Six Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

If you are thinking about the holidays right now and frowning, smooth your face, square your shoulders and take a cleansing breath. A little positive thinking can go a long way in helping you to enjoy the holidays this year instead of agonizing over all the little details. These 6 tips for a stress-free holiday season will start you off on the right foot.

1. Plan ahead. Print out return address labels for cards (I’m really doing it this year – bad hand cramping), update your address book, make room in your front hall closet for guest coats instead of piling them on a bed like usual, and prepare guest rooms ahead of time. Tackling a few of these tasks before you get really busy can make a world of difference.

2. Rethink your gift giving. Cut down on the mad shopping rush and stress of finding exactly what everyone wants this year – consider giving experiences instead of material gifts, and maybe even implement The Four Gift Rule. My extreme-gift-giving mom is actually trying it this year. Thanks, Mom!

3. Keep things simple with food and d├ęcor. Stick to your favourite recipes instead of trying something complicated and new, and a simple homemade centrepiece is all you need on your table. Please don’t belittle yourself for not having matching napkins and candleholders! Focus more on the family and friends you are gathering with rather than stressing over too many fussy preparations.

4. Have a few extra gifts on hand. A small stash of thoughtfully wrapped gifts is perfect for unannounced friends or last-minute invites. Choose items that have universal appeal and can be used by you and your family if they are still around come January. Think locally-made condiments, soy candles, handmade chocolates, wine and preserves.

5. Be choosy when it comes to events. This can be tough for social butterflies (my husband) and people who have trouble saying no (me). Only accept invitations to gatherings that are pertinent to the holiday and meaningful to your family. When planning your own event, keep it small and intimate with just a few close friends and relatives. We used to have a big Christmas open house but after a few years, we realized it was too chaotic as we spent most of our time greeting and seeing friends out, refilling glasses and snack bowls, and making sure little ones didn’t trash our house (even if they were adorable). Choose to host big parties at a different time of the year, when there is less going on and you are not so taxed.

6. Live in the now. As you trim the tree or make cookies with your kids, don’t forget to pause and really live in the moment. Don’t worry about what’s still on your to-do list (there’s always something), because before you know it the holiday will be over and you’ll be disappointed that you didn’t make the most of it. Also, carve out some time to do something just for you – take a walk, read your book, have a hot bath – it will go a long way in helping you to keep your sanity during the holidays.

Economics and Collateralizing Future Earnings Ownership

In order to stand a snowball’s chance in this brave, new, globalized, Trumped-up economy, here’s something that millennials need to know and understand. For all practical purposes, ALL THE DISCRETIONARY WEALTH IS BEING GENERATED ON THE OWNERSHIP SIDE OF THE ECONOMY!

That’s right. There are two ways in which to generate income. You can work for it in order to earn a wage or a salary. Or you can own wealth producing capital assets such as stocks, bonds, real estate, machinery, copyrights, or patents, etc. Owners of such wealth producing capital assets collect dividends (i.e. generate an income) strictly by virtue of their ownership.

That’s why best-selling author and motivational speaker Robert Kiyosaki says “A job is a short term solution to a long term problem.” The long term solution to the long term problem of course is capital ownership because for all practical purposes ALL THE DISCRETIONARY WEALTH IS BEING GENERATED ON THE OWNERSHIP SIDE OF THE ECONOMY – NOT ON THE JOBS/LABOR SIDE. The jobs/labor side of the economy has stagnated for over three decades now, while the ownership side has expanded exponentially during the same time period.

So What Can Millennials Do?
So what can millennials do with this insightful piece of knowledge? For starters, in the wake of graduation, as they make their way into the brave, new, 21st century economy, they can look for companies that are owned by employees (including worker owned co-ops and ESOPS) and submit their resumes and applications.

Collateralizing Future Earnings
You see, companies that are employee owned (ESOPs which is short for Employee Stock Ownership Plans) are organized in such a way that employees who qualify are rewarded with opportunities to buy stock (become semi-partners) in the company they work for using FUTURE EARNINGS OF THE COMPANY (as opposed to their own savings or equity, which minimizes personal risk) AS COLLATERAL. In investment circles this strategy would be called a Leveraged Buy Out (an LBO).

THIS UNIQUE FORM OF CAPITAL CREDIT FINANCING IS ACCESSIBLE ONLY TO EMPLOYEES WORKING FOR COMPANIES OFFERING AN ESOP OPTION. More specifically, it’s not available in employee owned co-ops, which is the next best option. And it has NOTHING TO DO with a company offering employee stock options which is not only highly speculative, but 100% dependent on conventionally collateralized financing possibilities.

Two Income Streams
So, without dipping into savings or jeopardizing the family home, ESOP employees develop TWO STREAMS OF INCOME. One from their wage or salary, and the other from their stock based dividends. The first is actively generated through the employee’s own time and effort. The second is passive or residual income that’s generated by virtue of their ownership.

Suddenly you see employees/workers who are benefitting from both the job/labor and the ownership side of the economy – which, as we’ve said before, is where ALL THE DISCRETIONARY WEALTH IS BEING GENERATED in the 21st century economy.

What Else Can Millennials Do?
So what else can millennials do in this regard? They can support political candidates who advocate employee ownership as a business model. For example, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has sponsored two bills in the US Senate that are specifically designed to encourage employee ownership practices. The first (S.2909) “Provides programs designed to encourage employee ownership and participation in business decision making throughout the US.” The second (S.2914) “Creates a US Employee Ownership Bank” which is designed to be friendly to the idea of using future earnings as collateral in the stock ownership transaction.

The more millennials know about the power of ownership, the better their odds become of participating on the ownership side of the economy, where as we’ve said before, all the discretionary wealth is being generated. In the process the malignant wealth gap that’s so threatening to American democracy can be reversed. Corporate plantations that are built on hierarchy and on the backs of modern wage slaves can be democratized. And the odds of millennials surviving, even thriving in the 21st century economy will be maximized.

Buying Foreclosure Properties

Buying Foreclosure Properties

Definition:

“A foreclosure property is a piece of real estate that a mortgage lender sells to pay off a defaulted mortgage loan. Every foreclosure culminates in a public auction where the lender sells the property and anybody can purchase the property. Or you can purchase a foreclosure property from a bank after the bank purchases the property at the auction.”

The real estate market is showing increasing signs of recovering and there are great investment opportunities to be found. Home prices are still relatively stable and interest rates are still very attractive.

However, whether buying for a primary residence or for investment purposes, there are still some basic guidelines to follow when considering buying foreclosure properties.

Below are my 4 Buying Foreclosure Properties Tips

1. Work with a broker.

It does not matter if you are buying a foreclosure for investment or as a primary residence, it is really helpful to have a broker help with the process.

Neighbourhood is one of the most important factors when it comes to buying a home and a broker is worth their weight in gold when it comes to knowing the local real estate market.

2. Do the financial due diligence.

All we need to do is remember the real estate market crash to see why it is important to do a thorough financial due diligence when purchasing a home.

Be realistic about your budget and how much home you can really afford. If the home is an investment purchase, can you make the mortgage payment if you have to carry the mortgage for a few months?

That can happen with investment property so be sure you factor in at least six months of mortgage payments just in case.

Also factor in the cost of any repairs. This is especially true with foreclosure purchases which are often sold ‘as is’ which means they often need repairs.

Verify the condition of the property. Restore and repair costs add up on a total value of a home.

It is always best to purchase foreclosure properties that require minimal repairs, otherwise your profit margin shrinks.

3. Understand that every neighbourhood is local to that neighbourhood.

What this means is that what is selling in one area may not be selling just down the road, so you need to do your homework and check comparable homes in the area to know whether or not what you are buying is a good investment.

Get a proper assessment on the home you are considering purchasing.

Buying foreclosure properties will generally be thirty to forty percent discounted, so if a foreclosure home does not need major repairs and you can get it for a price that is well below the market value of similar homes in the same area, then you are probably making a good investment.

4. Try and find foreclosures that are bank and creditor owned.

These properties are where you can most likely get the best deal because banks are not in the business of owning property so want to sell these types of properties and will often do so at a much discounted price.

Investing in foreclosure properties can be a very smart move, especially in the current real estate market.

With housing prices still relatively stable and interest rates still very attractive, there are many good opportunities for investment available.

When considering buying foreclosure properties, it pays to research the property and to do the financial due diligence in order to verify the quality of the property and financing.

Grow Your Facebook Fans Easily

Social media is so interesting because many of the popular channels come and go. However, there are also some social media channels that have been strong since their inception and they are even stronger than ever now. Facebook is one of those. It started out in a much more limited way than it is now and it is still extremely important to grow your Facebook fans for the benefit of your business and of your brand.

The challenges of Facebook
If you have a Facebook profile and you recognize your need to grow the number of fans that you have, that is challenging enough. On the other hand, if you have created a new page (for example, a new page for your brand), it can be even more challenging. In the past, it may have seemed easier to acquire new fans pretty easily and quickly. The reason that you might have had that perception is because it was easier.

Nowadays, on the other hand, it is much more difficult. The reason for that is, simply put, the volume of your competition. The fact is that if you want to grow your fans (it is safe to assume that you are looking for top-quality, relevant fans), it will take more effort and time on your part than it would have in the past. Of course, it goes without saying that you want to engage your Facebook fans as well. At this point, you may be asking yourself how you go about accomplishing that.

Identify your target audience first: The reality is that before you can do anything, you need to identify exactly who your target audience is and what they want and need. This needs to happen even before you start to use your Facebook profile to increase your number of fans. Of course, you don’t want or need everyone who is on Facebook to be one of the members of your target audience. It is very important that you understand that you must be able to solve the issues that your target audience members are experiencing. If you can’t do that, they are not truly your target audience members.

Use the most appropriate voice: Once you have figured out exactly who are your target audience members, the next thing that you have to do is to establish a connection with them. If you don’t start to interact with your target audience members, you will not be able to establish a relationship with them. As you are probably well aware, the relationship is at the heart of your ability to succeed. When it comes to your content, you need to write with your target audience members in mind. Your content needs to resonate with your target audience. That is how you establish an emotional/human connection.

Engage with your target audience members: When you are considering how to write your content, you also need to consider your environment. In other words, you need to think about how your content will affect people once it is housed in your particular Facebook page. You will notice that some of your content works more effectively than other content. If you have posted content and you see that very few (or no) people have read it, you understand that you should not be posting that type of content because it isn’t working for you. There are several different things that you can post and you will achieve positive results. Some of them are questions (thought-provoking), interesting photos, statements in which the target audience member needs to fill in the blank, and contests in which they would like to participate.

You need to stay with it for the long-term: Although you may not need to invest a large amount of money in your Facebook efforts, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to invest anything. Your investment is in the form of time and effort. If you wish, you can also invest money (in the form of paid advertisements); however, it is not necessary and, in many cases, you will find that you have invested money and those advertisements don’t yield anything. How frustrating is that?

Stay focused and breathe: As you are growing your fans, you must always remember to stay grounded. If you have any chance of relating to your target audience, you will only accomplish that by connecting with them as one human to another. Your ultimate goal (as is the case for everyone) is to sell your product and/or service. However, you can’t be pushy about it. You need to develop the relationship with the other person, fortify it over time, build trust and credibility, and then, eventually, the other person will probably want to buy what you are selling.

Stay committed to your schedule: People love a schedule that they can count on. That means that if you commit to posting your content twice a week on certain days and at certain times, you need to stick with that. Human beings are creatures of habit and they rely on being able to read your content when they expect it to appear online. That isn’t so much to ask (from their perspective) and it will not require a great deal of effort on your part either.

Pay attention to the analytics: Analytics and metrics are extremely important for your business because they give you a clear indication of how you are doing and how you can improve upon what you are doing. You will want to pay attention to specific things and if those things are not working or don’t seem relevant, you will need to refocus your attention elsewhere.

Conclusion
Growing your Facebook fans is very important for your professional success. As is always the case with social media, you will need to make sure that you surround yourself with relevant, top-quality connections with whom you can share a mutually beneficial relationship. If you make the appropriate online connections and you connect with those people on a human level, you can successfully grow your fans without allowing it to hurt your budget too much. However, it is important to understand that it is not enough to simply create a Facebook page and then sit back and wait for people to become fans. You will need to work it. You will then start to see the positive results that you have caused to happen.