5 Ways to Better Investing

Being a better investor is a great way to minimize your risk when making investments and to ensure you’re making educated decisions. There are a few ways to become a better investor though and not everyone is cut out for the big leagues. That being said, what are some things you should know to become a better investor? Read on to find out.

# 1 – The first thing you should know about becoming better at investing is that constantly learning more and educating yourself is a fool-proof way of safe guarding yourself from major losses. This not only helps to keep you from making fatal mistakes but it also helps keep you from being taken advantage of by firms or brokers. If you’re brand new to investing it’s a good idea to read up on material that covers every aspect of investments on a basic level. For more advanced investors find an area where you’re most interested in and start there.

# 2 – Save as much of your money as possible. While this is not direct investment advice it will help to protect you from any major losses and help to cushion any blows you might suffer. Additionally, having the money in a safe spot where it is not dependent upon the stock market or other volatile markets is a great way to stay proactive.

# 3 – Watch out for stocks that can rise and drop suddenly and without very much warning. Going with stocks that have lower risk and long term gains is a great way to minimize your vulnerability with your investing decisions. Generally speaking the less volatile a particular stock is the better off you are in the long run.

# 4 – Try investing in things you have a personal interest in. If you’re into pushing forward green technology or a recent tech start up these might be great things for you to invest in and help support. Doing this not only gives you the peace of mind of knowing you’re supporting a good cause but if you’re truly passionate about it and believe in it there’s a good chance for long term returns.

# 5 – Diversify your investments-always! One of the most important things to do is to diversify as much as possible. In other words, do not put all your eggs in one basket. This will help to keep you protected from any major losses and will also increase performance overall if done properly.

Feature Stories With Heart

Feature stories have heart. Feature stories have warmth. Most of all, feature stories force a writer / reporter to evaluate the human side of a community – beyond the facts, beyond the opinions – to find the spirit of the story.

I have always favored feature stories (or soft news) as a writer because it gives me the chance to get to know people on a higher level than straight news reporting (hard news) does. Beyond that, it also forces me to work as a reporter with feelings – yes, some reporters have actual feelings.

For the past few weeks, I've evaluated a variety of types of college feature stories in preparation for a workshop I'm presenting at the Associated Collegiate Press and College Media Advisers National College Media Convention. After sifting through stacks and stacks of archives of papers, I've come to the conclusion that college newspapers are much more active to seek out the feature elements than mainstream, professional newspapers.

My students (and former students) from The Montage, have compiled heartwarming stories of life and death, fun and frolics, and service and sacrifice. Here are a few examples:

"A Day in the Life of Mary Davis:" As a regular series, my students write personality profiles, covering students, faculty, staff, locals, etc. This particular story highlights an 86-year old student still eager to learn.

"Turning Lead into Gold:" This profile provides an in-depth look at a faculty member's passions.

"Inauguration Road:" Following a road trip to the White House for Barack Obama's engagement, two of my students compiled a piece about a 1st person account of the journey itself.

"What's Brewing in St. Louis:" Beer is a priority for many college students. Recognizing this, my students compiled an in-depth centerspread on St. Louis. Louis' beer culture, including a list of "things" to do with beer.

"The Vertical Expression of a Horizontal Desire:" Fun and frolics come in all shapes and sizes as detailed in this feature about the art of tango music.

This list of stories (found at http://www.meramecmontage.com ) includes a variety of subjects, topics, and angles. Primarily, though, these stories offer readers something "different," something soft – a much-needed break from the heart-wrenching news of reductions, murders, and swine flu statistics. Even more so, they offer reporters (whether student or professional) a chance to explore more than just the facts but rather the fun-loving spirit of life.

I could spend all day listing compelling, heart-warming and entertaining features that have been written by both students and professionals, but I'd rather open my eyes and seek the next big story that could possibly touch someone else's life and in return, touch mine.

Pain Relief – The Real Value of Alternative Medicine for Endometriosis Pain

Over 5 ½ million women in the United and Canada, the pain from endometriosis is all too real. Because the tissue that n lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, these women suffer through many various pain symptoms. Whether they experience excessive bleeding, lower back and abdominal pain, or infertility (inability to become pregnant), most women with this disease seek endometriosis pain relief treatments and products that provide effective pain relief.

Endometriosis pain treatment is available in many forms, such as over-the-counter medication, hormone therapy, and surgical options.

However, for some women, the side effects of these manufactured medicines are not worth the end result. Many women tend to find relief using a more natural method of endometriosis pain treatment.

Natural Endometriosis Pain Treatment Options

Speak to your doctor before you try a natural method of endometriosis pain treatment to make sure what you have is truly endometriosis. If your doctor agrees that a natural method of endometriosis pain treatment is right for you, begin treatment. Some of your alternative endometriosis pain treatment options include:

o Acupressure. Acupressure is a Chinese method of pain relief that relies on pressure to stimulate channels of energy. Acupressure is a successful endometriosis pain treatment for women experiencing painful cramps. Find a doctor who is accredited to practice both conventional medicine and acupressure.

o Acupuncture. Chinese medical practitioners believe that acupuncture is a very effective endometriosis pain treatment. Combined with herbal therapy, acupuncture regulates stagnant blood, which causes much of the inflammation and pain of endometriosis. It will require a few treatments before you experience any material results. If results are not apparent by the 3rd treatment, discontinue or find another practitioner .

o Herbal Medicine. Many believe that specific medicinal plants can heal a patient naturally. For endometriosis pain treatment, herbs are first taken to rebalance the hormone levels in the body. Then, other herbs are used to strengthen the immune system. These herbs will eventually lead to the elimination of the disease. One of the most effective herbal formulated products on the market is a product called Menastil, with its penetration agent derived from the Calendula flower. Menastil is a topically applied, non-addictive, non-narcotic pain relief solution that has proven very effective for endometriosis pain relief.

o Exercise. Do not underestimate the amazing health benefits of exercise. Simple exercises, such as aerobics, walking and swimming, can help prevent cramps, improve circulation, and relax the uterus.

o Aromatherapy. Essential oils, like chamomile, lavender, and jasmine can reduce endometriosis adhesions. These oils along with massage therapy can strengthen the immune system, help with sleep issues, and heal muscles and tissues.

The focus of alternative medicine is to help the body heal itself naturally. Who knows? Alternative medicine used as endometriosis pain treatment may be able to help you cope with your painful symptoms.

For more information about alternative medicine used as endometriosis pain treatment, check out The Institute for Female Alternative Medicine.

What You Need to Know about Vacation Rentals before You Go

That time of the year is finally here. You know what I'm talking about, the one or two weeks you get every year to escape from "real life" and just be you. Relax, eat and drink well, enjoy your family, catch up on some much needed sleep. But, before you pack up and head out, rethink the all-too-normal hotel stay. Believe it or not, you have options, one of which is the vacation rental.

Would not it be nice to leave your own home, arrive in your destination city and settle into a "home away from home" for your next vacation? That's what vacation rentals are all about. These are homes waiting to be rented out by people on vacation. Each vacation rental owner will have different criteria in what type of renter they are looking for, each vacation rental house will vary in amenities, and each price will be dependent on the time of year and the length of stay. So, it sounds like a great idea, but how do you figure out how to make it all happen? Not a problem. Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions regarding vacation rentals. Read on, my friend, your next "home away from home" vacation rental is right around the corner.

Frequently Asked Questions on Vacation Rentals

What are the advantages of a vacation rental?

Do you ever wish your hotel room had just a little more personality? Yeah, I thought so. Well, renting someone else's home for your vacation might just be the thing you're looking for. Usually offering larger living spaces than hotel rooms, these vacation rentals are all about living like you were in your own home. They offer greater privacy than hotel rooms and most rentals have a kitchen area for cooking, which in the end will save you money if you prepare some of your own meals.

You'll enjoy several rooms, and maybe even different levels, instead of one big room where the whole family sleeps. Many owners will leave information on things to do and see in the local area. Vacation rental homes are clean, friendly, comfortable and inviting. This is because many of them are not just rental homes, but also function as the owner's own residence for part of the year.

A majority of vacation rentals tend to be cheaper on a per night basis than their hotel. By renting directly from the owner you will avoid taxes, tips and other external charges. However, there is a wide variation among others based on a number of factors (see How Much Should I Expect to Pay below)

What are the drawbacks of a vacation rental?

Of course, there's always the other side of the coin. As vacation rentals are not usually monitored by a central managing company, you'll only know what you're getting yourself into when you actually arrive to your rental. Many owners require pre-payment, or at least a large deposit fee, before arriving. Therefore, if things are not the way you anticipated after arriving, or if you find your dwelling unacceptable and decide to head to a local hotel, you may lose any money you prepaid. This is also true for last minute cancellations. There is not usually a refund. You always run the risk of getting less than you expected, but, it's rare.

Most times, vacation rentals tend to be cheaper than an average hotel room per night. But, not always, so make sure you are comfortable with the price you will be asked to pay.

Another disadvantage to vacation rentals is the lack of a managing member on site to deal with any problems that you may encounter with the home or during your stay in general. Most owners get around this by having a list of emergency numbers, utility companies and other such items available to the renter should they need anything.

What amenities are included in a vacation rental?

Since every rental is owned by a different owner, each will include different amenities. Some come with swimming pools, hot tubs, others with golf packages, and horse stable privileges. In cities with tourist attractions, some owners include tickets to local attractions.

Most vacation rentals come with the essentials: TV, equipped kitchen, towels, linen, and everyday appliances, but it never hurts to ask these questions when searching for the perfect place. Be sure to understand exactly what you are paying for before sending in the payment.

What types of rentals are available?

Pretty much any type of dwelling that you would want to live in during your vacation is available somewhere. From studios in downtown Manhattan to a villa in the south of Spain, you'll be able to find what you're looking for. The range of available options is mind boggling. Additionally, each week, month and year there are new possibilities as owners put their homes up for only certain weeks or months of the year, the choices are constantly changing.

Are vacation rentals only available in the US?

Vacation rentals are available worldwide. They can be found in every state of the US and almost every country in the world. Do not be fooled by their different names, though. Vacation rentals are also known as holiday cottages, tourist rentals and holiday rentals. If you are looking for one in Europe, the Italians call them agriturismi, while the French say gites. If you are in Germany you will be looking for ferienwohnungen (yep, try to say that three times fast with a bratwurst in your mouth!)

Regardless of what you call it, though, a vacation rental is a great option for those getting ready to take a few weeks off from reality and enjoy the good life a bit.

How do I find a property?

There are several ways to go about finding the perfect vacation rental for your next trip. Check with your local travel agent to find someone in your area that specializes in finding owners and renters and getting them together. Another option is the yellow pages. Finally, there is a wealth of information on the Internet. Type in a search for "vacation rentals" and over 13,300,000 websites can be found just on http://www.google.com alone. Some websites only list vacation rentals in the United States while others specialize in vacation rentals worldwide. There are some sites that will allow the potential renter to look for a residence by specific search criteria such as a particular destination, certain number of bedrooms and types of amenities that are included in the property.

Most of the vacation rental services on the internet are only the "go-between" or the "classified" section of the newspaper. They take no responsibility for the truth or correctness of the ads that are listed on their sites. So, do your homework by making phone calls, speaking with the owner and asking specific questions. Make sure you feel comfortable with the answers, if not, move on to the next rental, there are plenty.

If you're not comfortable with the whole renter / owner thing, there is another way to rent a vacation home. Some companies exist that strictly buy and rent out homes to vacationers. They offer a bit more security so that you feel you are really getting what you bargained for (although nothing is ever 100% fool proof). Additionally, sometimes these agencies will give you cancellation insurance. In other words, if you cancel before arriving, they may be able to refund a portion of your deposit or payment instead of keeping it as most owners do if a cancellation occurs. With some agencies you'll find that you pay a higher price than going directly to an owner. This is how the agencies make their profits. There are always pros and cons to each scenario. Ensure you know which one works best for you.

How much should I expect to pay?

This is a tough question to answer. The amount you pay will depend on what country or state you are visiting, number of days you are staying, and type of house you are renting. Some owners offer package deals including tickets or sightseeing events along with the rental, others include bonus days if you stay for a certain length of time. There are other owners who may offer free or add-on house cleaning service with your stay while some go to great efforts to ensure you have everything you need, even additional items such as a crib, highchair or wheelchair. Each vacation rental will be entirely different from the next. Your best bet after deciding on your destination is to review multiple rentals to determine which is better suited to your needs and overall budget.

Are there any hidden fees?

Hidden fees usually only emerge after you have arrived. These may include extra for phone calls, house cleaning service, extra person fees, excess heat and air-conditioning bills, pet deposit, computer access … etc. Again, be extremely thorough when interviewing the owner of your prospect vacation rental. Ask about any "extra" fees, or if the house is "all-inclusive". Do you have free access to all the pantry and food items? How about the laundry supplies? All utilities? It never hurts to ask!

Vacation Rentals

In summary, cover all bases by asking lots of questions. Getting your agreement in writing is also a very smart idea. After these basics are out of the way you will be ready to take off for your home-away-from-home vacation rental. Try one this year and see for yourself that vacation rentals can be a fantastic means to really getting the full enjoyment out of your next vacation.