Best Investment Ideas and Best Safe Investments for 2012

Here we list some of the best investment ideas and tackle the challenge of finding the best safe investments for 2012. What might appear to be one of the best investment ideas to the uninformed could turn out to be one of the worst.

Looking at the big picture for investment ideas in 2012, moderation in asset allocation and a balanced investment portfolio will be the most basic key to success. There are 4 asset classes, and average investors need to spread their money across at least the first three to keep their overall portfolio risk moderate. The 4 categories in asset allocation are: safe investments, bonds, stocks and alternative investments like gold and real estate (optional). Asset allocation can be simplified, because there are mutual funds available to average investors that represent each of the 4 asset classes. Now let’s get more specific about the best investment ideas for 2012 starting with safe investments.

Safe investments earn interest and do not fluctuate in price. You will need to look outside of mutual funds in 2012 to find the best safe investments because record low interest rates have taken yields on money market securities (and hence money market funds) down to just about zero. One of the best investment ideas if you have an account with a discount broker or major mutual fund company is to shop for one-year CDs paying higher rates if you can’t get competitive rates from your local bank. Do not tie your money up for longer periods just to earn a little more interest. One of these days interest rates will go back up and you will be locked in at a lower rate and face penalty charges if you cash in early.

Finding the best safe investments will be truly challenging in 2012, but here are some more investment ideas. If you are in a retirement plan like a 401k that has a fixed or stable account option do not overlook it. You can often get a much higher interest rate there (maybe 4% to 5%) than anywhere else outside of your retirement plan. If you own an older retirement annuity or universal life insurance policy, it might have a fixed account you can add money to that is guaranteed to never pay less than 3% or 4%. Remember, truly safe investments like U.S. Treasury bills and bank money market and savings accounts are paying WAY LESS than 1%!

Over the past 30 years bonds and bond funds have become a favorite with investors because they have been consistent performers and returned on average about 10% per year… basically about equal to what stocks have returned, but with considerably less risk. Many investors have fallen in love with their bonds funds and consider them to be among the world’s best safe investments. Bond funds are NOT safe investments. They have performed well since 1981 (when interest rates and inflation were at record highs) for one primary reason. Both inflation and interest rates have been falling for 30 years, which has sent bond prices higher. Loading up on bond funds now is NOT one of the best investment ideas for 2012. In fact, it is one of the worst investment ideas.

When interest rates and/or inflation turn around and head upward bond funds, especially those that hold long-term bond issues, will be losers. That’s how bonds work. One of the very best investment ideas for 2012 is to sell your long-term bond funds if you own any, and switch to funds holding bonds with average maturities of about five years. These are called intermediate-term bond funds; and average investors should have some money invested here as part of their asset allocation strategy to add balance to their investment portfolio. These are not truly safe investments, but they are much safer than long-term funds.

My best investment ideas in the stock department focus on stock funds. Do not go heavily into the more aggressive funds that invest primarily in growth and/or small company stocks. These pay little if anything in dividend income and tend to be more risky and volatile than the average stock fund. Go with funds that invest in high quality large-company stocks with excellent dividend paying histories. Look for funds that are paying 2% or more in dividends. One of the best investment ideas for 2012 and beyond: invest in no-load funds with low yearly expenses. No-load means no sales charges, and low expenses mean higher net returns to the investor.

Alternative investments include the likes of real estate, gold and other precious metals, natural resources, commodities, foreign investments and so on. One of the best investment ideas for managing a truly balanced investment portfolio is to include this fourth asset class as well. The simplest way for the average investor to add these alternatives to their portfolio is with mutual funds that specialize in these areas or sectors. My best investment ideas here: don’t go heavily into any one area, and don’t chase after a sector (like gold) just because it’s hot. Real estate and natural resources funds would be my picks as two of the best investment ideas in the alternative investments asset class.

Moderation and diversification across the asset classes will be the key to asset allocation in 2012. I have also listed some specific best investment ideas for keeping the average investor in the game and out of serious trouble should the investment scene turn ugly. Above all else memorize this: long-term bond funds are not among the best safe investments for 2012. They are not safe investments, period.

In-Dependence – Some Thoughts on Meta Relationships

You are not independent. You are “in-dependence.” Independence is an illusion; it does not exist, anywhere. As an individual, as a society, as a nation, we like to view ourselves are independent. Especially in the United States which was founded on the principle of independence. But, think about it, what are you not dependent upon? Who are you not dependent upon? Dependence is not a bad thing; it has earned a bad rap due to issues of “co-dependence” which refers to a dysfunctional relationship between two or more people. We like to think of independence as freedom. But, freedom is a mental concept that has become distorted to mean no responsibilities, which is a fallacy. Freedom has more to do with our capacity to make choices and decisions for which there are consequences to which we are bound. The natural world, of which we are a part, is a complex web of dependence. We use our freedom to make choices and decisions within the confines of our dependence upon the natural world, which does include Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which we are integrally dependent upon the natural world and other people.

If we consider some of our basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing, we readily see that without the soil, the rain, the sun and a conducive atmosphere, we would have no food. And, you will certainly agree that we are dependent upon food! Shelter too is based on utilizing natural resources: wood mainly, which comes from trees, which grows in soil, which needs sunlight and rain…and a conducive atmosphere. Clothing comes from natural fibers such as cotton and silk. Or, it is made from synthetic materials which are petroleum based and again part of the natural world’s resources.

One of our more basic needs is physical safety, security and protection. These needs too are dependent upon the resources of our natural environment. Whether it is a fortress built of stone, a spear of wood, a sword of metal, a gun, a cannon, a bomb….they are all built from materials outside of our individual existence, meaning we cannot simply materialize these things from within ourselves. We can imagine tools such as these, and so many others, from within ourselves…but, we cannot materialize them without the aid of natural resources. It has been suggested that “home sapien”, the knowing animal, ought to be renamed “homo faber” the fabricating animal. All of the tools and technology which surrounds us today is a fabrication utilizing the materials available to us…and without which, we would have nothing. We are dependent!

Higher needs have to do with social interaction…belongingness and connection to others. The complex division of labor in society requires that we interact with others; systems of exchange are devised of which money is only one. We are not so much dependent upon money as we are dependent upon exchange. We could not exist in society alone as a solitary individual. We are dependent upon others, and they upon us. The complexity of our dependence can be mind boggling. Just having food to buy at the market, or gas to buy for the car, involves a vast array of people doing varying different jobs. As you sit at your computer reading this article, you are reaping the benefits of your dependence upon a system of manufacturing, production and distribution of goods that dwarfs individual efforts. We are dependent upon the collective activities of society. And, in today’s world of globalization, we are fast becoming aware of our dependence upon the global marketplace, of which we are all a part.

Beyond our needs for belonging and connection with others, we have needs for knowledge. And, here again, we are dependent upon others…specifically, the mind of others, the mind of humanity, if you will. In that regard, we are dependent upon our ancestors, our history…our collective history. Knowledge grows, expands and becomes increasingly complex. We become dependent upon systems of data as well as the storage and   transmission  of that data. No one person can do this alone. And, in fact, any one person, you for example, is really composed of millions of component parts all intricately connected and dependent upon each other. The cells and organs of the body, the nervous system and it’s subsidiary systems of circulation, respiration, digestion, elimination, immunity….Where is there any independence?

We need a Declaration of Dependence. We need an awareness of systems and how they interact for it is within systems that we exist and it is within systems where dependence is an absolutely necessary functionality. We need a recognition and acknowledgment of Complexity. Complexity Theory states that “Complex Systems is a new approach to science that studies how relationships between parts give rise to the collective behaviors of a system and how the system interacts and forms relationships with its environment.” (Wikipedia).

As an individual, we interact within systems; and the way we do that is through communication. Communication is a means of relationship and exchange, it is a means of understanding and knowledge. In a system of dependence, communication is critically important for without accurate and effective communication we would not be able to function. Our body is a striking example of complex communication in action. Just the mere act of walking requires sophisticated communication between cells, nerves, ligaments and muscles ranging from the tips of our toes to our eyes. Without that communication, we would easily and quickly fumble. Communication is THE critical ingredient in healthy dependence.

So, the next time you hear somebody expounding their independence, think about the complex systems upon which they are dependent to even vocalize their illusory perception and belief of their own independence. In fact, when you hear yourself falling into this trap…catch yourself and recall the truth: we are all in-dependence.

Dirofilariasis – The Deadly Heartworm in Dogs

When a dog is suffering from heartworm, it means that they are infected with a roundworm commonly known as heart worm. The organism is actually Dirofilaria immitis, a parasite. This worm is transmitted by mosquitoes and will infect your dog’s blood, heart and lungs. Left untreated, the disease is fatal.

Causes

Heartworms are spread through mosquitos that carry the infective heartworm larvae. The larvae enter the dog’s body through the mosquito bite wound and travel through the dog’s body to the heart. This process will take approximately six months.

Once the heartworms are living inside your dog, the adults will release immature heartworms (microfilariae) into the bloodstream of the dog. When a mosquito bites an infected dog, it will become a carrier of these microfilariae and infect the next dog it bites.

If a dog lives in a high risk area for heartworm, without preventative treatment it will almost certainly contract heartworm disease. Although heartworm is mainly endemic in tropical and subtropical areas, it is not limited to these areas. Heartworm has been identified in all 50 US states and is found worldwide.

Symptoms of Heartworm

Heartworm disease can be diagnosed by your veterinarian through a blood test. There are three classes of heartworm, and the symptoms vary from no visible symptoms to extreme ill health. It is difficult for a dog owner to identify heartworm in their pet.

The symptoms of heartworm include but are not limited to an occasional or more regular coughing, reduced canine activity or an intolerance to exercise, anaemia, fainting, chronic heart failure, labored breathing and high blood pressure.

The severity of heartworm disease will depend on the severity of the infestation, the duration of the disease and the response of the dog. All dogs are different in the way their bodies cope with the heartworm infestation.

Diagnosis

If your vet suspects your dog may have heartworm they can conduct a blood test, carry out an electrocardiograph (can reveal heart rhythm disturbances), a urine analysis or x-rays. They are looking for damage to or enlargement of the heart and associated arteries.

Treatment

Initially your dog will be hospitalized, and receive a dose of adulticide which will kill the adult heartworms. Depending on the severity of the infestation your dog may need to be hospitalized for a longer period. In some cases surgery may also be required to remove adult worms from the heart and jugular vein.

After the adult worms have been killed, treatment must be ongoing with a monthly dose of prophylaxis to kill eggs and larvae which have not been killed by adulticide.

You should be aware that the treatment for heartworm can be deadly. Even mild to moderate cases of heartworm will have a considerable impact on your dog. It is not an easy treatment for your dog, and should not be considered light heartedly.

Prevention

Heartworm disease is completely preventable through a regular dose of prophylaxis which is a preventative heartworm medication. Your veterinarian will be able to assist you with the appropriate medication and dosage to suit your dog.

If your dog does contract heartworm and has been successfully treated, you should take care to administer the monthly dose of prophylaxis as advised by your vet – reinfestation can easily occur especially in high risk areas.

A Buyer’s Guide to Kids ATV

Buying a kids ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) could be a confusing task. Often, most people do not know how to go about buying the ATV. There are so many factors to consider. Size, make, price and safety are examples of factors that must be taken into account. Of course, looks too play an important part. After all, your child will not accept a kids ATV that doesn’t look cool! So, how do you buy the right bike?

Size: When it comes to size, most parents make big mistakes. It is common for them to buy a kids ATV that is one size bigger so that their child can grow into the bike gradually. But, buying a quad bike that is bigger than the required size is dangerous. Your child should have comfortable access to the handle bars, brake and accelerator. If they cannot reach these parts comfortably, it could be dangerous. Parents must also consider the size of the engine. If the engine is too powerful, it could go out of control. 50cc engines are best suited for young children.

Quality: When you buy kids ATV, it is important to consider the quality of the bike. A quality bike equates to lesser number of break-downs, repairs and low maintenance costs. Reputed brands are highly conscious of the quality of their machines. Also, since kids grow out their ATVs pretty fast, you need to consider your re-selling options. A reputed brand fetches much more when you want to resell. If you are about to buy a brand that sounds new, find out more about warranties, guarantees and so on.

Safety: Kids ATV must keep to high safety standards. High quality quads have a large number of safety features. Some even have safety features that may not be present in adult ATVs. Examples include kill switches which help kill the engine in case of trouble. Remote controls allow parents to control the ATVs, in case of necessity. A safe engine keeps your child safe.

The ATV is also known as the quad or four wheeler. According to the ANSI (American National Standards Institute), the ATV is a vehicle that is equipped to travel on all terrains. It has four low pressure tires and a handlebar. The vehicle is legal in some countries and not allowed on the roads in other countries. Regardless, kids need to learn how to be safe on the kids ATV before they can graduate to more powerful ATVs.

Kids between the ages of 6 and 12 must always ride a kids ATV with a 70cc engine or lesser. As age and experience increase, they can opt for more advanced models. It is necessary to buy the ATV that suits your child’s physical make up. In this regard, you cannot accept any industry norms. The only way to find out is to take your child for a test drive. Your child must be able to shift gears if you intend to buy manual   transmission . Otherwise, go for the automatic ATVs.

Self Mastery – Insight and Reason

The Scripting One individual plays the lead in each vignette to follow.

Can you find common threads?

A nine-year-old girl bounces off the bus and runs for the front door to tell her Mother about the incredible day she’s had at school. She’s met with great acknowledgment, hugs and musings about how smart she is. By the time the little girl is 12, this type of support begins to fade and when she reaches her early teens the outer reflections are almost completely shut down, replaced with comments about how she is too full of herself. As her childhood relationship with her Mother fades away, the girl goes within to find both her answers and her worth, doing more observing than interacting. As her the relationship with her inner voice matures, she occasionally offers up her wisdom in the face of family issues. Occasionally her comments are tolerated, yet mostly they are disregarded, or met with lots of resistance, criticism and invalidation.

“You’re such a know it all!” her Mother says this venomously, her teeth clenched, at least once daily.

A man and a woman in a potential romantic relationship are talking about their spiritual experiences on the phone one evening. They have a lot in common; movement and body-oriented therapies are at the root of their personal spiritual practice. He speaks to his decades of Tai Chi practice, she speaks about the many different modalities she’s learned and practiced over the past 25 years, all of which play a deep role in her current self-discovery. He speaks loudly and authoritatively about his teachers and gurus, the transmission he’s received from years of focusing on one thing and how this is the only way to a deeper understanding and spiritual advancement. She “gets” what he’s saying as her cells remember many lifetimes as a yogi, a monk and other similar paths. She’s also experienced depth in the energy of his particular method when she attended a 6-week class several years ago.

“You’re really arrogant aren’t you?” he says this softly, almost off-handedly, though its point searches expertly for the target inside her.

One friend asks another friend for reflections on her increasingly intense life situation. Nothing new, it’s been going on for 15 years and input is requested several times annually on this particular topic. The responder has gone from being thrilled and enthusiastic to help her friend out of the dilemma, to being disengaged, responding from a distant place of reason. Even so, she continues to share her insights honestly.

“Why are you so distant? You seem so disinterested?” the distressed friend asks. The input goes un-received for the umpteenth time. Or, she says, “Please don’t confront me now, your certainty is really scary!”

Raising the Bar This level of consciousness has a glass ceiling. In spite of its high level of beingness, it’s also like an unstable atom ready to either shatter the glass or to bounce off its invisible barrier, back into the chasm of anger, hopelessness and unconsciousness where it readies itself for another climb upward. Under its transparent umbrella, there’s a lot of angst and suffering, a breeding ground of inner, existential commentary coupled with fear of advancement into the unknown.

The way through this false transparency is humility, to ask and actually receive support from outside our own belief systems, beyond our rigidly held dogmas. Breakthrough happens when we are able to relinquish our controls and begin to see that other people are realizing and actualizing right alongside us.

Key in this discovery is to embrace all of humanity, to recognize our common potential, and simultaneously to sustain our individuation, our certainty and confidence, our will and courage within.

David Hawkins identifies this level of consciousness in his book, “Power vs. Force,” as ‘Reason,’ the home of great scientists, statesmen, religious leaders, lawmakers and Nobel Prize winners.

These people have reached the pinnacle in their vocations and careers, in the context of the highest, solely human, potentials. They are at the top of their financial games, they rule world governments and churches, they establish the height of the bar for global discovery and advancement.

There is one very crucial and forgotten piece here: the fact that we humans are filled with divine energy, that we are spirits embodied and we have a soul connection to a higher power, God or creator. Although many here are connected to spirituality and religion, we act like atheists in the context of our daily choices and actions, standing almost exclusively on our personal willfulness and physical energies.

Our lack of engagement with a greater spirit eventually exhausts our comparatively tiny resource bucket. Dangerous is the self-bred arrogance that comes with our intellectual knowingness, or at least the belief we have reached the top of some distant monument to ourselves, overlooking our domain.

Some of us know spirituality exists in this place, and likewise make statements to the fact that we’re following a soul path, yet we forget to include the divine in our daily lives. We forget to consult with our inner voices, our higher minds, the Gods and Goddess of our hearts, and our divine guidance.

Personally I see this as a place with immature satisfactions, a place with false floors. It’s also an important stepping-stone to achieving and sustaining a causal relationship with the eternal truths.

It’s a place we can visit occasionally while we grow into our integrity. Here we can sit in the sun and weed out attachments to dogma, gradually decrease our propensity for intellectual pontification and surrender our complacencies. A station with many benefits, we can stop here to gather Cosmic energy; we can observe where we’ve come from, and the road to where we’re going.

Biker Lifestyle – Building the Perfect Custom Harley Chopper

If you ride to live, then you know what it means to own a custom Harley chopper, and I am not talking about some add-on chrome bike either; Anyone with some cash can drop by your local Harley Davidson dealer and ride away on a new Road King, or other of their other factory models.

A real custom Harley chopper is a one of kind custom built masterpiece that is created from the ground up, a 100% all original work of American beauty that reflects the personality and lifestyle of the proud owner. Hard core bikers know what I am talking about; the painstakingly hard work of creating and shaping a one of a kind statement of riding to live, and living to ride, wrapped around the perfect custom Harley chopper.

Building the perfect Harley doesn’t happen over night either, everything must be the perfect balance of frame, forks, the right rake and extension, rolling on tires and wheels that support the whole design. Every thing matters when building the perfect custom Harley, and if you are truly hardcore, then to complete the full extension of machine to man could mean 100% custom parts, engine, tank, and chrome. Nothing but the best will do.

So what does it take to build the perfect custom Harley motorcycle? First off it takes a boatload of cash, then you gonna need to find the right craftsman to hand all that cash to, and then brother you need some patients; you gonna have to sit down and talk with your craftsman, and help him understand how you are, what is important to you, so he can put pen to paper to form up some rough ideas. These ideas will be shaped and tweaked and considered until your Harley craftsman has the design that is truly you, and no one else.

Every nut, bolt, piece of molding, the right handlebars, and grips, absolutely everything will be well thought out, and nothing will be left to chance, or just thrown in. The perfect ride height that flows with a saddle that is made to fit your backsides contour, and all of the remaining pieces that are build around the heart of your custom chopper, the engine and   transmission .

With you custom Harley almost complete, there will hours and hours of assembling and disassembling, fine tuning, tweaking, and testing until the final phase will be applying the richest paint job and graphics that turn thousands of dollars of hard earned cash and countless hours of laborious love, sweat, busted knuckles, and blood into the work of beauty that is your custom Harley chopper.

OK so where do you find this custom chopper craftsman? Well I am sure you already know the answer, and this isn’t an overnight decision either, we have read every biker rag, went to all of the top bike shows, studied every custom bike we come across, and after we have researched all of our options, we pick up the phone or ride out to our craftsman and after a serious conversation or two we close the deal by shaking hands, signing some paperwork, and dropping that that big fat wad of cash we have been saving for who knows how long.

Those of you who have lived that dream of building and owning the perfect custom chopper know what I am talking about. Those of you still working on the dream will very soon know as well. The love of our lifestyle is but a reflection of how we live, carry ourselves and the bike we ride, the rest of this love is in our hearts!

Best Cold Sore Treatment – What is A Successful Cold Sore Cure

In this article we will look at a few different types of medicinal remedies that are available and are considered to be the best cold sore treatment that is available today to achieve a cold sore cure.

1. Viroxyn

This is a new approach in helping to treat herpes and does not rely on the patient taking the medicine internally. It has been designed to specifically attack and disrupt the lipid coat of virus and is best described as being a germicide rather than the normal anti-viral treatment. Many say this is the top approach on the market.

As it is a virucide you apply it directly to the lesion and this will then kill the virus. This type of treatment works faster than many of the other types of drugs available which have to work their way through your stomach into the bloodstream and which are then able to deal with the sores and will only interefere with the viruses reproduction which has caused the eruptions in the first place. This is why some call it an effective remedy.

Unlike the other treatments that are available which will interrupt the genetic code of herpes and eventually stop the virus from growing, Viroxyn strips the lipid coating off the virus and then kills it when it comes into contact with an affected area.

2. Zovirax or Acyclovir

This is taken as an episodic treatment and can reduce the severity of the outbreak, as well as shorten its duration and also shorten the time during which the herpes virus is detected on the skin’s surface in a similar way to Viroxyn.

Because it is an episodic treatment it should be taken 5 times a day and can also be used as a suppressive treatment which will help to reduce the number of cold sore outbreaks a person has. If you wish to use it as a suppressive treatment you will need to take 2 tablets 3 or 4 times a day but it is best to speak to your doctor to get the specific dosage in order to treat the cold sores correctly. This medication has it’s own defenders as the best fever blister treatment on the market.

However with Zovirax there are a couple of common side effects which you may suffer from and these are nausea and diarrhea. When you consider a cold sore cure, you must keep in mind the side effects in making an evaluation.

We have provided details on a couple of the best cold sore treatments that available, but it is up to you to research both natural and prescription treatments and use a plan that you feel comfortable with in your search for a herpes cure.

The Top 5 Key Benefits of Purchasing and Owning Investment Real Estate

So… You may ask yourself, why should you buy or invest in real estate in the First Place? Because it’s the IDEAL investment! Let’s take a moment to address the reasons why people should have investment real estate in the first place. The easiest answer is a well-known acronym that addresses the key benefits for all investment real estate. Put simply, Investment Real Estate is an IDEAL investment. The IDEAL stands for:

• I – Income
• D – Depreciation
• E – Expenses
• A – Appreciation
• L – Leverage

Real estate is the IDEAL investment compared to all others. I’ll explain each benefit in depth.

The “I” in IDEAL stands for Income. (a.k.a. positive cash flow) Does it even generate income? Your investment property should be generating income from rents received each month. Of course, there will be months where you may experience a vacancy, but for the most part your investment will be producing an income. Be careful because many times beginning investors exaggerate their assumptions and don’t take into account all potential costs. The investor should know going into the purchase that the property will COST money each month (otherwise known as negative cash flow). This scenario, although not ideal, may be OK, only in specific instances that we will discuss later. It boils down to the risk tolerance and ability for the owner to fund and pay for a negative producing asset. In the boom years of real estate, prices were sky high and the rents didn’t increase proportionately with many residential real estate investment properties. Many naïve investors purchased properties with the assumption that the appreciation in prices would more than compensate for the fact that the high balance mortgage would be a significant negative impact on the funds each month. Be aware of this and do your best to forecast a positive cash flow scenario, so that you can actually realize the INCOME part of the IDEAL equation.

Often times, it may require a higher down payment (therefore lesser amount being mortgaged) so that your cash flow is acceptable each month. Ideally, you eventually pay off the mortgage so there is no question that cash flow will be coming in each month, and substantially so. This ought to be a vital component to one’s retirement plan. Do this a few times and you won’t have to worry about money later on down the road, which is the main goal as well as the reward for taking the risk in purchasing investment property in the first place.

The “D” in IDEAL Stands for Depreciation. With investment real estate, you are able to utilize its depreciation for your own tax benefit. What is depreciation anyway? It’s a non-cost accounting method to take into account the overall financial burden incurred through real estate investment. Look at this another way, when you buy a brand new car, the minute you drive off the lot, that car has depreciated in value. When it comes to your investment real estate property, the IRS allows you to deduct this amount yearly against your taxes. Please note: I am not a tax professional, so this is not meant to be a lesson in taxation policy or to be construed as tax advice.

With that said, the depreciation of a real estate investment property is determined by the overall value of the structure of the property and the length of time (recovery period based on the property type-either residential or commercial). If you have ever gotten a property tax bill, they usually break your property’s assessed value into two categories: one for the value of the land, and the other for the value of the structure. Both of these values added up equals your total “basis” for property taxation. When it comes to depreciation, you can deduct against your taxes on the original base value of the structure only; the IRS doesn’t allow you to depreciate land value (because land is typically only APPRECIATING). Just like your new car driving off the lot, it’s the structure on the property that is getting less and less valuable every year as its effective age gets older and older. And you can use this to your tax advantage.

The best example of the benefit regarding this concept is through depreciation, you can actually turn a property that creates a positive cash flow into one that shows a loss (on paper) when dealing with taxes and the IRS. And by doing so, that (paper) loss is deductible against your income for tax purposes. Therefore, it’s a great benefit for people that are specifically looking for a “tax-shelter” of sorts for their real estate investments.

For example, and without getting too technical, assume that you are able to depreciate $15,000 a year from a $500,000 residential investment property that you own. Let’s say that you are cash-flowing $1,000 a month (meaning that after all expenses, you are net-positive $1000 each month), so you have $12,000 total annual income for the year from this property’s rental income. Although you took in $12,000, you can show through your accountancy with the depreciation of the investment real estate that you actually lost $3,000 on paper, which is used against any income taxes that you may owe. From the standpoint of IRS, this property realized a loss of $3,000 after the “expense” of the $15,000 depreciation amount was taken into account. Not only are there no taxes due on that rental income, you can utilize the paper loss of $3,000 against your other regular taxable income from your day-job. Investment property at higher price points will have proportionally higher tax-shelter qualities. Investors use this to their benefit in being able to deduct as much against their taxable amount owed each year through the benefit of depreciation with their underlying real estate investment.

Although this is a vastly important benefit to owning investment real estate, the subject is not well understood. Because depreciation is a somewhat complicated tax subject, the above explanation was meant to be cursory in nature. When it comes to issues involving taxes and depreciation, make sure you have a tax professional that can advise you appropriately so you know where you stand.

The “E” in IDEAL is for Expenses – Generally, all expenses incurred relating to the property are deductible when it comes to your investment property. The cost for utilities, the cost for insurance, the mortgage, and the interest and property taxes you pay. If you use a property manager or if you’re repairing or improving the property itself, all of this is deductible. Real estate investment comes with a lot of expenses, duties, and responsibilities to ensure the investment property itself performs to its highest capability. Because of this, contemporary tax law generally allows that all of these related expenses are deductible to the benefit of the investment real estate landowner. If you were to ever take a loss, or purposefully took a loss on a business investment or investment property, that loss (expense) can carry over for multiple years against your income taxes. For some people, this is an aggressive and technical strategy. Yet it’s another potential benefit of investment real estate.

The “A” in IDEAL is for Appreciation – Appreciation means the growth of value of the underlying investment. It’s one of the main reasons that we invest in the first place, and it’s a powerful way to grow your net worth. Many homes in the city of San Francisco are several million dollars in today’s market, but back in the 1960s, the same property was worth about the cost of the car you are currently driving (probably even less!). Throughout the years, the area became more popular and the demand that ensued caused the real estate prices in the city to grow exponentially compared to where they were a few decades ago. People that were lucky enough to recognize this, or who were just in the right place at the right time and continued to live in their home have realized an investment return in the 1000’s of percent. Now that’s what appreciation is all about. What other investment can make you this kind of return without drastically increased risk? The best part about investment real estate is that someone is paying you to live in your property, paying off your mortgage, and creating an income (positive cash flow) to you each month along the way throughout your course of ownership.

The “L” in IDEAL stands for Leverage – A lot of people refer to this as “OPM” (other people’s money). This is when you are using a small amount of your money to control a much more expensive asset. You are essentially leveraging your down payment and gaining control of an asset that you would normally not be able to purchase without the loan itself. Leverage is much more acceptable in the real estate world and inherently less risky than leverage in the stock world (where this is done through means of options or buying “on Margin”). Leverage is common in real estate. Otherwise, people would only buy property when they had 100% of the cash to do so. Over a third of all purchase transactions are all-cash transactions as our recovery continues. Still, about 2/3 of all purchases are done with some level of financing, so the majority of buyers in the market enjoy the power that leverage can offer when it comes to investment real estate.

For example, if a real estate investor was to buy a house that costs $100,000 with 10% down payment, they are leveraging the remaining 90% through the use of the associated mortgage. Let’s say the local market improves by 20% over the next year, and therefore the actual property is now worth $120,000. When it comes to leverage, from the standpoint of this property, its value increased by 20%. But compared to the investor’s actual down payment (the “skin in the game”) of $10,000- this increase in property value of 20% really means the investor doubled their return on the investment actually made-also known as the “cash on cash” return. In this case, that is 200%-because the $10,000 is now responsible and entitled to a $20,000 increase in overall value and the overall potential profit.

Although leverage is considered a benefit, like everything else, there can always be too much of a good thing. In 2007, when the real estate market took a turn for the worst, many investors were over-leveraged and fared the worst. They could not weather the storm of a correcting economy. Exercising caution with every investment made will help to ensure that you can purchase, retain, pay-off debt, and grow your wealth from the investment decisions made as opposed to being at the mercy and whim of the overall market fluctuations. Surely there will be future booms and busts as the past would dictate as we continue to move forward. More planning and preparing while building net worth will help prevent getting bruised and battered by the side effects of whatever market we find ourselves in.

Many people think that investment real estate is only about cash flow and appreciation, but it’s so much more than that. As mentioned above, you can realize several benefits through each real estate investment property you purchase. The challenge is to maximize the benefits through every investment.

Furthermore, the IDEAL acronym is not just a reminder of the benefits of investment real estate; it’s also here to serve as a guide for every investment property you will consider purchasing in the future. Any property you purchase should conform to all of the letters that represent the IDEAL acronym. The underlying property should have a good reason for not fitting all the guidelines. And in almost every case, if there is an investment you are considering that doesn’t hit all the guidelines, by most accounts you should probably PASS on it!

Take for example a story of my own, regarding a property that I purchased early on in my real estate career. To this day, it’s the biggest investment mistake that I’ve made, and it’s precisely because I didn’t follow the IDEAL guidelines that you are reading and learning about now. I was naïve and my experience was not yet fully developed. The property I purchased was a vacant lot in a gated community development. The property already had an HOA (a monthly maintenance fee) because of the nice amenity facilities that were built for it, and in anticipation of would-be-built homes. There were high expectations for the future appreciation potential-but then the market turned for the worse as we headed into the great recession that lasted from 2007-2012. Can you see what parts of the IDEAL guidelines I missed on completely?

Let’s start with “I”. The vacant lot made no income! Sometimes this can be acceptable, if the deal is something that cannot be missed. But for the most part this deal was nothing special. In all honesty, I’ve considered selling the trees that are currently on the vacant lot to the local wood mill for some actual income, or putting up a camping spot ad on the local Craigslist; but unfortunately the lumber isn’t worth enough and there are better spots to camp! My expectations and desire for price appreciation blocked the rational and logical questions that needed to be asked. So, when it came to the income aspect of the IDEAL guidelines for a real estate investment, I paid no attention to it. And I paid the price for my hubris. Furthermore, this investment failed to realize the benefit of depreciation as you cannot depreciate land! So, we are zero for two so far, with the IDEAL guideline to real estate investing. All I can do is hope the land appreciates to a point where it can be sold one day. Let’s call it an expensive learning lesson. You too will have these “learning lessons”; just try to have as few of them as possible and you will be better off.

When it comes to making the most of your real estate investments, ALWAYS keep the IDEAL guideline in mind to make certain you are making a good decision and a solid investment.

Video Conferences

Videoconferences are groupware technologies that enable people in two or more locations to interact simultaneously by merging video, voice call, file sharing, instant messaging, and internet co-browsing across both Windows & Mac operating systems. Thanks to advancements high speed web connectivity, videoconferences are now more widely available at a lower cost. New, cheaper technologies such as the webcam, software compression and affordable broadband connections allow even personal users – not just business users – to enjoy video conferencing.

More importantly, video conferences have become extremely helpful in the field of medicine. It is now being applied to telemedicine – it is used to help diagnose patients remotely, conduct remote consultation, and transmit medical images and other pressing data all in real time.

Peripheral applications such as microscopes with built-in digital cameras, ultrasound tools, “videoendoscopes,” and many other related technologies can be connected to videoconferencing technology to transmit patient data. Stay-at-home patients can easily access nurses and physicians especially during medical emergency. Videoconferences also allow medical professionals to discuss cases and consult each other across large distances. Best of all, videoconferences allow patients in remote rural areas to get modern diagnosis without leaving their localities.

Videoconferences are now also widely available in schools and other educational institutions. Students, teachers and lecturers from the world over can hold classes together and even transmit these classes to isolated locations. Videoconferences have also lowered the costs of education, because students gain access to classes that their schools cannot afford to offer within their own vicinity for a lower cost.

Foreign language classes, for example, can be conducted from a remote university and transmitted to a recipient school. In some cases, videoconferences can replace field trips – economically disadvantaged students who cannot go personally to zoos, museums or to trips to other countries can immerse themselves in the same experience through the technology.

Cold Sores and Staff Infection

Cold sores are a result of infection with the herpes simplex 1 virus. This is a viral infection that once you have contracted stays in your system for life. The only treatments available are antiviral management, because there is no cure.

A person who suffers from atopic dermatitis should be extremely cautious around anyone with a cold sore. Atopic dermatitis, better known as eczema, is rashes and irritations on the skin caused by any number of environmental allergies. This condition causes very itchy dry patches of skin that can break open and are prone to secondary infection from scratching. Studies have shown that patients with eczema are more likely to carry stash on their skin than those who do not.

The herpes simplex virus can spread rapidly in a person with atomic dermatitis. This can cause an infection known as eczema herpetic. It can spread over the whole body or remain localized in areas of active eczema outbreak. This situation should be monitored very carefully by a medical professional.

Herpes virus is very contagious and the spreading capability increases in the person who has eczema. The virus can spread over the whole body very quickly leaving you open to secondary infections and especially staph. As noted above the eczema carrier is also more apt to have the staph already present on their skin, thus when scratching sores or rashes, the staph can penetrate and make a bad situation even worse.

If you have eczema and been exposed to the herpes simplex virus, it is important that you see your doctor immediately. They may want to start you on an antiviral medication sooner rather than later to ward off a potential outbreak.

Signs that you may be getting a herpiticum outbreak will include blisters, sores within the areas of eczema. These tiny blisters will soon pop and spread the virus at an alarming rate. There is a chance of fatality if not treated properly. You may feel tired or feverish and notice some swelling in the area of the rash.

It is important to note even if you are not overly concerned for yourself, you should be concerned for your family and coworkers. The virus is very contagious and should be treated immediately. Besides early treatment can lessen the severity and duration of your outbreak.

In very severe cases, your doctor may prescribe a bleach bath to kill the bacteria. However, this should never be undertaken without a doctor’s advice as the wrong dilution can cause severe problems. Phototherapy and laser therapy are also alternative therapies that your doctor or dermatologist may consider.

The main thing to remember is prevention is better than cure, use good hand washing practices and keep yourself healthy. When you are run down your immune system becomes compromised and less able to fight off infection and the herpes particles.