Helping You Define Your Lifestyle

Could You Be the Next Crime Victim?

Being a victim of crime is something no one wants to be a part of.

That said are you doing everything within your power to lower the chances of being the next victim? If you are not, you could be setting yourself up for trouble.

With that in mind, what steps can you take to steer clear of being a crime victim?

Don’t Think It Can’t Happen to You

In your quest to steer clear of ending up a victim, your first step should be to understand that it can happen to anyone.

That said you want to avoid having the notion that you are immune to it. Even when you think you’ve taken all the right steps to avoid crime, it can still surprise you.

Among some of the crimes and how you can avoid them:

1. Identity theft – One of the more troublesome crimes, identity theft can strike at any time. With that being the case, you want to have an identity protection plan backing you up. Whether you look into LifeLock identity protection service or another brand, protect yourself. Such coverage will alert you to any red flags as you look to protect your finances. The most notable is someone without authority has tried to access your finances. Remember, one successful identity theft caper can have dire consequences for your finances.

2. Property theft – No matter the items involved, property theft is another crime you want to be aware of. With that in mind, you should make sure all your property has protection at all times. An example of this would be your vehicle. Are you someone who leaves their vehicle unlocked all or most of the times? If so, you are asking for trouble. Even if you lock your car or truck on a regular basis, do not leave valuables in it. Items like laptops, phones and significant money should never be in your vehicle. If you need to leave something of value in your vehicle for only a brief period of time, lock it in the trunk. At least this way it is out of the public view should someone come upon your vehicle.

3. Home invasion – Another crime to stay on top of would be a homeinvasion. In such a scenario, a criminal would break into your home whether you are there or not at the time. If you are, things could be even worse. To best protect your home, having a security system in place is a good start. If you do not have one now, go online and see which companies offer the best systems. You can check with friends to see which home security systems they recommend. Even with a security system in place, use some commonsense too. This means not leaving doors unlocked to start with. If you are going to be away for any extended period of time, be sure to have your mail/newspapers picked up. Also make sure your grass is trimmed and any snow is shoveled. Never give off signs that your home is sitting there without you around.

In your efforts to avoid being a crime victim, will you come out on top?

 

 

 

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5 Time-Tested Strategies for Financial Success

Financial Success

There are no short cuts to achieving financial success. To build, preserve and expand wealth that lasts you a lifetime, you must follow some proven principles. Here, we’ve compiled a list of 5 of the essential strategies you should make a part of your financial short and long-term plan to help you build your own financial success.

1. Set up a brokerage account

As soon as you’ve opened a bank account and signed up for your company’s retirement savings programme, jump on the next stage of smart wealth building by setting up a brokerage account. With it, you will be able to invest in stocks of different companies, no-transaction-fee mutual funds, as well as exchange-traded funds, which most people can’t access with their 401(k). 

To give you a quick guideline, opening an account with an online broker, Fidelity requires you to start with a deposit of $2,500; while at Charles Schwab, you’ll need only $1,000, which is not compulsory if you signed up for automatic monthly deductions of $100 or more from your account. For better money management and investment planning, it’s advised you go with a debit card that helps you with that goal in addition to making transactions convenient. 

2. Ensure your investing costs are at a minimal level 

Generally, less expenditure means more money in your account. As a fund investor, focus on ETFs and mutual funds with low expense ratios. As we already pointed out, the first thing to do is to register with a reputable online broker such as Fidelity or Charles Schwab so you can buy and sell stocks averaging $7 per trade. Besides, there are top discounters that allow you to trade select ETFs without requiring sales fees. Seriously consider index funds, especially those that track S&P 500, with estimated annual fees of 0.05%. Funds like Mairs & Power Growth (MPGFX) and Dodge & Cox Stock (DODGX) are recommended as they are top low-cost actively managed funds. 

If you have a fund manager, you’ll probably pay an annual consultation fee of 1%; but you can always negotiate for a lower fee. Another option is to go digital with an AI adviser, which can help manage your stock portfolio by using digital technology. An example is Wealthfront, which will not charge you a management fee if your balance is less than $10,000 and requires you to pay only 0.25% per annum for sums above that. You may also check Betterment, which levies just 0.25% of assets under management yearly. 

3. Diversify your investment 

Spreading out your investment with a variety of good value stocks and bonds can help you weather the storms of volatile periods and enhance your long-term ROI outlook. If, for example, your retirement is at least ten years away, keep 70% of your investments in stocks and put 30% in top-quality bonds. Mutual funds are good great for you too. For example, mutual fund managers, Vanguard Wellington (VWELX) keeps two-thirds of investments in stocks, as a principle, and the rest in bonds; and it has maintained a yearly return of 8.2% over the past 20 years. 

4. Rebalance, retarget and realign as necessary 

It’s important you get regularly balance your portfolio up for better overall performance. Move your investment assets around sometimes, divesting some funds off the ones performing well and shoring up the laggards to get a good mix. Always review your brokerage statements at least twice a year to see where your portfolio needs some rebalancing, retargeting or realignment and then go on to make the necessary trades. 

5. Adjust your investments

As your countdown to your retirement, your target should be an investment portfolio that gives you a good return that can stand the tide of inflation and also minimises your risk.  A spread of 50% stocks, 40% bonds and 5% cash is a nice mix that can help you achieve that goal. A mix of 60% stocks and 40% bonds and cash will likely give more growth; but if your risk threshold is less, then try a mix of 60% bonds and cash and 40% stocks.

Living with Depression: How to Keep Working

Living with Depression

In recent times, depression has become one of the most talked about mental illnesses that affect people in ways that no one could have foreseen.  It is easy to get disillusioned especially after you try for a long time and constantly fail to shake that dreadful feeling away

When your depression starts to creep into your work, it is the cue for you to shake things up a bit and try something new. Here are the things that you can do to make sure that you are not crippled by your depression at work.

1.  Break Up Work into Smaller Chunks

When you are depressed, you will find yourself settling for just being able to make things works. However, you will need to do more than just make things work. At some point, you will have to show up to work and get tasks accomplished. 

However, as you very well know, depression tends to scatter your concentration and suck away your energy. So, how do you keep yourself focused and energetic under these conditions?

Break up tasks into small ‘bite-sized’ bites and then work on them that way. Completing achievable goals will give you a sense of satisfaction.

2.  Work Does Not Make Depression Go Away

No doubt, you have heard people tell you or other depressed people, that if you get into something productive, you will not have time for depression. You hear it so much; it starts feeling as if it might be the elusive solution you have been looking for. 

However, this is far from the truth. Productivity will only do so much to distract you from the real problem. You will need to make sure that you are not duped into buying into this false philosophy. Do not fight fire with fire. While it will likely help distract you for a short period, it will not work a long-term cure or solution.

3.  Speak Openly About Your Depression

There is the potential that being open about your depression at work will have some disadvantages that you will not want to deal with. It has been proven, however, that speaking about it is much better than sitting on it and many workplaces now are very open to helping those affected with mental health problems.

1 in 4 people in the lifetime will have a mental health condition which means, realistically speaking, that in an office of 80 people 20 of those people will suffer from a mental health condition at some point.

When an employer or manager is made aware of the situation, they will accommodate the little things that you may miss, and you might even get perks like working from home when you feel like you cannot make it work.

4.  Personalise Your Workspace

It is always great to work in an environment that makes you feel comfortable and welcome. There is a lot that goes into making your space your own. You can start with lighting, colours and noise minimisations. All these things can affect your mental health without your realising it. Go for anything that makes you comfortable and positive. Add plants, family pictures and anything that makes you smile. If you do not want noise, you can get noise-cancelling headphones to block everything out and make yourself focus.  

To Sum Up

It is possible that you can be depressed and still function well. High-functioning depressives can juggle everything that demands attention and still have time to work on themselves. It all has to do with finding the right lifestyle, starting to operate with the right habits and then going for professional help. Medical care and therapy only help when you are doing more than just waiting for pills to kick in or things to get better.

Accept your depression – then challenge it!