Monthly Archives: April 2021

How To Get Out Of A Low Sex Situation

The daily challenges in life, financial pressures, our jobs, taking care of kids, coping with aging parents and the like can take a toll on our desire for sex. This combines with the lack of sexual inventiveness can get us stuck in a sex rut which can hurt our desire. This can work in a vicious circle – low sex frequency leads to decreased sex drive and the depleted sex drive weakens the desire for sex.

How to get out of this situation so that you can have great sex again? Here are the 7 tips to help you to recover your sexual libido.

(1) Thinking about sex

If you hope to increase our interest in sex we have to take some time to flood our minds with sexual thoughts. This involves reliving those great sexual experiences you have with your spouse or to think of some new ways you can try to spice things up. You can also read some great articles or how-to help books or watch some informative videos, which can educate and allow you to know what is needed to improve sex life. The point here is to stimulate your mind in ways to get you into the mood.

(2) Increase your sexual attractiveness through dressing

The way you dress up yourself can play a great part in stoking those feel-good hormones, which can in turn influence your feeling of sexiness. How you look can influence how you feel. A changed outfit, a new fragrance, a makeover or a new hairdo can help to transmit the feeling that you are sexy and desirable. Even though you have grown accustomed to living with your spouse, this should not stop you from injecting some elements of surprise into the relationship, including the way you look.

(3) Communicating with partner

Sharing sexy words can be a great way for a sex-starved couple to reconnect and feel more inclined for romance. These words can be flowery, poetic and romantic like an old love letter or they can be spicy or graphic like a heated novel.

(4) Keep fit

Regular physical activity can boost the feel-good endorphins and can also improve your body image, promote blood flow to the sexual organs, making you feel sexier and giving your libido a healthy boost. In addition, Kegel exercises (done to tighten the pelvic muscles) can work to enhance sexual sensations and help boost desire.

(5) Spending time with each other

Just you and your partner only, separate from kids and work, during which serious topics such as kids and work are not discussed. You can plan a weekly date such as going out for dinner or a walk; but not to the movies or other activities that may not be conducive to talking to each other. If you cannot afford a babysitter, go out on the porch and have a glass of wine together after the kids go to sleep. You can also find some interesting and exciting things to do together such as going for tours, enrolling for some dancing or yoga classes.

(6) Allot some time to do something you enjoy

You can take time for yourself everyday even if this is only 10-15 minutes per day. This can help you to reduce stress and give you more energy for your partner. The more connected to who you are, the less you get lost in the daily grind, which pulls you away from your partner. The more sensual and the more connected you are to yourself, the more available you are for your partner.

(7) Just do it

If you have not had sex for a while, it is likely that your sexual desire will decrease gradually. The best way to overcome this is to have sex even when you are not in the mood at times. If you try to wait for the mood to come, chances are that you will never have sex again. Research has shown that the more we have sex, the more sex we want to have. Connecting sexually promotes the secretion of the attachment hormone, oxytocin, which can increase libido.

What You Really Need to Know About a MPLS Network

MPLS… or Multi-Protocol Label Switching…. seems to be the buzzword for connecting company data networks these days. But MPLS is really nothing new. It’s been around awhile actually. Maybe now it’s just gaining more popularity and thus noticeable public acceptance and notoriety. Rightfully so too. MPLS offers lots of advantages over traditional T1 point-to-point WAN architectures.

But….. to decide if MPLS is really a good fit for your network requirements….. there’s some things you need to understand first.

There’s no one “MPLS Service”. A lot of what you get will depend how the service provider has Engineered and built their core network. Bear in mind that many carriers don’t own the whole network, but will piece together a service from other carriers networks, or will interconnect with other carriers to extend their reach.

Cell-mode MPLS was mentioned: basically this is ATM which has been retro-fitted with MPLS. Be careful with this for VoIP applications because it can use bandwidth very inefficiently.

MPLS can support QoS, but many services aren’t engineered with this, or only with very basic prioritization. Also the services are very often structured to reduce the potential complexity and to ensure the network can cope. Bear in mind a typical MPLS router can only carry a percentage of “high-priority, real time” traffic. If everyone sends all their data as high priority then the benefit is lost, and the network may suffer. Usually QoS is provided as a small number of service classes, typically 3 or 4.

The biggest bottleneck in any such service is normally the tail circuit to each of your premises. If you move from a T1 mesh to a MPLS service then you will likely find that some sites need more bandwidth than others. Tracking the requirement for this bandwidth is usually your problem, although the service provides may give you some reporting tools to assist with this. I would avoid service providers who cannot offer this as it will make it very difficult for you to manage your bandwidths.

If you factor in multiple service classes then your management of these tail circuits gets more complex as you no only have to work out how much bandwidth is required for each tail circuit, but how much of it should be reserved for each service class.

Regarding resilience, within the service providers core, the service is normally highly resilient to failures. However, when failures do occur, very often (depending on how the service is engineered) the rerouting can take a second or two. During this network re-convergence you will lose packets. Depending on the protocol your traffic uses this can be unimportant or devastating. For instance, some VPN and VoIP services don’t survive this well.

Normally resilience is not automatically provided all the way to the customer. Typically you will have one tail circuit and one router at each site. If either fails (or if the Service provider’s PE router has problems) you will lose service to the site, totally.

If this is an issue, you need to factor in dual connections. There’s multiple ways of doing this, and different service providers will offer different options. Make sure you get your Network Engineer involved as the devil is in the detail here, and some options which sound like they provide a fantastic level of resilience may not be as good as they sound, depending on how your internal network is configured.

And, of course, the key to all of this is SLAs: what do they offer? What happens if they break them? How do they report them to you?

Generally speaking, MPLS services are a great way to run a multi-site data network including VoIP services. I have seen many carriers and their customers doing this successfully for years.

Strictly speaking MPLS does not provide QoS. QoS is done by prioritizing traffic, and most IP routers, even those on the backbone of the Internet, can do this. The difference is whether they are configured to do this or not. In an MPLS network MPLS is provided by standard router features. MPLS technology (specifically Traffic Engineering) gives the carrier better control over how this traffic is prioritized and routed (and restored in case of network fault). All this does is give them the confidence to support SLAs.

As I mentioned, “QoS” is provided as a set of “service classes”. Typically these are things like “real-time”, “high-priority” and “everything else”. Mapping actual traffic into these classes can be done in a few different ways, but this is largely up to you to control. For instance, you could quite easily put web-browsing traffic into “real time” although this would normally be a dumb thing to do.

I would suggest the case for MPLS in terms of performance, cost and continuity against ‘traditional’ or ‘legacy’ data networks is now pretty robust, i.e. MPLS provides significant advantages in all 3 areas.

The key considerations when migrating include provider selection, access media (e.g. using Ethernet rather than SDH/SONET), the decision on procuring a managed or unmanaged service (often called wires-only) and the providers ability to map their CoS/QoS to the applications you need to support. This is especially important if you are operating any proprietary applications.

There is also an increasing trend to use WAN Optimization/application management solutions either as a value added service from the provider or from an alternative integrator or indeed doing it in house. This is important say for voice or applications such as CITRIX.

MPLS providers also now offer a whole suite of value added services such as integrated internet, managed network based firewalls and remote user support. If these are important to you make sure the providers demonstrate how this is achieved.

In selecting your provider ensure they have good geographic coverage in your areas and experience within your market segment. I always recommend requesting up to 3 references. Equally I think it is wise to understand how important a client you will be to the provider. It’s all well and good using the market leader (say according to Gartner)….. but you’ll often get a better service from a provider who values and really wants your business.

Need help designing the right MPLS configuration for your network? There’s a ton of resources….. free and fee….. listed and discussed at Broadband Nation.

Multi-Functional PACS Workstations

Digitizing medical imaging has changed the way medical facilities and hospitals function. Gone are the days of having to purchase film and costly developing chemicals for film images. With the advent of the DICOM digital image format, medical imaging was made possible. Today many medical offices utilize the flexibility that comes from PACS workstations and web-based PACS.

Storage of digital medical images is of vital importance, especially in light of medical facilities and hospitals needing to stay within HIPPA compliance. A PACS server helps to make this aspect of medical facility administration easier. A server takes up infinitely less space than hard copy film images do, plus it requires no physical maintenance of records. Everyone authorized to have access to the PACS server can set up their workstations to automatically send digital studies directly to the server, or to an offsite server that can be used for disaster recovery as needed, or copy the digital images to a CD or DVD.

With a web-based PACS, your medical facility and imaging center can save money while offering physicians greater flexibility in its use and overall better patient care. Doctors can log onto your local-area network, wide-area network, or from offsite by utilizing a virtual private network. Your medical offices will reduce operating costs because you will not need software for each workstation, and because it is web-based, physicians can access the digital medical images they need day or night in order to provide patients with excellent care.

Since a PACS system can also serve as a digital viewer, you will want to invest in a quality, high-resolution medical-grade PACS monitor. Monitors are available for medical use in a variety of sizes and digital image resolutions suitable for a variety of medical modalities. Ultrasounds, MRI, CT, as well as CR and DR digital x-rays can be viewed with a PACS monitor.

Medical facilities of all types will also save on consultations and referrals when using PACS workstations. Instead of using costly printed digital x-rays, you can send digital images stored in the DICOM format quickly and easily over the World Wide Web. This instantaneous   transmission  of patient medical digital images helps to offer them improved patient care while saving your hospital or medical office money.

PACS distributors and manufacturers can answer many questions you might have concerning PACS workstations; many offer live chat features on their informative websites for even more convenience.

Energy Healing and the Sacred Art of Transmission

In a sense, we are all transmitting, or broadcasting energy all of the time via our thoughts, feelings and beliefs, as everything is energy and has frequency. Yet I wanted to go deeper here and share with you what I know to be possible, which I am referring to as the “sacred art of transmission” as it is a much more powerful, precise and rare spiritual and healing gift.

It is the ability to transmit spiritual, healing, and intuitive awakenings through look, touch, voice, or even mere presence. It has been over twenty years, but I will never forget my earliest memories of energy transmissions. While some happened through my spiritual teachers, many of them occurred during Reiki healing sessions, and then in teaching and attuning others to this awesome healing art.

Reiki Energy Healing Attunements are Transmissions

After I met my first spiritual teacher, I decided to take a Reiki workshop even though I had never experienced it myself. I was just so curious and my colleague had told me of her experience awhile back, but at that time I was not open, as I had no mental “box” to put it in and kind of shelved the whole concept.

I am so grateful I did. Because I noticed that while there were many great and wise people I knew who were meditating also with the same Master, and most for much longer than me, it was not common for anyone but the energy healers to expect to be able to transmit this potent energy and spiritual space. It was clearly a level of empowerment that I came to appreciate only much later. And it had to do with owning the ability to transmit energy, not just to sit in the energy.

In Reiki Level 1 there are 4 initiatory attunements, which I couldn’t possibly comprehend at that time. Reiki attunements are initiations or transmissions of energy that open the healing channels or energy pathways within everyone.

Yet I now come to realize that the Reiki Master is passing down the ability to awaken or open the healing channels that lie dormant within us all, through these specific attunements. In this instance, everyone else in class was tingling, but I feared I was a Reiki “dud” when we began to practice on each other, and everyone else’s hands were tingling, and I got nada, bupkis.

Until we got to the final two attunements. And something DEFINITELY happened. I actually heard and felt a spirit man initiating me, in addition to the woman teaching the class. When I asked who it was, I got that it was the founder, Dr. Mikao Usui, himself. I asked if he did all of the attunements with her, and she looked stunned. I can only guess that was not everyone’s experience.

Then it began happening: not from me but through me…

I have taught students, who have supposedly already taken Reiki classes with another teacher, and they were very surprised that they felt such tangible energy flow, or experienced such deep meditation states, expansion, and 3rd eye intuitive openings. I was surprised that they didn’t experience that with other teachers. It pains me, but there seem to be many people now teaching a much diluted version of what I received.

It is way more than just intention. It is more like you begin to embody the universal life energy. I now have two decades of validation that direct transmission is happening through me, and not just in Reiki attunements or private sessions. It begins to flow through you like water… and not just via the hands. One Reiki student was walking with me and we stopped at a small waterfall flowing into a pond. She gasped, and said that something was coming out of my eyes; a light, and it felt just like a healing session.

Another time, I met with a new neighbor and she was describing her chronic back pain. I felt deep compassion for her and wanted to help in some way, but it felt too early in the conversation to suggest a Reiki session. But she immediately felt relief, and asked “are you doing that thing you do, cuz my back feels better and better.”

Over time, the knowing what is possible, turns to probable. Now, with very little effort on my part I can align and focus my eyes, my feet, my heart, my thoughts and healing happens, calm serene stillness descends, light radiates. I used to be shy about stating these things, feeling like it was ego. But now I know I must tell you all what is possible for you, just as it became possible for me. I see my students stepping into this mind-blowing reality that they, too can transmit healing energy. There is nothing that delights me more!

What Are Examples of Gourmet Foods?

The definition of gourmet food is food that a connoisseur would enjoy – a gourmet. This means that even food prepared with every day ingredients could be considered gourmet food if it is prepared with loving care by a chef who knows how to cook very well. For example, my husband cooks a chicken jal frezi which is simply superb, so can be classes as a gourmet dish. If I cook the same dish it can’t be classed as gourmet food as I am not very good at making this particular dish- I don’t have the patience it needs to make it to perfection. If you can take ordinary ingredients, say peas, carrots, potatoes and lamb and cook them in a way which makes the dish superb, then this is an example of gourmet food.

If you think about individual items that are categorized as gourmet food then Beluga caviar would be a contender for the number one slot. Beluga is a type of sturgeon which lives in the Caspian Sea where it is caught by Russian and Iranian fishermen for its eggs (unfertilized) as caviar is raw fish roe (eggs). If you are a true gourmet, then you will know that real black Beluga caviar can only be eaten with a spoon which is not made of metal as metal reacts with the roe and it doesn’t taste as good if this happens. It is eaten with mother-of-pearl, bone or tortoise shell spoons (these are now illegal so you have to find antique ones). Part of the mystique and caché of caviar is the rituals that surround the eating of it.

Wild smoked salmon is also considered a gourmet item and this taste very different to the ubiquitous smoked salmon found in packaged slivers on supermarket shelves. Oysters (raw) would also be categorized as a gourmet item. These seafood items are rich in vitamins and minerals and are very good for our health, and I often wonder if they became so highly valued because of their nutritional content as the peasants of Europe just couldn’t afford them.

Peasants could however find truffles, another highly prized item, in forests if they knew which trees to find them under. Black truffles are the best (so it is said) but white ones have a lot going for them too. In Italy in delicatessens you can buy a few slivers of truffle to go in a dish, which makes them less expensive that buying a whole truffle. They can be added to a dish to make it an extra special one as you don’t need to use very much of a truffle for it to impart its unique flavour to a dish. They are very good added to rice which is cooked in champagne (a truly gourmet risotto).

Cheeses which have been lovingly made from ewe’s and goat’s milk by small dairy farmers are also highly prized gourmet items, and you can, increasingly, find these online. Brie would not be classed as a gourmet item unless it is ripe and gooey and made by the French cheese makers. The type so often found on supermarket shelves is not a gourmet cheese.

Chanterelle mushrooms can be gathered in the woods as long as you know what you are looking for. These are certainly gourmet mushrooms with their meaty flavour and beautiful golden-yellow colour. They grow under (not on) trees and have very distinctive trumpet-shaped tops. Fresh porcini and morel mushrooms are also considered gourmet food items.

You don’t have to pay the Earth for a gourmet dish. All you have to do is have the patience and the understanding of the nature and quality of your ingredients to produce your own gourmet food. (Although Beluga caviar is wonderful!)

SWOT Analysis of the New Honda Fuel Cell Vehicle

Honda is changing the vehicle market as we know it, by making a vehicle that emits water vapor. Honda’s FCX Clarity fuel cell car is the new breed for green cars. This car has some similarities to hybrid, but nothing compares to its new fuel source hydrogen. Besides hydrogen it runs with an electric motor that generates electricity to the fuel stack and a lithium ion battery. The lithium ion battery serves as a supplemental power source. The lithium ion battery charges up while braking and decelerating. Some questions might arise when thinking about this new fuel cell vehicle, like what makes this car better than the other hybrid cars? What are the Honda FCX Clarity strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?

One of the biggest strengths about this new fuel cell vehicle is that it emits water vapor and is designated as a Zero emission vehicle (ZEV). The environmental protection agency (EPA) has given this vehicle the lowest possible emission rating. It also can be driven up to 280 miles before being refueled with hydrogen. FCX Clarity is achieves an energy efficiency of 55% which is twice the energy efficiency of the hybrid vehicles and three times the efficiency of regular gas vehicles. Since FCX Clarity is more energy efficient it has been one of the first fuel cell vehicles to receive certification from the EPA and the California Air Resources Board. Unlike the hybrids the FCX Clarity doesn’t need to be plugged in to be charged up and there is no need for regular gas.

Honda has many opportunities with this new fuel cell vehicle. First off Honda is designing a home refueling station. No more worrying about going out and getting refueled at the pump. Home refueling stations will elevate the stress at the pump. Also, Honda could make this fuel cell vehicle a household name and market this vehicle all over the globe. Honda just needs to get out there to show off their new vehicle. Honda is starting to market the new fuel cell a little bit. Honda has just released the FCX Clarity for Japan.

One of the few weaknesses for this fuel cell vehicle is its limited availability in the United States. Southern California and Japan are the only two areas where this new vehicle is available. Honda plans to release around 200 vehicles in 3 years in California and Japan. Honda believes that this new fuel cell vehicle will be able to be mass produced by 2018. I think this is one Hondas biggest downfall is the limited release and so few refueling stations.

This car is a little small it’s only able to carry four people. The cost of the FCX Clarity is about 600 a month on a 3 year lease. It seems a little steep for someone who is middle class to afford that payment. Not anyone is California will be able to lease this new vehicle. These people who are selected live near the refueling stations and they make a limited amount of commutes.

Basically Toyota and GM vehicles are Hondas biggest threat. With so many new hybrids and small gas efficient cars, this creates a problem for Honda. Another threat is Chevrolet. Chevrolet has developed a fuel cell SUV “the Equinox” and it has already arrived at New York City, Washington D.C. and Southern California. With this being said, it becomes a race between Honda and Chevrolet with the new fuel cell technology. How would the new fuel cell FCX Clarity size up in popularity? The lack of mass production and refueling stations, Honda won’t have a chance.

I think Honda has come up with a good concept car with its new fuel source. The new fuel source needs to be researched further before they should market this vehicle. This car is for people who are willing to go green and have the money to do it. The whole problem is making this car available to the public and easily accessible.

On the other hand Honda has a comparative advantage because of their home refueling station. There is no other vehicle out there that you can just plug in and refuel at home. Hybrid vehicles rely on battery and gas to run. You have to plug the hybrid in to recharge the battery.

3 Ways to Create a Motivational Collage

One powerful collage theme is motivation! But in order to create a motivational theme you first need to write down a goal. Start with a simple goal that relates to something personal that you are working to toward.

For example, I often have freshmen students in beginning art classes create a goal collage on their major. Where do they want to go? Where do they see their selves after graduation.

Consider the following 3 simple steps.

1. Sort and gather images that will motivate you to reach a goal. For example, if you are remodeling your house only gather those images that relate to that process. This would not be the collage that has images of your last birthday party.

2. Think possible not impossible

It is easy to get discouraged when doing your collage if you think about cost and other limitations. Stay focused on your dream. It can happen. That is why you are creating a collage with a goal in mind.

3. Have fun!

Think out of the box. Mix your images with powerful and inspiring words that will help you achieve your goals,

So write out your goals. Start searching for your images and get started.

If you need help doing goal setting I have a great coach for you.

Send an email to cegoals@aol.com. She will work with you to create solid goal statements using the SMART method. That stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and tangible.

And remember you can always contact me for any suggestions on your collage making process.

Activity Diagrams – Advantages, Disadvantages and Applications of Use

Activity diagrams describe the actual work flow behavior of a system in Information Technology. These diagrams are very similar to state Diagrams because activities are the actual state of doing something. These diagrams describe the actual state of activities of a system by showing all the sequence of activities performed. Also, these diagrams can show activities that are conditional or parallel.

When to Use: Activity Diagrams

Activity diagrams should be used in alignment with other modeling techniques like interaction diagrams and State diagrams. The main reason behind using these diagrams is to model the work flow behind the system being designed. these Diagrams are also useful for analyzing a use case by describing what actions need to take place and when they should occur, describing a complicated sequential algorithm and modeling applications with parallel processes.

Activity diagrams’ advantages:

  • UML modeling language included that these diagrams are normally easily comprehensible for both analysts and stakeholders.
  • In UML for the IT Business Analyst, “The activity diagram is the one most useful to the IT BA for depicting work flow [because] it is simple to understand-both for BAs and end-users.”
  • Since they are among the most user-friendly diagrams available, they are generally regarded as an essential tool in an analyst’s repertoire.
  • Additionally, as stated above, activity diagrams allow an analyst to display multiple conditions and actors within a work flow through the use of swimlanes. Swimlanes, however, are optional as a single condition or actor is normally displayed without them.

Activity diagrams’ disadvantages:

UML modeling language include that these diagrams have the potential to become overly complex because their user-friendly nature may lend itself to an all-inclusive description. In other words, since it is so simple to display the information related to the project, why not include all of it? When an analyst has a large project, creating a single, overly complex diagram can be a temptation.

However, as one author notes, “if you are using activity diagrams to define the structure of a work flow, you should not attempt to explore several levels of activity graphs down to their most ‘atomic’ level”. Instead, an analyst should try to present a new diagram for each work flow, or if more applicable, to use swimlanes to present different actors within the same work flow.

Another aspect of these diagrams is that they may not be used in lieu of a state diagram or sequence diagram because “activity diagrams do not give detail about how objects behave or how objects collaborate.” This is not a disadvantage per se, but it is important for an analyst to keep in mind when applying diagrams to their work.

In conclusion, activity diagrams are fairly easy to get the hang of, and will be useful for most projects because they plainly and moderately clearly demonstrate how things work.” Unlike many diagramming techniques, these diagrams also enable the depiction of multiple choices and actors within a work flow, and they are easy for even non-technical users to follow

Applications of activity diagram:

This diagram has been extended to specify flows among steps that transmit physical matter (e.g., gasoline) or energy (e.g., torque, pressure).

  • Additional changes allow the diagram to better support continuous behaviors and continuous data flows.
  • The UML 2 specification significantly prolonged the features and scale of activity diagrams beyond their earlier classification as a special case of state diagrams.
  • Today, activity diagrams can be thought of as flow charts for the 21st century, and UML modelers use activity diagrams to describe it.
  • Also, these diagrams are useful in following methods:
  • Business Rules
  • Functions that occur in parallel
  • Complex chain of multiple use cases
  • Software flows and logic control configurations
  • Procedures with judgment points and alternate flows
  • Single use cases

Ease Into the World of Investing

The United Nations does it. Governments do it. Companies do it. Fund managers do it. Millions of ordinary working people – from business owners to factory workers – do it. Housewives do it. Even farmers and children do it.

‘It’ here is investing: the science and art of creating, protecting and enhancing your wealth in the financial markets. This article introduces some of the most important concerns in the world of investment.

Let’s start with your objectives. While clearly the goal is to make more money, there are 3 specific reasons institutions, professionals and retail investors (people like you and me) invest:

  • For Security, ie for protection against inflation or market crashes
  • For Income, ie to receive regular income from their investments
  • For Growth, ie for long-term growth in the value of their investments

Investments are generally structured to focus on one or other of these objectives, and investment professionals (such as fund managers) spend a lot of time balancing these competing objectives. With a little bit of education and time, you can do almost the same thing yourself.

One of the first questions to ask yourself is how much risk you’re comfortable with. To put it more plainly: how much money are you prepared to lose? Your risk tolerance level depends on your personality, experiences, number of dependents, age, level of financial knowledge and several other factors. Investment advisors measure your risk tolerance level so they can classify you by risk profile (eg, ‘Conservative’, ‘Moderate’, ‘Aggressive’) and recommend the appropriate investment portfolio (explained below).

However, understanding your personal risk tolerance level is necessary for you too, especially with something as important as your own money. Your investments should be a source of comfort, not pain. Nobody can guarantee you’ll make a profit; even the most sensible investment decisions can turn against you; there are always ‘good years’ and ‘bad years’. You may lose part or all of your investment so always invest only what you are prepared to lose.

At some point you’ll want to withdraw some or all of your investment funds. When is that point likely to be: in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years or 25 years? Clearly, you’ll want an investment that allows you to withdraw at least part of your funds at this point. Your investment timeframe – short-term, medium-term or long-term – will often determine what kinds of investments you can go for and what kinds of returns to expect.

All investments involve a degree of risk. One of the ‘golden rules’ of investing is that reward is related to risk: the higher the reward you want, the higher the risk you have to take. Different investments can come with very different levels of risk (and associated reward); it’s important that you appreciate the risks associated with any investment you’re planning to make. There’s no such thing as a risk-free investment, and your bank deposits are no exception. Firstly, while Singapore bank deposits are rightly considered very safe, banks in other countries have failed before and continue to fail. More importantly, in 2010 the highest interest rate on Singapore dollar deposits up to $10,000 was 0.375%, while the average inflation rate from Jan-Nov 2010 was 2.66%. You were losing money just by leaving your savings in the bank.

Today, there are many, many types of investments (‘asset classes’) available. Some – such as bank deposits, stocks (shares) and unit trusts – you’re already familiar with, but there are several others you should be aware of. Some of the most common ones:

  • Bank Deposits
  • Shares
  • Investment-Linked Product1
  • Unit Trusts2
  • ETFs3
  • Gold4

1 An Investment-Linked Product (ILP) is an insurance plan that combines protection and investment. ILPs main advantage is that they offer life insurance.

2 A Unit Trust is a pool of money professionally managed according to a specific, long-term management objective (eg, a unit trust may invest in well-known companies all over the world to try to provide a balance of high returns and diversification). The main advantage of unit trusts is that you don’t have to pay brokers’ commissions.

3 An ETF or Exchange-Traded Fund comes in many different forms: for example, there are equity ETFs that hold, or track the performance of, a basket of stocks (eg Singapore, emerging economies); commodity ETFs that hold, or track the price of, a single commodity or basket of commodities (eg Silver, metals); and currency ETFs that track a major currency or basket of currencies (eg Euro). ETFs offer two main advantages: they trade like shares (on stock exchanges such as the SGX) and typically come with very low management fees.

The main difference between ETFs and Unit Trusts is that ETFs are publicly-traded assets while Unit Trusts are privately-traded assets, meaning that you can buy and sell them yourself anytime during market hours.

4 ‘Gold’ here refers to gold bullion, certificates of ownership or gold savings accounts. However, note that you can invest in gold in many other ways, including gold ETFs, gold Unit Trusts; and shares in gold mining companies.

With the advent of the Internet and online brokers, there are so many investment alternatives available today that even a beginner investor with $5,000 to invest can find several investment options suited to her objectives, risk profile and timeframe.

Diversification basically means trying to reduce risk by making a variety of investments, ie investing your money in multiple companies, industries and countries (and as your financial knowledge and wealth grows, in different ‘asset classes’ – cash, stocks, ETFs, commodities such as gold and silver, etc). This collection of investments is termed your Investment Portfolio.

Some level of diversification is important because in times of crisis, similar investments tend to behave similarly. Two of the best examples in recent history are the Singapore stock market crashes of late-2008/early-2009, during the US ‘Subprime’ crisis, and 1997, during the ‘Asian Financial Crisis’, when the price of large numbers of stocks plunged. ‘Diversifying’ by investing in different stocks wouldn’t have helped you very much on these occasions.

The concept and power of compounding are best explained by example. Assume we have 3 investments: the first returns 0.25% a year; the second returns 5% a year; and the third returns 10% a year. For each investment, we compare 2 scenarios:

  • Without compounding, ie the annual interest is taken out of the account.
  • With compounding, ie the annual interest is left (re-invested) in the account.

Let’s look at the returns over 25 years for all 3 investments, assuming we start off with $10,000 in Year 0:

  • With 0.25% return a year, your investment will grow to $10,625 after 25 years without compounding; your investment becomes $10,644 after 25 years with compounding.
  • With 5% return a year, your investment will grow to $22,500 after 25 years without compounding; your investment becomes $33,864 after 25 years with compounding.
  • With 10% return a year, your investment will grow to $35,000 after 25 years without compounding; your investment becomes $108,347 after 25 years with compounding.

This shows the dramatic effects of both higher returns and compounding: 10% annual returns coupled with 25 years of compounding will return you more than 10 times your initial investment. And 10% returns are by no means unrealistic: educated investors who actively manage their portfolio themselves and practise diversification can achieve even higher returns, even with some losing years.

People of all ages and backgrounds need practical and customised guidance in developing their financial knowledge and skills in order to reach their financial goals. In this article we’ve tried to describe in simple terms some of the most important concepts and principles you need to understand on this journey.