Gunning Daily News

Can Mindfulness Raise Your Net Worth?

December 9, 2013 7:18 pm

Sitting down with the intention of stilling one’s mind and body is no longer the sole province of hippies and Eastern medicine aficionados, says leadership expert Dr. Stephen Josephs.

Nike, 50 Cent and the Marine Corps all embrace the benefits of mindfulness meditation, he says.

“The benefits of mindfulness meditation do not exist in a vacuum; mindfulness meditation not only lowers your blood pressure, it also offers a host of other positives, including increasing business acumen,” says Josephs, who has coached executives for more than 30 years and recently authored the new book, “Dragons at Work,” (www.DragonsAtWork.com).

“It sharpens your intuitive business sense. By relaxing your body, breathing evenly, and paying attention to the present moment, you notice things you might otherwise miss. Paying exquisite attention is the key to staying real, and daily meditation builds that capacity.”

The benefits of a calm and focused mind are ubiquitous; Josephs offers tips for business leaders.

• If you’re faced with what looks like an enticing opportunity, don’t just do something. Sit there. Breathe quietly and let the fear and greed subside. The easiest way to fool yourself in a deal, negotiation or transaction is to let your thinking stray from what’s happening and get seduced by a dream. It could be the dream your counterpart is spinning for you or simply the dream of results, good or bad. Like most people, you have probably experienced moments when you knew something – a business relationship, an investment – was going south, but you hesitated to act because you didn’t have facts to support your intuition. Sometimes, your intuition knows something that your logical mind does not.

• Pay attention to what your body is telling you; you may be expressing signals that your logical mind is slow to notice. In a psychological study titled, “The Iowa Gambling Task,” researchers gave subjects the task of making the most money possible by choosing cards from four decks. Unbeknownst to the subjects, the decks were stacked. Some were “good decks” (producing winners more of the time) and some were “bad decks,” (producing losers). After about 40 to 50 picks, most subjects caught on to which decks produced winners and losers. Their bodies knew something that their rational minds had missed. After about 10 picks they began to produce physiological symptoms of stress when their hands reached for the bad decks. If you’re not paying attention to those subtle signals, your innate wisdom is inaccessible.

• Meditation develops emotional balance and a better business mind. If you’ve never meditated, try it! Start small by simply sitting still and keeping your eyes closed for five minutes. Feel the weight of your body in its sitting position. Try to simplify your thoughts to basic things, down to the subtle sounds of the room, your breathing. Mindfulness meditation does not require extensive study in ancient traditions. Notice the difference after only five minutes; you will feel more relaxed. Later, try it for 10 minutes, and then longer. Do your due diligence in that state of mind. The equanimity that will sharpen your acumen is also the source of your happiness in life. Don’t trade it for anything.


3 New Year’s Resolutions That Will Enrich Your Retirement

December 9, 2013 7:18 pm

For many baby boomers looking to retire in the next few years, the biggest worry is not whether or not they can retire, but if they’ll outlive their savings.

It’s a valid concern: One of every four people turning 65 today can expect to live past their 90th birthday, and one in 10 will live past 95, according to the Social Security Administration.

For a married couple, there's a 58 percent chance that one of them will live to 90.

With 10,000 boomers turning 65 every day, it’s something on the minds of more than a fourth of Americans.

“I went into this business because I hated seeing people who’d followed the rules – saved money in a 401k, put their kids through college, gave to charity – get to retirement and find they didn’t have enough to sustain them for more than a few years,” says Andrew McNair, founder and CEO of SWAN Capital, and author of “Don’t be Penny Wise & Dollar Foolish.”

“It’s not enough to have a certain amount of money in your portfolio, you want to have a guaranteed check coming in in addition to your investments.”

Whether you’re years from retirement or planning for it now, McNair says these three New Year’s resolutions will be the best you ever made:

• Resolve to plan for expenses in retirement to equal or exceed your expenses today. Many people assume their expenses will decline once they retire – they forget that they’re going to have a lot more free time to do what they love, McNair says. “What are your dreams? Will you want to travel? Take up a new hobby? Meet friends for golf two or three times a week? Those likely are going to be expenses you don’t have now,” he says. Also, once you retire, things don’t magically last forever. The rug in the dining room, the fridge in the kitchen – eventually they’ll need to be replaced or repaired. Also, as you age, medical expenses either appear or increase. Sit down and think about what your ideal retirement looks like, and presume that it will be for at least 30 years. Make a list and take a guess at what those activities cost – even if your retirement is years away. How much money will you need coming in each month or year?

• Resolve to get most of your investments out of tax-deferred plans. If you’re working for a company that provides a match for 401k contributions, by all means, contribute up to the maximum match. “That’s free money – you’d be crazy not to take advantage,” McNair says. But anything beyond that should be invested in something that’s more tax efficient: Roth IRA, municipal bonds, life insurance or real estate. No one expects taxes will go down – they’ll be going up. Uncle Sam already has a lien on your IRA or 401(k); don’t let his lien, the taxes you’ll owe, continue to grow. Go ahead and pay now, and your future retired self will be glad you did.

• Resolve to have a portfolio that generates a steady or guaranteed paycheck. The ideal financial security for retirement is having a guaranteed income that increases with inflation, McNair says. “You want to plan for an income that meets or exceeds your annual income now so, if you’ll be getting $1,000 a month from Social Security at age 62 and your current income is $4,000 a month, you need to have a plan to guarantee $3,000 a month to cover that gap.” Annuities and life insurance are the only investments that provide a guaranteed income you cannot outlive, so consider them for at least part of your portfolio. “You don’t want them to make up 100 percent of your portfolio, but they should provide the foundation,” McNair says.

It’s important to start thinking now about where you want to be in retirement and what combination of investments will ensure you have the lifestyle you want for as long as you live, he says.

“At 65, you don’t want to be making risky investments because you’re panicking about not having enough money.”


Assess Trees Now to Avoid Winter Storm Calamities

December 9, 2013 7:18 pm

Winter is the season for some of nature's most severe weather, I was recently reminded that storms in all shapes and forms will be creating havoc throughout the country this winter, particularly on trees and landscaping.

Our frequent resource, Master Arborist Tchukki Andersen of the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA.org) says some of the greatest storm-related dangers are posed by falling trees.

According to Andersen, species like Chinese elm, silver maple, boxelder and various poplars, have brittle wood that is easily broken. So these rapidly growing trees can cause a considerable amount of damage if the fall.

Andersen says property owners should avoid planting them close to potential targets, and if these trees are already established, preventive pruning, bracing or cabling may help reduce storm damage this winter.

Over the years, growing trees "catch" more wind and become heavier. That makes them prone to increased mechanical stresses, increasing the chances of failure.

Larger trees also affect an increased area should they or their larger limbs fall. This means that power lines, homes and other structures that might not have been threatened a few years ago might suddenly be under a tree that has grown.

So preparing trees for these natural disasters is a must and should be done well in advance of the stormy season. Andersen points property owners to the following warning signs:

  • Wires in contact with tree branches. Trees may become energized when they are contacted by electric wires.
  • Dead or partially attached limbs hung up in the higher branches that could fall and cause damage or injury.
  • Cracked stems and branch forks that could cause catastrophic failure of a tree section.
  • Hollow or decayed areas on the trunk or main limbs, or mushrooms growing from the bark that indicate a decayed and weakened stem.
  • Peeling bark or gaping wounds in the trunk also indicate structural weakness.
  • Fallen or uprooted trees putting pressure on other trees beneath them.
  • Tight, V-shaped forks which are more prone to failure than open U-shaped ones.
  • Heaving soil at the tree base is a potential indicator of an unsound root system.
  • Andersen says don't assume a tree that has survived 10 severe storms will survive an eleventh.

Source: tcia.org


Word of the Day

December 9, 2013 7:18 pm

Bylaws. Rules and regulations that govern how a homeowners’ association will be run.


Q: Should I Buy a Vacation Home as an Investment?

December 9, 2013 7:18 pm

A: Like any investment, it can be risky. Location and current market conditions are extremely important when deciding whether to buy.

Other things to consider:

  • Will you be able to afford repairs, maintenance, insurance, and utilities?
  • What about fees to pay agents who rent the property for you?
  • If you live several miles away from your vacation home, who will clean up between tenants and take an inventory of household items once the tenants leave?
  • What if you are unable to rent your second home? Can your pocketbook withstand the strain of paying the mortgage?

Gas Safety Tips for Cold Season

December 6, 2013 10:00 pm

As temperatures drop, another threat to safety is carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO poisoning can occur as a result of a poorly ventilated heater or a CO leak from another source. Symptoms can include nausea, headaches, paralysis and even death. Remember the following tips to help prevent CO poisoning:

  • Have natural gas furnaces checked at least once a year by a licensed heating contractor or SoCalGas.
  • Vacuum and clean regularly in and around the furnace, particularly around the burner compartment to prevent a build-up of dust and lint.
  • Never store items in, on or around the appliance that can obstruct airflow.
  • Most forced-air units have a filter that cleans the air before heating and circulating it throughout the home. Check furnace filters every month during the heating season and clean or replace the filter when necessary. 
  • When installing a new or cleaned furnace filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly; never operate the furnace without the front-panel door properly in place because doing so may create the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Check the appearance of the flame. If the flame is yellow, large and unsteady, the furnace needs to be inspected immediately by a licensed heating contractor or SoCalGas to have the condition corrected.
  • Using an unvented gas heater in your home is dangerous and a violation of the California Health and Safety Code.
  • Never use your oven, range or outdoor barbecue to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose.
  • If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from CO poisoning, call 911 immediately.

Source: socalgas.com/safety


Three Questions to Ask Yourself before Adding a Pet to the Family

December 6, 2013 10:00 pm

Whether it's a dog, cat, hamster, bird or other critter, a new pet is always an exciting addition, especially around the holidays when many families choose to bring a new pet into their home.

However, December is often a busy month when people do not have the time or energy to focus on a new pet. Before making this big decision, ask yourself some simple questions.

How much time each day can be committed to the pet? Work schedules, school schedules and other factors greatly affect how long people are home during the day. Some pets require more personal attention than others. For instance, larger, more energetic dog breeds, such as Boxers, will need to be walked at least two times a day.

For those who can't make that time commitment, small dogs or cats may require less exercise time, but still need quite a bit of one on one attention and toys to keep them mentally stimulated if the pet parent is gone during the day. Small animals like hamsters, guinea pigs and reptiles may be better suited for those who plan on being gone all day long.

Typically, these pets will be safe in their habitat during the day, provided the pet parent gives them all the requirements necessary to keep them happy and healthy. However, it is still important to nurture a connection with these pets, as many of them love to be held and handled. For those considering a puppy, it's important to consider the time commitment to properly potty train the dog.

What is affordable? Some pets cost more than others. In addition to upfront adoption fees, there are a number of factors that determine the cost of a pet. Large dogs will need more food, certain breeds require professional grooming services more often, young dogs and cats may require special training courses and reptiles can require specialized habitats and heat lamps.

Before deciding on a pet, be sure to research all costs associated with that pet, including costs that could come later in the animals life, rather than just immediately. For example, pet parents may not know that it is important to invest in their pet's oral health, which can help avoid costly dental surgeries down the line.

What does the family want to get out of the pet? Being a pet parent is a benefit to both the human and the animal and many pet parents say that their animal does more for them than they ever expected. It's important to ask what the family wants to get by adding a new pet to the family.

Perhaps it's having a cuddle buddy; maybe it's teaching kids responsibility, it could be the thought of having a pet help encourage someone to get physically fit, or perhaps it's having an independent animal who can cheer others up. Whatever it is, consider this feedback before getting a new pet. For those who decide a new puppy is best for their wants and needs, make sure the dog is well socialized before taking them out and about.

Sometimes waiting until after the holidays to add a new pet to the house may be the best option. Getting kids a habitat to unwrap during the celebrations and letting them choose their own pet after the holidays can turn one special day into two.

Source: http://www.petco.com


Back Safety during the Snow….What You Need to Know

December 6, 2013 10:00 pm

As you prepare to enjoy the wonderful world of winter, remember that the common winter chore of snow shoveling can present the potential for spasms, strains, sprains and other health problems, cautions the Minnesota Chiropractic Association™ (MCA) and the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).

Bending and twisting when tossing a shovel of heavy snow can aggravate lower back discs, according to the MCA.  In addition, the overall physical exertion required for snow shoveling, without proper conditioning, often results in painful injuries.

Chiropractors advise you to be prepared and follow these tips when snow shoveling:

  • Maintain your exercise program year-round.
  • Listen to weather forecasts so you can rise early and have time to shovel before work; rushing the job can lead to injury. 
  • Wear layers of clothing to keep your muscles warm and flexible.
  • Do some stretching before you grab the shovel. 
  • For big jobs, use a motorized snow blower.  If you shovel by hand, use a lightweight, ergonomically designed shovel to reduce back strain.
  • When you do shovel, push the snow straight ahead. Don't try to throw it; walk it to the snow bank.  Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions.
  • Bend your knees to lift when shoveling.  Let the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, not your back.
  • Take frequent rest breaks to take the strain off your muscles.  A fatigued body asks for injury.
  • Stop if you feel chest pain, or get excessively tired or have shortness of breath.  You may need immediate professional care.
  • If you feel sore after shoveling, apply an ice bag to the affected area for 20 minutes, then take it off for a couple of hours.  Repeat a couple of times each day over the next day or two.

Source: www.mnchiro.com.


Word of the Day

December 6, 2013 10:00 pm

Real estate broker. Individual who has passed a state broker’s test and represents others in realty transactions. Anyone having his or her own office must be a broker.


Q: Should I Put More or Less Down, If I Can Afford It?

December 6, 2013 10:00 pm

A: Putting down as little as possible lets you take full advantage of the tax benefits of homeownership. Mortgage interest and property taxes are both fully deductible from state and federal income taxes. Also, making a small down payment frees up cash that you can use to meet unexpected home improvements.