Vacations Are Possible When You Plan For It

With the spring and summer months right around the corner and summer break right on its heels, most people's thoughts turn towards vacation! My family is no different. In fact, we've been planning all of our vacation time for the past twelve months.

Our goal is to take three trips a year. Two short ones; maybe a weekend trip to another city in our state or a bordering state. And one nice, relaxing, long trip that we have to pack our bags and head for the airport for that lasts seven to ten indulgent days!

For example, about the time our son's April birthday rolls around, we plan a weekend trip somewhere in our state. His favorite is always San Antonio because he likes to visit the theme parks and gorgeous Riverwalk that they have there. Since we live in Dallas, it's less than a four hour drive; and it's usually the precursor to kicking off our year of getting away.

This year, the longer trip will be in the summertime, a week after school is out. We are planning a vacation to Florida to visit Walt Disney World. We will be gone for ten glorious days for fun in the sun.

And then, in October, my husband and I are planning a three to four day getaway to celebrate our anniversary in beautiful Mexico. And that will give us our three getaways for the year! It's as simple as that.

Now, we have not always been able to do this. Why? Because of poor planning on our part. But, that is no longer the case. We've wised up, and if you have not been getting away for a little rest and relaxation because of the same problem, here's how you can guarantee that that will not be the case next year … or the year after that – forever !

My husband, Muri, and I have created what we call a "Battery Recharge" account, or in regular terms, a travel account. All monies that go into it ensure that we'll be able to get away with our ten-year old son, Jordan, or for a romantic weekend on our own!

Have a family discussion and decide where each of you would like to go. Narrow it down, and vote on three locations. One that's far away and two that are within a reasonable driving distance.

Once you've done that, do your research. There are a number of online resources. Thanks to technology, finding attractions in the city of your destination is no more than a click away! You can build an itinerary of what your family will do, as well as get the costs of each show or attraction you'd like to attend.

Then, one-by-one, you begin to fund your "Batter Recharge" account until you have the money to do each trip! What's so great about the two short trips, most can be done for less than five hundred dollars. The key is not extravagance. It's just getting away with your family to bond and re-energize yourself.

You work hard, everyday. Take some time to enjoy the fruits of your labor with the ones you love and cherish. Your mental, physical and relational well-being will be all the better for it!

Happy vacationing!

What is an Art Collector?

A collector would be someone very wealthy, collecting for love or money or both. It is sometimes someone who purchases on impulse. Collectors buy art because they enjoy beauty as a part of their life style. Sometimes collectors buy art to fill a void in their life.

What makes a great art collector? Having an unlimited amount of money helps but it is not essential. Some collectors treat it as a hobby: an intellectual and emotional joy which served the additional purpose of decorating one's private home. Since the end of WWII there is a different type of collector. They pursue their own passions however with an awareness that the whole world is watching. Their collections are a matter of public record and their prized possessions are on loan to other museums and companies for the entire world to see.

There are as many types of collectors as there are collections. To the avid collector, knowledge about art is far more important than money. Collecting art desires desires, passions and emotions. It speaks of addictions, obsessions and instincts. A collector can be someone who does not have huge resources of money. It could be someone who has a minimum wage income, and goes to local thrift stores looking for baby bottles to add to his bottle and glass collection.

A collector is also someone who has the courage to buy the work of an artist early in their career; when the artist is still virtually unknown. Anyone can buy the work of a known artist if they have the money. Some collectors are in love with their collections and say good night and good morning to their favorite painting. This is probably a little sentimental and extreme; however it is this passion that creates a great collector. Collectors treat their collections and take the same measures as a museum would do to protect its art. In some cases ceramics and marble statues are bolted down to protect against earthquakes. Certain collectors have high standards when buying a work of art. A work has to be museum quality.

The artist and the collector create a partnership or sometimes a whole; two people coming together to create one organism almost like a marriage.

The Basics Of Stock Market Investing

Investing money on businesses and other fields that will allow you to gain good amounts of profit is a really good idea if you want to become financially stable and independent in the near future. Aside from building your own business, you can also give investing on stocks a shot. Now, this may sound scary at first glance but once you get the rewards of your efforts, you will certainly be drawn in. If you are an absolute newbie in this field, you can try to have a look at different sites on the web such as Stock Market Investing Today that will teach you the basics. To give you a good jumpstart, I will be discussing some of the most important basics of investing in stocks in this article.

Stock market investing involves the concept of share or stock. When you purchase stocks, you will be getting a share or quantum of ownership in a company. This is the most basic idea. To be able to raise a capital, a company needs to have itself listed in the stock market after it gets to sell ownership in the form of different small shares that amount to millions. When you purchase a stock, you immediately become a share holder of the company, who in turn owns a share in that company. Shares of a company are sold in the primary market in the form of IPO or Initial Public Offering. Once these shares are bought, they can be sold in the secondary market, which is referred to as the stock exchange, later on.

Now, the big question is "How do you make money from investing on stocks?" You earn from this endeavor by purchasing a share at a low price and keeping it under your wing until its value increases in the secondary market. When this happens, you can then sell it base on its current value. In other words, you need to buy something cheap and sell it as high of a price as possible. The next thing you need to know about is choosing the right stocks to purchase. When you take a look at the different stocks available in the market, you need to choose ones that have a huge potential to grow in terms of value later on. Choosing the right stocks is the most important factor that will help you with investing. That's all there is to it.

Your Business Mission – What the Heck Do You Do, Anyway?

Do you really need a business mission statement? Is it just some fancy words to put in that business plan that collections dust on your shelf, or is there really more to it?

One of the key attributes of successful businesses is that they clearly know what they do. Defining the goal or the "mission" of your business can be the key to your success.

A good mission statement does three things:

"States what business you are in." Defines your target market. "Provides inspiration for your business.

One of the best examples of a mission statement comes from Levi Strauss & Co. [http://www.levistrauss.com/Company/ValuesAndVision.aspx]

"We will market and distribute the most appealing and widely worn apparel brands. Our products define quality, style and function. We will clothe the world."

Clothing the world is a pretty lofty goal, but Levi Strauss has the ability to do this for one reason — Their founder, Levi Strauss, started the business with a mission and focus.

Levi started his wholesale dry goods business in San Francisco February, 1853. Rather than hoping to make his fortune in the Gold Rush, he created a fortune by wholesaling clothing and fabric to the small stores supplying the thousands of miners and later, families of the West.

In 1872, he was contacted by Jacob Davis, a tailor who had developed a method to rivet the stress points of the pants he made from fabric he bought from-you guessed it — Levi Strauss. Jacob did not have the funds to patent the process, so he teamed up with Levi Strauss to patent the original blue jean in 1873. The rest is history.

Now, if Levi Strauss was your typical small business, he would probably have spun off in ten different directions in their early years, but the company remained focused on supplying quality clothing and fabrics to the working men and women of the West, and later the world. Rather than focusing on their core market, they would have fallen into the AFAB method … Anything for a Buck.

Most small businesses suffer from this lack of focus.

When we work with struggling business owners, the first thing we ask them is "What is your bread and butter?" What one product or service provides you with the majority of your business profit?

Unfortunately, most business owners can not answer that question. They did not define their core product or service and target market when they started, and end up doing a little bit of everything, and nothing well.

Or, they focus most of their time on a product or service line that they like, without knowing whether it actually is their most profitable.

Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this problem.

You have to determine your gross profit margin from each of your product lines or services. Get together with your accountant, and figure out what you need to do to separate your revenue and expenses by the major product lines of your business. Then, you can find out your gross profit margin, or the percentage of gross profit you receive from each activity.

The product or service with the highest gross profit margin is your core business activity. It is the bread and butter of your business, and the key to your company profits.

Now, you must focus as much of your company resources as possible on this core activity. Market it, systemize it, and turn your business into a machine for duplicating this product or service over and over again.

What happens?

Well, rather than running around like a chicken with your head cut off, putting out fires all over your business, you suddenly have the focus to know where to spend your time and energy. You know your core, and you can work to make a good thing even better.

This focus will transform your business and your life.

Remember the term "Jack of All Trades, but Master of None"? You can not really really good at something without focus, and focusing on your most profitable core product or service will make your business even more efficient.

Does this mean that you should never expand beyond your core? Of course not, but you must make sure you are really good at your core product or service before you venture into different directions. Creating a strong bread and butter business will give you the base necessary to expand.

Your core product or service is the foundation for your business. Build it well.