Helping You Define Your Lifestyle

Understanding the Increase in Popularity of Sustainable Communities

All over the country, we are seeing more and more sustainable communities. Pedro Martin has been at the forefront of developing these neighborhoods, where the focus is on using responsible resources. In some areas, communal living is even encouraged. So what are the top reasons why these communities are now so popular?

1. They Protect the Planet

One of the key elements of a sustainable community is that it is eco-conscious. This means using renewable and sustainable materials in the construction of the homes, and a community commitment to using low-emission vehicles, carpooling, lowering energy consumption, and gathering energy through sustainable technology. Sometimes, this is a written rule for living in the community, as it will be dedicated to lowering its carbon footprint and leaving it at a certain level.

2. They Help to Educate Others

Secondly, a sustainable community serves as a role model to the general public, showing them that living responsibly does not mean living in a mud hut. Some even hold outreach events in which others are taught about composting, reducing energy consumption, and working with the government to get assistance to become more sustainable. It is about leading by example.

3. It Promotes a Sense of Community

In today’s world, people who live next door to each other are virtually strangers. The community bond has been lost. In sustainable communities, however, everybody works together to keep the area green, fostering interaction, communication, and networking. Overall, it makes it a nicer, friendlier place to live.

4. It Has an Economic Advantage

Sustainable communities are eco-conscious and engage in various activities to maintain this. For instance, they can take over a derelict piece of land and build something new on it. This was seen in parts of Seattle, Greenville, SC, Cleveland, OH, and even Detroit. Essentially, it provided deprived areas with a breath of life, creating new neighborhoods out of the ashes of the old one.

5. They Promote Governmental Change

In order for sustainability to really work, the government has to get on board. Some have. For instance, California and Maryland provide tax credits to sustainable communities. Eco-activists are a type of political activist. They make sure that their elected official pays attention and brings this back to the wider government. This was strongly seen in San Francisco, CA, for instance, where green communities ended up dictated how corporations had to behave in their environments, green spaces, and communities.

Clearly, eco-conscious communities are rising in popularity for good reason. It is very important to promote sustainable living and renewable technologies, because it helps the world as a whole, and communities in particular. Companies like Terra Group, through the work of Pedro Martin, are playing a key role in creating more sustainable communities for people across the country – and even the world – to enjoy. Every effort made is a step in the right direction and has the potential to change the entire planet for the better, leaving a clean, green space for the next generation.

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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!