Financial Planning Tools Deciphered

Financial planning is a necessary thing for all people. Many people have a hard time knowing where to start, and having the right financial planning tools at your disposal is helpful. Here are some great financial planning tools to help you reach your financial goals.

The first financial planning tool is the most important. That is a good, workable budget. You cannot reach your financial goals if you do not have a plan to get there. A budget will help you to allocate your funds in such a way that will satisfy your debts and help you plan for the future.

The next weapon in your arsenal of financial planning tools is a savings account. Although you should have other investments, a savings account is a place to park your liquid cash so that you have easy access and are earning some interest at the same time. Check with your bank to find out what different levels of savings accounts are offered. Many are on a tiered scale, meaning that the more money you have in them, the more interest you earn. You may need to upgrade your account from time to time though.

Third, check your credit report. Many web sites offer you a “for fee” credit report, but you should also know that you are guaranteed a free credit report from the three major credit bureaus once a year from the government web site annualcreditreport.com. If you feel you need to check it more often, then a fee-based credit report service may be the way to go.

The next thing to manage is your debt. Although this can be daunting, it’s a necessary part of establishing financial security. A few financial planning tools can help make this easier for you. For most people, credit cards are a necessity today to at least some extent. However, for smartest use, you should carry only one or two, pay off the balance every month, and use the credit card companies’ competitiveness to get such perks as no annual fee. If for some reason you must carry a balance, pay it off as soon as possible. You should never use your credit card to help you live beyond your means. Only use your credit card to make shopping convenient and provide such things as buyer protection, but treat the purchases you make with your credit card just as you would those with cash. Many people who carry credit cards but who pay off balances each month make note of and “deduct” money for credit card purchases from checking accounts each month as they go, so that they don’t spend cash on hand that’s meant to go toward credit card payments at the end of the month. Then, at the end of the month, they pay the credit bill, but the credit card balance has already been deducted from checking throughout the month, so they are essentially writing one check for the total of their purchases throughout the month.

Fifth, one of your most major bills is probably your rent or your mortgage. Of the two, a mortgage payment usually better for you, since you can usually deduct interest you pay on your mortgage from your taxes. When interest rates drop or some other financial situation arises where refinancing would be a good option for you, make sure you check into this and refinance if possible, in order to lower your mortgage payments. Usually, the most prudent way to handle a refinancing is to roll your refinance savings into your mortgage, so that you save on the mortgage itself rather than taking the cash out to spend on something else. This will save you up to several years on mortgage payments, depending on the length of your loan.

One of the greatest financial planning tools for anyone is to have a good retirement plan. If you are working, you should be contributing to your employer’s 401K plan. You should have a diversified plan that will allow you to save enough for retirement while still allowing you to meet your current obligations. The earlier you begin, the harder your money will work for you.

A few good financial planning tools can help you manage your money wisely. Make sure to do your homework and take advantage of all the resources available to you. There are many financial planning tools out there for free or at nominal cost on the Internet. In addition, your financial institution also has financial planning tools that you can use. If you use these tools wisely, you’ll get the most out of your money.

The Best Designer Board Games

Designer board games are something that is generally considered to have been started in Germany, and while sometimes referred to as German style board games, this title can be misleading. Designer board games have come from nearly every country and all have great success stories in the popularity they enjoy with fans. Many different Americans, for example, have produced vastly popular designer board games. A number of designer board games do come from Germany, however, but despite the intimidating nature of the titles, players should feel comfortable with any of these games. They often are similar to many games that players already know and love, but often present some form of twist or enhancement that can make them even more enjoyable!
Good designer board games all feature some sort of theme which unites the strategy and methods used within the game. Sometimes these themes can seem somewhat bizarre and unsuitable for a game, but that is also part of the charm of the designer game. Once such game, Bohnanza, is technically about bean farming, which causes many a player to raise an eyebrow. However, the real game deals with heavy negotiation and trading between players. By using different cards dealt from the deck, players must plant different bean crops, trade for certain bean crops, and eventually harvest the crops to gain money in return. The player who, at the end of the game, has the largest amount of money wins. While initially sounding a bit ridiculous, Bohnanza provides players with much enjoyment as the strategy needed in the game always changes based on the other players.
Tigris and Euphrates is another designer board game which enjoys much popularity with fans. Based on ancient civilizations, this game gives players the chance to act as neighboring dynasties which are clashing over this region. Players randomly select tiles from a bag and during the game, place these tiles in strategic positions around the board, gaining control of areas to expand their kingdoms. Different tiles stand for different aspects of the game and through careful placement, players can build and strengthen their domains in ways that will reap vast benefits. At the end of the game, players collect points based on the numbers and types of tiles that they have placed, and the player with the largest number of tiles is declared the winner of the game.
Scotland Yard is a designer game that pits one player against the others in a team. One player is designated as “Mr. X,” a fugitive from the law who is running around London, trying to avoid capture. The other players all form the law enforcement team trying to arrest him before a certain time limit has passed and Mr. X can roam free. The board is a map of London, marked with certain transportation routes and all of the stops along those routes. All players are forced to travel along these routes, with Mr. X trying to evade capture while the other players pursue. The twist is that only 3 forms of transportation are available and each one can only be used a certain number of times by the police team.
Much strategy and careful teamwork is required with these games, as with most designer board games. However, with the many different varieties and themes available, it is no wonder that they have become as popular as they are. Everyone should be able to find a game that suits their interests!

Chicago’s Magnificent Miracle Mile The Hottest Commercial Real Estate In The Midwest

Can you afford commercial real estate on the Chicago Magnificent Mile? If you can, your business will be in good company, and you can make a lot of money!

A festival of restaurant dining, theater and jazz experiences, shopping, hotels and entertainment, Chicago’s Magnificent Mile is abuzz with activity from Spring through Fall, and those merchants and commercial vendors who are lucky and wealthy enough to rent space in Chicago’s most productive real estate market, are the fortunate recipients of some pretty hefty income.

The Magnificent Mile stretches from Randolph Street to North Avenue and from Lake Michigan to the North Branch Canal, and it is Chicago’s most expensive commercial real estate.

The landscape is flush with fancy hotels including the Inter-Continental, the Ritz-Carlton, Hilton, Omni, Le Meridian, Hyatt, Wyndham, the Westin, the famous Whitehall and many other world-renowned hotels share this prestigious real estate, and the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association manages the business district.

Within this precious Chicago real estate, street festivals, garden shows, food festivals and other events are planned, all to bring local residents and tourists to spend their entertainment dollars.

Along this stretch of expensive real estate you can also find posh, formal restaurants like Les Nomades, and NoMi intriguing international restaurants where you can find Brazilian, East Indian, French, Italian and cuisines from many countries around the world.

The Chicago Shakespeare Company is also in residence in the Magnificent Mile of Chicago Real Estate, as are a number of jazz clubs and galleries like Kenneth Probst, Peter Bartlow and R.S. Johnson, selling fine art, antiquities and much more.

Water Tower Place, the Shops at North Bridge, Chicago Place and the North Michigan Shops also offer commercial real estate opportunities in well-advertised storefronts, malls and real estate centers.

If you are looking for commercial real estate in this area of Chicago, be sure you employ a reputable broker. Rents are high and real estate is precious. Options to extend commercial leases and expansion options to take on more space will come at a premium in this real estate market.

Upscale brokers like Gordon McAdam, Property Management companies like Zeller, and Executive Suite brokers like AMATA deal in finding and leasing commercial real estate and space to businesses in this area.

If you are looking for Chicago real estate on the Magnificent Mile, be sure you find a company that will work with you to assess your square footage requirements, and do an office or building search that will take into consideration the ideal location for your type of business.

These companies can also help you analyze the commercial lease you will be asked to sign and negotiate more favorable terms. Some have partners that offer architectural and build-out services for your real estate needs, and even move-in and utility hook-up services.

If you DO rent commercial real estate along the prestigious Magnificent Mile in Chicago, make the most of your network by joining the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association. Membership in this business and real estate district association provides you the opportunity to participate in business-to-business marketing activities and to have your logo and business identify advertised and promoted in the Magnificent Mile events and activities.

The Board of Director’s for this Chicago real estate business district and association always includes prestigious hotel managers and business managers for large commercial vendors like Neiman-Marcus, as well as business district and service vendors who provide the local transportation. These are good people to know if you want to promote your business.

Get to know the individuals who share this small square of real estate with you and leverage their connections to help you make more money and pay that steep rent bill every month.

Per square mile, this patch of Chicago real estate will produce more income for your business, but it will cost you a pretty penny to house your business here.

If you want to consider Chicago real estate with a slightly less onerous price tag, you can consider real estate in the Riverfront area, which is very near the Magnificent Mile and attracts lots of tourists. There are lots of events there and the overflow of shoppers and tourists from the Magnificent Mile is a definite advantage to renting commercial real estate in the area.