Bond Funds Explained – Safe Investments for 2014?

If you feel clueless and invest money in bond funds, you should know that your funds could bite you in 2014. Bond funds are NOT safe investments and some are riskier than others. Read this before investing money (or more money).Truly safe investments pay interest and your principal is safe, or fixed. Safe investments do not fluctuate in price or value, and may be insured or even guaranteed by an agency of the federal government. Examples include: bank savings and checking accounts, CDs, and Treasury bills. Bond funds pay interest too, in the form of dividends. Their price or value DOES fluctuate as the prices of the debt securities (bonds) they hold in their investment portfolio fluctuate (like stocks). People invest money here to earn HIGHER INTEREST INCOME vs. truly safe investments. That’s why they are also called income funds.Bond funds are RELATIVELY safe investments – compared to stock funds. But they are not even close to being as safe as money market funds, whose share price is fixed at $1 per share. You must understand this before you invest money in income funds: your investment can go up in value, and it can go down. Some funds invest money (yours) in high quality debt securities of government entities or corporations; others opt for the higher yields of lower quality or even junk bonds. In 2014 and 2015: that’s not the big issue.While money market funds invest your money in very short-term IOUs, bond funds buy and hold relatively long-term debt securities (IOUs called bonds). A money market fund may hold IOUs that mature (on average) in 25, 30, or 40 days. In other words, they invest money in high quality IOUs that promise to pay them their money back in a matter of days. Because the debt securities held in money market funds are so short-term in nature their value fluctuates little, and they are considered to be safe investments. Not so with income funds that invest money in IOUs maturing (on average) in 5, 10, 15, 20, or more YEARS.The major issue in 2014 and beyond for bond funds is called “interest rate risk”. Picture a fund that holds IOUs that (on average) mature (pay the owner back) in 20 years. If these are IOUs for $1000 that promise to pay 3% per year in interest ($30) they have a price (or value) of about $1000 when 3% is the prevailing rate for similar IOUs in the bond market. Remember that bonds trade in the bond market just like stocks trade in the stock market. Now, what would happen to the price (value) of this IOU if prevailing interest rates climbed to 6%, 7% or higher?Investors in the marketplace would still be buying and selling this IOU… but the price of it would fall significantly… because now investors can get 6% or more ($60 a year or more in interest) in other IOUs because that’s the prevailing interest rate. This is an example of interest rate risk in action, and that’s why bond funds are not safe investments. If you invest money in these income funds or plan to, you must understand this.All income funds will include a number (expressed in years) in their literature called AVERAGE MATURITY. Examples: 3.42 years, 7.15 years, 18.7 years. From left to right these three examples would be called short-term, intermediate-term and long-term bond funds. As you go from left to right the dividend yield (interest earned and paid in dividends) increases. More importantly, the interest rate risk increases dramatically as you go from short-term to long-term funds!Short-term funds are relatively safe investments, but in today’s interest rate environment they offer miserly interest income. Long-term bond funds might yield 3% or a bit more (depending on quality), but interest rate risk is HIGH. Intermediate-term funds might yield 2% to 3%, but they still have a significant amount of interest rate risk. If interest rates double or more in 2014 and beyond, investors in longer term funds could see losses of 50% or more.The last time interest rates soared was in the late 1970s, peaking in 1981. Investors who held long-term bond funds lost almost 50%. Today’s interest rates are near all-time lows. This means that when you invest money in longer-term income funds just to earn 3% or 4% in interest income, you are accepting considerable risk to earn a miserly income.Bond funds have basically been good investments since 1981… because interest rates were falling, which increases the value (price) of these funds. Now, you know the rest of the story. Bond funds are not really safe investments for 2014 and beyond. Interest rates could go up.

Summer is Here – Are Your Travel Plans Sorted?

Everyone deserves a break from the stresses of everyday life – whether in the form of a weekend getaway or a long-haul holiday. And with summer already here, there’s never been a better time to treat yourself to that special holiday.When planning a summer holiday, there are various things to keep in mind. To begin, you’ll need to choose the type of holiday you’re after. Are you hoping to lounge on a sunny beach, or would you rather partake in outdoor activities offered by mountainous locales? Perhaps you’re the type of person who enjoys the bustle of exciting cities, or, instead, the rural serenity of countryside setting. Whatever your preference, it’s best to consider the activities you’ll want to engage in before deciding on a holiday destination.Remember that you’ll also want to consider your holiday budget early on in the planning process. Are you hoping for a budget break, a luxury getaway, or a trip that fits in somewhere between? Knowing what your budget is before you start researching travel and activities will help you hone in on the right deals – not to mention, avoid getting your hopes up for deals that are out of your budget.Once you have an idea of the locale you want to visit and the budget you want to stick to, you’ll need to book your flight and hotels. It’s always possible to book these separately, but remember that there are countless travel companies and tour operators out there who can make your travel arrangements for you. Aside from offering deals, tour operators or travel companies can also book things like activities at your destination, special arrangements with your hotel, or any ground travel required during your holiday. What’s more, some travel companies specialise in certain types of holidays – for example, budget breaks or luxury holidays. So you can get the greatest deals based on the type of getaway you’re after.Finally, travel companies can act as a point of contact for your arrangements – so if you experience any problems or have any questions regarding any of your travel bookings, you’ll only need to contact one organisation – your travel company – rather than multiple companies, such as your hotel, airline, or other travel service providers.Summer is coming son and it’s time to start thing about getting away and treating yourself to a relaxing holiday. Whatever your fancy – luxury, city break or beach holiday – you can look forward to the fact it’s only around the corner.

Some Ethical Issues in Health Care – Requirements and Treatments

When it comes to health care ethical issues, there are almost as many ethical issues as there are health issues to be treated. There are laws in place to direct the behavior of almost every person in the health care personnel chain, from the nurse to the nurses aide who assists them and the doctor who ultimately gets to try and make the decisions to treat within the confines of the insurance system ruling over the life of the patient in question.There are ethical issues that are clearly defined, such as the requirements for treatment decisions when a patient has a Medical Power of Attorney or a Living Will. Then there are thealth care ethical issues that don’t have such clearly defined areas, such as whether it is allowable to withhold a possible lifesaving treatment from a patient only because their insurance will not pay for it.Health care providers must make their treatment decisions based on a great many determining factors, perhaps the most constraining of which is the insurance reimbursement regime. If doctors and other health care providers could just treat their patients and have only that to worry about, what a wonderful world it would be. But doctors have to constantly worry about whether or not they and possibly the facility where they practice will be paid by the insurance companies. The next most important factor which affects health care providers ability to provide the care patients truly need is whether or not the patient has been truthful with the information they have given to the health care provider, and whether or not they have had access to health care to establish and maintain their health care needs.Ethical concerns also come into play with patients whose family constellations are unclear. A patient who has a spouse has a straightforward next of kin when decisions have to be made. When a patient is separated from their spouse, and even perhaps has a new significant other, the next of kin can be much more difficult to determine, and protecting all health care providers-doctors, hospitals, etc from the liability risk of allowing the person who does not have a legal right to make decisions for a patient is a necessity. The health care ethical issues presented by these kinds of situations are very delicate.One important ethical concern in health care is the need to protect oneself from the very real danger of the transmission of communicable diseases in bodily fluids. Especially in cases where a patients history is not available, health care providers have the right and the responsibility to protect themselves from viruses and bacteria that may be present in the body fluids of patients to which they are exposed taking care of these patients. However, this must be balanced with the possibility of making patients feel accused or uncomfortable by these same protective measures.One last important health care ethical issues, especially in this day in age, is the protection of private, personally identifying information. Patients records used to be kept in public places where almost anyone could read them-filing pockets outside their doors, for instance. This kind of situation is not longer allowed, and records are more closely guarded nowadays, and many hospitals now rely on records kept entirely on computers.Ethical issues are a part of almost every field, but health care has a special place in the system, where people are trusted with making those who are sick feel better, those who are injured able to return to their prior lives, and those who have chronic conditions and those who love them more able to cope with the demands of living with those conditions.

Are Health Care Degrees Available Online?

The health care industry is very broad and consists of numerous professions outside of becoming a doctor or nurse. Students interested in working in health care have many educational options to choose from. Degree programs are available online from many colleges and universities.Because the field is so broad, students choose a concentrated area to gain their education in. Becoming an epidemiologist, vascular technologist, physical trainer, wellness instructor, and much more are some professions that can be entered when students work through a health care degree program. Specific areas of instruction can include:Health EducationHealth SciencesPublic HealthOnline schooling offers students certificate programs and degrees at various levels making it possible for students to complete the correct training for their chosen field. Students should research what educational requirements exist so they understand how long schooling will take. This is essential so students finish the correct amount of schooling for their desired occupation. Some careers may only require students to complete an associate’s degree program and others may require graduate degree training. Education online allows new students and already working professionals to gain the necessary knowledge to advance within a specific health care industry.Students that want to work in the administrative side of health care have the option of entering health information technician training. Coursework centers on teaching students about the maintenance of health records. This facet of the industry is extremely important for proper health care delivery and billing. Education focuses on giving students the skills to understand medical terminology, pathophysiology, data management, and pharmacology. Online education is widely available at the associate’s and bachelor’s degree levels, which give students the knowledge to become health information technicians.Individuals that want to work more in the medical treatment side of the industry can consider enrolling in a physician assistant program. Students learn how to work alongside a physician by performing patient exams and ordering lab tests. Schooling provides students with the ability to practice medicine when supervised. Students explore numerous health care services that may include treating minor injuries, diagnosing illnesses, and prescribing medications. Most online schooling opportunities are at the master’s degree level because it’s the standard educational level required for work. However, certificate and bachelors degree programs are offered to prepare students for graduate training.Other possible degree programs prepare students to teach others about good health practices and enter a variety of occupations as radiographers, nuclear medicine technologists, health scientists, and nutritionists. Degree programs in public health, health education, and health science can be completed at multiple levels through online education.Health care careers are available to students that have an education. Accredited online colleges and universities offer training and students can enter a career in the industry upon completion. Full accreditation is provided to programs that offer students a quality education that will prepare them for a successful career. Agencies like the Distance Education and Training Council (http://www.detc.org) are approved to accredited online learning programs. Students should explore the many schooling options available and begin the process of entering the field.DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised at PETAP.org.Copyright 2010 – All rights reserved by PETAP.org.

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