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Because it’s Monday, I thought it’s a perfect day to try something new, so I checked out Anti Gravity Yoga. It’s a class offered at Crunch Gym in West Hollywood that has hammocks suspended from the ceiling allowing you to stretch and float in midair like a Cirque de Soleil performer. Not only is it unique and fun, but it is a tougher workout than floor yoga because you stretch further and it takes more core strength to maintain poses without gravity!

If being suspended in midair doesn’t appeal to you, then maybe you would like to put your energy into a trip that can help others. The Rainbow Fund is a charitable organization which uses 100%, yes ALL, of the donations to help those in need. Go to Haiti to help plant a garden of vegetables, or take the Rainbow Bus to Tijuana to help eradicate Aids by delivering supplies to a clinic and some orphanages.

And if you want to put your money into something that is good for the planet, check out Alt Energy Stock‘s website which has information on companies that are working with or on wind, solar, and biofuel projects. They even have Mutual Funds and ETFs if you don’t want to single out one company.

It’s nice to have so many alternatives to lift your body, soul, and finances to new heights.

>Because it’s Monday, I thought it’s a perfect day to try something new, so I checked out Anti Gravity Yoga. It’s a class offered at Crunch Gym in West Hollywood that has hammocks suspended from the ceiling allowing you to stretch and float in midair like a Cirque de Soleil performer. Not only is it unique and fun, but it is a tougher workout than floor yoga because you stretch further and it takes more core strength to maintain poses without gravity!

If being suspended in midair doesn’t appeal to you, then maybe you would like to put your energy into a trip that can help others. The Rainbow Fund is a charitable organization which uses 100%, yes ALL, of the donations to help those in need. Go to Haiti to help plant a garden of vegetables, or take the Rainbow Bus to Tijuana to help eradicate Aids by delivering supplies to a clinic and some orphanages.

And if you want to put your money into something that is good for the planet, check out Alt Energy Stock‘s website which has information on companies that are working with or on wind, solar, and biofuel projects. They even have Mutual Funds and ETFs if you don’t want to single out one company.

It’s nice to have so many alternatives to lift your body, soul, and finances to new heights.

A little investigation can save you a huge financial headache. In light of all the news in the financial world, today’s subject is FINRA . FINRA stands for Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and they are the largest non governmental regulator of securities firms in the US. They have the ability to impose fines and sanctions to firms and individuals, so even though they are not a government body, they are the law enforcers. Whether you are seeking education as someone who works in the industry, or protection as an investor, this is the place to start. It is the financial equivalent of the Consumer Reports, but with legal teeth.

If we all educate ourselves so that we understand some basics about our own money, we are less susceptible to brokers who promise to deliver all we wish if we grant them access to our cash; but would you buy a car from a dealer who promises you the perfect car sight unseen, if you just sign the contract? Do some homework on your risk tolerance, long term goals (college fund? retirement fund?), and your brokerage house (there were so many compliants and judgments against Merrill Lynch that their demise was of no surprise to anyone who checked FINRA reports). There is information on how to choose your investment professional, how to choose your investment types, how to report a problem with your broker, and compliance information.

Their site offers everything from alerts on frauds and scams, to a broker check which shows current and past cases regarding individuals and brokerage houses. There are also explainations of SIPC protection, (a brokerage version of FDIC type of safety net), how to safeguard your identity from theft, and calculators for savings and loans amounts.

If you have investments, make sure they are building you a nest egg, not just building your broker’s nest egg.

>A little investigation can save you a huge financial headache. In light of all the news in the financial world, today’s subject is FINRA . FINRA stands for Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and they are the largest non governmental regulator of securities firms in the US. They have the ability to impose fines and sanctions to firms and individuals, so even though they are not a government body, they are the law enforcers. Whether you are seeking education as someone who works in the industry, or protection as an investor, this is the place to start. It is the financial equivalent of the Consumer Reports, but with legal teeth.

If we all educate ourselves so that we understand some basics about our own money, we are less susceptible to brokers who promise to deliver all we wish if we grant them access to our cash; but would you buy a car from a dealer who promises you the perfect car sight unseen, if you just sign the contract? Do some homework on your risk tolerance, long term goals (college fund? retirement fund?), and your brokerage house (there were so many compliants and judgments against Merrill Lynch that their demise was of no surprise to anyone who checked FINRA reports). There is information on how to choose your investment professional, how to choose your investment types, how to report a problem with your broker, and compliance information.

Their site offers everything from alerts on frauds and scams, to a broker check which shows current and past cases regarding individuals and brokerage houses. There are also explainations of SIPC protection, (a brokerage version of FDIC type of safety net), how to safeguard your identity from theft, and calculators for savings and loans amounts.

If you have investments, make sure they are building you a nest egg, not just building your broker’s nest egg.

If you are already a saver with a nice six month reserve and no debt, maybe it is time to venture to a brokerage house and invest in a good quality low risk mutual fund, like a no load T. Rowe Price, or Vanguard fund. When I opened my first brokerage account, I decided to do it with Scottrade. I am still happy with their account set up and their $7 trades ($17 for no-load mutual fund trades). A sign of good customer relations is their personal service, which I used frequently in the first weeks as I struggled to understand what all the terms meant (market order, gtc, and stop limit were all words of a new language to me). They patiently and helpfully guided me through my first transactions over the phone and I had the option of going to their nearby office if I needed a live person. Their service was so good that I moved my retirement accounts over to them. Their customer service has been consistently good through the years; they called to tell me that I had inadvertently sent more than the maximum yearly contribution to my IRA account, so would I prefer to have the excess applied to the following year? YES!

Scottrade is a great way to get your feet wet in the world of stocks and mutual funds. There is only a $1000 minimum to open a money market account and start trading, but you can open a retirement account for less depending on the type you choose to open. Even if you don’t trade, but just want to park your money in a money market and do research through their website, it is easy and worth it. They offer a watch list, with historical and current market analysis tools for stocks and mutual funds, so you can just watch and learn until you are ready to trade.

If you are already well versed in stocks, trading, and have thought about doing it as a career, then TD Ameritrade would be my pick for a brokerage account. They offer a tool called Apex which gives you Nasdaq Level II quotes and a host of strategy and analysis tools that allow you to be proactive in your investments. For this higher level of information and tools, it costs a bit more ($9.99 per trade plus the cost of APEX), but the cost of having more tools may be worth it to your portfolio. As with Scottrade, you can start by just opening up a money market account and learning by doing research until you are ready to invest.

For those who have never invested, the best research is your own. Talk to your accountant, financial planner, or EA about your goals. Read the books written by professional investors and experts, but YOU are the final decider. Taking some expert opinion on a stock or a mutual fund trade is like taking a movie critic’s advice about what movie to see; you may agree or disagree with the critic after you watch the movie yourself. You are the only one who knows if you will like the risk, product, company, and management, based on your own experience and risk tolerance. Be willing to invest the time to learn through sites like Morningstar and Marketwatch, and watch a financial TV program like CNBC every so often to just get an overview of the current financial climate

Most us will read a label before using a product; read the prospectus before investing. Be smart with your money; you earned it, use it wisely.

>If you are already a saver with a nice six month reserve and no debt, maybe it is time to venture to a brokerage house and invest in a good quality low risk mutual fund, like a no load T. Rowe Price, or Vanguard fund. When I opened my first brokerage account, I decided to do it with Scottrade. I am still happy with their account set up and their $7 trades ($17 for no-load mutual fund trades). A sign of good customer relations is their personal service, which I used frequently in the first weeks as I struggled to understand what all the terms meant (market order, gtc, and stop limit were all words of a new language to me). They patiently and helpfully guided me through my first transactions over the phone and I had the option of going to their nearby office if I needed a live person. Their service was so good that I moved my retirement accounts over to them. Their customer service has been consistently good through the years; they called to tell me that I had inadvertently sent more than the maximum yearly contribution to my IRA account, so would I prefer to have the excess applied to the following year? YES!

Scottrade is a great way to get your feet wet in the world of stocks and mutual funds. There is only a $1000 minimum to open a money market account and start trading, but you can open a retirement account for less depending on the type you choose to open. Even if you don’t trade, but just want to park your money in a money market and do research through their website, it is easy and worth it. They offer a watch list, with historical and current market analysis tools for stocks and mutual funds, so you can just watch and learn until you are ready to trade.

If you are already well versed in stocks, trading, and have thought about doing it as a career, then TD Ameritrade would be my pick for a brokerage account. They offer a tool called Apex which gives you Nasdaq Level II quotes and a host of strategy and analysis tools that allow you to be proactive in your investments. For this higher level of information and tools, it costs a bit more ($9.99 per trade plus the cost of APEX), but the cost of having more tools may be worth it to your portfolio. As with Scottrade, you can start by just opening up a money market account and learning by doing research until you are ready to invest.

For those who have never invested, the best research is your own. Talk to your accountant, financial planner, or EA about your goals. Read the books written by professional investors and experts, but YOU are the final decider. Taking some expert opinion on a stock or a mutual fund trade is like taking a movie critic’s advice about what movie to see; you may agree or disagree with the critic after you watch the movie yourself. You are the only one who knows if you will like the risk, product, company, and management, based on your own experience and risk tolerance. Be willing to invest the time to learn through sites like Morningstar and Marketwatch, and watch a financial TV program like CNBC every so often to just get an overview of the current financial climate

Most us will read a label before using a product; read the prospectus before investing. Be smart with your money; you earned it, use it wisely.

I opened up my first bank account when I was about eight. Christmas and birthday presents sometimes came in checks or cash, so they got deposited into my savings account. I loved watching my money grow, and have been a saver ever since. There is a great satisfaction in watching your money multiply with compounded interest, while all you do is leave it alone and give it time.

My choice for my savings account now is ING Direct. They have CD’s and checking accounts for individuals and business which offer better interest rates for lower minimums than any brick and mortar bank. Currently their savings account rate is 3% with no minimum and it’s insured by the FDIC! If you have any amount of money sitting in your checking account that you are not using, you owe it to yourself to move it to this savings account and allow compound interest to make you some money.

You can set up an automatic savings plan that will make your money grow without you having to remember to put it aside every month. Even if you move only $100 (that’s about 30 days of buying one vente mocha a day), the compounding interest will eventually grow enough to cover your checking account fees at your other bank, and you will have $1200 (not counting interest) at the end of the year.

Or better yet, move your checking to an ING checking account. Their checking accounts still earn higher interest with lower minimums than you are surely getting at your bank now (unless you have several million dollars at your bank, in which case, you need to move $100,000 over to ING Direct to keep it FDIC insured), and spread the rest to other FDIC insured banking institutions to keep yourself insured under the FDIC limit of $100,000 per account holder.

If you don’t feel comfortable with an online bank (they do have internet cafe locations in various states where you can go in and get help setting up or maintaining your account), you should take into consideration that ING is a big and well-known Dutch bank which is only limited by US banking regulations from proliferating to every block to keep down competition to local US banks. Being a Dutch bank has advantages because the Dutch are very conservative; they would always be very strict with regulations concerning money (no sub-prime loans would ever be made, much less sold in Holland). Countries whose cultures encourage saving, will protect the savings.

If you still don’t want to open an online account, then walk into your nearest credit union (nearly anyone can open an account in a credit union, some require only that you are a resident of the city or state where you live) and open a savings account. Unlike a commercial bank, you become part of a credit union, so your money is used for loans to other members and their money can be used as a loan to you. In a credit union, your money will be working locally and you are setting up a relationship that could help you with your next home mortgage or auto loan.

Saving your money in a safe place is important, but just as important is doing it in a smart place where it can earn you a good return and / or future benefits.

I opened up my first bank account when I was about eight. Christmas and birthday presents sometimes came in checks or cash, so they got deposited into my savings account. I loved watching my money grow, and have been a saver ever since. There is a great satisfaction in watching your money multiply with compounded interest, while all you do is leave it alone and give it time.

My choice for my savings account now is ING Direct. They have CD’s and checking accounts for individuals and business which offer better interest rates for lower minimums than any brick and mortar bank. Currently their savings account rate is 3% with no minimum and it’s insured by the FDIC! If you have any amount of money sitting in your checking account that you are not using, you owe it to yourself to move it to this savings account and allow compound interest to make you some money.

You can set up an automatic savings plan that will make your money grow without you having to remember to put it aside every month. Even if you move only $100 (that’s about 30 days of buying one vente mocha a day), the compounding interest will eventually grow enough to cover your checking account fees at your other bank, and you will have $1200 (not counting interest) at the end of the year.

Or better yet, move your checking to an ING checking account. Their checking accounts still earn higher interest with lower minimums than you are surely getting at your bank now (unless you have several million dollars at your bank, in which case, you need to move $100,000 over to ING Direct to keep it FDIC insured), and spread the rest to other FDIC insured banking institutions to keep yourself insured under the FDIC limit of $100,000 per account holder.

If you don’t feel comfortable with an online bank (they do have internet cafe locations in various states where you can go in and get help setting up or maintaining your account), you should take into consideration that ING is a big and well-known Dutch bank which is only limited by US banking regulations from proliferating to every block to keep down competition to local US banks. Being a Dutch bank has advantages because the Dutch are very conservative; they would always be very strict with regulations concerning money (no sub-prime loans would ever be made, much less sold in Holland). Countries whose cultures encourage saving, will protect the savings.

If you still don’t want to open an online account, then walk into your nearest credit union (nearly anyone can open an account in a credit union, some require only that you are a resident of the city or state where you live) and open a savings account. Unlike a commercial bank, you become part of a credit union, so your money is used for loans to other members and their money can be used as a loan to you. In a credit union, your money will be working locally and you are setting up a relationship that could help you with your next home mortgage or auto loan.

Saving your money in a safe place is important, but just as important is doing it in a smart place where it can earn you a good return and / or future benefits.

>I opened up my first bank account when I was about eight. Christmas and birthday presents sometimes came in checks or cash, so they got deposited into my savings account. I loved watching my money grow, and have been a saver ever since. There is a great satisfaction in watching your money multiply with compounded interest, while all you do is leave it alone and give it time.

My choice for my savings account now is ING Direct. They have CD’s and checking accounts for individuals and business which offer better interest rates for lower minimums than any brick and mortar bank. Currently their savings account rate is 3% with no minimum and it’s insured by the FDIC! If you have any amount of money sitting in your checking account that you are not using, you owe it to yourself to move it to this savings account and allow compound interest to make you some money.

You can set up an automatic savings plan that will make your money grow without you having to remember to put it aside every month. Even if you move only $100 (that’s about 30 days of buying one vente mocha a day), the compounding interest will eventually grow enough to cover your checking account fees at your other bank, and you will have $1200 (not counting interest) at the end of the year.

Or better yet, move your checking to an ING checking account. Their checking accounts still earn higher interest with lower minimums than you are surely getting at your bank now (unless you have several million dollars at your bank, in which case, you need to move $100,000 over to ING Direct to keep it FDIC insured), and spread the rest to other FDIC insured banking institutions to keep yourself insured under the FDIC limit of $100,000 per account holder.

If you don’t feel comfortable with an online bank (they do have internet cafe locations in various states where you can go in and get help setting up or maintaining your account), you should take into consideration that ING is a big and well-known Dutch bank which is only limited by US banking regulations from proliferating to every block to keep down competition to local US banks. Being a Dutch bank has advantages because the Dutch are very conservative; they would always be very strict with regulations concerning money (no sub-prime loans would ever be made, much less sold in Holland). Countries whose cultures encourage saving, will protect the savings.

If you still don’t want to open an online account, then walk into your nearest credit union (nearly anyone can open an account in a credit union, some require only that you are a resident of the city or state where you live) and open a savings account. Unlike a commercial bank, you become part of a credit union, so your money is used for loans to other members and their money can be used as a loan to you. In a credit union, your money will be working locally and you are setting up a relationship that could help you with your next home mortgage or auto loan.

Saving your money in a safe place is important, but just as important is doing it in a smart place where it can earn you a good return and / or future benefits.

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