What does your financial future hold?

<img src="financial security.jpg" alt="Financial security" width="300" height="200">

3 Tips on how to take responsibility for your financial future

Your financial security is the structure of your future wellbeing. Here is the ABC – easy to remember tips – on how to take responsibility for your financial future:

  • A – Assess

Spending money without knowing the ins-and-outs of your current financial status quo could be an irresponsible practice, and possibly get you into dire money difficulties before you know it.

To begin by assessing your financial situation is a sure way of knowing exactly where you stand. It will give you a clear picture (the bigger one) of your current and future financial situation, how to achieve a reasonable living standard and maintain it, as well as assisting you in setting goals for the future.

If you are finding it hard to make sense of your assessment, speak to a reputable financial advisor to give you sound advice on how to take responsibility for your financial future.

  • B – Budget

Keeping a budget is the gold card of financial transparency.

By keeping a monthly record, (book or spreadsheet), noting your income (credit) and expenditures (debits), you’ve achieved an important step in taking responsibility for your financial future.

Make a note of the things you spend money on that is not included on the normal debit list. Add that to your budget too. It will give you a pretty good idea whether you are pouring money down the drain or not.

  • C – Cleanup

To ‘cleanup’ in a financial context, means the following:

  • Putting a plan in motion to cleanup all your debts by becoming debt-free
  • Getting rid of all clutter (including unnecessary financial indulgences)

The Way Forward

Even if you are in a relationship that supports you on a monitory level, it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure your personal financial future. Independence is a good thing in the long run. Life is unpredictable and one should at least make sure you have a cushion to land on when the relationship tumbles.

Slaving away and living frugally needs to be balanced by a reward or treat every now and then. It’s really ok to take a holiday, enjoy a spa-treatment or purchase a luxury item.

You’ve worked for it, you deserve it!

KP_WB_320x50

 

This article originally posted on http://www.free-quote-for-car-insurance.com/ and reposted here with permission.

Meditation and YOU

<img src="meditation.jpg" alt="Meditation" width="300" height="198">

Meditation, Meditating and the Art of Mindful Communication

I am somewhat of a latecomer to the art of meditation, but better late than never is what they say. I came to it through a rather round-about way. By unexpectedly landing a job working with homeless people I was confronted with my age old problem of not being a good listener. Off to the bookstore I went and purchased a book. The Five Keys to Mindful Communication by Susan Gillis Chapman is what I found. She starts off her communication remedies with a recipe for meditation on page 12:

“Suggestions for maintaining a (meditation) practice:

  • Find a place that feels right to you and create an environment that reflects dignity, warmth, and openness.
  • Choose a time of day when you feel alert.
  • Turn off phones and other distractions.
  • Decide on a length of time and stick with it, using a timer or a piece of incense.”

As someone who has not been in the habit of practicing meditation, I find it very hard to actually do. The effort of making meditation a high priority in my daily life, where it has to compete with other major functions like eating and sleeping is quite big. So the most natural thing is to turn to YouTube for some inspiration and help. I came across any number of guided meditation sessions that last from ten minutes up to over eight hours. A guru like Alan Watts would argue that meditation for any purpose is a sham, but I found the different themes like meditation for clear mind, or healing the body very useful.

Ultimately, what I have learned over the last three weeks of practicing different styles of meditation is that it is a method that puts things in perspective. How then can this be useful in communication? It is like the author Susan Gillis Chapman says: “The point of open-minded meditation isn’t to try to get rid of thoughts. The point is merely to relax, unfreeze the mind, and allow the thoughts to flow instead of getting tangled up in them.” In a conversation this helps to not take yourself or the other person too seriously, or to get carried away into over-reacting.

KP_WB_320x50

This article originally posted on http://www.car-insurance-south-africa.co.za/ and reposted here with permission.

Freelance Writer FAQ

<img src="freelance writer.jpg" alt="Freelance writer" width="300" height="200">

Are you ready to become a Freelance writer?

You will come to realize that there are many questions that you will want answered when you consider a career as a freelance writer. If you are thinking of making this a full time career, you will also realize that there are many risks involved. You will have to do plenty of research in order to deliver unique and informative content.
Below are listed the most FAQ that freelance writers have:

Will I be able to make a living as a freelance writer?

You will be able to make a living as a freelance writer, however, it is important that you realize that it requires hard work and long hours. You will have to be determined and have the ability to effectively organize and schedule your time.

What equipment and skills will I require?

You will have to be able to write in Perfect English. You need to have a broad vocabulary and the ability to gather information and write about any topic. A computer with internet connection is a must. If you are a sensitive person, this is not the career for you. You will have a lot of people giving you critic.

How do I keep other writers from stealing my work?

Unfortunately, you will not be able to stop or limit people from stealing content on the internet. Copy and paste is the downside of writing. People will try to pass stolen content as their own.

How can I win job Bids?

Create a fantastic profile explaining what your skills are and why you are the best person for that particular job. If you have some articles posted on the internet you can provide the client with the links to those articles.

How do I make decent money?

• Register yourself on a site that offers to pay on demand.
• Even if you don’t think that your articles are good enough, try to submit them to magazines. There is a lot of money in magazine submissions.
• Expand your reputation by not limiting yourself to articles. Try blog posting  and product descriptions as well as short stories and proofreading.
• Stay focused, utilize constructive criticism and improve with constant and consistent training.
• Always give your best and make your deadlines. Make sure that your writing is error free. Your articles should be free of spelling and grammar mistakes.
Above all, enjoy every minute. To be able to write is a true gift. If you have a passion for writing, you are sure to make it.
Be creative!

Don’t get so busy that you forget to arrange for Insurance cover for all your valuables!

KP_WB_320x50

This article originally posted on http://www.dial-direct.co.za/ and reposted here with permission.

Turning Point for “#FeesMustFall” Student Protests?

<img src="feesmustfall.jpg" alt="feesmustfall" width="300" height="300">

“#FeesMustFall” – The Protest of the Century?

Most universities in South Africa are still plagued by what is called the protest of the century, since the anti-apartheid demonstration in 1976 in Soweto. The #FeesMustFall student protest had it’s onset at the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) in Johannesburg on 14 October and quickly accelerated towards the rest of the country. Social media hash tags such as #NationalShutdown and #FeesMustFall fueled the protests. It all started as a rally against the steep increase of 10.5% tuition fees for 2016 and 6% in upfront registration fees. Each university has it’s own list of student demands, of which high tuition fees and outsourcing of cleaning services by universities are of the biggest concern.

Angry Students Turning Violent

Sadly, what started as a peaceful protest soon turned violent and vandalistic. The law states that anyone violently entering a gathering of government would be seen as major security risk to the country and be shot on sight. Police handled the crowd with rubber bullets, teargas and stun grenades at first, but according to an eyewitness, they started loading guns with sharp point ammunition as soon as confrontation heated up dangerously. Had the student protest in the Cape succeeded to entering Parliament, it would have caused a massacre and immense damage to our country. While the #FeesMustFall student protest made history in many ways, it could have marked one of the worst incidents of our country as well.

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

President Zuma caved in to the pressure last Friday by committing to a 0% increase for next year. While it is unclear where the R 2.2 Bn shortage would come from, students feel that it still isn’t enough and would rather opt for free tertiary schooling. What will happen if final year students, not able to afford an extra year’s studies, are prevented to write? Then again, there will be even less graduates entering the country’s economy as well, which just widens the gap between less privileged students and the others. This was part of the initial reasons for the protests. The already weak and fragile Rand commodity also took a nose dive due to the protests, putting even more strain on the economy, which is now developing in a vicious circle.

“#FeesMustFall” – Turning Point for Universities

While some universities committed to resuming classes on Monday, some still stay closed for the time being. Apart from what the president promised, universities are busy seeking and working towards solutions and financial relief to students. The TUKS (university of Pretoria) vice counselor agreed to meet student’s initial demands, amongst others.

Exam Jitters?

October is synonymous with the Jacaranda trees in full bloom, painting the cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg in the most glorious purple. It is also synonymous with exam time on university campuses. There is an old novel belief amongst students that you will pass the exams if a jacaranda blossom lands on your head. Well, this year is different with student protests brutally disrupting exams. Some even speculate that it might be those students who were bound to fail anyway, leading the protests by trying to sidestep the exams.

In most scenarios in life, timing is everything. In retrospect, was this the best time for announcing fee increases? How about those wishing to finish exams in time? By worrying about next year’s higher fees, also has a negative impact on an already exam-stressed student’s moral.

Now What?

Now would be the time for our government to step up by allocating hard-earned taxpayers’ money correctly, honestly, intelligently and justly! Instead of spending enormous amounts of money on changing the names of streets and towns, rather allocate that money for university subsidies and government bursaries for disadvantaged students. After all, isn’t educating our youth what really matters? They are the future leaders of this country.

So at this point the unhappiness over Nkandla surfaces once again in articles. One news headline in The Gardian read: “Dear Jacob Zuma, this time white people haven’t made us angry. You did”. Students feel that the government failed them and that very little of the promises made by the ANC during the 1994 and every other election thereafter, were kept. Of course this would also be the time for students to take responsibility and act like the adults they are supposed to be. It would be of no use to have more affordable (or even free) tuition if they wouldn’t academically do their part to succeed.

KP_WB_320x50

COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS

<img src="community corrections.jpg" alt="Community Corrections" width="300" height="119">

Community Corrections: Oscar Pistorius

Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to correctional supervision which will come into effect after his release from prison on 20 October 2015. According to the department of correctional services, there are two alternatives to imprisonment, namely correctional supervision and parole. They are called community corrections.

The purpose of community corrections is to rehabilitate, reform and assist offenders with reintegration into the community, and to control and supervise them.

How Correctional Supervision Works

  • The offender performs free service in the community for a set number of hours during his spare time.
  • This service must benefit the community and may be rendered at institutions such as hospitals, schools, old age homes and nature conservation projects.
  • Correctional officials control and supervise all probationers by strict monitoring. The degree of monitoring is determined by the offender’s possible risk to the community and is done by:
  • Telephone calls at home and at work.
  • Visits to the probationer’s home.
  • Visits to the workplace.
  • Compulsory consultation visits by the probationer to the Community Corrections Office.
  • Visits to the probationer at a place where he/she renders community service.
  • The offender has to adhere to court conditions. The purpose is to protect the community and to prevent relapse into crime.
  • It includes house arrest, which is that portion of the day/night when the probationer does not work and is compelled to be at home. The period of house arrest of individual probationers may differ.

Conditions

  • Probationers must have a job and a place of residence
  • They must be physically/financially cared for
  • They may not change work or place of residence without prior consent
  • Use/abuse of alcohol may also be strictly prohibited
  • Probationers must not commit any offence while serving the sentence of correctional supervision.
  • Attend specialised programmes or lectures on specific subjects with the purpose to:
  • Address specific identified needs or problem areas of individual cases with a view to preventing recurrence of the offence.
  • Foster responsibility.
  • Prevent drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Improve family responsibility and relationships.
  • Acquire social skills.

Community corrections is an internationally recognised practice.

KP_WB_300x250

Source: Department of Correctional Services

http://www.dcs.gov.za/Services/CommunityCorrections.aspx

Water on Mars

 

<img src="mars.jpg" alt="Mars" width="300" height="124">

NASA Confirms: Liquid Water on Mars

NASA has now confirmed that there is evidence of liquid water on Mars at the present day. Although it is known that Mars once had an ocean that may have covered a third of its surface, and that there is ice on Mars, liquid water has only now been confirmed.

Where is the Water?

Steep slopes close to Mars’ equator, including that of the Coprates Chasma, are marked by dark streaks called recurring slope lineae. These are produced by flowing saltwater and observations suggest that the water appears during warmer seasons where the temperatures are above -23 °C.

The recurring slope lineae was first spotted in 2010 by Lujendra Ojha, then an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona, on photos which had been taken by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Where is the Water Coming From?

One of the questions scientists now need to answer is where this liquid water on Mars is coming from. At the moment the team is favouring the hypothesis that the water is atmospheric in origin. This means that the surface salts are absorbing water from the surrounding atmosphere. A second hypothesis is that the water is fueled by an aquifer or melting subsurface ice.

Life on Mars?

The finding of liquid water on Mars at the present new and exciting questions as to whether life could exist on the Red Planet. It is still unclear if the saltwater’s composition could support life (for instance in the form of bacteria), but that will form part of the studies going forward. “It seems that the more we study Mars, the more we learn how life could be supported and where there are resources to support life in the future”, Michael Meyer – NASA’s lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program – said.

KP_WB_930x180

HOMO NALEDI – More Answers or More Questions?

<img src="homo naledi.jpg" alt="Homo naledi" width="300" height="150">

HOMO NALEDI – The Missing Link?

With the revealing of new found Homo naledi fossil in September 2015, in the Cradle of Humankind, Gauteng, one might wonder if it will finally provide the answer to the missing link for evolutionists as some might believe, between man and ape (if there was any) or does it now rise even more questions? Some of these questions will remain hanging, especially while the fossils could not be dated yet and might not be for years to come, as two dating methods already failed. According to Wikipedia, the lineage to which the Homo naledi belonged suggests it could have lived 2.5 to 2.8 million years ago. Nonetheless, this marked super exciting times, especially for paleoanthropologist and also National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Professor Lee Berger from the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS).

Triumph for Berger – at last!

After Berger started working for the WITS University in the early 1990’s, he battled to prove others in his field wrong believing that the roots of our species lies in East Africa. He believed that South Africa’s Cradle of Humankind holds the answers. Almost 20 years with minor findings would seem to strengthen the ideas of his counterparts, until he and his son found primitive hominin fossils sticking out of rocks about 16 kilometres from the Rising Star caves in 2008. After he called on recreational cavers to be on the lookout for any fossils, Steve Tucker and Rick Hunter finally discovered the chamber in 2013 in the cave explored by many others before, including themselves.

Underground Astronauts

Within a few days, Berger was snowed under with applications after his requests on social media for a specific kind of scientists to do caving work, some two years before the big announcement. They would remove the Homo naledi fossils from the Dinaledi chamber deep inside the Rising Star cave system. This followed the accidental discovery of this chamber by the two cavers (Tucker and Hunter) while looking for new discoveries. The two men are both of slender build, however one of them dislocated a shoulder while pushing through the narrow area on his way out. Apart from the obvious criteria of certain qualifications and skills, the cavers had to be of petite built to fit through a very narrow (18 centimetres) part followed by a 12 metre vertical shaft, the only entrance to the cave. Six women from all over the world, comically referred by Berger as his underground astronauts, were chosen for this delicate but extremely dangerous and difficult work.

Most Peculiar Graveyard

Although the ritual of burying the dead in a common place was always solely a human trait, all evidence point to the Homo naledi disposing of their dead into the complete isolated and almost inaccessible Dinaledi chamber. A large amount of skeletons from all ages being dumped over a vast period of time were found. The bodies were supposedly placed through the narrow opening into the chamber around the time of their death. It would be impossible for the fossils being carried into the chamber by water or predators, or by any other means for that matter. No other type of fossil was found amongst those of the Homo naledi.

Interesting, no doubt!

  • This species has both human (hands for tool usage, feet and their burial rituals) as well as ape like characteristics (shoulders for climbing and a small brain). Biology found enough features to categorise it into the hominin species. When aged, it could change what was known about human development before, says Professor Berger.

  • The average H. naledi was about 1.5 metres in height and 45 kilograms in weight with a small brain similar to earlier Homo species.

  • The bones of fifteen individuals were found to date (1 550 fossil pieces), but according to Berger, this is just the tip of the iceberg and many more is still to be found.

  • It is still unclear how they could move around within in the deep dark passages. Could they have used some kind of fire torch?

The Evolution Debacle

The famous saying goes: Desperate times call for desperate measures. As far as it goes for the evolution of our world and it’s habitants, a saying of Modern times call for modern measures might apply. Everything is ever evolving forever more. The one constant in life we can count on is change. Different types of evolution take place every single day in all areas of life, which doesn’t necessarily provide proof for any Darwin theories or question Moses’ creation theories in the Holy Bible. It is just as it is, thanks to our ever-changing modern life and technological inventions. We all have our own theories and whether we believe in the Bible or the big bang is up to every individual to decide for themselves. As long as we never stop learning, questioning and seize to change for the better.

Deforestation – the end of human life on the planet?

 

<img src="deforestation.jpg" alt="Deforestation" width="300" height="200">

Time to get real about sustainable life on earth

The World Forestry Congress in Durban has finally reached a place where experts are no longer beating about the bush: We are all going to die if we do not pay attention to what we (the human species) are doing to our planet. The truth can no longer sustain the awkward dance to the tunes played by greed and politics. The message is short and not-very-sweet: Preserve forests or the end is in sight.

Environmental activists, long relegated to the ranks of the criminally insane, have been right all along. But there is no satisfaction in the vindication. How sad it is when something so devastating is true. The world has lost forests the size of our country in very recent times. Communities from South America to Africa, from Nepal to Canada via Norway, depend on the forests for their livelihood. Some of these communities are desperately poor, in spite of the fact that their trees provide products to the design snobs of the wealthiest groups in the world. Those that shout green values the loudest are often the same people that insist on natural wood products from ancient trees.

Goran Person, president of Think Forest, suggests that a bold push for bio economy is the answer. Of course, but is it not too late already? Although the rate at which the world is cutting down its forests has slowed down in the past twenty years, the consequences of what went before cannot be reversed, and the process continues albeit slightly slower. United Nations Development representative, Martinez-Soliman, points out that some parts of the world are heading for disaster still. The world population continues to grow, in spite of the loss of life due to war and famine, flood and fire, earthquake and the biggest population migration (in the form of refugees) in the history of the world. That means more food will be required. Everybody knows commercial farming, and cutting down forests to create the space for it, is a short term solution.

BUT

  • More creative ways of producing food remain cumbersome and do not make the rich richer, so will they bother?
  • Most Africans to this day rely on biomass for fuel.
  • The global damage is irreversible. Forests give protection against climate change (trees absorb carbon dioxide). Deforestation worsens soil erosion, landslides and flood damage.
  • 2-billion people rely on forests for their livelihood of which an estimated 60-million indigenous people are entirely dependent on them.
  • The biggest losses of forested areas are in the tropical zones of Africa and South America.

The political will and the power of a vibrant social conscience lag behind science in this field. There are solutions, but humankind is too busy with more pressing challenges to address the biggest problem of them all. Join social initiatives and watch your own addiction to comforts that do harm. If we do not wake up our children’s children will have to flee to another planet. You’d better believe it!

Ref: BDlive

Deregulation and the Petrol Price

<img src="petrol price.jpg" alt="Petrol price" width="300" height="200">

Will deregulation lead to a lower petrol price?

Every month we all wait with bated breath for the announcement on the petrol price for the next month. Will it go up again? Will be we be lucky for a while? It is not only vehicle owners that are affected by the petrol price. Everybody is affected. A higher petrol price means a rise in food prices, a rise in transport prices; in fact, a rise in everything.

It is interesting to note that the petrol industry is the only industry in South Africa that is still regulated. Many analysts believe that deregulation of the petrol industry will immediately result in a sharp drop in the petrol price. “Not a chance!” says Peter Morgan, director of the Fuel Retailers Association. Morgan points out the following interesting facts about the petrol price to support his belief.

  • It is not the petrol price that causes a rise in prices; it is the diesel price! Consumer goods are transported with diesel, not petrol. And guess what? The diesel industry has been deregulated for some time! And what happened? The price of diesel immediately went up. The same thing will happen with the petrol price, says Morgan.

  • Why will the petrol price not drop after deregulation? Morgan says the answer is very simple. A very large percentage of the petrol price is made up of the price of crude oil and an astonishing variety of taxes and levies. The retail margin on the petrol price is a mere 7.24% while the wholesale margin is only 4.79%. So it comes down to this simple fact: retailers can scarcely afford to offer a lower petrol price because they already earn a pitiful profit margin.

This may indeed be the case, argue proponents of deregulation, but industry analysts forget about the very nature of a capitalist environment where competition is fierce. Why, for example, will a large retail group not offer a lower petrol price at their own petrol stations simply to attract customers to do their shopping at their shops? Think about it for a second: if you have to spend a certain amount at a certain retailer in order to qualify for a much reduced petrol price at the petrol station of that retailer, will you not rather shop there?

Perhaps deregulation should be put back on the agenda. I think the petrol price will drop, at least at some petrol stations.

Municipalities: Western Cape the Best

<img src="municipalities.jpg" alt="Municiplities" width="300" height="200">

Publication of Non-Financial Census of Municipalities

Western Cape provides best basic services

Statistics South Africa has just released their non-financial census of municipalities. This publication is published yearly and monitors the provision of free basic services and poverty alleviation programmes by municipalities. It provides baseline non-financial information from all 278 municipalities in the country. This information is used by policymakers and other interested parties for analysis, planning and monitoring purposes when it comes to delivering basic services such as water, electricity, sewerage and sanitation as well as solid waste management.

Stats SA kindly provides the following summary of the P9115 – Non-Financial Census of Municipalities for the year ended June 2014-report on their website: “The number of consumer units receiving services from municipalities increased between 2013 and 2014. The highest percentage increase from 2013 to 2014 in the provision of services was recorded in sewerage and sanitation (5,9%), followed by solid waste management (5,6%), electricity (4,6%) and water (3,9%).”

DA-lead Western Cape offers top free basic services to the poor

It is interesting to note that the official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) that runs the Western Cape Province, leads in all categories depicted in the latest non-financial census of municipalities. The Western Cape demonstrates the highest proportion of residents and/or consumers that benefited from:

  • Free basic water services (75.7%)

  • Free basic electricity services (44.9%)

  • Free basic sewerage and sanitation services (69%)

  • Free basic solid waste management services (52.8%)

Government should walk the talk and improve basic service delivery

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan launched the “Back to Basics”-strategy a year ago, promising that government will see to it that municipalities get basic services right, and heed concerns from the public.

The DA reckons ANC-lead municipalities are “lagging far behind” when it comes to delivering improved basic services. The DA wants all South Africans to live with dignity — the proof is in the pudding: the “DA-run Western Cape delivers the best free basic services to the poor”. Read the DA’s Service Delivery Policy here.

References

http://www.statssa.gov.za/

http://www.da.org.za/