Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Budgeting mistakes to avoid

Many of the slips that make it difficult for people to stick to their financial plans can be avoided, SIMON EJEMBI writes

Your mind is made up. This time around you are resolute; you are not going to let your money slip away just like that. You are going to keep track of every naira you spend and ensure you implement your budget this time around.

Many people often find themselves in this state of mind at the start of a new month or as pay day approaches. Yet many of them fail to achieve their goal. Before the month is half-spent, they have abandoned their budgets.

Experts say this is largely as a result of poor planning and mistakes made in drawing up a budget and trying to implement it.
Some of the common mistakes, you should note when making a budget are:

Having unrealistic expectations
In drawing up a budget, it is important to know the amount of money you are expecting or that will be available to you. However, some people end up listing their needs (and wants) and then thinking about how they will get the money to meet them. By doing so, they tend to overestimate their expectations. While it is okay to be optimistic about income or earnings, when it comes to budgeting, it is important to be precise. This is because once you draw up a budget based on expected earnings of N100, 000, for instance, and you end up with N70, 000 that budget is doomed.

Failure to document expenses
Many people do not keep track of their expenses. They believe they can easily recall expenditure they make at the end of the day or when they have time. It is at the end of the month that they realize their brain is not as powerful as they thought. Surely, trying to recall every single thing you spent money on in a month is impossible. The best way to keep track of your expenses is to document them as they happen. Make a habit of keeping receipt, taking notes. When you go shopping and you discover that the prices of some of the things you bought are higher than it was in your budget, it is important that you note those changes.
According to experts, it is hard if not impossible to properly implement your budget if you do not know where your money is going. If you are too busy in the day to note your expenses, they advise that you find time to do so every night, updating your budget to ensure that it reflects actual expenses you made.

Underestimating prices
Another mistake people make is that they make their budgets based on assumption as against drawing up one based on current prices of items. Because prices of items can fluctuate at short intervals, it is not wise for you to make a budget based on last month’s prices. This is more so when it comes to food prices, especially seasonal food items such as fruits, tomatoes and yams.
To avoid this mistake, experts advise that you try to make it a habit to do market surveys or go window shopping. While you may consider this as time-wasting, the truth is that in the long run it can prevent you from underestimating prices and save your budget. If you make a budget and later discover when you go shopping that you have underestimated the prices, you may end up having no money for important purchases or payments later.

Being too frugal
According to experts, when you are too frugal with your budget, you are likely to become frustrated with it and abandon it all together. This is because it is like a source of deprivation; an item that makes you overly cautious and miserly.Of course, the idea of a budget is to help you keep expenses in check and boost your savings, however, you must take care that it does not choke you. To do that, you have to keep a budget reasonable and give yourself room for a ‘treat’ of some sort.

Planning for the short-term
Budgets are tools of financial planning. They are meant to guide you in the execution of a financial plan which may span years and even decades. This is why it is important that in drawing up your budget you keep the goal in focus. Planning with just a month in focus, may make you lose sight of your goal. Remember, it is just not about surviving financially for one month, it is about taking steps – with each budget, that guides you to your ultimate financial goal. If you have a rather large expenditure to make at some point in the course of the year, it is important that each of your budgets takes that into consideration.

Not saving much
If your budget is not boosting your savings, it is a sign that you are not getting it right. According to experts, just as you budget for your transport to work, so you should make provision for savings in your budgets. They stress that it is wrong to assume that you wouldn’t save whatever is left of your income after you have taken care of your needs. But many people do not take note of this; there is no provision for savings on their budgets. Your budget is expected to include an amount marked as savings. It could be anything from 10 per cent of your income upwards. If you have difficulty keeping to such a plan, you can overcome the challenge by making arrangements for your bank to deduct the money directly from your salary.

Spending more than you earn
This is perhaps the most common mistake people make when it comes to budgeting. Their budget is more than their earnings. Experts say this has to be avoided or else financial freedom will be impossible. The say the right thing to do is to ensure that your budgetis lesser than your income.

Ignoring ‘minor’ details
Many people leave many details out of their budgets in the belief that they are too small. But these little details or expenses that are left out can make you fail in your attempt to implement the budget. This is because when added up, they amount to much. Some people even categorise the cost of recharging their phones in this category, but many people will admit that their phone bill run into thousands at the end of the month – regardless of the fact that they recharge their phones with ‘just’ N200 every now and then. Oh, and that grilled meat that you buy regularly, which is also not in your budget can cost you thousands at the end of the month too. The fact is that no expense is too small to be covered in your budget.

Not planning for emergencies
This is considered one of biggest mistake people make when it comes to budgeting. They have no plan for unforeseen circumstances. They only consider their needs. So, when they fall ill or get involved in an accident or need to make a sudden repair on their car, they become desperate, sometimes, being forced to borrow money.
culled from Punch

Investing in emerging real estate markets

Many people often get curious as to how some investors make so much money investing in an emerging real estate market.

The question that often comes to their mind is how do you recognise an emerging real estate market and what pitfalls should you avoid if seeking to maximise such opportunities.

An emerging real estate market is an area with rapid growth and appreciation in the value of its real estate. It is an area that suddenly seems to burst out with life and developments that cause the properties within that environment to experience sudden jumps in value. Those who are able to recognise and plug into this market will make significant profit whilst those who miss out in the season would likely blame themselves.

How do you recognise an emerging real estate market? The first thing to look for is the job market.
There seems to be a direct correlation between the value of real estate in an area and the proximity of the job market or employers.

People love to live close to their places of work or sources of income. There seems to be a psychological peace that many enjoy when close to their means of income.
It is also convenient and cost-effective.

In addition, money is required to rent, lease, acquire, develop or sell real estate.
Thus, a person who desires to own property will most likely think of such a step when he or she is gainfully employed.

This is why places close to commercial or economic hubs of any nation will generally experience rapid development.

When you desire to invest in an emerging market begin to look for new areas where the companies are going or businesses are setting up their shops or offices.

Another trend to look for is the  location of major government projects or offices or schools or where major institutions are setting up. For instance, some of the state governments in Nigeria have established free trade zones and they are seeking investors in those areas. Although most of such projects have not taken off fully, they will eventually gain momentum.

The best time to invest in those areas or the adjourning communities is now.
One thing you can be sure of is that as those government projects gain momentum and businesses begin to move into those areas the value of land in the adjourning communities will go up.
The factory workers and white collar workers in those zones will need accommodation and some will even begin to buy land and build.

This will jump start  construction and supply businesses in the area. As more people begin to live in those areas there would be the need for schools, supermarkets and other basic services.

These service providers will require shops and office spaces.
And all these will increase the value of real estate in those areas.
As simple as these analysis may appear, time and time again most people fail to read the signs and catch in on these opportunities.

I remember a friend lamenting that he was once taken to an emerging area and ask to buy a plot of land at N500,000.

He had the money and could easily afford two plots but rather than look at the future possibilities of the area he was focused on the present state of lack of basic infrastructure.
He did not buy the land.

About seven years to ten years after, a plot of land in the same place now sells for N10m.
He could have been a couple of millions richer today if he had made the right move then.

The good news is that it is still not too late. When it comes to opportunities you should not be too slow and also not too fast.

There should be a simple balance between the time you see an opportunity,evaluate it and then make a decision.

But once you have decided, act. Emerging markets often change so rapidly that every day you fail to act costs you money. Time indeed is money.

In an emerging area, your investment options should be determined by your long and short-term goals.
One of the commonest strategies being used by astute investors is to buy and hold with the intention of reselling all or part of their holdings when the area begins to mature.

For instance, if my friend that I referred to earlier had bought two plots of land and later sold the two when they appreciated, his initial investment of N1m would have given him N19m within less than ten years. He could then decide what to do with the money.

He could also have sold one of the plots and used the money to develop the other plot with the intention of living in the property or renting it out for cash flow.

Another hidden opportunity in emerging real estate markets is the ease of setting up businesses compared with more matured markets. It requires no gainsaying that setting up several businesses, such as schools and supermarkets, are more easily done in emerging areas where the dominant brands are not yet present. In fact, your business may eventually dominate the market, a feat that may take you more funds and more time to achieve in a more developed area.

Finally, acquisition of properties could be done with more flexible payment terms from the sellers who are desirous of attracting investors or businesses to their area. You may find it easier to secure plans which allow you to pay in installments and offer you other developmental concessions.
All this will afford you the opportunity to position yourself to profit from an emerging market
Culled from Punch

Man, 60, allegedly kills wife over N500

Oronna Street in Abule-Egba area of Lagos was, yesterday, thrown into confusion after a 60-year-old man who allegedly killed his wife over his missing N500, locked himself up with the corpse.

Reports said fight broke out after the man identified as Gbadebo Elegbede, accused his 17-year-old son  of stealing his N500 at about 7am. His wife, Maria, was said to have defended his son, an action that reportedly led to a verbal confrontation with her husband,which degenerated into a scuffle.

In the process, Gbadebo was said to have hit his wife with a hard object on the face, causing her to slump.
His son, Johnson, was said to have attempted to lift his mother from the floor only to discover  that she was motionless and bleeding from the mouth and nose.

Johnson reportedly ran out to alert neighbours to come to his mother’s help, but they met the door of the apartment locked from inside, with Gbadebo threatening to kill anyone who attempted to force the door open.

Eye witnesses said some of the deceased’s relatives who rushed to the scene were also prevented from seeing Maria’s corpse as the door was still locked.
Policemen at nearby divisions who were contacted  said they had not been informed about the incident yesterday evening.

An eye witness said , “ this is not the fight time he is doing this. The first time they lost their daughter, he locked her up in the room preventing everyone, including his wife from coming inside.

Till date no one can  tell what he did with her corpse. . As you can see, everyone is afraid of him in this area”, the eye witness who simply gave her name as Nwankego told Vanguard on the telephone.
As at 4pm, Vanguard gathered that  Gbadebo was still inside the room with Maria’s corpse.

Culled from Vanguard

Friday, 24 May 2013

Bed-sharing increases crib death

Parents who share a bed with their breastfed baby could face a fivefold increase in the risk of crib death, even if the parents do not smoke, according to a new study. The research was led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and is published in BMJ Open.

Crib death — also known as cot death or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDs) — remains a major cause of death among babies under 1 year of age in high income countries. There is already a general consensus that sleeping with a baby increases the risk of cot death if the parents smoke or if the mother has been drinking alcohol or taking drugs. However, there are conflicting opinions as to whether bed sharing in general represents a risk when these factors are not present.

Some countries, including the US and the Netherlands, advise all parents against sharing a bed with their baby for the first 3 months. The UK currently only advises certain groups, including parents who are smokers, not to bed share.

The new study is the largest ever analysis of its kind. Researchers examined the individual records of 1,472 cot death cases and 4,679 control cases across five major studies. They found that the risk of cot death among breastfed babies under 3 months increased with bed sharing, even when the parents did not smoke and the mother had not consumed alcohol or drugs. This fivefold increase was in comparison to room sharing, where a baby slept in a cot in the parents’ room.

The researchers estimate that 81% of cot deaths among babies under 3 months with no other risk factors could be prevented if they did not sleep in the same bed as their parents.
Source: sciencedaily.com

What’s the fluoride content of your toothpaste?

Older generations of adults, especially those who did not have extensive education, used local chewing stick derived from certain medicinal plants to clean their teeth daily. While many of them had sparking white teeth, others had dental problems. But one thing was clear: there was no fear of ingesting poison from the chewing stick.

Then came toothpaste in squeezable tubes, with fluoride as one of the active ingredients. Of course, compared to the chewing stick that actually requires the strongest of teeth to chew it to a point that you could now use it to rigorously wipe your teeth clean, fluoridated toothpastes are easier and quicker to use. All you need do is squeeze a reasonable amount onto your toothbrush and you are done in less than five minutes of brushing.

Things have changed, though, what with many people’s decision to “go natural” — from the food we eat, to drugs and everything that relates to “clean” living.
These days, natural food aisles in upscale supermarkets parade non-fluoride toothpastes.

Again, many global brands of toothpastes now come with warnings: “Too much fluoride is bad for your health;” “If swallowed in large quantity, see your doctor;” “Not recommended for children under seven years of age,” etc.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral in water, soil and foods like meat, fish, eggs, and tea leaves. When they are consumed, the fluoride enters our bloodstream and is eventually absorbed by our teeth and bones.

In advanced countries — well, before the controversy arose — fluoride was also added to public water supply. In resource-poor regions, it was added to salt, milk, and mouth rinse, diminishing levels of dental caries in both child and adult populations.

A dentist, Dr. Caleb Bolarinwa, says fluoride is very useful in many areas of health when used in reasonable quantity, especially in dental caries prevention when a small quantity is used in cleaning the mouth regularly.

He says, “Fluoride, in limited quantities, is important in remineralisation of eroded tooth enamel and damaged teeth. It strengthens the teeth and prevents cavities. Adults need fluoride to protect their teeth against tooth decay, and children need it to protect their permanent teeth as they are forming.”

A report published in American Chemical Society’s journal, Langumir, states that “fluoride helps to harden the enamel coating that protects teeth from the acid produced by decay-causing bacteria.”

The researchers, led by Karin Jacobs, say fluoride reduces the ability of decay-causing bacteria to stick, so that it is easier to wash away the bacteria by saliva, brushing and other activity.

Bolarinwa also draws attention to a new study conducted in March by a group of researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Adelaide, Australia. The researchers claim that their findings produce “the strongest evidence yet” that fluoride in drinking water provides dental health benefits to adults, even those who had not received fluoridated drinking water as children.

So, what is it about fluoride that has made it attract stinging criticisms from scientists and researchers? For one, the World Health Organisation notes that there are some undesirable side effects with excessive fluoride intake.

Experts aver that a tube of fluoride toothpaste contains enough fluoride to kill a one-year old child. The probable toxic dosage for a child weighing 10kg, they say, is 50mg of fluoridated toothpaste.

An online portal, londonfather.com, notes, “A 100 ml tube of toothpaste contains about 188.5mg of fluoride — more than three times a lethal dose for a one-year old — yet nowhere on the packaging are there any warnings that this product might be harmful to your child.”

The website laments that toothpaste tubes don’t even have child-proof caps, urging parents to keep the commodity out of reach of children.
As if to confirm the dangers in fluoride use, in March, researchers in India developed a filter system based on a medicinal herb, which they say can quickly and easily remove fluoride from drinking water.

The technology, described in the March issue of the International Journal of Environmental Engineering, uses parts of the plant Tridax procumbens to defluoride drinking water where fluoride is high in communities’ ground water.

The WHO guidelines suggest that a safe level of fluoride is 1.5mg per litre of drinking water.
Moreover, experts say too much fluoride use can result in dental fluorosis — a discolouration of tooth enamel caused by fluoride interference with tooth-forming cells. They advise that extended exposure to high fluoride levels can also lead to weakened bone, gastric problems, allergic reactions and skeletal fluorosis — with symptoms like stiffness of the joints and pain.

Scientists claim that death can even result if someone consumes too much fluoride, like when a child swallows an entire tube of toothpaste. When that happens, experts say, the child can develop nausea, diarrhoea, he can vomit blood, develop stomach pain, or have uncontrolled salivation, watery eyes, general weakness, shallow breathing, tiredness, faintness and convulsions.

In 1996, a leading toothpaste manufacturer, Colgate-Palmolive, made a “goodwill” payment to a child whose teeth appeared to have been damaged by fluoride. It was the first of its kind.

And while Colgate-Palmolive denied liability and refused to discuss the issue, lawyers said the settlement was a breakthrough that would trigger a flood of compensation claims from toothpaste manufacturers.

Adults are advised to keep toothpastes out of reach of children, and kids should not be given more than pea-sized serving when they want to brush their teeth. Toothpaste users are advised to follow dentist’s advice and check products for the levels of fluoride they may contain. Better still, some scientists advocate use of herbal toothpastes that do not contain dyes or artificial flavours.
Culled from Punch

Pregnant woman, husband, sell unborn baby for N200,000

The suspects (inset: ‘Their children’)

A 23-year-old pregnant woman caused a stir at the Lagos State Police Command headquarters on Thursday after she confessed that she had sold her unborn baby for N200,000, in advance.

The suspect, Adaeze Mba, who was arrested for conniving with her husband to sell their neighbour’s four-year-old son for N400, 000, said it was poverty that pushed them to crime.

She confessed that she and her husband, Chibueze, had sold two other children for N700, 000.
She said, “In March 2013, my neighbour’s son, Stanley Ezeaka, was following me about in the compound at Jakande Estate and it was at that time that my husband received a phone call from his partner that she needed a child for sale. My husband then suggested that we took Stanley even though he was a bit old.

“We travelled to Imo State the following morning and sold him for N400, 000 after  which we relocated to Calabar.”

When asked why she took to crime and how she would feel if someone bought her own children, she said, “I am seven months pregnant and as I speak to you, my husband has already sold our unborn baby for N200, 000.

“I was against it but he convinced me to agree to it, saying he had already collected the money.”
When asked about the other children she and her husband had sold, she said, “The male child was sold at N400,000 while the female child, who was two months old but is now over a year old, was sold at N300,000.”

Chibueze on his part, said he went into the business last year. He said he had sold ‘only’ three children to his business partner, Benedicta Ogbonna, and maintained that the children were in turn sold to caring parents and not ritual killers.

He said, “One of the children was born by a mentally challenged woman; so I have committed no crime by selling the child to people who would take care of her.”
Ogbonna, who bought the three children from Chibueze and his wife at different times, said she sold children to barren.

She said, “I am doing this business for humanitarian reasons and not for monetary gain. I am 35 years old and I have four children. I can never sell my own children and in fact my husband does not know I am into this kind of business.

“Chibueze brought Stanley to me and told me that his mother was a prostitute so he sold him to me at N400, 000. I then sold Stanley to Mrs. Patricia Anibogwu for N600,000. So far, I have sold only three children. I buy boys at N400, 000 and girls at N300,000.

“I use the money to take care of people and also invest it in my business. I sell shoes for a living at Anambra Wholesale Market.”

Anibogwu, who was the final buyer, said she thought Ogbonna was an employee of an orphanage. She said she bought Stanley because she was lonely having lost her husband.

She said amid tears that, “I was married for 28 years without a child. After my husband died, I decided to adopt the child because I was lonely. Someone introduced me to Ogbonna. Ogbonna told me she worked at an orphanage and would sell Stanley to me for N600, 000.

“I used my savings to pay for him and she brought Stanley to a roadside. I took Stanley home and started taking care of him like my own child. I changed his name to Uchenna. Ogbonna promised me that she would give me legal documents later but, unfortunately, I was arrested.”

The Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, urged parents to be vigilant and also advised childless women to go through the formal process of adoption rather than buying children.

She said, “In March 2013, one Caleb Ezeaka reported at Ilemba Hausa Police Division that his son,
Stanley, had gone missing the previous day, adding that he was last seen with his neighbour, Adaeze Mba.

All efforts to reach the neighbour proved abortive as she and her husband had disappeared and their phones were switched off.

“Through investigations, we traced them to Calabar and they confessed that they had sold him at N400,000 to one Benedicta Ogbonna. We traced Ogbonna to Anambra who then said she had sold him to Patricia Anibogwu for N600,000. So we arrested them all.

“Adaeze and her husband, Chibueze, confessed that they had sold three children to Ogbonna and they were also rescued. One of the children was sold when she was three months old and she is now a year and three months old.”
Culled from Punch

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Grow old without going gray

In this youth-obsessive era, people fight ageing with every fibre of their being. From cosmetic procedures to ‘lift’ the eyelids, to ‘wiping off’ of crow’s feet from the corners of the eyes and the mouth, not to mention breast augmentation, etc., many people would do anything to remain youthful-looking.

While we may succeed in rejuvenating the skin around the face and neck with costly body creams and surgical intervention, the hairs in the body usually refuse to cooperate. As such, by the time the average person is 35 years old, gray hairs would have started sprouting up in some parts of the head.
For sure, it’s not only the hairs on the head that go gray, as the hairs on the arms, eyelids, the brows, legs and… (you know where else) gradually lose their natural shine and lustre, turning unattractive and becoming hoarse as they turn grayish.

Researchers say your chance of going silvery increases 10-20 per cent every decade after you hit age 30. In essence, therefore, we all have a date with hoary head; only that gene, stress levels and other factors predispose individuals to when they develop gray hair.

But then, imagine getting older without developing leaden hair! This is the assurance coming from English scientists who studied 2,411 patients by examining the activities of hydrogen peroxide in the hair.

In the new online research report published in The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal, researchers at Bradford University’s School of Life Sciences say those who go gray develop “massive epidermal oxidative stress” through the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in the hair follicle, causing their hair to bleach itself from the inside out.

Professor of cell biology at the University of Bradford in England, Dr. Desmond Tobin, suggests that hair turns gray because of age and genetics. He notes that genes regulate the exhaustion of the pigmentary potential of hair follicles. For some people, he says, the process occurs rapidly; while in others, it occurs slowly over several decades.

Scientists say various factors make hair grey. They include genetic defects, hormones, body distribution, age, climate, pollutants, toxins and chemical exposure.

To beat the gray, people resort to dying their hair. And, unlike other beauty treatments that are exclusive to women, both sexes indulge in the war against argentine head.

The hair dye industry is a multi-billion-dollar business globally, and the market is burgeoning with choice of various shades, which can be in form of powder, liquid or cream.

Experts say hair dyes may be temporary, covering the surface of the hair but not penetrating into the hair shaft. They generally last between one and two washings. Dyes may be semi-permanent, in which case they don’t penetrate into the hair shaft and typically lasts between five and 10 washings.

Permanent (oxidative) dyes cause lasting chemical changes in the hair shaft, and are the most popular among users because the colour changes last until the hair is replaced by new growth.

Hair treatment specialist and salon operator, Mrs. Tinu Oladele, says the dye “restores the hair’s original colour, makes it shine, while it also gives hair a kind of hitherto elusive fullness that makes you look younger than your real age.”

Well, cosmetologists may give hair dye thumbs-up, physicians say dying your hair poses certain health risks.
Professor of Anatomy and Consultant Endocrinologist, Oladapo Ashiru, says some of the ingredients in hair dyes can cause allergic reactions that may result in severe skin and eye irritation in some people. He notes that eye irritation can seriously affect vision and, very rarely, lead to blindness.

Experts also note that hair dyes can actually cause hair loss in some people. In addition, Ashiru says certain ingredients in hair dye could make users develop cancer of lymph tissue (Hodgkins disease), or cancer of plasma cells (multiple myeloma, affecting the bones, immune system, kidneys and red blood cell count).

Data from America’s National Cancer Institute suggest that the use of hair dye has an association with breast cancer, as the ingredient, para-phenylenediamine, found in nearly all hair colouring products, was shown to be carcinogenic to the breast.

The NCI data also claims that both men and women hair dye users are at “heavily increased risk” for bladder and other cancers.

As for women, using certain hair dyes shortly before pregnancy or while pregnant heightens the risk of cancer in their babies by as much as 10-fold, experts warn.

Experts also reveal that almost 70 per cent of the hair colouring products contain coal tar, which can be easily absorbed through the skin and trigger allergic reactions.

To save hair dye users from these health problems, the Bradford team says it has discovered that accumulation of hydrogen peroxide — which leads to graying — can be remedied with a proprietary treatment.

They describe the preparation as “a topical, UltravioletB-activated compound called PC-KUS (a modified pseudocatalase.” UVB is also used therapeutically for treatment of skin disorders like vitiligo that causes a loss of pigmentation.

Since the scientists have yet to tell us when their product will hit the market, the United States Food and
Drug Administration advises people who want to dye their hair but are concerned about safety to follow these suggestions:
•     Consider delaying dyeing your hair until later in life when it starts to turn gray
•     Consider using henna, which is largely plant-based
•     Be sure to do a patch test for allergic reactions before putting the dye in your hair Do a patch test before every use
•     Carefully follow the directions on the hair dye package
•     Wear gloves when applying hair dye
•     Don’t leave the dye on your head any longer than necessary
•     Rinse your scalp thoroughly with water after use
•     Never mix different hair dye products, because you may cause potentially harmful reactions
•     Never dye your eyebrows or eyelashes
Source: cancer.org

Monday, 13 May 2013

No marriage is perfect — Klint da drunk

                                                     Klint da Drunk and his wife
Comedian and actor, Afaemena Igwemba a.k.a Klint da Drunk and his wife, Lilien give an insight into what makes their six-year-old marriage tick
How long have you been married?
Klint: We thank God for the journey so far because we have been married for six happy years.
How did you meet?
Lilien: We met in Jos, where I used to reside.  Not like we planned to meet but it just happened. According to my husband, when he saw me, he told his friend, ‘That is my wife, I will marry that girl.’
Did you entertain any fears about dating and later marrying someone in the limelight?
Lilien: No profession is sacred. Even if you are marrying a doctor or a lawyer, the most important thing is knowing your partner and trusting God. For me, I was not scared at all because we were friends for a long while and that had gave me the opportunity to study him real good.
What was the attraction?
Lilien: I knew the real him, not what everybody sees when he is performing on stage.  At home, he is my husband and father to our children. When we were dating, there was no airs around him. He was very down-to-earth and that made me love him more. In addition, what truly attracted me to him is his heart. Klint is the nicest and kindest man on earth and I do not mean to flatter him. He has a heart of gold and I had always told God I want a man that will cherish our children and me.
Was there any opposition?
Lilien: My parents never opposed our decision to get married. They did not even mind the fact that he is an entertainer. Once they realised that he is a focused, young man and he was serious about me, they gave us their blessing. My husband is a very likeable person.
Klint: My parents fell in love with her over the phone, before they even met her in person. That is the kind of person my wife is.
When there are challenges, how do you resolve them?
Klint: No marriage is perfect and every marriage has its ups and downs. We have had our own fair share but we never go to bed angry.  Things have been made easier because I am married to my best friend and that is one good advice I will give to every intending bride and groom. Marriage has been an added blessing for me.
What do you think has sustained your union?
Lilien: For a marriage to succeed, it takes a lot of conscious effort on the part of the two people involved. You have to be determined to make it work. Our number one secret is understanding. We are not just friends but great friends and we understand each other. Nobody understands my husband like I do. In addition, every good wife must be a prayer warrior because prayer is the best weapon. You can win many battles with prayers and a praying family stays together.
How do you resolve your challenges?
Lilien: We always apologise to each other whenever one does any wrong to the other. I am not too big to aplogise and neither is he. Saying sorry and meaning it when you have wronged your spouse goes a long way in bringing about stability in your marriage.
Apart from being his wife, what else do you do?
Lilien: I am a wife and mother to two wonderful boys. That is a job I truly enjoy doing and I run my personal business.
Do you sometimes wish he was not in the limelight?
Lilien: That wish comes once in a blue moon. There are times I wish both of us can do some things like normal people would without raising eyebrows which a lot of times, is not the case.  Being in the limelight is restrictive somehow but I thank God for who my spouse is. It is a blessing for us.
How romantic is Klint?
Lilien: My husband is very romantic and that is another reason I fell for him. He makes a lot of romantic gestures that just melts my heart.
What is the most memorable gift you have received from him?
Lilien: Over the years, we have exchanged numerous wonderful gifts. It is so much that we have lost count. Before we got married and started having children, my best gift used to be the very first car he bought for me.  Then, we were still dating and I did not expect him to buy   but right now, the greatest gift from him is, being the best father ever to our children.
Is he also humorous at home?
Lilien: Klint is a very funny man in and out of the house. He just takes humour everywhere he goes and as such, there is no dull moment with him.
What has marriage added to you?
Lilien: It has made me more mature, patient, tolerant, disciplined, and very prayerful too.
As a couple how do you unwind?
Lilien: We try to hang out when he is less busy. We also spend quality family time together with the kids. Thankfully, in spite of his busy schedule, he is a hands-on father and husband. His family is very important to him and he is always there when we need him. In that area, he does not fail.
What pet names do you have for each other?
Lilien: He has a ‘secret’ pet name for me that truly melts my heart. It so funny how much magic that name works when he addresses me by it.
Klint: I would not disclose what she calls me either.
How did you spend the last Valentine’s Day?
Lilien: He is hardly in town on Valentine’s Day because of work. He usually has to perform at one function or the other. Besides, everyday is Valentine for us since we never stop showing each other love.  To say that we set aside one day to celebrate love is not the case. I show him love every day, hour, minute and seconds and he does the same to me.
Culled from Punch

Friday, 10 May 2013

Strengthening your small business

No matter how small a business is, experts say it can grow into a big one. Indeed, stories abound of small scale businesses that grew to become multinational companies. Despite this, experts say many entrepreneurs do not believe that their small businesses are capable of sharing an amazing story of growth.
As a result, many entrepreneurs do not even bother to take steps to grow their businesses or position them for growth; they are contented with them as they are. In keeping things that way, they often leave their businesses badly exposed to failure.

According to the Chief Executive Officer, R&S Consulting Limited, Mr. Olufemi Adebiyi, a study conducted some years back showed that only one out of every five businesses live up to their fifth year, which means four would have died before they are five years old.
Similarly, the author of ‘Practical Steps to Financial Freedom and Independence’, Mr. Usiere Uko, says 10 in 100 start up businesses fold up in the first five years. Of the remaining ten, nine fold up in the next five years. So, in 10 years, out of 100, only one is left standing.
Experts say the stronger a business is the more chances it has of surviving. In strengthening a small business some of the recommended steps by expert are explained below.

Set goals, keep records
Without goals and records, it is difficult for you to strengthen your business. If a student does not know what he has been sent to school to do, if there is no result given at the end of the term or session, it will be impossible for that student or his or her parents to determine whether the performance is good or the set goal is likely to be achieved. That student, in essence, is like a rudderless ship. This applies to a small business. Nevertheless, experts say many small businesses have limited data about their expenses and income; they cannot give account for transactions and have no specific targets to pursue. To grow a business, experts stress that such a situation should be avoided. The business should have a clear goal and to keep track of its activities or dealings.

Once a business has records of its dealings and a clear goal or goals, it is important for the management to evaluate the progress made from time to time in line with the set goal(s). Questions should be asked about how the business is faring at the moment; is it at the level expected now? Is it likely to achieve set targets?
The performance of the products or services also ought to be considered while evaluating the business. That will make it easier for the problems to be detected and solved so the business can grow.
Through such evaluations, entrepreneurs can determine whether they need more hands or less or whether their marketing strategy is effective or not.

Get professional help
Experts say many small businesses get it wrong when it comes to seeking professional help. They feel they are too small for such things as an audit, a company lawyer or to employ the services of a consultant. But experts argue that while it is possible for some entrepreneurs to spot and solve problems in their businesses, many others will be better off with professional help and assistance. If a business has been having challenges employing the right people, it is only wise for it to consider engaging the services of a recruitment firm. No doubt, this may mean parting with scarce funds, but it may save the company more in the long run. This is because with the right personnel, the business will be more productive and likely to achieve its goals. Having to hire and fire people frequently can limit a business in many ways, according to experts. Apart from having to pay off the misfits, the business will virtually be stuck in the same spot, losing clients in the process.

Make changes
When things are not going smooth for a business, when it is becoming weak competitively, experts say dramatic changes may be required. It doesn’t matter if the approach you have been using all along kept the business running smoothly for two years. If things are really going badly and an entrepreneur discovers (with the help of a professional or research) that something has got to give, that entrepreneur has to ensure it does. At times like this, there is no room for sentiments. Sometimes it is so bad that a business is required to rebrand. Surely, many entrepreneurs are attached to the names of their businesses. Yet, sometimes a name change is required for the business to survive. According to experts, some of the most successful entrepreneurs today are those who have a knack for making dramatic changes, when the situation calls for it.

Strategise (continually)
Change is constant, and people can get bored easily. As time changes, strategies that once were untouchable, became ‘relics’ or trash that had to be cast aside. There was a time when phrases such as “The best thing since colour TV” and “The best thing since sliced bread” were common. This is no longer the case. People no longer pause at the sight of sliced bread or colour TV; even 3D television sets will fade away with time. This applies to business strategies. Hence, experts advise that one of the ways an entrepreneur can strengthen a small business is by coming up with new strategies regularly. In the 90s packaging items such as tomato paste and milk in sachet was the trend. Now, that is no longer a unique selling point for businesses that deal in those items.

Go for the best (you can afford)
Big companies are always on the lookout for the best. The best hands, the best strategies, the best location, etc. They know that with these, they can beat their competitors and make the best returns.
Small businesses should aim for the same (at their level) and gradually build on it. An entrepreneur is expected to strive to acquire new skills and encourage his employees to do the same.
If the company is into sales, then it should ensure that its employees have adequate training in sales. Knowledge is power and entrepreneurs should know that by acquiring additional knowledge, they are in a better position to help their businesses to grow.
Getting the best is not only in terms of strategies, personnel or returns. It also involves ensuring that the business operates based on best practices in the industry.

Keep employees motivated
Business development experts often argue that no matter the equipment a business has, no matter the investment made, it would all come to nothing if the wrong people are hired to actualise the company’s goals. They further argue that it is one thing to employ the right people and another to get them to constantly deliver or stay productive. One way of achieving this is to keep your staff engaged and motivated. Motivated employees will not only do what is expected of them, they are willing to take additional responsibilities.
culled from Punch

Waje on Glo ambassador deal: ‘I’m grateful to God’

This could be described as a double blessing for the  sensational singer, Waje  who was recently unvieled as one of the new Glo ambassadors, a mouth-watering deal that came up few days after she launched her much talked about album.

Still basking in the euphoria of the excitement, the singer said, she is so grateful to God for the deal, adding that it is an indication that more blessings are coming her way before the end of this year.

“I am so grateful to God for this deal. It shows that more blessings are still coming my way. As for what I will do with the money, it is strictly my personal business,” she said.

The telecommunication giant, Globacom last week unveiled its new brand ambassadors, putting an end to all speculations about which entertainers would be signed on or not.  While Omawumi, Waje, Lynxxx and Flavour have already been showcased in Glo’s number Portability campaign, other entertainers like Bez and Tiwa Savage are being expected to follow suit.

Our sources revealed that the telecommunication company may be resting their deals with Nollywood actors and switching over to pop stars. Glo, according to an insider  believes,music stars  are more influential amongst the youth than their Nollywood counterparts.
Culled from Vanguard

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Millions of girls in developing countries to get cervical cancer vaccines

A new record low price for human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines will help ensure millions of girls in developing countries can be protected against cervical cancer.

Thanks to the GAVI Alliance, the poorest countries will now have access to a sustainable supply of HPV vaccines for as low as US$ 4.50 per dose. The same vaccines can cost more than $100 in developed countries and the previous lowest public sector price was $13 per dose.

HPV vaccines are primarily available as part of routine immunisation to girls in relatively wealthy countries. And yet of the 275,000 women in the world who die of cervical cancer every year, more than 85% are in low-income countries, where the incidence of HPV infection is higher and few women have access to screening and treatment.

Transformational moment

A vast health gap currently exists between girls in rich and poor countries. With GAVI’s programmes we can begin to bridge that gap
Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance
“A vast health gap currently exists between girls in rich and poor countries. With GAVI’s programmes we can begin to bridge that gap so that all girls can be protected against cervical cancer no matter where they are born,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance. “By 2020 we hope to reach more than 30 million girls in more than 40 countries. This is a transformational moment for the health of women and girls across the world. We thank the manufacturers for working with us to help make this happen.”

Today’s announcement was made possible through GAVI’s innovative public-private partnership model, which was launched at the World Economic Forum in 2000 to meet the challenges of getting vaccines out to some of the least wealthy developing countries. GAVI’s recent market shaping activities have also achieved significant reductions for pentavalent and rotavirus vaccines while simultaneously helping to create healthier and more secure markets for vaccines.

First eight countries

GAVI will begin support for HPV vaccines in Kenya as early as this month followed by Ghana, Lao PDR, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and the United Republic of Tanzania.
As these demonstration programmes reach pre-adolescents – a group not currently targeted for immunisation -- they will give each country the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to put in place the systems needed to run national programmes. GAVI will also support HPV vaccines for nationwide use in Rwanda next year. The immunisation of girls aged nine to 13 also provides an opportunity to reach adolescents with education programmes on nutrition, sexual health and HIV prevention.

Halving the time lag

As well as bringing down dramatically the price of the HPV vaccines, GAVI has also helped to halve the time lag that can exist in getting new vaccines out to poor countries, down to just six years.
Since GAVI began accepting applications for HPV vaccines support in 2012 it has received unprecedented demand, with 15 countries applying last year and a further 15 to 20 expected this year.
Developing countries bear an increasing burden of cervical cancer and it is only right that our girls should have the same protection as girls in other countries
Dr Richard Sezibera, Secretary General of the East African Community

”Developing countries bear an increasing burden of cervical cancer and it is only right that our girls should have the same protection as girls in other countries,” said Dr Richard Sezibera, Secretary General of the East African Community, GAVI Board member and former Health Minister of Rwanda. “In Africa, where facilities to diagnose and treat cervical cancer are few and far between, HPV vaccines will mean the difference between life and death for so many women in the prime of their lives.”

“Vaccinating girls against HPV can be a key component of a national strategy to prevent and control cervical cancer across a woman’s life course,” said Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director General at the World Health Organization. “This new price reduction is a great step forward for women and girls: we look forward to working with countries to incorporate the HPV vaccine into their national immunisation programmes.”

Shaping the market

UNICEF as procurement partner for the GAVI Alliance have run a public tender process and will now purchase HPV vaccines from Merck & Co. at US$ 4.50 per dose and from GlaxoSmithKline at US$ 4.60 per dose for the award period, 2013-2017. Additionally, Merck has agreed to extend significantly lower prices to GAVI if total volumes increase in the future.

The market shaping efforts of the GAVI Alliance work to address market failures for vaccines by aggregating volume, increasing certainty of demand, stimulating competition where possible and ensuring that a sufficient quantity of appropriate, quality vaccines is available through a diverse manufacturer base at affordable and sustainable prices.

With this price agreement now in place the GAVI Alliance Secretariat will work with partners to implement the GAVI HPV Vaccine Programme. Among stakeholders involved are the World Health Organization, PATH, UNICEF, UNFPA, National Cancer Institute, World Bank, Union for International Cancer Control, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, UNAIDS, International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the US Centers for Disease Control.

GAVI is funded by governments [Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States], the European Commission, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as private and corporate partners [Absolute Return for Kids, Anglo American plc., The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Comic Relief, Dutch Postcode Lottery, His Highness Sheikh Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, JP Morgan, “la Caixa” Foundation, LDS Charities and Vodafone].
Source:GAVI Alliance

Seven ways to boost your income

In our current economic climate, many of us need extra cash. Not only do we need to make ends meet, we also want to live at the standard we have become accustomed to.
Price rises outstrip increases in wages and provide us with a modern day problem. We need to boost our income through extra work and by taking on only the cheapest loans.

Secondary employment
It was considered normal back in the 70s to do two jobs, such as working in a petrol station on the night shift for a couple of days per week, as well as working as a bar man or waitress at the weekend.
In taking on these jobs as secondary employment, you will automatically boost your income each month. It’s important you spare a thought for your health though and never take on more work than you can handle – burning the candle at both ends could lead to health issues which cause you to take time off work, something which will affect your monthly income negatively.

Selling online
You will be surprised what people are prepared to pay for that unwanted sofa bed or electric guitar, as well as less obvious items such as old Levi jeans, window frames and even materials like timber. Put any unwanted possessions up for sale using online auction sites and count the money as it rolls in.

For the cheapest loans currently available, you should research reputable lenders. Loans are a great way to boost your finances when you need it most and firms such as this will be able to provide options for the best way to manage your money using their products.

Work from home
If you had a traditional 9-5 office job then you may struggle to take on traditional forms of secondary employment. Instead, why not start your own side project from home? It could be selling products you make yourself or offering a cleaning service – whatever matches your skills.

If you don’t want to sell an item outright, but still need an injection of cash, then a pawnbroker is a good choice. This is basically a loan given against the value of your goods and if you fail to buy it back in the designated period of time then it is counted as sold.

Cash generator
If you want to sell items but don’t have the time to list them online or handle the posting and packing associated with it, then visit cash generator shops. These buy your goods outright to sell in their shops which, whilst convenient, may not always offer you the best price.

Car boot sales
Car boot sales are found all over Europe, providing a place where you can buy and sell pretty much anything. These are good if you have lots of low value items which you want to sell and you’d be surprised how much money you can make.
culled from Punch

Fat location determines your health risk

      Source: Google photos

Fats don’t flatter the image most of the time. But beyond the aesthetic beauty that a lean body projects, researchers are now saying that the location or distribution of body fat matters when we are talking about overall wellbeing.

Scientists say that, generally, body weight is influenced by a person’s age, gene and hormonal activities on the one hand, and by the body maintenance condition — how much you exercise, diet, etc. They contend that the amount and location of fat in your body affects your risk for a number of health conditions.

Body shapes and fat distribution
According to an online beauty and fitness page, channel4.com, the apple shape is defined by an ample bust, round stomach and slimmer hips. Here, fat is mainly distributed in the abdomen, chest, and face.

The pear shape is characterised by a small bust, narrow shoulders, and bigger hips, thighs or bum. The fat is usually deposited in the buttocks, hips, and thighs. As body fat percentage increases, experts say, an increasing proportion of body fat is distributed around the waist and upper abdomen. That is why pear-shaped women tend to have a (relatively) larger derrière, thicker thighs, and small(er) breasts.

Hourglass (aka Figure 8) shape is defined by ample bust, curvy hips and a slimmer waist. Here, the body fat distribution tends to be around both the upper and lower body
The online portal, mensfitness.com, says men’s body shapes fall in two broad categories — endomorphs (stockier men) and ectomorphs (skinny ones).
Experts say while the apple shape seems to be common among men, women can be either apple or pear-shaped.

Health implications of your fat
A study led by a specialist in natural progesterone therapy, Dr. John Lee, deposes that the fat that accumulates in pear-shaped people largely lies directly under the skin (subcutaneous), while the fat of apple shapes are located in the abdomen (visceral). It is variously called organ fat or intra-abdominal fat because it is located inside the abdominal cavity and packed between the organs (stomach, liver, etc).

Another study done by researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Centre and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that how much fat a person has is less important than the location when it comes to determining risk for cardiovascular disease.

Lee says visceral fat has been associated with metabolic disturbances and increased risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and the need for gall bladder surgery.

Says Lee, “You can grasp subcutaneous fat with your hand, but visceral fat lies deep inside the abdominal cavity, where it takes up residence in the spaces between the abdominal organs. Consequently, abdominal fat is the most serious health risk.”

The North American Menopause Society says for women, especially, abdominal fat tends to increase during the menopausal years, “possibly due to declining oestrogen production and increased androgens, or male hormones.”

The non governmental organisation notes that higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol are common after menopause, while cortisol also promotes more abdominal fat.

“People who tend to deposit fat in the abdominal region are more likely to suffer from adverse health conditions than people whose fat resides in the hips and thighs,” experts say.

The trio of Doctors Lee, Jesse Hanley and Peter Eckhart in their study published on boxingscene.com, say environmental factors — such as exposure to plastics, plastic drinking bottles, commercially raised beef, chicken and pork, some personal care products, pesticides, herbicides, spermicide, detergent and canned foods — do make men to develop increased oestrogen levels, which not only make their hips fat but also pose as the main risk factor for diseases such as prostate enlargement and cancer.

The researchers say, “It is clear that increased body fat affects health, the news is that its distribution on the body influences the state of health of specific organs.”

Again, experts say, apple-shaped individuals are exposed to a greater risk of developing obesity-related diseases, as the fat is intra-abdominal and distributed around their stomach and chest.
Such people risk respiratory diseases (sleep apnea syndrome), some cancers and osteoarthritis, researchers say.

The scientists also note that pear-shaped overweight persons are at greater risk of mechanical problems, as most of their body fat is distributed around their hips, thighs and bottom.

Women fare worse where fat matters, or so researchers say. Lee contends, “Women are at a disadvantage, as their physiological processes (childbearing and hormone functions) require a plus of essential fat, the ‘sex-specific fat.’ Thus the total percentage of body fat is higher.

“Moreover, this part of essential fat is hard to dislodge. Secondly, women have less calorie-burning muscle than men, which makes it more demanding for the female to achieve a trimmer figure!”
While this is not an excuse for women to pile on the pounds, it is quite instructive.

Protect yourself
Hope is not lost, though. The Wake Forest University researchers say regardless of body shape, the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes increases with every inch added to the midsection; but with positive changes in diet and exercise habits, it’s entirely possible to reduce waist circumference.

Women are also advised to guard against the so-called mid-life spread, especially as they approach menopause.

“Beyond their clear effect on a woman’s overall health, this condition tends to compromise women’s sexual function through reduced energy, reduced mobility, poor self-image, and other factors,” experts aver.

According to the online portal, webmd.com, you can safely lose about 1.5kg a week at with a healthy diet and lots of exercise. “A diet that minimises starches, sugars and animal fat (from meat and dairy foods) will get you there.”

Physicians also recommend focusing on fruits, vegetables, egg whites, soy products, skinless poultry breasts, fish, shellfish, nonfat dairy foods, and 95 per cent lean meat.
Culled from Punch

Bricklayer slaughters girlfriend for ending relationship

  Akinloye Anuoluwapo
 A 25-year-old bricklayer, Akinloye Anuoluwapo, has been arrested by the police for slaughtering his 21-year-old girlfriend, Rafiyat Akinyemi.

Anuoluwapo slit Akinyemi’s throat at her family home in Magbon, Ogijo, Ogun state.
PUNCH Metro gathered that Anuoluwapo allegedly murdered Akinyemi for her refusal to continue dating him.

An OND graduate of the Lagos State Polythenic Ikorodu, Akinyemi was said to be home alone last Wednesday, when Anuoluwapo came calling.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the embattled lovers, who had dated for over a year, split up late 2012 despite attempts by Anuoluwapo to prevent it.

It was learnt that Anuoluwapo knew that Akinyemi’s mother and siblings usually left the house before 8am each working day,.

He subsequently sneaked into Akinyemi’s family home at about 8.30am on the day of the incident. As expected, Akinyemi was alone.

Anuoluwapo was said to have made several attempts to have sex with Akinyemi. PUNCH Metro learnt that it was in the ensuing struggle that Akinyemi met her end.

Anuoluwapo, who is being detained at the Ogijo Police Division, said, “I don’t know what came over me, I just wanted us to reconcile and continue our relationship.
“Each time we break up, I am always severely affected; I converted from Christianity to Islam because I wanted to marry her.

“I even moved from my one-room apartment to self-contained accommodation so that she would be more comfortable. My visit was meant to be for a discussion but it degenerated into a quarrel.
“Akinyemi was not even aware that I had a knife on me when I forcefully had sex with her.”

The police said Anuoluwapo used the knife to cut Akinyemi’s throat and later had sex with her while she bled.

But the estranged lover claimed that she was still alive when he had sex with her on the couch in the sitting room.

Unknown to Anuoluwapo, some neighbours had seen him while he was sneaking into the house.
It was gathered that Akinyemi’s corpse was discovered at about 4pm by her mother and siblings when they returned home.

Although neighbours suspected Anuoluwapo, none of them initially came forward with information.
A police source said, “It was later, someone gave an anonymous tip to the police that Akinyemi had broken up several times with Anuoluwapo.

“He said each time; Anuoluwapo would get people from her community or the mosque where she worshipped to plead with her.”

No one knew where Anuoluwapo lived or worked. He had recently relocated from his home at Segun Kehinde Street, Ogijo to the PZ estate. In a bid to locate Anuoluwapo, police detectives were said to have picked residents who lived around Akinyemi’s home for questioning. Eventually one of the residents was said to have revealed Anuoluwapo’s place of work.

“A team of police detectives went to the company to arrest Anuoluwapo, but were initially refused entry. Eventually the Divisional Police Officer, SP. Toyin Afolaogun, had to come with the Divisional Crime Officer before Anuoluwapo could be arrested,” the source said.

A frightened Anuoluwapo was said to have immediately confessed his guilt upon questioning and led police detectives to his house where he had hidden the murder weapon.
The Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Muyiwa Adejobi, confirmed the incident.

He said, “The shirt which Anuoluwapo had worn to Akinyemi’s house on the day of the murder was found hidden in a corner with blood stains on it. The knife was found in his home.

“From our investigations, Akinyemi was already dead when Anuoluwapo had sex with her. When her corpse was discovered, her legs were still spread apart and they had become stiff. Semen too was found on her private part. Akinyemi’s body was discovered exactly the way Anuoluwapo had left it when he was through.”
culled from Punch

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Financial resolutions everyone should make

Here are some that you should consider relating to your finances:

Save more
It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re going to save more money, but do you ever follow through with those promises? You might start saving for a month before deciding that you’d rather spend that money on other “necessities”. However, saving can be fairly easy. Even someone living on a strict budget can find ways to cut costs and save a little money. You can start small, shoving a small amount away at the end of each month. Some people like to take all the small bills out of their wallet at the end of the week. If you don’t carry cash, have part of your paycheck automatically deposited to a savings account.

Spend less
Spending less money is also easier said than done. But a lot of us have the unfortunate tendency of overspending on certain products. Sometimes this occurs because there’s a minimum balance requirement, which often happens at online retailers and tricks people into spending more money. You’ll need to start taking stock of how much money you’re spending and where you can cut costs.

Pay down debt
Paying down debt is difficult, especially if you’ve accumulated so much debt that it seems as if you’ll never pay it off in your lifetime. However, you should make a resolution to attempt to get a handle on your debt. Once you know how much you owe and each payment plan, you can start to create your own short and long term goals and work toward paying it down. This might be setting aside extra money each week for a monthly payment or taking on extra jobs to make large payments on the interest or principal balances.

Have an emergency fund
Emergency funds are important to have in case anything unexpected happens such as a medical emergency, a natural disaster, or the loss of a job. While creating an emergency fund is difficult if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you can always try and put aside a little extra money. When you receive your tax returns, you can set aside a portion for your emergency fund, for instance. In an ideal world, your emergency fund should be able to cover your expenses for six months. If that seems unlikely for your financial budget, you should plan to have one that can at least cover your expenses for one month.

Track your finances
When was the last time you looked at a bank statement? How often do you swipe your debit or credit card without thinking twice? You should make a habit of tracking your financial statements for a few reasons. For one, it might help you address unneeded spending. You might not realise how often you order takeout until you see it listed on your bank statement. Additionally, looking at your bank statements can help you address any fraud claims. There are plenty of people who never really know how much money they have in their bank account and would never know if someone charged something to their account.

Start a retirement fund
Many people don’t take advantage of starting a retirement fund when they first enter the workforce. Sometimes it’s because they believe they don’t have to worry about a retirement fund until later in life and sometimes it’s because they think they can’t part with the money. However, one of your primary financial goals should be creating a retirement fund. What would happen if you never saved money for retirement? You want to be able to have all your expenses covered in your old age, right? Start putting money into a retirement account as soon as you can.
Culled from Punch

The bitter truth about sugar

Sugar is sweet, and that’s an obvious statement! Yet, researchers say its consumption is fraught with health problems.

Sugar is colourless or white when pure, and brown when less refined. It is obtained commercially from sugarcane or sugar beet and less extensively from sorghum, maples, and palms.

Sugar comes in granules, cubes, and all the various mixes of glucose, fructose and sucrose, not forgetting the so-called high fructose corn syrup found in many salad dressings, ketchup, coffee creamers, etc.

Of course, there is natural sugar in fruits, but they are also rich in fibre, which slows down the release of the sugar molecules. When consumed, fruits nourish the body — as opposed to the way prolonged and excessive use of processed sugars destroy health.

Meanwhile, do you know any processed food that does not have sugar at its centre? I doubt it. From confections to canned foods and fruit juices, the ubiquitous presence of sugar cannot be overlooked. Food manufacturing companies court it like a beautiful bride, as they use it generally as sweeteners and also as preservatives.

Indeed, modern diet is hardly complete without intake of something sugary along the line. Perhaps this is why scientists are sounding relentless warnings about the health implications of this sweet stuff.

Researchers describe sugar in unsavory words as “a drug that has no nutritional value and an addictive chemical.” They argue that eating sugar puts you at a higher risk for Type 2 diabetes and weight gain — whichever comes first. That is not all. Here’s how sugar affects your body.

The brain
A neuroscientist at the National Institutes for Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volker, used brain imaging to prove that sugar has the same effects that abusive drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine have on the brain.

The report, published in Psychology Today, states, “Sugar leads to dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens — an area of the brain associated with motivation, novelty, and reward.”  This is the same brain region implicated in response to cocaine and heroin.

Instructively, scientists say heroin addicts show increased cravings for sweets at the initial stages of withdrawal.

“This effect, known as cross-tolerance, shows that addiction to one substance makes it easier to become addicted to another substance that may use the same brain chemistry,” says Princeton researcher, Dr. Nicole Avena.

And when you see someone who seems unable to get enough sugar in his food, you might as well be looking at someone who is already addicted to sugar!

A research done by scientists at the Human Nutrition Research Center, Tufts University, Boston, and published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that eating excessively sugary or starchy foods may make eyes more vulnerable to age-related macular degeneration — a top cause of vision loss.  They note that AMD typically starts late in life, and affects the retina.

Generally, sugar corrodes teeth enamel, causing cavities. Scientists say when sugar is present, the bacteria that are naturally found in the mouth multiply faster, making the plaque to grow in size and thickness. “Some of the bacteria turn the sugar into a kind of glue that they use to stick themselves to the tooth surface. This makes it harder for the bacteria to get washed away with your saliva,” they warn.

The heart
Another scientific research done by a registered nurse at Emory University, Jean Welsh, describes sugar as “heart-stopper.” A research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that adults who eat plenty sugar are at risk for the cholesterol problems that can lead to heart disease.

Sugar damages the cartilage tissues, scientists warn. Cartilage is what gives bones their solid structure, and to maintain healthy bones, physicians say you must maintain cartilage health.
According to evolvingwellness.com, when we eat too much sugar, we need calcium, an alkaline mineral that is highly abundant in the bone, to neutralise the acidic effects. “This negatively impacts mineral balance, weakening the bones and making them porous. Eventually, it leads to osteoporosis,” the online portal deposes.
The immune system
Regarded as immune buster, scientists say sugar suppresses immune system cells responsible for attacking bacteria, reducing the ability of white blood cells to overpower and destroy them.
“Eating sugar makes your immune system slow down to a crawl. In fact, sugar has been found to almost paralyse the white blood cells responsible for engulfing harmful invaders like viruses and bacteria for up to five hours, while it also reduces their ability to work properly by up to 40 per cent,” researcher say.

Low libido, infertility, menopause
According to reproductive endocrinologist and gynaecologist, Dr. Deborah Metzger, eating too many sweets and simple carbohydrates forces your body to produce excessive insulin.
“In the female body, this spells trouble for reproductive health, as large amounts of insulin overwhelm a woman’s ovaries and can make her stop producing progesterone —the hormone required to prepare the uterus for pregnancy — and throw off the hormonal balance.
“Besides contributing to a number of serious female problems — including infertility, miscarriage, birth defects, polycystic ovary syndrome and even fibromyalgia — a high-sugar diet also could be connected to chronic fatigue and recurring yeast infections,” Metzger says.

Severe PMS
Eating too many sweets makes women feel worse right before their menstrual cycles. Researchers at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists say 85 per cent of women who menstruate report one or more Pre-Menstrual Syndrome symptoms, and that managing sugar intake could be one of the most powerful and effective ways to curtail PMS-related symptoms.

Sugar may be keeping you up at night, says Dr. Fred Pescatore, former associate medical director for the Atkins Center. He says sugar affects insulin levels, and insulin levels affect cortisol levels. When cortisol levels increase, it can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.
“If you’re one of the people who wake up at two or three in the morning, try decreasing the amount of sugar you eat and you’ll stay asleep,” says Pescatore,

The stripper
Finally, scientists say as your body digests sugar, it strips it of valuable nutrients. This is because sugar digestion requires many vitamins, minerals and enzymes to be stripped from healthy cells. This tasks the system, and the situation is worse for those already used to poor diet.

Way out
Does this mean we should stop eating sugar altogether? Scientists answer: “You’ll find added sugar in foods we know are bad for us — such as soft drinks, lollies, cakes, biscuits, pies and pastries.

“Sugars found in nutrient-poor foods are the ones that are increasing our waistlines and therefore, increasing our health risks. Remember that sugar isn’t the only ingredient that you need to avoid. If avoiding sugar means you eat less processed foods and more whole foods — fruit, vegetables and whole grains — then that’s a good thing. But if you’re swapping sweet treats for fatty or salty ones then you’re not doing yourself any favours.”
The bottom line: It is possible to maintain a healthy diet and enjoy the occasional treat.
culled from Punch