Sunday, April 29, 2007

Get Rid of Acid Reflux Forever

At one time or another, we all suffer a sudden bout of acid reflux - hydrochloric acid from the stomach moving up into the esophagus, burning the throat. For most people, it is a random, uncommon event. But for many, it can be a torturous, daily occurrence that destroys the quality of life, and can ruin even the happiest of events. The cause: a weak valve between the stomach and esophagus.

Now there is help via a minimally invasive procedure called Enteryx. The procedure involves injecting a rubbery polymer into the valve between the stomach and esophagus, to stiffen the weak valve, allowing it to open and close more completely. The latest studies show that in 70% of patients, this procedure stopped stomach acid from rising past the valve.

If you suffer acid reflux regularly, and medication is not working or you would prefer not to take the risks inherent in long term medication, ask your doctor about Enteryx.

Cutting Credit Card Interest Rates

Did you know that the interest rate you pay on credit cards is often negotiable? We all know that credit card rates are much higher than they should be, but you may be able to get those rates cut by as much as 1/3.

If your payment history with that card has been good, you should call the issuer and state that your payment history warrants a lower rate, and simply ask to have your rate reduced. Often, that is all you need to do. But in some cases, the person you are speaking with may give you the run-around. If that happens, ask to speak with his supervisor.

When the supervisor gets on the phone, ask him/her the same thing. If the supervisor balks, just tell him that you could simply close your account with them, moving your debt to another card. Then all you need to do is wait for his card company to send you a new low-interest offer in the mail, trying to get you back - they always do. So, why not just save all that lost time and money, and just give you that lower rate now.

While this does not always work, if your credit is decent, they will not want to risk losing you as a customer and may very well lower your rate, saving you a substantial amount of money.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Consumer Tip for Bargains

It's easy to get deep discounts on some great items. The Unclaimed Baggage Center purchases items left, lost and confiscated at airlines, then sell them online or in their store in Scottsboro, AL. Sporting goods, clothing, electronics, cameras, jewelry - you name it. Inventory changes regularly, so visit often.

Home Improvement

Home improvements seldom, if ever, provide a 100% return on investment. Here's how it averages out:

KITCHEN MAKEOVER returns 80%. But a simple, less expensive updating can return almost as much - 75%.

Adding a full bathroom returns an average of 84%, while turning a basement into a social area returns 79%. Turning an attic into a bedroom suite can return 93%.

If planning to sell soon, the best investments as far as improvements are concerned are those areas first seen by buyers (front entrance, front yard) and those spaces most used and most important - kitchen and bath. If your home only has two bedrooms, if you can add a third in the existing space (attic, basement, den etc.), that will make your home available to a larger pool of buyers.

If your land is not very "friendly" for family use, perhaps because it is rocky, is on a steep hill or is otherwise unuseable, consider building a deck over the area, making it suddenly useable. A deck can easily be divided into different outdoor living spaces by using planters, built-in seating, built-in firepit, or simply by building a multi-level deck.

If you have an unused lawn area you would rather not have to mow, you might choose to replace the grass with low-bush blueberries. They only grow a few inches high, cover an area well and will eventually crowd out weeds, and they can provide a large amount of delicious fruit every June. And you never have to mow or prune.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Advantages of Age

Baby Boomers like myself have a huge advantage over younger folks who were raised in a time when things came easily. In the '50's, for example, most kids had to build their bicycles from salvaged parts. We had to create our own entertainment, and use our imaginations in order to get things we wanted and needed.

Because the times were harder, and money was more difficult to come by, us "old guys" learned how to accomplish much with very little. And that knowledge can help create wealth.

I remember my Dad wanting to turn the attic of our home into additional bedrooms for his 7 rugrats. Having gone through the Great Depression, he had learned a few tricks of his own. He looked all over three towns, finding old, run-down or storm damaged sheds, garages and other structures. He offered to remove those eyesores for very little money, which was a great deal for the property owners.

Dad made more than just that small profit, however. He was able to salvage a lot of materials which he used to rebuild and finish the attic. Not only did a couple of cramped kids get their own bedrooms, but the value of the house was increased without much cost. And the small amount of cash Dad charged for demolition and removal was used to give the rooms their finishing touches - carpeting, wallpaper, lighting.

Today, homeowners and investors can accomplish much the same, simply by shopping at local salvage yards (look in the Yellow Pages, or online). Salvage yards offer everything from raw materials (lumber, bricks etc.) to bath tubs, sinks, doors, windows, mantles - even some very expensive decorator items - all at steeply discounted prices. I even found a large supply of antique ceiling tins that I used in a formal dining room.

So, if you want to increase the value of real estate at minimal cost and maximum profit, consider shopping salvage yards and discount houses (like Building 19) that buy up distressed goods from other stores that have gone out of business. And even stores like Home Depot often have a lot of paint that customers rejected after it was mixed, and they sell those paints at a substantial discount.

Put on your "smart hat" and look for the bargains. They are everywhere!

Dumb Arguments Part I


Dumb Argument: "We cannot detain, arrest or deport illegal immigrants because it breaks up families."

Response: If we cannot arrest or detain people who break the law simply because it would break up families, then we cannot arrest or detain the guy who knocks over a liquor store, or sells drugs - not if he has a family.

Because arrest would break up a family is no excuse to allow lawbreakers to go free.

Dumb Argument: "I don't have to change my lifestyle - I buy carbon offsets."

Response: So, if everyone were to buy carbon offsets so they would not have to change their carbon emissions, just how does that reduce carbon emissions? (Although I do see how it would make certain liberal groups and crooked organizations who sell the offsets very wealthy)

Dumb Argument: "We must stop using the phrase "Global war on terror" because it infers that there is a serious crisis (Democratic Congressional statement)."

Response: Duh! We are fighting (war) people who want to kill us in any way they can (terrorists), and we are fighting them here and abroad (the world). Sounds like a "global war on terror" to me.

Dumb Argument: "Religious people should keep their religious beliefs and opinions private because it is not right to impose your beliefs on others"

Response: Sounds like the person who said this (Mary Shanks) is trying to impose her beliefs on others. The surest way to kill any belief is to not share it. It is the duty of every religious person to "spread the word." In the 1800's, there were religious sects that did not permit sex. Since there were no children, once the adults died, there was no one left to keep the religion alive, and the sects died out (see "Osgoodites"). In order to survive, religions must spread the word. Most religions REQUIRE believers to spread the word.

Dumb Argument: "Don't waste time trying to change the world - the world is too big, and you are too small."

Response: Tell that to Jesus, Muhammad, Alexander the Great, Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King.

Dumb Argument: "It is OK for those illegal immigrants to burn the U.S. flag because the Supreme Court says flag burning is protected speech." (Liberals' response to immigrants who burned flags belonging to other people while the flags were still on people's homes)

Response: But the flags they burned belonged to other people! And they were still attached to someone's house! Such acts are NOT protected free speech. It is arson, trespassing and destruction of private property.It is legal to strip a car, too. But not if it's someone else's car.

Dumb Argument: "Global warming is a serious problem because all the scientists say so."

Response: First, fewer than half of all climatologists agree that global warming is a real threat. Second, most of those who claim it is a threat are doing so because it is the only way they can get federal funding for their pet projects (scientists live by grants). You can't get funding if you claim your research is not very important. Third, "all scientists" once believed the Earth was flat, and that the Sun revolved around the Earth. Back in the 1970's, they believed we were on the verge of an ice age. Throughout history, "all the scientists" have been wrong at least as often as they have been right. Being in the minority does not make you wrong - it just makes you outnumbered.

Closing Costs Can Put $$$ In Your Pocket

Save on closing costs when buying real estate. First, negotiate the asking price down (example: asking price of $200,000 negotiated down to $185,000). Then, try to talk the seller into paying the closing costs. He will probably refuse. So, tell him you will pay an extra $8,000 for the home if he will use that extra $8,000 to pay $8,000 in closing costs. He still gets the same amount of cash at closing.

You have managed to save $8,000 in cash by having the closing costs "merged" into the mortgage. You pay an extra $50/month on the mortgage, but you save $8,000 in cash, now.

Now take the $8,000 cash you saved and pay off short-term obligations - credit cards, car payment, etc. This will lower your monthly expenses by as much as $120 each month, which you can now use to pay on your mortgage.

In this way, you accomplish a couple of things - first, you avoid paying $8,000 out of pocket for closing costs. Second, You have transferred 3-15 years of high interest debt on depreciable assets into 30 years of low interest debt on appreciable assets, saving up to $120/month, which is a net gain of $70/month ($120 saved -$50 extra in mortgage=$70 gain). Third, you have turned non-deductible credit card interest into tax deductible interest, because the $8,000 in closing costs that were rolled into your mortgage creates additional interest on your mortgage.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Time for Large-Caps?

Over the last few years, small and mid-cap growth stocks have been the performers. This rush to such stocks has caused many large-cap growth stocks to be modestly valued. For this reason, and with the economy shifting somewhat, many large-cap growth stocks are now a good value, showing stronger potential than many small and mid-caps, and have less risk, especially now that the market is expected to show more modest gains in 2007. Among our favorites poised for a rebound include T. Rowe Price Spectrum Growth (PRSGX), Amana Growth (AMAGX) and Marsico 21st Century (MXXIX).

See you at the top (^.^)

BJ

Preventing Diabetes II

Did you know that diabetes II, which affects nearly 25% of all adults as they age, can be easily prevented? Contrary to common belief, diabetes is not brought on just because of sugars in the foods you eat. A more dangerous culprit is all the simple carbohydrates in the average American diet. Simple carbs from white breads, potatoes and pastas are quickly turned into sugar in your digestive tract, causing spikes in blood suger levels. So, if you want to avoid developing diabetes II, reduce those simple carbs as much as possible, and eliminate the biggest culprit of all - soda - from your diet. Your body will thank you for it.

BJ

Your Kids Can Put $$$ In Your Pocket

Did you know that you, as a sole proprietorship, can write off $5350 of your income each year, for each of your minor children you employ? And you do not even have to withhold taxes from them, and they will not owe any tax on that income, either.

Let's say you have three children under the age of 18, and you hire each to work for you. You can pay each one up to $5350/year, and write off the entire $16,050 from your income taxes. More important, any child earning up to, but not more than $5350 per year does not have to file or pay taxes on the income. So, that money is completely tax free!

But there's more. You can put at least $2000 (or more) of each child's income into a ROTH IRA each year. Why? Because with a ROTH, the funds earned are not taxed when the money is withdrawn. Since the child paid no tax on the income placed into the ROTH, and pays none coming out, the child's IRA will grow much faster, and without any tax at all.

As for the remainder of each child's income (about $3000), you could allow the child a nice weekly allowance while putting the rest away for his/her college education. And if you cannot afford that much pay out of your own income, then you can have the child use some of their income to buy their own clothes, etc. - items you would have had to buy, anyway.

NOTE: if you have three children and you are in the 28% tax bracket, the write-off on this income automatically saves you $4,494 on your taxes. Money in your pocket.

BJ

Perk Up Real Estate Sales With Perks

As housing sales begin to slow, sellers find it more difficult to attract any of the buyers that are still looking. Here are some ideas on how to attract buyers when others cannot.

1) Spruce up the first thing(s) a buyer sees - often the front entrance and driveway. This is their first impression - if it is not a good one, the showing will go downhill from there.

2) Have the place well-lit when being shown, and eliminate clutter, even if you must rent a storage unit to keep excess furnishings. Buyers like free space.

3) People buy because of the unseen things that attract them. Just before a showing, bake apple pie, or cookies, or brownies. The aroma pleases the senses, and triggers nostalgic memories that can help induce a buyer to buy. If you do not have time to bake, boil some water and drop in a couple cinnamon sticks.

4) Most Realtors simply mention the features of a property. But buyers do not buy features - they buy the benefits produced by features. Get a leg up on other sellers by promoting the benefits of owning your home. For example, if close to schools (feature), Mom can sleep late (benefit). If close to a lake or pond (feature), advertise lazy Saturdays fishing from the canoe that is included with the property (cost: about $300). The canoe becomes another perk.

I recently sold a home that had acres of lawn area. Now, most people do not look forward to mowing such an expanse, so the first thing I showed potential buyers was the shed - which housed a nice lawn tractor, power trimmer, garden cart and all the "toys" that make the yard work a cinch. When hubby saw those toys and heard I was "throwing them in" for free, he just could not control himself. I had him signed that same day.

So, don't forget those little perks if you need help getting a property sold.

BJ

"Wealth From Thin Air"

A few years ago my students and friends asked me to write a book that outlines the true principles of success that I have used to create success on all levels - money, health, relationships, spirit etc. In response to their request, I wrote a little eBook entitled "Wealth From Thin Air". I decided that this eBook should be made freely available to anyone and everyone, and posted it on a free site at www.success-by-design.org.

Since then, this wonderful, insightful little book has been read by over 7 million visitors. And many of those readers would later write to me and express their delight, appreciation or, in some cases, amazement at the difference it has made in their lives.

It is my sincere hope that you, too, can benefit from it, and if you find value in it, that you will send the link to everyone you know.

May you be blessed

BJ

Meet Bill Vaughn...

Hello. For the moment, this blog is new, and I have not actually begun writing for it in a serious way, but I will be doing so very soon. Meanwhile, please feel free to read a brief bio of this Simple Man at www.intellibiz.com/billv.html. If nothing else, you will discover why I have created "Success By Design".

BJ

Welcome

Coming Soon - Success By Design will be a place where visitors can find up-to-date information, tips, strategies and ideas for building a better, fuller, richer and happier future. We welcome you, and your thoughts.

Be seeing you soon!

BJ