5 Simple Moves to Amplify Your Investments

One central aspect of a sound financial strategy involves practically making your own luck.

By definition, you can’t directly control your luck. What you can do is plan around approaches that maximize the likelihood that you’ll be in the right place, at the right time—and that your investments will bear fruits accordingly.

Within the financial setting, “making your own luck” may look like a lot of different things and may be referred to using several different names, ranging from diversification through risk management. And even if your portfolio seems stable and continues to do well, it might be worth considering ways you could optimize it further—so you can make more off of it.

Another lesser-discussed aspect of making your own luck is making sure you play by the rules; but doing so doesn’t have to cost you very much at all.

We’ve assembled some straightforward steps you can take to get more out of your investments.

  1. Rebalance your investments regularly.

Whether you’ve made one-off transactions or the value of specific types of assets have evolved over the lifespan of your portfolio, rebalancing your investments with some regularity can help you ensure that you continue to meet your investment goals.

For example, if you set out to have half of your portfolio held in stocks and that percentage has dropped from 50% to 20% due to a bear market, it’s a good idea to buy up to 50% again. When markets recover, you will likely profit.

It may be a good idea to consult with an expert on the rebalancing cadence. Setting a threshold for rebalancing—such as an allocation percentage change of 10% triggering a rebalance—can set guidelines for portfolio maintenance and reactivity. You also should consider how frequently you’d like to rebalance, since doing so may result in fees incurred.

That said, make sure you are aware of the fees associated with rebalancing. Otherwise, you may incur short-term trading fees that cancel out the investment gains you get from rebalancing.

  1. Don’t let experts or market hype limit your investing.

There’s a lot of noise in the world of investment advice, particularly with individuals who go on-the-record to predict positive performance by a particular asset. There are no crystal balls in investing; these commentators should be taken with a grain of salt.

Be wary of anyone encouraging you to invest in any one thing—but be equally wary of the skeptics. Particularly when the economy is doing poorly, critics come out and try to discourage or encourage specific types of investments. This includes warning against investor participation when the market is suffering. As we’ve seen with the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on stock market performance, panic hurts everyone.

The decision to fund a portfolio should be a proactive component of an individual’s plan, not a reactive step taken due to market trends. These trends can be a consideration when choosing what to buy, sell, or trade, but all decisions should be made calmly and logically.

Another consideration to keep in mind: there will always be a need for functioning businesses to carry out essential services and even to address any crisis happening at any given point in time. With a balanced portfolio, you can increase the likelihood that you will be invested in a company or financial product that is winning, even when times are tough.

  1. Buy alternative assets in your retirement savings accounts.

You may think you need to be constrained to the mutual funds, stocks, and bonds that conventional retirement accounts offer. Or maybe you’ve wanted to try buying assets like gold, but you’ve been wary of having to pay capital gains taxes.

But by leveraging other types of retirement accounts such as self-directed IRAs, you can gain access to other types of assets.

Say, for example, you’ve been wanting to venture out of fiat currency and diversify with cryptocurrency. You can buy cryptocurrency and enjoy tax-free growth using a self-directed IRA. You won’t have to pay capital gains taxes. Additionally, you can choose whether you want to pay taxes upfront, or whether you’d rather defer paying taxes and instead make a tax-free contribution with your purchase.

  1. Consider dollar cost averaging (DCA).

This sort of ties in with an investment principle from the first item listed here, and it centers on making regular contributions to your investment portfolio. Regardless of the price of shares, via DCA, you continue investing the same amount of money each and every month.

Many people find this to be useful in getting them to actually pull the trigger and invest, as opposed to those who think you should necessarily set aside a large amount of money in one sum before you proceed to invest. DCA stops you from wasting precious time for growth while you worry about whether it’s the “right time” to invest, and instead holds you accountable to actually go ahead and do it.

  1. Minimize taxes and fees as much as possible.

What might sound like a small fee now could rapidly escalate as the value of your portfolio increases. As competition in the financial services industry as well as in the investment app industry only continues to grow, so do the opportunities to save costs on service fees.

These fees come under various names: management fees, commissions, and so forth. You may have operating fees, advisory fees, or management fees that are levied annually for the duration of time that your retirement account is open. You may also have transaction fees, which are taken whenever you buy, sell, or trade assets within the service.

You may also have custodian fees or other annual account fees that are tired to tax reporting, which often can be considered separately from the standard management fees since a limited set of accounts require an added layer of reporting (e.g. IRAs). While these may be pesky and you should try to shop around, be sure that you are not compromising the level of service that you get. For example, if you are paying for IRS reporting to be managed, it might be worth paying a premium to work with a custodian who is very highly regarded and known to do thorough, timely work.

Also consider the fee structure. A flat fee might be the easiest and often best option, since you can plan around this defined cost. A percentage fee limits your profit potential, particularly as your success increases.

9 Top Tips for Managing Your Personal Finances

Good financial management is an essential life skill, but it can be challenging if you’re just starting out. If you have trouble maintaining financial stability, you are not alone. Fortunately, there are numerous resources and tools available that can help you learn the main aspects of financial management. Once you understand the basic ideas, you can choose which techniques and tools work best for you. Here are some essential tips that can help you develop and follow a budget, save more money, and improve your credit score.

1. Track Your Income and Expenses

Before you can start making changes to your financial strategy, you should get a comprehensive overview of your current income and spending habits. Many experts recommend tracking your spending for a while to get an idea of exactly where your money goes every month. You may be surprised to see how much you spend on certain items or services. Once you have a good idea of how your spending compares with your income, you can prepare to make a budget.

2. Make a Savings Goal

Before you finalize your budget, you may want to consider making a savings goal. Once you know how much you want to save for an emergency fund or a vacation, for example, you can figure out how much to allocate to savings in your budget. You may decide that you want to save up six months’ worth of living expenses or have enough money for an overseas trip in a couple of years. By creating a specific goal, you can calculate how much you need to save out of every paycheck and include that number when you make your budget. 

3. Create a Realistic Budget

After you’ve spent a while tracking your income and expenses and making a savings goal, you can create a detailed budget. There are several ways to make and manage a budget, from a traditional paper ledger to a modern budgeting app. No matter which method you choose, make sure to account for all your expenses, even those that only occur infrequently, such as property taxes or home maintenance services.

4. Look for Unnecessary Spending

Now that you have a budget, it’s important to use it regularly. By following a budget and keeping track of all your spending, it’s easier to identify areas where you overspend. You may also want to spend the first couple of months with your budget looking for unnecessary expenditures. This could mean small impulse purchases that add up over the month. You may find that you’re making automatic payments to music or video subscriptions you forgot about or never use. Once you’ve identified unnecessary expenses, it may be easier to resist those purchases.

5. Contribute to a Retirement Fund

Another aspect of good financial management is planning for the future, which includes saving for retirement. If you already have some sort of retirement plan through your employer, that can be a great start. Some companies even offer a contribution matching plan, where they increase your savings by matching a percentage of your personal retirement contributions. You may also want to consider contributing to another retirement plan on your own. This can be a good option if you’re self-employed or if you change jobs a lot. 

6. Include Fun Purchases in Your Budget

One of the hardest parts about sticking to a budget is that it can feel like you’re depriving yourself all the time. If you never allow yourself to have a fancy latte or a night out at the movies, you may start to feel stressed or frustrated. You may even give up budgeting entirely. Many personal finance experts recommend leaving room in your budget for discretionary spending. You shouldn’t spend more than you make, but you may want to cut back slightly in other areas in order to give yourself a little bit of fun money every month.

7. Understand Your Credit Score

Your credit score is an essential part of your overall financial health. It can determine whether you qualify for an car loan or a mortgage and be a significant factor in the terms lenders offer you. There are numerous things that can affect your credit score, including your overall debt, the type of debt you have, and your history of paying bills. You are allowed to pull your own credit report from any of the major credit bureaus. Keeping track of your credit score can help you make better borrowing decisions and make it easier to qualify for loans when you need them.

8. Choose a Budgeting Tool

Once you become comfortable with budgeting and tracking your money, you may be able to take a slightly more hands-off approach. This doesn’t mean you stop budgeting entirely, but you may be able to move toward checking your spending and bank balances every couple of weeks instead of each day. You could also choose to use a budgeting program or app. Many of the available options can automatically import your transactions and categorize them for you, so you don’t have to spend time manually recording all your expenses, especially those that occur every month. 

9. Be Vigilant

Once you get out of overwhelming debt or stop living paycheck to paycheck, it can be easy to become complacent with your budget and spending habits. However, putting your financial management on autopilot can quickly lead back to unnecessary spending, debt, and an empty savings account. Even if you feel like you are at a comfortable place financially, don’t give up tracking your spending or following your budget. It is also a good idea to check your credit reports frequently. This can help you understand what actions affect your score and catch any fraudulent activity as soon as possible. 

Keeping your finances stable requires some hands-on management, but resources and tools can make it easier. By using a budgeting app or signing up for credit monitoring, you can automate some aspects of managing your finances. No matter which tools you choose to use, it’s essential to follow some foundational principles: save for retirement, don’t overspend, and keep track of your credit score.

How to Score the Best Deals on Gadget Insurance

So you have just splashed out on a brand new iPhone and want to insure it in case something happens, but don’t know where to start looking or what you should even be looking for? We can help. These days, many people look into insurance for their recently bought gadgets, what with ever increasing prices and so on. When spending so much money on a device that is really so delicate and easily breakable or lost, protecting it with insurance is really a no-brainer. We are here to help guide you through insurance plans and help you find the best deal on the market.

Where to find the best deals for your smartphone

iPhone insurance

The iPhone is a phenomenon in the tech world, and insurance for these expensive gadgets is so solicited that there are a number of plans out there made especially for them. One of these insurance deals is with Switched On, who offer deals from £4.50 per month. This is the most basic plan that includes accidental damage, liquid damage and cracked screens, the most common problems these days with smartphones. For theft or loss cover, though, you will have to pay a bit more for the ultimate cover plan, which includes everything you could possibly think of or need for £6.50 a month. This is one of the cheapest plans available, with yearly prices from just £54, and is well worth a look.

Samsung insurance

After the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy smartphones are one of the most popular on the market, and there are tons of deals out there specifically made and tailored for these phones. On websites like Money you can find a top 10 list of insurance plans detailing the prices and what exactly is included in the plan. Prices vary depending to what extent you want to insure the phone and what model you have. Here you can really get a good overview and compare the different deals available, and read the conditions of each individual insurance company.

What to look out for when choosing your insurance plan

Always remember to compare prices and policies before contracting an insurance policy, and read the small print. Many insurance companies have special conditions that may not be very clear initially, and if you skip the small print, you may enter into a contract that does not really suit your needs or cover you when you need it to. Other policies may have hidden fees, making the total price way more expensive than it seems, so be smarter than they are and do your research.

Remember that most insurers offer a few different plans. Love It Cover It even offer couple’s insurance! If you just want to insure your phone against water damage, screen breakages and accidental damage, this company offer incredibly good deals coming in at less than £60 a year for iPhones.

Update Your Offices into the 21st Century

It seems that we live in a world of ever-changing technology. It appears new advances are made almost daily in different professions. Twenty years ago would we have guessed that operations could be performed by instruments controlled by computers? Would we have thought that there was a chance at self-driving cars? We have enhanced HD screens that offer 3D and virtual reality. We literally have more technology in our phone than the astronauts did on their first trip to the moon.

Office furniture though, it has been progressing at a much slower pace. With all the advancements in technology, it has taken much longer for the furniture providers to catch up with the technical side. However, there are finally companies out there providing some much needed variances of the standard desk and chair. But not only that, they offer much more than the basics. There is a computer console furniture provider that provides ergonomic and long-lasting solutions to meet your needs.

What They Offer

Personal computers were introduced almost thirty years ago to many businesses and schools. Since then, the big boxy desktop computers have been replaced by mobile laptops and tablets. At each person’s desk up until recently was a chair, a phone, and the actual immobile desk for the person to work at. Also there were phone cords, USB cables, a cord for the mouse, and the cords going to the outlet. It was usually a tangled mess. All that has changed now.

For one thing, quite a few businesses are tossing away their landline phones. With the available apps and programs, there are other ways to converse without having to use an actual landline phone. Email, chat programs, and videoconferencing all have made using an actual landline phone almost obsolete. In fact, most people would rather receive an email on a subject rather than a phone call. All of this can be taken care of through their computer currently. Plus, the laptops and tablets add mobility that was not there previously with the large desktop computers.

The office furniture now is built around technology as well. There are USB ports in the armrests and the tops of the desks. There are outlets built right into the furniture, too, so there is not a need for ten foot power cords any longer.

Getting out of the cubicle is the first step to a happier office. Not only are the chairs ergonomically built with adjustable heights, but the desks are, too. Desks that you can sit at or stand at with a quick adjustment will make everyone happier. Plus, with the obesity rate around forty percent, having people stand at their desks will burn a few extra calories everyday.

More common in today’s offices are quiet spaces for distraction free working and collaborative areas in plug-in conference rooms. Instead of all chairs in the room, there are often couches as well. Plus, with the use of projectors and Smartboards, anyone can display their information for the group to see. No longer are things presented on poster boards where the person has to get in the room an hour early to set everything up ahead of time.

The times are quickly changing. It will be interesting to see how much further the office space changes in the near future. Soon enough, we will have virtual 3D screens like the ones seen in movies. It is up to the office furniture providers to stay one step ahead of the crowd in developing newer innovations before everyone else. Designs that are not only comfortable, but also incorporate the use of technology that future offices will be using.

How to Save on Legal Costs When Part of a Dispute

The idea of court is very exciting when it’s on TV. When you’re sitting in that room, hoping that you win, but worried that you won’t, it’s painful. Not only is it a real blow to the nerves, it can obliterate your finances, regardless of whether you win the case or not.

When we are involved in or run a business, there is always the chance that a commercial dispute can arise. There are a number of ways this could happen, from issues with your partner or shareholders, poorly defined contracts, lack of payments to other companies, and more. The risk is always there and unfortunately, many of us, at one point or another, get caught up in such an affair which has the potential to break you and your business.

There are, however, some ways in which you can minimize your expenses when involved in a commercial dispute. Though many of them are proactive, others can be used at other points in the game.

  1. Clearly Define the “What-if’s”

Before you do anything, prepare the paperwork. Whether you are planning to hire someone, enter into an agreement with another company, order something wholesale, or even start your business from scratch. Unless you define every scenario and how to deal with it, it can become a pain point later on in the litigation process. It can seem a little fatalistic at first, but you will get used to covering your bases, and you’ll see that others will respect you for it. It might seem like an expensive endeavor, but you’ll find value in hiring commercial litigation lawyers who sit down with their clients to determine their objectives before anything negative happens. They can advise you on proactive measure and will already have a relationship with you if there was something they needed to be actively involved in.

  1. Always Communicate

If there ever comes a point when the dispute can be resolved without legal representation, it’s often a better option. In cases when relationships dissolve or contracts are not being kept, trying to be transparent about your situation and clear with communication can really save you some time, grief, and money. However, this is not an option for many. It’s always worth a try, though, as attempts at communication and making the peace can be useful in court if it should end there.

  1. Mediate

Once at the point that legal intervention is needed, try hitting a mediation room rather than a court room. You’ll avoid court filing fees, and instead pay significantly less for a professional mediator who can act as judge. You should still seek legal advice before or while going into a mediation session, however, it’s not mandatory like it is in court if you are looking to have a fighting chance.

  1. Look for Free Resources

If you own a small business, chances are that you qualify for limited free legal advice at certain agencies or government locations. In attempts to stimulate the economy and assist small businesses, you’ll find that there are often free legal clinics being held during which you can attend seminars, ask questions, and seek advice, even if your business budget is low. Though this help often does not extend as far as to represent you in court, they can be helpful in preventing situations like this in the first place.

No one likes thinking about what things would cost if everything went south, however it’s a reality we should all consider, especially when in a leadership or ownership role in a business.

Financial Implications that Come with Buying a Home

Real estate has recently become an investor’s darling again, promising gains in this rising market. However, most underestimate the full financial implications that come with buying property, especially if this is your first house or else first investment property. Just because you have saved up for a down payment doesn’t mean that you are financially primed to step into the real estate market.

Securing a Mortgage

Some banks make it sound easy: all you do is ask for a mortgage and you have one. In the end, it’s not that simple. Depending on your income, the status of other loans, the size of the down payment, and the assessed value of the house you are interested in buying, this first step might just become your greatest hurdle. This can become an even greater problem in markets where the competition is fierce and many buyers put in competing offers, often without a condition for financing. This can leave you in a difficult financial and legal situation, in which many turn to trusted private mortgage lenders that can provide quick funding solutions in time of need.

Property Taxes

Property taxes were an expense you never directly had to deal with when living at your parents’ house or in a rental. However, they can be quite the annual expense depending on where you live and the size and nature of your property. Make note of last year’s tax amount when looking through the listings because sometimes it can become a factor which breaks the budget.


Many people buy houses because it makes fiscal sense to them, but others also consider it as a chance to gain independence. No more asking the landlord to switch out the carpets for wood flooring, or waiting to no end for an updated kitchen. Rather, you can do whatever you’d like to the house (assuming it’s common sense), offering a free pass for those who like to renovate, redecorate, or putter around in the garden. However, even those who don’t like these things will most likely end up having to pay to have them done. That’s because when you buy a property, it’s your responsibility to maintain it, including replacing damaged or outdated aspects like the roof, the boiler, or whatever else needs to be addressed. When calculating the true cost of a home, remember to include the money you will be spending annually on these projects. Even if you plan on doing them yourself, the cost of materials and initial investment into tools like lawnmowers, saws, etc. can add up to a small fortune.

Closing Costs

You know how when you shop online, something can seem like an awesome deal, but by the time you make it to the check out, you realize that it was a waste of time? This is a reality when buying a home, however, it’s not as easy to just closing the browser and moving on with your life. The initial cost of the home doesn’t include things like land transfer tax or legal fees, which combined can be more than 2% of the purchase price. It doesn’t seem like that much when you add it to the total cost, but remember it’s a cost you can’t put on the mortgage and need to have available right away.

Making Your House a Home

Depending on whether you will be living on the property or whether you will be renting it out to tenants, you will have to either partially or completely furnish the place. This could include buying all-new appliances, furniture, window coverings, trimmings, décor elements, etc. The purchasing of all these items can sometimes be as high as the cost of the down payment you just put down. Therefore, either keep some money in reserve for this exact reason, or else look for an opportunity to purchase a furnished house within your price point.

Of course, there are more financial implications when it comes to buying a home, like paying utilities, insurance, and potentially condo fees, however, those might seem more obvious than the potentially larger-than-expected mortgage, property taxes, maintenance costs, closing fees, and expensive “nesting”.  This usually does not detract from the attractiveness of real estate investing, however, it can affect the timing of a less-experienced investor. It’s important to be financially prepared for the entirety of the costs and still maintain cash flow throughout the process, or else buying a home can become a very painful experience.

The Importance of Having Insurance

We hate planning for the worst because it makes us feel like inviting it to happen. The truth is, we have no idea what the future holds, but planning for the worst can lessen the burden in the event that it does happen. Insurance is one of those things that we purchase but don’t really notice until we need it. After all, it’s not like buying a new car or home, you can’t see, feel, or touch it. This is another reason why many people don’t see the need in being adequately insured. However, insurance of all kinds are vital, and below is an explanation of the various types of insurance policies you need to have in order to have peace of mind.

Auto Insurance

Most locales have regulations and laws that require drivers to be insured, and in some cases they even have minimum requirements as well. Regardless, there are those of us that have cheap cars that are merely a means of getting us from here to there. In those instances people often wonder why auto insurance is so important for them. The answer is that there is a ton of liability protection built into auto insurance. If you get into an accident and you are at-fault, that could lead to serious lawsuits and monetary damages. Often times your insurance company will handle and pay these damages on your behalf, but only if you are properly and adequately insured. Some policies even have clauses that allow for free rentals while your car is being prepared, and a secondary health policy to cover whatever you primary insurance doesn’t in the even you are injured.

Life Insurance

Nobody likes the thought of dying, and this is the type of insurance we all hope is never needed. Still, if you have a family that relies on you for their financial well-being it is a type of insurance that simply cannot be ignored. It is also the type of insurance you don’t get a second chance to learn your lesson. If you are the sole income producer in the household then you have to think about how much money your family will need to live without you. That includes the cost of raising children, possibly paying for college costs, and anything else you had planned on covering from them later in life.

Health Insurance

Health coverage is a very polarizing topic. With the recent elections you can see just how much of a heated debate it can turn into. Regardless of which side of the fence you are on, I think we can all agree that having some form of health insurance is important! While we hope medical emergencies are few and far between, they can and do happen. Out-of-pocket medical expenses can be extraordinary for uninsured. Just a night in the hospital could cost you thousands of dollars. That’s why it’s not only important to have health insurance, but to make sure that it insures you well enough that you won’t go broke and into debt in event you have a significant health concern.

How to Plan and Enjoy a Staycation

Sometimes it’s difficult to keep in mind that a traveling vacation is a luxury, not a right. Though time off from work is something mandated by government and required for the healthy functioning of employees, going away for a week or more is not always something that we can do.

There is a plethora of reasons for this, from responsibilities to your family, difficult to manage travel logistics, health restrictions, an inability to relax outside of home, to the most popular reason: a restrictive budget. Going away on vacation can quickly add up to be a huge expense, as you need to cover the cost of travel, accommodation, food, drinks, entertainment, and more. That’s why more and more people are opting to vacation at home, enjoying a “staycation”, instead than blowing their budget on an expensive trip to a different city or country.

However, when enjoying a staycation, it’s important that you don’t let this designated time off just become an elongated weekend without any memorable experiences. If you want to really make the most of your staycation and make it a restful and enjoyable time, try the following ideas:

  1. Designate Your Chore Time

It’s near impossible to be at home and not want to do at least some chores like deep cleaning the carpets, running the laundry, or restocking the pantry; all things you would never do if you were away on vacation. Embrace the need and dedicate one day to getting these errands out of the way so that you can relax the rest of the time. If anything else comes up during the week, defer it until later, as this is your vacation time and you need to take this opportunity to self-care and let loose. Besides, it’s normal that once you come back from a trip there will be a couple of loads of laundry to do and some unpacking going on. This way, you’re getting it done at the beginning so you can go back to work rested, not tired from the flight or drive home coupled with a night of unpacking.

  1. Discover Your City

Whether you live in a small town or a bustling city, there’s always something to do. Whether it means visiting the library and taking a couple of interesting books out, seeing the new exhibit at the local gallery or having brunch at a diner you always wanted to try, now is your chance. Don’t limit yourself with business hours and take this opportunity to see your home town through the eyes of a tourist or a guest. Alternately, plan a series of day trips within driving distance of home. Though you might spend a bit on fuel, you can always pack a picnic, and remember that you don’t have to get a hotel!

  1. Show Yourself Some Love

The point of vacation is that it gives your body and your mind a chance to rebound from the stresses of the everyday. Though some require an exodus from home to do that, many find that actually staying at home eliminates a lot of other stressors like finalizing travel arrangements, booking everything, making reservations, planning itineraries, and dealing with the credit card bill once it comes in. But other than just not having those additional worries, why not show yourself an especially good time? Engage in your favorite hobbies, drop in on some yoga classes or get a manicure pedicure that you otherwise wouldn’t treat yourself to. Remember, you’re saving money by not going away, so take some of those savings and apply them directly to your happiness and well-being. Find a beautiful retreat where spa, body, and facial treatment are offered by a team of highly trained and experienced therapists who know exactly what you need in order to recharge your “batteries” to 100%.

  1. Meet with Friends

When we are rushing between work, errands, responsibilities, and more, it’s easy to neglect relationships with those who we cherish. Take this time to schedule a couple of lunch dates with friends, go out for drinks in the evenings, and maybe meet someone new at a mixer which you would otherwise write off because you need to get up early the next day. Since you have a flexible schedule, it makes it easier to coordinate with friends who otherwise are also busy with everyday things. You won’t regret setting some time apart for rekindling and maintaining relationships during your vacation time.

  1. Have a Plan

Most importantly, if you don’t want to feel like the whole thing zipped by and you did nothing at all, make a sort of plan or guideline of things that you want to do during your staycation. It will keep you motivated to stay busy doing things you enjoy and creating memories you will be able to recount when you’re back at your desk working.

Staycationing is an easy way to keep your budget on track. However, remember to make the most of your time off from work and that you return rested, happy, and satisfied with how you spent your vacation.

4 Essential Purchases to Jumpstart Weight Loss

You can run, but you can’t hide from the onslaught of weight loss marketing campaigns. You see them on TV (even on the cooking channel!), you hear them on the radio, and they even pop up in our Facebook and Instagram feeds!

The truth is that a great segment of the North American population is unfortunately overweight. This affects our health, our self-esteem, and our relationships in a negative way. That’s exactly what all those ads are reminding us of, whether or not we want to hear it.

However, before you fall for the first marketing campaign that hits you, remember that in most cases, the main motivation behind these companies is to make money! So before you stock your weight-loss arsenal with detox teas, belly wraps, and a ton of supplements, reflect on what you actually need to attain your goals.

Though there are some items of dubious effectiveness, there are others which happen to be essentials to really getting to a place you want to be within the timeframe you imagined. All that, and with your health and wallet intact.

  1. A Nutrition Plan

There’s no way around it, in order to lose weight, you need to change your diet. The best place to start is in a medical professional’s office, whether that’s your family doctor, a holistic wellness specialist, nutritionist, or dietician. Based on your current diet and your state of health, they will be able to put together anything from loose recommendations to a very specific meal plan for you to follow. Though the quality of the plan itself is very important, it’s even more important that you follow it as closely as possible to see results.

  1. A Healthy Grocery Haul

As soon as you start changing your lifestyle, there’s one very important shopping trip you will need to do: the initial grocery haul. Before you go, throw out or give away all the food that has been blacklisted: simple carbs, salty junk food, canned meals, sugary treats, etc. If you don’t have it at home, there’s a much lesser chance that you will be tempted and end up eating something you shouldn’t. Then pack your reusable shopping bags and hit the store, buying fresh, nutritious items that you will need to make your new eating habits come to life.

  1. A Tracker

We’re not saying you have to go out and get the newest FitBit, but it’s important to track progress throughout your journey. Everyone has their own favorite way of doing it, depending on their specific goals, but regular weigh-ins, measurement taking, and picture snapping are popular options. Obviously, there is also a plethora of tech-y options from mobile applications to upscale pedometers, but remember that they are not essential to your losing weight. Track your progress as you like at regular intervals, whether weekly, biweekly, or monthly, and it will keep your motivation up!

  1. Protein

Many weight-loss diets are focused around getting your protein level up while decreasing your intake of carbs, sugars, and bad fats. Since cooking high-protein meals can get expensive and laborious, the market has evolved to offer a range of protein powders and supplements to mix into your meals or drink as shakes. As calorie-restricted diets can often limit your nutritional needs, many professionals will recommend using protein products and nutritional supplements to assist you in your weight loss program. Just remember to look at the quality of the products you are buying so that you are getting the best value for your money.

Losing weight can be a very important and significant accomplishments in our lives. It teaches us about determination, health, and discipline while putting us on a journey of a lifetime!

7 Unexpected Costs People Run into After They Retire

Many of us think of our retirement as an extended vacation: a time to travel, relax, and spend time with the ones we love. However, it takes a lot of time and foresight to plan a retirement like that. Budgeting expenses during our working years and putting money away in an account is just the minimum which most of us have to do to “get by” after retirement. If you really want to enjoy yourself and “live it up”, it’s essential that you plan not only for the good times, like for a river cruise down the Seine, but also for the bad times, like when your furnace and car break down in the same week.

In order to live your retirement dream, you have to financially plan for a retirement nightmare in which many “what-ifs” come to life.

Here is a list of unexpected costs which retirees have trouble dealing with if not thought of in advance:

  1. Taxes

You have been paying your taxes for all these years, and now you finally get the chance to benefit from them, right? Sort-of. Though you will get a check every month if you had been paying into the government’s retirement fund, and an income based on what you have saved, that total gets taxed as well! That’s right, the money you get from tax-payers gets taxed again. So, if you have squirrelled enough away to have a comfortable living during your retirement years, remember that it will be taxed and you might end up with less than you initially thought.

  1. Supported Living

No one plans to have a stroke or to develop a condition in which they can no longer live at home. Many people plan to live in their homes or apartments for the rest of their lives, ignoring the fact that there is a large probability that there will come a point in time when they will have to move to a facility in which they can have more support. Unfortunately, these places are often quite expensive, so if you don’t want to burden your family with your life costs, save enough that if the need arises, you can pay your own “rent”.

  1. Transportation

Right before you retired, you bought a new, good-quality car which will last you ’til the end of your days. That’s just wishful thinking. On top of maintenance and fuel costs, which are constantly on the rise, there will come a time when there will be nothing to salvage of your vehicle. Did you financially plan for that? Or for the possibility that you won’t be able to drive and will come to rely on taxis or public transportation to get places?

  1. Funeral Planning

Nobody wants to think about death, but it’s as much of a part of life as birth is. Funerals are expensive and having to cover the cost of your spouses and/or your own final arrangements can be overwhelming at a time when you aren’t making a real income. Chose a funeral home that helps families commemorate the lives of their loved ones, respecting their wishes, faith, and budget, and research their options regarding pre-arrangements. This might be something you invest in while still working so that you can lock in the price as early as possible.

  1. Child Support

How can you say no to your child, especially when this child is having a hard time with life and has just found itself at its mercy? Many adult children run into financial situations in which they turn to their retired parents for assistance, mostly in the form of a payout or a loan. No one plans for these things to happen, but as you are setting aside money for retirement, it’s something that you should expect at some point or another.

  1. Uninsured Health Costs

If you purchased or have the benefits of having health insurance, you are one of the lucky ones. But even you can fall prey to issues which are not covered by your policy, whether that is dental work, or a fitting for a prosthesis. These uninsured health costs can mount quite quickly, so if possible, put some money aside monthly for this kind of situation.

  1. Rise in Cost of Living

Many of those putting money away for their retirement are planning for the future based on today’s economy and today’s costs. Unfortunately, we can tell by looking at the experiences of our elders that cost of living goes up, and there’s no way around it. Many financial advisors agree that saving for today’s conditions instead of future ones is a major mistake that many of their senior clients make.

Retirement can be everything that you wanted it to be, but first you need to plan for it to be devoid of huge and unexpected costs you forgot to plan for.