New Ruralism – A Return to Our American Roots

In the wake of the worst recession since the Great Depression, Americans seem to be seeking a return to a simpler way of life. They desire to reconnection with food and nature. Reducing waste and expenses has become a priority. Living a little “smaller” than previously is essential. Unfortunately they are being told the only way to live responsibly is to move back into a dense urban setting.

Land planners, environmentalists and governments are pushing for a more centralized, urban life. Their fundamental belief is that by increasing our density in urban settings we can reduce our dependence on automobiles, use fewer resources and lessen our impact on the environment. While this may satisfy a segment of our society, some people desire a quieter, rural lifestyle. The question is can we balance the need for space with relatively high density. One answer is New Ruralism.

 

New Ruralism is loosely defined as development that balances the need of minimizing overall land usage for shelter and maximizing land usage for greenspace or sustainable agriculture. Other elements of New Ruralism are regaining connections with our neighbors, learning to respect our food by understanding how we raise it and reconnecting with the outdoors. A large part of what it once meant to be an American was a sense of independence based on self-sufficiency counterbalanced by the ability to count on a neighbor for assistance. In modern America we have lost much that defined us forefathers.

 

A central element of the New Ruralism concept is high density housing. At first that seems to contradict the rural idea of New Ruralism, but it results in more greenspace. There are various examples to draw upon for the framework of New Ruralism. An excellent example that has stood the test of time is the Israeli moshav.  Unlike the Israeli kibbutz where the land is owned collectively, the moshav has private land for farming as well as land for a private home. The homes are arranged on relatively small lots while the majority of the land is left for agriculture. The close proximity of the houses lends itself to closer community leading neighbors to interact with each other. Unlike urban settings the overall feeling is pastoral and relaxing. Interestingly there have been some attempts in the US to draw city dwellers to the country to farm. Unfortunately they take huge tracts of land and leave many feeling just as isolated as they were in the city.

 

High density housing lends itself to larger open spaces that can be used in agriculture or left as greenspace or a combination of both. The agriculture piece can come in many forms. A communal garden can be planted and worked collectively. Alternately individual owners could lease parcels for their own gardens. With large enough spaces commercial operations can be used to supply an on-site restaurant. In Georgia, the development Serenby has a 25 acre farm that supplies vegetables to an on-site restaurant and bed and breakfast. Other developments like Montaluce use vineyards farmed on-site to supply grapes for wine. Some attempts to include agriculture have simply been tailored to the rich and not really an attempt to bring people closer to their food.

 

In New Ruralism, homeowners become more connect to their food. With a global market we are able to purchase fruits and vegetables outside of the local seasons. Processed foods further disconnect us from the plants and animals that we eat. Our children have no idea from where the foods they eat come or how they are raised. By enticing homeowners to participate in growing fruits and vegetable or raising livestock, New Ruralism gives them a new respect for the food they eat. 

 

Along with regained respect for food, homeowners are drawn out into nature. We have become so lost in television, internet and other forms of indoor entertainment that we have forgotten the beauty of our surroundings. The same open space used for agriculture can also be used for green spaces. Systems of trails and parks can help relax homeowners as well as result in better health.

 

Certainly there are limitations to New Ruralism, but it is a valid concept that gives people an alternative to urban living. We are constantly told that suburban sprawl is fundamentally wrong and that we need to move back to the cities. Infill is a development priority. There is something American about being contrarian. New Ruralism is a great expression of our fundamental pursuit of freedom.

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A Guide to the New SECURE Act for Retirement Savings

Allowing people to save longer, coupled with the ability to extend the need to tap into retirement funds, are two key aspects of the new SECURE Act that was signed into law in December 2019. Most provisions of the Act took effect on January 1, with the balance becoming effective in 2021. There are 15 different sections within Title I of the Act which will be discussed below.

Title I: Expanding and Preserving Retirement Savings

Section 101: Expand Retirement Savings by Increasing the Auto Enrollment Safe Harbor Cap

Under this provision, the previous 10% qualified automatic contribution arrangement for a retirement plan may now be increased to 15%, except for an employee’s first year of participation.

Section 102: Simplification of Safe Harbor 401(k) Rules

This provision eliminates the safe harbor notice requirement but still enables employees to make or change an election at least once per year. The provision also allows amendments to non-elective status at any time prior to the 30th day before the end of the plan year.

Section 103: Increase Credit Limitation for Small Employer Pension Plan Start-Up Costs

This provision makes it more affordable for small businesses to set up retirement plans. The Act provides smaller employers a start-up retirement plan credit of $250 per non-highly compensated employees who are eligible to participate in a workplace retirement plan. The minimum credit available is $500 and the maximum credit is $5,000.

Moreover, a new era of multiple employer plans (MEPs) is likely underway and not just for small-employers. These MEPs allow unrelated employers to join together to create a single retirement plan for all of their workforces. Such MEPs allow for greater economies of scale, thereby lowering plan costs and possibly reducing employer’s fiduciary liability, depending on the MEP.

It should be noted that these multiple employer plans are not to be confused with multiemployer plans, which are pension plans sponsored by two or more unrelated employers under collective bargaining agreements with one or more unions. Many multiemployer plans are in financial distress.

Section 104: Small Employer Automatic Enrollment Credit

If an employer’s retirement plan includes automatic enrollment, a credit of up to $500 is available to them (the credit is available for 3 years). Further, employers that switch their existing plans to an automatic enrollment system will be eligible for the credit.

Section 105: Treat Certain Taxable Non-Tuition Fellowship and Stipend Payments as Compensation for IRA Purposes

This provision does not allow stipends and non-tuition fellowship payments to graduate and postdoctoral students to be treated as compensation nor to be used as the basis for IRA contributions. This provision will allow such students to start saving for retirement and accumulate tax-favored retirement savings.

Section 106: Repeal of Maximum Age for Traditional IRA Contributions

This provision reformed the previous 70 ½ age restriction on IRA contributions and now allows for contributions to be made as long as an employee is still working.

Section 107: Qualified Employer Plans Prohibited from Making Loans through Credit Cards and Other Similar Arrangements

This provision helps preserve retirement savings by prohibiting the distribution of plan loans through credit cards or similar arrangements. This provision ensures that plan loans are not used for routine or small purchases.

Section 108: Portability of Lifetime Income Options

Simply put, if an employee leaves their current employer, they can roll over their lifetime income investment to another 401(k) or IRA. This provision also makes it easier than before for plan sponsors to offer annuities and other lifetime income options to plan participants. Furthermore, the provision provides that 401(k) plan administrators must provide an annual “lifetime disclosure statement” to plan participants. This disclosure statement will show the participant how much money they could get each month if their total 401(k) account balance was used to purchase an annuity.

Section 109: Treatment of Custodial Accounts on Termination of Section 403(b) Plans

Upon guidance from the Treasury, if an employer terminates a 403(b) custodial account, the distribution needed to effectuate the plan termination may be the distribution of an individual custodial account. The individual custodial account will be maintained on a tax-deferred basis as a 403(b) custodial account until paid out.

Section 110: Clarification of Retirement Income Account Rules Relating to Church-Controlled Organizations

This provision clarifies which employees may be covered by retirement plans maintained by church-controlled organizations.

Section 111: Allowing Long-Term Part-Time Workers to Participate in 401(k) Plans

Starting in 2021, this provision will require employers maintaining a 401(k) plan to offer the plan to any employee who has worked more than 1,000 hours in one year, or 500 hours over 3 consecutive years, except in cases of collectively bargained employees.

Section 112: Penalty-Free Withdrawals from Retirement Plans for Individuals in Case of Birth or Adoption

Under this provision, parents may withdraw up to $5,000, penalty-free, from their retirement accounts within a year of birth or adoption for qualified expenses; however, if parents wait longer than a year, they will have to pay a 10% penalty. Furthermore, both parents are each entitled to withdraw $5,000 from their own retirement accounts; a withdrawal is not limited to just one parent. Last, the parents will owe income tax on the withdrawal unless they repay the funds they withdrew.

Section 113: Increase in Age for Required Beginning Date for Mandatory Distributions

Instead of forcing withdrawals (or required minimum distributions – RMDs) upon retired individuals with an IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan at the age 70 ½, the new provision allows such individuals to be 72 until they must begin to make RMDs.

Furthermore, “stretch” IRAs are eliminated under the Act. Non-spouse IRA beneficiaries can no longer “stretch” RMDs from an inherited account over their own lifetime. Instead, such beneficiaries must receive the IRA funds within 10 years of the IRA owner’s death. There are exceptions to the new 10-year rule for particular non-spouse beneficiaries; including, minors, disabled, chronically ill beneficiaries or beneficiaries that are not more than 10 years younger than the deceased IRA owner.

Section 114: Community Newspapers Pension Funding Relief

This provision provides pension funding relief to community newspaper plan sponsors by increasing the interest rate to calculate those funding obligations to 8%. The provision further provides for an amortization period of 30 years; up from the previously provided 7 years.

Section 115: Treating Excluded Difficulty of Care Payments as Compensation for Determining Retirement Contribution Limitations

This provision will allow home healthcare workers to contribute to a retirement plan or IRA by amending Code sections 415(c) and 408(o) to provide that tax-exempt difficulty of care payments be treated as compensation for calculating the contribution limits to defined contribution plans and IRAs.

There is one provision under the Act which increases the compliance burden for plan sponsors. The SECURE Act provides for an increased daily-penalty in the late, incomplete, or inaccurate filing of an annual Form 5500. The daily-penalty has arisen from $25 to $250, and the maximum penalty has arisen from $15,000 to $150,000 per annual report.

The above summaries are meant to provide a general understanding to Title I of the SECURE Act and do not include all details of each provision. Individuals and corporations should consult with a qualified pension lawyer or financial planner to understand how the SECURE Act will affect their retirement plans.

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Balance Your Life

Balance your life

 

———————–

 

Writing is a solitary task.

Writing needs concentration and quiet. 

Writing requires absolute commitment.

 

Are all there scary statements true?

What is more, is it possible to balance your writing career and family without turning yourself into a zombie?

 

Everything is feasible; I am the living example of it.

 

There is only one secret:  TIME PLAN.

This is step one for the aspiring writer’s success.  Without it, nothing can be achieved.  How can you do it?

 

Simply make a rough plan of the time allowed to your writing project every day.  It is highly important for the writer to know exactly WHEN he /she is going to settle down and write, feeling free of all the other responsibilities that he has.

 

I have made a simple schedule.  You can work out yours according to your family needs.

Every morning just after breakfast, and as soon as the family have gone, I allow myself to work on my PC for one to two hours, depending on the workload of the day.  Then I go on with the house chores and all the rest of the family tasks till noon.  At 2 o’ clock everybody is back so I serve lunch, but after that I have 2-3 hours free to work on my morning assignment.  Thus, there is plenty of time to care for the family , while in the afternoons I still have time to go to my part time job in time , feeling satisfied I have worked at home on my project. 

 

In the evening I sometimes find an hour or so , when the family watch TV .  This time I sit with them in the living room , having pre arranged to do the easiest tasks for my writing job, such as note taking or layout planning of new stories or articles.  I use pen to paper and I don’t bother if I make mistakes.  Next morning, there is plenty of time to revise them and complete them.

 

If this plan has been working perfectly for me, why not for you as well?

You only have to calculate when and how long you need to write every day.  Of course , you must stick to your plan and never give it up , apart from very urgent cases.  Remember that your work is also urgent, so never skip it.

 

If you respect your writing job, the others will do so too.  What is more, they won’t feel neglected as you will give them your care and attention at the time they are around. Furthermore, your house chores will be done in time and you won’t feel overworked.  ” A little every day” is my motto, and, in the long run, everything is done and everybody is happy.  Keeping your writing and family under control will make you feel satisfied and everyone, including you, will be happy. 

 

Also, keep in mind that there is nothing odd if you work in unconventional places.

I sometimes find it stimulating to work in the living room with all the family around.  Noise does not bother me ,on the contrary,  it brings me more ideas.  This article was outlined last evening while we were all watching a football match.  Well, the truth is I did not watch much of it!  I was absorbed in my new article, but that’s how this idea sprang out.  I can perfectly work in a chatty setting.  Have you tried it?  You may come up with fresh ideas and great articles.

 

Finally, who says that writing can turn you into a zombie?  Shatter the myth!  It’s up to you to enjoy both your family and your writing career.  Simply make a time plan!

 

 

Ends

 

622

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How to Balance Security and Customer Experience?

The customer of today is interacting with brands over multiple channels, via multiple device. This resulted in the fundamental shift over how to accommodate new multichannel behavior of customers. Providing smooth multi-channel experience is no longer an exception but a rule. Connected customer experience is the competitive advantage your brand can have.

But at the same time, Security is becoming vital like never before if you are dealing with the sensitive identity data of your thousands of customers. A single breach takes place and your customer trust and your brand reputation, everything is gone. Doesn’t come as a surprise brands are trying every possible way to keep their customers safe but it is not easy. Since every security measurement you take, comes at the expense of customer experience. This brings a big question, How brands can balance customer experience with security?

The latest adoption of identity and access management (IAM) solutions seems to provide the right balance between both. A customer identity management platform basically stores and manages customer identities. Tools like Single Sign-On, Unified customer profiles, Two factor authentication can enhance security thereby building customer loyalty. Let’s see how to do it right way:

1. Finding the right cIAM solution:

There are multiple cIAM solutions present out there that come with various security features and capabilities. So if you are planning to buy one for your brand, make sure it comes with your desired security features. Below are some questions that you must ask to the cIAM vendor:

  • Does the solution performance gets affected on enabling the security features?
  • Does the solution has API, application and data level security?
  • Do you have federated SSO and access control feature in your cIAM solution?
  • Does the solution notify admin of privileged account activity?
  • Does the solution has ability to personalize multi-factor authentication process?
  • Is the solution able to securely hash passwords using PBKDF2, Scrypt and Bcrypt?

2. Enabling smooth and secure authentication:

Multi-factor authentication is a great initiative towards security. Multi-factor authentication technology requires user to provide multiple forms of verification to prove his identity. The most common approach towards MFA requires users to go through two levels of authentication. In the first one, the user needs to submit its credentials. Once done, a One time password (OTP) login is sent to the registered mobile number, submitting which on the website will provide users access.

The technology is very efficient in boosting security but not to forget, it hinders customer experience & causes annoyance. Now many of your customers might want extreme tight security at every turn, there might be others as well who would get frustrated if MFA is applied too frequently. This is why, it is important to personalize security to maintain the right balance. That’s where comes the need for security and IAM professionals to sit together to define thresholds with specific multi-factor authentication requirements. The MFA approach should be shifted from “Always-on” to “Adaptive” approach. By letting users personalize how and where they want MFA to trigger, you will provide them the level of security they want resulting in enhanced user experience.

3. Securing and centralizing data:

If you want to offer seamless multi-channel experience to your customers, you must centralize data which is dispersed across multiple places. When you go for centralized profiles, you can apply security at various areas like access control, authentication, data layer, etc. Any of the area is missed, either the security gets compromised or the experience is ruined or sometimes both. Many of the security requirements like end to end encryption does not affect customer experience directly. In general, the stronger the encryption, the better it is. But the right balance is must.

4. Enhancing security at data layer:

Now data layer might not be in direct visibility to your customers, but it is as important as others. Your customers expect from you to store their data securely, and if you don’t, their trust is gone. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Make sure to encrypt data at every stage. Any process that relies on customer data, must use robust encryption.
  • Govern customer data. Not all applications are equal when it comes to security. Brands must keep governing who has access to what so that if any of the unsecured endpoint gets compromised, it will cause minimum loss.
  • Hash passwords securely. Make sure the passwords are securely hashed with algorithms like PBKDF2, Scrypt, Bcrypt, etc

5. Providing seamless access control:

The customer of today is openly expressing disappointments with the current state of access control procedure. And as the web world is shifting towards multi-channel, brands must provide hassle free login experience by adopting technologies like social login, SSO, etc. But to do that, a modern and scalable identity layer is needed that can give customers access to any channel or device at their own terms., deliver unified customer view and bridge identities from various access points.

Customer experience is the latest competitive battleground. How a brand balances customer experience with security defines its success.

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Coaching Tools 101 – The Wheel of Life – 11 New and Improved Uses For the Ultimate Coaching Tool

The Wheel of Life may be ‘old hat’ to us coaches, but it’s a powerful visual coaching tool with many uses in the coaching world. In fact it may just be the best and most flexible coaching tool — in any coach’s toolbox.

We forget that The Wheel of Life is still new to most of our clients. And even when they have come across it before it will tell them something new when they use it again, because like most coaching tools it can only catch how someone feels at a moment in time.

So, apart from the common use of the wheel to look at life balance, how else can we use The Wheel of Life to help our clients? Here are 11 new and improved uses for The Wheel of Life:

  1. Use The Wheel of Life to help your clients set meaningful goals. Areas with low scores are ideal candidates for your clients to set bigger goals around.
    Tip: This is an especially useful tool for business and career/executive coaches — to edge left-brained clients into ‘softer’ areas that improve their whole lives. Which will, of course, benefit their careers and businesses in the long run.
  2. Use a wheel to drill down and help your clients understand their lives and issues more deeply. Take one of the segments or categories and ask them to delve deeper by writing out 8 areas that make up that segment for them.
    Tip: Eg. a ‘Finance’ wheel could include saving for a house or wedding, spending less/budgeting, saving for retirement, paying off credit cards, getting a better paid job etc.
  3. Help your clients see how far they’ve come. Use The Wheel of Life monthly or quarterly with your clients, as both a check-in to see how they’re doing AND as a way for them to see how they’ve improved and grown. Improved scores demonstrate concrete value from coaching and help clients see their learnings and progression.
    Tip: It’s a bit like looking back over an old journal and seeing how far you’ve come!
  4. De-stress your Clients! What about The Wheel of Stress of The Wheel of Frustration? Take the usual ‘life balance’ categories off the wheel and help your client ‘free think’ through their issues. Get them to label the top 8 areas that stress them out or frustrate them most. Ask them to score HOW stressful and frustrating each of their areas is out of 10 — and review the results with them.
    Tip: Ask, which area stresses them out the most? Are there any surprises? How could they lower their scores?
  5. Help your clients get excited about life! How about The Wheel of Happiness, Fun or even Excitement? Depending on what your client needs/is looking for, ask your client to come up with 8 areas or things that are fun or make them excited or happy. Label the wheel segments accordingly and ask your client for an action or commitment for each segment. What do they notice? How could they bring more of each segment into their lives?
    Tip: Help them find multiple wins, ie. areas where one action raises their score across a number of areas?
  6. For Business Coaches, use the wheel to identify Sales and/or Marketing actions for your clients. Take a blank wheel and add the key areas where your clients need to take action. Ask your clients come up with actions for each to complete in the next month.
    Tip: For example, a Marketing Wheel might include the following; online social networks, SEO, article marketing, traditional networking, newsletter, trade shows, advertising, seminars.
  7. Priorities Management. What are your client’s top priorities — this could be at work, home or life in general. Ask your client to label each segment and specifically identify their top 3 priorities. Then get them to score their satisfaction out of 10 for each area.
    Tip: What do they notice? Do they have their priorities ‘straight’ or do they need to shift their focus? What actions could they take to improve their scores?
  8. Understanding what’s TRULY important in life. Get your client to list or brainstorm their priorities or goals – asking them to list everything they want to “Be, Do and Have” in life is a great way to do this. Now ask them to take each priority or goal and go around the Wheel of Life ‘balance’ categories and ask, “Will achieving this improve my satisfaction in this area?” and for each area that is improved, that goal gets a point. Then you review which goals get the highest and lowest scores. What do they notice? What have they learned? This helps people to see what will truly make a difference in their lives as opposed to what they think will improve their lives.
    Tip: Let’s assume your client wants to buy a Ferrari. Will it improve their Finances? No. Will it improve their relationships with family and friends? Probably not. Will it improve their Career? Unlikely. Will it improve their Fun? Yes. And so on until you get a score of perhaps 2 out of a possible 8. Now take being a great Dad. It may not improve your finances or your career (although you never know) but it will help your family relationships, fun, health, personal growth etc so you perhaps get a score of 6 out of 8.
  9. Identifying skill gaps for promotions/new jobs/careers. Use a blank wheel and get your client (or you can do this beforehand) to label the Top 8 Skills they will need to get the job or promotion they want. Now get them to score, out of 10, where they are at the moment against each of the skills. Finally assign an action against each of the skill areas where they need to boost their skills.
    Tip: You could even ask them to identify an action for areas where they score highly, “What could they do to truly excel at that skill?”
  10. Help your clients identify what they are looking for in a relationship. This is called The Relationship Wheel. So, take a blank wheel and ask your client to label the segments with the 8 qualities an ideal partner would have. This MUST be done by the client! And then ask them to give a score as to how IMPORTANT out of 10 each quality is. This will help them identify whether being attractive or romantic is as important as being reliable, having a good sense of humour or a good parent.
    Tip: You can even use the strategy outlined earlier in number 8 where you take each personal quality they’ve listed, and give it a point for each area on the Wheel of Life that it improves. Which qualities will truly make a difference in their lives?
  11. General Action Planning. Simply use a blank wheel to help your client come up with actions. Write the goal at the top of the page and then ask them to write out the 8 actions or chunks of work that make up their goal.
    Tip: Ask them to put a date on each — and they can use the pieces of pie to record % complete for each area until it’s complete!

Of course you’re not limited to 8 segments — it’s just a useful number — and an easy one to divide the wheel into! So, feel free to use fewer segments or split segments to get more.

And whatever we’ve used the wheel for I like to ask this question when complete, “So, if this wheel represented your life/relationship/career/marketing strategy, is it a bumpy ride?”

I hope this has given you some new ideas as to how you can work with and use ‘The Wheel of Life’ in your coaching practice. Give it a try – it’s wheely good!

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How To Balance Your Sewing Machine Tensions

Sewing Machine Tensions can be balanced by yourself, but you need to understand the number one mistake most sewers make. When attempting to do this there is one simple thing to remember.

The first thing I always do when I get a machine on the bench is clean the top tension discs out. This is very easy to do and takes very little time. Find a piece of non fuzzy material about 8 inches long and 2 inches wide (soft material will work best, like a non fuzzy cotton).

Next, raise the presser foot so the tension discs are open. This will allow you to get your material inside of them and clean any fuzz or thread build up that may be caught between them (look inside where you thread your machine through the tension if it is not right on the outside).

Now, with the material held in a position that you can run it back and forth or up and down you are ready to clean the tension. Put your material inside of the discs and move it back and forth several times. When you are done with this, simply take a deep breath and blow hard right into where you cleaned. Make sure your top tension is set between 4-5 or right in the neutral position and you are done.

Depending on whether your sewing machine has a drop in bobbin or snap in bobbin the actual cleaning to do will be the same, but I will try to separate them for you. With a drop in bobbin the needle plate and bobbin case have to be removed from the sewing machine. Next, clean any debris built up on and around the shuttle. A q-tip generally works well for this. Now, place a drop or two of oil right in the center of the shuttle (the shuttle is what you put your bobbin case in).

Check to make sure the feed dogs do not have any built up debris in between them (the feed dogs or what feeds your material). If you see any build up simply take your old sewing machine needle and clean it out. Reassemble the machine, put a new needle in, thread it up and the machine should be ready to go.

For a snap in bobbin the cleaning is virtually the same. The needle plate does not have to be removed, but it should be, simply to check for build up in between the feed dogs (the feed dogs are what is moving to feed the material). If you see any build up in between them take your old needle and clean it out. Remove the bobbin case retainer ring and bobbin case.

Cleaning The Bobbin Case Area – Snap In Bobbin. Just as in a drop in bobbin clean any build up out with a q-tip. Place a drop of oil above the half moon shuttle and reassemble the bobbin case area. Put a new needle in and you should be sewing away! ( Make sure the top tension is set between 4-5 or right in the neutral position and you are done).

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Review of the Tacfit Commando System – After Trying It for 3 Months

The Tacfit Commando system is an exercise system that has been gaining popularity in the web lately. There are many exercise systems such as P90x, Abjam and Insanity. Many of these programs have infomercials. Their infomercials run on a daily basis. Some of these infomercials have been around for several years. One recent exercise system that I have tried is the Tacfit Commando system. After purchasing and practicing the system for over 3 months, here is my review about the exercise system based on actual experience.

The Tacfit Commando system trainer is Scott Sonnon. He is rather straight forward but very knowledgeable about tactical fitness. Tactical fitness is more than just looking strong and healthy. It is more than functional fitness. It is about actually being strong and healthy. The system is divided into various stages and missions. The first stage is Recruit Mission 1. Then, it is followed by Grunt and then Commando. Then, it is on to Recruit Mission 2. Each stage is 28 days long.

The system itself is very flexible. It is not time-intensive like many exercise systems. It can also be done in conjunction with other exercise programs. My strength, flexibility, mobility of my joints, neurological fitness (learning new skill sets), balance, portability (no machines needed), and body recovery has been significantly improved. I am more tactically fit and physically fit doing the Tacfit Commando system. Here are some key benefits in detail:

* My strength has improved significantly performing innovative bodyweight exercises. It is a progressive program that builds on simple movements to compound movements to complex movements. For example, the lunge to the lunge twist to the leap lunge, etc.

* The program also focuses on flexibility and mobility of the joints. Many of the shoulder and elbow movements releases tension and strain on those joints. Not many programs discusses and practices joint care.

* My balance has improved dramatically. Mid-foot balance is essential for leg strength and overall fitness.

* Neurological fitness is addressed in this program. In addition to training your muscles, you are training your nervous system which is key to weight loss and fitness (as you will learn).

* You will get a great intense workout one day that is followed by a systematic recovery period. You are not training with high-intensity about only twice a week (which is more than enough if you include moderate intensity, low intensity, and no intensity days).

* I am at the best shape of my life. This program is for all ages and all fitness levels since you will be progressively learning new movements and skills.

The only drawback would be the actual videos. Initially, it was a bit confusing to pick out the correct video for the correct program. You can actually download the videos to your PC or iPhone.

The Tacfit Commando system makes you look strong and also be strong. That is what physical fitness is about.

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How to Quickly Establish New Credit

When applying for a mortgage, lenders will review the borrower’s employment, income, down payment, and credit history. Even if the borrower’s credit scores are acceptable, many lenders will look at the length and amount of credit established. If the borrower does not have an established payment history, the loan may be denied due to lack of or insufficient credit. The following sources could be used to establish your credit history and generate acceptable scores to obtain a mortgage.

• Secure Credit Cards – This type of card is offered by large banks (available online), local banks, and credit unions. A secure card usually requires a $300 to $500 deposit to open an account. The servicers of the secure card will report the payment activity to the credit bureaus just like a standard credit card. This is a great way to obtain new credit. The last thing you want to do is apply at numerous lending institutions and pile up inquiries (which will lower your scores). You may need a co-signer if your credit scores are below 500. After six months of on-time payments with a secure card, ask the lender to upgrade your secure card to a standard card. When the card is upgraded to a standard card, ask for the credit limit to be increased. This will give you more room to keep your balance under thirty percent of the available limit, thereby maximizing your potential scores.

• Department Store Cards – These are a good place to establish credit, because they’re usually easier to qualify for. Pay your balance in full and on-time each month and then try applying for a regular bank credit card in six to twelve months.

• Authorized User Loans and Cards – If you are unable to open a secure card, look into becoming an authorized user with a relative. They may qualify for the loan or credit card and add your name as an authorized user. You can use the card, make the payments, and have the payments reported to your credit report. Just remember, the payment activity will also be reported on your relative’s credit report.

Once you have established credit, it is important that the balances on revolving cards are kept below 30% of the cards available limit. This will help maximize the credit scores. Make sure that all the payments are paid on-time. It is important to limit your inquiries for new loans or cards. When shopping for a new credit card, installment, or auto loan, research the requirements first. If you do not qualify for the loan, go to another lending institution. The last thing you want to do is lose points from credit pulls (inquiries). A large portion of your scores are calculated from your use of revolving credit, so while you are establishing new credit it is important that you do not close any existing cards. If you do so, you will be reducing your long-term available credit and likely lowering your credit scores. Usually, the credit bureaus will not differentiate between a credit card closed by the consumer or the creditor.

An available option to follow your scores would be to pay for a monitoring service to track your credit score progress. Your scores are not affected when you pull your credit report; they are only affected by lenders who pull your credit that may offer or extend credit to you. It may take 12 months to establish an acceptable credit history to obtain a mortgage.

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Is The Balance Sheet More Important Than The Income Statement?

Before I answer this question, I will take you through common perceptions of the Income Statement versus the Balance Sheet as well as recent developments in

International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

The income statement provides a summary of an organizations income and expenses for a particular period. Historically this was the first report the user of financial statements looked at (if not the only report), to establish if the business is worth investing in.

To many non-financial people, the balance sheet does not make sense in any case, so they gravitate to the only report that is an easy read, namely, the income statement. Assets and liabilities are just too complex, to grasp.

In the last ten years or so, this has changed, so much so that readers and users are advised to lend substantially more credence to the balance sheet than the income statement. This “discrimination”, exacted on the income statement is so severe that some investors are encouraged to even ignore the income statement as a whole.

Why is this so? It could be the fiddling with revenue figures by many, now defunct corrupt corporations, which reported highly profitable figures, whilst these businesses were heavily indebted (liabilities), or technically insolvent. Moreover, high revenues are no guarantee against bankruptcy.

Historically, an income statement was drawn up first, and the balance sheet, second. The balance sheet became the “rubbish bin”, for all items that could not balance the books. IFRS now implemented the converse, the balance sheet is drawn up first, and the income statement now becomes the “rubbish bin”!

The balance sheet first, method has more to do with accurate reporting, than anything else, and is supported by many accounting experts. The accounting equation, Assets-Liabilities=Equity, is the true bottom line, not “profits”. Capital growth is what any investor should be interested in. Any new business, in reality is constructed from its “balance sheet”, first. Capital is invested, loans are sourced, inventory is acquired, and a bank account is opened. Only after all of the aforementioned has been established do the business start to generate revenue, and incur expenses.

Balance sheet auditing

Balance sheet items are reviewed meticulously and prepared first. Accountants will audit fixed assets, current assets, current liabilities, loans and investments. Applying the asset-liability formula, a quick assessment is made of equity. If the equity balance is broken up in stockholders funds or capital, less retained income, a current profit is swiftly established before even looking at income or expense items!

An income statement should then be preferably be build from “the bottom, up”. The profit or loss should then be adjusted (added), to expenses, and a revenue figure will be determined. If any variances are identified, at this juncture, it is an income statement problem, not the balance sheet. Balance sheet information is sacrosanct.

Book revenues are not always accurate, and a properly prepared balance sheet will reveal this fact. If revenue figures appear accurate, but variances are still identified, investigate the accumulated or retained funds from prior years. Most mistakes can be isolated to this account. The balance sheet method is magical. Not only can it show you where you have gone wrong in the current year, but also in prior years!

Need I say more? No further explanations necessary. The balance sheet is king!

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Justice is Balance

No one gets everything all ways. Justice comes to all eventually. All things equal out generally over time. The character Henri Ducard (played by Liam Neeson) said ‘Justice is balance,’ in Batman Begins and I find it true to life. Justice and righteousness (meaning essentially the same thing in ancient Hebrew) require balance to be true. In all life situations this more or less works out. Researching history we find, justice is inevitable.

According to our place in life we’re afforded only as much justice as our peers. We are not superior or inferior. Our peer group, therefore, is the bar by which we’re measured. This should make us want to knock around those who we can learn from because, amongst other things, we’ll benefit from the more privileged standard of justice as compared to the standard we’d ordinarily receive.

At its rawest, this justice is probably true so none of us gets a swelled head. As the pendulum swings our way, we are apt to get high and mighty; it swings back the other and we have to deal with the new humbling reality. It’s healthy that we don’t get everything our own way. It reminds us that we’re not God, and we forever remain subject to his rule whether we like that fact or not.

If we work hard we get blessed more; if we work too hard the blessing is tainted. If we don’t work hard enough, well, justice catches us eventually. Justice is diligence.

Justice is also prudence. When we consider things carefully, weighing risk, judging the moment correctly, we afford the best possible result for ourselves and others affected. If, on the other hand, we deal flippantly, we know what inevitably comes; justice.

Justice is shalom. When we rely on justice because we trust it, we are at peace with it, and this develops faith in us to expect justice to come through in the general sense.

Justice is respect. It’s the correct order of things, give or take a smidgeon of injustice (that requires faith for us to endure). It respects the natural and supernatural order and doesn’t get in the way of its workings; sometimes we don’t like it, but we daren’t get in the way of justice.

Justice is finally, wisdom. Justice is truth; a good, clear, strong, general truth. Justice is beauty we can rely on. Justice is bigger than us every time.

Praise Almighty God for justice. His justice is balance.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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