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  • Financial Resolutions for 2014

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    For many Americans the past few years have been financially difficult.  Many experts say the economy is improving, but that doesn’t mean much to the families that are still struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table.  While many are making plans to lose weight, learn something new, or experience life in a new way; many others are searching for new ways to manage their finances in 2014.

    Everyone manages their finances a little differently and it ultimately comes down to finding the best method for you.  Regardless of how it’s done, the best financial resolution that you can make is to live within your means.  Don’t spend more than you bring in.  It may seem unobtainable but it’s the best way to avoid debt and get yourself back on solid financial ground.

    cut credit cardTo help you determine where you stand you have to set a budget and then stick to it.  Setting a budget will help you see where your money is going and areas that need to be cut back.  If your expenses are greater than your income you can begin cutting back non-essentials until your budget is in line.  If you go out to eat every day for lunch, consider cutting back to once a week and packing your lunch the remainder of the time.  Search online for free family activities in your area that will help you have fun, get out of the house, and save money.

    A frequent resolution for those people looking to improve their finances is to cut up their credit card.  While credit cards can get you into trouble if you don’t use them with discretion, cutting them up may not be the best option.  In cases where you are ordering things online or booking reservations, using a credit card can provide extra security against fraud and abuse.  Just be mindful that what you charge fits into your budget.  If you are worried about using too much leaving it at home in a safe, secure place is always an option.

    Finances are often a topic of stress, disagreement, and trouble but they don’t have to be that way.  Sitting down and discussing it with those who share the account and getting everyone on the same page can help make this year’s resolution the most successful yet.

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  • What do Auto Racers Earn?

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    Americans are used to their sports heroes earning multi-million dollar salaries to lead their teams to championships.  While that may be true in baseball, football, basketball and even hockey, most auto racers like the one on this site make a fraction of the money for their sport.  Given that auto racing has a higher risk of not just injury, but actual death, this hardly seems fair.

    fernando alonsoThere are several reasons for the lower salaries in motorsports.  The first is that most sports teams earn revenues from television broadcast contracts with their leagues.  Auto racing is gaining in popularity, but races aren’t getting the huge broadcast contracts of other sports, so each team’s share is significantly less.  Secondly, drops in sponsorships have caused race salaries to fall.  This is due to the one-two punch of banning tobacco sponsors and the 2008 economic collapse.  Fewer available team sponsorships means less money for drivers.

    The sad fact is that auto racers in the 1980s and 1990s made more money than racers of today. Reportedly one top IndyCar racer makes $500,000 a year — the same sum that legendary driver Mario Andretti made back in 1972. Looked at another way $500,000 works out to $31,250 per race compared to the salary of LeBron James who was paid $213,963 per game last year.

    There is some improvement in salaries as new broadcast contracts and sponsorships have come along in the past few years, but only eight drivers are believed to earn more than $10 million a year in salary and winnings.

    Here are the top earning drivers, according to Forbes:
    Fernando Alonso — $28 million
    Lewis Hamilton — $26 million
    Jimmie Johnson — $17.3 million
    Sebastian Vettel — $17 million
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. — $13 million
    Jeff Gordon — $12.7 million
    Tony Stewart — $12.5 million
    Valentino Rossi — $12 million

    written by guest blogger Allen Marshall, an experienced motorsports journalist whose work includes interviewing top drivers like Valentino Rossi, Scott Tucker and Lucas Luhr as well as covering specific race series and championships.

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  • Unintended Consequences of Student Loans

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    If there is one aspect of this economy that still needs improvement it’s jobs, and an article published today by the Wall Street Journal confirmed it. Many new college graduates are finished with school, unable to find decent jobs, and struggling to pay back their student loans. It can be hard enough at times to pay your bills and living expenses but the added stress of student loans is causing many young adults to rethink other areas of their lives. For some it means putting off a marriage or a family until they are more financially secure. Others are giving up their hopes of ever being able to step out on their own and achieve their dreams.

    There are a lot of variables to keep in mind when applying for student loans and, fortunately, colleges are beginning to provide the support that students need to wisely fund their educations . But for many already bearing the weight of student loans the new support does little to soften their load.

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  • Improve Your Credit Fast

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    moneyThings were a lot easier a few years ago for someone who had no credit , because the credit system was starting to no longer matter. If you didn’t have credit, there was an alternative method to get almost anything you wanted. After the housing crash it became a lot harder. Luckily for you, there is still time to repair your credit, and although it will take some time, it doesn’t have to take a lot of effort.

    The first thing you will need to do is make a decision here and now that you are going to pay off all of your debt, starting today. You need to make a plan and write out a budget that will make sure you not only make the minimum payments on your debts, but also make some extra so that they will get paid off. You should not take out any other loans until you have paid everything off, even if they are small, short term loans like Money Mutual . Until you can get your debt under control, these will only be a bandaid, they will not be a fix.

    Next you will need to get a copy of your credit history, you are allowed one free one per year without damaging your credit. Be careful of people who tell you to check it more often, because the more you check your credit report, the more likely you are to damage it . Circle all mistakes on your credit report in one color, these can be taken care of by contacting the credit agency, finding out who reported this to them, and working it out with your creditor, or credit card company. You will want to circle all the dings in your credit report that are your fault in another color. These are things you will need to keep yourself from doing again. Look for a pattern. If you regularly pay a bill late, or all your bills late, see if your bank allows you to pay bills online automatically. This can keep you from having late payments. If there is a different problem, see if you can find a creative solution to it.

    When you have your debt under control, and an emergency happens causing you undue monetary distress, Montel Williams has it right, it is ok to take out a cash advance loan at that point. It can actually even help your credit score as long as you pay it back in full on time.

    If you follow these things, you are sure to repair your credit in no time.  Check out financial social sites for more information

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    photo by: Mukumbura
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  • Ways to Invest in the Real Estate Market

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    Over the past decades, owning a real estate property has become a more common type of investment.

    Although many investors are still not confident about investing in the housing market since it crashed in 2007, there are strong signs that a recovery is underway. If you’re looking to jump into real estate investment, there are many ways to gain financial returns from your property.

    apartment buildingThe most common way to invest in real estate is to have a rental property. You can invest in a property and then rent it out, using the rent to pay for the mortgage and other expenses associated with property management. By the time the mortgage has been completely paid, you’ll have an asset that has appreciated in value but your total investment would probably be just the amount you put in for the down payment. If you continue to rent out the property, you then start earning rental profits.

    Another strategy to earn from your real estate investment is known as flipping or real estate trading wherein an investor buys a run-down or distressed property and then renovates it for the purpose of putting it up for sale later. You will earn from flipping houses by buying properties below the market price and then selling at a higher price. Unfortunately, flipped properties do have a negative reputation for poor quality and utilizing cheap materials.

    Ensuring quality while sticking to a renovation budget should be one of your goals if you are considering becoming a flipper. You may also want to become the other type of flipper who doesn’t shell out any money at all into a property for improvements but invests only in properties with intrinsic value that can be sold for a profit even without any modifications.

    You can also join an investment group that invests particularly in real estate properties. The group will buy or build an apartment block, office building or retail complex and then seek investors to buy units through the group. You can own one or more units and rent them out. The entire property is collectively managed by the real estate investment group, including finding tenants, in exchange for a portion of the monthly rent.

    Even if your only real estate investment is your own residence, it can still be a truly valuable asset for you and your family. As the value of residential real estate rapidly increases, your residence becomes an important part of your net worth. With careful estate planning, you can transfer your residential property to your heirs with the least amount of taxes against it so you can preserve your residence for your family’s future generations.

    Raul Cordova is a frequent contributor to real estate sites and financial blogs. He is a retired mortgage broker who has also written for companies like starlightinvest.com and other Canadian firms.

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  • Want to Finance a Race Team?

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    Financing a professional racing team is no small feat, but one that can potentially provide a lot of reward.  Even if it isn’t monetary, the pleasure of owning and operating a team can be almost like having a child—after all, it does have various needs and wants, with the potential to grow up and reward you greatly.  Plus, what better way to get deeper into the sport than to actively participate in it?

    The first thing to think about when putting together a racing team is the league you want to participate in.  Entry fees alone price many competitors out of Formula 1, but there are a lot of other, smaller events that even everyday people can participate in.  Take 24 Hours of LeMons, for example.  It’s a 24 hour endurance race in which teams are not allowed to spend more than $500 on their car, including modifications (except for safety equipment).  The entry fee is a scant $100 per driver.  Entry fees go up from there, as much as $500,000 for Formula 1.

    But the entry fees are only a small portion of the cost.  Remember, there is no “I” in “team;” a team needs at least one mechanic, one driver, and a manager.  One person can’t be all three.  Pay for them can be per race or on salary, but top drivers pull down more than many teams care to admit.

    race track 2003Factor in the cost of parts as well.  A set of four halfway decent tires can run upwards of $2,000, depending on size, and a typical race can chew up at least one set.  Then there is racing fuel, which most race-tuned cars burn like there’s no tomorrow, and it costs $7 per hour.  Engines need to be rebuilt every race or two, which is at least $1,000, body panels may need to be replaced, and parts may need to be custom made, which can get expensive fast.  This is all not to mention moving the car, parts, and people around to different events, which chews up even more gasoline and maintenance money.

    From the business end there is a need for insurance, not only for the cars, but for the people that might be injured, lawyers and accountants for all the legal mumbo-jumbo, and marketing/advertising, which has the double duty of securing sponsorships and getting the team name out there for people to see.

    In any case, running a professional racing team is expensive.  Most can forget about Formula 1 without a family fortune, as the total cost is in the millions.  For more affordable races, check out LeMons, which has an average cost of around $4,000, which is about as cheap as it gets while still involving cars.  If you want to start a little higher on the ladder, there are usually a ton of smaller racing series that you can research.  See what is near you and start saving!  Who knows, maybe you can be the next Carol Shelby or Scott Tucker Racing!

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  • Choosing an Affordable Car

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    Besides your home, your car will be one of the largest expenses that you undertake in your life. It is important to remember that buying a car is not something as simple as looking at the price on the tag and thinking that you are going to pay that much. A car is an ongoing investment that will require many expenses over the course of your ownership of the vehicle. Fortunately, it is possible to purchase an affordable car if you know what to expect.

    Shopping for a car on a budget starts with figuring out your budget and making the commitment to yourself to stick to this budget regardless of the pressure that you will inevitably get from the salesman. Remember that there is more to the purchase than just the base cost of the vehicle. Consider these expenses when considering the cost of your new vehicle:

    Sticker Price: this is the base price of the vehicle. It is the amount that you will see on the price tag.

    Accessories: the vehicle that you choose will have a “standard” version, which will be priced with the sticker price. The salesman, however, will have various options and accessories to offer which will “enhance” the vehicle and increase the price. These accessories are things such as upholstery upgrades, decorative lights or amplified sound systems. Be prepared to reject these upgrades in order to stick to your budget.

    car for saleTitle Fees: the title of your vehicle is a document officially recognized by the DMV that states that you own your vehicle. This document is required in order to get your tags and stickers, all of which are required to be street legal. The title fee is what you will pay to get this documentation. You will also need to pay registration fees in order for your vehicle to be legally registered in your name.

    Taxes: very few states do not have taxes associated with purchasing a vehicle. These taxes can add several thousands of dollars to the cost of your vehicle, so it is critical that you know your state’s tax rate so that you can work these taxes into your budget.

    Expenses associated with buying your vehicle are not the only costs that you must prepare for when it comes to finding an affordable vehicle. Ongoing costs will also add up throughout the life of your vehicle. These include:

    Insurance: you will be required to have car insurance whenever you are driving. Insurance rates vary dramatically depending on the type of vehicle that you drive. Carefully review insurance quotes when determining what type of vehicle you should purchase.

    Maintenance: just like with any other piece of machinery, your vehicle will need regular maintenance in order to continue functioning at the peak of condition. While it may seem expensive to maintain your vehicle on a regular basis, making sure that you keep up with routine care for your vehicle will prevent extremely expensive urgent care later.

    Fuel: this is the biggest ongoing expense you will have as a vehicle owner. Considering the fuel efficiency of a vehicle should be an important part of selecting the type of vehicle that you will purchase.

    contributed by Luis Chaney who has written several ebooks about auto repair. He frequently contributes to automotive blogs on topics like DIY repair, reviews of Lincoln repair manuals, and restoration of antique cars.  His writing also appears on numerous car and auto websites.

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  • The Top Tech Stocks of 2012

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    The past year was a good one for the economy as it slowly bounced back from the recession, and began to grow again under the strength of a growing and burgeoning stock market. That stock market, in fact, has produced some up and down tech stocks this year, many of which are on the horizon to either blow up in 2013, or do extremely well and continue to rise.

    Let’s review three major tech stocks and their impacts in 2012, as well as what you might be able to look for in 2013 if you are considering investing in tech stocks in any way.

    Apple

    Apple, it seems, can do no wrong. The guys at Apple lost a visionary in Steve Jobs, and then didn’t skip a beat when the introduced the next generation of the iPhone, as well as the mini iPad, both products which people immediately fawned all over themselves to grab at the store. Beacuse of that, Apple’s stock continues to rise and rise, making it one of the top tech stocks of 2012.

    Don’t look for anything to change too soon with Apple, either; while there are concerns over whether they can adequately develop as a corporation even after Jobs’ death, they still seem to be poised to move strongly and continue to be a top-flight tech company in 2013 and beyond.

    stock tickerFacebook

    Facebook started slow when it came to their stock prices and performance upon going public in 2012, but all is not lost for the social media giant and their head man, Mark Zuckerberg. They may have taken quite an unexpected fall in the past few months from their initial stock price, but they should rebound, if only because of the number of users they have online at any one given moment, and how much they know about their users and what they like, purchase, and consume.

    Watch for Facebook to bounce back at some point, but understand that it might be a slow stock investment, and not a short-term gain; don’t go in thinking you can make millions of Facebook in a few months, after all, but its time will come.

    Groupon

    The death knell has sounded for Groupon, a once promising stock that, as it turned out, provided very little value to its core customers (businesses) and operates quite like some type of bizarre coupon-driven Ponzi scheme. Groupon may not be dead yet, but it’s not far off; this is one company to avoid when it comes to picking stocks in 2013, and one to look at in derision upon 2012 tech stock analysis.

    With a bizarre founder in Andrew Mason, and a simply unsustainable business model in the long run with a bizarre set of terms on each of their daily deals, Groupon won’t be going anywhere in 2013 and may have to fold as a corporation soon, unless they can raise some cash – and fast.

    Blu Sanders is a web journalist who covers technology and software for a variety of blogs and websites. He also follows tech and software companies like the one found here.

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  • Health Food Sales Morph into Big Business

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    Health food stores have moved into the mainstream. The business of health food today is as much about profit as providing healthy food.

    Then…

    In the “hippy” au natural health food stores of the 1970’s, the attributes of ‘wholesome’ and ‘natural’ were seen as part of an alternative life style. Counter cultural values and rebellion against the establishment were at the heart of this era. Health food stores began in the ‘70s, frequented by hippies wearing socks and sandals, searching for mung beans and tofu.

    …and Now

    Some people thought these stores were faddish. But they weren’t; they simply morphed into big business.  Today health food stores have moved into the mainstream. They are as much about profit as proffering healthy foods and products. Commercialization is seen in production, processing and distribution of organic and natural products.

    Supermarkets Overtake Health Food Marketshare

    Many of the nation’s large supermarkets are racing to add pure foods and ingredients to their store shelves. Wheat germ, bran and honey were among the most popular items in the 1970’s era health food store. Today there is a much wider selection of products with soy milk being stocked next to whole milk. Buying trends have shifted. The profile of shoppers now spreads across age groups and class.

    Supermarkets have developed their own brands of health food products. This is supported by heavy marketing campaigns advertising ‘natural’ as the new model. They are rewarded by consumers, as sales in this segment of their offerings have grown, even outpacing more traditional items.

    The Nutrition Business Journal noted that organic and natural food sales, in terms of national growth rate, had risen eight percent in 2010. This compares favorably to the less than one percent overall growth of the food market itself, which tops out at $630 billion.

    The phenomenon has become mainstream. Supermarket sales of health food have surpassed even niche markets. Specialty stores offering natural foods in 2010 accounted for 39 percent in total sales of organic foods, according to the Organic Trade Association. More conventional retailers grew to 54 percent of such sales.

    Corporate Philosophies

    Numerous online companies have built their reputation on selling “natural” and “whole” foods and products.  Vitamin and supplement companies offer natural support for diet, nutrition and things like muscle health. These companies usually offer a corporate philosophy that mixes a dedication to health with established business models and profit goals.

    Whole Foods is big business too, but its philosophy rests on a market stakeholder model. It sees its business as “a system of interdependent stakeholders.”

    Regardless of the philosophy behind this industry, health food sales today are about much more than a simple purchase of mung beans.

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  • Economic Damages

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    The term ‘economic damages’ as it relates to civil cases refers to the loss of wages and/or benefits pursuant to personal injury, wrongful death or discrimination, to name a few.  In business issues, economic damages can take the form of lost profits, increased costs, mitigation, lost opportunity, etc.  This post discusses the impact of both professional and personal economic damages.

    Economic Damages Can Hurt a Business

    The impact of economic damages to a business can be devastating.  As an example, take a look at Hurricane Katrina.  When Katrina hit Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi in 2005, literally thousands of homes and businesses were annihilated.  The devastation was immense.  Homes were lost.  Businesses were lost.  Paychecks could no longer be earned.  Debts could no longer be paid.  Economic damages in the form of business interruption spread like wildfire.  Get the picture?

    Now that you have a broad view of economic damage and the impact, let’s take a closer look.

    Shareholder Disputes Can Cause Economic Damage

    In the business world, shareholder disputes can result in economic damages.  How so?  How do shareholder disputes arise?  Disputes between shareholders can arise in a myriad of ways.  Let’s narrow it down to privately owned business where the officers are also shareholders; it’s not uncommon.  Say one of the shareholders chooses to move from the area and wants to sell his share in the business.  He or she holds thirty percent of the business and wants to cash it in.  Who determines the value of that thirty percent?  This is where disputes can arise.  It may go to litigation if all involved parties cannot agree on the value.  Enter court costs.  Enter hiring a forensic accountant.  Enter business interruption.  These added costs and time away from the business result in a halt in determining the profit margin until the case has been heard and restitution determined.

    Economic Damages May be Awarded

    In personal cases, economic damages may be awarded as the result of personal injury, wrongful termination or punitive damages.  Let it be known, punitive damages are not awarded easily or readily.  Punitive damages, by definition, are remuneration awarded to a plaintiff in excess of compensation for loss as an additional punishment to the accused in a serious offense.  We reiterate:  punitive damages are not readily awarded.  However, when they are awarded, additional economic damages and stress occur to the offending person or entity.

    In the case of personal injury or wrongful termination, economic damages may be awarded to the victim.  Certain factors come into play when determining economic damages in a personal injury claim.  Age of the victim, gender and even personal attributes are determining factors in the amount of remuneration awarded.  For instance, if the injured is young and has suffered loss of a limb or mental capacity, the amount of income he or she has lost over his or her expected lifespan will be a determining factor.  If the claimant is a woman and has suffered visible scarring or damage to the reproductive organs, economic damages may be combined with punitive damages.

    Wrongful Termination Can Cause Economic Damage

    Wrongful termination can also lead to economic damages being awarded in litigation. However many states protect themselves against such allegations in being ‘right to work’ states.  This means unions cannot dictate the rules of employment.  Conversely, right to work states can terminate your employment for any means other than prohibited by Federal law.  Race, age, creed discrimination is prohibited, as is whether or not you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.  Losing consideration for a job or being fired for any of these issues gives cause for taking action in a court of law for the purpose of suing for economic damages, however, they are hard to prove.  Taking this action in court requires documented proof of discrimination.

    As you can see by the information provided, economic damages affect all parties involved.  Whether you are an individual who has suffered loss of income or a business facing loss of revenue, economic damage has few, if any, bounds.

    Additional information on economic damages, esp. as they apply to businesses and corporations can be found here.

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  • Downtown Phoenix struggles to Attract Visitors

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    Phoenix is a fascinating city that has its own unique personality. Sports fans here have everything to be proud of; they’ve been home to a championship caliber basketball team for the past decade. The Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series in 2001. And as for the Arizona Cardinals, well, you can’t win them all, but they did have a Super bowl run in 2008. Really though, what more could a city ask out of their professional teams?

    University of Phoenix Stadium

    Sports aside, the city offers any other activity imaginable. Downtown is packed tight with museums, parks, theaters, pools and fun zones for family time. The nightlife scene is there for the taking, with the best clubs and bars in the Southwest. For all arguments, Phoenix is one of the best places to live. So the question is, why does this city struggle so much attracting visitors, especially to the downtown area?

    Maybe we should dig a little deeper into this phenomenon. Could it be the demographics of the city? The Phoenix area is infamous as a retirement destination and is one of the best places to live. Seniors love hitting the over one hundred golf courses that surround the city.

    Could it be the economy? This one might ring a little truer. There’s no denying it, the whole nation has felt the burdens of the latest economic climate. But even that doesn’t necessarily detail why a smaller city like Salt Lake City with roughly a quarter of the population of Phoenix, received 10 times the amount of visitors last year.

    Maybe it’s just the heat, and people in this oasis have become far too air conditioned. It’s just too hot to get out there. Of course, the hockey team seems to manage staying cool just fine. That’s right, Phoenix can bring ice to the middle of the desert for hockey teams, but still no visitors.

    Truth is, there are huge discrepancies between other “like” cities and visitor statistics. Undoubtedly, Phoenix is still one of the best places to live on the map. They’ve also seen the biggest growth in population over the past decade, which makes it even more troubling to see the downtown area going the way of Tombstone. Well, like most economies that fail there is usually a government picking their teeth behind some curtain. Of course they’ll just make up excuses like these, nod, and say everything is grand. Maybe a further look behind the curtain will tell these imbalances better.

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  • Counselling Careers

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    Counsellors are just like their patients: they come in all shapes and sizes. And like most helping professions, if you decide to be a counsellor, you can branch off into a speciality area, helping patients with specific problems. If you are thinking of a career in counselling, here are some worthy specialities to look into.

    Eating disorders

    With Hollywood and the fashion industry still primarily pushing a size 0 as the ultimate weight goal and the idea that the skinnier you are, the more attractive you are, it’s no wonder that eating disorders are becoming an epidemic. And it’s not just girls who are getting caught in its grip. Boys and men are also vulnerable to the disease. By specializing in counselling those who are struggling with an eating disorder you will be helping them to get back the true sense of who they are as a person and help them realize that they are more than a number on the scale.

    Alcohol treatment

    For many, consuming alcohol every once in a while is a way to unwind. But for some drinking becomes a problem. They find that they need alcohol every day in order to cope. And they drink more and more in order to escape their life. As an alcohol treatment counsellor you’ll be working with alcoholics, helping them work through their issues, get sober and stay sober.

    Couples

    Not all couples who are having problems automatically jump to divorce. Some will choose instead to seek out a qualified couples counsellor who can help them deal with what they feel is wrong with their relationship. And you don’t have to be married to go to a couples counsellor: if you are dating, engaged or have any kind of a relationship that is in trouble, you can benefit from it.

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  • A Faraway Vacation Spot

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    Well all have our favorite vacation spot. Somewhere where we can just relax and be ourselves for a few days. People head to the ocean, they head to the hills, Some prefer the lake, others the top of a mountain. Me I prefer to be hidden away in my cabin miles away from people and close to nature.

    My cabin is fairly rustic in nature, but for me it is ideal. I bought it years ago when I refinanced my home in the city. There are no utilities. A well supplies the water, pumped clean and pure from thirty feet underground. The pump is run by a generator. The electric system is hooked to to solar panels which store the power in a battery system. If there is a few cloudy days then I may run the generator to charge up the batteries. In colder weather there is a wood burning stove which keeps the cabin very warm – too warm some times! The biggest drain on the batteries would be a refrigerator. I say wood be as I invested in a propane fridge which works fine – though not as good as an electrical one.

    I have a water tank set up on a nearby hill and so gravity along feeds the water into the cabin. When there is a frost I have had problems with frozen pipes – but fortunately not burst ones. The cabin is equipped with a septic tank. It works well though occasionally it has to be emptied.

    I would like to say that I’m working towards being self sufficient and growing all my own food. Unfortunately I do not spend enough time there and most of my food comes with me courtesy of my local grocery store. Of course my stove runs on propane which works just as good as regular gas. Though its always a good idea to inventory control your propane tanks to prevent them running out at meal time!

    The rest of the cabin is pretty rustic. None of the comforts of home. But I spend most of my time out of doors and so creature comforts are not so important. What is important is getting away and spending some time away from the rat race – hikes, cookouts and my hammock are all important parts of my time away!

    Guest post by Abigail Wilson is a retired attorney and avid traveler. She has written for a number of popular travel blogs and magazines as well as contributing to financial website such as this page.

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  • Traveling by Vespa or Cafe Racer?

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    Folks who admire the style, as much as the lifestyle, of life on two wheels, are in a unique category.  It’s not that the club is exclusive, or even particularly choosy.   Anyone with enthusiasm can be a member, and the only membership requirement is the desire to share and collect information about the ride.

     

    It’s not at all like it was a few years ago, or maybe it’s a generation or two ago by now.  The days when the mods and the rockers would face off in Brighton cast a spell over the whole vintage motorbike scene, but it’s not one that affects the day to day relationships between its members.  This doesn’t mean that there aren’t bikers out there who scoff at the tastes of the vintage enthusiast, but generally speaking, the veterans of the road tend to love old bikes, no matter what they might ride themselves.

     

    It’s an important distinction.  Experience on the road does tend to buy more currency or credibility on the street, and miles traveled do add up to more than a head full of details but nothing upon which to tack them.  That has been true for most of the history of motorcycles and scooters.  The time of the battles between biker gangs, at least in terms of the vespa vs. café racer competition, was pretty short-lived.  Now there are more things to worry about then who likes Gene Vincent or who likes the Kinks, as one seasoned veteran puts it.

     

    That is, in fact, a hint about the central force that unites everyone who rides on two wheels.  It might not be widely acknowledged that it isn’t the safest way to travel, but it should be, because it is definitely in the back of every riders’ mind.  Anyone who has forgotten that, even for a moment, has been the recipient of a tough reminder, through close calls, or worse.  Camaraderie in the community comes from a sense of survival, and watching out for each other.  That tends to cut out the white noise of any other simmering rivalries, even in the contemporary vintage community.  Whether or not one takes their bike to a mechanic, fixes it entirely on their own, or depends on websites like www.hotrodhanks.com to keep their ride looking sharp, it doesn’t matter.  The things that separate are much less important than those things that unite.  And at the end of the day, we all get to ride the same road together.

     

     

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  • Visit Sydney Without Spending Too Much

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    Looking for an unforgettable trip but don’t want to break the bank? Well how about a trip to the beautiful Sydney, Australia with a hotel that will save you hundreds of dollars on your vacation.

    The Y Hotel Hyde Park is located in the Central Business District in Sydney, opposite Hyde Park and Oxford Street. The hotel offers clean and comfortable accommodations for budget prices. They offer studio, deluxe and traditional style rooms and have a café and lounge. Why not stay at a less expensive hotel; in all honesty you will probably be spending most of your time outside of the hotel anyways. The best part is that it is centrally located so you can tour Sydney by foot.

    The hotel is walking distance from Darling Harbour, China Town, the Opera House and the Rocks shopping center. Anything you could want to visit is right by you, parks, gardens, galleries, restaurants, shops and bars just to name a few things.

    There are so many things to do in Sydney and it becomes hard to choose what exactly to do. A few of the absolute must see places are the Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Aquarium and Bondi Beach. The Opera House is one of the most iconic buildings in the entire world and they produce unbelievable concerts; it is well worth seeing a show there. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is a beautiful piece of architecture and there are programs where you can even climb to the top and overlook the harbor. The Aquarium offers the most unique and diverse sea life in the entire world as it has animals that cannot be found anywhere else. And last but surely not least is Bondi Beach, one of the most recognizable beaches in Sydney, it is a fantastic stretch of white sand to play some volleyball on or just catch some rays.

    Sydney, Australia is one of the most vibrant cities and it is a place that everyone should visit at least one in their lifetime. So start planning that trip today.

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  • Tour the Magnificent Rockies in Canada

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    The Rocky Mountains may be associated primarily with the United States, but the northernmost part of the range stretches up into Canada. A trip to Alberta will put visitors smack in the middle of some of the most glorious and majestic mountain views on the continent. Those who want to sit back and enjoy the scenery without having to worry about the logistics of travel should investigate the various Canada coach tours that are available in the region.

    Trying to describe the beauty and splendor of these mountains with mere words is a futile endeavor. As with any other natural wonder, they need to be seen to be believed and, ultimately, the only way to know them is to experience them first-hand, not just through pictures and films.

    The Canadian Rockies offer several different landscapes. There is the traditional Rocky Mountain terrain that those who have visited places like Colorado and Wyoming will recognize. There are also stretches of the mountains that bear a close resemblance to the Alpine ranges of Europe. Lastly there are hundreds of glaciers at the top of the range that feed the many rivers and lakes of the region. These create an alien, though dazzlingly beautiful environment that truly defies description.

    In addition to breathtaking views of the scenic landscape, the area is perfect for those who want to engage in outdoor recreation. Vacationers to the Rockies can enjoy hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, skiing, fishing, and rock and glacier climbing.

    This guest post written by Leslie James.  Leslie is an avid travel writer whose work has appeared on numerous blogs around the world as well as a few real estate sites like http://rentstarlight.com.

    http://www.xoonco.com/2011/06/tour-the-magnificent-rockies-in-canada/
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  • Gain a Business Edge with Merchant Accounts

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    It is difficult to make a new business successful in today’s market, just as it has been in the past. And while everyone has the hope and intention of making their small business successful, the truth remains that the majority of those that open are no longer in business five years later. This information is not intended to frighten or deter entrepreneurs from following their dreams, instead it was mentioned to remind potential business owners of the importance of having an edge over their competitors. Interestingly, this can happen in a lot of unexpected ways, even your business bank account choice can to some extent create an edge over your competitor .

    While many people are occupied with their product or service needs as well as lease information and venue status, and of course these are all valid concerns, it is common to overlook the variety of options and features that are associated with certain business accounts. A merchant account , specifically, is designed to enable a business to accept as payment options Visa, MasterCard and other credit cards as well as debit transactions. This ability alone can put a dynamic edge over competitors who don’t offer the same convenience. And choosing the right business account for your company as well as patron services is a frequently overlooked aspect of business developments.

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  • IO Degrees at Work

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    As more companies recognize the value of their employees, they are investing in managers and human resources experts who understand organizational behavior and psychology. Professionals with degrees or certifications in industrial and organizational psychology (IO psychology) are uniquely qualified to help companies capitalize on the human capital they have and attract new and better employees in the future.

    People aren’t commodities and some corporations have been treating them as such for far too long. By employing IO professionals, companies are affirming their commitment to understanding human behavior and doing what they can to improve the workplace. IO provides insight into how the relationships between employees and managers as well as how individuals function in teams. It addresses topics of leadership, ethics, conflict resolution, diversity, motivation, and decision making. It is especially useful in helping organizations plan for and handle major changes that would otherwise be disruptive to workers.

    Individuals interested in pursuing this line of study can find both short-term industrial organizational psychology program s that provide certification as well as full degree programs that delve further into the subject. It is possible to find masters programs online that will offer the flexibility that working professionals need as they further their education and prepare for career advancement or shifts.

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  • Efile Your Tax Return

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    The federal government wants you to eFile. In fact, they have wanted you to efile for several years now. The electronic filing of tax returns is not a new thing, but each year more and more people are converted to the advantages of this technology. Electronic filing is easier for the IRS to process and store. Returns can be accepted within 48 hours and refunds can arrive in your bank account in as little as a week.

    In order to efile tax return , you have several different options available to you. If you depend on an accountant or tax professional to prepare and file your taxes for you each year, you need only instruct them to use efiling options rather than mailing in your return. This may add an additional cost to their fee. Remember: efile means faster filing and acceptance of returns, so the fee is probably worth it.

    Those who do their own taxes are also able to efile. There are a number of tax preparation companies that provide efiling services through their website. Tax payers can upload financial data from tax software or simply answer questions online to fill out their forms. Individuals that meet certain income guidelines can efile their federal and even state returns for free. Others will need to pay a processing fee to the preparation site.

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  • Intervening when a Friend is Addicted to Drugs

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    Watching someone you love struggle with an addiction can be a painful experience. You want to help them, you may even want to fix them, but you know that you can’t. Even if you’ve never experienced addiction first hand, you’ve no doubt realized that the addiction will only be overcome if the addict is willing to admit that they have a problem and is ready to do the work necessary to address their problem.

    There is one thing that friends and family members can do in order to facilitate the recovery of their loved one. They can work together to stage a drug intervention . This should be done with the help of an experienced drug intervention professional or counselor. They can help with the organization of the event and can prepare all participants for what to expect both from their own participation and from the addict. Intervention specialists should also be able to facilitate the event to make sure that everyone has a chance to address the addict.

    A successful intervention is one in which all participants get a chance to explain how their friend’s addiction is negatively impacting their life and their relationship with the addict. It should lead the addict to realize that they have to take responsibility for their addiction and for those negative consequences. Ideally, it will end with the addict agreeing to seek treatment and heading off to a rehab program accompanied by the counselor or family members.

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  • Taking Your Business to the Cloud

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    The next evolution for many businesses is converting from in house servers, software, and processes to cloud services. Many companies already incorporate aspects of the cloud into their business — some don’t even realize they are doing it. If your company is considering moving to the cloud, there are a few things to take into consideration.

    There are immense benefits to utilizing cloud collaboration both within a company and between a company and its clients and vendors. The ability to host programs, documents, and data on so-called virtual servers, makes them available to anyone, anywhere, anytime — well, anyone with the proper access and passwords and a working internet connection.

    When considering how to take advantage of these and other benefits of cloud computing, you need to look seriously at how your company communicates internally and with outside contacts. What email, conferencing, and collaboration software and infrastructure is needed? Then look at data and storage needs, including whether there is sensitive client data that needs to extra protection. Look at the types of software employees use daily and how much printing and paper storage is required. Many companies find that once they do this analysis they don’t just want to move major functions to the cloud, they decide to take their entire company virtual — with employees working from home offices and everything being hosted on cloud servers.

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  • Suspicious of Door to Door Salesmen?

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    Many people had the experience of an unknown person at the door. You peer through the peephole or window and see someone who seems threatening and you try to get rid of them as quickly as possible — and without making yourself vulnerable, just in case. It’s easy to make jokes about the Grim Reaper rejected at the door , but some people are just as afraid of door-to-door salesmen as they are of death.

    Maybe they’ve experienced one too many hard sells, whether at their doorstep, on a used car lot, or even from their friendly neighbor who got just a little too eager when throwing one of those home selling parties. Or maybe they are just the type of person who is such a soft touch they truly are vulnerable to any salesman that comes their way.

    Just remember when you peak out the window the salesman you’re so afraid of may be a simple college student participating in the Southwestern Company summer program or someone collecting money for a legitimate charity. It’s wise to be cautious, but don’t let fear rule your reactions whenever the doorbell rings.

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  • Important Safety Concerns for Swing Sets

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    There are very important safety concerns for swing sets that include stability and structural strength. Parents should look for sets that are structurally solid and have plenty of board footage per swing than what’s out on the market.

    Parents need to make sure that all the hardware on the swingsets are recessed, meaning they should leave no rough, exposed or sharp edges that can hurt their children. Recessed hardware also should not be covered with plastic caps which can pop-off and turn into a choking hazard according to the American Society for Testing and Material (ASTM) .

    Swing ropes need to be UV protected to reduce fraying and dry rot. Double braided rope needs to be woven tighter in order to reduce stretching over time. For added safety, make sure the rope is ½-inch. Many swing set manufacturers use 3/8-inch or they incorporate a heavy-grade wire wrap to add strength to the rope, but can come loose and scratch your children. Find manufacturers who use 4″ x 4″ posts to support heavy duty deck framing. For example: if you decide to purchase a Redwood set, make sure to look for 4″ x 6″ or even 6″ x 6″ posts with steel bracing.

    The best way to prevent accidents are to teach your children to avoid climbing on top of the money bars or the swing structure and remember to never use the bars if children are swinging on the swings.

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  • Maps in Modern Life

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    It’s hard to imagine a time when people didn’t need maps. However, you don’t have to go too far back to find a time when most of the world was localized. People were born, lived their lives, and died with a small radius, maybe only a few miles for a village. They grew up learning the terrain and the geographical relationships between places and never needed to map it out because anywhere they wanted to go was already ingrained in their minds and bodies. Not so in much of the 21st century world. Most modern cities are so large and complex that more and more people rely on GPS, a form of digital map , just to get from one place to another in daily life.

    It’s actually quite difficult to go a day in contemporary Western society without encountering a plethora of maps. Open a newspaper, or check any online news site, and you’re likely to be confronted with any number of maps illustrating world news of war, disasters, or political boundaries. Check the forecast for the weekend and you’ll be confronted with a series of weather maps depicting temperatures, environmental conditions or even radar or satellite images. If you take public transportation you’ll consult subway or bus routes, if you like to sail, fly, or hike, then navigational charts or topographic maps become necessary. And anyone planning a vacation will consult road and street maps for their destination, maybe purchasing a new colorado map for a road trip through the rocky mountains or even picking up a map of the homes of the stars when visiting Hollywood. Business, politics, religion, academics, and science all rely on maps to study or illustrate different aspects of life, so even at work you may work with maps of product distribution or analyze the spread of disease or have countless other reasons to interact with a map.

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  • Nostalgia and the Wedding Dress

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    There’s something about a wedding, especially one where the atmosphere is just right, and all the elements work together, that make for the best kinds of nostalgia. The word ” nostalgia ” has a connection, etymologically speaking, to the nose. This is because the sense of smell is connected to memory in a way that no other sense can match. This means that weddings are a place for the maximum of stimulation, so that all the senses can become involved for the spectators. This helps them to really engage with the event, and help shape it with their enthusiasm, and also to carry it forward in their own memories.

    It certainly helps, then, to plan for all of the elements of a wedding, especially in relation to their capacity for stimulating the senses, as well as engaging the mind, in order to make a memory. The ritual of the wedding is usually already set forth, so that everyone in attendance has an idea of the order of things. This helps to put them in a frame to take in the details. For the bride, used designer wedding dresses are one way of making their own nostalgia already present. Although their history is never visible, because for anyone else in attendance they look brand new, they do contain histories in their fabric, and this extends into the present moment to make for something nostalgic and entirely romantic.

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  • Speed is what makes Shuffleboards an Exciting Game

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    Speed is the essential component for shuffleboards. The speed with which the puck travels along the table is controlled by the player. However, it’s the shuffleboards wax that can make or break the player’s game.

    Actually, the wax comes in liquid form that is used to coat the playing surface before a silicone base powder product, which is better known as dust or ice, is applied. Silicone spray products are also used between liquid wax and ice to make the playing surface as smooth as can be, also the silicone spray reduces the amount of ice required, but ‘ice’ remains the main product.

    Ice dramatically reduces the friction between the puck’s weight and the shuffleboard table surface; there is less drag slowing the puck down. Ice makes the puck slide for incredible distances with just a small push. This is what makes the game; too much ice and the puck is hard to control, too little ice and the puck seems slow and sticky.

    Choosing the right wax power or ice doesn’t need to be complicated. Try them all out to see which best suits your needs. For home use, choosing a powder from the slower end range may be preferable, especially if the table is not tournament size. If the shuffleboard is tournament size, 22 feet, the faster range is preferable.

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  • Finding the Right Paths to Download Program Software

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    The revolution in computer programming has made life more easy for everyone, or infinitely more complex, depending on the perspective of the user, or the needs of the project. For most casual computer users, the available downloads are overwhelming, and it’s like swimming in a sea of incomprehensible choices. For the active user, it’s a different story.

    For someone working on any kind of digital-based project, there is probably already a good deal of knowledge about the kinds of software available, and the things that are needed for any particular project. But to get to the point where one is ready to hit the Download Program button, a little more work is necessary. There are almost always several, if not dozens, of versions of the programs available.

    Anyone who’s ever been in a last-minute crunch, where the videos are rendered, and the text and images are all in the right place, understands that the last steps are often the most complicated and maddening. This is Murphy’s Law at its most vicious. Finding the right program to convert a video file to the one that plays on the right system is not necessarily that difficult. But there are always links that will move in confusing directions, with free software that turns out to not be free after all. It takes time and patience, and having the right interfaces can help speed things along, so when things go wrong, it’s only a minor setback, and not an all-day emergency.

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  • Additional Features on Standard Coffee Makers

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    If you plan to purchase a new coffee maker or list one as a potential gift request for various celebrations , you will probably want to look into the available models and their distinguishing features before you set out to make your purchase or request. This is because many people don’t realize the amount of and diversity of espresso and coffee makers that exist in today’s market. And if you visit your local home appliance store you will find more options than what you will likely know what to do with.

    Of course it is also possible to find a standard ten or twelve-cup brew machine, though many of them come with options for additional features. It is easy to find one that includes a programmable time to begin brewing, and others have various brew strength features. And variations on the size of coffee makers is also common. Quality models are available in the one or two cup option and are designed to fit into smaller spaces and offices. Automated turn off buttons are also common and can be extremely helpful with busy schedules. And some models even have the coffee grinder built into them. The amount of additional features on the standard coffee machine has increased and so has the quality of the product itself. Meanwhile, there are still those purists out there who don’t want their machine to do anything other than brew their coffee . And if that’s what you want, there is a coffee machine out there for you.

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  • Work for the Soil Screener

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    Today, the construction industry has some amazing tools to get large jobs done in a short amount of time without sacrificing safety. There are plenty of choices in the kinds of equipment a company needs to get the project done. One can flip through the Construction Equipment Magazine and see the comparison in all construction and farming equipment like cement trucks, backhoes, forklifts, excavators and many more.

    In construction, there are plenty of times when the project calls for a soil screener to sift through the rock and soil. This is the only way to get large amounts of earth sifted into piles that built on grade. The large rocks are separated from the small ones and all of them are separated out of the dirt. This would have taken forever without the right equipment. In the old days, it sure did.

    Once the soil and rocks are separated, it can be hauled away. The different grades of rock are often sold on there own for other projects like landscaping and building. This is were companies can make good money off the work of the amazing screener machinery that they own. Make money separating it and hauling it away. Make money reselling the leftovers to someone else who needs it. What a great plan.

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  • A New Apartment, A New Perspective

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    People are creatures of habit, but they’re also a species that is remarkably adaptable to change. If a life is a collection of experiences and relationships that are marked in time, then one’s residence is the vantage point from which to watch these shift and change. Moving is never easy, but for those looking to change the place where they rent in Canada , there are plenty of resources that can help make the transformation more smooth.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the details of moving, and forget for a little while the reasons for the move. That can be a very good thing, especially in times of stress, when the best cure for too much introspection is distraction. However, any change, if it is to stick, needs some conscious attention to the bigger picture. Resources like online bulletin boards, self-help blogs, and help from Transglobe Property Management services can take a difficult situation and make it easy.

    For all of the difficulties in a move, there are always more positives than negatives. Up ahead, in the next phase of one’s life, there is a new perspective looming. Being in a new place can help change one’s attitude in remarkable ways, and attention to the process can bring about enormous changes in the way one lives one’s life.

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