Keep An Eye Out – ID Theft Is Serious Business

Did you know that crime rates rise during difficult economic periods? Unfortunately, we are learning this may be true for identity related offences, as well. As the effects of an ID theft can be drastic and reek havoc on your credit rating as well as other aspects of your financial situation, it’s important to stay vigilant. Here are some ways to keep protected:

1. Keep Safe Online.

“Spoof” or “Phishing” emails are common and can be very convincing. Ensure that you don’t inadvertently provide your financial details to those pretending to be from a bank or other financial institution, by accessing your banks website directly and never through an email link. Also, if you receive an email asking (or demanding) for you to update your information, call the financial institution to ensure the request is legitimate.

2. Practice Vigilance When Using An ATM.

Use your body and hands to cover the keypad as you input your pin number. Also, be sure to handle your ATM card in a manner that prevents others from trying to read its numbers. It’s more common than you might think to have this information subtly stolen while visiting an ATM machine.

3. Take advantage of free credit reports.

We’ve all seen the commercials plugging free credit reports, and while I’m not endorsing any particular company, you should regularly monitor your credit. This is important in order to ensure that your identity has not been compromised, as well as it will give you the chance to be aware of, and correct, any errors present on your credit profile.

4. Don’t leave financial statements lying around!

All documents containing financial information should be kept under lock and key. If your house is broken into thieves may enjoy not only the items they are able to handle, but your financial wealth, as well.

Also, consider turning off the paper portion of your bills, and take advantage of online services offered. Almost all companies now allow this, and this step will ensure that your documents are not stolen from your home or mailbox.

Tips To Live A More Frugal LifeStyle During These Tough Economic Times

Cutting back when times are tough is a reality for a great portion of us. While it’s not always fun, the good news is that there’s many different ways to save a few (or even a few hundred) dollars – and I’ve compiled a little list to get you thinking in the frugal mindset. So, use and enjoy!

Reevaluate Your Auto Needs – Can your family make due with one car? Extra Insurance and car payments are costly, and downsizing to one vehicle can add a lot of breathing room to a tight budget. Try carpooling or using public transit to get around when a personal vehicle is not readily available.

Quit A Bad Habit – I’ll be honest here – this one is much easier said than done. However, if you can stop or reduce the amount of time and money spent indulging in bad habits (smoking, drinking, eating unhealthy foods) you’ll save a bundle.

Buy Used – Get over the stigma of buying used merchandise and find a bargain on just about everything you purchase – clothes, electronics, tools, you name it – it’s cheaper used.

Walk, Walk, Walk – Fuel prices are high, and obesity is on the rise – why not help to kill two birds with one stone by making walking an integral part of your life? It can be tough to do without the convenience of a warm vehicle at first – but it’s something you get used to, and I promise you’ll fit more comfortably in your jeans too.

How Many Phones Do You Really Need? – Are you paying for each member of your household to have a wireless phone? If your wallet is hurting, go back to a singular land-line, and rake in the savings.

Replace That Steak With Celery – Okay, that title is maybe a wee bit on the extreme side, however cutting back on meat and consuming more vegetarian meals is a sure-fire way to reduce the size of your grocery bill.

I hope you enjoyed these tips, but remember that they’re just a starting point. If you have additional methods that you use to save money, feel free to share them in the comments below.

6-Figure Jobs: The Quicker Way

There are several careers that offer a quicker path to a six-figure income even without reliance on benefits accumulated through workplace seniority, at least according to a recent Yahoo Hot Jobs article. The following figures are based on the labor departments projection until the year 2016:

  • Actuaries: A mean annual salary $95,420. Over the 2006-2016 decade, salaries are projected to increase by 24%.
  • Dental Hygienists: The median earnings are in the high $60k range, while the top-end hygienists are in the $90k range. A 30% salary growth is projected.
  • Marketing Managers: A median salary of $104,000, 12% growth projected.
  • Computer Software Engineers: Starting salaries of $90k, and 38% increase projected.
  • Medical and Health Service Managers: Median salary of $76,990, with 16% expected growth projected.
  • Human Resource Managers: Mean wage of $92,710, with 17% expected growth projected.

Of course, one would require several years of post secondary education and some hands-on experience to start earning six figures, but overall, these are high paying careers from the onset and with very good prospects for the future.

Here are some more points to know before you start applying to schools:

Actuaries relies heavily on high level math skills for statistical analysis models and calculations of risk/reward, insurance pricing, return on investment, etc. From my experience, you are either born with a propensity for solid math skills or this type of profession just isn’t for everyone.

Dental Hygienists – Only a couple of years worth of college are required to get the foot in door, although a six-figure salary is more likely to be offered in larger metropolitan areas. In general, as long as you don’t mind dealing with plaque, this one takes the cake. Pun intended.

Marketing Managers – This one was a bit surprising to see on the list since I believe most marketing professionals make much less than the median amount. Many years of experience, or a really successful startup, is normally what’s necessary to reach the coveted 6-figure mark.

Computer Software Engineers  Another job that fits analytically-inclined individuals, and only requires a couple of years of post secondary to get into an entry-level position. Beyond the entry-level pay, it is usually expected for engineers to be proficient in multiple programming skills to break the $100k mark. A multifaceted and challenging job no doubt, just make sure to follow the vital, yet often ignored, ergonomic recommendations to avoid eye strain, back discomfort and wrist problems. I don’t mean to nag, but those are real pains.

Medical and Health Service Managers – Undoubtedly a good field to be in and offers the highest location flexibility, considering this job cannot be outsourced and that the number of patients is predicted to grow exponentially in the foreseeable future.

Human Resource Managers  If you like (or at least don’t mind) dealing with hiring, firing, and anything in the middle for this crucial role, this job is for you.

I will also add to the above list that with the greater focus on energy resources exploration in the past year, it is likely that both petroleum engineering as well as alternative fuel-related careers will increasingly offer six figure incomes.

Clearly networking with colleagues and friends can also land high paying jobs and I will discuss networking skills in a future post. However, in order to keep these jobs for the long term, a person has to possess the right cognitive and emotional affinity for the job. Otherwise, they will have to count on having a clueless/negligent boss that is willing to pay six figures for less than a quality job performance. How likely is that?

Madonna Madness – Making Money By Staying Relevant – and Remarkably Untalented!

Madonna, Queen of Pop

Can she sing? Debatable. Can she dance? Perhaps. Can she act? LOL. Could these attributes explain the real reason behind Madonna’s status as a 25-year long, money-making icon? No! As Madonna had proven to the world, an abundance of real talent isn’t necessary for acquiring substantial wealth. It all comes down to how you market what you have.

For example, you might have the best, most brilliant ideas at work, but if you can’t convince your colleagues that this is so — if you don’t excite and move them into action –you might as well remain silent in your cubicle. So, the key to success then can be defined as: Make people interested in you. It doesn’t matter how you win them over, just get there!

“Like a virgin, touched for the very first time.” — Madonna, Like a Virgin

The first big break for making significant cash is the most important one, and hardest to obtain. Don’t spend your entire life waiting for it, make it happen. Bare your cone-shaped bra to the world (yes ladies, you too 🙂  ) and usher in the excitement. Therefore, at work, you need to make your purpose known. Inform your boss of your goals, ask for his/her advice on how to get there, and overdeliver by never getting trapped in the status quo.

“Some girls they like candy and others they like to grind. I’ll settle for the back of your hand somewhere on my behind.” — Madonna, Hanky Panky

Excuse me? Tell me that didn’t get your attention. Unfortunately, the default position for people is to be mundane and, relatedly, a few monthly salaries away from homelessness. Therefore, don’t be generic. You have to open up to being more of a risk-taker in order for opportunities and money to come your way.

I don’t know about you, but plugging away at the 9-5 doing robotic tasks, so I can retire in my 60’s and in mediocre health is not for me. Take a risk, such as leading an ambitious project in the office, going back to school for the career that you actually love, or launching a start-up business from your basement and beyond, are all possible examples. Of course, before taking such a step, it is essential to conduct basic market research, which is relatively easy to do for anyone with a home computer or, at most, access to a library.

“Do I have to change my name, will it get me far? Should I lose some weight, am I gonna be a star?” — Madonna, American Life

Constant reevaluation and reinvention is also a must, or you will become equivalent to yesterday’s news, and people will lose interest. The same old thing over and over again rarely works. Ask yourself? How can I improve this? How can I make my product more innovative? How can I appeal to a broader demographic? When I look at the really successful people I’ve encountered in my life, they all have one thing in common: they’re never truly satisfied with a final goal. They’re always striving forward. You can do the same and your rewards will keep growing.

“Don’t just stand there, let’s get to it, strike a pose there’s nothing to it” — Madonna, Vogue

Maybe you’re the humble type, but it’s time to push yourself and take credit for your successes. Perhaps you re-organized the way email is handled at your company, and it makes everyone’s workday significantly easier. That’s great, but the boss can’t recommend you for that big promotion if your name isn’t embedded in their memory. No need to brag or be super provocative, the equivalent of burning a cross in a music video, but do be proactive, for instance by requesting feedback: What did you think of the way I managed this task? Is there anything you’d recommend for the future? etc’

“Freedom comes when you learn to let go.” — Madonna, Power of Goodbye

What’s another key to success? Be aware, not afraid. You have to go out on a limb, and you have to do it confidently if you want others to follow you out there. It is undoubtedly a hard thing for people to overcome the feelings of self doubt, which can creep up when bigger tasks are at hand. However, remind yourself that you are absolutely capable and can go as high as your aspirations take you, and this can only be achieved by keeping a positive spirit and a healthy work-life balance.

“I’m not sorry, it’s human nature.” — Madonna, Human Nature

Okay, maybe I’m a little bit sorry. People are intrinsically compassionate, and we do want to see others do well. But if you always put everyone else first, where does that leave you? Last. Last, and a really nice person. The goal is to be a star at a certain task, be at the top of your field, work at accumulating your wealth but also give back some goodies to the less fortunate. So I’m not saying you need to be a cutthroat b– person, but you will have to develop a fighting spirit to stand out and succeed.

“Until I learned to love myself, I was never ever lovin’ nobody else.” — Madonna, Secret

Lastly, while they can be a valuable resource, try not to rely solely on the opinions of others to tell you if you’ve selected the right path. Sometimes to reach your ambitions, financial and otherwise, you have to go with your own gut feeling. Certainly such an approach may sometimes be controversial and be as effective as Madonna’s role in the B-movie “Swept Away”, but to a greater degree, standing out from the crowd will ultimately produce the joyful “Holiday”-type experiences we all crave. The key is always to think how to reach that conspicuous level in your niche and prevail.

The Secret to Turning Anything into Gold

Growing up, I was a kid that wanted to believe in the miraculous. I fantasized about being able to lift things with my mind, fighting off armies of alien invaders, and, most of all, transforming anything I wanted into gold.

“Why, wouldn’t it be something if I could transform that stick over there into solid gold,” I thought myself. I mustn’t sell it all at once, of course. That would lead to suspicion. Rather, I would slice it into pieces and sell it only when I needed money to buy something… like video games.

I’m older and wiser now, right? No… not really.

I no longer fantasize about turning sticks into gold or buying vast quantities of videogames, but I do think about how to change the value of things. I look for ways to transform worthless, everyday opportunities into fortunes, as well as ways to make expensive things cheap. It’s not as miraculous, to be sure, but it’s just as powerful.

And you know what? I’ve learned how to do it.

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Why This Cell Phone Sold for $1.3 Million

Goldvish

Why would anyone pay $1.3 million for a cell phone?

Only one reason: because, to them, the cell phone is more valuable than $1.3 million.

The Le Million, developed by Goldvish, is the most expensive cell phone in the world, according to The Guinness Book of World Records. It’s handcrafted, constructed from 18 carat gold, and mounted with 120 carat diamonds.

Still, how do you justify $1.3 million? And more importantly, how can you convince other people to pay you so much money?

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