risk http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8974/all en-US 7 Things You Should Know Before Buying a Foreclosed Home http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-should-know-before-buying-a-foreclosed-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-things-you-should-know-before-buying-a-foreclosed-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_outside_home_000023276605.jpg" alt="Woman considering buying a foreclosed home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're ready to buy a home, but you're also looking for a bargain. A foreclosed home seems like the ideal solution: You know that foreclosed properties typically sell for less &mdash; sometimes much less &mdash; than homes listed and sold on the open market by real estate agents and owners.</p> <p>But what you might not know is that buying a foreclosed property can also prove challenging to anyone who isn't a professional real estate investor. You might not know, either, that some foreclosed homes come with so much damage that the repairs needed to make them livable will quickly eat up any savings on their sales prices.</p> <p>Then there's the matter of actually buying a foreclosure. Depending on how you buy such a property, you might find yourself competing with others who buy, repair, and sell foreclosures for a living. Trying to outbid these pros for your foreclosure is no easy task.</p> <p>To sum up: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-a-buying-a-foreclosed-home-ever-a-good-idea" target="_blank">Buying a foreclosure</a> can be a challenge, one that could cost you plenty of time and money. Here are seven things you absolutely must know if you plan to buy a foreclosed property.&nbsp;</p> <h2>1. Foreclosure Inventory Is Falling</h2> <p>It's becoming more difficult to find a foreclosed property today. That's because fewer homeowners are falling into foreclosure. According to RealtyTrac, foreclosures were reported on 1.08 million U.S. properties last year. That's a drop of 3% from 2014, and a huge fall of 62% from 2010. Back in 2010, more than 2.87 million U.S. properties had foreclosure filings against them.</p> <h2>2. You Can Buy Foreclosures in One of Two Main Ways</h2> <p>There are two main ways to buy a foreclosed home. In the first, lenders auction off homes after the owners of these homes stop paying their mortgages. These properties are then sold at public auctions. The second main way to buy a foreclosure &mdash; the way that works better for most buyers who aren't professional real estate investors &mdash; is to buy a property after a bank takes ownership of it. These bank-owned properties are listed and sold by real estate agents. You can buy them just as you'd buy a home sold in the more traditional way.</p> <h2>3. Buying at Auction Is Not Easy</h2> <p>Buying a foreclosure at a real estate auction is not easy. First, you'll be trying to outbid professional real estate investors. Even more challenging, you'll need to pay for your foreclosed home with cash. It's not many consumers who have $200,000 or more in cash lying around.</p> <h2>4. Foreclosure Auctions Are Sight-Unseen</h2> <p>If you buy a foreclosure at an auction, you won't have the chance to tour its interiors. This means that you are buying the home sight unseen. You'll have no idea what repair jobs face you after you complete your purchase. The repairs could be extensive, and they could swallow any of the savings you expected to enjoy.</p> <h2>5. Buying Bank-Owned Foreclosures Is Far Easier</h2> <p>Buying a foreclosure owned by the bank is a far easier process. In this type of foreclosure, a bank &mdash; which has taken over ownership of a home after its former owners stop making mortgage payments &mdash; sells the house, hiring a real estate agent to close the sale. You can buy one of these bank-owned properties by making an offer, just as you would with any other type of home sale. The real estate agent representing the bank will take your offer, present it to the bank, and come back with a counteroffer if the bank doesn't like your original offer.</p> <h2>6. You Can Still Enjoy Significant Savings With Bank-Owned Foreclosures</h2> <p>RealtyTrac reported that the average bank-owned home sold for 38% less than comparable homes sold at market-rate figures. This means that buyers can save a significant amount of money buying a foreclosure even if they don't do it at the auction level.</p> <h2>7. You Absolutely Need a Home Inspection</h2> <p>Never buy a foreclosed home owned by a bank without first hiring a home inspector to come tour it. Unlike with a foreclosed home bought at auction, you do have the right to a home inspection before closing your sale. Make sure to take advantage of this opportunity. Many foreclosed homes need serious repairs. A home inspector can find these trouble spots. Once you are armed with this information, you can decide whether a particular foreclosure still qualifies as a bargain.</p> <p><em>Have you ever bought a foreclosed home?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-should-know-before-buying-a-foreclosed-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-happens-at-a-foreclosure-auction">What Happens at a Foreclosure Auction?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thinking-of-skipping-the-home-inspection-heres-what-it-will-cost-you">Thinking of Skipping the Home Inspection? Here&#039;s What It Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-need-to-know-when-renting-to-own-a-home">5 Things You Need to Know When Renting-to-Own a Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/first-time-home-buyer-consider-these-5-cities">First-Time Home Buyer? Consider These 5 Cities</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know">The Only 5 Rules of Home Buying You Need to Know</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing auction bank owned home foreclosure house hunting new homeowners risk Wed, 04 May 2016 09:00:11 +0000 Dan Rafter 1703004 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways to Spring-Clean Your Investment Portfolio http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-spring-clean-your-investment-portfolio <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-to-spring-clean-your-investment-portfolio" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/spare_chage_plant_000083910621.jpg" alt="Learning ways to spring clean your investment portfolio" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your garage isn't the only thing that could use a once-over this time of year. Your investments may be in need of some tidying up as well. Here's how to give them a good spring cleaning.</p> <h2>1. Double-Check Your Risk Tolerance</h2> <p>Since bottoming out in March of 2009, the stock market has been on a tear. It's been one of the greatest bull markets ever. But bull markets don't last forever. Eventually, the tide will turn. Will you be ready?</p> <p>I'm not predicting an imminent bear market, nor am I suggesting you try to time the market. That's a fool's errand. But I <em>do</em> believe this is a good time to review the assumptions you've used to guide your investments to date.</p> <p>Especially important here is a review of your risk tolerance. When the market is moving in a positive direction, it's easy to think of yourself as being fairly risk-tolerant. It's only when the markets turn negative that you really discover how strong a stomach you have.</p> <p>Instead of finding out the hard way that you're not as comfortable with risk as you thought you were, and setting yourself up for panic-selling in a downturn, reassess how much risk you can really handle. Vanguard has an <a href="https://personal.vanguard.com/us/FundsInvQuestionnaire">asset allocation questionnaire</a> that can help. It'll gauge your appetite for risk, factor in your investing time frame, and recommend an optimal asset allocation for you.</p> <h2>2. Double-Check Your Allocations</h2> <p>If your risk tolerance has changed, how your investments should be allocated has changed as well, and that means you probably have some work to do. First you'll need to change how your current portfolio is allocated across specific investments &mdash; mostly, what percentage of your portfolio is invested in stocks and what percentage in bonds (or stock-based mutual funds and bond-based mutual funds). Then you'll need to change how your monthly contributions are allocated as well.</p> <p>Whether your investment account is a 401K, an IRA, or a taxable account, you should be able to make these changes online, or call the broker where you have your account for assistance.</p> <h2>3. Rebalance Your Portfolio</h2> <p>Even if you're not planning to change your asset allocation, your asset allocation may have changed on its own.</p> <p>A year ago, your portfolio might have contained an 80/20 mix of stock funds and bond funds, but what does it look like now? If your stock investments have grown since you first implemented your plan and your bonds have fallen, your actual allocation may now be 90/10. Bring your portfolio back in line with what's optimal for you, given your risk tolerance and investment time horizon, by selling some of your stock holdings and buying bonds.</p> <p>It's generally a good idea to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-most-important-thing-youre-probably-not-doing-with-your-portfolio">rebalance your portfolio</a> once a year. If it's been a year or so since you last took care of this chore, add it to your investment spring cleaning to-do list.</p> <h2>4. Consolidate Accounts</h2> <p>It's not uncommon these days for people to have their investments spread out among several brokers. If you've changed jobs two or three times and rolled your 401K accounts into IRAs at different brokerage houses, you may find yourself dealing with an unnecessary amount of paperwork and navigating a confusing array of rules and fees. Consolidating some of these accounts could make managing your portfolio more efficient and less expensive. That's because implementing your strategy of choice at one broker usually requires fewer trades, which lowers your investment costs.</p> <p>Choosing which broker to keep is a matter of seeing which one offers most of the investments you want to own for the lowest commissions.</p> <p>Few people enjoy the process of spring cleaning, but most enjoy the fruits of their labor once the work is done. It's simply more enjoyable to live in a clean, organized house. The same is true for your investments. Taking a few hours to double-check your risk tolerance and asset allocation, rebalance your portfolio, and consolidate accounts should set you up for a more efficient, successful, and enjoyable experience as an investor.</p> <p><em>What are you doing to tidy up your finances this spring?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-spring-clean-your-investment-portfolio">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-to-make-as-soon-as-you-conquer-debt">7 Money Moves to Make as Soon as You Conquer Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/401k-or-ira-you-need-both">401K or IRA? You Need Both</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-online-sites-for-building-wealth">Best Online Sites for Building Wealth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-why-a-roth-ira-may-be-better-than-your-401k">4 Reasons Why a Roth IRA May be Better Than Your 401(k)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-you-sell-a-stock-or-a-fund">10 Questions to Ask Before You Sell a Stock or a Fund</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment 401k balancing portfolio IRA money management risk spring cleaning stocks Thu, 07 Apr 2016 10:01:08 +0000 Matt Bell 1683755 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Questions to Ask Before You Sell a Stock or a Fund http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-you-sell-a-stock-or-a-fund <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-questions-to-ask-before-you-sell-a-stock-or-a-fund" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_using_tablet_000057362770.jpg" alt="Man asking questions before selling stock or fund" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Legendary investor Peter Lynch said it best: &quot;In stocks, as in romance, ease of divorce is not a sound basis for commitment.&quot; A clear majority of investors agree that stocks provide the highest average annual return of most common investments, as long as you're willing to hold them for a long period of time (from 1964&ndash;2014, U.S. stocks provided a 2,300% return!).</p> <p>However, there are times that it is indeed worthwhile to bid farewell to a stock. Here are 10 useful questions to ask yourself before you sell a stock or fund.</p> <h2>1. &quot;Why Did You Buy the Stock or Fund?&quot;</h2> <p>Depending on how long ago you acquired the shares, you may not even remember why you bought that stock in the first place. If you call yourself a student of value investing (meaning that you measure the fair value of a stock based on its future earnings power), and you already want to liquidate your holdings after just three months, you're not being consistent with your original investment objective. Most successful investors agree that consistency is essential, so revisit your original reason for buying the stock and determine whether or not it's really time to sell.</p> <h2>2. &quot;What Is Your Risk Tolerance?&quot;</h2> <p>Every investor has an unique approach to wealth management and is comfortable with different price drops. As mentioned earlier, the key is to be consistent and avoid eliminating your positions due to emotions. Remember that the stock market goes up <em>and </em>down. Follow the advice of former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan: &quot;The market pays a premium to those willing to endure the angst of watching their net worth fluctuate beyond what Wall Streeters call the 'sleeping point.'&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-pearls-of-financial-wisdom-from-alan-greenspan?ref=seealso">3 Pearls of Financial Wisdom From Alan Greenspan</a>)</p> <h2>3. &quot;How Is the Investment Performing Against Its Benchmark?&quot;</h2> <p>Learning that the price of your stock dropped 3% may make you nervous, but finding out that its benchmark dropped 6% over the same period puts things in perspective. Just like having an investment strategy and determining your risk tolerance, establishing a benchmark is essential to evaluate the performance of any investment. Financial advisers often suggest using an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that tracks an index, such as the S&amp;P 500 or the <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/q?d=t&amp;s=%5ERUT">Russell 2000</a> as a benchmark. Depending on the sector of your stock, other ETFs or indices may be more appropriate. For mutual funds, consider reviewing the <a href="http://online.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/2_3020-lipperindx.html">Lipper Indexes</a> of funds with a similar investment style.</p> <h2>4. &quot;What Is the Weight of a Stock or Fund in Your Portfolio?&quot;</h2> <p>Don't sweat the small stuff! It's one thing if that your stock represents 2% of your entire portfolio, and quite another if it's 60% of your portfolio. If you did your due diligence, you selected a variety of investments so that the positive performance of some investments neutralizes the negative performance of other investments. Putting all of your eggs in one basket is never a good idea when it comes to investing, especially with your nest egg.</p> <h2>5. &quot;Do the Shares Have a Vesting Period?&quot;</h2> <p>In the event that you're thinking about selling stock that you received as part of an annual bonus, you may be out of luck. For example, your employer could have awarded 250 restricted stock units that vest over time, such as 50 units every year for the next five years. If you're on the third year out of those five, you may be able to sell 150 out of those 250 shares. To find out the vesting period and the list of applicable rules of your company stock, contact your HR department.</p> <h2>6. &quot;What Is the Total Transaction Cost of the Sale?&quot;</h2> <p>Remember to include all applicable fees in your transaction cost calculations. Among the many <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-sneaky-401k-fees">sneaky 401K fees to watch for</a>, the back-end load (also known as redemption fee, exit fee, or contingent deferred sales charge) is the one that you have to pay attention to during the sale of mutual funds. While you can technically sell your shares of a mutual fund right after having loaded them into your portfolio, you may have to pay an extra fee by not holding the shares a minimum period. Back-end loads range from 0.01% to 2% and are triggered by sales within 65 days, on the average.</p> <h2>7. &quot;What Is the New Asset Mix?&quot;</h2> <p>The sale of shares may dramatically affect the asset mix of your portfolio. For the long-term retirement savings of young investors, most financial advisers recommend allocating 90% of funds to stocks and 10% to bonds. Under this scenario, by selling a large holding in your portfolio, you may decrease your stock allocation significantly! To get your asset mix back on target, you would need to exchange the old stock or mutual funds shares for some new ones. If you're planning to exchange shares within the available options of a 401K plan or investment account, watch for potentially <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-sneaky-investment-fees-to-watch-for">applicable sneaky investment fees</a>, including exchange fees and front-end loads.</p> <h2>8. &quot;Do You Keep Your Current Schedule of Charges?&quot;</h2> <p>On the other hand, if you decide to liquidate your holdings and cash out entirely out of your portfolio, beware the ranges of the schedule of charges of your investment account. By reducing the size of your investment portfolio, you may forfeit benefits such as reduced fees and expenses. When cashing out is a must, your financial institution could allow you to keep your current schedule of charges by signing a letter of intent to reach that threshold again within a specific period of time.</p> <h2>9. &quot;What Are the Tax Consequences of the Sale?&quot;</h2> <p>On top of any associated fees from liquidating your shares, you also face applicable income taxes on capital gains. The IRS treats capital gains from the sale of shares held for less than a year as ordinary income, but provides a tax break on sales of shares held longer &mdash; typically a <a href="http://time.com/money/2794895/do-i-pay-taxes-when-i-profit-from-a-stock-sale/">15% tax rate</a>. And if you make the mistake of taking a distribution from your retirement account for the amount of the sale before age 59 1/2, you would trigger an additional 10% early distribution penalty.</p> <p>In the event of a capital loss, remember that you have to follow the IRS' &quot;wash-sale rule&quot; to be able to claim the loss for tax purposes. The rules state that you can't buy the same or &quot;substantially identical&quot; security within 30 calendar days before or after the sale.</p> <h2>10. &quot;What Is the Opportunity Cost of the Sale?&quot;</h2> <p>While you shouldn't become a victim of paralysis-by-analysis by overthinking too many &quot;what ifs,&quot; make sure to consider the opportunity costs of liquidating your stock or mutual holding shares.</p> <p>For example, for individuals younger than 50, the annual contribution limits to a 401K plan and IRA are $18,000 and $5,500, respectively for both 2015 and 2016. Let's assume that you are age 40, plan to retire at age 65, and have an expected rate of return of 6% for your IRA. If you were to liquidate an entire $5,500 from your Roth IRA, you would forfeit an extra $23,605 of income at age 65.</p> <p>By figuring out the opportunity cost before you sell a stock or fund, you begin to understand why Warren Buffett's favorite holding period is forever.</p> <p><em>What are other questions to ask before you sell a stock or fund?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-you-sell-a-stock-or-a-fund">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/learn-how-to-invest-with-these-5-stock-market-games">Learn How to Invest With These 5 Stock Market Games</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-debate-between-buy-and-hold-vs-timing-the-market">The Debate Between Buy and Hold vs Timing The Market</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-spring-clean-your-investment-portfolio">4 Ways to Spring-Clean Your Investment Portfolio</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-deliciously-profitable-food-and-beverage-stocks">10 Deliciously Profitable Food and Beverage Stocks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-best-investments-for-lazy-investors">The 4 Best Investments for Lazy Investors</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment annual returns funds hold risk selling stock market stocks vesting period Mon, 29 Feb 2016 11:30:05 +0000 Damian Davila 1661853 at http://www.wisebread.com Learn How to Invest With These 5 Stock Market Games http://www.wisebread.com/learn-how-to-invest-with-these-5-stock-market-games <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/learn-how-to-invest-with-these-5-stock-market-games" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_investment_tablet_000044888130.jpg" alt="Woman learning how to invest with stock market games" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Have you ever wondered how you can learn to invest without risking your hard-earned cash? Stock market simulators may be the magic ticket. Most major brokerages offer online stock trading simulators that allow you to invest with pretend money, helping you learn the ropes before you plunk down real cash.</p> <p>Your account comes preloaded with a lump sum of pretend money, and your trades and investments fluctuate based on real market conditions, allowing you to see how they'd actually perform. Ready to get started? Try one of these five stock market simulators, and get comfortable with investing without risking a single hard-earned dollar. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-ways-to-invest-50-500-or-5000">The Best Ways to Invest $50, $500, or $5000</a>)</p> <h2>1. TD Bank Wow!Zone</h2> <p><a href="http://virtualstockmarket.tdbank.com/">TD Bank's Fantasy Stock Market</a> game is designed for kids and young adults, but its stock market simulator is a useful tool for all beginner investors. Players start with a $100,000 play money portfolio balance and can trade on any of the U.S. stock exchanges.</p> <h2>2. optionsXpress by Charles Schwab</h2> <p>If you have more advanced market knowledge and want to test a new trading strategy before risking your own investments, try <a href="http://www.optionsxpress.com/">optionsXpress</a> by Charles Schwab. Here you can trade stocks, options, and futures, place advanced orders, and play around with 40 trading tools to help you analyze market conditions. Your account comes preloaded with $25,000 in virtual cash. Sign up for your <a href="http://www.optionsxpress.com/tools_research/virtual_trade.aspx">free optionsXpress account</a> to get started.</p> <h2>3. ScottradeELITE</h2> <p>Similar to optionsXpress, the <a href="https://research.scottrade.com/knowledgecenter/Public/help/Article?docId=767460b36aa84c2f8117fc6b92d0d876">ScottradeELITE</a> virtual trading platform allows users to place mock trades, access research tools, and test trading strategies. Accessing the platform requires software installation.</p> <h2>4. Wall Street Survivor</h2> <p><a href="http://www.wallstreetsurvivor.com/">Wall Street Survivor's</a> interactive platform has been recommended by Forbes, and it promises to teach users the fundamentals of personal finance, trading stocks, bonds, mutual funds, futures, currencies, and options. Users gain access a full suite of online resources, including virtual leagues, courses, videos, and article archives on investing topics and ideas.</p> <h2>5. Investopedia</h2> <p><a href="http://www.investopedia.com/simulator/">Investopedia's stock simulator</a> is one of the most robust platforms available for those just starting out. The website also offers free basic investing education via Investopedia University, along with thousands of insightful articles, and in-depth &quot;how to&quot; guides ranging from <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/university/beginner/?header_alt=true">Investing 101: Introduction</a> to advanced trading strategies. All users start out with an account balance of $100,000 in virtual capital.</p> <p><em>What's your favorite investing simulator or game? </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/qiana-chavaia">Qiana Chavaia</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/learn-how-to-invest-with-these-5-stock-market-games">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-can-you-afford-to-risk-in-a-play-money-account">How Much Can You Afford to Risk In a Play Money Account?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-you-sell-a-stock-or-a-fund">10 Questions to Ask Before You Sell a Stock or a Fund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-to-make-as-soon-as-you-conquer-debt">7 Money Moves to Make as Soon as You Conquer Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-best-financial-news-sites-for-investors-in-a-hurry">The 6 Best Financial News Sites for Investors in a Hurry</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-to-stay-away-from-penny-stocks">5 Reasons to Stay Away From Penny Stocks</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment play money risk simulators stock market Fri, 08 Jan 2016 14:00:03 +0000 Qiana Chavaia 1634306 at http://www.wisebread.com How Much Can You Afford to Risk In a Play Money Account? http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-can-you-afford-to-risk-in-a-play-money-account <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-much-can-you-afford-to-risk-in-a-play-money-account" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_measuring_funds_000068915471.jpg" alt="Man learning how much to keep in his play money account" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you have a &quot;play money&quot; account &mdash; a self-directed brokerage account that you invest in for fun or to take greater risks? If you do, you're not alone. But be careful: Don't let the fun of testing out your own investment strategies make you short more important accounts such as your IRA, 401K, or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-building-an-emergency-fund-always-a-good-idea">emergency fund</a>.</p> <p>There's nothing wrong with having such an investment account. Not only can they be fun, but they can also teach consumers whether their investment ideas have merit or if they are more likely to flop. The problem comes when consumers become so focused on their &quot;play money&quot; that they invest to the detriment of their other accounts.</p> <p>So how much is too much to invest in such an account? That depends on your individual financial situation. But here are some guidelines for how much you should be investing in your other, essential accounts before you drop big bucks on &quot;play money.&quot;</p> <h2>Emergency Fund</h2> <p>Life is filled with unexpected expenses, and some of them are big. Your car's transmission fails? That could be a thousand-dollar repair. Your hot water heater goes on the fritz? Get ready for an unexpected multi-hundred-dollar replacement.</p> <p>That's where an emergency fund comes in. As its name suggests, the dollars in this fund are reserved for those unexpected expenses. Not having an emergency fund can be trouble: If you don't have the dollars to cover that new furnace, the odds are high that you'll place that expense on a credit card.</p> <p>And what if you lose your job? An emergency fund can help cover your daily expenses while you search for new work.</p> <p>Financial experts recommend that consumers build an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of normal daily expenses. If your fund is larger, that's even better. The smart move, then, is to make sure that you have a sizable emergency fund saved up <em>before </em>you set aside any dollars for a &quot;play money&quot; account.</p> <h2>Retirement Accounts</h2> <p>How much will you need for retirement? That depends largely on the type of retirement you want to live. If you want to travel the world, you'll need more money than if you simply want to spend more time with your grandchildren. Don't shortchange your retirement years by investing too much in a &quot;play money&quot; account and too little in an IRA or 401K.</p> <p>It can get complicated determining how much money you'll need to save for retirement each year. But there are a few general rules of thumb that you can use to determine how much money you'll need after you leave the workforce.</p> <p>Financial planners have long recommended that retirees plan on spending from 60% to 90% of their most recent after-tax annual income each year of their retirement. As an example, say you were earning $50,000 each year immediately before your retirement at an effective tax rate of 15. You were then living on $42,500 in income after taxes each year.</p> <p>If you decide that you'd like to live on 85% of this amount each year in retirement, you'd need $36,125 in income every year you are not working. You can get this income from a variety of sources, including everything from Social Security payments to pension income to withdrawals from your savings.</p> <p>Again, make sure that you are saving as much as you need for retirement before you start a &quot;play money&quot; account. If your employer offers a 401K plan, withdraw the maximum amount from each of your paychecks to fund it. If you can't afford to do this, then you can't afford a &quot;play money&quot; account, either.</p> <p><em>Do you have a play money account?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-can-you-afford-to-risk-in-a-play-money-account">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/learn-how-to-invest-with-these-5-stock-market-games">Learn How to Invest With These 5 Stock Market Games</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/using-your-roth-ira-as-an-emergency-fund-ever-a-good-idea">Using Your Roth IRA as an Emergency Fund — Ever a Good Idea?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-steps-to-starting-a-retirement-plan-in-your-30s">8 Steps to Starting a Retirement Plan in Your 30s</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-strengthen-your-finances-before-retirement">5 Ways to Strengthen Your Finances Before Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-the-right-percentage-of-cash-for-your-portfolio">What&#039;s the Right Percentage of Cash for Your Portfolio?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment Retirement emergency funds play money risk savings Mon, 07 Dec 2015 14:00:27 +0000 Dan Rafter 1618545 at http://www.wisebread.com 17 Things You Should Never Skimp on for Safety Reasons http://www.wisebread.com/17-things-you-should-never-skimp-on-for-safety-reasons <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/17-things-you-should-never-skimp-on-for-safety-reasons" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/kid_carseat_000041847428.jpg" alt="Man not skimping on car seat for safety reasons" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Every year, bad financial decisions kill or injure millions of people. While we can all stand back and shake our heads at cheapskate Darwin Award winners, poverty, poor planning, or straight up lack of awareness put many people in harm's way.</p> <p>Are you cutting corners that shouldn't be cut?</p> <h2>1. Cab Fare</h2> <p>It's one thing to risk your life in the line of duty. It's another thing entirely to risk your life commuting. If your commute home is dangerous &mdash; say you have to walk through a sketchy part of town to your stop &mdash; take action to reduce your risk. Look at reducing spending on other budget categories in order to free up money to pay for safe transportation. If you cannot afford to hire a cab or Uber driver, find a commuter buddy who is willing to carpool even part way or escort you on public transportation to safety.</p> <p>Or, ask your employer if you can adjust your hours to avoid walking home while it's dark. Being safe can mean walking to a subway stop that's further away because the route is better lit or more populated or walking around the perimeter of a park rather than through it. A short cut home doesn't save any time or money if you end up getting mugged.</p> <h2>2. Car Maintenance</h2> <p>&quot;You know, you can bring your car for repair while it's still drivable,&quot; was the sage advice from my mechanic. Like many magical thinkers, I fully embraced the idea that, like the human body, my car would just repair itself&hellip; somehow. Then I broke down on the on ramp leading from the 10 freeway to the 405, which may be the busiest freeway interchange in the nation. Really, it shouldn't have taken a near-death experience to turn me into a responsible car owner, but there you have it. I am grateful to this day that no one was hurt.</p> <p>Car maintenance is expensive, but it's generally cheaper than paying for major repairs caused by neglect.</p> <h2>3.&nbsp;Child Safety Seats</h2> <p>Car seats are expensive and annoying to install, so many parents think that it's okay to use an old, hand-me-down seat for their new baby, as long as they've checked that the model hasn't been recalled. However, car seats have expiration dates for a reason &mdash; plastic becomes brittle over time, especially when repeatedly exposed to the extreme heat and cold of a car's interior. The force of even a small fender bender can cause the plastic components of a car seat to shatter, with fatal results.</p> <p>Looks are deceiving. Since damage to car seats is often not visible, it's also important to know a used car seat's history. If a car seat is involved in a collision, that car seat should be replaced.</p> <h2>4. Ear Protection</h2> <p>Hair cells in the inner ear are responsible for hearing and balance. Alas, just like brain cells, hair cells do not regenerate. Once you lose them, they are gone forever. Loud noises, <a href="http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Ototoxic-Medications/">certain drugs</a>, and smoking all damage hair cells. Wearing $3 earplugs to concerts will help ensure that you can enjoy music for your entire life. Also, if you are a music lover, invest in properly fitting headphones or ear buds that will let you listen to music without having to crank up the volume. Or take a cue from airport maintenance workers and wear Noise Reduction Earmuffs over your ear buds so you can listen to your tunes in blessed sonic isolation.</p> <h2>5. First Aid Kit</h2> <p>The mass shooting in Tucson that took the lives of six people and injured seven others, including Representative Gabby Giffords, could have been even more lethal were it not for the prep work of Tucson SWAT team medic David Kleinman. Although it is unusual for police officers to carry first aid equipment used by combat medics in Iraq, Kleinman had designed individual <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/21/AR2011012105860.html">first aid kits</a> that included such low cost items as gauze strips soaked in a coagulant for Tucson police deputies to carry. Since it's possible to bleed to death in mere minutes, these bandages literally kept people alive during the six minutes it took for the paramedics to arrive on the scene.</p> <p>The Tucson shooting is an extreme example, but first aid kits for the home and the workplace <a href="http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit/anatomy">should be assembled</a> with horrible emergencies in mind, and checked regularly for expired contents. Since I live in Los Angeles and have survived my share of evacuations due to earthquakes, fires, and riots, I also like to keep a first aid supplies in my car as part of my emergency kit.</p> <h2>6. Fruits and Vegetables</h2> <p>Even in this rotten economy, every year, more and more people are dying from diseases of affluence, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, due to a sedentary lifestyle and a diet that is high in fat and sugar. Luckily, there is an easy and delicious way to stave off a number of chronic illnesses: <a href="https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetables-and-fruits/">eat more fruits and vegetables</a>. Several long-term health studies have found that people who eat more than five servings of fruit or vegetables per day, lowered their risk of stroke and coronary heart disease by 20%.</p> <p>Unfortunately, access to fresh produce isn't a given for everyone, so it is important to note that frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are a nutritious and often cheaper alternative. Another great way to get more fruit and vegetables into your diet is to grow or glean your own. Consider joining forces with a few neighbors to share the work of growing a victory garden. Use Craigslist and Freecycle to find people who have surplus fruit. Fallen fruit causes vermin problems and everyone hates to waste food, so often people will give you free fruit just to keep it from falling on the ground.</p> <h2>7. Gun Safe or Gun Lock</h2> <p>About one-third of American children live in homes with guns, and 1.7 million children in the United States live in homes with guns that are <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1446208/pdf/10754974.pdf">loaded and unlocked</a>. Data from the Center for Disease Control shows that, on average, 62 children die from unintentional shootings each year. However, when researchers for Everytown looked at publicly reported gun deaths, they found that from December 2012 to December 2013, at least <a href="http://everytown.org/documents/2014/10/innocents-lost.pdf">100 children were killed</a> in unintentional shootings. And 65% of these deaths took place in a home or car that belonged to the victim's family, most often with guns that were legally owned, but not secured. Most child gun deaths are tragically preventable. As of April 2015 there were at least <a href="http://everytownresearch.org/notanaccident/">110 child shootings</a> in America. That's one accidental shooting every 36 hours.</p> <p>Responsible gun owners keep their guns out of the hands of unsupervised children, and they talk to their kids about gun safety.</p> <h2>8. Immunization</h2> <p>Remember that time you got polio? No, you don't, because your parents got you vaccinated. Ironically, the fact that vaccines have rendered many once common diseases rare has lead to the opinion among some parents &mdash; who are too young to remember the terrible disabilities and death toll associated with preventable illnesses like diphtheria, measles, and mumps &mdash; that immunization is not necessary.</p> <p>Although the last two generations of Americans have largely grown up without experiencing first hand the human cost of preventable illnesses, there are plenty of stories that explain what a miracle vaccines are for people all over the world. For example, the yearly Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race in Alaska commemorates the 20 men and their dog teams who transported diphtheria serum by dog sled 700 miles, in blizzard conditions, to stop an outbreak of the disease in Nome, Alaska. The 20 men who volunteered were postal workers; normal, everyday people. They agreed to a suicide mission because they knew that the vaccine would save the lives of 1400 people. These men were willing to lose their hands and noses to frostbite because they lived in a time when diphtheria killed many, many people.</p> <p>Across the globe, immunization has proven to be one of the most successful and cost-effective medical treatments. According to the CDC, vaccinations will <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p0424-immunization-program.html">prevent 21 million hospitalizations</a> and 732,000 deaths among children born in the last 20 years. In addition to saving lives, vaccines dramatically reduce the cost of medical treatment. Although anyone who has watched Masterpiece Theater knows that polio can cause paralysis, a lot of Americans don't know that diphtheria can cause permanent heart damage, measles can cause deafness, and tetanus can cause brain damage.</p> <p>Translated into money terms, vaccines will save $295 billion in direct costs and $1.38 trillion in societal costs!</p> <p>The Affordable Care Act has made <a href="http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/facts/factsheets/2010/09/The-Affordable-Care-Act-and-Immunization.html">immunization available</a> to more people. Vaccine coverage is available at no cost for eligible children through the <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/features/vfcprogram/">Vaccines for Children Program</a>.</p> <h2>9. Knife Sharpening</h2> <p>It seems counter-intuitive, but <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/knife-injuries-and-other-kitchen-mishaps-afflict-both-top-chefs-and-everyday-cooks/2013/01/07/92e191f8-4af0-11e2-b709-667035ff9029_story.html">dull kitchen knives</a> are more dangerous than razor sharp ones because you have to push the knife harder to get through the food. Although I bring my knives to a professional knife sharpener for convenience, knife sharpening by hand is not a hard skill to master. Most home cooks only need to sharpen their knives with an electric knife sharpener or a whetstone twice a year.</p> <p>Contrary to popular belief, that honing steel that gets a lot of pro chef action on cooking shows, and might even be part of your knife set at home, is not a sharpening stone. Sharpening stones work by removing a tiny layer of the blade to restore the sharp edge. Honing steels realign the blade by pushing it back to center and straightening it. A properly aligned blade cuts more efficiently. Honing should be done often to keep knives in top condition.</p> <h2>10. Mammograms</h2> <p>For a routine medical treatment that all women over 40 are supposed to get yearly, mammograms are horrifically expensive. But breast cancer is the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cancer.gov/types/breast">second most common cancer </a>in women, and 75% of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/news/20091006/mammograms-cut-risk-breast-cancer-death">breast cancer deaths</a> occur among women who do not get regular mammograms.</p> <p>Mammogram costs vary widely depending on insurance coverage and technology. To cut costs, it is very important to speak to your insurance about what is actually covered under your policy. For example, under my insurance, the basic breast cancer mammogram screening is 100% covered. Alas, what is not covered are the radiologist charges, other doctor fees, and the diagnostic follow-up sonogram that I also must endure because I have dense breast tissue&hellip;which pretty much renders images from a standard mammogram useless. Mammograms that are coded Diagnostic are typically much more expensive than those coded Preventative or Screening. Some insurance companies will also not cover mammograms that use alternate, but otherwise completely standard, screening technology such as ultrasound, MRIs, or even 3D mammography machines.</p> <h2>11. Rags</h2> <p>Leaving oily rags in a pile can cause them to <a href="http://www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics/fire-causes/chemical-and-gases/spontaneous-combustion-or-chemical-reaction">spontaneously ignite</a>, and even washing them in the laundry can <a href="http://www.cultureofsafety.com/safety-tips/spontaneous-combustion-of-oily-rags/">lead to a fire</a>. While throwing away rags might seem counter-intuitive, certain common chemicals like acetone are highly flammable and pose a risk to your safety if stored improperly. Reusing oily rags isn't environmentally friendly or financially smart if that practice results in a structure fire.</p> <p>Rags that have been used to apply oils such as linseed oil or turpentine should be submerged in water inside a covered metal can (such as a paint can), and taken to your local hazardous waste disposal center as soon as possible.</p> <p>Finally, read the material safety data sheet before using any product marked flammable. It could save your life.</p> <h2>12. Running Shoes</h2> <p>Running can be one of the cheapest forms of exercise, but depending on your feet and your running style, running shoes can feel like a costly investment. Running shoe manufacturers recommend replacing shoes every six months or every 400 to 600 miles. I used to stretch the mileage limit to save money, but then I broke a bone in my foot while training for the Florence marathon &mdash; because I was running in old shoes. Take it from me, very little ruins the romance of Italian cobblestone streets more than having to hop on them with your one good foot.</p> <p>Of course, these time and distance recommendations are easy to follow if you are a regular runner who keeps track of mileage. For everyone else, it's more of a guessing game. And, even if you are in training, how fast your shoes wear out depends a lot on how much you weigh and your running style. For example, because my running style has been described as &quot;Helga, the stomping mare,&quot; my shoes have a lifespan of 300 to 400 miles.</p> <p>Instead of these generic mileage rules, I now pay attention to what my body tells me. For me, sore arches let me know when the midsole of my shoe is no longer protecting my feet and legs from injury. Do not ignore these signs &mdash; they can turn into a permanent injury if you try to run through them.</p> <p>One of the easiest ways to check if you need to replace your shoes is to go to the shoe store and try on the same shoes you've been training in. If you can feel the difference in support between the new shoes and your old shoes, it's time to replace your shoes.</p> <h2>13. Sleep</h2> <p>Insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. According to the CDC, over 35% of Americans get fewer than seven hours of sleep a night, and a terrifying 4.7% of Americans reported nodding off or falling asleep behind the wheel at least once in the preceding month. The National Department of Transportation estimates that drowsy driving is responsible for 40,000 injuries and 1550 deaths each year in the United States. In addition to car crashes, insufficient sleep is also linked to disasters such as Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and even the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.</p> <p>Sleep deprivation can also <a href="http://www.bcbsnm.com/health/achieving_wellness/sleep">alter the immune system</a>, making you more susceptible to major diseases such as hypertension, depression, and even cancer. Recent medical studies have shown a link between lack of sleep and obesity.</p> <h2>14. Sunglasses</h2> <p>Most people don't think about their eyes when they think about sun damage. Unfortunately, long-term sun damage can result in cataracts or macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in America. In addition to protecting your vision, sunglasses protect the eyes against cancer and corneal sunburn.</p> <p>Just like sunscreen, sunglasses should be worn year around, even on overcast days, as clouds are not an effective barrier against UV light.</p> <p>Not all sunglasses are created equal when it comes to sun protection. Look for sunglasses that block at least 99% of UVA and UVB light. The best sunglasses also block HEV light. Size matters. The more skin around your eyes that you can cover, the better.</p> <h2>15. Sunscreen</h2> <p>Skin cancer is now the <a href="http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/823419/10-most-common-cancers-in-the-us">most common</a> of all cancers. Medical research shows that most skin cancers can be avoided by protecting your skin against sun damage. If you were only trying to avoid getting a sunburn, then sunscreen wouldn't be vital to your health.</p> <p>However, your skin can be damaged by long-term sun exposure, regardless of whether or not you see a burn. Everyone, including people who tan easily, have dark skin naturally, or already have a &quot;base tan,&quot; should wear an SPF of 15 or higher.</p> <p>Sunscreen is very effective when used properly. Unfortunately, most people do not use sunscreen properly. To be most effective:</p> <ul> <li>Sunscreen should be applied at least 20 minutes before going outdoors, anytime you will be exposed to the sun for more than 30 minutes.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours while outdoors, even if the product claims to have &quot;all day protection.&quot; If you get wet or sweaty, sunscreen should be applied more often, even if the product claims to be waterproof.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Sunscreen should be applied in a thick layer on the surface of the skin. The most effective sunscreens actually act as a physical barrier to the suns rays. This means that you need at least two tablespoons of sunscreen (a shot glass full) for your body and nickel-sized blob for your face alone. To avoid looking undead, you can buy tinted sunscreen to match your skin tone or wear sunscreen under make-up.</li> </ul> <h2>16. Tire Maintenance</h2> <p>Tires are the only contact between your car (or bike) and the road, so tire maintenance is an important safety function. Under inflation is the leading cause of tire failure, which can result in accidents. Most drivers don't realize that a car tire can lose 50% of its pressure before it looks visibly flat, so it's a good idea to check your tires (including the spare) once a month. Cars driving on tires under inflated by more than 25% are three times more likely to be <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2012/05/nhtsa-study-finds-underinflated-and-worn-tires-increase-the-likelihood-of-a-crash/index.htm">involved in a crash</a> than tires with proper inflation. Under inflation also negatively impacts tread wear and handling.</p> <h2>17. Windshield Maintenance</h2> <p>Many car manufacturers now count the windshield as not only a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/protect-your-home-and-family-from-fire-with-these-easy-safety-basics">safety feature</a>, but also part of the structural integrity of their vehicles. Those tiny, star chips from road gravel are more than just an aesthetic nuisance. When deployed, front airbags are designed to bounce off the windshield to better protect the motorist. Chipped windshields are more likely to explode during accidents, making airbags less effective. There are insurance companies that offer free windshield replacement, but most require that you opt-in to that coverage. Even if your insurance does not offer free windshield replacement, if you live in a place like Arizona where chip sealing or gravel damage to cars is prevalent, it is worth it to pay a small annual premium for glass replacement.</p> <p>Also, don't wait to have visibility issues before you change your windshield wipers or clean the inside of your windshield. Sun and console glare are a common cause of car versus pedestrian accidents.</p> <p><em>Have any of you been saved by a small ticket item or service that didn't make this list? Please share your story in the comments section!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-things-you-should-never-skimp-on-for-safety-reasons">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-should-never-do-when-camping">7 Things You Should Never Do When Camping</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-you-put-your-life-at-risk-every-day">9 Ways You Put Your Life at Risk Every Day</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-affordable-ways-to-deter-burglars">6 Affordable Ways to Deter Burglars</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-hiking-hacks-to-take-to-the-trail-this-summer">20 Hiking Hacks to Take to the Trail This Summer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-16-holiday-hazards">Beware These 16 Holiday Hazards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks injury risk safety skimping Mon, 27 Jul 2015 11:00:10 +0000 Max Wong 1499530 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 More Supposedly Healthy Things That Are Actually Hurting You http://www.wisebread.com/9-more-supposedly-healthy-things-that-are-actually-hurting-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-more-supposedly-healthy-things-that-are-actually-hurting-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000019512056_Large.jpg" alt="woman beach sunscreen" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My recent list of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-supposedly-healthy-things-that-are-actually-hurting-you">10 Supposedly Health Things That Are Actually Hurting You</a> was so popular, it got me thinking about even more things that we do for our health &mdash; but shouldn't. The more I learn, the more I think that the safest thing to do is not try to be healthy at all. So please pass the Girl Scout cookies, and I'll be in the TV room, staying healthy.</p> <h2>1. Douching</h2> <p>Although many women see regular douching as an important hygienic measure, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-dont-need-to-clean">recommends against it</a>, warning that it can lead to <a href="http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/douching.html">yeast and bacterial infections</a>.</p> <h2>2. Internal Steam Baths</h2> <p>As if the false promises of the douche weren't bad enough, good old Gwyneth Paltrow recently mystified and confused women everywhere by recommending the Mugwort V Steam, a spa treatment that steam cleans the vagina.</p> <p>&quot;The lactobacilli strains that keep vaginas healthy are very finicky about their environment and raising the temperature with steam... is likely not beneficial and is <a href="https://drjengunter.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/gwyneth-paltrow-says-steam-your-vagina-an-obgyn-says-dont/">potentially harmful</a>,&quot; wrote OB/GYN Jennifer Gunter. I guess it's the word of a consciously uncoupled actress against the doctor's &mdash; believe who you will.</p> <h2>3. Coconut Oil</h2> <p>For a while, it was dietary dogma that all fats were bad for you. Then we started hearing about <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-fat-filled-foods-you-should-stop-avoiding">health benefits from certain fats</a>, and lately, the golden fat is coconut oil. It is supposed to do everything from burning <em>body</em> fat to killing germs to lowering cholesterol. The truth is, researchers say, a lot more studies are needed before we really know whether <a href="http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/coconut-oil-and-health">eating this saturated fat</a> is a net positive or negative for your health.</p> <p>For now, let's just say that coconut oil may not deliver on the health claims you have heard about, but like all fats, it is guaranteed to provide your body with nine calories per gram. And it's guaranteed to be harder on your wallet than many other oils.</p> <h2>4. Low-Fat Packaged Foods</h2> <p>There are low-fat versions of just about every packaged food nowadays, from soup to cereal to yogurt. But did you ever wonder what food manufacturers do to foods to make them palatable with less fat? Read the ingredients and you may get an eyeful, such as really high amounts of sugar, sodium, or unpronounceable flavor agents.</p> <h2>5. Diet Drinks</h2> <p>Switching from regular Coke to Diet used to be considered a healthy move. And cutting back on the sugar that comes in a soft drink is good for you. But mounting evidence warns that even &quot;natural&quot; artificial sweeteners may be dangerous, primarily due to a <a href="http://www.prevention.com/health/healthy-living/artificial-sweeteners-may-contribute-diabetes-and-obesity">link to diabetes</a>. Artificial sweeteners may damage the microflora in our guts, too, and their super-sweet taste may increase our desire for sweets. <a href="http://www.prevention.com/health/healthy-living/your-body-diet-soda-infographic">Diet soda consumption</a> is also linked to heart attack risk, tooth decay, and other ills.</p> <h2>6. Annual Mammograms Starting at 40</h2> <p>On my 40th birthday, my mother reminded me to make my first mammogram appointment. I didn't, and here's why: New research suggests that women who start annual mammograms at that age expose themselves to an amount of <a href="http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/new-mammogram-guidelines-why-yearly-mammogram-may-be-bad-idea">radiation and stressful false positives</a>&nbsp;that is not worth the reduction in cancer deaths.</p> <p>Women with a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors are still advised to get the test early and often, but for &quot;a woman with lower risk, it might make sense to start later or screen every other year,&quot; Diana Zuckerman, PhD, president of the National Research Center for Women &amp; Families, told Prevention.</p> <h2>7. Baby Powder</h2> <p>Fortunately, many powders on the market today are no longer made with talc, a mineral product that could cause lung damage if inhaled. But non-talc powders or even plain cornstarch can still be inhaled, and women who use talcum powder around their genitals may be putting themselves at <a href="http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA401185/How-Bad-Is-Baby-Powder.html">risk for cancer</a>.</p> <h2>8. Homework</h2> <p>Most parents are annoyed by their kids' homework; it cuts into limited family time and, in many families, leads to endless power struggles. But parents put up with it because it's for the kids' own good.</p> <p>Or is it? A Stanford study concluded that current homework levels &quot;hinder learning, full engagement, and well-being,&quot; by <a href="http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/march/too-much-homework-031014.html">causing students stress</a> and sleep deprivation, and cutting into time to develop life skills.</p> <p>Sure, you say, but what if the harm caused by homework is offset by its benefits? The thing is, experts are hard pressed to prove that&nbsp;<a href="http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/homework-has-no-benefit-for-very-young-children-little-benefit-for-upper-primary-students/story-fnet08ui-1226501851265">homework benefits students</a>. At all.</p> <h2>9. Some Sunscreens</h2> <p>Wearing sunscreen outdoors is strongly recommended by dermatologists, and yet doctors warn that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sun-screens-can-really-cost-you-by-the-ounce-and-by-the-tumor">some ingredients</a>&nbsp;in sunscreens could be&nbsp;<a href="http://www.webmd.com/beauty/sun/sunscreen-safety-labels-ingredients">hazardous to your health</a>. The Environmental Working Group recommends against <a href="http://www.ewg.org/2014sunscreen/what-not-to-bring-on-vacation/">spray-on sunscreens</a>, and those that contain oxybenzone or vitamin A.</p> <p><em>What supposedly healthy thing have you learned is actually harmful? Please warn us in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-more-supposedly-healthy-things-that-are-actually-hurting-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-enough-sleep">Get enough sleep</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/healthy-people-have-these-10-things-in-their-homes-do-you">Healthy People Have These 10 Things in Their Homes — Do You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-dumb-things-holding-you-back-from-losing-weight">14 Dumb Things Holding You Back From Losing Weight</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/people-who-love-their-bodies-never-do-these-17-things-do-you">People Who Love Their Bodies Never Do These 17 Things — Do You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-foods-scientifically-proven-to-increase-your-lifespan">6 Foods Scientifically Proven to Increase Your Lifespan</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips Health and Beauty Health risk wellbeing Wed, 18 Feb 2015 12:00:06 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1289909 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways Women Are Better Investors Than Men http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-women-are-better-investors-than-men <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-women-are-better-investors-than-men" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-investor-coin-stacks-Dollarphotoclub_63179113.jpg" alt="woman investor " title="woman investor " class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's no secret that the finance and investing industries are dominated by men. The 2013 Catalyst Census study, for example, found that within Fortune 500 companies, <a href="http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/2013-catalyst-census-fortune-500-women-board-directors">women represented</a> only 11.4% of CFOs and 17.6% of executive level officers in finance and insurance.</p> <p>But that doesn't mean women are less successful investors. To the contrary: Some traits found more commonly in male investors, such as overconfidence, are associated with <a href="http://www.investmentphilosophy.com/uploads/cms/51d6f125f21d6.pdf">poor investment decisions</a> and lower returns, according to a Barclays Wealth Insights study of high net-worth individuals. Furthermore, the report suggested five key ways in which women might actually have an edge.</p> <h2>1. Women Trade Less Frequently</h2> <p>Men traded more frequently, perhaps as a risk aversion strategy. Greater trading frequency leads to higher commissions and fees, which can erode returns and potentially undermine an investment strategy. Women are more likely to stay the course long-term.</p> <p><img width="605" height="228" alt="Image" style="border: none; transform: rotate(0.00rad); -webkit-transform: rotate(0.00rad);" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-yRhTnm1iGlxY8c3AROr6QK-L6w5TOGnIJ_HnloEc8RcLlOFlus74O2SYYT0NImHzh2gFI1cr1fU1S-ZswS4EethZfzZygeCAdTSp06-60JhEmP3btHFUOpdolOlX7x9cw" /></p> <h2>2. Women Are Inclined to Use Proven Financial Strategies</h2> <p>When faced with tough financial decisions, &quot;failures of rationality&quot; make it difficult to stick to proven financial strategies, resulting in missed opportunities, short-term financial decision horizons, buying high and selling low, and action bias (trading too often). Women were more likely to use proven financial strategies and avoid these mistakes.</p> <h2>3. Women Choose Lower Risk Investments</h2> <p>The study found that men were more likely to consider themselves financial risk-takers and were more willing to choose high-risk investments in order to achieve higher returns, even when sticking to financial principles would have achieved higher gains. Women pursued a steadier course and had more stable returns.</p> <h2>4. Women Have a Greater Desire for Self-Control</h2> <p>Of the subjects studied, it was concluded that using tested investment strategies was linked to increased financial satisfaction and greater wealth. Women comprised a higher percentage of those individuals possessing a high degree of financial discipline.</p> <h2>5. Women Don't Try to Time the Market</h2> <p>Women were said to more commonly use self-control strategies &mdash; a trait that makes them less likely to react in haste to market swings. Men tried to time the market more often, exposing them to greater risk and return variability.</p> <p><em>What differences have you noticed between male and female investing styles?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/qiana-chavaia">Qiana Chavaia</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-women-are-better-investors-than-men">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-8-rules-of-investing-you-need-to-know">The Only 8 Rules of Investing You Need to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-investors-with-better-returns-than-warren-buffett">5 Investors With Better Returns Than Warren Buffett</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/learn-how-to-invest-with-these-5-stock-market-games">Learn How to Invest With These 5 Stock Market Games</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/who-cares-about-where-the-stock-market-is-headed">Who Cares About Where The Stock Market Is Headed?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-top-5-etfs-you-should-buy-now">The Top 5 ETFs You Should Buy Now</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment investing investing and gender risk women investors Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:00:05 +0000 Qiana Chavaia 1282997 at http://www.wisebread.com Beware These 16 Holiday Hazards http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-16-holiday-hazards <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beware-these-16-holiday-hazards" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-burned-chicken-Dollarphotoclub_67120531.jpg" alt="woman burned chicken" title="woman burned chicken" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are plenty of delightful things to love about the holidays &mdash; the people, the parties, the presents! &mdash; but there are also a few dangers that can turn a celebration sour in a flash. Keep your wits about you and your limbs intact by avoiding these common holiday hazards.</p> <h2>1. Christmas Tree Mold</h2> <p>If you think Clark Griswold had a problem on his hands with a stowaway squirrel, you haven't yet encountered the dreaded Christmas tree mold. It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but <a href="http://www.myfoxal.com/story/27521440/doctors-say-mold-found-in-christmas-tree-varieties-can-trigger-allergies">it's a real threat this time of year</a> that can spark a potentially severe attack in allergy sufferers.</p> <p>Just how does the mold get in the tree?</p> <p>&quot;Mold loves moisture, so when you put the water in the tree it's a great place for mold to grow,&quot; says allergist Dr. Weilly Soong. &quot;So it releases mold spores and people become allergic.&quot; Chemicals sprayed on the tree also can trigger allergy symptoms that often are brushed off as a common cold. To reduce the probability of a reaction to tree mold, spray the tree with water and let it dry outside before bringing it into the house.</p> <h2>Potential Poisons and Other Pet-Related Hazards</h2> <p>It's not only our own backs we have to watch around the holidays; our pets also can fall prey to household hazards that could prove deadly. <a href="http://trupanion.com/pet-safety/holiday-tips">Trupanion's Holiday Tips for Dogs &amp; Cats</a> puts pet safety first, so you and your furbabies can have all the safe fun that comes with the season.</p> <h3>2. Beware of Poisonous Plants</h3> <p>Holly, mistletoe, and certain lilies look festive but can be dangerous if ingested. Cover the water for the tree and other plants and make sure your pets always have plenty of water. This will keep them from getting thirsty enough to share a drink with plants that could make them sick.</p> <h3>3. Decorating Dos</h3> <p>Keep tinsel, ribbon, and ornaments out of pets' reach, as they often prove too tempting for curious pets to avoid but can result in costly vet visits when chewed or swallowed. Christmas light cords can also be tempting to an avid chewer or new puppy.</p> <h3>4. De-Ice Those Paws</h3> <p>Remove any snow, salt, or de-icing chemicals from pets' paws right away after being outside in the cold. Frostbitten skin, which will appear red or gray, should be warmed with a moist, warm towel until the skin returns to its regular color.</p> <h3>5. Festive Feasts</h3> <p>No matter how much they beg, avoid giving your pets table food &mdash; many holiday treats can lead to a stomach ache and a swallowed turkey bone could be life-threatening. Many ingredients commonly used in holiday meals &mdash; like chocolate, onions, and garlic &mdash; can be toxic for your pets.</p> <h2>6. Injuries While Hanging Lights and Decorations</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/fMX2kKXX6sw" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>For the first time ever as an adult I decorated the outside of my home for Christmas. I managed to hang lights from the second story of my house without slamming onto the frozen tundra 20 feet below. I'm pretty proud of myself. And statistically speaking, I should be, because according to the CDC, an estimated 17,465 people are treated for <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5348a1.htm">fall-related injuries around the holidays</a>. I'm pleased that I'm not a statistic. You can avoid being one too with this video tutorial from Lowe's featuring <a href="http://www.lowes.com/projects/decorate-and-entertain/tips-for-hanging-outdoor-christmas-lights/project">helpful light-hanging tips</a>.</p> <h2>7. Frying Frozen Turkeys</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/qvlHH7dX7_c"></iframe></p> <p>The most important rule to remember when deep-frying a turkey for your holiday meal is that it should never be placed in that huge tub of boiling oil while frozen. Unless, of course, you want to spend Christmas in a burn unit followed by a homeless shelter. Let <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvlHH7dX7_c">this video from Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services serve as a forewarning</a> to all those who want to tempt fate. Instead, follow these safe and smart tips from The Art of Manliness that take you through <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8wZ7_0J3-Y">the deep-frying process from start to finish in one 15-minute video</a>.</p> <h2>8. Bodily Burns From Cooking and Baking</h2> <p>While turkey frying has the potential to cause major damage if not done properly, it's not as common a hazard as ordinary burns from regular holiday baking and cooking. It's not that difficult to singe a few fingers making that huge holiday meal, especially when all burners and the oven are on at the same time. Also, keep in mind that children like to help out in the kitchen &mdash; especially when you're making sweet treats &mdash; so it's important to ensure that everybody is educated about <a href="http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-prevent-kitchen-burns.html">fire safety and burn prevention</a>.</p> <h2>9. Damage to Your Teeth</h2> <p>While we're busy trying not to kill our pets or burn the house to the ground, we're overlooking a potentially costly &mdash; and painful &mdash; oral holiday hazard. &quot;People tend to use their teeth to open presents, bottles, and chew on candy and other potential hazards that lead patients to our office for fixing,&quot; says Dr. Mark Helm of Helm, Nejad, Stanley Dentistry of Beverly Hills. So he offers a survival guide of sorts to help you keep your pearly whites firmly planted in your face.</p> <h3>Rinse With Water Immediately After Meals or Sweets</h3> <p>It's recommended to wait 30 minutes after eating or indulging in sweets to brush and floss, allowing your mouth to return to its normal pH balance, but we understand that waiting this long after a meal (especially for little ones) is not always realistic. By simply swishing water in your mouth for about 30 seconds after sweets, you can prevent a significant amount of tartar and plaque from taking hold and help your mouth return to normal pH faster.</p> <h3>Don't Forget to Brush and Floss</h3> <p>During the holiday season we're busy spending time with loved ones and traveling, which can make it very easy to forget to maintain our regular brushing and flossing habits. If you find yourself in a situation where you can't brush and floss, don't panic. Simply rinse with water. This doesn't replace brushing and flossing, but it's better than nothing. It's also wise to invest in a to-go toothbrush or designate a pack of floss for on-the-go activities.</p> <h3>Treat Your Teeth to Something Nice</h3> <p>In keeping with the giving spirit of the holidays, why neglect your teeth? Buy yourself or a loved one a new toothbrush. Treat yourselves to some delicious xylitol-flavored gum or candies. Your teeth have been working hard and they deserve it. While you're at it, visit your hygienist and get a teeth cleaning or ask your dentist about whitening options to make all your friends and family jealous of your sparkling smile.</p> <h3>Use Appropriate Tools</h3> <p>With all of the presents, packages, and bottles to be opened, and nuts to be cracked, it can be tempting to use our teeth to take care of these tasks. Do yourself and your dentist a huge favor by using appropriate tools instead of using your teeth for these tasks. It will save you plenty of pain, money, and time spent at the dentist during the holidays that you can otherwise spend feasting.</p> <h3>Just Say No</h3> <p>Candy canes, caramel, sticky sweets, and other hard candies are some of the most common (and tasty) holiday treats that cause the most damage, and they're best avoided. Do your best to limit your intake of these sweets, and if you do decide to enjoy a candy cane or two don't chew on them.</p> <h2>10. Back Strain From Moving Boxes/Bins In and Out of Storage</h2> <p><a href="http://www.jamienovak.com/">Organizing specialist Jamie Novak</a> advises us to avoid back injuries from lugging heavy tubs and containers of decorations in and out of storage areas and up and down flights of stairs. &quot;I suggest storing decorations in smaller tubs, grouping the items you use for one area &mdash; like a single bookcase or tabletop &mdash; in one bin so you can bring out what you need without hurting yourself,&quot; she says. If you're already prone to back problems, ask someone else to do the heavy lifting for you. Doing it yourself isn't worth being laid up for the holidays, unable to enjoy the festivities.</p> <h2>11. Cuts From Clamshell Packaging</h2> <p>One of the most frustrating parts of gift packaging are those annoying hard plastic cases that seem like they've been welded together for the sole purpose of making you curse the day Santa slid down your chimney. And if you're not careful, you could have a bloody mess on your hands. To open these types of packages Novak says, &quot;Always have a clamshell [package] opener at the ready. I keep mine in a decorative box under the tree, so I know just where it is. I also keep one of those tiny screwdrivers in the box so I can open battery compartments easily.&quot;</p> <p>You hear that folks? Put a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000RT8GQY/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000RT8GQY&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=BVWDMJ4BPCYWVSLS">clamshell package opener</a> on your Christmas list this year &mdash; if only to enjoy the look of what-the-heck-is-that bewilderment from whoever reads it.</p> <h2>12. Unattended Candles</h2> <p>Candles help create a cozy ambience around the holidays, but such beauty can quickly turn into a blaze if the candles are left unattended. The National Candle Association (yeah, I had no idea either) takes safety seriously as detailed in <a href="http://candles.org/fire-safety-candles/candle-safety-rules/">this comprehensive list of candle safety rules</a>.</p> <h2>13. Overloading Power Strips and Outlets</h2> <p>Once you've strung up all your lights, you'll need to plug them in so the astronauts can see them from space. That is your goal, isn't it? While it's perfectly okay to pursue that passion, it's not a good idea to overload your electrical outlets so NASA can pinpoint the big ball of fire that has suddenly appeared on your block. Right where your house used to be. Howstuffworks details some electrical-outlet limits in <a href="http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/household-safety/fire/outlet-overload.htm">this educational and perhaps life-saving post</a>.</p> <h2>14. Letting the Tree Dry Out</h2> <p>What happens when you put bone-dry greenery next to a potential fire hazard? It could go up in flames. Be a responsible tree owner by keeping the stand filled with water while also minimizing the risk of fire by practicing the safety tips detailed earlier in this post.</p> <h2>15. Choking Hazards for Children</h2> <p>Be mindful of the gifts you're giving children this time of year and make sure that they're age-appropriate. Paramedic Jeff Meyers at Grand Rapids Healthcare Training offers this helpful tip to help you decide what items could mean trouble: &quot;If the object is small enough to fit in a toilet paper roll, it's too small.&quot;</p> <h2>16. Foodborne Illness</h2> <p>Dr. Michael Kaplan, national medical director for <a href="http://www.nextcare.com">NextCare</a>, warns about a hidden danger that can affect any family at holiday time.</p> <p>&quot;Foodborne illnesses &mdash; such as Salmonella and E.coli &mdash; that primarily consist of vomiting and/or diarrhea can lead to dehydration if a person loses more body fluids and salts (electrolytes) than they take in,&quot; he says. &quot;In addition to water, drinking oral rehydration solutions such as Ceralyte, Pedialyte, or Oralyte is recommended to replace the fluid losses and prevent dehydration. Sports drinks such as Gatorade do not replace the losses correctly and should not be used as treatment. Bismuth subsalicylate (i.e. Pepto-Bismol) can reduce the severity and duration of diarrhea, as well. (NextCare can also help to treat gastrointestinal illnesses such as foodborne illness).&quot;</p> <p><em>Do you have other holiday hazards that we should avoid? Please warn us about them in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-16-holiday-hazards">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/people-who-love-christmas-do-these-9-things-do-you">People Who Love Christmas Do These 9 Things — Do You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-fun-and-frugal-labor-day-activities">15 Fun and Frugal Labor Day Activities</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ideas-for-cheap-festive-fall-decor">12 Ideas for Cheap, Festive, Fall Decor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-have-a-no-spend-holiday-season">12 Ways to Have a No-Spend Holiday Season</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-the-craziest-christmas-fanatics-do">7 Things the Craziest Christmas Fanatics Do</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment danger holiday risks Holidays injury risk Fri, 12 Dec 2014 18:00:07 +0000 Mikey Rox 1267699 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Small Risks That Can Improve Your Life in Big Ways http://www.wisebread.com/5-small-risks-that-can-improve-your-life-in-big-ways <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-small-risks-that-can-improve-your-life-in-big-ways" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/two-adults-talking-train-56901932-small.jpg" alt="two adults talking train" title="two adults talking train" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Living on the edge feels good. Even the smallest of risks is <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0843/abstract">scientifically proven to increase your enjoyment</a> of whatever activity you're engaged in. Intrigued? Read on for our roundup of some small, specific small risks we suggest everybody consider taking.</p> <p>What have you really got to lose?</p> <h2>1. Buy a Lottery Ticket</h2> <p>Your <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/15/health/psychology-playing-lottery-powerball/">chances of winning the Powerball jackpot</a> are about one in 175 million. But some social psychologists say you should do it anyway. That's because the benefit most of us get from playing the lotto has a lot more to do with the fantasy of winning money than the actual attainment of wealth.</p> <p>&quot;The lottery lets you <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/affluence-intelligence/201203/lottery-itis">believe in magic</a>: that you will be the one who spent a little and got a lot; that you will defy the extraordinary odds against winning,&quot; reads an excerpt from a Psychology Today article titled &quot;Lottery-itis!&quot; It's that &quot;Oh, the things I could buy, the places I'd go!&quot; fantasy that grants us relief &mdash; albeit fleeting &mdash; from the stresses, conflicts, and perceived financial roadblocks in our real lives. In fact, neuroscientists have found that the <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/purepedantry/2008/01/08/does-the-lottery-help-or-harm/">prospect of winning the lottery activates</a> the same brain circuits that would be triggered if we discovered that we actually possessed the winning ticket. &quot;Our pleasure of living is not only based on our current situation, but what could be, what we can imagine our situation could become,&quot; behavioral decision making researcher George Loewenstein says.</p> <h2>2. Conquer a Fear</h2> <p>Turns out that <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/05/22/1205242109.full.pdf">facing our fears really works</a>. Research shows when we expose ourselves to the thing that unnerves us &mdash; be it a gigantic, hairy spider or a red-nosed clown &mdash; we actually help to reduce our fear of that very thing. The results can be truly liberating. So if you're afraid of spiders, go to a zoo that will let you hold one. If it's heights that make you squeamish, go cliff jumping in a safe, designated area. Life is too short to let irrational fears keep you from living vibrantly. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-have-any-of-these-4-most-irrational-fears?ref=seealso">Do You Have Any of These 4 Most Irrational Fears?</a>)</p> <h2>3. Talk to a Stranger</h2> <p>Strike up a friendly conversation with a stranger in line at the coffee shop or on public transit during your morning commute. Sure, they might avert their eyes, pretend they can't hear you, or worse &mdash; tell you to get lost. But other than that, you haven't got much to lose.</p> <p>Now let's talk about the benefits. Behavioral scientists say <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/26/opinion/sunday/hello-stranger.html?smid=fb-nytimes&amp;WT.z_sma=OP_HSx_20140427&amp;bicmp=AD&amp;bicmlukp=WT.mc_id&amp;bicmst=1388552400000&amp;bicmet=1420088400000&amp;_r=3">initiating positive interactions</a> with people whose gazes we might otherwise avoid evokes higher happiness levels in both parties. So long as the stranger you choose is willing to chit chat, it's a guaranteed way to jumpstart both of your days.</p> <h2>4. Voice an Unpopular Opinion</h2> <p>Filling your mind with worries about what other people think of you can drain your energy. So don't. Be your own judge of approval. And don't shy away from voicing your opinion or speaking your truth. Sure, your words might be met with silence, eye-rolls, or even resentment. But as mind-body medicine physician Lissa Rankin describes, the alternative can be much worse.</p> <p>&quot;When you squelch what is true for you, the body releases harmful stress hormones that raise your blood pressure, elevate your heart rate, and weaken your immune system,&quot; Rankin said. &quot;When you speak what's true, the body relaxes, your muscles stop tensing, your blood pressure lowers, your pulse slows, <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/owning-pink/201112/tedxfidiwomen-speaking-your-truth-is-good-your-health">your happy hormones get jump started</a>.&quot;</p> <h2>5. Quit Your Job</h2> <p>Quitting your job may not seem like a small risk, but let us put it in perspective. Most Americans are unhappy in the workplace. What's more, research shows that <a href="http://healthland.time.com/2011/08/10/study-your-hostile-workplace-may-be-killing-you/">people who work in hostile environments are more likely to die sooner</a> than those who work in atmospheres that are more favorable. So if you've ever said, &quot;My job is killing me!&quot; &mdash; read on. Holding on to a job that drives us mad is known to provoke aches, stress, and signs of depression. And while putting in your two-weeks notice could put your financial stability on the the line, we hope you'd agree that it's a slightly better alternative to an early death. Besides, the rewards of <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2011/03/03/how-loving-your-job-helps-you-succeed">landing a new, energizing gig that makes you feel valued and worthwhile</a> are well worth the gamble, especially when considering what another few years at your current job could do to your physical and mental health.</p> <p><em>Have you ever taken a small risk and gotten a big reward? Tell us about it in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-small-risks-that-can-improve-your-life-in-big-ways">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-things-you-should-never-skimp-on-for-safety-reasons">17 Things You Should Never Skimp on for Safety Reasons</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/feeling-stuck-100-ways-to-change-your-life">Feeling Stuck? 100 Ways to Change Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-apps-that-pay-you-to-exercise">5 Apps That Pay You To Exercise</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-ways-to-feel-better-fast">25 Ways to Feel Better Fast</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-have-energy-after-work">7 Easy Ways to Have Energy After Work</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development gamble reward risk upside Tue, 18 Nov 2014 12:00:08 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1255061 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Ways You Put Your Life at Risk Every Day http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-you-put-your-life-at-risk-every-day <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-ways-you-put-your-life-at-risk-every-day" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-drinking-cola-151810423-small.jpg" alt="woman drinking cola" title="woman drinking cola" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you watch cable news, you'd think that we were all at risk of dying from Ebola, falling airliners, or terrorist attacks. But the reality is that the greatest risks to our health stem from activities we take part in nearly every day.</p> <p>Statistically, we are far more likely to get hurt or die doing relatively mundane activities than jumping from planes or getting eaten by sharks. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-most-dangerous-things-hiding-in-your-home-right-now?ref=seealso">The 5 Most Dangerous Things Hiding in Your Home Right Now</a>)</p> <p>Just in time for Halloween, we give you nine common things we do (or don't do enough of) that are a risk to our health. Just prepared for a little scare&hellip;</p> <h2>1. Getting in a Car</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx">National Highway Traffic Safety Administration</a> reported 30,800 fatal crashes involving motor vehicles in 2012 in the United States. That's nearly 15 fatalities for every 100,000 licensed drivers. (And of course, this rate rises among people who were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.) Despite major advancements in automotive safety, accidents make up about a quarter of all accidental deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. These numbers provide ample support for walking and taking public transit if at all possible. Generally speaking, the less you drive, the safer you'll be.</p> <h2>2. Drinking Sugary Beverages</h2> <p>Research from Harvard University <a href="http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sugary-drinks-fact-sheet/">has linked the sugar content in beverages</a> to more than 25,000 obesity-related deaths in the United States and 180,000 worldwide. A can of soda can have more than 30 milligrams of sugar, or 20% more than the World Health Organization's recommended daily intake for an <em>entire day</em>. This much sugar puts you at risk for conditions like diabetes and heart problems. You can avoid sugar in your drinks by grabbing diet versions, or switching to other drinks <a href="http://www.livestrong.com/article/252999-benefits-of-green-tea-honey/">like green tea sweetened with honey</a>. And what's so bad about plain old water?</p> <h2>3. Eating a Lot of Meat</h2> <p>Meat has its benefits, in the form of proteins and many vitamins. But there is evidence that too much red meat will put you at risk for various health problems, including heart disease. Researchers at <a href="http://healthland.time.com/2012/03/13/just-how-unhealthy-is-that-steak-the-deadly-dangers-of-eating-red-meat/">Harvard reported that a single extra serving of meat</a> each day increased mortality by 13%. And that number jumped to 20% among subjects who ate processed meats like hot dogs or bacon.</p> <p>You don't necessarily have to become a vegetarian to reduce your health risk, but it's possible to get protein from other sources, including fish, chicken, nuts, and whole grains.</p> <h2>4. Sitting!!</h2> <p>There's mounting evidence that sitting for long stretches of time is hazardous to your health. It's a major problem for anyone who works in an office setting, in particular. Numerous studies report that prolonged sitting can contribute to a wide range of maladies including heart disease, bad back, muscle degeneration and circulation problems. One report that looked at studies between 1989 and 2013 <a href="http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0080000">concluded that sitting for more than 10 hours a day</a> contributed to a 34% increase in mortality rate compared to people who sat for one hour a day. But there's a lot you can do to counteract this. Cut down on your TV watching, or watch while at the treadmill at the gym. If you work in an office, get a standing desk (or even a treadmill desk.) Bottom line: just get moving! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-standing-desks?ref=seealso">The 5 Best Standing Desks</a>)</p> <h2>5. Not Sleeping Enough</h2> <p>The average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep, but gets barely more than six, according to multiple studies. The <a href="http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/howmuch.html">National Institutes of Health reports </a>that an ongoing sleep deficiency contributes to kidney problems, heart disease and stroke, and increases your risk of obesity and diabetes. Not to mention, a lack of sleep makes you more vulnerable to accidents; driver fatigue contributes to about 100,000 car accidents and 1,500 deaths each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.</p> <p>In short, it's time to catch up on your sleep. Doctors advise going to bed at the same time every night and keeping away from food, television and electronic devices near bedtime. Regular exercise also helps.</p> <h2>6. Not Getting Enough Sex</h2> <p>Simply put, having an orgasm is good for you, especially if you are a man. An article in the former British Medical Journal studied more than 900 men between 45 and 59, and found that those men who had &quot;high orgasmic frequency&quot; had a 50% lower mortality rate than those who had fewer orgasms.</p> <p>There's also some evidence that sex will improve your mood and <a href="http://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0815/p757.html">reduce your risk of prostate cancer</a>.</p> <p>So, go and have more sex. (Safe sex, with someone you love, of course.) Your life depends on it.</p> <h2>7. Going Out in the Sun</h2> <p>When you actually take time to read about the impact of ultraviolet rays from the sun, you suddenly feel like it's better to just stay inside forever. UV rays will damage your skin, and too many sunburns will place you at risk for several types of skin cancer, including the deadly melanoma. The American Cancer Society reported that there will be an estimated 76,100 cases of melanoma in 2014, with 9,710 deaths.</p> <p>Of course, there are ways to prevent sun damage. Avoiding tanning beds at all cost is advisable. And when you do go out in the sun, avoid going out in the middle of the day and apply a broad-spectrum sunblock with an SPF of at least 30.</p> <h2>8. Entering Your House</h2> <p>To be clear, it's not so much the entering as what can happen to you once you go inside. Specifically, heavy things have the potential to fall on you and hurt you.</p> <p>The Consumer Product Safety Commission <a href="http://www.cpsc.gov//PageFiles/171154/InstabilityorTipoverReport2014Stamped.pdf">reported that between 2011 and 2013</a>, an annual average of 38,000 people went to emergency rooms after a tipover of a television, furniture, or an appliance. More than half of these incidents involved children, and the vast majority of the 430 deaths were among kids aged 10 and under. But adults still got hurt more than 16,000 times. In 2015, the CPSC will implement a $400,000 campaign to educate people about the potential for television and furniture tip-overs.</p> <h2>9. Accumulating Debt</h2> <p>Debt is not just bad for your financial wellbeing, it may also be bad for your health. A recent study from Northwestern Medicine reported that <a href="http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2013/08/high-debt-could-be-hazardous-to-your-health.html">young people with higher loads of debt</a> reported higher blood pressure and poorer mental health. A Gallup Poll in 2014 reported that 34% of young people with <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/174317/student-debt-linked-worse-health-less-wealth.aspx">no debt said they were thriving physically</a>, compared to 24% among those with more than $50,000 in debt.</p> <p>Avoid debt, if you can. If you have debt, pay it off as soon as possible.</p> <p><em>Any risks I've overlooked? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-you-put-your-life-at-risk-every-day">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-ssn-can-now-be-accurately-guessed-using-date-and-place-of-birth">Your SSN Can Now Be Accurately Guessed Using Date and Place of Birth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-expenses-you-should-never-cut">8 Expenses You Should Never Cut</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-giving-burglars-the-key-to-your-home">Are you giving burglars the key to your home?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/more-children-hurt-in-crocs-related-accidents">More children hurt in Crocs-related accidents.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Health risk safety Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:00:04 +0000 Tim Lemke 1240477 at http://www.wisebread.com How Much Should You Invest? http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-should-you-invest <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-much-should-you-invest" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/6848823919_724f516a05_z.jpg" alt="money" title="money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="192" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&quot;How much should I invest?&quot; is a question frequently asked by savers who want to start making their money work for them. This simple question can actually be quite difficult to answer since there are so many ways to invest and different people have different levels of risk tolerance. Here I will try to answer the question by explaining a few ways to invest and how risky they are, and you can be the judge on what path you should take. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/investments-worth-making-with-50-or-less">Investments Worth Making With $50 or Less</a>)</p> <h2>Almost Zero-Risk Investments</h2> <p>If you absolutely don't want to lose your money, then you can put it in a high-yield savings or checking account, money market account, certificate of deposit, or U.S. treasury bond. You can put all your money into these investment vehicles and most likely be guaranteed that you won't lose any. The downside is that right now most of these are paying very little interest, so the purchasing power of your money could be eroded by inflation. If you don't have a lot of money and don't want to lose any of it, though, then this is probably the way to go.</p> <h2>Slightly-More-Risk Investments</h2> <p>If you have more than a few thousand dollars to invest and do not want to do too much work, then it is quite easy to just put your money in a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mutual-funds-for-wise-bloggers">mutual fund</a>. However, there are thousands of mutual funds that put money in a variety of investments, and you need to investigate which is best for you. Personally I have invested in one of Vanguard's Target Retirement funds that invests in a variety of index funds. It is a low-cost and low-maintenance option if you want to invest for the long term without having to do much work. However, if you do take this path and you invest in mutual funds that are mostly stock based, you need to know that it is possible for the funds to vary wildly with the ebbs and flows of the stock market. If you tend to panic when you watch your money go down or if you need the money right away, then this is probably not for you.</p> <h2>Investments With More Risk and Work</h2> <p>If you are into research and do not mind watching your investments often, then you can try your hand at building your own stock portfolio by buying individual stocks or ETFs. I have not done this before, but I do have friends and family who like to do technical analysis on the stock market and trade stocks for the short term. They usually park a lot of money in cash and then only place a small portion of their capital on each stock pick or &quot;bet.&quot; Many times the stock or ETF is sold within hours or days of their purchase. Some people also trade options, but that's not for beginners. If you want to try your hand at picking stocks, then I would suggest not putting all your money in right away, because it is possible to lose a large chunk in the matter of days. Some people call this speculation, not investing.</p> <h2>Investments With Lots of Risk, Work, and Possible Reward</h2> <p>When you know some investments well, it is possible to invest without putting up any of your own money and instead borrow the capital you need. For example, some real estate investors will borrow 100% of the money they need to buy houses and then either quickly flip the house or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-become-a-landlord-instead-of-selling-your-home">rent the house out</a> and then refinance. Other investors borrow the capital for a business and then pay the loan back over years with the business's cash flow. These methods of investing require a lot more work, and if you don't know what you are doing, you are almost guaranteed to lose money. The upside is that if you make money, you are doing it with other people's funds and you can repeat the process and make more money. If you want to go down this path, you would need to do a lot of research and learn about the business you are targeting. You also need to invest quite a bit of your own time.</p> <p>I have left out a lot of other investing possibilities in this brief article, but the truth is that how much of your time and money you should invest to make more money is completely up to you. That may not be the clear cut answer you were expecting, but what is clear is that if you have saved money, you should probably invest as much of your capital as you can so that eventually you will have an income stream that lets you be <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/financial-independence-is-more-than-just-a-number">financially independent</a>.</p> <p><em>How much of your money and time do you invest to make more money?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/xin-lu">Xin Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-should-you-invest">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/learn-how-to-invest-with-these-5-stock-market-games">Learn How to Invest With These 5 Stock Market Games</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-quick-ways-to-decide-if-a-company-is-worth-your-investment">4 Quick Ways to Decide if a Company Is Worth Your Investment</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-you-sell-a-stock-or-a-fund">10 Questions to Ask Before You Sell a Stock or a Fund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-spring-clean-your-investment-portfolio">4 Ways to Spring-Clean Your Investment Portfolio</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/great-ways-to-generate-passive-income">Great Ways to Generate Passive Income</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment beginner investor passive income risk Wed, 12 Dec 2012 11:00:31 +0000 Xin Lu 957728 at http://www.wisebread.com How To Take Risks Without Losing Your Shirt http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-take-risks-without-losing-your-shirt <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/how-to-take-risks-without-losing-your-shirt" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/how-to-take-risks-without-losing-your-shirt</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/how-to-take-risks-without-losing-your-shirt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000011916274Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&quot;Entrepreneurs are natural risk-takers.&quot; I've heard that phrase more times than I can count ... and it is one of the great myths of entrepreneurship.</p> <p>In fact, I've noticed that entrepreneurs&mdash;and business professionals in general&mdash;are usually terrible risk takers.</p> <p>Now don't get me wrong, entrepreneurs are certainly courageous. They are willing to try a way of life that others are not, and I think that's why people assume that they are risk takers. However, risk isn't really the right word. Just because someone does something outside of the norm doesn't mean that they are doing something risky. And it certainly doesn't mean that they are good at taking risks.</p> <p>Regardless of the situation, most risks share one thing in common: it's rarely the initial decision that dooms a business. Instead, our irrational responses after the initial decision are what turn regular risks into big failures.</p> <p>In hopes of helping you avoid the pitfalls of risk taking, here are three suggestions for taking risks without going out of business.</p> <p><strong>1. Take a Long Term View</strong></p> <p>If you look back on many reckless decisions in business, they are often made because someone didn't want to miss out on an opportunity. The idea of a vanishing window of opportunity often drives us to make decisions we wouldn't usually make. For example, think about your typical bidding war. Often, we pay more than we want because we convince ourselves that &quot;this is our only chance.&quot;</p> <p>As the famous golfer Jack Nicklaus said, &quot;Extremes never work for long.&quot; It doesn't matter whether you're talking about a golf swing or a business move, don't put yourself in an extreme situation because you took the short term view.</p> <p>Opportunities have a way of presenting themselves over and over again. If you're patient enough to pass on the bad deals in the short term, then you'll usually <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/how-to-cash-in-on-long-lasting-fads-1" target="_blank">find some excellent ones in the long term</a>.</p> <p>Of course, that's easier said than done because we often convince ourselves that the deal we see, or the risk we are about to take, is worth it. Which brings me to my next point...</p> <p><strong>2. Stop Fooling Yourself</strong></p> <p>Poor risk taking is often the result of irrational behavior.</p> <p>We see an opportunity, and because we don't want to miss it, we convince ourselves that we should take the risk. We agree to bad terms, we convince ourselves to make excessive purchases, we choose a poor strategic direction ... often because we get wrapped up in the idea of one possibility and search for reasons to convince ourselves that we are making the right move. This can be especially true for entrepreneurs, who often become enamored with new ideas and possibilities.</p> <p>Rather than getting wrapped up in the new idea or opportunity, you can avoid poor risks by viewing a range of possibilities for each and every situation. When you're leaning one way, stop for a moment and consider the other view point. What if you did the complete opposite? What would happen? Why would a smart business person not make the same move?</p> <p>By considering a range of alternatives, you can help prevent yourself from making poor decisions because of irrational reasons.</p> <p><strong>3. Evaluate the Situation as It Currently Is</strong></p> <p>Just because something was the right decision three months ago, doesn't mean that it's the right decision today. Of course, that doesn't mean it's easy to change course.</p> <p>Making the right decision in the moment often requires you to check your ego, ignore the previous time and effort that went into a project, and eliminate your emotional connection to the business. That may sound hard, but the results of unbiased decision making can be excellent.</p> <p>Here is an example. As the story goes, former Intel CEO Andy Grove was debating with current CEO Gordon Moore about the future direction of the company. At the time, Intel was a company that primarily produced memory chips. They also built a small amount of microprocessors. The problem was that Intel was losing money because of Japanese competitors who were building high-quality memory chips at a fraction of the price.</p> <p>Grove looked at Moore and said, &quot;If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what do you think he would do?&quot; Moore answered by saying, &quot;He would get us out of memories.&quot; That was the moment Intel decided to abandon the memory chip business and start making microprocessors. The rest, as they say, is history. Hidden in that small conversation is a very powerful message.</p> <p>It took a remarkable amount of courage for Moore and Grove to abandon Intel's identity as a company. Despite the difficulty, the two men made the decision that was best for the company at that moment in time. That's the secret to successful risk taking.</p> <p>Risky decisions can be made as long as they focus on what is best for your business right now. Conversely, if you jump at opportunities and convince yourself of their worth for irrational reasons, then you'll chase one bad decision into the ground ... and your business will come along with you.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/james-clear">James Clear</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-take-risks-without-losing-your-shirt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-things-you-should-never-skimp-on-for-safety-reasons">17 Things You Should Never Skimp on for Safety Reasons</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/learn-how-to-invest-with-these-5-stock-market-games">Learn How to Invest With These 5 Stock Market Games</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-helpful-tools-to-manage-your-small-business">6 Helpful Tools to Manage Your Small Business</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center business forecasting business planning risk risk management small business Wed, 07 Dec 2011 22:25:07 +0000 James Clear 804604 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Tips for Small Business Success in Troubled Times http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/7-tips-for-small-business-success-in-troubled-times <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/7-tips-for-small-business-success-in-troubled-times" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/7-tips-for-small-business-success-in-troubled-...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/7-tips-for-small-business-success-in-troubled-times" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000013494566Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The spastic stock market, an economy in the doldrums, and a narcissistic Congress represent real challenges for small business owners. What happens on Wall Street and in Washington has a very real affect on business, and managing under all that uncertainty isn't easy. Here are a few tips from experience that can help.</p> <p><strong>1. Turn Off the News</strong></p> <p>If you watch TV news you probably expect the world to end any day. No, I&rsquo;m not talking religious zealots preaching that the end is nigh, or nutters that have proof, PROOF, mind you, that the Mayan calendar predicts an apocalypse in 2012. I mean the day in, day out focus of the news on, well, bad news.</p> <p>Now, I&rsquo;m not suggesting that a bazillion dollar national debt isn&rsquo;t legitimate bad news, nor am I suggesting that when brave SEALs are killed we shouldn&rsquo;t mourn their loss. But is life improved when we learn the lurid details of the latest kidnapping, bank robbery, or murder? Is that news you can use?</p> <p>You decide what you watch, and thanks to our <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/mirror-neurons.html">mirror neurons</a>, you feel what you see. Want to feel better about the world and your business? Turn off the news, and get back to work.</p> <p><strong>2. Cash is King</strong></p> <p>The so-called Great Recession of 2007-2008 proved, if nothing else, the maxim that &ldquo;cash is king.&rdquo;</p> <p>Your business has to generate more cash than it uses if you&rsquo;re going to survive. That&rsquo;s obvious; that&rsquo;s what profitability is all about. But what a lot of people don&rsquo;t understand is that you can&rsquo;t spend profits unless they&rsquo;re <i>cash</i> profits. Paper profits aren&rsquo;t worth the paper they&rsquo;re printed on when it comes to survival and growth.</p> <p>In fact, even a very successful company can go &ndash; or <i>grow</i> &ndash; broke if they don&rsquo;t watch their cash position.</p> <ul> <li>If your salespeople are successful at generating orders, even with prices that offer a good profit, stale receivables can bite you in the butt.</li> <li>You borrow for raw materials so you can afford to hire more staff to keep up with demand. And people <i>love</i> what you&rsquo;re selling, so you borrow to get more raw materials and staff, and before long you have a huge backlog of orders &ndash; and huge debt you can&rsquo;t cover because cash is just trickling in.</li> </ul> <p>The sooner you have your customer's money, the sooner you can use it. If you're selling to people who aren't paying you quickly enough, or heaven-forbid not paying you at all, you might as well start a bank because, in effect, you're financing <i>their</i> cash flow problems.</p> <p>Don't let someone else's cash crunch become your own.</p> <p><strong>3. Manage Risk</strong></p> <p>Every organization faces risk. Some you&rsquo;re well aware of, but others may be hidden. When the business environment gets tough you need to stop and think about what can go wrong. The good news is <a target="_blank" href="http://www.quantisoft.com/Articles/BusinessRisk.htm">risk surveys</a> can give you an idea where to look.</p> <p>When you identify, assess, quantify, and mitigate risk, you can reduce uncertainty.</p> <p><strong>4. Reduce Uncertainty</strong></p> <p>There is no question that uncertainty created by partisan politics is pushing a lot of business owners to sit on cash. But you have to continue to operate, even in an uncertain environment, if you and your employees want to eat.</p> <p>How do you do that? Start with where you want to end up and work backward to define the activities, development, expertise, and technology you need. Then work <a target="_blank" href="http://strategywerx.com/blog/2010/11/the-knee-bones-connected-to-the-or-a-cure-for-all-manner-of-social-problems/">from the bottom up</a>.</p> <p>The process is simple, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s easy. And you do have to keep generating income and protecting your business while you&rsquo;re planning. The process will reduce the uncertainty and keep you from wasting time trying to get better and better at something you shouldn&rsquo;t be doing at all.</p> <p><strong>5. Don't Compete on Price</strong></p> <p>Discounts only make sense if there are economies of scale that will allow you do deliver the same product or service at a higher volume, or if your marginal cost is low. If you offer rickshaw rides, a discount simply means you make less. If you offer bus rides, carrying a few extra people won&rsquo;t cost you any more so a discount may make sense.</p> <p>The same is true if your business can upsell a new customer, or if a discount customer will come back as a full-fare buyer.</p> <p>But if none of the above is true, don&rsquo;t discount.</p> <p>A lot of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/to-groupon-or-not-to-groupon-the-cost-of-offering-deep-discounts-1">merchants who use Groupon haven&rsquo;t figured this out</a>, by the way.</p> <p><strong>6. Be Agile</strong></p> <p>Argentine revolutionary Che Guevera once famously said, &ldquo;Where there is confusion there is opportunity.&rdquo;</p> <p>While others are pondering what to do, take steps to make your company better able to respond quickly to change:</p> <ul> <li>Don&rsquo;t cut staff; cut bureaucracy;</li> <li>Focus on value and cut waste;</li> <li>Find ways to increase productivity and cut non-performers. (Teleworkers, for example, are repeatedly shown to be <i>at least</i> 25 percent more productive than their office counterparts. <a target="_blank" href="http://img.en25.com/Web/CitrixOnline/Increasing_Productivity%20.pdf">Manage based on results</a> &ndash; not where, when, or how they work &ndash; you&rsquo;ll see involuntary turnover go up, and voluntary turnover go down).</li> </ul> <p><strong>7. Just Do It</strong></p> <p>Sure times are tough, but aren&rsquo;t times <i>always</i> tough for a small business? You can bide your time and assume there will be another upswing, but by then maybe the US will have more debt, China might be an even bigger player, Congress will still be gridlocked, and terrorists may still be terrorizing. Are you <i>sure</i> there will be an upswing? Maybe this is the new normal.</p> <p>Some people sit around and wonder what&rsquo;s going on. Others understand what&rsquo;s going, but don&rsquo;t do anything. Meanwhile some people step up and make it happen.</p> <p>Which are you?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tom-harnish">Tom Harnish</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/7-tips-for-small-business-success-in-troubled-times">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-theft-while-traveling">7 Ways to Protect Yourself From Theft While Traveling</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-things-you-should-never-skimp-on-for-safety-reasons">17 Things You Should Never Skimp on for Safety Reasons</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/learn-how-to-invest-with-these-5-stock-market-games">Learn How to Invest With These 5 Stock Market Games</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center cash management agility receivables risk small business uncertainty Sun, 28 Aug 2011 22:08:35 +0000 Tom Harnish 667159 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Lawsuit Mistakes You Can Avoid http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/5-lawsuit-mistakes-you-can-avoid <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/5-lawsuit-mistakes-you-can-avoid" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/5-lawsuit-mistakes-you-can-avoid</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/5-lawsuit-mistakes-you-can-avoid" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000015020806Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="195" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you do business, it&rsquo;s likely at some point you&rsquo;re either going to sue or be sued. The bigger the potential payout, the greater the chance you&rsquo;ll get mired in costly, time-sucking litigation.</p> <p>Most business lawsuits are filed over monetary disputes, such as for services provided or goods sold. Add to that the number of frivolous lawsuits manufactured to extort settlement, and it pays to know when to defend against claims, when to countersue, and when to cut your losses without jeopardizing your business.</p> <p>While troubleshooting liability risks is not a cure-all, there are ways to make you a less attractive target for legal disputes. These include:</p> <ul> <li>Incorporate or form a limited liability company to shield personal assets. Also consider transferring personal assets to family members not involved in the business.</li> <li>Become well-versed in laws dealing with securities, accessibility, and intellectual property.</li> <li>Document partnership agreements, corporate bylaws, and vendor contracts. Contracts may disclaim legal liability and specify that the parties agree to arbitration, mediation, or another form of dispute resolution. Just be sure to have an attorney review the language. Many states have a statute of frauds, which nullifies contracts that are not in writing.</li> <li>Adhere to written employment policies, such as conducting proper background checks on new employees, confirming reprimands in writing, and adequately documenting terminations.</li> <li>Update insurance to include commercial liability and malpractice coverage. Some recommended limits are at least $1 million per occurrence and $3 million total liability.</li> <li>Respond quickly to resolve customer complaints and, when necessary, eliminate &ldquo;high-risk&rdquo; clients.</li> </ul> <p>All of that will go a long way toward reducing your risk. Unfortunately, it won't eliminate it. Here are things you should <strong>not</strong> do in case of lawsuit.</p> <p><strong>Don&rsquo;t Procrastinate</strong></p> <p>We know it&rsquo;s a distraction, but to avoid a judgment in default against you, you must respond within 14 days to a High Court or county court claim. The most successful lawsuits are when a mountain of evidence is on one side and the law is clear. Be diligent in maintaining all records, including electronic mail, associated with the case.</p> <p>Consult with a qualified business litigator (ideally, before getting served). Do not confuse this lawyer with the one who drafted your will or registered your business, says David Newdorf, a San Francisco-based business litigator and owner of Newdorf Legal. Many attorneys will not take a business suit on a contingency basis, so you and your lawyer should discuss in detail a budget of fees and expenses. That billable rate of $300 per hour can get compounded over years with trial delays, so don&rsquo;t be afraid to negotiate. A written engagement letter sets forth the scope of the lawyer&rsquo;s work and the associated fees. Remember that certain legal fees, but not all, are tax-deductible.</p> <p><strong>Don&rsquo;t Fly Solo on Complex Cases</strong></p> <p>With simple matters, when all that is needed is a tersely worded letter threatening litigation, it makes sense to go it alone. But when people breach contracts, infringe on copyrights, or are negligent, do-it-yourself litigation is not advisable.</p> <p><strong>Don&rsquo;t Rush to Trial</strong></p> <p>More than 90 percent of business lawsuits are resolved through mediation or negotiation, notes Newdorf in his article, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.newdorflegal.com/top_10_business_litigation_mistakes.pdf">The Top Ten Business Litigation Mistakes</a>. Carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of both options. Since many small business disputes involve sums of less than $50,000, negotiating directly with your opponent may make financial sense, even if you have a stronger case, according to Newdorf. Meanwhile, trial preparation alone could take 18 to 24 months, siphoning business productivity. Further, a lawsuit could expose your company to unwanted publicity, along with drawing attention to proprietary information and other business records from taxing authorities and regulatory agencies. While the monetary limits are considerably lower, small claims court offers quick resolution without the pesky lawyers&rsquo; fees.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re planning to sue, first investigate the opposing party&rsquo;s financial health and realize that half of all suits filed involve a counterclaim, says Newdorf. Don&rsquo;t handicap your lawyer by failing to disclose all pertinent facts in the case, even the &ldquo;bad facts.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Don&rsquo;t Get Emotional</strong></p> <p>Pursuing a case on principle interferes with sound business judgment. Lawsuits are not for the faint-hearted. Don&rsquo;t take it personal. It's just business.</p> <h4>Don&rsquo;t Have Unrealistic Expectations</h4> <p>Once you&rsquo;re in a lawsuit for the long haul, it&rsquo;s difficult to bow out. &ldquo;The business world has a lifespan of days, weeks, and months,&rdquo; says Newdorf. &ldquo;Typically, litigation has a lifespan of years. It&rsquo;s not going to be a fast and easy way to solve your problem.&rdquo;<i><br /> </i></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/margie-fishman">Margie Fishman</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/5-lawsuit-mistakes-you-can-avoid">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/enjoy-lawsuit-free-music">Enjoy Lawsuit-free Music</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-things-you-should-never-skimp-on-for-safety-reasons">17 Things You Should Never Skimp on for Safety Reasons</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/100-ways-to-make-more-money-this-year">100+ Ways to Make More Money This Year</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center arbitration lawsuit lawyers legal strategy risk small business small claims court Sat, 04 Jun 2011 19:47:36 +0000 Margie Fishman 550704 at http://www.wisebread.com