Unlimited holidays for Virgin employees?

You may be aware that recently Richard Branson announced that all salaried Virgin employees were now able to take as many holidays as they pleased, whenever they wanted.

Or can they? I call BS over at Savvy Scot.

 

Click here to read more.. 

 

And on Make Money Your Way, it is time for September’s Blog Income and Stats Recap.

Going on holidays when you live on the beach

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When it comes to holidays, I am a pretty spoiled girl. I live on the beach, in a spring-like weather country that many are dying to go on holidays to. My hometown is Paris, capital of the country that receives the most tourists in the whole world. So when we went to a tropical island in Belize for new year, a destination honeymooners rave about all the time, close to the world’s second biggest reef barrier after Australia, I was happy to go, but not really impressed. See, at home I actually charge people to come holiday in my little guest house. They happily fork out $100 a night to get to be me for 24 hours.

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In Belize, it was like I was seeing the whole thing from a new angle: that of one who lives full time in a holiday destination. I saw the cheap, temporary solutions they offer to cater to tourists, so they can close them six months a year, while they try to make a living during the other six by overcharging for everything. I already disliked holiday destinations for that, people trying to make off you in one season enough for them to live for the full year.

I get that prices may seem cheap from a US or Europan point of view, but when you live in the country next door, you get a rough idea of what things cost, and being charge 5 times more is hard.

I still decided to try to make the most of it. I’d go for early morning runs around the island, which was nice, but then I thought the island would have sandy beaches and there were mostly decks like I have at home, the water was dirty, is was the sea so you had to shower after to get rid of the salt, when at home it is clear water, and you had to run to the breakfast place to be served in a timely manner before they got their morning rush. At home, we’d eat whenever we please with a panoramic view over the lake.

I guess this holiday made me realize how lucky I am to have my own beach and little holiday paradise, but when it comes to picking up the next holiday destination, I come up pretty empty. I like to be home now. I used to love traveling on a budget, eating food on markets, camping or sleeping in basic hotels, and now that we went on a 3 days trip to Belize that cost more than 2 weeks on the road, with a nice hotel and three meals a day in restaurants, I don’t really see the value in it, as I got better quality at home.

 

Since I know I’ll get the travel bug again sooner or later, the next destinations may be:

Skiing. Something I haven’t done in a while and radically different from what I get here. Snow sports are fun, it is a healthy holiday where you come back exhausted at night and enjoy the fresh air.

Somewhere cold. Every time I go to Guatemala City, temperatures drop about 10 degrees Celsius (30F), and it feels really good to leave the heat for a while. Somewhere cold would be nice, not too cold unless there is skiing involved, but where you enjoy a feather duvet at night and a sweater by day.

A city break. I quite enjoyed going to Miami after that as we would go shopping for things unavailable in Guatemala (100% cotton underwear, needed for the heat) or overpriced (I got a new laptop), and it was nice to spend two weeks in one city, after traveling around Europe for 6 months and changing city every 2-3 days.  We discussed going to NY and Boston.

A European road trip. I get to see my family for a while, then grab my motorcycle and go riding for a while. I miss riding bikes, and there are lots of cool cities all around Europe to visit. Talks have been about Ireland and Scotland, although I am more partial to Spain or Southern Italy.

A diving trip. If we are going back to the beach, the only thing that would keep me entertained is diving. Maybe passing one more PADI exam, and diving twice a day. That is pretty much what would make it worth my while, otherwise I’ll stick with my lake, thank you.

 

After you felt like slapping me in the face for being so spoiled, do you think you’d get bored on the beach if you lived by the water all year long? Would you house swap with me?

Diversifying with spread betting

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spread betting

As you know, I like to look at ways to diversify my investments, so that if something goes wrong with one, at least I have other eggs in other baskets. Today, let’s look at spread betting as a way to diversify.

If you are not familiar with spread betting yet, it is a way of trading a wide range of financial products, such as currencies, commodities or shares. Instead of investing in the currency or share, you place a bet, saying you believe your product will appreciate in value at the end of a term (that is called going long), or lose value (going short). Your stake then gives you a profit per point move the way you said it would, or a loss for each point it moved against you.

Like most forms of trading, there is a spread, which is the difference between the asking and the selling price, that you need to take into account. On a platform like CMC Market, spreads start at 0.7pts, and you have access to a range of charts to make an informed decision about your bets. If you trade like you would flip a coin, then it resembles gambling, so you should study as much as possible about the product you are about to trade before you decide to place a bet.

What I am most familiar with are currency pairs as I trade Forex on a regular basis, so in that case a currency movement can depend on the country´s economic climate, the amount of currency printed by the central bank, big political announcements, and published reports about new jobs created or the inflation rate. But a currency doesn’t move on its own, it moves in relation to another currency. For example at the moment the US Dollar is strong against the Euro, but hasn’t moved much against the British Pound since the Pound has shown strength as well. So your bet may be correct for a pair, but wrong for another one involving the same currency. And there are events you can’t plan, like an oil spill in the sea or a plane crash, and events you may think have nothing to do with currencies, but affect them. Like around the London Olympics, the Pound got pretty strong for a couple of months.

Unlike with share trading, profits from spread betting are tax-free (the profits from stocks and shares can be tax-free if you invest in an ISA, for up to £15,000 per tax year) so it makes the operation even more attractive. Spread betting also allows you to trade on margin, which means you can deposit £1,000 into your account and take a £2,000 long position. If your £2,000 position goes up £500, your account balance will be £1,500 when you close, a 50% profit. However, if your £2,000 spread bet goes down to £1,500, your account will only have £500 left to trade with. This is a great option if you know what you are doing, however, leverage can be dangerous, because if you overdo it, margin calls are very likely to happen and wipe out your balance.

On my FX platform, you can choose how much maximum leverage you want, 1:10 or 1:50 for example, depending on your risk tolerance. Another thing I always recommend is to never invest money you may need in the short term, or money you cannot afford to lose. If your position is losing this month, but you need the money to pay your rent, you will have to take the loss, while it may go up again the following month. If you get a margin call, can you still afford to pay the bills?

Spread betting is an interesting way to diversify your investments, however, you need to be really careful about the amounts you trade and the margin you use.

Isle Of Man – Economy Update

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isle of man

 

The Isle of Man has enjoyed its 26th year of continuous growth at a current rate of 2.5% p.a. in real terms. Having avoided the repercussions of the 2007 financial crash, the Isle of Man has one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, with specific growth areas in e-commerce, the space and satellite sector, the film industry and international shipping. It has the 13th highest GDP per capita on the globe ahead of the USA, Hong Kong, Canada and Australia.

According to the government website, this is the breakdown of current economic sectors:

  • Financial Services: 37% of GDP
  • Professional Services 21%
  • Manufacturing 7%
  • Construction 6%
  • Tourism 5%
  • Farming/Fishing 1%

The Isle of Man prides itself on offering a diverse and varied economy and is currently looking at more economic opportunities such as clean tech and crypto-currencies.

In 1991, the government bought the seabed in its territorial waters from the Crown Estate for £800,000 and is now looking at leasing this to wind power companies. The development has the potential to rake in an additional £5 million a year.

Crypto-currencies, such as Bitcoin, also offer the island lucrative benefits. Whilst countries such as Bolivia and Bangladesh have made these currencies illegal, the Isle of Man recently held a conference called Crypto Valley with the aim of attracting startups to the island. The country has a good track record with its economic investments, capitalising on the online gambling industry nearly a decade ago and attracting large companies such as Pokerstars and Annexio ltd thanks to an attractive tax regime, supportive government and excellent telecoms infrastructure.

EDF Blue + Price Promise doesn’t keep its promises…

Good morning, today I am over at Savvy Scot sharing my experience with EDF Blue + Price Promise doesn’t keep its promises…

Find out over here..