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After reading that miserable article, I was IM’ing with a friend of mine at Complex Diagrams. (He’s a UI designer I know.) It struck me that what I really wanted to write was an article about the skills that have served me most in life, not just school, but the actual office.

1. Being able to read a lot, and fast.

It will get you through college and through a lot of stuff at work when you’re on a deadline. I took a speed reading course during freshman orientation week in college. I was already a fast reader, but it did help me learn a few new tricks I still use today. Along with reading a lot and fast, is having a good vocabulary so you don’t have to drag out a dictionary all the time. (But if you need an online one, I recommend Merriam-Webster’s site. It’s my go-to site when I need help.) I don’t know how to help you if you have dyslexia. I have several friends with this problem and I just don’t get it. But all of them have extremely powerful memories.

2. Think critically.

Be a skeptic. Not necessarily a nay-sayer, but a devil’s advocate. You want to be able to decide what ideas are meritorious and not just say no or be negative just to be a jerk. You can build something up by tearing it down in a constructive way. Knowing how to evaluate ideas, concepts, people, everything is really important. By doing this well, you will become the office resource for quality discussions.

3. Argue effectively.

Understand what’s really at stake during people’s conversations at the office so you can know how to argue for the right things. I debated in high school and in college. I also wrote a lot of essay and research papers in high school. And though I was a very bad writer in high school, I got to college and was well-practiced at documenting an argument. I still use those skills at work for emails, proposals, design and requirement documents.

4. Write grammatically, if not concisely.

I will admit, I don’t know how to use a semi-colon very well, so I cover it up by using a period wisely. Knowing what an Oxford comma is not necessary, but spelling properly, using antecedents and subordinating clauses well goes a long way in communicating at the office. Do not underestimate it. Emails get forwarded and people who don’t know you will form an impression of you in text. In general, I am not a concise writer, nor speaker. But I know how to edit in text, which helps overcome my problem.

5. Focus and sustain effort.

Being able to focus your energy and effort for 2 hours or more is really important. As I age, I realize what a short attention span I have at work. Judicious application of focusing myself has saved me, my team, and my project many times in life. Learn how to self-discipline yourself to focus.

6. Listen actively, and listen ‘through’ people for what they are not saying and understand their motives and agendas.

Hearing and listening are two different things. I register aural stimulation when I hear, but I understand when I listen. Plus people like it when you listen to them. It makes them feel good, which segues into my next point.

7. Be generally friendly and nice at the office.

Sounds weird, but just saying hello to people helps. I often have to talk to total strangers and if you at least give the appearance of being nice, when you do have to speak to someone out of the blue, they will be positive and helpful.

Ok, these are certainly not the only life success tips out there. It’s just the seven concrete life skills I think make a difference. My evidence is my life. When I am lacking in one skill or another, I can tell. I continually fall back on some of these skills at work no matter where I’ve worked or what I am doing. My job reviews, assessments, peer reviews, recommendations, etc, all mention variations on these themes. I am sure that there are quite a few other things I could have put, like self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses, but I think that comes later, after you build a foundation with these seven things.

What are your key life skills that have added to your personal success?

As you are reading this article I believe that you have recognized the value of life insurance and are in a process of evaluating your insurance needs or looking for a Life Insurance Calculator and I hope you will be signing up for an insurance contract with the best term life insurance company very soon. First things first, let me congratulate you for realizing the value of Insurance and let me take a chance to remind (read warn) you once again that your journey for buying life insurance shouldn’t stop here and I really hope that you will turn your wish to reality and fulfill the commitment of buying term life insurance which is the corner step for securing the future of your family.

Now coming to the main question of this article, how much insurance do you need is always a tricky question and to be honest there is no straight forward answer to this, as a thumb rule many experts will ask you to take at least 10 to 20 times of your current annual package (CTC) but to practice in life that is not the correct way to address the insurance needs. I agree that the views of no two people can be same and it is ideal to assume that we have different answers or thumb rules for this important question. Today let me take a chance to list my views on calculating life insurance needs based on which I hope you will be able to get a conclusion of how much life insurance do you really need?

Your Earning Capability

Your earning capability to earn can help you in deciding the basic value of life insurance that you should buy and even experts may not be wrong in suggesting 10 to 20 times of your current annual package as life insurance but the thumb rule have its own set of flaws, let me cite an example consider Mr. Chakravarthy aged 30 years earning Rs. 500000 per annul decided to take insurance based on the thumb rule he have to take insurance ranging between Rs. 50 lakhs to Rs. 1 Crore but the flaw here is Mr. Chakravarthy current package is 5 lakhs and he have potential of earning much higher than the current package as years pass by and it will not be outrageous to say that his package could be at least Rs. 7.5 lakhs after 5 years assuming a 10% hike (in simple terms not compounded, even I know that 10% hike every year results the packages after 5 years to Rs. 805255) and after 10 years he will be capable of earning a minimum of 1 million rupees even with moderate hikes. Now returning to the question of insurance required the insurance requirements of Mr. Chakravarthy will be changed after a decade and he should buy insurance again at the age 40 years, thanks to inflation now his family needs much higher corpus in case if something happens to him and they may not be able to keep up their living standard as before with the proceedings from his insurance policy that he took 10 years ago and buying additional insurance again at that age may not practical all the times.

So what is the right figure with respect to the current annual income? For this you should be considering your income after 10 years for people aged between 25 to 35 years or simply (Your Current Annual Income + Minimum of 100%) and for people aged above 35 years the value considered should be the income you are expecting to earn after 5 years or simply (Your Current Annual Income + Minimum of 50%) and multiply the value with the figure that you are comfortable with after considering your life style expenses, bills, education costs, etc. and the way you want your family to lead their lives in your absence (my thumb rule suggestion is to take a 10 multiplier if you are frugal with limited expenses and less discretionary expenses or take a 20 multiplier if your family have high life style expenses with huge discretionary expenses).

Assuming that you don’t have any loans, liabilities to handle and have no plans to avail loans in future you are good to go with above figure and end reading here, for rest continue further.

Consolidate Your Debts & Liabilities

 

List down all your debts, loans, liabilities (everything is same but mandatory to make a list) and combine that figure and add this figure to the one arrived in above step. Why this? Because your family may not be in a place to pay off your debts and a major chunk of the proceedings from the life insurer may get exhausted for writing off your debts, so it is essential to cover the whole of your debts and get coverage for that amount as well.

Think Future

Sometimes your current requirements may not fulfill your future needs, you may be married with no kids or a single kid today and you need to be ready to handle the expenses of having a kid or two (sometimes things go beyond your control, pun intended), budgeting for these expenses is one part of financial planning but handling the risk of these costs should be considered while buying your life term insurance policy.

Consider Assets You Own

You keep on adding things all the time and adding up all these stuffs will raise the costs and now it’s time to cut the burden, list down all the assets you or your spouse own (please be generous enough while considering the value for real estate assets) or your family will inherit for sure (like building on the name of your father and you are the only son, which is safe to assume that you inherit) add them up all and just deduct the same figure from the life insurance value you need.

Human Life Value

It is always tough to calculate the Human Life Value (HLV) for which we have emotional attachment but for reasons known to us primarily for peace of mind and to cover the uncertainties that life have in its store for us it is your responsibility to cover financial aspects of your life to safeguard the future of your family.

In financial terms Human Life Value (HLV) is the sum of your lifetime earning capabilities which is certain if you live forever and for us that is not enough while calculating the life insurance value to change it HLV could be defined as follows which in my opinion is the right amount of life insurance you should but today.

Considering all these I hope you will make an informed decision, and I hope that you will be able to make your purchase considering this theory as life insurance calculator.

Between Us: What is your view on my definition of life insurance that is required? Please share your views on this. In case if you have already bought life insurance please calculate yourself if you are adequately insured and in case if you are under insured please take the right steps to increase it further.

Even though many women are starting to have a larger role in family finances and taking care of the money, there are some women who are still uncomfortable dealing with the finances. Here are five rules that can help you keep on the right financial track. (And you will find that these rules can help men, too!)

  1. Don’t let your partner control the finances: You are in a partnership. This means that you need to help make the money decisions. You need to know what sort of position you are in, and be involved in deciding where the money goes. Learn about how money works, and take an active interest. This also goes for stay at home partners: You are making a valuable contribution to the family finances by doing things for free that you would have to pay others to do. You deserve an equal say in the finances.
  2. Take care of your own needs first: To some, this may sound selfish. And for many women, the idea of taking care of themselves first seems wrong. However, you should make sure you are saving for your retirement before you take care of the college fund for your children. And you should also have access to money that you can save up — just in case something should happen to your marriage. Look into a spousal IRA for yourself, and consider a pre-nup to protect your assets.
  3. Stay away from co-signing: When you co-sign on a loan, you are assuming responsibility for it. If the person turns out to be unreliable, your credit score is lowered, and you are responsible for discharging the debt. You may feel bad, and you may want to help, but co-signing can be a bad financial move. Along the same lines, be wary about lending money to friends and family.
  4. Know your value: Whether in a salary negotiation or considering your “worth” to your family, know your value. Do research, and know how much your counterparts make in similar situations with regard to experience and education. Don’t accept less, just because you don’t want to rock the boat. (If the company really can’t afford it because of the economic times, that’s a different story.) If you know your value, don’t be afraid to be assertive. When you know your value, you are more likely to be valued. Your family should recognize your contributions is you are a stay at home partner, and value you as an integral part of the family.
  5. Take a risk or two: Many women are naturally risk averse. This shows up in money decisions, such as investments. If you want to grow your money more efficiently, you will need to take a financial risk or two. The good news is that you can use some investments, like index funds or proper diversification, to limit your exposure to risk, helping you grow your money without the emotional stress that comes with timing the market.

It might help to meet with a financial professional to discuss your finances, and set some reasonable goals. If you have a partner, this is a good thing to do together. Learning about how money works, and getting a little help with your finances can help you go a long way.

Summer days are longer and the kids are home from school, so that means your air conditioner is being used more, and it’s easy to increase the amount of energy you use every day. This can cause a big increase in your average electric bill, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By being more conscious of how you use the air conditioner, coming up with outdoor activities that require little or no energy, and making some changes around the house, you can lower your energy costs during the long days of summer. Consider the following energy efficiency tips to save money and have an energy efficient summer.

1. Try to keep your air conditioner off as much as possible.

Running your air conditioner is one of the biggest household energy expenses at any time of year, but it’s especially bad in the summer. Many experts in the prepaid electricity industry note that usage skyrockets because of  air condition use. You can cut down on those bills if you keep it off most of the time and make a few simple adaptations to your usage patterns. First, you can use fans more frequently, while keeping the windows closed and the curtains shut so your house will be cooler when the sun’s at its hottest. When it’s cooler outside, you can open the windows and try to create a cross breeze. If you have a two-story house, you can also spend more time downstairs or create a family center in the basement where it is cooler. Go outside for a few fun activities in the summer sun, including swimming and picnics. You can also go out to air-conditioned places like the movies, the mall, and other fun venues. Make sure you encourage your whole family to wear light clothing that they’ll stay cool. If your family is staying inside wearing sweatshirts in the summer because the air is too cold with air conditioning, you are simply wasting energy. Instead, use the air conditioning less and wear clothing appropriate to the season. When you are using your A/C try to keep it at 78° for optimal energy efficiency.

2. Make sure your air conditioner is energy efficient.

When you are using the air conditioner, make sure it’s running efficiently. It’s a good idea to look into this before the heat of summer is upon you. Check your home insulation and seals to make sure the cool air stays in and the hot air stays out. Change the air filter when it’s dirty to prevent the air conditioner from running longer and wasting energy. You might need to look into buying a newer, more energy-efficient air conditioner if you have an outdated model. Plus, do chores that cause heat, like drying clothes and using the oven, at night when it’s cooler so the air conditioner doesn’t have to work as much to keep the house cool.

3. Cut down on indoor cooking.

Use the grill for most of your cooking during the summer months. Grilling is a great summer activity and can expand your cuisine from winter comfort foods. You can grill meats and even many of the side dishes, including corn, vegetables and toasting buns. You can even cook some foods in baking dishes and pots on the grill, like baked beans and berry cobbler for dessert. If you decide to cook some items inside, try to keep it to only simple side dishes and do the bulk of the cooking on the grill. Another option is to make more lettuce salads and cold summer dishes like chicken salad and tuna salad that don’t require cooking. Cutting down on cooking inside will also prevent the house from getting as hot, so it can cut down on costs to keep the house cool. If you need grilling ideas, checkout this post on cheap and easy grilling recipes.

4. Take a break from electronics.

Kids and adults spend endless hours on the computer, on smartphones, watching TV, playing video games, and using countless additional electronic devices. But summer is the perfect time to enjoy some electronics-free fun. There are endless indoor and outdoor activities for kids and adults that can save on energy costs, including bike rides, reading, putting on a play, playing dress-up, playing board games and with toys, playing with water guns and water balloons, exploring the outdoors, fishing, camping, going on day trips, and more. Try to get the neighbors involved as well, so the activities can be more social. By engaging in more of these activities, you can save energy by not using electronics all day, plus you can unplug them during that time to prevent wasting energy through the standby functions.

5. Cut down on hot water use.

During the summer, it’s hot anyway, so it’s not so hard to cut down on hot water and save money on water-heating costs. Encourage your family to take cooler showers, which can be refreshing after a hot day in the sun. Practice shorter showers, no baths, and turning the water off when brushing teeth and shaving. Use cold water to wash the car and water the plants.

6. Cut down on the costs of your pool.

Pools take energy to run the filtration pumps, plus extra if you heat them and run lights at night. To cut down on energy usage here, consider going to a community pool instead, using a friend’s or neighbor’s pool, or going to the ocean or other natural bodies of water. If you want to continue to or start to use a pool at home, there are a few tricks that can help you save money. Use a cover on the pool when it’s not in use to cut down on cleaning, to prevent evaporation, and to keep the water warmer. Consider investing in a solar heating system if you need to heat the water. Also, specific filters, such as sand multi-layer filtration systems, can help you save money in energy costs by not using as much hot water.