Back in August 2009, I wrote a piece on interpreting body language. Anna Kucirkova has written a very good



Kucirkova says in the opening, “Our bodies can express an array of emotions. How you carry and present yourself physically is just as important (and in some cases, more so) as being well-spoken.

Body language also referred to as nonverbal communication, is how we interact with others without using words.

This interaction can be something as simple as a shift in weight when we’re standing or a more substantial gesture such as burying your face in your hands.

Regardless of the movement, nonverbal communication often conveys far more about your feelings than any words could, filling in the gaps of an individual’s communication style.

It can tell us if someone is a leader or a follower, engaged or disinterested, fearless or afraid, loving or detached.

But how exactly does the body speak?”

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Sea-Level Rise

Sea-Level Rise

Sea-Level Rise

My research led me to look into sea-level rise. I was checking on a city on the east coast close to where hurricane Florence made landfall: Virginia Beach. I learned that the town was unaffected. That’s good news.

Laura Wood Habr, owner of Croc’s Bistro in Virginia Beach writes in the Virginia-Pilot, “Owning a business just a few blocks from the Oceanfront in the ViBe Creative District comes with constant risks and rewards. But the federal government has given up on addressing the biggest environmental threat of our time, putting waterfront communities such as Virginia Beach further in harm’s way.”

Sea-Level Rise

Climate change is driving warmer temperatures, raising sea levels and making extreme weather events more frequent and severe — all of which threaten businesses like mine. Climate change has already raised sea levels on the Virginia coastline by a foot and a half in the past 100 years, and it’s only speeding up.

Another foot higher, and overflow from Little Neck Creek in the Lynnhaven River watershed will begin to separate my business — and everything else east of Cypress Avenue — from the mainland. Five feet higher, and we suddenly will need canoes for our commute to work. Twenty-thousand people in Virginia Beach live below that 5-foot elevation mark — and $5.7 billion worth of property is located there.

I checked to see if the oceans have been rising. According to a good source the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Global sea level has been rising over the past century, and the rate has increased in recent decades. In 2014, global sea level was 2.6 inches above the 1993 average—the highest annual average in the satellite record (1993-present). Sea level continues to rise at a rate of about one-eighth of an inch per year.

Laura Wood Habr worries about a foot increase and what that will do to her business. Most dire climate change predictions focus on 2050, which is 32 years away. If the oceans rise about 1/8 inches a year, by 2050 the oceans will have risen by 4 inches. I don’t think Laura has to worry. How about that foot rise she’s worrying about? That is 96 years from now. Will she even be in business in 96 years?

Humans make one big mistake in looking at trends.

They expect the trend to continue into the future just as it has in the past. That applies to the stock market or real estate. Until 2008, only a few people thought real estate would crash. After all, real estate is a great investment. It never goes down. They aren’t making any more of it.

We learn that the trend is your friend. Tell that to the people involved in the Tulip Mania, or the South Sea Bubble. How about the stock market bubble in 1929.

Don’t get sucked in by the arguments of the climate change warriors. Of course, climate changes. We have periods when there is plenty of rainfall and then we have a drought that lasts as long as the rainy period. The arrival of a drought has killed many ancient civilizations. I suspect we are closer to global cooling than global warming.

Top Books about HR Analytics

The Basic Principles of People Analytics

An ability to understand and anticipate human behavior contributes to the rational use of resources. Such skills open up a huge field of activity for experts. Despite the comparative novelty of the mentioned discipline, the first thematic blocks were laid several decades ago. Below, we present a list of books that will aid both professionals and beginners to better comprehend the basics of management and achieve maximum results.

The Basic Principles of People Analytics

This manual introduces readers to fundamental rules of analysis of human nature. It contains more than 20 illustrative examples, and business cases are directly related to practical application of knowledge on prognostication. Its author, David Green, plunges into the world of relationships through an accessible language and simple concepts.

Doing HR Analytics – A Practitioner’s Handbook with R Examples

This is a real scientific research, including facts, sets of figures and other useful statistics. In fact, the indicated guide tells about how to deal with internal absenteeism, to cut staff painlessly and to motivate wage-earners. Lyndon Sundmark focused his attention on the details, describing practical nuances of personnel supervision. The author dressed own text in an attractive presentation format, which greatly facilitates the audience insight on HR-analytics aspects.

The Power of People: Learn How to Use Successful Organizations

Actually, we deal with a bestseller designed for HR managers and chiefs of any level. If you are planning a business project, first read these books. They will help you not only to cope with enormous energy and potential of workers, but also to get acquainted with innovative ideas in this area. The title is not chosen by chance. The manual is written for people in order to teach them to find a common language with their own kind. Their impressions and experiences are shared by adepts.

Winning on HR Analytics: Leveraging Data for Competitive Advantage

In the current world of global innovation, HR knowledge becomes dominant. It is these skills that facilitate the measurement of a potential of social capital and setting of strategic goals for various devices. Famous global giants like Google, Walmart or American Express have achieved tremendous results due to the correct domestic policy. The authorities of companies highly appreciate the contribution of each laborer to the common cause, which stimulates the staff to produce new ideas. Wise analytics involves verifying the findings, updating research methods and formulating clear hypotheses. This book is invaluable for practitioners seeking to create healthy competition.

The Employee Experience Advantage: How to Win the War for Talent by Giving Employees the Workspaces

Conclusions and recommendations of the mentioned study are based on the outcomes, grounding on more than 100 scientific articles and interviews with successful executives of firms. The authors came to an inference about the existence of three communication levels within any organization, namely: cultural, technological and physical components. Visiting every milieu, you can reach extrapolation of staff‘s experience through the space COOL, technology ACE and culture CELEBRATED. Specialists are given a unique chance to design a future workplace where employees will want to spend as much time as possible.

“The Workplace Is Killing People, and Nobody Cares” by Jeffrey Pfeffer & Dylan Walsh

The authors of this book begin not with a boring preface, but with accusations against employers. The last is that people are forced to die for their wages, working in bad conditions. The human psyche is under the pressure not only of modern fears and depression. Excessive damage is caused by the indifference of companies that are not interested in the excellent arrangement of an office. According to Pfeffer, it is the analyst who is able to shed light on the solution to this issue. Having received the relevant data, you will give an opportunity to make a correct assessment of the production dynamics, team cohesion and a sense of individual satisfaction. It remains only to hope that the sharks of business will find it necessary to listen to Pfeffer’s advice and reduce the harm caused. The main thing is to get it in the nearest store.

“Why HR needs to up its game in strategic people analytics” by Max Blumberg

Max Blumberg is known for his original thoughts and powerful interviews about social capital. Some of his articles have a truly provocative effect. The last work is no exception. On its pages, he states that current managers need to step up to address economic problems. The lack of an adequate response will inflict enormous damage on the company’s laborers. The author practically paints a training course aimed at improving the fundamentals of HR and forecasting in general. Max argues that this is one of the numerous ways to get people to move from concrete projects and operational tasks towards the real impact on business leaders.

“How to start a people analytics project” by Andrew Marritt

This author refers to one of the most astute commentators on technological and human subjects. Already in 2018, Andrew wrote a lot of articles, including the problem of HR analysts. His data are systematized and verified. He describes a number of techniques, such as “5 Whys”, for the timely identification of a “hole” in a business structure. In addition, the author emphasizes the need for its quick resolution, gives recommendations on the development and testing of concepts, suggests new methods of gathering information and criteria for assessing success. In general, you will receive a guidebook for all times, compiled in a simple and understandable language.

“Big Companies Are Embracing Analytics, But Most Still Do not Have a Data-Driven Culture” by Tom Davenport & Randy Bean

According to the Bersin study, more than 60% of large companies have acquired special teams to analyze behavior patterns. Not surprisingly, only understanding their motives receives the key to the progress of any collective action. Important decisions should be made taking into account the received data and internal culture. This article is more relevant than ever, as its authors demonstrate that only one-third of firms have succeeded in switching to a data policy. On the one hand, such conclusion sounds promising, indicating further trends. On the other hand, the figure is appalling as few firms have realized the value of HR analysts.

Thus, your attention was given to the list of books have repeatedly proved their effectiveness, both in providing theoretical information and in testing practical skills. Naturally, it is difficult to call it exhaustive. In fact, every month there are interesting novelties that cause a desire to try the methods they proposed in real life.

Leveraging Commercial Property Investment – Mezzanine Financing

Investing in property is a common way people secure their hard-earned money in a profitable way. Along with having their earnings saved, they also have the opportunity to earn more on it when property rates rise. This is why some investors choose to purchase or put money in commercial property.

But due to the perceived high-risk nature of commercial property, many are skeptical of investing in it when compared to investing in residential projects. The reality is far from this as commercial properties offer significant cash flow benefits, fewer ongoing expenses and a better rent certainty in the longer run.

Leveraging Commercial Property Investment – Mezzanine Financing

If you want to take advantage of these benefits and invest in commercial properties, there are several ways you can secure financing to begin the process. The main thing to understand here is how to leverage your investment and raise debt in a way that your risk is managed practically.

Leveraging is basically the amount of debt borrowed from lenders for a project to strategically increase wealth and improve cash flow. You can receive positive leverage when the cost of the loan is less than the return the commercial property makes. This way the investor adds to their wealth from the debt, making a profit on the overall project specifically when the property appreciates.

To gain this positive leverage the investor needs a well-placed capital at a fixed rate with long –payment terms and equal monthly payments. While these terms might not always be offered, there are several public and private lenders who will agree to negotiations.

But when you are able to receive capital that amortizes at these terms, you will have time to pay off the loan while earning from the property. Your loan and interest will be paid off from these earnings, also maximizing your returns on investment.

While receiving a loan from a bank is the most traditional way to leverage debt, it only covers a part of the total debt you require. Another way investors leverage their investment is by obtaining the ‘middle slice’ of the debt through mezzanine investment. If you don’t know what mezzanine debt financing is, here is a brief explanation:

Mezzanine Debt Financing

Mezzanine debt financing involves an investor receiving additional fixed-rate capital on top of their already secured mortgage to increase the total amount of investment for a commercial property or any other project. Another factor about mezzanine financing is that it is subordinated debt, meaning that the lender agrees to be paid as second priority to the bank.

Companies and investors seek this source of financing to leverage their returns while still raising debt from non-bank lenders through financing agencies such as Stamford Capital. They receive the first part of the investment as a mortgage from a bank, put a portion of money from their own pocket for buyout and receive the other part from mezzanine sourcing. This also helps an investor diversify their equity over multiple projects.

By leveraging your property in the beginning, you ensure that you make a profit on your investment and have the opportunity to work on other projects.

Benefits of Commercial Property Investment Syndicates

Due to the ever increasing price of properties, it is quite hard to purchase a piece of land. Parents and young independent individuals are worried about the high costs of housing, especially in Melbourne and Sydney. They are always on the lookout for solutions that can help them achieve their dream to buy a nice cozy house.

That is why buyers turn towards property investment syndicates. In an investment like a property syndicate, multiple investors pool their cash to buy a commercial property. This collective contribution helps to easily purchase real estate which would be difficult to buy for a single investor. One of Australia’s leading commercial property investment firms is scinvestments.com.au which can properly guide you to manage your investments. Let’s talk about the benefits of syndicated property investment.

Advantages of Syndicated Property Investment

Saving Money

The obvious advantage of such an investment is the amount of cash you save. It’s no secret that to buy a decent property in Australia, you need a lot of money. With the help of syndicates, you can purchase a property and sell it later on when the need arises. The price of properties generally increases with the passing years, so it is a wise investment.

Less Cash Needed for Growth

In case you purchase a property on your own, it would be difficult for you to invest in a new one. You either might need to save up for that huge amount or grow the equity of your current property. You can make smaller and regular investments by investing in syndicates which means that you need less cash for growth.

Different Investment Options

Property investment syndicates can increase your options for purchasing different types of properties. For instance, you have $100,000 in your bank account. You can either use it to buy a small property or invest in syndicates to purchase shares in different properties.

Risk Reduction

Natural disasters can occur at any time at any place. Although, some of them can be predicted it is not possible to forecast an earthquake. If that happens, you might lose your only property. However, you can reduce the risk by buying shares in multiple properties instead of investing in a single one.

Saving Time

When you have multiple investors with you, it is highly likely that you will save a lot of time as you won’t have to go through all the research work prior to purchasing a property. Moreover, you won’t have to deal with agents and other stuff.

Syndicated property investment is one of the forms of fractional investing. You don’t have to spend all of your cash in a single property, but you can get good returns from your different properties. If you don’t have enough cash or want to reduce the risk of losing money, you can invest in syndicates and save your time.

Going Eco-Friendly At Home: Three Ways You Can Get Started Today

Going Eco-Friendly At Home: Three Ways You Can Get Started Today

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) estimates that approximately 84 percent of residences will have sustainable features by 2018. When moving into a new home, one of the things that may spring to mind is the sustainability of your new home. A new place provides new opportunities to outfit your home with eco-friendly features whether they may be in the form of changes or included in the design plan. Building or designing an eco-friendly home is not only good in an environmental sense, but it is also a great financial move. It turns out that making the move towards sustainability could end up being one of the best things you could do for your new home and your bank account. Whether you are just moving into a home or renovating your home to update your style, check out these ways you can make your next home a little bit more efficient (and greener).

Invest in Insulation

One of the largest users of energy in your home is your heating appliances, particularly in larger or older homes. The Insulation Institute estimates that approximately 90 percent of homes in the U.S. are under insulated. During the winter months and cold spells, it is important that your heating system is capable of keeping your home warm. It is also one of the areas you can make the largest change in your energy usage and is a great tip when going green in your house. Making the investment into insulation in your new home when moving in can save you up to 80 percent in energy costs annually. Good insulation means your home will be able to hold the heat in longer, reducing the heating costs.

Begin by inspecting your home including your attic. Using the recommended guidelines from the Department of Energy, assess whether your home including its walls and roof are insulated to the correct levels and with the correct fibers. If in doubt ask your agent to arrange an inspection, and you can also ask the previous owners about the current insulation. Finally, don’t forget to insulate pipes and any fixtures. The use of an insulation blanket can reduce your heating loss by 25-40 percent each year.

Recycle & Reuse A Normality

One of the best habits to adopt when going green at home is to recycle and reuse. This habit can extend to many instances in your home. It may not be a practice previous owners followed, but it is a simple one to get started. If your new place comes with a garden, consider installing a greywater system which utilizes used water from your shower and other parts of your home and funnels it to water your plants afterward. For your fruits and vegetable, contemplate having or building a home compost. Using kitchen scraps or those vegetables that have gone bad to build a compost rich in nutrients you can then use in your garden.

Invest in Upgrades

Choosing to invest in energy efficient appliances when moving into your new home can save you up to 40 percent on your electric usage. Many appliances in the home that are used daily including washing machines and dishwashers are significant determinants of your water and electricity usage. However, due to the recent rise in support for sustainability, there is now a magnitude of energy star appliances available. It is important to take note of any installed appliances when preparing to move in and swapping them for a more energy efficient model before moving in. While some of the more efficient models may be more costly than the standard model, the savings they provide over their lifetime easily outstrips the extra cost paid. If you are after cheaper and simpler upgrades, then consider switching your shower heads to a low flow head. Within four months, they would have repaid their cost and reduces both your water and electricity usage.

More importantly, the secret to making your home eco-friendly lies in understanding your home and your lifestyle. Simply put, it is about becoming smarter in your usage in resources. You can choose to do a large overhaul and invest into it, or you can take smaller, simpler steps towards sustainability at home. Whatever your approach, it makes a difference so why not get started today?

Jenny Holt jennyholtwriter@gmail.com

Photo by Volha Flaxeco on Unsplash

Battling Stress when Moving to a New Country like Mexico


Battling Stress when Moving to a New Country like Mexico

The U.S. Department calculates that there are around nine million Americans living abroad, a significant increase from just four million in 1999. Meanwhile, a recent survey by money transfer company, TransferWise, stated that 35% of Americans said they would consider leaving the U.S., for three main reasons: better quality of life, a lower cost of living, and the chance to gain new experiences. Moving is seen by many as an opportunity to attain a more affordable education, lower taxes, and more affordable health care, but what many don’t realize is that a move can be a stressful life experience – and could potentially cost more than they had originally budgeted for.

Why is Moving so Stressful?

Moving to a new country is a source of stress for many reasons. It involves building brand new social networks and researching everything from healthcare to schools for children, neighborhoods, customs and etiquette, and the like. Moving to a country like Mexico may also necessitate learning a new language – which can be as entertaining as it is stressful if you aren’t learning at the pace you hoped. The practical aspects of a move can also cause anxiety. For instance, you may wonder whether or not to move your furniture or simply buy new items in Mexico. Moving with family pets and little children may also add extra stress into the equation, since you may need to take special precautions or measures to ensure all goes smoothly.

Facing Financial Stressors

The cost of living is considerably lower in Mexico, which is great news for your finances long-term. However, immigration costs alone will set you back around $1,500. As far as moving is concerned, there are firms which specialize in moving appliances and furniture to Mexico though you will need to set aside around $5,000 for this service. Stressors go beyond the actual cost of moving and extend the need to possibly sell property, cancel insurance plans, and the like. Take your time and make financial decisions slowly. Conduct all the research you need to, seek advice from a trusted financial advisor, and carefully weigh up all the pros and cons of moving.

Reducing Health Stressors

If you have either a temporary or permanent residence in Mexico, you can apply for the Mexican public healthcare system (the Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social or IMSS), but you will still need to ensure you are covered or be prepared to pay out-of-pocket for necessary services such as dental care, preventive care, and maternity care. The good news is that dentistry costs significantly less than in the U.S., which is one of the reasons why many Americans travel south of the border. Even if you are enrolled in the public healthcare system, you will still need to pay upfront for services, though you will be reimbursed for up to 80% of what you have paid out. Be aware that your IMSS coverage will need to be renewed annually for a fee of around $400 per year. Also, note that the IMSS does not cover pre-existing conditions. Many expats in Mexico have private insurance despite being enrolled in the IMSS, to reduce waiting periods and to have easier access to specialists. The amount you will have to pay very much depends on your age and health risks. Expect to pay between around $1,500 and $20,000. Before making a decision, obtain quotes from various insurance companies, to ensure you obtain as wide a coverage as possible for your dollar.

Building New Social Networks

Once financial and practical considerations are underway and you have arrived in Mexico, find local expat groups in your local area. Those who have moved before you will give you all the vital information you need, including information on interesting areas to live in, schools, sports installations for adults and kids, etc. Expats will also provide an opportunity for new friendships that will undoubtedly prove to be a vital source of support when you most miss home.

Fighting Stress Proactively

There are many steps you can take from a health stance to reduce stress. A sound Mediterranean-style diet comprising healthy proteins, Omega-3 fats, seasonal produce, and nuts, will go a long way towards keeping your immune system in good working order. Exercise is also key, with a bevy of studies showing the important role it plays in stress reduction. Finally, holistic activities such as yoga and meditation have been found to reduce (stress hormone) cortisol levels in a host of studies.
Any big move is exciting yet stressful all at once. Once research is conducted, and financial decisions are made, it is vital to make  stress reduction a priority. Sleep well, exercise regularly and take part in holistic, mindfulness-based practices to improve mood and vitality and to keep illness at bay. Finally, try to be sociable and meet other expats, whose knowledge and experience will be invaluable when it comes to setting you on the right path.

Jenny Holt <jennyholtwriter@gmail.com>

Why No Credit Check Payday Loans Are Popular

One of the best features about payday loans is that they are no credit check payday loans.  This opens up borrowing cash to just about anyone, regardless of past credit history.  It is a good option for those who have had previous credit problems or who have a poor credit history.  It is necessary for most people who want to get payday loans to have an active bank account, show proof of regular income, and be an adult. 

The payday loan industry is not regulated by the government in the same manner as regular financial institutions like banks or credit unions.  They can charge extremely high interest rates, virtually whatever they want to charge.  This does not matter to someone who needs money fast for an emergency medical bill or car repair.  On a typical loan until a next payday, the interest fee runs between 15% and 25% on average for a cash advance payday loan. Looked at on an annual basis, this could be in the hundreds to thousands of percent for the loan. 

There is no credit check, but the payday loan industry does have their industry check system.  If you have previously defaulted on a payday loan, you most likely will be denied another.  At some lenders, if you had to make a payment plan to settle out and pay off a previous payday loan, they keep records and will not extend you another loan.  This makes sense because the types of loans they make are high-risk loans that are taken out by people who have a history of not making payments.  For the higher risk they take, payday loan businesses charge very high interest rates. 

This industry is obviously thriving and popular; there are payday loan stores everywhere around the country.  Millions of no credit check payday loans are made each day, 24/7, including over the Internet.  Many who use payday loans find that they must continue to use payday loans every month.  A poor money manager, someone who is experiencing a work shortage, or those who cannot budget or pay bills in a timely manner continue the bad habit of taking out repeat loans again and again.  This can be a difficult trap to get out of, and for this reason the government has placed some limitations on the number of concurrent payday loans people may take out in some states. 

No credit check payday loans do serve a welcome purpose to many borrowers.  It is a money maker that is backed by some of the same financial institutions who are unable to charge high interest fees for the loans they make in their regular banks or credit unions.  Those who use this service enjoy having it available, especially in an emergency.  There are positives and negatives to no credit check payday loans; the borrower must decide if the fees are worth the expense.  The other option for those borrowers is to either locate additional income to pay their bills, learn to manage their money better, or to find loans at a better rate. 

Fast Personal Loan


Millions of people every day are getting a fast personal loan. Local payday lender stores and online cash advance websites offer this type of loan at reasonable prices. Most begin at $100 and loans are as high as $1500. A fast personal loan is also known as a payday loan, a cash advance loan, quick cash loan, no fax loan, overnight loan, bad credit loans, and several other terms.


All refer to a small, short-term loan for a small amount of cash. The borrower has a short time until repayment is due, usually at their next pay date. 
Banks, credit unions, and other larger financial institutions do not, or cannot, make small loans under about $500, because they are unable to turn a profit. The government restricts the amount of interest they can charge to around 36%. The payday and cash advance lenders have no restrictions. A common beginning interest rate for these lenders is around 456% and can go over 2000%. While this sounds sky-high, the actual fee is just $15 to $25 for every $100 that is borrowed. On a small $100 loan, this is much less than a fee a bank would charge for an overdrawn check. If you are in danger of a check bouncing, getting a small payday loan can save you some money. 


Many short-term lenders will begin with a small fast personal loan limit, such as $100 to $300, based on the borrower’s income level. Monthly income requirements are around $1000 per month, varying with each lender. Active members of the military are prohibited from taking out payday loans. Having a job with adequate income, or some other source of regular income is mandatory. 


The lenders use the banking system for their backup. At a land-based store, you will be asked to write out a check for your loan amount plus fee, and leave it with them. When you return to pay your loan in cash, they return your check. If you want them to shred the check, just ask. If you decide to use an online payday lender for your fast personal loan, you will approve an ACH withdrawal, which means they will automatically take the repayment amount directly out of your bank account on the due date. 

These loans are true loans, with no collateral. There is no need to fax information to the online lenders in most situations. No credit history is required, there is no reporting of your activity to credit bureaus, and no one checks your credit. Your loan is backed by your check, or the ACH withdrawal approval. If you default on your loan, it will be treated just like a bad check. This will also probably prevent you from getting any future loans. 

The fast personal loan is a financial convenience, and you can use the money for anything you wish. Some online loans are processed and delivered within one hour. At a loan store, you walk out with cash immediately. No questions are asked about why you need money, or what you will do with the loan. The loan process is short and fast, and approvals come in minutes.
Online lenders direct deposit the loan money in an hour, to same or next day. Usually, the states limit you to having just two of these loans active at any one time. The short-term loan is great for emergencies, unexpected bills, repair work, travel, or just for fun. A fast personal loan is not, however, meant to become a lifestyle or source of income. 

The steps in preparing a budget

A budget is a financial blueprint for achieving business goals. Your unit’s budget is part of the company’s overall strategy, so you need to understand the company’s strategy in order to create a useful budget. There are several steps you can take to increase your strategic understanding: The audience, not the presenter, is the heart of any presentation. To figure out what makes it tick, answer these questions:

• Pay attention to communications from senior management. Most companies try to communicate at least the basics of their strategy to the entire organization.

• Watch the overall economic picture. A company’s strategy during a recession will differ from its strategy in a booming economy. Listen to your manager’s and colleagues’ views on sales and the economy, and make your own observations as well. Are you deluged by résumés, or is good help hard to find? Are prices rising or falling?

• Stay on top of industry trends. Even when the economy is booming, some sectors may be in trouble. Your budget should reflect realities in your own industry.

• Steep yourself in company values. Every company has values, sometimes formalized and sometimes just “the way we do things around here.” Savvy managers factor those values into their decisions. Say your budget calls for layoffs. If the company views layoffs as counterproductive, your proposal will be dead on arrival.

• Conduct SWOT analyses. What are your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? Keep them in mind as you build your budget. All these techniques should help you understand the context in which you’ll develop your budget.

Top-down versus bottom-up budgeting

In top-down budgeting, senior management sets specific goals for such items as net income, profit margins, and expenses. Each department may be told, for example, to limit expense increases to 6% above the previous year’s levels. As you prepare your budget, observe such parameters and look at the company’s overall plans for sales and marketing and for costs and expenses. Those objectives provide the framework within which you must operate. For instance, many companies strive to improve profitability every year by reducing expenses as a percentage of revenue.

In bottom-up budgeting, managers aren’t given specific targets. Instead, they put together budgets that they feel will meet the strategic needs and goals of their respective departments. These budgets are “rolled up” into an overall company budget. The company budget is then adjusted, with requests for changes sent back down to individual departments. This process can go through multiple iterations. Often it means working closely with departments that may be competing against yours for limited resources. It’s good to be as cooperative as you can during this process, but don’t hesitate to lobby aggressively for your own unit’s needs.

Getting started

Budgets should be ambitious but realistic. Don’t map out a budget that you can’t meet?—?but don’t underestimate the possibilities. Here’s how to begin. First, list three to five goals that you hope to achieve during the period for which you are budgeting.

For example:

• Increase gross sales by 5%.

• Decrease administrative costs as a percentage of revenue by 3 points.

• Reduce inventories by 2% by the end of the fiscal year.

Make sure those goals line up with the organization’s strategic priorities. Next, figure out how you’ll achieve them. (Remember that a budget is just a plan with numbers.) How can you generate more revenue? Will you need more sales representatives? Where can you cut costs or reduce inventories? The smaller the unit you’re focusing on, the more detail you need.

If you’re creating a budget for a 12- person sales office, you typically won’t have to worry about capital expenditures such as major upgrades to the building. But you should include detailed estimates for travel costs, telephones and utilities, and office supplies. As you move up in the organization, the scope of your budget will broaden.

You can assume that the head of the 12-person office has thought about printer cartridges and gasoline for the sales reps’ cars. Your job now is to look at big-picture items such as computer systems and to determine how all the smaller-scale budgets fit together. Other issues to consider when you’re preparing a budget:

• Term. Is the budget just for this year, or is it for the next five years? Most budgets apply only to the upcoming year and are reviewed every month or every quarter.

• Assumptions. At its simplest, a budget creates projections by adding assumptions to current data. Look hard at the assumptions you’re making. Let’s suppose you think sales will rise by 10% in the coming year if you add two more people to your unit.

Explain what you’re basing that assumption on, and show a clear connection to at least one strategic goal (in this case, it’s probably to increase sales by a certain percentage).

Role-playing may help you here. Put yourself in the position of a division manager with limited resources and many requests for funding: Under those circumstances, what would persuade you to grant a request for two additional staff members


As you put your budget into the required format, document your assumptions. It’s easy to lose track of them during the budgeting process, and you’ll need to explain them?—?and revise them. Don’t look only at specific revenue or cost line items, because revenue and costs are closely linked. Instead, ask yourself what the budget shows about last year’s operations. As the table shows, the Standard Upright and the Moose Antler Standard exceeded sales expectations in 2013.

Perhaps it would make sense to increase your sales projections for those products, particularly if your sales reps are optimistic about the prospects for more sales. The Standard Upright might be a particularly good choice since it beat its 2013 projection by 9%.

Could you increase the anticipated sales for this model by 5% or 10% in 2014? How much more would you have to spend on sales or marketing to achieve this increase? To make the decision, you’ll need as much data as you can get about pricing, competitors, new sales channels, and other relevant issues. Alternatively, you might plan to eliminate some products.

The Electro-Revolving model, for example, is faring poorly. Would it be better to cut

this line and promote the newer Hall/Wall model? That would eliminate $81,250 in sales, but the Electro-Revolving is expensive to produce, so discontinuation might not have much impact on the bottom line. Other questions to ask yourself:

• Will you keep prices the same, lower them, or raise them? A price increase of 3% might offset the budget’s 2013 sales shortfall, provided that it doesn’t dampen demand.

• Do you plan to enter new markets, target new customers, or use new sales strategies? How much additional revenue do you expect these efforts to bring in? How much will these initiatives cost? • Will your cost of goods change? For example, perhaps you plan to cut down on temporary help and add full-time employees in the plant. Or perhaps you hope to reduce wage costs through automation. If so, how much will it cost to automate?

• Are your suppliers likely to raise or lower prices? Are you planning to switch to lowercost suppliers? Will quality suffer as a result? If so, how much will that affect your sales?

• Do you need to enhance your product to keep your current customers? • Does your staff need further training? • Are you planning to pursue other special projects or initiatives? Articulating your answers to questions like these ensures that your assumptions won’t go unexamined.

It will help you create budget numbers that are as realistic as possible.

Calculating Return on Investment

Imagine that Amalgamated Hat Rack is considering two investment options: buying a new piece of machinery and creating a new product line.

The new machine is a plastic extruder with a price tag of $100,000. Amalgamated hopes it will save time and money over the long term, and that it will be safer than the current equipment. The second possibility, launching a line of coatracks, will require a $250,000 investment in design, production equipment, and marketing.

How will Amalgamated decide whether these options make economic sense? And if it can afford only one of them, how will it decide which to choose?

By figuring out the return on investment, or ROI. This means evaluating how much money the investment will generate compared with its cost. Before you begin any ROI analysis, it’s important to understand the costs and benefits of the status quo. You want to weigh the relative merits of each investment against the consequences, if any, of not proceeding with it.

Don’t assume that the costs of doing nothing are always high. Even if the new investment promises a significant benefit, it still carries risk. The short-term cost?—?and the short-term risk?—?of doing nothing is usually close to zero. Of course, the benefits, too, are close to zero.

Costs and benefits

ROI calculations always involve the following steps: 1. Identify all the costs of the new purchase or business opportunity. 2. Estimate the savings to be realized. 3. Estimate how much cash the proposed investment will generate. 4. Map out a time line for expected costs, savings, and cash flows, and use sensitivity analysis to challenge your assumptions. 5. Evaluate the unquantifiable costs and benefits. The first three steps are fairly straightforward in theory, though they may be complicated in practice.

When calculating the costs of an investment, you include up-front costs (the purchase price of a machine, say) and also costs to be incurred in subsequent years (maintenance and upgrades for the new machine). Savings may come from a variety of sources, such as greater throughput per hour, higher quality (and thus less rework), or a decrease in labor requirements. The cash generated typically comes from new sales. If you are calculating the ROI of a marketing campaign, for instance, you will need to estimate the campaign’s effect on the company’s revenue.

It can be tricky to create a time line for your costs, savings, and increased cash flow, so you may want to turn to your finance department for help with this. Step five is really just a check on the other four: Which costs or benefits can’t you quantify, and how will they affect your decision? For example, would a particular investment help or harm your company’s reputation in the community or with prospective employees?

Once you have completed these steps, you are ready to use one or more of the analytical tools described in this chapter: payback period, net present value, internal rate of return, break-even analysis, or sensitivity analysis. We’ll look at the strengths and weaknesses of each tool to give you a basic understanding. But you may want a colleague from the finance department to assist with the calculations.

You Are Moving – But Can You Bring The Pool?

You Are Moving - But Can You Bring The Pool?

You Are Moving – But Can You Bring The Pool?

Depending on where you live, a swimming pool can be a necessity, not a luxury, but that doesn’t mean they won’t eat up your cash. Swimming pools cost $21,000 on average, according to Fixr, but don’t necessarily repay the cost. According to Time, it’s likely that in pool-building communities, most other houses will have one too. That means it’s not entirely likely you’ll see a big boost in your home value.

What happens when you move, then? Do you abandon the multiple thousands of dollars you invested in your back garden? Many Americans are looking to be money savvy after purchasing a home, given the squeeze on the cost of living going on right now. Rather than abandoning your pool and losing cash, take it with you.

You Are Moving – But Can You Bring The Pool? Consider the logistical side

Before you look at upending and moving your pool along with your house, consider the area you’re moving to. As reported by City AM, zoning laws can be restrictive and very specific to the area you’re aiming for. It can be difficult and time-consuming to obtain planning permissions that runs counter to local government aims, so be wary of any regulatory barriers. Before shifting your pool, think about improvements you make, too. Pools are generally a challenge in environmental terms – consider adapting your swimming bath to make it geared towards the future. Many of the improvements that ‘going green’  bring also bring money back into your pocket, particularly where water is concerned – up to .25 of an inch of water is lost every day that you have to pay to refill.

Tips and tricks for the move itself

When it comes to the moving process, treat your pool like furniture. Take photographs to ensure you know the layout, and if required create instructions. That way you will know exactly where each brick, tile and railing nut should lie. Be wary of damaging materials – pool maintenance is expensive without the cost of damaged materials such as a torn pool lining. While lining changes are one of the most common repair types, according to HomeAdvisor, pool lining can cost up to $1,700 for full replacement.

Moving an entire swimming pool sounds unfeasible – perhaps akin to moving an entire house. However, you may make a wise financial decision by moving a pool, given the high cost of building a pool and the fact it might not have that much impact on house prices. With careful planning and execution, it’s absolutely doable, and you might find ways to save money along the way.


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