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bigstock-Half_dozen_fresh_eggs_in_box_made_of_recycled_paper-27183092Easter gives us all sorts of reasons to think about eggs. Who doesn’t reminisce over the vinegary smell that fills the house when you’re coloring eggs? It’s akin to liking the smell of gasoline I guess, but nonetheless, we’ve all got fun memories of coloring eggs as kids and now doing it as adults with the little ones.

But forget about the decorative things we do to eggs, I wanna talk about eating them. Breakfast has always been a favored meal for me, so in honor of the Easter weekend and all it’s egg glory, I’ll leave you with two of my current faves. These both started as recipes I found from someone else, but have morphed along the way and I don’t remember their origins. So to those who helped…my sincerest thank yous.

Both of these involved poaching. You can really make your eggs however you’d like, but poaching is my preference. Easiest way to make the perfect poached egg? Bring a sauce pan of water to a boil with about a tablespoon of vinegar (it really does help the whites coagulate and I usually use white wine vinegar). Break your eggs into individual cups. Turn off the water and let sit for about 2 minutes. Dump in the eggs and cover. In about 10 minutes you’ll have perfectly poached eggs to drain out with a slotted spoon.

Sweet Potato Benedict

Take your sweet potatoes and cut into half inch(ish) slices, massage with coconut oil, and bake at 400 until browned, flipping halfway through. Roast asparagus or saute some spinach using coconut oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and some fresh lemon juice. Pile everything up sweet potatoes, then veggies, and finally your eggs to make a healthy version of a benedict that everyone I’ve ever fed loves. If you’re feeling crazy you can add on some hollandaise, but honestly, it’s better without it. But the saucy types might want it, so if you’re so inclined have at it.

Kale Egg Bowl

I’ve been having a lot of this one lately. You can prepare the brown rice ahead of time by placing two parts water to one part short grain brown rice in a rice cooker. For each cup of rice add 3 or so quarter inch slices of fresh ginger, a couple of whole peeled garlic cloves, and a healthy dose of turmeric. Saute some lacinto kale in coconut oil and minced garlic. Put the two in a bowl with your poached eggs (about 1/2 cup rice, 1 cup kale and 2 eggs) adding chopped green onions and vietnamese chili paste. EAT.

I’m writing on a whim so I’ll have to add pictures the next time I make these. But for know, some healthier brunch egg recipes for your weekend eats. Happy Easter and to those celebrating Passover, Chag Sameach!

LifeInsuranceMythsLife insurance may not sound all that exciting, but when you do stop to think about life insurance and you, it’s not uncommon to assume that since the concept of life insurance is simple enough, so too are the products. It’s also fairly easy to rationalize the things you really don’t understand about life insurance, and before you know it, you’re harboring potentially damaging life insurance myths.

In addition to your own edification, and frankly, for the safety of your loved ones’ financial futures, it’s important to understand exactly what life insurance is, what it does, and how — not to mention if — you should make a move either to purchase or upgrade your coverage. Read the myths below to see if you need to adjust your thinking when it comes to life insurance.

1. The coverage you get at work is enough.
While this may, in fact, be the case if you’re single, in good financial standing, have no dependents and aren’t worried about estate taxes, for most people, the term policy offered through their employer just won’t be enough to sustain their families’ needs. After all, your insurance payout must not only support your family financially, it must also pay off any debts, such as the mortgage or even the MasterCard, as well as settle up with Uncle Sam.

2. Only the working spouse needs life insurance.
This is a curious — and wildly inaccurate — belief, yet it somehow persists. Life insurance on the breadwinner is intended to fill in the gap left by the loss of a paycheck, but that discounts all the valuable work a stay-at-home partner contributes to the relationship. If you’re used to this arrangement, how would you pay for child care or the cleaning, or even manage the household without a little financial help in the event of such a loss? It can be easy to overlook the many contributions of the non-breadwinner, but to do so would be remiss.

3. The value of your life insurance coverage should equal two years’ salary.
Everyone’s financial circumstances are different, and so are their life insurance needs. You might require more coverage than two years’ salary if you incur medical bills or other debts, have a young family, a mortgage to pay, or any number of life obligations to meet. If your lifestyle is more modest and you’re not financially responsible for anyone, on the other hand, then two years’ salary may even be excessive.

4. Single people without dependents don’t need to own life insurance.
While it’s true you might not have a family to provide for, odds are you’ll still have to cover the cost of your funeral, pay off a few debts, and maybe leave a little bit behind for your parents. And as one MSNBC article on the topic suggests, using a life insurance policy to fund a gift to a favorite charity can be a wonderful legacy for a single person to leave behind.

5. You don’t need professional services to buy life insurance.
You now have the choice to shop online or in person. The tools a professional life insurance agent has to offer can help you identify the needs you have, what you must protect and how best to protect it. With the knowledge of myriad different policies, if you’re honest about your financial and life circumstances, a professional can not only help you determine how much coverage you need, but also help decide whether a term or permanent policy is right for you. They can even customize a plan to meet your unique needs. Our suggestion? Do as much research as you can online paying attention to the credibility of the sources you find. If you’re still confused about your needs, take it to the next level and talk to a professional.

Life insurance is an important product for most everybody to consider, but it helps if you have your facts straight. So whatever else you think you know about life insurance, you might consider running it past an agent or using a credible online source with the right tools to help in your decision making.

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Location, location, location. It’s the common answer to the question of business success. The community in which your business is located can determine an almost unlimited amount of aspects of your business including the physical structure, your customers, your taxes, your employees and more. So the question is, where is the best location for your business? How do you pick the place that will become the home to both you and your success? That can depend a lot on the specifics of your business and your personal preference, but CNN Money and Fortune came up with a list of the 100 Best Places to Live and Launch Your Business. The list is one thing, but the reasons why these companies made the list can be critical to picking your personal number one. Here is your personal guide through the top five cities and their assets and drawbacks.

1. Bellevue, Washington Bellevue has a healthy mix of both big corporations and small startup businesses that makes it a stable base for any company. The downtown area is busy but not crowded and is scattered with its fair share of parks, with both lake and mountain views. With a population of nearly 112,000 it boasts a growing and talented workforce. The high cost of living can be offset by the lack of corporate income tax and business that take in less than $135,000 in annual taxable revenue can forego the Business and Occupations tax. The high quality healthcare and education in the area makes it an attractive choice for growing families.

2. Georgetown, Texas Much smaller than our Number 1 city, Georgetown has a population of just fewer than 38,000. The smaller town offers relief from the traffic and crowds of Austin while keeping the larger city’s entrepreneurial climate. The tax relief in the state of Texas in general is attractive to business owners, with a lack of both individual and corporate income tax. The city itself has low utility costs and similarly low property taxes and entrepreneurial support is offered through the areas business development efforts. The only downside to the scenic town is the high housing costs as the city continues to grow.

3. Buford, Georgia Located just northeast of Atlanta, the small town of Buford offers a cozy option for business owners, especially those in the industries growing in the area such as healthcare, IT, distribution and trade, and communications. Specific businesses can apply for tax exemptions, tax credits, and even help in acquiring permits or hiring. The community also encourages the collaboration of the many entrepreneurs in the area to network and promote community involvement. The lakeside location offers various water activities such as boating and fishing to the 14,000 residents. The only major downside with the 16-square-mile city is the competition amongst companies in finding quality employees.

4. Marina del Rey, California Coming in at one of the smallest cities on the list, with under 9,000 people, Marina del Rey has a lot to offer business owners besides the many seaside beaches. The haven for entrepreneurs offers tax credits for specific situations and rebate programs aimed to increase the conservation of energy. The small group of residents provides a well-education workforce with over half of the working population having at least an associate’s degree. Marina del Rey does lack in space, being surrounded on three sides by Los Angeles and bordered on the other by the Pacific, so the dense city is being forced to grow upwards rather than outwards.

5. Bethesda, Maryland The positive aspects of Bethesda seem to be nearly endless in terms of entrepreneurial opportunities. The 60,000 residents offer one the highest quality workforces in the country, with over 80% of the population have a bachelor’s degree or higher in terms of education. The city also has an incredibly low crime rate for its size. Bethesda also offers support in both the legal and financial aspects of your business, which can help you navigate the various regulations and rules regarding a business launch. Many firms also find themselves eligible for various tax credits. Bethesda’s main downside lies in the city’s close proximity to D.C., which lends itself to heavy traffic and slow access to the business district.

The top five cities offer a pretty attractive array of options for almost any entrepreneur, but in the case none of them fit your fancy, check out Portland, Denver, Charlotte, Fort Worth, and Franklin, Mass. which round out the top ten on the list. Take a close look at all your options and find the aspects that appeal to you. What’s important is that you find a city that balances both your business and personal needs, because if your choice only satisfies one, you won’t find yourself very successful in either.

PS…the city in the picture is none of the above, but it’s one of our favorites…San Francisco.

Insurance Forms

The bain of my existence sometimes. Don’t make it yours too. Nobody likes filling out paperwork, but if you get it right the first time you don’t have to look back. Insurance forms can be quite specific in how they need to be completed and silly little errors can prolong the underwriting process for weeks unnecessarily.

Some carriers are more persnickety than others, but as a general rule of thumb, DON’T TAKE SHORTCUTS. A good insurance agency will have someone to walk you through your insurance forms to eliminate any guesswork on your part. But every now and then there are blanks to fill or assumptions to make outside of that. RULE #1: PICK UP THE PHONE AND ASK. Even if it seems obvious, if you have any doubt on what to complete, ask your agent’s office.

Some of the common issues on insurance forms:

1) Beneficiary information is not clear. Some of these can be tricky if your wishes aren’t a straightforward “please allocate _____% of the death benefit to Alice Smith.” Your agent should be able to advise you on correct language to use for most beneficiary designations.

2) Completion of ETF forms. These are the forms used for setting up ongoing automatic deductions from your bank account of choice. Often times these are used for initial premiums required to activate a new policy and when they aren’t completed correctly you’re stuck in administrative mud. Also, you’ll need to submit a voided check along with it and those directions are often in the fine print and get missed. And if you don’t see those directions, send one anyways just to be safe.

3) Medical information. It’s best to be honest, but let’s face it, when we go to our doctors in need of a health solution we might just exaggerate because we’re impatient for that solution. Keep in mind those records work against us when we’re talking about insurance. A good example is the use of sleep aids. When we’re having trouble sleeping we’re cranky and impatient. As a last ditch effort we head to our doctor seeking some “assistance.” And in our explanation our occasional sleepless night becomes chronic causing a whole host of other “ailments” that warrant the need for sleep aids. And the doctor writes down exactly what we tell them as fact, because they need to document their use of a prescription. When you translate this situation into insurance applications you’ll need to come back down to reality and remember you’re not trying to get medication or any sort of solutions, but an insurance policy. Keep your descriptions light and factual. Leave the exaggerations for the docs.

4) Extracurricular activities. When you’re talking about skydiving, dune buggying (yes, this does specifically show up on some carrier’s application), tarantula hunting, or the like, the application is asking for codified events that have happened or are planned (with dates). If these crazy activities are still in a dream state, no need to talk about what MIGHT happen, because it might NEVER happen and now you’re paying the price for it in your premiums.

5) Financials. If you’re applying for a large amount of insurance (each carrier has a different limit here) and financial documentation is going to be needed, get it in ahead of time. Like at the time of application. This makes underwriters happy and content. And happy and content underwriters make better decisions. It also makes you look more upfront about it all, and underwriters also like people who are more upfront about it all. “Upfront about it all” is technical insurance language in case you aren’t in the know.

Above all, be honest and concise. Underwriters don’t want to read pages of your life story if it can be stated in a few simple sentences. And be realistic. Juvenile offenses and experimentations can often stay behind that little under 18 protective curtain. Best case scenario if you have any doubts is to talk them through with your agent. We like those crazy stories from your youth. And we’re bound by confidentiality. Plus, agents have been known to do a crazy thing or two in their lifetime, so you might just hear a fun story in the process…

2013-03-14 15.27.16It’s been a while since I’ve posted about food stuff. Probably a sign I’ve been too focused on work.

But after a long love affair with green juices, I’ve added green smoothies to the mix and I’m OBSESSED. Like a junkie needing their crack, I HAVE to have some form of green smoothie every day. My reason for sharing? I feel it’s a really good way to get those greens in and even more so for those who don’t love ’em like I do. Why? Because you can sweeten your concoctions up with fruit and not even notice their green ingredients. So if you’re reading this and have veggie haters in your life, keep reading because this is a tried and true trick for sneaking in those vital greens.

Trick #1: Spinach. You can throw gobs of the stuff into any smoothie and never know it’s there. A great way to get some raw greens down and it doesn’t change the flavor a bit.

My personal favorite:
1 cup frozen cherries
2 scoops chocolate protein powder
1/2 frozen banana (optional)
1 TB chia seeds
A few ice cubes
Coconut water to your liking
Fill the rest of the blender with fresh organic spinach
BLEND

Trick #2: Kale. Not quite as sneaky as the spinach though. This one you can taste and see. Very green. It’s definitely for those with a greater affinity for eating green things. But for newcomers to the kale revolution, this is a winner. Great way to get it down in bulk.

Here’s my reco:
8-10 ice cubes
3/4 cup fresh pineapple
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
Coconut water to your liking
Fill the rest of the blender with fresh organic kale (lacinto for me)
BLEND

This one looks like a Shamrock Shake when all is said and done, so in honor of that, HAPPY ST. PATRICKS DAY!! Not once in my days of drinking green beer did I ever think I’d celebrate with a green smoothie. Whatever. Stranger things have happened.

So yeah, not exactly insurance nonsense, but it’s good to venture away from it once in a while. Otherwise you might think we’re boring or something. And green smoothies certainly change that…

Cheers!

The Tax Man Cometh
07Mar
2013

Tax law is confusing. Unless you’re in the business of waxing poetic on IRS code, it’s like reading Mandarin. And just when you think you’ve figured out how to work with current tax laws, they change. My favorites are the ones they say are “permanent”…until they change them.

Anyhow, our trusted friends at Nationwide have put together a nice summary of what’s changing without too much financial tax nerd speak. I’m not sure I’d classify it as bedtime reading, but if that’s your only opportunity, it’ll have to do. But definitely not if you have a devices curfew. Those are serious for the insomniacs in the crowd.

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