Understanding YOUR Economic Alternatives With an Education in Alternative Economics

In the recent past we looked to professionals of the financial planning industry to help us devise a more informed plan that would take us comfortably into our retirement years. Unfortunately, the procedures and methods that most typical financial planners follow and suggest have become archaic and antiquated (even self-serving). Too often, this misguidance has led to diminishing returns instead of the large gains usually promised. As a result, and for good reason, we as a public have lost our faith in these so-called professionals and have lost the desire to save or invest for the future. Read the book, “Where are the Customers’ yatchs?” by Fred Schwed Jr.

To further the challenge, Social Security has published their prediction to be bankrupt (See your yearly Social Security statement page 1 top right paragraph) and the government is screaming at the public through almost every form of media to establish a personal financial plan that would not include government assistance. In other words, “you are on your own!”

Without understanding your economic alternatives or having a personal system of financial growth, the effects of social heredity during demographic and economic transition has proven to be devastating financially for most.

In other words it’s becoming more and more difficult to achieve any level of financial security if we make our financial decisions based on our inherited perceptions. As time goes on things change and the economic climate we live in changes too. Things are changing more rapidly now than ever before. Unrecognized changes expand the information gap between our perceptions and reality. The decisions we make have their result determined by how close, or far, our perceptions are to the reality of the world we live in.

For instance, did you know:

1. You can Self Direct IRA’s, 401K’s and other tax deferred retirement plans and use those funds to leverage acquisition of high performing real estate and watch your assets grow unhindered by taxation.

2. If you have stocks bonds or mutual funds you can often Pledge (Not Borrow) that asset as a down payment on real estate but never take it out of the funds they are in. In effect you can double dip!

3. Banks make money through something called Arbitrage and so can you.

4. You have hidden assets you didn’t know you had. In fact you have all the financial assets you need to achieve any goal you desire.

5. The Return On Investment for Home Equity is Zero.

6. The Effective Rate you are paying on a fixed rate mortgage changes from one year to the next.

7. Of the ways that the financial planning industry are allowed to report the performance of your investments under their management at least 9 of the 13 can make it look like you are getting a better return than you are. Sometimes you are actually losing money when they report a gain.

Through knowledge of truths like this, and much more, you can turn the financial table in your …

Bihar Braces Itself For Winter

‘Winter is coming.’ Bhola Rai may not have much idea about this trendy phrase, but he means it; he is preparing himself. Baraka Rajpur, a village situated in Bihar province of Northern India, is indeed preparing itself for the winter. Bhola Rai, in his 70s, is a peon in the government high school located on the outskirts of the village.

‘I have to arrange fire wood and dung cake every day for the nights are long and chilling, even though it’s just the beginning of November,’ Rai says as he sits to light up the brazier. Electricity is still a fancy thing for the villagers, though they get it supplied everyday for 3 to 4 hours; it is enough for charging mobile phones and running televisions for news and entertainment. But, Bhola Rai doesn’t depend on electricity at all; he fears electricity is spoiling kids and ‘old memories’.

‘No more bonfire and ghost stories for kids. I miss the ghost stories in particular. They were not just for the kids, but for the adults as well. You know, telling ghost stories needs lots of creativity. It is not easy to spook anyone easily,’ Rai ponders.

Life seems cozy for Bhola Rai as he survives on the salary he receives every month, but for other villagers, it is the time to brace themselves for the winters.

Baraka Rajpur consists of about 50 mid-sized families, most of them are small-time farmers. The poetic beauty and philosophical explanation of autumn don’t fancy them, though Bhola may not be one of them. The arrival of winter is the time for Rabi crops to be sown; it is a time, as it is said, of a gamble. Chickpeas, tomato and potatoes are the main areas of concern. It is frost (the white walkers) what they fear most. If it hits their plants, they’ll be forced to run to the cities for manual jobs.

‘I never liked the idea of going to the cities, leaving our agriculture. Agriculture is a noble thing and respected one. Things are not like before, but it still is. Government should do something about it. I don’t understand what we will eat if don’t grow. Government job or agriculture, this is what I suggest youngster,’ Rai expresses his dissents.

Forlorn streets and lonely houses of the village are witnesses of Bhola’s concern. Now youngsters don’t agree with the concept that agriculture is a noble business. They regard it with backwardness and misery.

‘You can take pride in it only if you have lots of land of your own. If you have little land or work in other’s land on profit sharing basis, then it is a thing to hide. I wouldn’t like to tell my friends in cities that we are farmers. Maybe, I’ll tell them we are in some sort of business or jobs,’ Mukesh, a high school student, also a nephew of Bhola, shares his views.

Villagers in Bihar, even today, sleep early as compared to cities. Mukesh and …

The Lucrative Role of the Import/Export Agent – A Great Way to Make Money From Home

Since the dawn of time, mankind has been involved in trade of some sort or another. The role of middleman followed not far behind. Today, the middleman – or agent – remains one of the most attractive business models for those with no capital to invest. And the added benefit is that, unlike franchisees, agents work solely for themselves. But, where do you begin to get into this kind of business? Well, a bright idea helps:

Here are three recent success stories:

  • Frank Audsley lives in Croydon, south of London. He’s making over €2,500 a month exporting wine to the Far East. In late 2010 he enrolled on a training course for Import/Export Agents with an utterly open mind on what sector to work in. “I really hadn’t any idea at all of what products to get started in. But one night I saw a short item in the news about Chinese people developing western tastes. A light went on my head and I went to check the course’s database of leads. I knew I’d seen a European Winery seeking export opportunities. Amazingly we had a deal agreed and the first buyers found within two months!”
  • Meryam Gul is a shopkeeper from North London. She imports Garden Fencing from India to the UK. She says “I always wanted to get involved in International Trade, as I saw relatives in Cyprus make a handsome living from it. “I discovered how to get involved in import and export without risking any capital – good news as I had few savings. The fencing opportunity just fell into my hands – an advertisement I saw alerted me to an Indian supplier seeking representation, and when I contacted him we really hit it off. I’ve since learned how to track down buyers for him, and the product is a good one and virtually sells itself. My husband looks after the shop now, I’m projecting an income of £50,000 in this, my second year of trading.”
  • Jamie Atwill is a local government worker in the Midlands. He imports organic olive oil from Portugal to Ireland and the Netherlands – “I was on holiday with my girlfriend in Galicia, where she comes from. We popped across to Portugal for the day and found this fabulous olive oil for sale at what amounted to a farm shop. We took details, but only on returning to the UK did we think about importing it here. My girlfriend did a bit of research and came up with the agency approach as the best for us – because we didn’t have any capital to spare. And just the very next day I spotted an advertisement for a home-study course the press. “Between us we got started by the end of the first manual, and within six weeks we had negotiated an exclusive deal with the farmer for Ireland and the Netherlands, and were already getting samples to wholesalers all over the two countries. We have nearly a dozen customers already buying

Why Grant Writers Shouldn’t Work For a Percentage of The Grant?

Non-profits like to hire writers on commission. That way if the grant isn’t funded they are not out any money. It’s also attractive for a freelance writer, anxious for work, to accept a job like this, in hopes of getting that grant.

However, The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) considers this practice unethical and will withdraw the membership of any writer who works on commission. Not a good business practice. Foundations frown upon it as well.

Here’s why:

1. Grant writers have little control over whether nonprofits win grants. An expert writer is going to deliver a nonprofit a more competitive proposal, but in the end the decision rests with the foundation. Even the most well written, most compelling grants get turned down, at no fault of the grant writer. Foundations have many more applicants than funds available. In addition, much of what goes into a grant proposal is out of the grant writer’s control. It’s not the grant writer’s fault if an organization isn’t grant ready, is disorganized, or if the program just isn’t as strong as other applicant’s. Another reason is that the funder may already know which of their “pet” projects they are going to fund. It’s simply unfair to punish the writer by not paying them for their work.

2. The foundation/government funding source probably won’t pay for your grant writer. Foundations generally restrict their funding to direct project costs. Even if they don’t, they are still likely to be a little unsettled by a grant request that includes a percentage for the grant writer. You should ask the Foundation ahead of time if this is an acceptable budget item. As far as government grants you can put a line item in your budget for Administrative Expenses not to exceed 10% but you must remember that 10% is also for you to do quarterly and final reports and provide overall grant management.

I have recently worked with a non-profit who had a state, a federal and a foundation grant for one of their many successful projects. However, they don’t have funding to pay for a professional writer, which they need because they underestimated the amount of their program support. They expect someone to work for them for free, when they have a million dollar budget. How fair is this to a grant writer who is trying to make a living? They are also so busy that they can’t write it in house.

If you are a technical writer who is looking for work, please don’t work for a percentage of the grant if it is awarded. Remember it is unethical. It also makes non-profits believe it is okay to take advantage of the grant writer.

We need to stick together!

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Now That Tax Season Is Upon Us, Can I Lose My Income Tax Refund in a Bankruptcy Filing?

When someone makes a decision to file bankruptcy, timing is everything. After the new year begins many people have buyer's remorse from their holiday spending frenzy and decide they need to file bankruptcy for their New Year's resolution. This happens just about every year after reality sets in and there just isn't enough money to make ends meet. What these people don't think about is tax season comes quickly after the new year and those that rely on their tax return as pennies from heaven will usually not think about it before filing bankruptcy. That's why it's a good idea to cover all bases and aske the question, can I lose my income tax refund and a bankruptcy filing?

The simple answer to that question is yes. That's why it's important to have a bankruptcy attorney help the individual file. A bankruptcy attorney will know when to time filing the petition to protect their income tax refund if necessary. Any income becomes part of the bankruptcy estate when filing for bankruptcy. In fact, the trustee will usually look back six months and monies received during this time will be considered income. Even worse, a big fat check from the government that is unprotected by bankruptcy exemption laws is fair game for the bankruptcy trustee to be used to pay back creditors. When filing Chapter 7, the bankruptcy attorney will look at all the cash, savings and any other assets that could be easily liquidated and protect those using bankruptcy exemption laws. Where there is a problem is when an individual does think about an income tax refund that's on its way from the federal or state government and the bankruptcy trustee finds it. If the attorney has no knowledge of it, most likely it will be left unprotected and be gobbled up.

This is why it is really important to make sure that an individual has an attorney that they trust and feel comfortable sharing intimate financial details. Holding back is not an option. Trying to hide a credit card or some property on the side will only end end disastrous in a bankruptcy filing . In this highly technology driven world bankruptcy trustees have a lot of tools in their bag of tricks to get information on the individual that is filing bankruptcy. The last thing an individual wants to hear at the 341 meeting is that the trustee found some property or income that was not disclosed. The attorney will have egg on their face as well as the debtor and the digging will begin.

Just because someone is planning on getting money back on their taxes, does not mean they still shouldn't file bankruptcy if it's absolutely necessary. Most states allow for generous exemptions to protect a fair amount of property including a wild-card exemption that can be used for anything, including an income tax refund check. As the economy gets tighter, most people count on this annual refund as a sort of mad money or for …

Health Insurance Solutions

Much has been said about the latest in the healthcare sector. Politicians’ continue to bicker and have no solid plan to replace the current plan. Certain Analysts believe if this Trump Administration plan passes the Senate their proposal will leave over 23 million people without coverage by the year 2026. The Affordable Care Act law is and was simply put in place to help the American people who were once unable to get any type of coverage, finally get the care he or she may need. Secondly, it has also helped more than enough individuals with pre-existing conditions get coverage as well. And thirdly there is the concern of affordability; this is for people who do not have enough money to pay for insurance on their own, the current law provides financial assistance for those eligible to receive money from the government.

The problem with today’s guidelines are the plans are based on: age, geographic location, the ability to pay, the rising cost of medical technology and taxes. Notice there is nothing mentioned about your overall health conditions. Until the underwriting process is brought back into the equation, then insurers’ will never be able to accurately measure their risk and set premium prices at affordable rates. The message to insurers’ is the fact that no one should be denied health insurance due to their finances or health related conditions to help protect against their financial losses when and if they occurred.

During this era a majority of insurance companies especially those that specialize in the health sector jumped on the band wagon with lower premiums knowing financial assistance would be there to help pay for coverage. Plans were and are designed to basically take the American peoples’ money first before paying any claims. Once the claims began to come from more than enough people, then insurers’ realized their premiums were set too low and began experiencing financial losses. There is no coincidence today why as consumers we hear about large health carriers pulling out of the marketplace and are no longer willing to participate this coming 2018 season under the ACA format.

The solution for consumers, we have to educate ourselves and grasp a good understanding and not listen to all the rhetoric in the media. We need a suite of insurance products to benefit us in the event there are some types of loss. Whether its a loss of life, the inability to work for certain period of time, or failing health our money needs to be protected at reasonable rates. Do this now while you are still healthy with the right kind of life and health insurance plans; underwriting is the key.

There are more than enough life and health insurance companies who offer benefits to protect your money. They never moved into this whole affordable care dilemma. Insurance today is still being sold on the premise of an individual’s risk factors. These type of plans whether they are: accident, cancer, critical illness, dread disease, hospitalization, preventive care …

Stupidity Vs Ignorance – The Scourge of the Entitlement Generation

If you're born between 1978 and 1994 – sit up straight and read this. Then after you have read it, make sure you understand it. If you don't, read it again until it sinks in. The "Entitlement Generation" – have been described as impatient, self-serving, disloyal, unable to delay gratification – in short, feeling that they are entitled to everything without working for it.

This is even worse if these individuals work in organizations that are constantly moving forward always with the best interests of its team at heart. What we hear is the whining and winging that drowns out the efforts of companies who want to help and are helping these individuals. But you know what they say about empty vessels making the most noise – little wonder why these ignorant people are so blind to the security they're given and the pay rise extended in a time when cut backs and price hikes are happening. This is just plain stupid and idiotic.

In light of the recent fiasco with the oil hike, I increased some salaries, mileage claims and opened doors for employment opportunities. But then there will always be certain individuals who think that the grass is greener on the other side. But that's ok. It's fine. I will be the first one to encourage my people to look for better opportunities anywhere they feel can offer them a better life.

There are some employees who believe and act as if they are more deserving than others at work without "paying their dues" – aren't willing to do the grunt work necessary to learn the job, but they sure want the perks I don't know where these people come off thinking they are entitled to things it took me 20 years to get. You got to be pretty stupid to think that. And forget the bull shit saying that you just need to work smart and not hard. That is rubbish! There is NO SUCH thing as not working hard! We MUST work hard before we can ever think about working smart.

I can understand it perfectly well if someone leaves a job for something better – but to leave a great job for a government position – earning a fraction of what they were earning before? It boggles the mind. There's nothing secure about government jobs by the way – so don't think that it's going to save you. But then again, it's probably a great place for the entitlement generation to be.

Those infected by 'Entitlementitis' an illness, reported more tense relationships and even higher levels of workplace depression. Little wonder why you have long faces greeting you and dead voices answering phones at government organizations that is absolutely ridiculous.

I don't feel sad for myself or my team when an employee leaves for greater things. As a matter of fact, I will be happy for them as I have prepared them well for bigger things in life. But I feel that people are sometimes …

Why Wine is a Symbol Love and Affection

Wine at dinner creates enchanting atmosphere while with friends, families and loved ones to reflect love and emotions. The taste and elegancy of wine is unmatched, made with Grapes and stored for years to get profound taste. Wine contains somewhere between 10%-20% alcohol, which requires Government to keep a check on youngsters, keeping them restricted.

There are many states in the US that allow Wines to be sold with Groceries and some that don’t. Wine prices vary from a few dollars to more than two thousand dollars depending upon Vinyard, Grapes and Vintage. Weighing all pros and cons, one thing is for sure. No get-to-gathers, delightful dinners, celebrations or dates could be enjoyed without a suitable Wine. 

Many questions come to mind of Why Wine is so symbolic in our lives?

Well, there are so many reasons for it.

i. Since its inception due to its delight taste and historic/cultural background, wine always had a special room in the heart of peoples around the world.

ii. Wine has different taste due to grapes color and place where it was grown, Vintage, fermentation process, etc. Wine also comes in other flavors like Banana, Chocolate, etc

iii. Recent research also states a small amount of wine can reduce the chances of Heart Attack

iv. Wine is also a Resveratrol (anti aging substance)

v. It doesn’t make someone drunk easily

vi. Wines creates warmth feelings

It is said that Love needs warmth before it gets cold, wine with delight food can create an unforgettable evening that could bring mates, friends and family closure. Wine is used in different ways; it is used in food, in desert or directly into the glass. Red itself creates an emotional environment, so red wine, in a wine glass, with a candle light dinner reflecting red color on the table coming from wine with delicious food could account for ever lasting impression to friends and beloved ones. Red wine is a centre piece in Valentine celebration.

The color Red and affection goes hand in hand, why not have a celebration with Red Wine in one of the finest restaurant this Valentine with someone you love and make sure to create an everlasting environment.

While ordering Red Wine, ensure to check the Vintage and Wine Yard and check it is from a popular destination, restaurants also offers testing before serving so test it before serving, check the cork and the label containing all the information. If you have selected the right Wine, it is guaranteed that your evening will be pleasant.

Besides Red Wine there are many other taste and color of wine based on grapes color, the place where it was grown and so on, you may choose those wine too based on your mood, also do not forget to find a corner table near the window to arouse the feelings to its peak.

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The Real Cause of the Credit Crisis

Politicians and other talking heads (and thus the general public) seem to agree that the current credit crisis was caused by lack of governmental oversight of the big bad bankers. In actual fact, it was just the opposite. The cause of the crisis was Government pressure (mostly but not entirely from Democrats in the White House and Congress) imposed on the mortgage lending industry as far back as the beginning of the Clinton era. Semi-government institutions, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, caved in to the pressure, and by readily buying ever-increasing numbers of shaky loans, they made it highly profitable for loan originators (mostly local brokers and bankers) and loan "bundlers" ( Wall Street) to willingly go along.

Starting in 1992, a majority-Democratic Congress mandated that Fannie and Freddie increase their purchases of mortgages for low-income and medium-income borrowers. Operating under that requirement, Fannie Mae, in particular, became aggressive and creative in stimulating "minority gains." The Clinton administration investigated Fannie Mae for racial discrimination and proposed that 50 percent of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's portfolio were made up of loans to low-to medium-income borrowers by the year 2001. The Clinton administration criticized the mortgage industry for looking at " outdated criteria, "such as the mortgage applicant's credit history and ability to make a down payment. Threatening lawsuits, Clinton's Federal Reserve demanded that banks treat welfare payments and unemployment benefits as valid income sources to qualify for a mortgage. That isn't a joke – it's a fact.

By 1999, liberals were bragging about extending affirmative action to the financial sector. A Los Angeles Times reporter hailed the Clinton administration's affirmative action lending policies as one of the "hidden success stories" of the Clinton administration, saying that "black and Latino homeownership has surged to the highest level ever recorded." After 2001, a major new market was found for these loans-illegal immigrants.

Meanwhile, a few economists (but no politicians) were screaming that the Democrats were forcing mortgage lenders to issue loans that would fail as soon as the housing market slowed and overly-stretched borrowers couldn't get out of their loans by refinancing or selling their houses. In Bush's first year in office, the White House chief economist, N. Gregory Mankiw, warned that the government "implicit subsidy" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, combined with loans to unqualified borrowers, was creating a huge risk for the entire financial system . Rep. Barney Frank denounced Mankiw, saying he had no "concern about housing". The New York Times reported that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were "under heavy assault by the Republicans," but these entities still had "important political allies" in the Democrats.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, George Bush bragged about the fact that a greater percentage of Americans owned their own homes than ever before, but (except for praising low interest rates) he did not explain how or why this happened. President Bush pushed even farther; he asked lawmakers to eliminate the down payment normally required for FHA loans. So Republicans have dirty …

Taxing Municipal Bonds or Removing Tax Breaks Could Be a Mistake

During the 2012 End of the World so-called Fiscal Cliff of our Federal Government there seems to be quite a bit of suggestions from the Obama Administration and President Obama himself about curtailing tax cuts for the wealthy when people of means invest in Municipal Bonds. Does this make sense? Should we be considering this? Can we do something like this during a time when Muni Bonds are sketchy in many places and municipalities are having trouble with their budgets? Let’s talk.

You see, there was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal on December 12, 2012 titled; “Tax Breaks on Muni Bonds Draw Scrutiny” by John D McKinnon and Andrew Ackerman which noted that some $30 billion in interest earnings from investors of Municipal Bonds are missed by the Federal Government.

However, if we remove this deduction now, then in essence the Federal Government is hurting our communities, cities, and municipal budgets. That hurts infrastructure upgrades such as sewer treatment plants, flood control run-off ditches, school projects, bridges, roadways, parks, libraries, etc. all so the Federal Government can have more money? Why, the Federal Government wastes so much money “trillions of dollars” a year in fact.

Since the Federal Government cannot live within its means, it is willing to perhaps cause a collapse of the Muni Bond market. Indeed, something like this could cause a flight from bonds, a cascading challenge for so many cities. With fewer investors, all within what some consider a bond bubble we could be in for big trouble.

Do we have to be worried that a politician will make a horrible mistake, or inadvertently destroy all the towns, communities, and cities in America over this? It’s not that the Muni Bond market hasn’t gotten a little at of control in the past, or created a bubble worthy of being highly scrutinized. That is a real problem, as Meredith Whitman has discussed, and I’d say she’s right, the municipal bond market is not out of the woods yet.

In my professional opinion it is irresponsible to be talking about removing the tax breaks for Muni bonds at this point, as it would collapse the bond market. We just don’t need that level of uncertainty for investors. It’s not good for our country, our economy, or for all those communities.

President Obama has suggested that before he became president he was a “Community Organizer” and in that regard, I’d like to say that there would be nothing worse for the communities around the country then to pull something like that, and it’s not even funny to entertain the idea. Please consider all this and think on it.

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