents and other claims.

Plote Construction Inc., a family-owned construction company based in the United States, used data gathered by its GPS tracking system to avoid serious financial liability resulting from an accident.

According to Eric Villa, Dispatcher at Plote Construction, one of Plote's trucks was involved in a serious accident two years ago. According to Plote's driver, a car was weaving in and out of traffic. The vehicle pulled in front of the truck and slammed on the breaks. The truck swerved to avoid hitting the car and the Plote driver lost control of the truck, rolling the semi over.

The driver of the car had a different story, claiming that the Plote driver was tailgating her and speeding over 110 km/h. Luckily, Mr. Villa had access to GPS tracking reports and could pull up the exact speed and location of their truck before the accident.

The report showed that Plote's driver never exceeded 110 km/h and was not driving aggressively. With this evidence submitted, Plote's driver was found innocent and the company avoided significant legal liabilities.

"Without the GPS tracking, we could have lost that case," said Mr. Villa. "It really worked out great for us."

In addition, Plote Construction often gets calls from customers complaining about cracks in their windshields caused by rocks that have fallen off the company's trucks. Mr. Villa is able to pull up the GPS route replay to see if a truck was in the area at the time and verify the complaint.

"Many of these types of complaints are blatantly false," said Mr. Villa. "When I tell the person that the GPS says no one was on that road at the time, they just hang up."

Proper Vehicle Maintenance

According to the LTCCS, just over 10 percent of all at-fault large truck crashes can be attributed specifically to vehicle factors. Improper vehicle maintenance can lead to accidents in several areas including breaks, tires, engine breakdowns and more.

High-quality GPS tracking solutions include maintenance scheduling that alerts you when vehicles are due for maintenance. Many times, alerts can be set by calendar time, engine on-time or mileage depending on the type of service needed.

With a proactive vehicle maintenance program, you can reduce the chance of your vehicles malfunctioning on the roadways and causing serious accidents. In addition, properly maintained vehicles help save your assets by keeping vehicles on the road to do more business and costing less money in repairs over time.

Protecting Your Mobile Assets

A much-often neglected aspect of safety is the protection of your own assets. Safeguarding your vehicles against theft is essential to prevent serious harm to your business. Stolen vehicles cost more than just the loss of the vehicle itself.

Most stolen vehicles also carry expensive and specialised equipment that must be replaced. In addition, a stolen vehicle means lowered productivity which may ultimately result in losing customers. GPS vehicle tracking provides clear benefits for asset safety.

Engine start-up alerts can be triggered to immediately notify you when vehicles are started during non-working hours. With up-to-the-minute tracking by high-quality GPS providers, you will know exactly where any stolen vehicle is located. Just by looking at the screen you can tell officers on the case where to look for your vehicle.

In addition, many high-quality tracking solutions have a route replay feature which can help you track down stolen equipment. In many cases, equipment from a stolen vehicle is unloaded before the vehicle is recovered.

With route replay, you can see where the vehicle stopped on its journey after being stolen and have police search those areas for the stolen equipment.

Signature Car Hire in Middlesex, UK offers a wide variety of prestigious vehicles for hire and utilizes its GPS tracking system to protect its assets. When your vehicle fleet includes brands like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and Rolls Royce, security becomes a top priority.

Deepak Bhatia, Managing Director of Signature Car Hire, knows the exact location of every vehicle in his fleet using GPS tracking. This is especially useful considering that their vehicles are very expensive and highly desirable to would-be thieves.

"We highly value the peace of mind we get from knowing where all our cars are at any given time," said Mr. Bhatia. "We get an enhanced feeling of security from GPS because the system offers many functions which are beneficial to our business."

The GPS system used by Signature Car Hire notifies the company if a vehicle goes outside areas specified for client use. For example, if a client says they are in Cardiff but the GPS tracking shows the vehicle located in Scotland, Mr. Bhatia can closely monitor the client and contact them for clarification.

In addition, should a vehicle move to a port - a sure sign of possible theft in progress - Mr. Bhatia would know immediately and be able to contact authorities for quick action.

Finding the Right GPS Tracking for Safety

Businesses all over the world are now using GPS vehicle tracking to improve the safety of their vehicle fleets. With new regulatory enforcement on the horizon and the prospect of losing your business to safety violations, it's more important than ever for businesses to take a long hard look at how GPS tracking can further improve their safety record.

There is no doubt that GPS tracking can help your company improve the safety of your vehicle fleet. However, there are a few things you should look for when choosing a GPS tracking system for safety reasons:

  • Live Vehicle Tracking: Some GPS systems refresh vehicle locations at intervals up to 5 minutes. That allows too much time to elapse for a thief to be accurately tracked. The best systems refresh every minute to provide you with accurate, current tracking data.
  • Tracking Speed: The GPS solution you choose should have the capability to track vehicle speed. In addition, the system should alert you when drivers exceed speed thresholds you set.
  • Management Reports: A comprehensive reporting suite is essential for any great GPS tracking solution. The reports should highlight any improper driver behavior, including unauthorised usage and speeding. In addition, reports can provide you with accurate, location-based information that can stand up in the court of law should you ever need to defend your business.
  • Alerts: Make sure the GPS system you install has robust alerting features. Alerts should be customisable with various delivery options including email, mobile and within the reporting functions of the system. You should be able to set alerts for when a vehicle is started or shut down and when a vehicle enters a specific point of interest.
  • Route Replay: A good GPS tracking system will include the ability to track any historic journey taken by any vehicle. This allows you to see where any stolen vehicle has travelled in order to recover any stolen equipment dropped by the thieves.
  • Maintenance Scheduling: Choose a GPS solution that includes a complete maintenance program. You should be able to set vehicle maintenance based on calendar time, engine on time or mileage as needed.

Claiming For Loss Of Business

Commercial Loss of business

Theft, Burglary and Floods are not always straightforward. A business owner may be faced with loss of computer records, loss of stock and consequential losses.

Business interruption is inevitable, but what happens to the family and staff? Will the business have a future?

These events can cause closure for long periods. As a hardworking business owner you will ponder, how will you pay rent, pay your staff?

How you will live, start again quickly who will pay the high costs involved. You will need the expert guidance of a loss assessor to guide you through these areas

Flood Damage

Water damage to a home or business is not a pleasant experience. What may appear a minor incident can often turn into a disaster.

The first few days are often critical in making a successful claim. You want to be contacted within 24 hours of the incident to ensure the initial findings of the insurance company representative, fully covers all aspects of your claim.

You want a company that will ensure correct chemical sanitisation is carried out anti- fungal treatments are used prior to installation of humidifiers. This ensures dry rot wet rot is not given a chance to take hold.

Subsidence

Subsidence at your home can be catastrophic. A home is generally considered to be the most valuable asset people possess. Before an insurance company accepts you have a valid claim, investigations such as trial holes soil test drainage tests and monitoring will be carried out.

These can take a considerable period of time meanwhile you will endure the trauma of seeing your home falling apart. A loss Assessor will prepare your claim ensuring your interests are covered not just those of the insurance company.

You may wish to sell your house in the future. If the remedial works have not been carried out to the correct specifications it will be spotted by the purchaser's surveyor which may make selling difficult. Appoint a loss assessor to avoid this possibility

Fire

Fire is a traumatic disaster whether large or small which sometimes requires alternative accommodation, storage of property and protection against further damage or theft.

Damage can affect all areas, acrid and corrosive effects of smoke may linger and present health hazards as well as damaging contents and d├ęcor. Fire damage will cause unseen damage to electronic equipment which may be corrosive. It may not be visible when making an inventory but become obvious many months later when equipment fails and the claim has been settled.

Your assessor will ensure all electronic equipment is fully tested and cleaned inside despite no sign of external damage.

It is vital you call an assessor immediately after the fire and not wait until the insurance company adjuster visits. Remember stress levels should be minimal especially where children are part of the household. We can lift the burden from you contact us.

Personal Injury

Personal injury wherever and however caused is traumatic and should you seek our assistance we will immediately pass you onto our retained solicitors.

Simple Personal Finance Management Tips

It is important that we start saving for a rainy day as early and as soon as possible. Personal finance management is essential in today's day. In today's capitalist society most people don't think twice about taking loans to buy unnecessary and expensive things. The recession however has woken up most people and scared them into learning to manage their finances. Because of the daunting nature of this task or because of insufficient knowledge most people never know how to effectively manage their finances.

Getting started

There are many steps to follow during personal finance management. These are some of the most essential ones you need to know to get you started.

Prepare your Budget

Preparing a budget will help you to curb overspending. Total your net income from all sources like work salary, any mutual funds, alimony, etc. Prepare a list of all your monthly expenditures and how much it is going to cost. These would include your bills, shopping and household budget, insurance premiums, etc. This is a great way to learn to adjust your expenses and create an estimate of your actual monthly expenses.

Saving

After preparing a budget the next thing you need to do is save money. Preparing a budget gives you an idea of where you overspend. Depending on your income, open a saving account and contribute a suitable percentage of it towards your account. This account should be used only in the case of emergencies.

Invest

Investing is a great way to earn a little extra income. The best place to invest is in the mutual fund of a reputed company. There is minimum risk involved when investing in mutual funds compared to other stocks. Further more you can leave the worrying caused as a result of volatile stock markets to experienced and professional fund managers.

Insure

Insurance is a great way to secure your future. It also reduces the risk of needing to empty out your saving account in the case of an emergency. You must at least take out insurance for your house, car and life. Choose a reputable company whose premium rates suit your income to avoid defaulting and wasting your money.

Tax Planning and Retirement Planning

Plan your tax so as to minimize the amount of your taxes. Reducing your income will bring down your taxable income. An easy way to do this is to contribute towards a retirement plan at work. As a result you can also plan for your retirement while planning your tax. You can also deduct your taxable income by donating to charity. State tax and mortgage interest will also deduct your taxable income. Having more dependents or getting married is another way to deduct your taxable income. You can also get tax credits for adopting children or college expenses.

Personal finance management gets more complicate every year; these simple tips are all you need to get started.

Having a Good Chiropractic Business Plan Is a Crucial First Step in Opening Your Practice

A good chiropractic business plan can help new chiropractors get on the right foot in starting and running a successful chiropractic office. It can provide a framework from which to make strategic decisions during the course of setting up a chiropractic clinic. Many chiropractors who fail to conceptualize a business plan find themselves struggling as they don't have a consistent chiropractic business model that delivers results.

Starting a chiropractic practice involves a lot of foresight and planning. It is not as easy to do as it was just ten years ago. Changes in insurance, attitudes, the economy and the way society makes buying decision demand new strategies for setting up a chiropractic office.

For example, there are less insurance companies now as many have merged. As a consequence, there is less competition, higher prices and less service. Insurance coverage for chiropractic has fallen by as much as 50% for some plans. In addition, high deductible plans are now much more common. Most people, especially in a tough economy, strive to spend the least amount of money on health care if they are covered by insurance, so they will typically forgo services that are not covered under their plan.

A good chiropractic business model will therefore take this into account and will advocate a set up that can absorb this loss of income. This basically means designing a low overhead chiropractic office. This can be done much easier today thanks to advances in the internet and wireless devices. Chiropractors must integrate available technology tools to help reduce their overhead. In doing so, it integrates the office with the technology that people increasingly rely on in their daily routines. This includes using Google, Facebook; iPhones and wireless internet.

If you are contemplating starting a chiropractic office, or are an established chiropractor in search of a better chiropractic business plan or chiropractic business model, consider the low overhead business model that leverages technology. As a doctor, it is necessary to not be too burdened with the stress of running your business so that you can truly focus on patient care.

Purchasing Medication From Abroad - What You Need to Know

Medications from Abroad - What You Need to Know

Many of us have heard about cheaper medications that can be purchased outside the United States. These purchases are usually made on-line and in most cases are made from pharmacies operating in Israel or Canada. Given the passing of the new "Health Care Reform" (which is a topic of much discussion by itself) - it is a good time to take a look at this phenomenon and see what it is all about.

The first thing one must ask oneself is why?

Why purchase medications from outside the United States? The answer is simple, one can get the same brand name medications abroad for far less money - in some cases even up to a 500% saving (yes you read that right). For example Azilect a Parkinson's medication manufactured by Teva (an Israeli company that happens to be the world's largest manufacturer of medications) can be purchased abroad for about $190 - where as that same medication cost $385 at your local pharmacy (that makes a 50% saving). Now the reason for this amazing saving is simple - prescription drug pricing in the US is not Government regulated therefore the prices they charge are high. Don't blame your local pharmacist - he is making a small margin for all the work he does.

You might not realize this but there are a number of reasons for one to purchase medications abroad. First of all, there are about 49 Million Americans that don't have any health insurance at all. The reasons why they don't have insurance are many -some are unemployed, or decided not to take insurance, some are self-employed the bottom line is that they don't have any coverage and medications without coverage are very expensive. So for them buying medication abroad can save them literally thousands of dollars.

A second group of people that can benefit from medications abroad are those people on Medicare who have reached the Medicare gap. The Medicare gap is a clever way the federal government gives people coverage - but does not give them coverage. It is commonly referred to as the "donut hole". The "donut hole" means that if your prescription medications reach the sum of $2,830 and until your durg medication cost pass $6,440 - one will pay 100% out of pocket (hence the terminology "gap" or "donut hole"). Furthermore, a Medicare patient actually pays the first $310 out of pocket as well - making the total payments up till $6,440 equal to $4,550 out of pocket. According to the new health care plan this is supposed to be phased out by 2020 - but many are skeptical about what will really happen.

The last group of people that can benefit from purchasing medications abroad are those people with a large deductible or a high co-payment. So for example if someone has a $2000 deductible on his policy and he needs to take $3000 worth of medication a year - if he can purchase his medications at a 50% discount he will be paying $1500 annually and he will save himself $500 - and not have to bother with insurance company reimbursement.

One of the questions commonly asked by people is "How do I know the medications I purchase from abroad are good quality?" There are a couple of things you need to look out for.

1. The source of the medications and the type of medications. The source of the medications is exactly that - where do they ultimately come from? For example, one can purchase medicines from a foreign pharmacy in Canada and the medications can come from India, the Philippines, Turkey or Israel. Therefore you should not say - I will not purchase medications from abroad - rather you should make sure where the medications are supplied from. Purchasing medications from Israel is a very safe way to go as Israel is a world leader in Bio-Technology and is proud to have the world's largest generic (and lately original) pharmaceutical company - Teva.

2. The type of medication you are purchasing. If you are buying a branded medication (say Lipitor) then it is the same as if you buy locally (in some cases it is sold under a different name outside the US - but it is still the same medication). The medication is made under license or by the manufacturer in plants throughout the world. If you are buying a generic brand then you should be sure that it comes from a pharmacy in a country that has standards acceptable to you (like Israel).

3. Dosage and strength of the medications you are purchasing.

4. Pack size, At times you will find that medications with the same name can be sold with a different pack. For example, you might be purchasing your medication in a standard 30 day pack - while abroad it is sold in a 28 day pack

The way to avoid any difficulties is to deal with a reputable pharmacy that has a clear description of the medication on the company web site, or by calling and speaking directly to the pharmacy. You should never purchase prescription medication from a store that does not require you to send in (or fax) an original prescription.

In general ordering from a pharmacy operating outside the US is easy, convenient and can save you a substantial amount of money. The process is straight forward and requires you to provide a current prescription and some information about yourself and your credit card. In most cases the medication should be delivered to your door in a week or so. Be sure to pay attention to delivery times as regular international delivery (as opposed to expedited shipping) can take up to 2-3 weeks to arrive. This should be OK - if you don't need the medication urgently.

One of the better places to purchase medications is from Israel whose health ministry closely follows FDA guidelines. Furthermore, Israel is home to the worlds largest generic manufacturer - Teva.

In conclusion, purchasing prescription medications outside the United States is convenient, easy and can save you money. Paying attention to which pharmacy you use and some minor naming and packing changes can really make a difference to ones budget during these difficult financial times.

Could a Reverse Mortgage Be a Retirement Solution for You

Reverse Mortgage Pros and Cons

Understanding reverse mortgage pros and cons is becoming more important what with America's population aging, home prices falling, the stock market crash of 2008 still not having been recovered from, the value of the dollar diminishing and a whole host of other financial concerns, it is likely that now more than ever the answer to the question "how are we going to live the life we hoped for?" may be found in the reverse mortgage. This often misunderstood and sometimes feared product could just be the difference between being comfortable in retirement and not retiring at all.

Let's take the reverse mortgage head on and look at the pros and cons. By reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of the reverse mortgage you will not only gain a better understanding of the powerful impact it could have on your life, but you should be able to set aside any fears you have had in the past. With a little counseling from a qualified expert you should then be able to determine without a doubt if the reverse mortgage is the right move for you.

I like to focus on the positive. So let's look at reverse mortgage pros first.

• It allows you to convert home equity into non-taxable income without having to sell your home
• The reverse mortgage allows many people whose home is their largest asset to convert that highly illiquid and passive asset to a very liquid asset that can be actively invested.
• With a reverse mortgage you never have to pay the loan back as long as you live in the property as your primary residence, keep the home maintained, and pay your taxes, insurance and HOA dues (if applicable).
• This one's the biggie; you will never...never under any circumstances, owe more than your home is worth. Neither will your heirs in the event you leave the home to them in your estate.
• Here's another biggie; you will never again have a mortgage payment.
• Something many people don't understand is that you can actually sell your home or even refinance out of a reverse mortgage in the future. Obviously you will need enough equity or cash on hand for either situation, and in the event you wish to refinance you would likely need to qualify for the new loan.
• This is a grossly underutilized retirement tool: you can place a reverse mortgage on an owner occupied income property of up to four units.
• You can use the proceeds of the loan to make maintenance repairs to your home to get it up to FHA appraisal standards.
• The loan is paid in full, along with any capital gains upon the homeowner's death. This is an effective way to defer capital gains to death and possibly completely remove them from the estate.
• There are no income or credit requirements* for a reverse mortgage.
• You can purchase a new home with a reverse mortgage. Again, without income or credit requirements.
• The note has no recourse. This means the lender cannot seek assets other than the available equity in the home for repayment of the loan. Again, the borrower and their heirs will never owe more than the home is worth.
• That being said, in a falling equity environment, the lender is the only party with asset devaluation risk.
• In many cases you will not only rid yourself of your current mortgage payment, but you may actually have the ability to structure the loan to pay you a monthly amount.
• Cash flow from the reverse mortgage will not affect social security and Medicare.
• There are no prepayments penalties
• Finally, all closing costs can be paid for with proceeds from the loan assuming there is sufficient equity to do so.

*While there are no restrictions regarding credit scores or history you cannot complete a reverse mortgage and have an outstanding federal lien or judgment. The government must be paid in full before or at closing.

O.K. Now for the negatives; there are some, although generally speaking, the reverse mortgage is either a great option for you and has very few drawbacks or it is simply not the right option. Here we go:

• As with any loan, there are costs associated with the reverse mortgage. These are generally in line with those of a conventional or FHA refinance and they are considerably lower than those of selling your home.
• Interest accrued on a reverse mortgage cannot be deducted until the loan has been paid in full.
• While there are no income or credit requirements for the loan, the borrower does need to have enough equity in the home to facilitate the mortgage. This is a rough estimate and by no means should it be used to disqualify yourself, but generally the home owner should have 30% give or take 5% equity in the home. In other words, if your current loan balance is higher than 70% of the value of your home there will need to be additional cash brought to the table.
• The home owner still needs to pay property taxes, home owner's insurance, and any applicable HOA fees after taking out their reverse. I'm reaching here. It's not really a con but it is something of which you should be aware.
• The home will need to be appraised and while you can escrow for some items to be repaired, a home in disrepair could be unqualified or could fall short on the necessary equity for closing.
• There is a mortgage insurance expense with a reverse mortgage as it is a HUD loan. This effectively increases the interest rate on your loan.
• There is an age requirement. The youngest homeowner must be 62 years of age or older to qualify. The calculation used to determine the amount of your loan is based on the youngest owner.
• A reverse mortgage may affect needs based programs other than Social Security and Medicare. It would be worth a phone call to your case worker if you are a recipient just to be on the safe side.
• On purchases there are no seller contributions allowed.
• Finally, the loan will reduce the equity in your home.

After reviewing the lists of advantages and disadvantages for reverse mortgage loans if you think it might be an option for you your next step would be to contact a reputable lender in your area. Then you will be given contact information for a couple of local counseling agencies that will act as a third party information source. The process is pretty simple and may just be the best thing you ever did for your retirement plan.

IVF Cost - Your Top Questions Answered!

IVF cost can be very expensive; be sure you know exactly what you are paying for. Not all clinics charge the same, so be sure to do your research. Common questions about IVF costs:

1. How much will IVF cost?

IVF will cost an average of $12,000. You will be paying at least $10,000 and maybe even up to $15,000 depending on your area. The costs listed are for a standard IVF procedure. This does not include assisted hatching, ICSI, or egg/sperm donation.

2. Can I get a "packaged deal" on IVF?

Yes you can. Some clinics offer programs for multiple IVF's. You pay a lump sum, usually around $30,000, for a few chances at IVF. Some clinics will even return a portion of this money if you do not have success after the third IVF. When considering this option please think about your chances of becoming pregnant using IVF. If your chances are good you may not want to go for this option. For example, you and your partner have to go through IVF because your tubes have been removed. Your fertility is good, other than the fact that the sperm cannot get to the egg. You decide to do the package deal, but end up having a baby on the first try. Now you have spent $30,000 on an IVF cycle that should have cost you $12,000. I am not telling you to rule it out, because it can be a great option for some people. Most people don't get pregnant on the first try.

3. Does insurance cover IVF?

Some people are lucky enough to have insurance cover IVF, but most insurance only covers a certain number of tries, or it does not cover it at all! You may want to check into this before beginning your IVF cycle. If your insurance does not cover IVF and you can find a job easily in your area, then you may even want to consider changing jobs to a company that has IVF coverage.

4. Are there any hidden fees?

If you want to do ICSI, assisted hatching or use donor eggs or sperm, then there will be additional charges. When deciding if you want to use any of these methods please keep in mind the fact that they can increase your chances of success, and in the long run they can lower the cost of IVF.

Tips On PPI Claims

Like taxes, illness and death are inevitable. These are some of the hard facts of life. While everyone does wish to be of good health all the time, this is just sometimes not granted to some people. One of the reasons why most people want to be healthy is for them to be able to regularly perform their tasks such as performing their job, or earning a living. In the conventional household set-up, there are a lot of expenses that need to be incurred for food, shelter, and clothing. Moreover, there is also some other needs that need to be addressed to. As such, in order to meet all these needs, man has to work and earn a living.

On the other hand, there are also some circumstances which require some people to make loans or borrow money. Most of these circumstances include emergency situations such as accidents, illness, and calamities, among others. When these things happen, people normally resort to loans and credit, most especially if there is money saved for these unexpected events. Getting a loan is not that difficult though because there are a lot of credit establishments and banks that offer loan services. However, in getting a loan, one should consider getting payment protection insurance.

Payment protection insurance is actually an insurance that covers the repayments of some of the loans you made in cases where you might not be able to work anymore because of an accident or an illness. Furthermore, if your job is into redundancy, your payment protection insurance can cover for the repayment of your loans as well. Now, this is certainly something that people should get in order to protect themselves and their loans in situations when they are not capable of paying the loans already.

However, the reclaiming of PPI claims is not as easy as it should be because of some unethical practices of a few salesmen. Thus, if you wish to apply for PPI claims, you should first fill up the standard questionnaire which also serves as your complaint form. It is very important that you fill up this questionnaire carefully and provide the correct and appropriate details and information. Moreover, you need to check if the company that sold the PPI to you is registered with FSA in order to make the claim.

It should be noted that in filing PPI claims, people are usually denied the first time. This should not stop you from pursuing your claims though. You have to write another letter to the company and inform them that you will be forwarding your letter to the financial ombudsman if they continue to deny your claims. The company will eventually send you an offer to settle. When this happens, you can either accept or deny it. Although most of the time, things are settles peacefully, sometimes they don't. Thus if you want a faster and easier way of filing for PPI claims, you can always seek the services of PPI claims assistance online.

Electronic Medical Record Software: For Doctors and Patients

Physicians who want to be on the cutting edge of today's medical market must investigate electronic medical record software. Such a system will help run their everyday tasks and run a smooth and efficient office for themselves and their patients.

Although electronic medical record software can be a costly layout of funds at first, the benefits far outweigh the costs in the long run when it comes to running an efficient medical practice. And patients will come to greatly appreciate the modernized way of running the practice they frequent.

For example, one simple thing that patients will immediately notice once your practice is utilizing electronic medical record software is they no longer will need to have a prescription written out, brought to the druggist and wait for it to be filled or return later to pick up the medicine. Instead, using the new medical software system, the physician can input the prescription directly to the pharmacy of a patient's choice. Time is saved and the clarity of prescriptions printed out directly via an electronic system allows for less misreading of a doctor's scribbled notes. This, though, is merely the tip of the iceberg in listing the advantages of having an electronic medical record system.

Both patients, staff and doctors win when EMR software is installed in your office set-up. For one thing, patient's health histories, lab results and consults with other doctors are all in one place: on their computer record, which would be backed up on a main server and on printed computer paper which is put into the patient's file. This allows for coordinating the health needs of patients. When it comes to a patient's health, it's best if one hand knows what the other hand is doing. Physicians would have access to records using electronic medical record software and immediately know the history, the test results and what other professionals have noted concerning the diagnoses. This saves time and money (especially time) in phone calls, e-mails and faxes between doctors.

One of the most time-consuming tasks a doctor's staff has involves insurance billing and record keeping. A good electronic medical record system can manage the tangle of insurance billing with relative ease and efficiency. Billing in a medical office involves a complicated set of procedures that takes a great deal of time. Diagnoses, results and patient's tests are coded and bills are sent to insurance companies which, in most cases, is an often long and grueling process. Electronic medical record software can cut the time this all takes in half. The coding of each diagnosis is automatically put in, taken from the recorded medical record of the patient. The coded bill is then transmitted directly to the insurance company. Electronic medical record software speeds up the time it takes for doctors to get paid or for patients to be reimbursed for monies they've already paid out to doctors.

The safety of patients makes having electronic medical record software highly desirable. When all of a patient's illnesses, test results, medications issues and allergies are listed in one place, available for other physicians to see, it ensures the safety of the patient. Other physicians will not prescribe certain medicines if they see that it might interact with what the patient is already taking. Not everyone is so quick to remember what medications they take or the dosages, nor are they apt to remember a specific illness they've had in the past. But all of that information would be included on the patient's EMR system chart.

For safety, convenience, efficiency and a modernized medical practice, electronic medical record software is something to investigate and to ultimately integrate into any medical office system.

Fishing Trips - What to Look for When Going on a Charter Boat

Whether you're used to being on a boat enjoying the sun and catching fish, or have never done it before, it could be a good time to take fishing trips. While you could decide to do it on your own, this isn't advised since there's a lot you need to know, not just to have fun, but also for your safety. Explore a few details to keep in mind when choosing a charter boat service to take you out in the water.

All the basics included
There are many details involved when deciding to go out in the water on fishing trips. If you've never done it before, it's certainty not the time to be adventurous. It's best to go on a charter and that way you're sure you have pro sailing the waters for you. Also, if you go on a charter instead of by yourself, many things are included such as gas, tackle box, rods and reels, drinks and they'll even clean and pack the fish for you. If you go alone, you have to deal with all these things on your own.

Captains are experienced and licensed
Another good thing about taking fishing trips with professional charter boats is that there is an experienced and licensed captain on board. This captain can give you tips on how to catch a great fish, no matter your experience. Also, you'll have peace of mind that you are safe on the waters. Most of these captains have extensive years of experience and can handle the unexpected. Getting on the water when you aren't comfortable doing so or don't have the experience is a bad idea.

Are insured
Even with the most experienced captain, there are things that can go wrong in fishing trips. And if you're in a situation where there are monetary fees involved, you will feel at ease knowing the charter boat is insured. While you may never have an experience where you'll need insurance, it sure is nice to know the charter is insured in case something unexpected happens.

Practices safety at all times
No matter what, you want to be safe on your fishing trips. You're out on open water and often times numerous miles away from land. You do not want a captain to be careless or worse, drinking while on the water. The whole point of getting out on the boat in the first place is to have a good time and catch some fish. You don't want any horsing around of rowdiness, so be sure to ask the captain of the charter what is and isn't tolerated on the boat.

Helps novices feel at ease
For some people, getting on a boat for fishing trips can be a bit scary. So if you are searching around hoping to find a good service to take you out in the water, make sure the captain is easy going and has a reputation for helping passengers feel safe, especially if it's the first time they've gone fishing. This can be all the different between an average time and a fabulous time.

Helpful Information in Trucking Litigation

My parents owned a very successful trucking company in Tehachapi, California. I watched first-hand the hard work that went into managing and maintaining a trucking business. If you have never driven a big rig, bus, or other high profile vehicle, it is easy to forget how hard it is to stop these vehicles in an emergency. The legal weight of an 18-wheeler is 80,000 lbs. In comparison, the average automobile weighs around 5,000 lbs. The length of time to stop an 18-wheeler is 40% greater than that of an automobile. Combine the huge difference in weight with the speeds of the vehicles, and it is easy to see why so many trucking collisions end in fatalities or catastrophic injuries.

This article will discuss some of the basic elements in trucking litigation:

A. Random Facts About the Trucking Industry:

• Some truck drivers carry cameras in their trucks in order to take photographs of an accident scene if their truck is involved.
• Some tanker trucks carry rollover warning devices. Actual warnings may be entered into a data logging unit that is an electronic memory device that records data on truck and component performance and may later be downloaded.
• General Motors cars have been fitted with Black Boxes since 1990. Data stored on GMC vehicles manufactured in years 1999 to 2002 will include engine speed, vehicle speed, throttle position and brake status 5 seconds before impact.
• If the incident occurred on a bridge, it may have been videotaped. Some governmental agencies videotape bridge activity for traffic flow purposes.

B. Potential Defendants:

1. Tractor: Potential defendants related to the tractor include the owner, driver, and /or lessee.
2. Trailer: Potential defendants related to the trailer include the owner, driver of the tractor, and/or lessee.
3. Shipper: The truck load is loaded and unloaded at a shipper's premises.
4. Freight Broker: The person, other than a motor carrier, who provides, sells, or arranges for transportation by a motor carrier for compensation in interstate or foreign commerce.
5. Third Party: Sometimes a third party will maintain and supply all of the pallets and boards used by shippers and carriers as platforms for the carriage of freight. In accidents involving loading or unloading, there is potential liability on this other party.

C. Minimum Insurance Requirements:

Confirming all insurance available is critical. It is important to confirm if there are multiple primary insurers covering the tractor-trailer rig. The minimum insurance requirements are contained in 49 CFR § 387.9. They range from $750,000; $1,000,000; and $5,000,000. Oftentimes, there are multiple layers of umbrella coverage.

D. Requirements for the Driver Qualification File:

49 CFR § 391.51 requires a motor carrier to maintain a driver qualification file for each driver it employs. The file must contain the following:

1. The driver's application for employment completed in accordance with 49 CFR § 391.21.
2. Written responses from previous employers and state agencies contacted as per 49 CRF § 391.23 involving investigations and inquiries of the driver's driving and employment record during the 3 years preceding the application for employment.
3. The certificate of driver's road test issued to the driver pursuant to 49 CRF § 391.31(e) or a copy of the license or its equivalent accepted pursuant to 49 CFR § 391.33.
4. Written responses from state agencies of every state in which the driver held a CDL in the previous 12 months to the motor carrier's annual driver record inquiry pursuant to CFR § 391.25(a).
5. A note naming the person who reviewed the driver's driving record and the date of the review pursuant to 49 CFR § 391.25(c)(2).
6. A list or certification furnished to the motor carrier by the driver setting forth all traffic violations for which the driver was convicted or forfeited bond or collateral during the past 12 months pursuant to 49 CFR § 391.27.
7. The medical examiner's certificate or a legible copy of the driver's physical qualifications to drive a commercial motor vehicle as required by 49 CRF § 391.43(f).
8. Any letter of waiver of a physical qualification, if issued, pursuant to 49 CFR § 391.49.

The motor carrier is required to retain the driver qualification file for as long as the driver is employed and for 3 years thereafter.

E. Annual Review:

49 CFR § 391.25 requires a motor carrier to review the driving record of each driver it employs on an annual basis to determine whether the driver meets minimum requirements for safe driving or is disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle pursuant to 49 CFR § 391.15.

The Best Annuity Rates Are Just One Factor to Look at When Buying Annuities for Your Retirement

When you shop around for an annuity and talk with insurance brokers about it, one of the come-ons you are likely to hear from these brokers as to why you should buy their products is that they have the best annuity rates available in the market. It is certainly nice to get the best annuity rates possible when you make your own retirement investment, but you should know that interest rates are just one part of the picture. There are other considerations that you have to look at.

You see, offering the so-called best annuity rates in the market is one way by which insurance companies entice customers to buy their products. But just because they offer high interest rates, it doesn't mean that the product - or the company, for that matter - is good.

Stability Matters

Rather than looking at the interest rates of the annuity you are going to buy, you should do a background check of the company offering the investment plan. Is it a stable, debt-free company? Does it boast of a triple-A rating from various rating agencies?

The stability of the insurance company with which you will invest your retirement money is crucial. Remember that your annuity is money you will rely upon for your retirement, when you can no longer work as much as you used to. Thus, the company you choose should be an organization that you believe will continue to exist for many, many years, regardless of the economic situation. If you put your trust in the wrong organization, you may end up losing everything.

Your Personal Needs Matter

And then you have your personal needs to consider. For example, if you want your spouse or beneficiaries to enjoy the money you have invested, you should get a joint-life annuity. If you want them not to worry about paying for your funeral and whatever expenses you may have incurred when you pass on, you may want to get an annuity that also offers life insurance. Checking out what perks the annuity comes with, such as annual bonuses, won't be so bad either.

It is not enough that you invest your money on a plan that offers the best annuity rates. Interest rates are not the only factors that will guarantee whether your investment is good or not. Assess your needs and arm yourself with the right information before you buy your annuity.

Making an Accident Compensation Claim

If you have been injured in an accident at work or while you were on somebody else's property then you could be eligible to make a claim. Making a claim is not about taking out a personal vendetta because you got injured but rather it is making sure that you don't have to bear the cost of any recovery or other damages as a result of somebody's negligence or failure to provide you with a safe and secure environment to do your work.

Many people are reluctant to make a claim because they don't want to go through the process of getting all of the documents and putting themselves in an awkward position with their boss, building owner or other responsible party. In the case of a workplace injury there are other laws that will protect you against any discrimination from your employer and any other unfair treatment as a result of making a claim in fact some employers will encourage it to help improve their workplace policies.

In the case of a motor accident then it is a legal requirement that the responsible party pay for any damages. It is up to you however to take the appropriate action in gathering information about any injuries that you may have sustained so that your legal representation can provide this to the insurance agent when it comes time for you to either make your claim or settle the incident.

A measure of composure is needed when making a claim and at times it can be difficult because of the number of people that will try and take advantage of your situation. The responsible party may try and pressure you into withdrawing your claim or may themselves withhold information from you that you may need. Should this be the case then you should let the proper authorities handle the matter be it the police or even your own insurance company.

It is important to deal with people that you are comfortable with and finding a reputable insurance company and legal representative is paramount particularly in large cases. It is important to start gathering information and evidence as soon as you can after the incident occurs. The documents that the insurer will deem appropriate will be things like police and medical records and also managers reports that are on the company's letter head along with the testimony of any witnesses.

Professional Employer Organization Disadvantages (Actually Myths)

A commonly asked question we receive from small business owners asks if there are disadvantages to creating a relationship with a PEO. We have decided that this would be a great article to put together; to dispel some of the myths concerning PEO disadvantages. Many of these perceptions, while understandable, are not backed up by any facts.

First off let us review the common PEO services, followed by the 'disadvantages' of professional employer organizations. Today, PEOs provide small businesses access to expertise in human resources, payroll, tax management, benefit administration and HR compliance management. In addition, PEO's transfer risk away from the small business by providing assistance in putting together and administering best practices in employment, employment policies and procedures. Some of the methods they use are seemingly simple, yet they are vital to ensure compliance such as developing employee handbooks, providing a risk assessment, or procedures concerning employment policies. Some PEO companies will also provide access to recruitment, background screening, and discounted drug testing services, all of which lower the level of risk on your small business. Also, as the shared employer of record, PEOs will take on the burden of handling or fighting unemployment claims and workers' comp payments.

The advantages of using professional employer organizations are not specific to one industry, which is why long term growth projections are expected to continue even during an economic downturn such as the one that started in 2009. Simply put, more business owners are considering using PEOs in their HR departments, knowing that these work related issues take up too much time and take them away from their core business. So having our quick review, what are the apparent PEO disadvantages, and why do we believe them to be a myth?

The PEO Disadvantage Myth List

Myth #1 - "I will lose control over my employees."
Today, this can't be further from the truth. The PEO client services agreement is executed between both you and the professional employer organization of your choice. The determination of the rights of you as the employer and the PEO as the co-employer are outlined for all to understand. If you find anything that does not appear correct, by all means, inquire about it. We also recommend a quick review by legal counsel. Losing control is a myth as PEO's today share the burden of employment, but you may hire, fire,
and give raises without the PEO getting involved.

Myth #2 - "A PEO is actually a payroll provider with medical benefits."
This concern has been voiced because the PEO and is relatively unknown in many of the 50 United States. Although small businesses in Florida, California and Texas are very familiar with the concept, the other 47 states are not so enlightened. Ultimately the PEO does take care of payroll, but the sharing of risk and burden of employment are well beyond the definition of a payroll provider.

Myth #3 - "A PEO will be confusing to my employees."
This myth, like most others, can be handled with proper communication. In fact, the PEO will even provide assistance in outlining the many benefits the employees will now have available to them. Additionally, employees will be thankful that they have someone other than yourself to answer typical employee benefits and other related questions. Now, can employees get confused? Yes, but with the proper planning, (not too much, mind you,) you can reassure employees that you are still the boss, now providing them with more than the typical small business benefits you had prior to the PEO relationship.

Myth #4 - "I still need to work with an insurance broker."
This is an interesting myth, one that we have heard a couple of times. While there are a number of brokers that provide assistance in selecting a PEO, there are many PEO brokers that do not resell medical or other insurance. Therefore, this one is entirely up to you. If you have a great relationship with your broker, by all means, continue working with them. However, the PEO is a one stop shop for many services, and can more than make up for a broker that is not responsive to your needs. Remember, PEO's are not insurance companies and do not sell insurance, but simply provide you with medical and other benefits under the 'employment umbrella' as if you were a much larger organization.

Myth #5 - "PEO's are expensive."
PEO's, as we stated above, are not payroll only providers, but provide a full level of employment related services. While the cost of these additional services are more than a payroll vendor, a simple review of the true costs of your time can be the difference in your decision. We believe there is a true ROI in working with a PEO, and have provided a few thoughts as you review a PEO for your needs. Examples of savings include:

- Retaining your best employees

- Saving time learning and understanding compliance issues

- Reducing administrative time on payroll and payroll tax compliance

- Less time (for you) finding medical and other benefits for employees

- Cost containment on the burden of medical costs

So, as we started out the professional employer organization disadvantages are really not disadvantages. We believe any small business with an employee base between 1 and 100 should consider a PEO as an option outside of the typical payroll outsource option. You are provided with more services, less work and a better way to retain your employees - which means an easier time for you in leveraging your business for growth.

SSA's Compassionate Allowance Cuts SSDI Approval Time From Months to Days

It can take months for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to determine the eligibility of a person applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). For those claimants with extreme medical conditions, there is no time to wait.

According to SSA statistics, more than 2.5 million people are filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) every year. That is a staggering number of cases.

Disability Benefits Delivered

SSA developed the Compassionate Allowance initiative to more effectively identify applicants who clearly meet SSA's criteria of disabling conditions. A Compassionate Allowance Case (CAL) is identified as one that undeniably qualifies for SSDI benefits.

SSA has identified 50 conditions that meet the SSA's definition of a disability, which is a condition that renders someone totally unable to work for a year or longer, and could result in death. Confirmation of the medical diagnosis of the condition is often all that is needed to get approval for benefits under the Compassionate Allowance process. The application must also be as complete as possible, with supporting medical information easily obtainable. The Compassionate Allowance initiative significantly speeds up the process so that people with these conditions can get the benefits they need as soon as possible, often within days of filing for disability benefits.

Qualifying Disability Conditions Expected to Grow

The initial list of Compassionate Allowance conditions was developed through a series of public hearings. The hearings reached out to families affected by certain disabilities, the medical and scientific communities, and Social Security and Disability Determination Services (DDS). These hearings reviewed types of cancer, other rare diseases, brain injury, stroke, and dementias, such as early-onset Alzheimer's disease. SSA also identified conditions that met SSA's definition of disability.

More hearings are being planned. SSA expects that the expertise from these groups will help SSA grow the list of qualifying conditions and improve efficiencies in identifying people who immediately qualify for SSDI benefits.

Expediting Disability Claims

The Compassionate Allowance initiative also established a Quick Disability Determination (QDD) process for DDS state agencies to follow. Special units within the agencies expedite benefits quickly to those claimants who clearly meet the criteria for Social Security Disability insurance. Claims are processed within 20 days, instead of months.

Applying for Disability Benefits

Filing for disability benefits, however, can be a daunting experience. The SSA Web site provides the current list of 50 conditions that qualify for Compassionate Allowance, and an online application process.

SSDI advocacy groups also offer expert guidance and help with filing for disability benefits.

According to SSA's Web site, "Social Security has an obligation to provide benefits quickly to applicants whose medical conditions are so serious that their conditions obviously meet disability standards." The Compassionate Allowance initiative is helping to more efficiently meet that obligation.

The Big Divorce Problem - Agreeing On a Settlement

When you're going through divorce, sometimes the first thing on your mind is simply being done, getting it over with and moving on. You may have went through some pain and suffering. Now you want to move on. On the other hand, you may justly have some concerns about your divorce settlement, namely things like health insurance, your child's college tuition, your home, any vehicles, bank accounts and much more. This guide goes over these issues.

Who Wins?
The best strategy for divorce is to agree to points amiably, with lawyers on hand. While a divorce mediation may not work, you need not make this a long battle. If you want to save on legal fees, you should focus on protecting your future, be fair, and if children are involved, be open to negotiation. In a messy divorce, stick with your legal counsel. In an easier divorce, you can save time and money with a mediation. If you still need to go to court to iron out some issues, make no decisions without your lawyer.

Retirement
While many of us marry young - and divorce young - let's face reality: we all get old. You have to properly plan for how you will be taken care of as you get older, and this means money. While Social Security will hopefully still be around, you may not be able to live on just the monthly payments. Therefore, any savings or income you have should be protected. If you have no money - and you took care of the children - you may have to fight for proper protection. While less important for divorcees who marry young and have no children, this is a common problem not considered enough.

Children and College
One problem that is first on people's minds is that of children: how they will be supported, and how best to plan for their future. To put it simply, college is darn expensive. Your children will have options - perhaps save up some of their own money, work some odd jobs, get scholarships and tuition assistance - but there will always be added expenses. Some divorcees choose to ignore this problem. You should address it immediately. How will out of pocket expenses for college be paid?

Health Insurance
Health insurance is a constant problem for those who become unemployed, do not work, or have a job with no benefits. But it's not just you; your children need proper coverage too. The parent who gets custody should have health insurance, and this parent should not be alone in medical expenses. Address this in your divorce.

Living Expenses
If you have children, living expenses are a bitter reality. Shoes, clothes, school clothes, textbooks, school supplies, birthday gifts, transportation - the list could go on and on. This should also be addressed in the divorce. The parent who gets custody should be properly compensated for basic expenses. This should be a key point of emphasis for your lawyer.

There are many other issues to consider. Who gets the home? What if one parent stayed with the children? What if one person sacrificed for the other, helping them get through school? These issues are all unique and must be addressed. The variety of situations and legal problems calls for an experienced divorce lawyer to help you.

The Best Hospitals in Dongguan, China

Dongguan is located in the Pearl River Delta and is a major city in China. With four districts, this metropolis has become an international industrial and major economic center, attracting enormous foreign-direct investment. This city has a pleasant climate and is known for its long coastline and seafood varieties.

Taking a look at the city's health care facilities, it is obvious that its enterprising spirit is not limited to industrial and economic development. Although the city has many well-equipped hospitals, only some major medical centers can provide services with English-speaking staff. The following is a description of two leading hospitals.

Dongguan City People's Hospital (Red Hospital) located at 88 Tong sand in Wan Cheng Bei Yu, came into existence in 1888 as the Chinese Rhenish Church Lifeline Hospital and has witnessed several name changes before receiving its present name in 1988. Investors poured a large amount of capital for the hospital's modernization. As a result, this medical center has become the largest integrated health care facility in the region. This-patient centered hospital is situated in a lovely area, embellished with beautiful gardens and immaculate lawns. It employs a large, competent staff; includes 1500 beds for inpatients and provides contemporary and holistic quality-health care in all medical specialties. Dongguan City People's Hospital has achieved the prestigious three, A-level rating by the Health Ministry, as well as the provincial honors of Civilized Hospital Award and the Advanced Unit of Health Award.

Their outpatient department, established in 1930, is well organized and has special acupuncture, massage, and ECG treatment rooms. The surgery division has well-equipped units assisting many specialties. There are 15 advanced operating rooms featuring laminar flow and imported instruments, all manufactured by global companies. The center is particularly well known for various transplantations, advanced cardiac surgery, laparoscopy, arthroscopy and hysteroscopy. Its advanced emergency department features emergency surgery, observation room, pediatric unit, infusion area, various emergency tests, first aid services and state-of-the-art equipment. Managed by 50 experienced professionals, this department is available 24-hours a day. Other acclaimed departments utilizing advanced medical equipment, include ICU, radiology and ultrasound. Telephone: 22223412.

Global Doctor Dongguan Clinic is another preferred hospital for foreign dignitaries and visitors. This clinic resides at No. 30 IEO International Block in Dynatown. Established in 2005, and owned by Global Doctor, the acclaimed global health care and emergency assistance provider, this medical facility offers comprehensive medical service in all major specialties including family medicine, dentistry and acupuncture. It employs experienced, foreign doctors and English-speaking staff. Medical consultations are available in various languages like English, German, Spanish and Portuguese.

The center also offers round-the-clock medical advice, house call services, antenatal and postnatal care and also conducts many occupational health and annual medical programs. The Dongguan Clinic offers good surgical services in all major areas and provides pharmaceutical, laboratory and x-ray assistance. It offers excellent emergency services through the Global Doctor Beijing Response Center and offers referrals, medical evacuations and repatriation. This hospital also has associations with international insurance companies and is a member of the renowned International Assistance Group (IAG). Telelphone: 22030011.

What Are Annuities and Do You Need One?

What are annuities? Annuities are a kind of investment created by insurance companies. Think of how a bank offers a CD to raise money and be able to make loans and such. An annuity is much the same thing, a revenue generator for the insurance companies.

But what are annuities?

Think of an annuity like a kind of account, joint, single, IRA, Roth IRA, 401K, 403B... Annuity. What is in the annuity is what makes them so much different. There are fixed rate options kind of like a CD and variable options kind of like a mutual fund. Think of the annuity like a box. What is in the box is how you profit from the annuity.

When you open the box you are opening yourself to tax liability. You will taxes on any untaxed portion of your withdrawal. The taxes are at earned income rates. An annuity is considered tax-deferred which is better than fully taxable but is not tax-free.

Annuities also have surrender charges. A surrender charge is a fee that is charged if you withdraw more than the free amount each year. Usually, an annuity has a declining surrender charge which means that each year the charges will slowly decrease. Once the surrender charge schedule is over then there are no more charges. Be sure to carefully study the surrender charge schedule before investing.

Do you need one?

When you start understanding what annuities are used for you will begin to realize there are a vast amount of uses for the insurance product. Most of the time, they are used for a safe place to put money to immediately or eventually begin to draw an income from. Think of it like taking the interest on your CD at the bank, same idea although it is not a CD.

If you need a regular income or a guaranteed income then the fixed options would be great consider adding to your portfolio. If you are looking for more of a growth option with some guarantees, the variable or the equity indexed option might be better for you.

One of the much sought after benefits of annuities is the income benefit rider. The rider provides a guaranteed income stream without losing access to principal. It is a great way to create a base level of income from which to plan your retirement.

What are annuities good for in your portfolio?

Fixed annuities provide safety and income. Variable annuities can provide growth, check the fees first, along with some guarantees. Imagine a guarantee that says you could always get a certain amount of income when you wanted to start taking it and in the meantime your investment could grow in value with market like returns. It is a pretty nice feature that a lot of annuities have now.

A combination of annuities creates a basis of diversification in your portfolios. Concepts such as annuity laddering and income guarantees are possible while create a safe portfolio with zero chance of loss.

Annuities can be a great addition to your portfolio if you are looking for safe and secure retirement income in the future. They are not right for everyone. Be sure to consult with a competent advisor or insurance agent before moving any of your current investment money.

Personal Injury Claim Plus A No Win No Fee Solicitor Plus A Recession Equals?

A significant increase in people who are now prepared to make fraudulent personal injury claims to supplement their income.

An astonishing eighty nine percent of lawyers believe that the No Win No Fee arrangement has encouraged more people to make deceitful injury claims, according to research carried out by LV.

Overstating injuries has been on the rise for the past 10 years say almost sixty percent of the solicitors involved, with almost half stating they have witnessed a surge in false claimants since the start of the recession.

The most common types of injury that are likely to be embellished are whiplash, post traumatic stress disorder and strained muscles, with car accidents being the favourite choice of incident for these injuries to occur.

The LV investigation established that sixty three percent of the legal professionals believe that television advertising of these kinds of services is one of the key factors for the increase in false injury claims, they also believe that those involved do perceive it as an easy way to make money.

As a consequence of these actions, sixty two percent of lawyers now scrutinise in much greater depth the submitted personal injury claim forms before committing to any further action.

One law firm specialising in the investigation and handling of suspected fraudulent personal injury claims on behalf of insurance companies echoes what is being said by LV and confirms that the experience of their own fraud unit is that some types of insurance fraud are now reaching epidemic proportions.

Let there be misunderstanding here, personal injury claims fraud is not a faceless crime; there is a direct link to the rise in fraud perpetrated by dishonest people and the extra you have to pay out of your own pocket and if we cite one example from LV then you are now one hundred pounds per year worse off due to the increase in car insurance premiums.

Martin Milliner, LV technical claims director, said: Legitimate cases of personal injury where another person or company is to blame are certainly a cause for recompense. However, drivers who concoct or exaggerate their injuries to make a claim not only break the law but also push up the cost of car insurance premiums for all motorists. We support all solicitors to continue to apply thorough questioning to anyone claiming a personal injury, and to investigate very carefully any concerns they have about the dependability of any claim.

For further information regarding this article or if you have a general query then please contact us via the email or phone details supplied on this site or feel free to visit our website.

Why Use A Personal Injury Solicitor

When you get injured you may think that your insurance company of your property will be paying for the medical and lost time. However, you may be shocked to find out that they are going to fight you on the case because they do not think it is their issue. You should know why you need to use a personal injury solicitor. Once you know about why you should be using these professionals you will be able to see that it is possible to get the help that you need quickly and easily.

One reason to use these professionals is they will be able to tell you if the insurance should be paying or not. If the insurance company is supposed to pay, they may tell you that they are not and you may accept that. However, by using these professionals you will notice that they will advise you properly so you can get your money or other compensation for the injury.

Another reason is they will be able to help you fight against the insurance companies to get your money. Since the companies are typically going to tell you that they are not responsible for paying you it can be a challenge proving them wrong yourself, but using these professionals you will receive the help you need to fight the companies to get the proper amount of money.

Something else is they typically only get paid if you win the case. Many times you may be worried about how you can afford to pay for these individuals, but they are typically going to be paid only if you win the case. Then you will not have to worry about how you can pay for the fees that come from these attorneys.

Getting hurt or injured is never a fun thing, but then when it comes to the point that you cannot even get compensation for that injury you will quickly notice that you could lose your home, job, or everything that you have worked for. You need to know about the reasons why you should use a personal injury solicitor.

How to Choose a Body Shop

Accidents can cause extreme damage to a car. A parked car hit from the side may need a replaced door and a fender bender may force the owner to buy a new bumper. If an accident harms the body of your car you will want to put your precious possession in safe hands. This means finding a shop that will leave your car looking great when it leaves their parking lot.

Considerations in Choosing Your Body Shop

Since many people need body work done on their car, many people in your area will know the best places to go. Therefore, speaking to your family and friends about who they trust can impact your decision. They may also have a good idea about the approximate prices of different locations.

An irresponsible or inexperienced body repairman may leave your car worse off. You don't want your bumper to fall off in the middle of the road.

Luckily we have websites like Yelp! to help us out in searching for auto shop reviews. People who write comments on these websites typically care a great deal about the quality of service they received. Another good source of reviews can come from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). This a local organization that will contain information on a business's customer satisfaction.

Some body shops have qualifications that set them apart from the competition. Many areas give awards to shops that have consistently provided exceptional service.

Insurance companies may have preferred body shops. Taking your car to these shops is typically a safe bet. Since the insurance company is most likely partially responsible for the bills, they want to ensure you're getting good service.

How Would You Like a Life Without Mortgage Payments?

Several budgeting planners advocate paying off your mortgage loan as radip as practicable. Several homeowners would not see the reason since they focus on having a tax reduction. The idea of paying back the mortgage loan balance is that you will keep accumulating home equity. A separate benefit is that you can normally get rid of PMI (private mortgage insurance) by reducing the mortgage below 80% LTV ratio. You could perhaps benefit from refinancing to get a reduced monthly payments if it makes sense. Some of the established ways that can aid you paying off your mortgage are shared below.

Re-arrange your home mortgage duration to a reduced one. You would start paying some more for your mortgage, but whole extra payments and more will be paying off your outstanding borrowings. Furthermore, you will likely have a low loan rate for your new loan to assist you save even more money.

Increase your routine monthly mortgage loan payments. Most mortgages are accommodating enough for you to make extra payments each month in addition to your regular mortgage amount. In this form, every additional amount will diverted to paying down your outstanding capital. The rewards of this method is much more than you could at first see because of compound outcome of the interest saved. In a few years you would see how much it actually brought down your home mortgage.

Structure payments when you come to more money. Many current home loans allow people make occasional principal payments to lower their home mortgage. Usually there is no redemption cost on those repayments. At some cases you could be limited on the amount you could pay back every year. If you get an annual bonus and need a good use to put the money, this may be the place.

Be wise with getting a life insurance to cover your mortgage. There are a few life insurance products with combined investment aspect that allow you use the money in number of routes. These instruments are more costly than common life insurance, but you have investment futures in them. You arrange an investment vehicle that carries on increasing and cashable at any time you like. You would not naturally get much or even as much as you put in the first couple of years due to set up costs. As these life policies are a few in the market and may be sophisticated, you should consult an independent financial advisor to set one up. Those life policies functions separately from your home loan and therefore, even you pay back your home loan earlier than expected, you might yet select to continue with this life cover with investment vehicle.

Certainly nobody like to pay home loan til they die. What would you do with that cash if you didn't have a mortgage payment ever again? Everyone could come up with a short list of things they would do with the money paid to mortgage loan. Before you start your list, you need to get ready lowering your mortgage as early as you can.