Business Digest - April, 2011

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Your Best Retirement Investment   Planning Your Summer Road Trip   Three Ways to Stay in Your Budget   Theo's Corner

Wassup @ BVS

We've been working on some new shows for you.  In our latest West Side Stories, our host, Bill Mattos, interviews Supervisor Jim DeMartini about the West Park Project, water issues and more.  Watch it Tuesdays at 6:00 pm, Wednesdays at 8:00 am and Saturdays at 9:00 am.

Working in association with the ALLIANCE, we are now producing a new monthly program - ALLIANCE: Small Business Development Center. This new show features the various departments and services that the ALLIANCE offers to businesses throughout Stanislaus County.  In our first program we meet with Delyn Meyers - Senior Manager of Economic Development - Lea Ann Hoogestraat - Manager of Economic Development - and Emily Cano - Business Services Representative for the West Side. Watch it Sundays at 10:00 am.

Remember, all of our local programs are available 24/7 on our website at

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Your Best Retirement Investment

It is easy to find a wealth of information regarding financial investments for retirement, but don't overlook the investments you should be making in your health as well. Exercise can prove to be the best investment you can make towards your retirement.

One perk of investing in your well-being is that it can be done almost cash-free. It is easy to spend a lot of money on gym equipment or memberships, but you can start a healthier way of living without spending much more than the cost of some good fitness shoes.

It is obvious to most people that increasing the amount of exercise in your daily life can bring you long-term health benefits, but it can also save you money. By staying fit longer, you will spend less on doctor bills and medication costs. And by staying active longer, you will have more options in the event you choose to work into your retirement years.

Investing in an exercise program can also save you time. The amount of time you spend in regular exercise will increase your general well-being, giving you more focus and increasing your energy level. It can also add years to your life.

Of course, all investments have risks. You can minimize your risk of injury from exercise by consulting your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Start slowly and build gradually to a consistent daily routine. Break up your exercise goal into small pieces that can be completed during the course of a day. You may also be at risk of quitting your exercise program. Try exercising with a friend. Choose an activity that you like to do, say walking or water aerobics. Chart your progress and reward yourself when you hit your milestones.

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Planning for Your Summer Road Trip

While it may seem early, now is a great time to start planning for a summer road trip. Here are some things you can do now to make things smoother on the road and at your destination:

  • Do any needed car repairs now. This way you will know that your vehicle is ready for the long haul.

  • Research hotels and attractions along the way. Many offer discounts for advance reservations or purchase of tickets.

  • Look for deals on your summer gear. Stores are beginning to put out summer merchandise. Watch for sales in the next couple of months to get the best prices on things you will need.

  • Line up travel partners. Now is the time to invite people you want to include in your adventure.

  • Pick your tunes. Begin loading up your music player with road trip music. You may also want to get a car charger.

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Three Ways to Stay in Your Budget

Everyone struggles with staying within the boundaries of a budget, but it can be done. Here are three great strategies to help you meet your goals.

Resolve to pay in full.
If you can't afford to pay for an item without going into debt, then it is not a good time to make that purchase. This one rule is the most significant in making sure that you are not increasing your debt. This may mean that you need to delay buying something you really want, but it is best for your budget.

Take it slow.
If you are contemplating making a large purchase, give yourself some time to make sure you are making the right decision. A good rule of thumb is to wait at least 24 hours. This gives you time to ask yourself if you really need the purchase or if you are making an impulse purchase instead. You also will have enough time to figure out whether you can afford it or not.

Pay with cash.
If you are struggling staying within your budget, then your credit cards should be used for emergencies, if at all. Many people try to rationalize that it is better to use credit cards because of points they accumulate or because they get protection if the product is defective. But if using a credit card just sends you further into debt because you have bought beyond your means, then points mean nothing. Until you have a handle on your budget, cash is king.

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Theo's Corner

Is It Time for Your Pet's Checkup?

Has it been a while since your pet has seen a veterinarian? Your pet needs to be vaccinated on a regular schedule and needs to have regular exams by a vet. Although your pet may seem to be in perfect health, many times illness or diseases may not show themselves to a pet owner. And some animals are very good at hiding their illness.

In general, if your pet is a young animal (typically seven years old or younger for cats and dogs), you will need to have your pet seen by a vet once a year. If your pet has a known medical condition or takes medication, you may need to have him or her seen more often. Once your pet is older than eight years old, you will need to have an examination once every six months. This ensures that any early signs of illness can be spotted early and treated more effectively.

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Your Pet and the Economy

The tough economy can be hard on pet owners. Most people are looking for ways to cut costs and save money. You can save money on pet care, but it is important to do it in a smart way. Here are some ideas that will help your pocketbook while letting you continue good pet care.

Feed the right amount

Many people believe that giving a little extra to their cat or dog is a good way to show how much they care. But it is important to feed the right amount. Ask your veterinarian how much your pet should eat each day and feed only that amount. This will save you in the long run, as you are only using as much as you really need. If your pet is overweight, now is the time to cut back on some food. Again, consult your vet to find out what is healthy.

Learn to groom your pet yourself

If you have been spending money on grooming, you know that this can be a hit to your budget. Invest in some good tools and take your time grooming your pet yourself. The best way to make this easy is to get into a daily routine. Brush or comb your dog or cat each and every day. You can also cut your pet's nails yourself. Ask at the pet supply store for instructions on how to do this safely.

Take a walk

Getting your dog out for a daily walk is not only good for you, but good for him. The more physically fit your dog is, the less likely he will experience costly health problems. Even cats need good exercise. Play with your cat each day to keep her fit and healthy.

Go to the vet

Wait, doesn't that mean spending more money? Well, it does, but it is money well spent. If you are skipping routine vet visits to save some money, you may find that you end up paying more in the long run. It is better to keep your pet healthy than to try to treat a serious illness

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