I am often asked, “Is Real Estate a good investment these days?” For me the answer: “It is always a good time to invest in Real Estate”. The question most people should be asking themselves is, “Do I want to invest in Property and what is required?” Let’s have a look at some the issues relating to Real Estate investing.Personally, I have had a very positive experience with investing in property. Unfortunately, not everyone shares this experience. In fact, in his latest newsletter, Pat McKeough (the man behind the website, The Successful Investor Network) says, “If you buy property as an investment, you may discover that there are greater risks, and more work, than you bargained for”.Just as investing in mutual funds, stocks and investment certificates is personal, so is the decision to invest in property. Your first step should be to weigh all your options and compare it to other forms of investing. Let’s look at just a few considerations you should be aware of when investing in property.The first of these is “Financing”. A mortgage is a very common component of investing in property. The requirements for investment property are very different from the mortgage on the house you own as your personal residence. Fortunately, it is still easier to get financing for property than for stocks. The reason for this is the fact that real estate is less volatile and easier to appraise. Investing in property has a long history, which makes it easier for banks and financial institutions to analyze their risks. Its value also rarely drops dramatically overnight, as some stocks do from time to time. It’s important to remember that while leverage can enhance returns, it also can enhance risk. The amount of cash required to purchase investment real estate is more that the purchase of principal residence real estate. In some instances this ratio could be as high as 65/35. Where the buyer must come up with 35 percent of the purchase price plus closing costs.The next consideration is what we call “Other Costs”. When investing in property it is important to be aware of all the associated costs and fees. Among these costs we find realtor commissions, lawyers’ fees; all of which make up what is commonly called “closing costs”. You will also be faced with other expenses such as property taxes, maintenance costs, utility expenses, insurance fees, and financing costs like mortgage interest. While there are also costs associated in stocks, mutual funds and securities, there are not quite as many variables to pay.One must consider “Cash Flow” when purchasing property for investment reasons. Whether there will be a positive cash flow on your new property should play a major role in your investment decision. In order for a property to provide positive cash flow, the monthly rental income must exceed the expenses. This means the rental income must be greater than the mortgage, taxes, maintenance and other monthly expenses.If you have to subsidize the monthly income, then you are going to find yourself in a negative cash flow situation. Unless you are willing to hang onto such a property for future possibilities of a large payout, it is wise not to invest in such a property. There are properties with potential for further development that will bring a large windfall and in such a case it is necessary to know the market well enough go guarantee a substantial return. A word of caution; an experienced property investor will never rely on market appreciation as a reason for purchasing investment property. No one has been able to predict the housing market with certainty over the short term.You must be willing to put in the “Time and Effort” if you invest in property. We call this sweat equity. You will have to spend time dealing with tenants, arranging maintenance, doing the accounting and so on. If you have several properties you may find it easier to hire a property manager; but remember this will become another expense and will affect your cash flow.The important thing to remember is that the investment return must be worth the time and effort you are willing to put into it.One last detail to consider is the “Risk and Reward” factor. Just like stocks, property comes with risk. For one thing, property has liquidity risk. That is, it is harder to sell than stocks, mutual funds or other investments. You can get stuck with a property longer that you originally planned. You may also have to sell a property at a loss due to poor cash flow. There are risks is clear, however, some of the wealthiest people in the world have built their fortunes from real estate investing. Like so many other things in life, what you put into it is what you are likely to get out of it.
Many people dream about being able to someday retire and travel the world. There are also a growing number of people who are considering career breaks and time after school to travel extensively. A top concern and deterrent of these individuals is the cost of travel. This article will outline the several ways to save on transportation costs to allow discounted travel around the world.Know your top destinations, but be flexible. Making a list of top destinations is an excellent outline for a travel plan, but keeping flexibility on how and when you arrive there is a key to budget travel.• Airlines use specific airport hubs to connect flights to other destinations. Searching for direct flights both in and out of these locations can save significant amounts of money on tickets. It also often allows for time to explore the area around these hubs between flights.• Start at an end destination and work your way back. Look at a top destination’s airport website and look at all inbound and outbound flights. This will give you information on which hubs service these locations most often, and other possible destinations of interest you can use as a connection.Time is your friend. Long-term travel requires considerable planning with as much notice as possible.• Taking time to research destinations is key to affordable pricing. Traveling to destinations during popular events will cost more than during non-peak times. Researching all forms of transportation are key: South America, and Asia offer luxury buses that are often cheaper and more comfortable than flights, while crossing the Atlantic Ocean can be cheaper on a cruise than by a flight once lodging and meals are factored in.• Having flexibility in time of travel is a significant source of savings. Searching tickets over a month time-frame will allow for the cheapest options. Additional flexibility in travel time, and not being rushed to your destination will also allow for multiple connections and long layovers, the cheapest tickets usually available.• Many cruise lines and some airlines offer a best price guarantee but do not advertise it. Booking well in advance and routinely checking back for drops in ticket prices gives you the opportunity to contact the company and request they match their current price. If they will not match the price often companies will provide you with a credit of the difference in price to use on future travel.Use technology to your advantage. The Internet is the best tool for planning, searching, and booking cheap travel.• Many search engines allow for you to search multiple airlines over multiple dates to find the lowest prices.• Checking directly with the airline, cruise line, or bus company and not through a travel agent will give a comparison for all other prices. Signing up for the travel company’s newsletters and loyalty groups will often provide you with first access to special pricing.• Following travel companies and travel groups on social media provides direct access to immediate news and specials. Travel groups often post glitches in booking software and most travel companies repair these in minutes. Followers that are able to book during the window of glitches are usually allowed to keep their prices. Travel companies occasionally offer followers discounts and travel credits for public feedback on social media.• Use the booking company’s currency conversion. Changing the booking to multiple currencies can provide significant savings. Often changing currency in software assumes you are in a poorer region and provides discounted pricing. A quick search engine lookup will provide you with an accurate conversion, and a global credit card with no international fees is best for purchase.Planning well in advance, keeping flexible travel times, and using technology to your advantage can allow you to follow your dreams and travel the world at an affordable price!
Recipients of home health care in Illinois have certain inalienable rights of privacy guaranteed by the Privacy Act of 1974. Agencies who provide home health care and participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs are required by law to do a complete assessment of your current health status, which includes information which can be used to indicate your progress towards your goals. Home health agencies must use the OASIS – the Outcome and Assessment Information Set to evaluate your health. And to accomplish this, the agency must obtain information from you. This information will be used by the HCFA (Health Care Financing Administration, the government’s Medicare and Medicaid agency) to ensure that your agency meets quality standards, and administers its patients appropriate care. As a patient, you have the right to refuse to provide information to assess your agency. If you choose to provide information for the assessment, it is then protected by the Federal Privacy Act of 1974 and the HHA OASIS – the Home Health Agency Outcome and Assessment Information Set records system. You always have the right to examine, review, copy, and request corrections of your information in the HHA OASIS records system.The information which is collected will be used for a number of purposes. In the first place, it can support litigation which involves the Health Care Financing Administration, as well as support requests by constituents to Congressional representatives. The information is also used to support policy, regulatory, and reimbursement functions performed by the Health Care Financing Administration and by home health care providing agencies. The information is also used to study the quality and effectiveness of care which is provided by agencies providing home healthcare in Illinois. Assessments based on this information are used to survey and certify Medicare and Medicaid agencies; and they enable regulators to provide these agencies with data to improve the quality of their patient care. The information is also used to develop, validate, and refine the system under which Medicare disburses payments; and for health care payment related projects. It also supports the research and evaluation of epidemiological projects which relate to the prevention of disability and disease; or which maintain or restore health.The Health Care Financing Administration can release your information without your consent, but recipients of this information must agree in writing to continue the confidentiality of your information. Release of your health and independent retirement living information is permitted only to the Federal Department of Justice for litigation involving the Health Care Financing Administration; to agencies to assist them in improving their services; to state governmental agencies for evaluating the cost and effectiveness of state services; to congressional offices responding to constituent inquiries, made at the constituents’ written request; and to individuals and organizations researching epidemiological projects relating to disease or disability prevention. While you, the patient, are under no obligation to provide information on the OASIS (the government cannot instruct the agency to refuse you its services), nonetheless incomplete or invalid information can cause payment errors, and make it more difficult to determine whether the agency is providing you with quality service.
Everyone is attacking the insurance companies and rightfully so. They have been asking for it every time they come up with another excuse to deny someone the care they need. They’ve become the evil in the industry when they put a policy in place to deny, deny, deny until the people who are entitled finally give up filling out form after form.Of course, the American people are looking to the president to solve the problem. It doesn’t look as if the problem is anywhere close to being solved. In 2008, Obama said that making the American people buy their own insurance is like requiring the homeless to buy homes. In 2010, just two years later, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act he enacted did that very thing and in 2012 it was upheld by the Supreme Court even though it was immediately challenged by a majority of the States in the U.S.In all of this turmoil, I don’t hear too many people complaining about the cost of health care itself. I’m not saying I don’t hear people complaining at all. I’m saying that the squeaky wheel gets the attention and the squeaky wheel in all this is the complaint about insurance companies and what the president can do. Health care costs itself could use a little more attention.When a visit to the ER for a broken wrist costs a thousand dollars, I think we’re talking about a health care system that is literally running away itself unchecked. Walk into a hospital and look on the wall for a menu, a price list or anything that other businesses are required to provide. You won’t walk into a restaurant and order before knowing what the cost will be. Why can the hospital get away with it?So, you can’t control the insurance companies and you can’t control the mess the government is making. How about take matters in your own hands and start cutting health care costs yourself? It’s not that hard. All you need to know is that the options are available and be willing to use them.First of all, cut down on the trips you make to the hospital or the doctor’s office. This does not apply to people who have ongoing conditions that require frequent doctor’s office visits. If that doesn’t apply to you, then by all means be your own doctor.If you have a symptom, look it up on the internet. Go to the credible sites that offer solid advice. Webmd is at the top of my list. But, you should also look at a few others. Just like you might get a second or third opinion on serious medical conditions, go to several different sites and make sure they are all giving the same advice. Mayoclinic, Medicinenet and Healthline are some others that have articles written by doctors and you just might find the information you need.Remember though, if you take your health care into your own hands, you are responsible for following the advice the right way and using your own discretion if you happen to have a condition that precludes you from taking said advice. In a legal slap happy world, people love putting blame on others when they really only have themselves to blame. Quit being part of the problem, looking for that easy paycheck, and become part of the solution.Cutting down on hospital or doctor’s office visits also means that you need to stock up on certain supplies and have them in your house or in your car at all times. Make yourself a kit of common medical items that you might possibly need for non-emergency situations. Bandaids, gauze, tape, peroxide, wound cleaners and anything else that you can imagine that will make your kit complete. Make a smaller kit of only the essentials for your pocketbook or book bag.If there is a symptom that doesn’t require emergency attention and you have tried to look it up or you are unsure of what to do, go to a clinic. That’s why they are there. Clinics offer low cost solutions to getting medical advice. But you might get offered a prescription or a treatment that you can’t afford. Don’t hesitate to ask for alternatives. You’d be surprised how effective alternative health care treatments can be.In the case that a trip to the hospital or the doctor’s office is necessary, there are still great ways to cut down on health care costs. The first thing you need to know is that health care does not have to cost as much as it does. Keep in mind that it’s a business. The insurance companies look at it like a business. The doctors and the hospitals run it like a business. So, treat it like a business!If you have to go to the hospital, challenge the bill when you get it. Take it to the business office and negotiate it down. There is a sizable margin of wiggle room and you have every right to ask for it. Most of the time, you’ll get a reduced cost without even an argument. When they do argue, don’t take “no” for an answer. Climb the ladder of supervisors until you get to the decision maker. You will find that behind the closed doors is a much nicer person willing to give you a highly reduced hospital bill.If you require surgery, treatment or any health care that will be set in the future, negotiate the bill upfront. Just like negotiating the hospital bill that you’ve already received, you can negotiate future health care costs as well. Climb the ladder to the decision maker and ask them what they can do for you. If insurance companies can get discounts of up to forty percent, then why shouldn’t you be entitled to the same?Insurance companies aren’t designed with you in mind. They are money-making factories put in place to take your money and hope that they never have to pay. Looking to the government for the solution really isn’t doing anyone any good. When the government is required to find a solution, they have to find one that fits all shapes and sizes for all of its constituents. A task that is nearly impossible.Take matters in your hands when you can and make sure you follow through when you make that decision. You just might live longer anyway. After all, you should be able to figure out what’s best for you and possibly keep yourself out of the hospital or the doctor’s office altogether.