The Truth About Business Travelers: I Am Pleasantly Surprised!

Traveling a lot for work recently has provided me with some unique opportunities to observe people. There are lots of stories and jokes and stereotypical characteristics about road warriors – people who travel a lot on business – and I expected to run into a lot of confirming examples. But what I’ve discovered is the few are creating an image to the detriment of the many. Here are 5 debunked myths about road warriors that may surprise you:

1. They enjoy freedom from the office while on the road. Quite the contrary, 80% to 90% of all the business travelers I see are working while traveling. They are talking quietly on the phone with conference calls while waiting in the airport, they pull out their laptops or tablets and start working as soon as we hit 10,000 feet in the air. Most business travelers are quite literally tethered to their offices and they don’t waste time hanging out or lolly gagging around. They are working.

2. They enjoy chatting about where they’ve been and how important they are at work. OK, so there are a few braggarts running around out there, but most of this behavior is seen only in the movies. Sure, rookies may fall into this trap for a little while but the vast majority of business travelers keep to themselves and work. The bad mannered folks fluffing their plumage at anyone who will listen are few and far between. You could be sitting next to a CEO or an Entrepreneur who makes 7 figures and you probably won’t know it. I really believe most business travelers see travel time as their own time to work and think with minimal interruptions.

3. They are rude. We’ve all heard the stories. I’ve witnessed a few business folks behaving in ways that would embarrass the crud out of their mothers, but on the whole the vast majority of business travelers I’ve seen recently have been considerate of the people around them. They talk in low voices while on the phone, they follow the FAA rules about electronic equipment usage, they patiently wait in line for the family with 3 kids, 7 bottles of water, 6 roller bags and a stroller to clear security. They don’t usually push and shove to get in or out of a line. And they don’t demand special attention from gate agents, flight attendants, hotel staff, or drivers. The rudest travelers I’ve observed lately have been folks on vacation.

4. They get to eat in fancy restaurants every night. I suppose some could afford it, but the reality is the fancy restaurants are an exception for the practiced business traveler. The rookies may try this for a while, but they learn pretty quickly that fancy meals and late nights make working on the road miserable. Most business travelers eat at the hotel where they are staying or a local take out. They are focused on getting something to eat, getting work prepared for the next day and getting some sleep. People who don’t travel a lot find it hard to believe but when you are on the road what you get hungry for is a simple meal like you can easily fix at home.

5. Business travel is glamorous. Yes, there are perks like frequent flyer miles and hotel points. But business travel is a lot about waiting to get where you are going, fitting in as much business as you can while you are there, and then going home. Its airports and hotels and offices and meetings. There’s very rarely time for sightseeing. Most experienced business travelers treat the travel as a normal part of their day – just a long commute. Interestingly, I think business travelers tend to be more focused on getting the job done while they are traveling so that they can relax when they go home.

Whether you are an entrepreneur or a corporate exec, your ability to expand your impact in the world is enhanced by business travel. It’s nice to know that most of the fellow travelers you’ll meet on the road are just regular people focused on doing a good job. Sure, there will be the occasional twit and some pretty funny stories to share, but most of it is routine as you join the ranks of the polite, yet focused business travelers.

Business Travel Agents Tips: A Corporate Travellers’ New York Airports Guide

New York City is one of the most popular key travel destinations for corporate travellers worldwide. The city is the center of much that’s great, dynamic and profitable in America. It is home of one of the world’s principal financial centres (i.e. anchored by Wall Street), and a popular business hub for the publishing and entertainment industry at the same time. So, it’s no surprise it features three airports, Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and J. F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). As a frequent corporate traveller you probably may have flown to one of the three New York airports at some point or another. With JFK being a major international gateway to the US, this city guide aims to provide some helpful travel agents tips for corporate travellers flying to or from JFK Airport.

New York JFK Facts & Figures

Located about 25km away from Manhattan in Queens, JFK Airport is the largest airport in the state of New York and one of the busiest business travel hubs (over 50 million travellers/year) in the US and internationally. It has six operating terminals (numbered 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8; terminal 6 was demolished in 2011, Terminal 3 in 2013). Currently, the 4th runway is under redevelopment to comply with the needs of Group VI aircraft (until December 2015 as planned so far), which may cause delays, but measures are in place to minimise them, so you shouldn’t be too much affected. With more than 90 airlines arriving and departing from JFK, various business travel solutions for flights to New York can be arranged. Points of origin and destinations include places within the US, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Pacific, Australia/New Zealand, basically all over the world. The airport offers corporate travellers a choice of non-stop flights to about 100 international destinations which may prove convenient for your next business trip. However, JFK is very susceptible to weather-related delays due to its position. Corporate travellers are well advised to consider and prepare for possible thunderstorms in summer, causing delays across the US, as well as snow, icing and assorted slush throughout the winter season. For the months between June and November the risk of potential hurricanes is increased.

In general, our business travel agents team advise leisure and corporate travellers to allow plenty of time for getting to and from JFK. Serious traffic incidents on the way between the city and the airport left many wondering whether they’ would be able to make it in time or miss their flight. Furthermore, don’t forget that this is America. Therefore, bear in mind that the TSA rules supreme over security checkpoints. So, take a deep breath and take maybe a book with you or something else to keep you busy. Make sure you arrive early.

Useful JFK terminal facilities for corporate travellers

In most public areas within most terminals, corporate travellers will conveniently find that Wi-Fi is available for free for up to 30min. You can get online near the ticket counters, boarding gates, designated work stations and food courts. The Wi-Fi access is provided by Boingo Wireless Company. If you need to use the internet for longer than 30mins., consider the following options: 1) $4.95 (£3.01, €3.77) per hour (pay as you go), 2) $7.95 (£4.83,€6.05) for unlimited access throughout a 24-hour period (day pass), 3) $9.95 (£6.04,€7.58) per month (unlimited access via a monthly subscription, to be used worldwide), or 4) if you already have a user account, simply log in using your user name and password. ATMs, currency exchange options (Lenlyn or Travelex), a rental phone shop, and more than 100 shops alongside various dining options are available at the terminals.

Ground transportation services from JFK Airport to New York City

The most convenient, stress-free way for travel from and to JFK Airport is to take the AirTrain. It is a cost efficient and helps you make sure you arrive at the airport in time, whilst avoiding possible traffic jams. You can access AirTrain services via the New York City subway system, which is also connected to the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). The journey from/to the city takes just over an hour. AirTrain is operated 24 hours on 365 days a year. Within the airport area, it connects terminals and also enables you to easily access car rental services, hotel shuttle areas and parking lots. At peak times the trains depart every 7 minutes and at off-peak times they go every 15 minutes. However, be clever in choosing your business travel route, as various routes make different stops within the airport. Good news for corporate travellers is that travel within the airport is usually free of charge. However, travel outside the airport is subject to a fee. AirTrain prices generally start from $5 (£3.04, €3.81). For more details on ticket prices are provided on the JFK Airport website under costs and tickets. If you travel via New York’s public transport network, then it is a good idea to use MetroCard, which is widely accepted and is worth to purchase for travel via subway, local trains, or buses. You can find vending machines for buying a MetroCard at Howard Beach and Jamaica Station. A good alternative for corporate travellers would be to take a taxi (for up to 4 passengers). Simply wait in the cab line for a licensed and insured cab to take you to your destination (about $52, i.e. about £31.58, €39.59, flat rate between JFK and Manhattan, excluding tips and tolls). The time for this trip should be about an hour. However, it can take much longer during rush hour.

Shared-ride shuttle services are a cheaper option than taxis, but can involve a lot of waiting and being driven around New York City to drop other people off first. You can find a full list of providers on the airport authority’s website. But remember to tip appropriately, as tipping (around 20% of transfer cost) is quite common and keep in mind that bridge/tunnel tolls are not included in the shared-ride shuttle services fares. Another option is to ask your business travel company to arrange a shuttle service for your trip from and to John F. Kennedy International Airport as prices can vary greatly depending on location and number of passengers. In this way you can ensure that you are travelling with a reliable supplier.

An express bus service is also available for a nominal fee from Penn Station (reachable e.g. by AirTrain or taxi). The service operates from early morning to late night, with buses running at least every half hour.

The airport is also home to several car rental agencies. Leisure and corporate travellers can choose between a number of car major rental companies including Advantage, Thrifty, Dollar, Enterprise, Budget, Hertz, National and Avis.

So, which mode of transport should corporate travellers choose for a trip from JFK to Newark and LaGuardia airports? Usually the best way to get to Newark Airport from JFK Airport is to simply take the AirTrain. However, if you need to travel to LaGuardia during your business trip, it we recommend to take advantage of a convenient shuttle bus service, using the free Route A (running every 10-15 minutes from 4:00am to 11:30pm) or Route B (running every 10-15 minutes from 6:00am to 2:00am). In any case, more details, also for connections to other airports,

Hotels near JFK Airport

Hotel booking services for corporate travellers flying to New York JFK AirportAlthough there are no operating hotels at JFK Airport at the moment, New York provides corporate travellers a huge choice (from budget accommodation to luxury suites) of hotels and motels, which are conveniently located nearby the airport. Most hotel accommodations nearby offer shuttle services. Alternatively you can take the AirTrain to the Federal Circle station and follow the “Courtesy Hotel Shuttles” signs. There are telephone services for the hotel courtesy shuttles located at the AirTrain Federal Circle Station and in the arrival areas of the airport terminals ($5, i.e. about £3.04, €3.81, Service Charge for making reservations). The range of motels and hotels include the Hilton*, the Courtyard* by Marriott, Hampton Inn*, Sheraton*, Hilton Garden, Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Fairfield Inn* by Marriott, Days Inn, Best Western and Howards Johnson. The ones marked by an * are also offering conference and meeting rooms for corporate events.

© Copyright Flightline Travel Management Ltd. All rights reserved. All prices correct at time of publication.

In part two of our New York City Airport guide we’ll provide you with some business travel agents insider tips on Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA).

How to Delete Index.dat Files – Completely Erase Internet History

For those of you who are concerned about your privacy and don’t want any other users who have access to your computer to know what sites you’ve been visiting online, need to know how to completely erase internet history. You see you do not fully clear your internet browsing history when you clear the private data, cookies, browsing history etc. using your internet browsers lame privacy tools. In order to permanently delete the records of sites you have visited, pictures you have viewed, videos you have downloaded, or even emails you have sent online, you need to know How to delete Index.dat files. These files are hidden system files that keep a record of every single website and action you’ve performed online and if anyone gains access to them they can see exactly what you’ve been online. So by now I think you would’ve realized the importance of clearing index.dat files and since Microsoft doesn’t provide any utilities to delete index.dat files.

I’m going to show you how in this article.

Index.dat files are used by Microsoft to record information about internet sites that have been visited and details of cookies being stored on your PC. Whenever you visit a website on the net; the URL address, images viewed, time of visit, and other web page contents are all saved to your hard drive. There is no clear explanation as to why Microsoft needs these files but the primary reason is that the contents can be opened up quicker from your hard drive if you re-visit the same page again. One example of its use is when you type in the first few letters of an address in the URL bar that you’ve already visited and the full address quickly comes up, now this is great if you can’t be bothered re-typing the address but it’s a huge invasion of personal privacy if someone else is using your computer.

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of fully searching internet history or has heard about the existence of index.dat files will be able to know exactly what you’ve been doing online. So if you are worried about your privacy then you must learn how to delete index.dat files immediately, before someone else gets a hold of them.

Now I’m afraid erasing or clearing index.dat files is no easy task and it is virtually impossible to accurately delete all the files using manual deletion methods. The reason being, index.dat files are critical system files and are constantly being used by internet explorer and Windows all the time so you cannot simply drag and drop them in the recycling bin. You may be able to remove them using MS Dos if you are using Windows Me, Windows 98 or Windows 95 and then find and delete all the index.dat files one-one. However This is method is pretty complicated and vulnerable to errors as Windows usually stores more than one copy of index.dat and finding them all when they are located in hidden directories can be difficult. If you are using Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000 or Windows NT this tactic won’t work at all and you will need some help.

Because Microsoft hasn’t provided any utilities to easily delete index.dat files and also considering the fact they are near impossible to erase using manual methods, third party software designers have created programs specifically to erase index.dat files. Usually known as index.dat viewers or index.dat erasers, these programs are easily able to locate all index.dat files and quickly remove them, all at the click of a few buttons. Personally I use a program called Privacy Guardian 4.1 to completely clear my internet browsing history; it is able to fully secure my privacy by ensuring all traces of my online Internet and computer activity are permanently erased and unrecoverable.

So if you wondering how to completely erase your internet history then you must know How to delete Index.dat files. They cannot be deleted easily by manual methods and I must recommend you grab a good Index.dat eraser if you wish to delete index.dat files and fully secure your internet privacy. The good news is that most programs offer a free download so you can remove these files today at no cost. I can guarantee you will feel a lot better and be letting out a strong sigh of relief when you know you actually deleted all your internet browsing history permanently.

Slash Thousands From Your Business Travel

When it comes to your business travel we all know that this comes write out of your bottom line, but in order to keep good customer relations this is something that you must do. One of the most common things to do is to hire a business travel manager to handle all your business travel arrangements.

Did you realize that the median salary for a business travel manager is $73,000.00 per year? (FACT) Where’s the savings?

The best way to slash thousands from your travel expenses is to out source. You can have a travel agency do the same things as a business travel manager without spending thousands doing it. By having a travel agency handle your travel arrangements, you can save anywhere from 80 to 90% depending on how many traveler’s you have. By doing this makes your bottom line more profitable.

Let me ask you, would you rather spend 73,000 or 10,000?

The responsibilities of a travel manager are to choose transportation and lodging for company employees, advise about passport and visa requirements, rates of currency exchange, all things that a travel agent is already doing. Additional perks of hiring a travel agent is they can handle convention planning and group vacation organization for employees.

One of the best benefits from hiring a travel agent over a business travel manager is that a travel agent is offered reduced travel rates from preferred vendors as to where a business travel manager is not.

By out sourcing and hiring a travel agent over a travel manager, you are not only saving from paying a large salary, but you also save by not having to provide benefits such as health care and retirement. These could easily bring the cost of hiring a business travel manager to well over $100,000.00 a year. That’s Insane!!!

There are so many more benefits from hiring a travel agent over a business travel manager because they are so much more knowledgeable in the travel industry. How, when, and where travel is booked whether online or offline is very important when it comes to saving money on your business travel. These are techniques that only travel agents will know because they deal directly with travel vendors. Nine times out of ten a business travel manager will either call a travel agent or go to a travel agent’s web site for their information.(FACT)

Haven’t we learned in the past couple of years that foolish spending is not the way to go? Look at what it has done to big business. It’s time we get smart and trim the wasted fat. Wouldn’t you rather spend the money growing your business than hiring someone that’s probably looking out for them self rather the company?

When looking for a travel service for your company make sure that they have incentive and rewards programs. Look for a service that has the customer’s best interest at heart.

I understand that customer service must come first in order to have long standing business relations. I want to help you to accomplish this same goal.

How Do Equity Indexed Annuities Stack Up?

Sales of equity indexed annuities (EIAs) have grown considerably in recent years. These products are positioned as simple investment vehicles that enable the investor to participate in market gains but offer protection from market losses. In reality, these are complex investments and because salespeople are paid large commissions for promoting these products, it’s difficult to get an objective opinion on whether they are right for you.

How Do Equity Indexed Annuities Work?

EIAs produce an investment return that is tied to a market index, most commonly the S&P 500. Each product has a minimum guaranteed return (currently, 1% is common) and a cap rate, which is the highest annual return the investment can generate (currently, 8% is common). Consequently, an EIA with these common parameters would generate the same return as the S&P 500 of that return was between 1% and 8%. If the S&P 500 produced an annual return of less than 1%, the EIA would guarantee 1%. Similarly, if the index produced a return greater than 8%, the annuity would be capped at an 8% return.

Further, EIAs have participation rates that commonly range from 70% to 100%. For instance, if the index increased in value by 10% during the year, an EIA with an 80% participation rate would produce an 8% return (80% of the index’s 10% return).Also, it is important to note that minimum guarantees, cap rates, and participation rates can change at the whim of the insurance company.

Other Important Factors

As mentioned previously, salespeople are handsomely compensated for selling EIAs. To protect the insurance firm from paying a large commission to a salesperson only to have the investor sell the annuity, these products have a surrender charge if the investors sells within a certain time frame, which can be as long as 10 years. This surrender penalty can be as much as 10%. Thus, liquidity is severely limited with these investments.

EIAs offer tax-deferral, meaning an investor doesn’t pay taxes on investment gains until the annuity is sold. This tax-deferral is similar to the benefit offered by a 401(k) or IRA. However, unlike investments in a 401(k) or IRA, investments in an EIA don’t reduce your current income or tax bill when the investment is made. For this reason, many financial planners encourage their clients to maximize contributions to other tax-deferred vehicles before considering an annuity.

It’s important to note that most EIAs only count equity index gains from market price changes, and exclude any gains from dividends. Since you’re not earning dividends, you won’t earn as much as if you invested directly in the market. For example, the S&P 500 earned 15.1% in 2010, but 2.3% of that return came from dividends which would not be included in an EIA.

Lastly, the guaranteed return on an EIA is only as good as the insurance company that gives it. While it is not a common occurrence that a life insurance company is unable to meet its obligations, it happens. Information about the financial strength of insurance companies can be found on the SEC’s website.

Investment Return

Suppose a 45 year old with a 40 year investment horizon was looking for an investment that offered impressive returns with relative safety. Would an EIA be a good choice? Let’s consider a $10,000 investment in three unique options: an investment in the S&P 500, an investment in a conservative diversified portfolio* consisting of 75% bonds and 25% stocks, and an investment in an equity indexed annuity tied to the S&P 500. For illustration purposes, let’s assume the annuity has extremely favorable conditions: a 100% participation rate, a 3% minimum guarantee, and a 10% cap rate. Further, let’s give the EIA the benefit of the doubt and assume it includes the portion of the S&P 500’s return due to dividends, which few EIAs do. All and all, this annuity is significantly more favorable than any real product you are likely to find. Since the investor intends to live another 40 years, let’s look at what would have happened to these three $10,000 investments during the last 40 years, starting in 1970.

As you would expect, the $10,000 investment in the S&P 500 grew the most over 40 years, to $495,551. However, this investment endured significant volatility, losing as much as -37% in one year. Clearly, this investment is too risky for an investor willing to endure only a small amount of risk. Alternatively, the $10,000 investment in the diversified 75% bond, 25% stock portfolio grew to $433,838 — still an impressive return. However, the largest loss this portfolio suffered in a calendar year was -6% (1974), which might be tolerable to an investor with a low risk tolerance. Finally, while the equity indexed annuity with unrealistically favorable terms never gained less than 3% per year, our $10,000 investment only grew to $195,479. What if we consider an EIA with more realistic terms: 100% participation rate, 1% guarantee, and an 8% cap rate? Our $10,000 investment would have grown to only $103,767. Clearly, when comparing an EIA to investing in a diversified portfolio with a conservative ratio of bonds to stocks, an investor benefited of accepting a small amount of volatility in their portfolio.

ity indexed annuity without full knowledge of the product? Annuities have a “30-day free look” that enables you to surrender the product free of charge within 30 days of signing the contract. If you recently purchased an EIA, speak to a fee-only financial planner immediately to ensure the product was right for you. If you decide the annuity wasn’t what you thought, a fee-only financial planner can help you exercise your free look provision and find an alternative investment that is more appropriate.

Business Travel Trends 2010 – Part 1

It’s that time of year again; time to predict marketplace trends. Whether trying to explain the past year’s business ups and downs or preparing for next year’s marketplace, those in the know have begun forecasting, prognosticating and generally gazing into their crystal balls. After having read many of these predictions, including the results of various, pertinent surveys, here’s my take on what we can expect in 2010 and beyond with regard to trends in business travel.

Corporations will gradually begin to concentrate on managing trade and reducing travel. While everyone seems to agree that face-to-face meetings will continue to remain fundamentally indispensable in the way of doing business, most notably with regard to client relationships, corporations will put the emphasis on managing trade and reducing travel. Even so, businesses will carefully study how they may obtain the greatest return on investment from travel, doing away with any needless or excessive business trips.

The competition for employee talent may well lead to a noticeable reduction in limiting travel protocols, balanced by stronger compliance standards. Travel guidelines may also turn out to be less restrictive as businesses increase their attempts to draw and maintain suitable professional individuals. Further attention will be focused on employees’ work-life balance as well as managing productivity and less on accomplishing savings at the expense of traveler comfort and well-being.

Companies will ramp up attempts to control travel-related hazards. Preserving the safety of business travelers will continue to be of the utmost importance to travel managers, especially with regard to high-risk travel destinations. Corporate travel professionals will be looking for the ability to recognize services which will facilitate the improvement of traveler safety.

Consumers will depend upon merchants to become a motivating force in discovering “green” solutions. Fundamentally, businesses will seek to balance environmental issues with economic obligations, putting into practice a holistic, sustainable methodology with regard to travel.

Technology will continue to enhance the business traveler’s experience. Significant concepts will feature self-service, plug and play, one-stop shop and cellular phones. Simply put, from the decision to travel to post trip reporting of expenses, corporations will persist in seeking out technology that is more user-friendly and of worth to employees during their travel process. At the booking stage, additional travelers will make use of on-line tools as companies strive to better accommodate individuals within their travel design.

Believe it or not, this is not the complete outline of significant changes that may impact business travel as a whole. In Part 2 of 2010 Business Travel Trends we will continue to explore the very real possibilities that may play out for the business traveler in the not so distant future.

Indexed Universal Life Insurance For Retirement Income

When designed properly, indexed universal life insurance can be a great savings vehicle for investors who have a good ability to save. Indexed universal life or IUL, is a type of permanent life insurance that allows a policy holders to build a cash value. The cash value can be invested in a fixed account that often has a guaranteed minimum interest rate or the owner can derive their returns based on several different equity indexes.

There are several crediting methods that can be used to generate returns on the cash inside the policy. The most common method I see is an annual point to point calculation based on the return of the S&P 500 with a cap rate that protects your principal and limits your upside. When you pay your annual premium, the insurance company deducts some of the premium for state taxes, cost of insurance, and a sales load. After the fees are taken, most of your money goes to the insurance company’s general account and a small portion buys derivatives on whatever index you select.

Let’s say that the insurance actuary believes that they can earn 5.27% on their pool of investments. They would invest $95 of your $100 in their general account expecting that it one year, the $95 would grow to $100. This is how they can guaranty your principal. The $5 in my example would buy derivatives that could make up to a certain return or they could expire worthless if the index you chose has a negative year. The costs of the derivatives help determine the cap rate or the maximum that you can make per year. Most companies have a 10-15% cap rate on the S&P 500 index currently. If your insurance policy has a 12% cap rate on the S&P 500 and the index does 30%, you will have 12% credited to your account for the year. If the index does 5%, you will make 5%. If the index loses 20%, your return will be zero for the year. You do not receive the dividends of the indexes you invest in.

Principal Protection

Some people are very critical of the fact that IUL limits their upside. There is no free lunch. In order to protect your principal, you have to give up some of the upside. These critics point out that because of the cap rate, IULs would have earned between 5-8% per year over the last few decades during a time when the S&P 500 has averaged 9-11%.

I agree that it is possible to make better returns IF you are willing to stomach the risks of owning an all stock portfolio and my experience has taught me that very few people are able stay invested when the financial world is in a panic. The latest study from Dalbar was recently released and it shows that the average equity investor has averaged 3.79% over the last 30 years while the S&P 500 has averaged 11.06%. Even worse, the average fixed income investor made .72% per year, which is only 1/10 of the return of the Barclays Aggregate Bond Index.

Because it is so hard to stick with an investment plan that does not appear to be working, I think a percentage of the population would be better off in a product like IUL that limits their gains, but provides principal protection that helps them sleep better at night.

Creditor Protection

Texas law states that the cash value in your life insurance is protected from creditors. This is a very important feature for people in the medical profession and business owners. Money held in your bank account or brokerage account is generally not protected. This may not seem like a benefit to you, but consider the fact that a home owner and tree trimming company were successfully sued for millions of dollars because an oak tree fell on the current Governor of Texas in 1984 rendering him paralyzed. I didn’t know I needed to worry about the trees in my yard bankrupting me until I learned this.

Did you know that when you sell your car, you can be held liable for tickets and criminal and civil liability if the new owner doesn’t change the title of the vehicle to their name? It is important to go to the tax office with them or submit a vehicle transfer notification to the DMV right away. The more experience I have under my belt, the more I realize how risky life can be.

Tax Benefits

The cash value inside indexed universal life insurance grows tax deferred and if designed properly can be pulled out as tax free loans that don’t have to be paid back during the insured’s life (the insurance company uses some of the death benefit to pay off the loan). The only return that really matters is what you keep after taxes and after inflation. If you are in the highest Federal income tax bracket of 39.6% you are now subject to an extra 3.8% Medicare surtax on investment interest under the Affordable Care Act. If you make 6% inside your tax deferred IUL policy, that is a 10.6% tax-equivalent yield for the highest tax bracket.

In addition to tax deferral, you can pay zero capital gains tax by borrowing against your cash value. You can borrow to buy your next vehicle, for a real estate down payment, or to fund your child’s college. You can choose to pay these loans back or potentially never pay them back. Page 27 of the 1990 GAO Report to the Chairman clearly states “If a policyholder borrows the inside buildup from his or her life insurance policy, the amount borrowed is considered a transfer of capital, not a realization of income, and, therefore, is not subject to taxation. This reasoning is in accord with tax policy on other types of loans, such as consumer loans or home mortgages.

Diversification

Stocks and safe government bonds often have low to negative correlations. There are very few years where the US stock market and US government bond market both lose at the same time. However; many take comfort knowing that in down stock markets, they can pull money from their insurance policy that has principal protection. This can be a very useful tool when one considers the risk of the sequence of returns when distributing money in retirement. Pulling money from stocks in a year like 2008 can seriously hamper one’s ability to maintain their standard of living during the rest of their retirement.

There are also times where the US stock market is a lousy long term investment. The S&P 500 hit 1552 in March of 2000 and was at the exact same level 13 years later because of the tech wreck in 2000-2002 and the Great Recession in 2008-2009. This was an ideal environment for indexed universal life insurance because your principal was protected during the crashes and the crashes made stocks cheap where they had a good chance of going up and hitting the cap rates on the IUL policies. During long term bull markets (like 1982 to 2000) you would expect a capped IUL policy to do worse than the return of the US stock market.

Arbitrage

When you withdrawal money from your brokerage account or 401(k) and spend it, the money is no longer invested and working for you. This is not the case with indexed universal life insurance. When you borrow from your policy for retirement income, the insurer is lending you money and using the cash value in your policy as collateral for the loan. This means that you could have a $200,000 loan at 5.5% interest against the cash value in your IUL policy. If over the course of your loan, your policy averages a 6.5% rate of return, you are making a 1% rate of return on all the money you spent to live on.

The chance of being able to make a small spread on what you have borrowed and the downside protection of the product could potentially allow you to withdraw a higher percentage of your cash value per year than you could from volatile investments that don’t have principal protection. I ran an IUL illustration on a 37 year old male who had an average return of 6% per year until age 65 and found he could borrow 4.8% of the cash value in the first year of retirement and continue to increase that initial amount by 3% each year until age 100. In simpler terms, the arbitrage and principal protection may allow you to pull $48,000 indexed for inflation from $1 million dollars of cash value in an IUL.

4.8% is a lot higher than most financial planners would be comfortable pulling from a traditional portfolio. One of the most common amounts planners consider safe to pull from your investments is 4%. This has even come to be known as the 4% rule. Retirement Researcher, Wade Pfau, recently estimated that retirees should consider pulling only 2.85% to 3% initially from their investments. That would mean you should only pull $30,000 indexed for inflation from a million dollar portfolio. If Pfau is correct, having a maximum funded IUL for retirement could be a nice addition to your retirement.

Death Benefit

The last benefit of saving into index universal life policies is to remember that you are buying a life insurance policy. If you pay one month or year’s premium and die prematurely, your heirs could literally have a 1,000% return on the money you invested. If this unlikely and unfortunate event happens, life insurance is the best thing that you could possibly have invested in. And the best thing about life insurance is it is tax free to your heirs.

I also like how many IUL policies have a free accelerated death benefit rider that allows you to take a portion of your death benefit while you are alive if you are terminally ill. You could use part of your death benefit while you are alive to take your family on one last vacation or to pay for a long term care facility.

Disadvantages

The biggest disadvantage to IUL policies is that they usually have 10 to 15 years of surrender charges or fees to get your money out. You need to fully understand the product and be committed to it. The products also front load their costs and most illustrations that I run at 6% don’t break even until year 7 to 10. Therefore, it is usually a bad idea to apply for a policy and cancel it early on.

The second disadvantage to IUL is that the cap rates can and will change throughout your ownership of the policy. Many policies only guarantee a minimum cap rate of 3% or 4%. As mentioned previously the cap rate is a function of the cost of buying derivatives. Volatility was very high in 2008 which made derivatives more expensive. I did not see any companies dramatically drop their cap rates at that time and don’t see this as a huge risk. If for some reason your IUL dropped cap rates near the minimums, you could change to a different index crediting method or you could invest your cash value into the fixed account for a period of time.

Lastly, life insurance illustrations always show guaranteed values and non-guaranteed values. It is very likely that we continue to operate under the non-guaranteed assumptions, but if Ebola killed massive amounts of people or AIDS became airborne, all insurance companies can raise their charges for insurance and administrative costs after receiving approval from your state. In this rare event, life insurance contracts would be considerably less attractive than policy owners were expecting.

Conclusion

IUL is not right for everyone. If you design a policy that buys the least amount of insurance to get the maximum amount invested, you can add diversification to your portfolio, have tax flexibility in retirement, and make attractive after-tax returns. If you would like to see what it would look like to save into an IUL, please give me a call. We can determine the amount that you want to commit towards saving into a policy and then find the right one for you based on your health history. Because I am independent and not beholden to one company, I can shop all IUL carriers to find the best option that meets your needs.

Business Travel Tips

Business Travel Tips; Reduce Stress and Enjoy Yourself

Traveling for Business is Less Stressful When You Take Time to Prepare and Organize.

Here are a few tips for your business travel that will make that time away from home just a bit more enjoyable. Let’s start with packing for business travel. Start with the purchase of a good carry one bag. Any seasoned business traveler will tell you carry on is the only way to travel. It will keep you out of baggage claim and you will never have to worry about lost luggage. Buy a couple of good quality pieces constructed of polyurethane-treated fabric that have nylon zippers. The polyurethane will keep the moisture out and the nylon zippers are far less likely to snag.Consider keeping a duplicate of as much as possible when it comes to those things that you use on a daily basis such as your toiletries. This way you won’t have to worry about unpacking them when you return home. They can just stay in your business travel bags. You may also think about going to your local drugstore to purchase trial sizes of your toiletries. Try to pack your bag with space saving in mind. Cut down on the number of business suits for example by packing alternate shirts and ties that will go with the same suit.Women can change the look of a suit with different blouses, scarves, sweaters or jewelry. Pack socks and underwear inside your shoes. Not only does this save space but it will also help keep the shape of your shoes. Pack your belts around the edge of your suitcase. When considering the items to pack think of those things that are necessities and those items that may make your business travel just a little more comfortable.

Here is a business travel tip when choosing your mode of transportation. When choosing transportation for business travel the distance that you will be traveling should be considered. Although air travel is the first choice when it comes to long journeys for a shorter trip that is only a couple of hundred miles away a train or automobile may be the better choice. Take into account the time you would spend traveling to and from the airport. Also, don’t forget to consider the amount of time taken at the airport to check in, board, disembark and then find transportation to your final destination etc.

If you do choose to fly consider alternative airports just outside your departure and destination city. Typically these airports may have fewer flights but also will have less chance for overbooking and delays.

Always try to stay in hotels that cater to business travel. Most of these hotels will have high- speed internet access and will offer access to business machines. For unbiased reviews from other business travelers just like you we recommend that you research
hotel reviews at TravelPost.com

One of the more important business travel tips is to check your cellular service prior to leaving for another city. Check with your cell phone service provider. You may find that they don’t provide service where your business travel takes you and therefore you will need to find an alternate carrier for this trip.Can you imagine not finding out until you’re there!

Hope that you will find these business travel tips helpful and may all of your business travel bring further success!

Solar PV – The Smartest Investment For 2011? And You Get Free Electricity!

A 10% tax free, index linked income for 25 years, guaranteed by the Government that’s environmentally friendly and provides free electricity.

When you install a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system at your property you can now earn around 10% per annum tax free guaranteed by the Government for the next 25 years. Solar PV is the amazing investment and environmentally friendly opportunity that was introduced by the UK Government in April 2010. This is when the ‘Feed in Tariff’ (FiT) was introduced to increase the rate you get paid for the microgeneration of electricity at your premises.

The FiT is index-linked for the next 25 years making it inflation proof. In the context of the Spending Review in October it is one of the few areas where there is real certainty to invest your money safely and wisely for the future with exceptional, tax free returns.

In setting out to stimulate consumer demand for microgeneration (the production of clean energy on a domestic scale), the Government have set the FiT very high for a limited period. This means that only households and commercial enterprises that complete their installation before March 2012 will qualify for the highest rate tariff.

As soon as you are installed you are locked into the index linked scheme and its benefits for the next 25 years. This includes the annual cash benefits of the FiT, free electricity and knowing that you are reducing your CO2 footprint.

So what are the catches? There aren’t any. Your installation needs to be carried out by an MCS qualified installer in order to claim your 10% tax free, indexed linked, 25 year income that’s guaranteed by the Government.

The roof needs to be southerly facing and shadow free for most of the day. The panels are mounted onto the roof using a hidden lightweight aluminium framework. The DC electricity produced by the panels during daylight hours is converted to AC by an inverter. This will usually be in the loft space or near your electricity supply.

Finally, a meter measures the amount of electricity that your system generates (in the same way that your current meter measures what you use and are charged for today). A typical installation will involve two installers and a qualified electrician working at your house over a couple of days. It is a straightforward job with most of the work taking place outside.

The highest rate FiT is 41.3p per kWh and applies to systems up to 4kW in size. This is typically four times the price paid for electricity from the grid and is paid regardless of how the electricity is used and even if you don’t use any of it.

On top of the FiT, you add the value of electricity that you have saved by using some of what you’ve generated. Finally there is an income called the Export tariff which is calculated as 50% of the electricity that you generate being fed back into the grid.

If any of this sounds complicated, it really isn’t; once your installation is completed, the Solar PV system is connected seamlessly to your present electricity supply and your new meter is ready to calculate how much electricity you have generated and what your annual revenue is.

And there are a range of investment options depending on what return you are looking for. From wholly owned systems through shared ownership and even free systems, where you rent your roof for free electricity, the options are many and varied.

Hire Travel Agencies For Your Business Travel

When going to a foreign destination on a business trip, there are a lot of things to be taken care of, especially if it is your first business travel. To make your business trip easier it is always advisable to hire a travel agency to take care of all your travelling matters.There are many travelling organisations in Australia that can help you with your business trip. They will plan all the details of your trip meticulously for you, right from the onset till the last moment of your stay in your foreign destination. Business travel is a complete opposite of a leisurely vacation. The first and most prominent point of difference is that you are not going there to take a leisurely break from work, but you are going to a foreign land for work! Therefore, these trips need proper and thorough meticulous planning. Travel agencies take care of all the planning that is to be done according to your requirements, Business air travel bookings, hotel room bookings, arrangements of meetings, and many more things on the same lines. These agencies know all the needs of business travellers and also the fact that they travel quite frequently to particular business destinations. Therefore, to attract these frequent business travellers and to furnish their own accounts, they come up with alluring business travel packages that snugly fits every traveller’s pocket! Apart from just being affordable, these packages also include comfortable stay hotel booking, affordable business air tickets, fine cuisines and dining, and best arrangements for business conferences and meetings.

For a frequent business flier, it is always recommended to hire an agency that specialises in business travelling. These agencies are experts in this area and can provide you with best possible arrangements and services at an affordable price. You can expect best experience in reasonable fees, after hiring these travel experts. These agencies can also provide you with a perfect combination of two types of travel packages, that is, which includes site seeing and pleasure activities after your business work is over. The package includes trips to the popular tourist attractions, cruises, amusement parks, site seeing and exploration of the place. There are many agencies that provide packages for both travel purposes – business and leisure. People going on business can take up such packages to explore the place after finishing the business or in the evenings or anytime of the day in between the business meetings and other official activities. These are the best economical packages for leisure and business travel. These packages can make you attend your business activities, while your family can indulge in the leisurely activities. Hiring travelling agencies not only saves you money but also makes your business trip a lot easier for you and your family.