Rio to Host the ‘Safest Games Yet’

It seems like just yesterday that South African newspapers were headlining our country’s inefficiency in the build-up to the 2010 Football World Cup.

The country’s labour strikes, violent crime statistics and venue delays made for a daily media frenzy. And yet, despite all the naysaying, South Africa delivered a hiccup-free, memorable event. To this day people still talk about ‘that vibe’ and it fills South African hearts with pride.

Now it seems, Rio de Janeiro is under similar attack from the media as the city works towards hosting The Olympics in 2016. But could there be a little more to it than the traditional media hype?

Can the ubiquity of an event like The Olympics help a city under siege from gang violence and drug abuse?

A recent spate of violent crimes within miles of one of The Olympic arenas has raised some serious security concerns. There are reports that in recent weeks, at least two foreign tourists have been stabbed, and another couple robbed at gunpoint.

Rio’s State Secretary for Security, Jose Mariano Beltrame, described these crimes as “unacceptable”.

The Brazilian government has vowed to respond to these concerns and plans to splash the cash to ensure a heavier security presence in the city. Cue an Israeli security detail and a 60, 000-strong security force. Fair play Brazilian government. Fair play.

We’re pretty sure that somewhere in the city, perhaps in an underground bunker somewhere, those responsible for the Games’ security will be watching every street from the safety and comfort of a billion-dollar security control room.

Whatever the current state of affairs are surrounding the build-up to The Rio Olympics, athletics enthusiasts everywhere remain optimistic that billions of Dollars and a bit of TLC, can sort it out in time.

To the citizens of Rio, expect an influx of security officers on bicycles and horses in the coming months, as the organisers work towards a safer city.


Rehabilitation for seniors

No matter what we do, our bodies will gradually lose their strength over time. This doesn’t mean we never focus on strength training and fitness – indeed, there are plenty of elderly people who are stronger than some twenty-year olds. But it does mean we might require alternative focuses for senior health and fitness – that might not apply so perfectly to the kinds of fitness that younger folk can do.

Consider a recent report by CBS News:

“Episcopal Homes of Minnesota and Xccent Fitness opened a new motion wellness gym for seniors that has a first-of-its-kind indoor play structure designed to reduce the risk of falls.”

Here we see seniors using equipment, specifically jungle gyms, to try improve their health and well-being. As the article notes: “ According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) one of three adults aged 65 or older falls each year, and falls are the leading cause of injury among this group.”

This means one of the greatest dangers for seniors is a fall; and falls are common for all activities, but especially for fitness. This means having structures like jungle gyms – heavily controlled, but supported spaces designed for strength and endurance – can be highly beneficial.

The Reebok Sports Club, in London, has specific courses for seniors. A key area here is that it allows for seniors to be with those their own age, which helps them feel less ashamed and more likely to continue to participate.

As senior fitness instructor, Zoe Mundell, told Sports Review: “we wanted to introduce a class environment where our senior members could all socialise together which would be appealing to their fitness level and social group. We are looking at the benefits of improving their fitness and improving their strength and bone density. We also want to work on agility, balance and reaction times to prevent fractures from falls.”

After all fitness isn’t just about exercises but willpower to perform those exercises and finding ways for people to actually do those exercises. Instructors can bark instructions until the cows come home, but everything about fitness and health is personal responsibility. By helping show seniors others their age are interested in staying in shape and healthy, it can create personal motivation to do so, too – after all, people like to associate with those like themselves or take interest in those they like.

Social structures are important to health in many ways and being aware of that, especially for seniors is another key way to benefit their health.

Best tech to help with money

techWe all need some way to manage our money. Even having banks is part of doing so. Banks allow us to store, keep track of and make managing payment and receiving easier for everyone. But even on a day to day basis, we should consider what kinds of things the advances in technology can do for us as money users. Since everyone who owns a phone or tablet uses money, it makes sense then to find out the best way to do so.

For example, it is possible for us to find out the best places to buy houses, using apps. Though it will depend on your location and country, you’ll know doubt be able to find the appropriate kinds of apps to aid you. The Telegraph lists some apps specific to the United Kingdom, that have multiple functions. For example, Mortgage Assistant for the iPhone “is by London and Country, a leading independent mortgage broker.” With it, you can help yourself make better decisions regarding loan rates and it helps you “to calculate costs, saving you time. Using this app does not rule out having to contact a human being, but it is a good place to start.”

All sorts of other aids are essential for something as big as buying a house. For example, a bond calculator that you can use online can help you make better decisions about paying off loans and managing your finances, too.

Other apps can be specifically designed with your bank or even by them. The FNB App is regarded worldwide as one of the best banking apps, for its simplicity, ease-of-use and varied functions. Its list of features is extensive:

  • View detailed balances and transaction history
  • Transfer funds between accounts
  • Send payments (including once-off payments)
  • Add, edit or delete recipients
  • Make geo payments
  • Do cardless cash withdrawals

These are just some of the many things you can do straight from your phone. Importantly, it helps you keep track of what your money is doing and where funds are going. By having things like push notifications, you’ll never be at a loss as to where and when your money went. Being informed is the most important thing a finance app can do – indeed, it’s the primary function of a financial advisor.

With these and other kinds of ideas in mind, it’s important to try find ways to use more apps in ways that can lead to efficiency and to create better, safer ones that help us keep track of our finances as we continue to make advancements in technology.


Tech that is revolutionising our driving habits

There is very little that is not affected by technology these days, so why would the motoring world be any different?

Driverless cars are expected to be a common sight on the roads somewhere between 2028 and 2032, and technology that previously was only reserved for niche motorsports like Formula 1 has now been integrated into modern sedans.

Tech giants like Google and Apple have of course been quick to pounce by aligning themselves with manufacturers that are driven to be the first to the line in the tech stakes.

While South African-based companies currently are hampered by their financial restrictions, it is inevitable that as the technology becomes standard, so prices will drop. That their overseas parent companies will require that these innovations are included in the locally-produced vehicles also augers well for the South African motorist.

It is not at all presumptuous to suggest that even pre owned cars in South Africa will soon

Until that that time, let’s take a look at some of the latest tech happenings in the world of wheels.

2016 Kia Optima

This vehicle will be the first to offer smartphone integration. Both an Android and an iPhone are compatible with the Optima’s USB connection. The technology allows Android Auto or Apple CarPlay to function automatically.

Mini Cooper

We’ve already had Google glass, now look forward to the Mini Cooper’s Augmented Vision. The glasses, which are still in the testing phase, are envisaged to enable the driver to see how far they need to go when backing into a parking space. By way of digital pointers, you essentially will be given a graphic that tells you the road parameters.

The lenses comprise two stereoscopic HD displays that project 3D images that feature Wifi, Bluetooth and GPS.

2016 Jaguar XF

Jaguar’s new touchscreen operates very much like an iPad, letting drivers swipe and pinch when they zoom in or out. Just as with a normal computer, you can even change the wallpaper.

2016 Volvo XC90 T6

Volvo has come up with something that all drivers wish for – a mechanism that is able to cause the car to break automatically at an intersection. The device is able to recognise an oncoming vehicle that looks like it may turn in front or you or is heading for a collision and send a signal to slam on anchors.



Green business management is better business management

Caring about our planet doesn’t need to be an argument we need to make. Indeed, it can even have benefits to go this direction, both for the planet and for businesses. Most think it is in opposition but this is a limited perspective.

One of the initial ways it matters is that it is something you can proudly display: “We care about the planet” is a message no one could oppose or criticise. This means you look better in the eyes of the market and potential customers. Once you look good to the market, that means higher prospects of more employment opportunities and clients.

The other important way being eco-friendly helps is cost-saving. This in itself is an essential reason, though you can see how both – more clients, more savings – are basic business benefits.

Thus to go green, especially when you use, say a large fleet of cars, makes business sense in very powerful ways.

To achieve this doesn’t require radical shifts and can be done in some simple steps. Let’s focus on what that means if you are focused on fleet management.

If you’re just starting, you can try list the areas where vehicles operating efficiently is essential. It is then important to list all the functions the vehicle will have to perform: Vehicles aren’t just for driving, but transportation, deliveries, meetings, etc. Different tasks require different vehicles.

This is important to efficiency and therefore to management of resources. Transporting small boxes doesn’t require a large truck; moving huge goods will require a large vehicle; and so on. Though it sounds simple, articulating this can be essential to understanding what your business requires – and therefore how to provide those requirements most efficiently. Just responding on the fly can be damaging, since you could just be giving an immediate response – not an efficient one.

By being efficient, you can see how you can waste less resources and therefore be greener to the planet.

If the business is already quite established, you most likely have already done so. This means you can perhaps reevaluate the efficiency of this: Can you sell cars? Can you sell them for better, more efficient vehicles for better tasks? Are there alternatives to certain functions that maybe don’t even require your owning of cars (for example, occasionally hiring taxis instead of keeping a car you won’t use outside of the few meetings you attend).

This shows that the right fleet management can make a world of difference. You can’t plan every route staff members and drivers take every day, but even something like planning routes beforehand can make a difference.

These are just some ways to become more efficient, in a way that benefits the planet and therefore your business (and vice versa!).

Is it better to own a rental property or invest in unit trusts?

moneyIs buying a house with the intention of renting it out a solid investment decision? Or would it be preferable to buy property unit trusts? Many of us have grown up learning from our parents who owned rental property and have come to believe it is the best investment to make. But is that really the case? We weigh up the pros and cons of this important decision.


Property pros

Perhaps the most important positive of investing in property is that your investment is tangible. You can literally keep an eye on it. You’ll be more involved and aware of your investment. Finding good, responsible tenants is the most important element of property ownership, once you’ve found your ideal tenants, you can sleep easily at night, knowing your bond is being paid off and your investment appreciating while you do little to no legwork. Use a bond repayment calculator to work out what rent you’ll need to charge to ensure all the costs are covered.


Property cons

The risk with buy to let property is renting to tenants who don’t take care of the space, meaning maintenance costs. Buying property comes with costs we often don’t consider. You’ll need to pay transfer costs, bond registration costs, interest on the bond and tax on the rental income earned. Financial planner Grant van Zyl suggests you have a long, hard look at the numbers before investing in a rental property. “Once you have run the numbers, you will be able to see if it’s something wise or not really worth your time in the end. Making money off property is most definitely doable, you just need to make sure you know what you’re doing, as you can you burn your fingers very quickly.”


Unit trust pros

The best advantage of unit trusts is not having to worry about your investment. You can confidently leave them to appreciate in value over the long-term without being involved in their day to day value. “Buying a rental property isn’t solely a financial decision. You need to be prepared to handle all of the admin that comes with it: screening tenants, running credit checks, collecting the rent, negotiating rental increases, fielding complaints and getting the geyser repaired – right now,” says Dale Peckover, wealth manager at AlphaWealth, writing for Maya On Money.


Unit trust cons

The cons of buying unit trusts is they may not grow as steadily as you would like, thereby not giving the return on investment you would like to see. Writing for Property24, Koos du Toit, chief executive officer of P3 Investment Group, makes the case for investing in property for increased returns. He compares investing R1 million in unit trusts versus property. His calculation shows the unit trusts growing to R3m compared to the possible R24m in property over 20 years.

Investing for the long term, for your retirement and financial future, is a big decision, possibly one of the best important decisions you can make. It is essential you have all the information and carefully research your options before deciding on your way forward.

Ensuring school safety and student care

Superintendents can emphasise the importance to school safety of creating a caring school community in which adults and students respect and trust each other. This will allow all students to feel connected, understand expectations, and accept the behavioural and mental health support they need to thrive at school.

Emergency exits

The school should have limited access to its entrance at all times.  The main entrance should be patrolled by security and perhaps even have steel bollards in place. All designated emergency entrances with access points should be locked from the outside.

Monitoring and surveillance

Monitoring of the school parking lot is one of the measures to take to prevent unscrupulous from taking place. There needs to be someone to oversee these areas at all times, as well as the supervision of the cafeteria, hallways and playgrounds. Get the neighbourhood involved in school-community projects to enforce such procedures.

Crises planning

Set measures in place that takes care of crisis’s that could arise. Get the faculty and learners involved in team building exercises as well as what to do in case of an emergency.  The drills should have a list of things to implement that faculty and students can do in the case of intruder alerts, weather and fire. There should be a regular review of plans and simulation drills, as well as aiding the staff to well answer and questions students may have.

Creating a safe, supportive school climate that provides the whole school with caring school program, with positive interventions and support, is a good base to start with counselling service. This will prevent bullying amongst pupils, develop social skills and aid in conflict mediation.

Pupils doing their part

Encourage students to take accountability for their part in maintaining safe school surroundings and include student participation in safety planning. Promote compliance with school rules, reporting potential problems to school officials, and resisting peer pressure to act irresponsibly. It won’t happen over a week, but continued implementation will make a difference in the long run. The school should also have an anonymous reporting system. This can include student hot lines, suggestion boxes and tell adult campaigns.

These guidelines are widely known, but scarcely implemented by schools. If a parent, a teacher or any other individual see that schools are lacking in this regard, then they should speak up. It could save a life of a loved one.

How to be financially secure

moneyAt some point, we all want to stop worrying about money. Ideally, we’d want to have enough to afford some lifestyle that is pleasant, while not worrying about whether we can pay the bills on time. But, for many of us, that requires a great deal of effort and luck. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible – only that we should be making the efforts now.

The most important focus for many is having enough saved. This means taking steps to ensure that you don’t overspend or spend wisely. Having a budget in mind is the key to this success.

But that mindset in general is helpful. As Investopedia highlights:

“Research has shown that those who plan for the future end up with more wealth than those who do not. Successful people are goal oriented: they set goals and develop a plan to achieve them. For example, if you set a goal to pay off your student loans in two years, you’ll have a better chance of achieving this goal than you would if you merely said you wanted to pay off your student loans, but failed to set a timetable.”

Paying off those short drains on your income can be highly beneficial, since as you eliminate them, you become more and more free. Financial freedom means not having your finances strangled by debt of any kind, after all. This means, for example, you have more opportunity to invest or take out asset finance for your business, without worrying that you’re incurring yet more debt – since your goal is to minimise it as much as possible.

Of course financial security doesn’t just mean a large savings. As Forbes highlights: “Achieving financial security means more than accumulating wealth. It also means protecting your ability to create wealth.” Real life gets in the way of acquiring and making an income: Sickness, accidents or other life events get in the way of that pay cheque because we’re human and we can’t predict what will occur in the future.

Taking steps to ensure our future is essential, especially when it comes to finances. We want to be in a position where money isn’t an issue, but we won’t get there anytime soon or without making concerted efforts toward doing so.

Living without compromising

moneyOne of the most difficult things is trying to balance luxury with income: we want to buy the things that give us pleasure, while also not compromising on either. We don’t want to purchase a big screen TV only to be able to afford electricity.

But that doesn’t mean we need to be so frugal we never do anything a bit indulgent; but it also means no being so frivolous you can’t turn the lights on.

One of the first things we can do is get knee-deep into our budgets. Here we can understand how much we’re earning and now exactly where that money is going.

Lifehacker advises the following steps in keeping track of expenses:

  • List all the things you spend money on each month.
  • Determine your essential expenses.
  • Find ways to cut back on those essentials, if possible. Use our bill-by-bill guide.
  • Of your non-essentials, determine what you enjoy spending money on most…
  • Nix the non-essentials you don’t get much out of…

If something brings you a little enjoyment, find ways to get it for free or cheap …

Come up with a number for your spending/entertainment/splurge fund. Whatever you want to call it, figure out how much “budget breathing room” you’re comfortable with.

Focus your spending fund on the areas you enjoy. If you can save money in those areas, even better. That optimizes your spending budget.

By utilising this system, we can almost triage our priorities: taking the things that exists in our life and focusing only those that actually matter.

For example, consider your purchase of a car. First it doesn’t need to be a brand new model. You can look at pre owned cars for sale and find plenty of excellent models. Second, it doesn’t need to have all the trimmings or latest gadgets; do you really need to install GPS if you have a smartphone? Do you really need the world’s greatest tires if you don’t travel often or offroad?

This applies to the home, too. For example, reading authors who’ve written entire books on how to live a life of luxury and style your home in a way that reflects who you are and what you need. The most important aspect that rings true to all these tips is knowing what is and isn’t priority; then once that ascertained you can allow yourself some leeway to indulge in those aspects that can benefit you. Many would suggest rather focusing your money on experiences rather than objects, since experiences leave a longer impression and greater benefit.

Is your engine losing power?

If the process of nailing down the causes of power loss were as simple as a tuber in the tailpipe, we wouldn’t make such a mess out of diagnosing them. But identifying a power problem can try the patience of any person, even a saint. When the drop in car power occurs occasionally, you can guarantee that your mechanic won’t be able to reproduce it. But what if you just don’t have time to get it checked out by your mechanic? Thankfully, there are some clear signs to look for when judging why your car is losing power.

Not receiving any power

If your vehicle loses power when you put the pedal to the metal, the odds are good that a fuel system malfunction is preventing your engine from drawing the extra oomph it needs to accelerate. You could be looking at a leaking fuel line, a clogged injector, gummed-up filter or an exhausted fuel pump.

A smoking exhaust

A backfiring or smoking exhaust can indicate either too much fuel or too little spark, both of which can bring about power loss in any car. Whether it is pre-owned cars in South Africa or new cars from Japan. A backfire occurs when the fuel-air mixture does not fully flare up in the combustion chamber, but instead pops off elsewhere in the car’s system.

Spark plugs covered with engine oil, ash or other deposits will misfire, the same as plugs with partially melted electrodes. Black smoke from your exhaust might point to spark problems, which can damage your engine, so check them as soon as you can.

A shaky steering wheel

Wen idling at red traffic light or anywhere else, does your engine tremble? Does it send tremors through the steering wheel or into the rest of the vehicle, which then results in a noticeable loss of power? If so, misfiring cylinders are to blame for this mishap.

Engines normally misfire for three reasons: lost compression, spark loss or bad air-to-fuel ratio. Bad spark plugs, fouled-up plug wires or a cracked distributor cap can cause spark loss.

Struggling to go up an incline

If your vehicle cuts out or struggles to go up an incline it could signify that it has a clogged fuel filter.  As the filter eliminates gunk from your fuel, it gradually accumulates dirt. This then causes the fuel pump to work harder to shove fuel through it. In high-demand circumstances, such as driving up a hill, it might not be able to deliver enough gas to get the job done. Get your car checked out with a fuel pressure test or digital scope.

If you are still not sure what could be slowing down power to your car’s engine then it’s best to take it to a qualified mechanic. These are specialist in the trade and will be able to tell you a whole lot more.