The Search for the Best Treatment for Common Cold Symptoms

Opinions vary about the best treatment for common cold symptoms. Zinc common cold remedies are much in the news, but some controversy surrounds their use.

Over the counter products, vitamin supplements and herbal remedies are really the only options a person has for treating a cold. Because colds are caused by viruses, there are no effective prescription medications and a visit to the doctor is usually unnecessary, unless a secondary bacterial infection, such as a sinus or ear infection occurs. Antibiotics are not effective for either preventing or treating a cold. Over-use of antibiotics has led to the development of more resistant strains of bacteria.

According to many experts, the best treatment for common cold symptoms is to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Probably, because so many people have a busy lifestyle, pharmaceutical companies keep coming up with products like zinc common cold remedies and other multi-symptom cold relievers. Advertising for these products typically suggests that these can help you “get on with your life”. But many of these products have unwanted side effects. Some can be relatively serious, considering that cold symptoms are typically gone in a week or so.

Some people who have used a zinc common cold nasal spray or gel have lost their sense of smell. One company was sued and settled out of court without admitting fault. At least two different clinical studies have confirmed that these zinc common cold remedies effectively reduce the duration of symptoms, but other studies confirm that these preparations can cause a permanent loss of the sense of smell. In fact, one study performed by the George Eby Research Group in Austin, Texas concludes that “it is unethical to introduce any potentially permanent anosmia-inducing agent such as zinc or other heavy metals into the interior of the nose in a manner that could result in contact with the olfactory region to treat a temporary discomfort such as a common cold or allergy.” The term anosmia means loss of sense of smell.

Several other studies confirm that when zinc common cold remedies come into contact with the lining of the nose, permanent loss of the sense of smell can occur. Manufactures of these products claim that they may be the best treatment for common cold available and can reduce the duration of cold symptoms to as little as two days. But, in fact, many people recover from a common cold in a couple of days, anyway. Some viral infections last longer in some people and symptoms may last as long as two weeks, but the study in Texas showed that the zinc common cold remedies did not significantly reduce the duration of common cold symptoms. The majority of volunteers had recovered within a week, whether they were given the zinc common cold remedies or a placebo.

Because some people recover from symptoms so quickly, without treatment, it has been difficult for researchers to determine the best treatment for common cold symptoms. Some people are more susceptible to infection with cold viruses than others. A recent study indicates that asthma sufferers, who typically have more than their fair share of colds, produce less anti-viral proteins than normal. Supporting the belief that efforts to improve immune system function can be the best treatment for common cold symptoms, as well as the best prevention.

Vitamin C supplementation is considered, by some, to be the best treatment for common cold symptoms, but opinions vary. Some studies have shown that it is an effective preventative; others have shown it to be less effective. Again the difference in the results of these studies is probably related to the difference in people. Injecting the rhinovirus directly into the nose causes an infection in 95% of people, but only 75% of them develop any symptoms at all. If you decide to increase your vitamin C intake and you develop diarrhea, then you are getting too much vitamin C and should reduce the daily dosage.

Many herbalists still recommend Echinacea as the best treatment for common cold symptoms. Some still recommend it as a preventative, but clinical studies have shown that taking the herb for extended periods of time can be toxic to the liver. It was used traditionally by Native Americans as a treatment, not a preventative. For occasional use Echinacea appears to be safe, but there are safer herbs.

Andrographis paniculata, an herb used in traditional Asian medicine, may be the best treatment for common cold symptoms and an effective preventative. In one study, a group of volunteers were given the herb or a placebo and results showed that those who were given the herb were less likely to become infected with influenza viruses; these are some of the viruses that can cause common cold symptoms. In those people who took the herb and did develop the flu, symptoms were less severe and complications, such as pneumonia, did not develop. Andrographis paniculata has been shown to have no toxic effects on animals, even when used in large amounts.

The complications that are associated with zinc common cold nasal sprays or gels are not associated with dietary supplements of zinc. And, zinc is important to proper immune system function and overall good health. For more information about natural products that are believed to be the best protection from and the best treatment for common cold symptoms, visit www.immune-system-booster-guide.com.

How To Get Rid Of Cold Sores Fast And Resume Your Daily Life

Suddenly you feel the tingling sensation at the edge of your lip. There is no doubt in your mind that a cold sore is coming. Although you can’t cure it at the moment or prevent it completely, but you can speed up the healing with the following remedies.

Peppermint Oil

Essential oils can help your cold sores to heal faster. One study shows that peppermint oil can eliminate herpes simplex virus outside the cells in 3 hours. In other words, essential oils are not effective if the virus is hiding in the nerve. To use peppermint oil, you need to dilute it with olive oil because at high concentration, it is toxic. Apply it when you notice the tingling sensation.

Lysine

Taking high dosages of lysine has been found to speed up healing of cold sores. It replaces arginine in the cells. Arginine is the fuel for herpes simplex virus. The lack of arginine in the cells forces the virus to retreat.

You can reduce the consumption of foods that contain arginine. These include grains, chocolate, nuts, and seeds.

If you don’t want to take lysine supplements, increase the intake of lysine rich foods such as meat and dairy products. Just make sure they provide between 3000 and 9000 milligrams of lysine daily.

Abreva

Abreva is FDA-approved over-the-counter cream. It contains docosanol or behenyl alcohol that can get rid of cold sores fast. For best results, you have to use it as soon as the first symptom appear. It requires up to 5 applications per day.

Compeed

One study compares the speed of healing between Compeed Cold Sore Patches and acyclovir 5% cream. The result is that Compeed has the similar quick healing abilities as acyclovir cream. According to consumers’ reviews, many find that their cold sores clear quickly after patching their sores with Compeed. Unlike topical creams, Compeed is not messy. It is transparent so you don’t even know the patch is there. It also prevents the virus from spreading. In addition, it is an ideal remedy for pregnant women who have concerns about prescriptions.

Manage Your Stress

When you are under stress, your immune system weakens. This does not help your body to recover quickly for the herpes outbreak. If you want the cold sores to go away faster, you have to reduce your stress. Take a stroll, or join yoga classes. Modify your hectic schedule to give you time to relax.

The problem I find with today’s cold sore remedies is the timing. Most treatments will work the best if you act the moment you spot the tingling sensation. If you fail to do so, it will take longer time for you to resume your daily activities. Although the above remedies can get rid of cold sores quickly but what if you have to attend a major meeting or event tomorrow?

Protect Yourself From Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Promote Safe Sex

Sexually active persons are often victims of sexually transmitted diseases. While most people consider sex as a need, it is also a must that you should know all that you could about certain consequences of engaging in sexual activities especially when you change partners often. That is why be careful when choosing your sexual partner and make sure to maintain a clean personal hygiene. Sexually transmitted diseases are often caused by bacterial infection. While most kinds of these diseases are curable, HIV in particular is deadly. So if you want to enjoy a longer life span while enjoying the good things life has to offer keep yourself in check at all times by doing STD tests.

Sexually transmitted disease tests are often conducted in clinics with the help of a medical expert. However, for most people who find it inconvenient by setting an appointment for a test, a STD test can be conducted at home with STD test kits. These test kits can be purchased online and delivered straight to your doorsteps. This is truly a convenient method of keeping yourself in check since these cases are highly sensitive.

Even if you choose to get tested at a clinic, your results are still kept confidential. STD test kits have easily understandable instructions with it that can be easily followed to determine the result. Once you see a positive result, do not panic. Bear in mind that it is better to have found it an earlier stage to determine the best and fast way to cure your infection.

There are different kinds of sexually transmitted diseases. There are those which can only be spread through pure sexual contact either by oral, anal, or vaginal sex. There are also kinds which can be transmitted without sexual contact. The best way to prevent yourself from getting infected is of course by abstinence, avoiding sex. While most people cannot do this method, the use of condom is the second best method.

Although this is not full proof, with proper use, you can still enjoy the benefits of sex and peace of mind that you are safe from getting infected at least. Knowing more about STDs and promoting safe sex can help reduce the case of sexually transmitted diseases especially on young people who are sexually active.

If you happen to change partners often, keep your body in check at all times. If you happen to experience slight changes be sensitive enough to care and conduct STD tests at the convenience of your own home. Most of these sexually transmitted diseases do not show symptoms at the early stage and when left untreated can cause complications which can never be cured even on a long term basis. As long as it is not HIV, there is a sure way to rid yourself of bacteria that cause such infections. Always maintain proper and good hygiene especially on sensitive body parts.

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.

A New Way to Invest in Property

The two most frequently asked questions by investors are:

  1. What investment should I buy?
  2. Is now the right time to buy it?

Most people want to know how to spot the right investment at the right time, because they believe that is the key to successful investing. Let me tell you that is far from the truth: even if you could get the answers to those questions right, you would only have a 50% chance to make your investment successful. Let me explain.

There are two key influencers that can lead to the success or failure of any investment:

  1. External factors: these are the markets and investment performance in general. For example:
    • The likely performance of that particular investment over time;
    • Whether that market will go up or down, and when it will change from one direction to another.
  2. Internal factors: these are the investor’s own preference, experience and capacity. For example:
    • Which investment you have more affinity with and have a track record of making good money in;
    • What capacity you have to hold on to an investment during bad times;
    • What tax advantages do you have which can help manage cash flow;
    • What level of risk you can tolerate without tending to make panic decisions.

When we are looking at any particular investment, we can’t simply look at the charts or research reports to decide what to invest and when to invest, we need to look at ourselves and find out what works for us as an individual.

Let’s look at a few examples to demonstrate my viewpoint here. These can show you why investment theories often don’t work in real life because they are an analysis of the external factors, and investors can usually make or break these theories themselves due to their individual differences (i.e. internal factors).

Example 1: Pick the best investment at the time.

Most investment advisors I have seen make an assumption that if the investment performs well, then any investor can definitely make good money out of it. In other words, the external factors alone determine the return.

I beg to differ. Consider these for example:

  • Have you ever heard of an instance where two property investors bought identical properties side by side in the same street at the same time? One makes good money in rent with a good tenant and sells it at a good profit later; the other has much lower rent with a bad tenant and sells it at a loss later. They can be both using the same property management agent, the same selling agent, the same bank for finance, and getting the same advice from the same investment advisor.
  • You may have also seen share investors who bought the same shares at the same time, one is forced to sell theirs at a loss due to personal circumstances and the other sells them for a profit at a better time.
  • I have even seen the same builder building 5 identical houses side by side for 5 investors. One took 6 months longer to build than the other 4, and he ended up having to sell it at the wrong time due to personal cash flow pressures whereas others are doing much better financially.

What is the sole difference in the above cases? The investors themselves (i.e. the internal factors).

Over the years I have reviewed the financial positions of a few thousand investors personally. When people ask me what investment they should get into at any particular moment, they expect me to compare shares, properties, and other asset classes to advise them how to allocate their money.

My answer to them is to always ask them to go back over their track record first. I would ask them to list down all the investments they have ever made: cash, shares, options, futures, properties, property development, property renovation, etc. and ask them to tell me which one made them the most money and which one didn’t. Then I suggest to them to stick to the winners and cut the losers. In other words, I tell them to invest more in what has made them good money in the past and stop investing in what has not made them any money in the past (assuming their money will get a 5% return per year sitting in the bank, they need to at least beat that when doing the comparison).

If you take time to do that exercise for yourself, you will very quickly discover your favourite investment to invest in, so that you can concentrate your resources on getting the best return rather than allocating any of them to the losers.

You may ask for my rationale in choosing investments this way rather than looking at the theories of diversification or portfolio management, like most others do. I simply believe the law of nature governs many things beyond our scientific understanding; and it is not smart to go against the law of nature.

For example, have you ever noticed that sardines swim together in the ocean? And similarly so do the sharks. In a natural forest, similar trees grow together too. This is the idea that similar things attract each other as they have affinity with each other.

You can look around at the people you know. The people you like to spend more time with are probably people who are in some ways similar to you.

It seems that there is a law of affinity at work that says that similar things beget similar things; whether they are animals, trees, rocks or humans. Why do you think there would be any difference between an investor and their investments?

So in my opinion, the question is not necessarily about which investment works. Rather it is about which investment works for you.

If you have affinity with properties, properties are likely to be attracted to you. If you have affinity with shares, shares are likely to be attracted to you. If you have affinity with good cash flow, good cash flow is likely to be attracted to you. If you have affinity with good capital gain, good capital growth is likely to be attracted to you (but not necessary good cash flow ).

You can improve your affinity with anything to a degree by spending more time and effort on it, but there are things that you naturally have affinity with. These are the things you should go with as they are effortless for you. Can you imagine the effort required for a shark to work on himself to become sardine-like or vice versa?

One of the reasons why our company has spent a lot of time lately to work on our client’s cash flow management, is because if our clients have low affinity with their own family cash flow, they are unlikely to have good cash flow with their investment properties. Remember, it is a natural law that similar things beget similar things. Investors who have poor cash flow management at home, usually end up with investments (or businesses) with poor cash flow.

Have you ever wondered why the world’s greatest investors, such as Warren Buffet, tend only to invest in a few very concentrated areas they have great affinity with? While he has more money than most of us and could afford to diversify into many different things, he sticks to only the few things that he has successfully made his money from in the past and cut off the ones which didn’t (such as the airline business).

What if you haven’t done any investing and you have no track record to go by? In this case I would suggest you first look at your parents’ track record in investing. The chances are you are somehow similar to your parents (even when you don’t like to admit it ). If you think your parents never invested in anything successfully, then look at whether they have done well with their family home. Alternatively you will need to do your own testing to find out what works for you.

Obviously there will be exceptions to this rule. Ultimately your results will be the only judge for what investment works for you.

Example 2: Picking the bottom of the market to invest.

When the news in any market is not positive, many investors automatically go into a “waiting mode”. What are they waiting for? The market to bottom out! This is because they believe investing is about buying low and selling high – pretty simple right? But why do most people fail to do even that?

Here are a few reasons:

  • When investors have the money to invest safely in a market, that market may not be at its bottom yet, so they choose to wait. By the time the market hits the bottom; their money has already been taken up by other things, as money rarely sits still. If it is not going to some sort of investment, it will tend to go to expenses or other silly things such as get-rich-quick scheme, repairs and other “life dramas”.
  • Investors who are used to waiting for when the market is not very positive before they act are usually driven either by a fear of losing money or the greed of gaining more. Let’s look at the impact of each of them:
  • If their behaviour was due to the fear of losing money, they are less likely to get into the market when it hits rock bottom as you can imagine how bad the news would be then. If they couldn’t act when the news was less negative, how do you expect them to have the courage to act when it is really negative? So usually they miss out on the bottom anyway.
  • If their behaviour was driven by the greed of hoping to make more money on the way up when it reaches the bottom, they are more likely to find other “get-rich-quick schemes” to put their money in before the market hits the bottom, by the time the market hits the bottom, their money won’t be around to invest. Hence you would notice that the get-rich-quick schemes are usually heavily promoted during a time of negative market sentiment as they can easily capture money from this type of investor.
  • Very often, something negative begets something else negative. People who are fearful to get into the market when their capacity allows them to do so, will spend most of their time looking at all the bad news to confirm their decision. Not only they will miss the bottom, but they are likely to also miss the opportunities on the way up as well, because they see any market upward movement as a preparation for a further and bigger dive the next day.

Hence it is my observation that most people who are too fearful or too greedy to get into the market during a slow market have rarely been able to benefit financially from waiting. They usually end up getting into the market after it has had its bull run for far too long when there is very little negative news left. But that is actually often the time when things are over-valued, so they get into the market then, and get slaughtered on the way down.

So my advice to our clients is to first start from your internal factors, check your own track records and financial viability to invest. Decide whether you are in a position to invest safely, regardless of the external factors (i.e. the market):

  • If the answer is yes, then go to the market and find the best value you can find at that time;
  • If the answer is no, then wait.

Unfortunately, most investors do it the other way around. They tend to let the market (an external factor) decide what they should do, regardless of their own situation, and they end up wasting time and resources within their capacity.

I hope, from the above 2 examples, that you can see that investing is not necessarily about picking the right investment and the right market timing, but it is more about picking the investment that works for you and sticking to your own investment timetable, within your own capacity.

A new way to invest in properties

During a consultation last month with a client who has been with us for 6 years, I suddenly realised they didn’t know anything about our Property Advisory Service which has been around since April 2010. I thought I’d better fix this oversight and explain what it is and why it is unique and unprecedented in Australia.

But before I do, I would like to give you some data you simply don’t get from investment books and seminars, so you can see where I am coming from.

Over the last 10 years of running a mortgage business for property investors:

  • We have executed more than 7,000 individual investment mortgages with around 60 different lenders;
  • Myself and our mortgage team have reviewed the financial positions of approximately 6,000 individual property investors and developers;
  • I have enjoyed privileged access to vital data including the original purchase price, value of property improvements and the current valuation of close to 30,000 individual investment properties all around Australia from our considerable client base.

When you have such a large sample size to do your research on and make observations, you are bound to discover something unknown to most people.

I have discovered many things that may surprise you as much as they surprised me, some of which are against conventional wisdom:

Paying more tax can be financially good for you.

This one took me years to swallow, but I can’t deny the facts. The clients who have managed to get into a positive cashflow position have paid a lot of tax and will continue to pay a lot of tax, whether it is capital gains, income tax or stamp duty. They don’t have an issue with the tax man making some money as long as they continue to make more themselves! They regularly cash in the profits from their properties and reduce their debt, but always continue to invest and park their money where the return is best. In fact, I can almost say that the only people who enjoy positive cashflow from their investment properties are the people who have little concern about paying taxes as they treat them as the cost of doing business.

Just about every property strategy works. It just depends on who does it, how it is done, when it is done and where it is done.

When I first started investing, I went and read many property investment books and attended many investment educational seminars. Just about every one of them was convincing and this confused the hell out of me. Just when I was about to form an opinion against a particular property strategy, someone would show up in one of my client consultations and prove that it worked for them!

After testing many of these strategies myself, I came to realise that it is not about the strategy,(which is only a tool) but rather it is about whether the person is using the tool appropriately at the right time, in the right place and in the right way.

There is no such thing as the best suburb to invest in, forever.

If you randomly pick a particular property in what you think is the best suburb over a 30 year window, you will find that there are periods during which this property will outperform the market average, and there are periods when this property will underperform the market average.

Many property investors find themselves jumping into historically high growth suburbs at the end of the period when it is outperforming the average, and then stay there for 5-7 years during the underperforming period. (Naturally this can taint their view of property investing as a whole!)

There is no such thing as the worst suburb to invest in, forever.

If you pick a property in the worst suburb you can think of from 40 years ago, and pitch that against the best suburb you can think of over the same period of time, you will find they both grew at about 7-9% a year on average over the long-term.

Hence in the 1960s, a median house in Melbourne and Sydney was valued at $10k. The worst property around that time may have been 30% of the median price for then, which was say about $3k. Today, the median house price in these cities is about $600k. The worst suburb you can find is still around 30% of that price which is say $200k a house. If you believe a bad suburb will never grow, then show me where you can find a house today in these cities, that is still worth around $3k.

Median Price growth is very misleading.

Many beginner property investors look at median price growth as the guidance for suburb selection. A few points worth mentioning on median price are:

We understand the way median price is calculated as the middle price point based on the number of sales during a period. We can talk about the median price for a particular suburb on a particular day, week, month, year, or even longer. So an influx of new stocks or low sales volume can severely distort the median price.

In an older suburb, median price growth tends to be higher than it really is. This is because it does not reflect the large sum of money people put into renovating their properties nor does it reflect the subdivision of large blocks of land into multiple dwellings which can be a substantial percentage of the entire suburb.

In a newer suburb, median price growth tend to be lower than it really is. This is because it does not reflect the fact that the land and buildings are both getting smaller. For example, you could buy a block of land of 650 square metres for $120k in 2006 in a newer suburb of Melbourne, but 5 years later, half the size block (i.e.325 square metres) will cost you $260k. That’s a whopping 34% annual growth rate per year for 5 years, but median price growth will never reflect that, as median prices today are calculated on much smaller properties.

Median price growth takes away people’s focus from looking at the cost of carrying the property. When you have a net 2-3% rental yield against interest rates of 7-8%, you are out-of-pocket by 5% a year. This is not including the money you have to put in to fix and maintain your property from time to time.

Buying and holding the same property forever doesn’t give you the best returns on your money.

The longer you hold a property, the more likely you will achieve an average growth of 7-9%. But you will be bound to hit periods where your property outperforms the 7-9% growth and periods where it under performs the 7-9% growth.

The longer you hold a property, if its growth is at or above average, the lower its rental yields will become.

The longer you hold a property, the higher the capital gains tax you will need to pay when you sell, and the less likely you will be able to sell it.

The longer you hold a property, the more likely there will be a need for an expensive upgrade of the property.

The longer you hold a property, the more likely you will forget which part of the equity actually belongs to the tax man, AND the more likely you will be to try to leverage the equity that doesn’t belong to you. This can get you into a negative equity position with a negative cashflow forever, unless you have proper financial guidance.

The “Worthy” Poor VS The “Unworthy” Poor

In American Society, we have divided the poor into two classes, the “worthy” poor and the “unworthy” poor. The “worthy” poor are those we feel are worth being on state/federal aid and do not complain about assisting. The “unworthy” poor are those are receive aid as well but for some reason society feels they could take care of themselves and not depend on the aid.

Society feels that those in the “unworthy” class are capable of providing for themselves financially. The reason being that most of the people who fall into this class are younger then the people who fall into the “worthy” class. Many who fall into the “worthy class” are the elderly who are beyond working age, and find it hard to support their selves without some form of a fixed income.

Although the majority of the “worthy” class is made up of the elderly, there are certain situations where the “worthy” class also includes some of a younger generation. Many of those come from the deeply impoverished corners of the United States Society. Many don’t have a chance of surviving and living a better life then they are being given unless the someone, whether it be the government or a small organization, step up and find some way to show them the way to improve themselves.

There are a few such organizations and federal programs in place already, but there are not nearly enough to tackle the large need that we have for the issue. Many people feel that even though they fall into the “worthy” category, they are still not worth wasting time, resources, and money on to educate towards a better life. Many look down on those who need aid regardless of the situation and feel the same about them. They think that they are children, and as they grow they will learn and they will make something better of themselves. Unfortunately, this is not true. As they grow up in a poverished lifestyle they will learn from what they are surrounded with. They will grow up and realize it isn’t so bad to be where they are, because they have not had anyone show them that there is a different way in life.

As American’s, we are a large extended family. Everyone is supposed to look out for their family and protect them. I do not know why no one is protecting the children of these “unworthy” groups and showing them the way to better themselves and enrich their lives. It is going to take more then giving their family a few hundred dollars a month in food stamps and other aid to teach these children how to succeed in life. It is going to take educating them. Not only do these children need to be shown the way, but their parents/parent as well need to be educated on how to enrich not only their lives but their children’s lives as well. It is a two step process, and it is time as a society we step up and start making it a reality instead of a vision. With a little hard work I honestly believe that poverty in the US could be helped dramatically by just a few nice neighbors holding out their hands and showing that they are willing to assist.

Packeteer PacketShaper

Wide-area networking and the Internet are becoming more and more reliable, to support strategic objectives. This has restructured the way businesses work, and even in some cases stay afloat. Today companies are faced with more applications, more users, and more desktop power, but with less visibility, control, and predictability. With unprecedented network demands and without the ability to control how they effect your business. PacketShaper can assist you in controlling and enhancing the performance of your WAN. PacketShaper continues providing visibility and control across your WAN, to enhance the application monitoring and performance for any user, in any location, throughout networks of enterprises spread around. Depending on the speed of the network links it will manage, this device comes in a wide range of levels to suit. The lowest entry level box is for a 128k line with the high-end box being able to monitor and manage a 1 Gigabit link.

The PacketShaper traffic shaping technology enables the administrator to resolve WAN and Internet performance problems that effect networks. By actively preventing network congestion, shaping controls application performance and bandwidth consumption. Administrators can achieve more important tasks in lesser time, with fewer performance-related complaints and a higher Quality of Service (QoS) for all networked users. With PacketShaper, the never-ending cycle of bandwidth upgrades is a thing of the past. PacketShaper optimizes application throughput throughout your current network infrastructure.

PacketShaper is simple to configure and comes with basic step-by-step instructions comprising such things as passwords, IP addresses and connection speeds etc. Initial physical installation is extremely easy, and once the PacketShaper is on the network it can accessed through a web browser and can be configured on of two ways: by a normal http connection or a secure http connection.

Internal attacks from worm infections, unauthorized recreational traffic and rogue servers can severely impact network capacity and bring down critical applications but PacketShaper assists in recognising when PCs are infected or unauthorized traffic is passing through the network, and also protects the performance of crucial applications. PacketShaper alsoprotects the performance of the network during attack-all while providing hard ROI from bandwidth savings, enhanced WAN capabilities and accelerated application performance. An additional effective function of the PacketShaper is its graphing abilities. It is simple to locate older data from the ‘straight out of the box’ system. Clear and simplified graphs are presented in the form of either line graphs or pie charts, though it is possible for this data to be shown as raw data if required, which makes it easy to export it to other programs. Installation of IP Telephony (IPT) and Voice/Video over IP (VoIP) vary from company to company and its employees, effecting every network in a different way. A successful implementation depends on guaranteed bandwidth and QoS, and also fitting more calls onto a restricted WAN resource.

PacketShaper efficiently controls vital IPT protocols, providing WAN capacity and true QoS functionality to guarantee the highest quality end-to-end communication for each call. It makes sense to unite servers from remote sites to centralized data centers, although the additional traffic loads call for precise classification, monitoring and shaping before any advantages can be appreciated. PacketShaper detects and controls common traffic-including CIFS, VoIP, CRM, Web and P2P-while also tracking Microsoft’s underlying CIFS changes in R2. MPLS and IP VPNs are beneficial for relating distributed locations, but advantages cannot be noticed if applications are oversubscribed, traffic stalls in bottlenecks and critical applications are inappropriately designated to best-effort classes. PacketShaper carries on the MPLS promise, weighing up performance, detecting and marking application traffic with special handling requirements so traffic can move freely to the enterprise edge. This system is integrated in a single appliance with multiple software choices that deliver:

  • Control over application performance and network utilization.
  • Visibility into application performance and network utilization.
  • Compression to accelerate performance and increase WAN capacity.
  • Centralized management of performance analysis, reporting, and policy administration for large Packeteer deployments.

The Packeteer PacketShaper is an architected bandwidth management device that is incredibly useful and at the same time simple . It delivers an easy and user friendly interface that can be advantageous to any organisation from low-end, to expert users. With minimal configuration, PacketShaper will become a crucial tool in keeping the network secure and also managing bandwidth.

Benefits of Using a VoIP Telephone

Most of you would have heard about VoIP and for those who haven’t it’s never too late. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and is revolutionizing the telephone industry by combining the benefits of traditional analog telephones and modern day internet. VoIP telephone works by converting the analog signals into digital signal so that you get superb audio quality.

Companies now offer VoIP services all over the world at very reasonable rates. Although, it is very difficult to make people forget about traditional landline phones and make them use VoIP, but it comes with a full bag of benefits which make it very difficult to ignore. Slowly but steadily VoIP is catching up popularity among masses and classes both. Some of the main benefits of VoIP telephone over traditional phones are:

• The call rate for long distance calls is very less in VoIP thus making the landline phones not so useful.

• As compared to the pulse rate service provided by landline phone companies most VoIP service providers offer packages wherein you get unlimited talk time at a flat rate. So you don’t have to keep track of the watch while making an international call. This facility is very useful if your family lives in some other country and you are in other country for some purpose. You can interact with your family and friends for as long as you want.

• Use of VoIP for conference calling and multi way calling is relatively easy. Unlike traditional phones which only offer 3 way calling you can add as many people to your conversation as you want in VoIP. Also the facility of conference calling makes it a perfect tool for holding telephonic seminars, conferences and telephonic interviews.

• Most VoIP service providers have the option of combined plans wherein you pay for your broadband usage and VoIP usage together. Hence you can save good amount of money by using VoIP over traditional phones.

• Use of VoIP telephone will substantially cut down on your telephone bills. Even the most costly VoIP provider is very cheap when compared with traditional landline companies. Plus the quality you get is unmatchable as it is completely digital and is very likely to be affected by additional factors unlike traditional landline which used wires for   transmission  so if anything happens to the wire your service gets hampered.

• Many features for which you pay extra on your landline come free with VoIP telephone.

These along with other features make VoIP technology very hard to resist and a good alternative for traditional landline phones.

9 Fun Speech Class Activities

Speech classes are a lot more fun when everyone gets involved with special activities! Try some of these ideas to warm up your next class:

  1. Impromptu speaking. Give students various topics for them to speak on without any preparation. The topics should be relatively easy at first, such as “What is your favorite movie and why?” or “If you could only eat one food for a month, what would that be?”
  2. Lost on a deserted Island game. Present the scenario: Following a ship wreck, the entire class has been stranded on a deserted island. Each person is allowed to bring one object to the island. Have each student describe what that object would be and why. (You can extend this into a team-building activity by breaking into teams and have each team figure out how to creatively combine their items to increase survival).
  3. Tongue Twisters competition. Have two people come up at a time and take turns repeating a tongue twister. “unique New York” “Red Leather, yellow leather.” Faster, and faster. When someone messes up, they sit down and a challenger comes up. Someone can keep score with the class roster.
  4. Dramatic alphabet or numbers. Students can “lecture” the class by reciting the alphabet or counting to 30, but with gestures, drama and eye contact. A, BCD! E, F, G… , H? I, JKL-M… , etc.. You could emphasize the eye contact by adding this activity: the speaker is to make and hold eye contact for at least 3 seconds per person. All the students raise their hands. When the speaker initiates eye contact with someone, that person mentally counts to 3 and then lowers his or her hand, letting the speaker know that the 3 seconds is up. The speaker can then move onto someone else. You could even make it a competition.
  5. Dramatic reading. You, of course, could pick an intriguing passage, or you could do something like having them read definitions outloud, just to make it silly by being dramatic.
  6. Transitions exercise. Pass out 3 slips of paper to each of the students-and have some categories written on the board. (Places, People around the school, Foods, TV shows). Ask that each student pick 3 of the categories and write a word that falls into that category. Then collect the slips in a container. Each student goes up to the front of the room in turn and picks a slip and starts talking about whatever is on that slip. Then, after a little bit of time, you pick another slip for the student and say, “OK, Amanda, your next topic is… ” and then the student’s job is to transition from the one topic to the next. It’s OK for the audience to help. It’s OK to offer another topic if the student is stuck. Using “apples” and “New York City” as examples, transitions can be phrases such as: Now that I’ve told you about the health benefits of apples, let me tell you about the health benefits of living in New York City. Finally, let me tell you how New York came to be called the Big Apple.
  7. On the other hand. Have 2 students come up. Ask one student to speak “for” a topic and then the other person to speak “against” the same topic.
  8. One word story. Line up 7-10 students in front (actually it’s better if they stand in a circle) and have them tell a non-rehearsed, non-thought out story one word at a time, cycling to the beginning until the story comes to a somewhat logical conclusion. The key is that each person can only say one word at time and this includes the boring words like “and” and “the.” You could start the story by saying something like, “One.” (The logical thing to come next would be “day,” but it certainly could be something else).
  9. Sell a product. Have odd objects for students to “sell” to their classmates. You can introduce the FAB format and ask them to use it. F=Features, A=Advantages, B=Benefits. The focus should be on the benefits. Toilet paper, anyone?

Add a few fun activities and see the interest level soar in your class!

Spyware, Viruses, Malware, Worms, Trojan Horses, and Adware: Symptoms, Solutions, and Prevention

Virus:

A Virus or Computer Virus is a self-replicating program or piece of script or code that make copies of itself and then either attaches itself to an existing file on the infected system or store copies of itself on the system with innocuous sounding names like ‘repair tool’.

The virus is limited to spread itself only by either being transmitted or sent by an unwitting user or carried on a portable storage medium from one system to another. However, if a virus gets embedded somewhere on a network drive then anyone who opens or clicks on the infected document or file can end up getting infected as well.

Spyware:

Spyware is software that gathers information about a users Internet habits, browsing patterns, email passwords, usernames and even credit card information, in essence, ‘spying’ on the hapless user. This type of software usually gets installed without the knowledge of the user and can transmit the collected data to a third party over the Internet secretly as well.

Malware:

Malware can refer to any number of malicious forms of software or code that has been intentionally designed to perform one or more of the following malicious acts:

> Infiltrate a users computer system without their consent.

> Gather sensitive personal information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, birth dates, or system passwords.

> Create back doors or remote entry points to allow hackers access to the system.

> The destruction of critical data and/or corruption of system files.

Malware is a general term and is commonly used to include, Viruses, Worms, Spyware, Trojan Horses, and some forms of Adware. The actual intention of malware can vary but by definition it is any software that is destructive by nature. Because the term Malware is so broad it is hard to cite one specific source for the most infections.

Worm:

A Worm or Computer Worm is a self-replicating piece of computer code that uses a computer network to spread copies of itself to the other nodes on the network. Unlike the Virus a Worm can accomplish this without any intervention or help from the user. Also unlike a Computer Virus the Worm does not have to attach itself to an existing computer program or file.

Many times a Worm will also be used to carry a ‘payload’. The ‘payload’ is code that is designed to perform some specific function. In some cases the payload allows the Worm to send documents through the email accounts of the infected system attaching itself and its payload to the email as an attachment. When the unsuspecting recipient of the email opens the attachment the process starts again.

Trojan Horse:

A Trojan or Trojan Horse Virus is a program that usually gets downloaded installed and executed on a computer system which then appears to be performing some useful function but is unknowingly allowing unauthorized access to the user’s computer system at the same time.

Hackers use Trojans to gain access to a user’s computer remotely and then perform any number of malicious activities. These nefarious activities can include but certainly are not limited to:

> Data Theft.

> Keystroke Logging.

> Downloading or Uploading Files.

> Viewing the Victims Screen.

> Crashing the Users System.

Adware:

Adware is advertiser supported software that displays, plays or downloads advertisements either onto the computer desktop or into the computers web browser as a condition of the software installation. Most Adware is free to use as long as you don’t mind annoying pop-up windows appearing at random intervals advertising some product or another. I have seen some Adware that opened a new window about every 1 to 2 minutes, making it nearly impossible to use the system at all until the software had to be removed.

Additionally, Adware will almost always be collecting data about your Internet habits and browsing behavior to tailor ads specifically to best match the data recovered. In that respect it is actually very similar to many types of Spyware. In most cases Adware is simply a way to place advertisements in the face of the user although it’s a fine line before you could also classify it as Spyware.

With Adware however, in some cases you may actually be given a chance to review and choose whether or not to accept the terms and conditions associated with the software before installing it.

IT WOULD BE ADVISABLE TO READ THESE TERMS VERY CAREFULLY BEFORE CHOOSING TO ACCEPT.

Symptoms of Infection:

> Very sluggish computer performance.

> Random system lockups or crashes.

> Browser redirection – you are taken to websites you were not searching for while browsing the Internet.

> Excessive number of popup windows appearing at random while surfing the Internet.

> You are informed that your system has ‘hundreds’ of active infections and you are redirected to a website that insists you pay for and download their specific software package to remove the infections.

Solution:

There are many good anti-virus / anti-spyware products on the market designed to detect and remove these types of infections. McAfee and Kapersky are good but AVG and Avast! have similar products and offer a free downloadable version. Be sure to complete a ‘Full’ system scan and quarantine and remove all active infections. Configure your anti-virus software to perform ‘active’ scanning or real-time system monitoring.

Prevention:

> Do not install software you have downloaded from the Internet unless it has come from a known, reliable source.

> Use caution if using file sharing platforms such as LimeWire or torrent sites to download files.

> Do not open any email attachments from unknown sources.

> Use a good anti-virus/anti-spyware application and scan your system at least weekly. Be sure your anti-virus software is totally up to date with the latest virus definitions.

> For Windows users: Be sure to visit the Microsoft update site and download all the latest Microsoft security patches.