July 16, 2012

Recently I was at a women’s networking event and I overheard a few women say how glad they were to have switched their 401k investments to cash because they couldn’t bear to lose any more money due to the recent market volatility. These women were still in their 30′s or 40’s, with retirement a good 20 years plus away. Unfortunately for these ladies, having long term retirement money in cash is actually not the best idea, even with all the recent market volatility.  It got me thinking, is this how most people invest their assets for the long run?  By timing the market and trying to figure out the best time to sell out and switch to cash?

Market volatility is a normal occurrence when investing in the stock market, yet as much as you know it to be true, it can be tough to handle when it’s your own money at stake.  Famous business tycoon (and billionaire) Warren Buffet says it best, “It won’t be the economy that will do in investors; it will be investors themselves.”  History shows that markets go up and down, but you shouldn’t react to short term fluctuation, even the huge dips.  I know you are thinking, “I’m still not ready to play fast and loose with my hard earned money!” However, historically the markets tend to rebound and reward those investors who stick it out and stay the course.  And while no investment strategy ensures a profit, it’s good to keep in mind some helpful tips when investing for the long term.

Tip 1- Diversify, diversify, diversify.

Diversification is one of the key ways to handle market volatility.  That’s because different asset classes (i.e. stocks, bonds, cash, real estate) often perform differently from one another, so spreading out your money between them all can potentially help reduce your overall risk.  If one of your investments declines, another may perform well, balancing out your overall portfolio risk.  Although diversification cannot eliminate total market risk, it helps smooth out the ride.

Tip 2- Don’t let your emotions get in the way.

This tip is easier said than done.  Usually people react to market volatility by making emotional decisions; however, our emotions usually lead to irrational and impulsive decision making that can potentially compromise the long term performance of your investments.  Uh oh. People tend to buy high and sell low (which is the exact opposite of what you want to do) because their emotions get in the way.  Keep in mind that the media also loves to invoke fear and anxiety in its audience.  It’s no secret that they tend to spin stories to get the best possible headlines.  They have their best interests in mind; not yours

Before you decide to react to the market volatility, take a minute to review your financial plan and goals.  If your goals have changed you may need to tweak your investment strategy. But if your financial situation is the same and your goals are the same, then you need to stay the course and ride the waves. Be strong!

Tip 3- Market timing doesn’t work.

During volatile markets you will be tempted to pull all your money out of the stock market and invest in lower risk investments, such as cash. Don’t do it! You have to remember those less volatile investments also have less return over time.  They may seem like the better option when your investments are in the negative territory, but remember, it is taking on the negative returns that allows for a higher average return potential over time.  Basically, more risk = more return potential.  If investors were not rewarded for the extra risk they took on by not knowing what their return is going to be in any given year, then no one would invest in the stock market.  Investors who stay the course have been historically rewarded for their patience, but many people, including the women I mentioned in the first paragraph, think they can shift their investments to and from stocks to cash, thereby avoiding market downturns.  By trying to time the market like that, they often miss the market’s best returns. If timing the market were possible, every investor would be rich. Guessing when to get out and get back into the stock market is a game you don’t want to play.

You can see in the chart below that even missing the top 50 days in the stock market can dramatically affect your overall performance. *Keep in mind, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Tip 4- Focus on dollar cost averaging.

Dollar cost averaging is one of the easiest investment strategies to implement.  It’s simply deciding to invest a specific amount into the market at regular intervals over time.   Most individuals do this within their 401k plans at work.  For example, if you are placing 7% of your salary into your 401k, every month that 7% gets invested regardless of how high or low the stock market is.  Over time dollar cost averaging helps you buy more shares when the stock price is low and less shares when the stock price is high, resulting in a lower average stock price over time. Sweet!

One little note on this tip: dollar cost averaging involves continuous investment in securities regardless of their fluctuation in price.  As an investor you should consider your ability to continue purchasing through fluctuating price levels. Such a plan does not assure a profit and does not protect against loss in declining markets.

Tip 5 – Have faith in the future.  

Nick Murray, one of the financial industry’s premier speakers and the author of eleven books for financial services professionals, makes it pretty simple when he says, “have faith in the future.”  By this he means, when you are investing in the stock market, you have to have faith that even during the hard times, things will get better.  He even created a mantra you can say daily as you grow as an investor: “I don’t know exactly how things will turn out all right; I just know that they will turn out all right.”  I agree with this 100% because at the end of the day, you have to have faith that we will all continue to be resilient and find solutions to our problems, making the future—and our troubled economy-- better.

To recap, here are some common investment “no-no’s” to avoid:

  1. Making investment decisions based on emotions and not on facts.
  2. Choosing investments that are not suited to your goals or personal timing.
  3. Failing to diversify, i.e. putting all your eggs in one basket.
  4. Reacting to short-term events and not to long-term trends.
  5. Trying to time the market.
  6. Buying “hot” investments with no sound basis for your decision.
  7. Allowing fees, expenses, and/or commissions to become the major factors in making an investment decision.
  8. Allowing fear or greed to drive your investment decisions.

Remember to work with your financial professional during these difficult times to ensure your short term and long term investments are in alignment with your financial goals, needs, and risk tolerance.

For further information I invite you to check out my blog www.Financiallywisewomen.com or email directly at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


 

 

Published in Personal Finance
Wednesday, 27 June 2012 21:21

Style | Bedtime Beauty Tips

July 2, 2012

You get up in the morning and proceed to have an hour long prep session before you even start your day. You use enhancers, creams, and miracles on yourself before you feel ready to face the world. But what about when the day is over and you come home? Do you just crash? If your answer is yes then sister, we have a problem. We are all guilty of it; even me, I confess. But we can’t neglect ourselves at night and then look for a quick fix to combat our laziness (yes, I said laziness). I have learned that if I spend a little extra time simply practicing some self-love with my pre-bed beauty regimen, then I really have little need for extra products. Here are a few beauty tips for right before bed; I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me.

Bedtime Beauty Tip No. 1: Always wash up.

I’m guilty of skipping this step -- and I’ve got to stop! Sweat, dirt, makeup, the day’s grime … all of that sits on our face at night, clogging our pores and aging our skin. So use a gentle facial cleanser and lukewarm water before going to bed, and follow up with a mild toner. And the last and most important step, don’t forget to moisturize your body and skin before bed. (I will too. Pinky promise.)

Bedtime Beauty Tip No. 2: Never sleep with your hair in a ponytail.

No matter how exhausted you are, it’s important not to leave your hair elastics in, because they can cause breakage. If you want to avoid morning tangles, try sleeping on a satin pillowcase. It’s easier on both your hair and your face.

Bedtime Beauty Tip No. 3: Brush and floss every night.

If you skip the dental care at night, you’re not just in for a huge lecture at your next dental cleaning; you might actually be making yourself look older too. Brushing removes stains between and around your teeth, and for healthy gums you’ve got to floss too. Poor gum care can cause your gums to recede, making your teeth look longer -- and you older!

Bedtime Beauty Tip No. 4: Let your feet breathe.

Keeping your feet in socks may keep them feeling toasty, but it also creates a moist environment where foot fungus can breed. Yikes!

Bedtime Beauty Tip No. 5: Keep a glass of water by your bedside. Not only will this help if you wake up in the middle of the night dying of thirst, but also you are supposed to have a glass of water pre-breakfast to dull hunger and rehydrate. Remember, glowing skin comes from water.

Bedtime Beauty Tip No. 6: Don’t eat right before bed.

It is so important to eat within a reasonable time of your bedtime. When you eat right before bed, you don’t have a chance to burn off the calories. Certain foods and eating too much right before bed can lead to a restless night of sleep.

Bedtime Beauty Tip No. 7: Get your beauty sleep. 

I know you really want to stay up late to watch your favorite show, talk on the phone, or peruse the internet, but beauty sleep is no myth. Your skin needs time to heal and restore. Plus, who wants under eye bags? 

I hope you use these tips to re-energize your bedtime regimen. Instead of just crashing and waking up looking like a wreck, put in a little extra effort at the end of the day and stay looking young and healthy. Sweet dreams! 





Published in Beauty
Saturday, 02 June 2012 16:54

Lifestyle | Beach Basket Essentials

June 4, 2012

In 2004, I left my hometown in Ohio for California. When I arrived to UC Berkeley for school, I always found myself daydreaming about leaving class and heading directly for the beach. Unfortunately, I was in for a rude, cold awakening... San Francisco, while beautiful, isn’t exactly the epitome of “Sunny California.”. So once I moved to Los Angeles, I vowed to make it to the beach whenever possible.

Some Californians may take it for granted, but I always find a reason to sit on the sand in the sun. My list of beach activities includes running, yoga, stretching, reading, writing, lounging… basically, I use any excuse I can to fit the beach into my schedule. Given that I’m a certified beach worshiper, I’ve become a pro at packing my beach bag. Here are some essentials for a fun, safe and productive time by the surf.

Eat
Frozen Grapes: You know how tasty grapes are normally? Well, just multiply that by a million. Basically, you’ll have a delicious mini Popsicle. And, as an added bonus, you’ll have regular grapes when they defrost.
Buffalo Jerky: Do yourself a favor. Head to Trader Joe’s and grab some buffalo jerky. A hamburger virgin, this is the only red meat I eat, and it’s delicious. Plus, buffalo provides a leaner source of protein than beef. Have some protein, stay full longer and you won’t have to leave the beach early for a snack.
Pellegrino Sparkling Water: If you’re going to be at the beach all day, you need to stay hydrated. We all know that regular H20 can become boring. Jazz it up with some bubbles. Maybe even pick a flavor like lemon or lime.
Trader Joe’s Pretzel Crisp: Be careful, these are addicting! Tasty but light, you’ll love to relax and munch all afternoon.
Mimosas: If drinking is allowed at your beach destination, toss a mini bottle or two of champagne in your bag  -- you can usually buy these at a local grocery store -- and add Simply Orange to make mimosas. But be sure to stay hydrated with your Pellegrino!

Play
Volleyball: OK, maybe your beach bag isn’t that big, but carry this along, especially if you’re going to the beach with friends. Every time I go to the beach I either spot an open court or am invited to join a game. It’s always best to be prepared!

Vibram Five Fingers Running Shoes: I’m a big runner. Some people use these shoes on concrete; I’m not quite in support of that. However, they’re great for running in the sand.
Portable Speakers:
Who doesn’t want to listen to Spotify while you chill on the beach? I prefer ECO Extreme iPhone Case/Speakers. Now, maybe this case is too intense for you. I’ve destroyed seven iPhones, so it’s important for me to have a waterproof case. There are plenty of other options, but the key is to make sure that you can jam.
As an added bonus, since you’ve brought along your iPhone, you can check out Made Woman Magazine in your downtime!

Live
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick SPF 15: Keep your lips soft and protected. This stick is a little pricey for a balm, so if you want to spend a little less, I suggest Burt’s Bees Lip Balm SPF 8.
The Ultimate Beach Towel: Bringing a beach towel is a given. Now, I don’t actually own an Ultimate Beach Towel, but I’ve had my eye on it for a while. What’s awesome is that this towel has a pocket. I figure I can hide my wallet inside while I head to the water. When it gets really hot, no friend wants to babysit phones and cameras while everyone else goes for swim.

Beach days are great, but don’t get caught out there without the essentials. And please make sure you are suited up! [Link to swim suit article] Of course, these suggestions are tailored to my beach needs. So, sound off! What else would you throw in your bag?


Published in Lifestyle

June 4, 2012

The word bootcamp incites dread or, even fear, in some people. Other people won’t workout unless in a bootcamp class. I’m here to tell you about a new way to bootcamp. It’s easy on your joints, makes you sweat hard but you won’t even know it, and can take your fitness training to a whole new level. Sounds unreal doesn’t it? No, it’s not mythical. It’s Bootcamp H2O, and it ain’t like your gram-mama’s water aerobics class.

In addition to water resistance devices that are handheld and strapped around your ankles, expect to use resistance bands, dumbbells, and medicine balls, that are typically found on dry-land bootcamp classes. Some of the exercise include drills reminiscent of Navy Seals, water polo, and competitive swim team exercises. Because the workout is done in water, you’ll be able to do far more squat jumps, lunges, and high intensity cardio intervals without your joints feeling like you switched bodies with granny. So, this is a great alternative for those of you who might want an intense workout but have nagging knee, back, or hip pain.

A workout like this, in addition to working you hard without being hard on your hips, knees, and back, will have you burning anywhere between 400-700 calories per hour! You’ll burn fat and sculpt muscles you didn’t know you had. And you do one thing that no other land workout will ever do for you—increase lung volume. Depending on how hard you work, you will have the potential to increase how much oxygen your lungs can hold. Water workouts are the only forms of exercise, scientifically proven to improve your lung capacity (however, this is a temporary improvement; it goes back to “normal” once you discontinue your training.)

Are you convinced yet that this workout is phenomenal? This water workout will kick you booty just as hard if not harder than any land workout without making you feel like you got hit by a train. If you’re worried about your delicate joints doing what sounds like unnatural movements, don’t—this workout was developed by a physical therapist and an expert swim coach and are offered at different levels. There is one prerequisite, however. You must know how to swim. Oh, and that you have to be in the Los Angeles area—go to www.bootcamph2o.com for the class nearest you. (If you’re not ready for the water, check out my other article that will help you pick out the best bootcamp class for you)

If you have that covered, grab a $3 swim cap, goggles, bathing suit, and a towel, and get ready to get wet and then get in beach body shape.

Published in Health
Saturday, 02 June 2012 16:45

Job Hunting | Post-Grad Job Search

June 4, 2012 

Congratulations Graduate! Your hard work over the past 4 (or 5 or 6!) years has paid off and you’ve graduated. You’ve probably been celebrating non-stop for weeks and you deserve it. But now that all of the graduation festivities are over, and you’re actually face to face with the real world reality sets in:  And that means it’s time to find a job. Oh, joy. Let’s look at the tough news first: although things are turning around, it’s still a hard job market and 1 out of 2 college graduates will either be unemployed or underemployed.   Now the good news: there are several ways for you to stand out from the crowd to make sure you’re able to snag the job of your dreams.

1.    Get Clear

I graduated from college with a glossy new degree in Communications… and no idea what I wanted to do with it. I ended up taking the first job that came my way and spent several years trying to figure out what I really enjoyed doing. It would have been much easier to get clear on what I loved doing first and then go out and look for jobs that fit the criteria after. Got to love hindsight, right?

Begin thinking about what you enjoy doing. Which courses did you particularly like and what organizations did you love being a part of.  While you’re at it, get a good sense of your deal breakers. For example, if you know you hate working with numbers, that accounting job may not be for you. Lastly, think about your strengths. What are some things you’re super awesome at and what types of jobs would allow you to showcase your awesomeness on a day-to-day basis.

2.    Get Social

I would venture to say that one of the most important aspects of the job search is networking – both online and offline. Hiring managers are people. And people are more keen on giving opportunities to people they know, like and trust. Begin by working your current network. Hey, what are friends for? Let everyone in your circle know that you’re looking for a job and more importantly what type of job you’re looking for. Reach out to your alumni group to get on their list of upcoming networking events. Research your desired industry so that you can attend industry specific events. Networking is nothing without proper follow-up. Make sure to follow-up with everyone you meet within 48 hours so you can continue to nurture that relationship. I see a lot of coffee dates in your future!

3.    Build A Personal Brand

We covered offline networking in the previous point, now let’s focus on building your online network. The best way to set yourself apart from a crowd in today’s job market is to create a killer personal brand.  Create a simple online portfolio to begin showcasing your strengths – create a website using wordpress.com or sign on to about.me. Think of this as an extended resume where you can include more information on why you would be an excellent candidate for a job in your industry.

Start using social media tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with individuals and companies in your desired industry.  With these tools, you can connect with the movers and shakers in your desired field as well as begin sharing pertinent information to further showcase your skills. Show future employers exactly why you’d be the perfect addition to their team.

4.    Do Your Research

Repeat after me: No More Generic Cover Letters. Do not even think about copying a cover letter template and simply changing the company name. Show potential employers that you truly understand their company and department by conducting thorough research before submitting your resume and cover letter. Use the cover letter to truly convey how much you would like to work for their company and why they would be foolish to not have you on board. You can also use the cover letter to showcase a little bit of your personality.

5.    Stay Positive

Searching for a job is hard work and it’s easy to become frustrated when things don’t seem to go your way. It’s important to stay positive and keep moving forward towards your goal. Create a structured plan of how you’re going to attack the job search and then work through your plan. Be sure to reward yourself as you hit milestones and keep your positive attitude. You never know when you’re going to meet your future employer and you want to be in a positive, upbeat mood when you do.

The most important part of your job search is being organized and persistent. With the right attitude and these tips you will be off to a great start! Good Luck!

Published in Job Hunting