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Ladies Night

ladies nightLadies nights are such a treat. On Monday I was lucky enough to have a dear friend organize a fun ladies night with dinner at Nel Centro and see a performance of The Moth Radio at The Schnitz.

It was a lovely evening and also a real reminder of how much my life has changed in the past couple of years. The decade I spent living in Washington was punctuated with sometimes frequent get togetherness with ladies, whether it be brunch, lunch, or an occasional night out.

We joked about being “ladies that lunch”, but I realize now that we blissfully were. I say this in all the best ways. I enjoyed it immensely. I like the ritual of getting together with someone for a good meal or a coffee. It feels good. We need to find ways to connect and share.

Though I often demonstrated some kind of restraint, I was used to spending what, even I, would consider to be a fair amount of money eating out. I remember realizing that I would often spend as much as my entire family would eating out in the 80s. Times have changed, and the dollar doesn’t go as far as it did back in rural Oregon, but it still feels helpful to keep such comparisons in mind.

Nel Centro is the best of Portland cuisine. It reminds me of meals I’ve had in DC or NYC, but feels very Pacific NW as well. I had already been there for breakfast and lunch meetings in the last year, but ladies night dinner was definitely a treat with a few extras. The whole package of a cocktail, pasta, and dessert will set you back around $40. Breakfast is more on the affordable luxury scale.

Since I was most often eating out solo, this also made it easier to splurge than with a family. Now the family makes a splurge without trying.

I’m reminded of how much I enjoy meals out with friends and that it is well worth it to prioritize what makes you feel great. Everyone has their own splurges. What are yours?

Cheers,

Miel

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What to Expect from US Dollar, Gold, and Oil in 2015?

The past 2014 will undoubtedly take its place in the history. That year risks had been growing around Ukraine and the Middle East. One of the main events was the collapse of oil prices. As early as in June, 2014 barrel cost about 115$, but in the last days of the year quotes slumped to  56$.

What shall we expect in 2015 year?

Oil market

Main reasons of oil prices collapse in 2014:

– Increase of hydrocarbons production in the USA from 9.8 to 11.5 mln barrels per day;

– Recession in countries of the European Union led to decrease in consumption and prices of hydrocarbons;

– Growth of supply in Iran planning to increase production twice and Libya’s return to the market;

Technological factor: improvement of technology of production and decrease of prime cost as the result.

Now you can witness disproportion between demand and supply – each day, it is produced for 600-700 thousand of barrels more than is required by market.

Analytics of the US investment banks assume that within two first quarters of 2015 year this index can grow up to 1,25 mln barrels per day. This factor will put a strong pressure on oil quotations so that we can see how Lows of 2008 year are refreshed. At that time, cost of Brent was 36$ per barrel.

US dollar

The main global currency was boosted by growth of the US economy which was growing with the fastest pace for the last 11 years. US department of commerce revised its GDP estimation and defined it up to 5% per annum. Such estimation was justified by a higher consumer demand  and expenses of business. It was the fastest pace since 2003. It was reported earlier that US economy grew for 3.9%.

Its intensive growth in 2014 lays a solid foundation for 2015 and we can expect that the US currency will be consolidated against its major competitors.

Gold

In conclusion let’s talk about gold. Since there is no inflation risk in the USA and on the contrary, deflation presses Europe, there is no ground for traders to invest in gold: savings are not depreciated. It can make precious metals less popular and quotes of gold may get to 1100$ per ounce.

Confident growth of the US economy will support global markets through 2015, whereas low oil prices will have a positive effect for the economic growth in general.

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Astoria or Bust!!

The view from the balcony off the girls' bedroom, McClure Park is across the street and downtown is just a few blocks away!

The view from the balcony off the girls’ bedroom, McClure Park is across the street and downtown is just a few blocks!

Wow, I can hardly believe that I haven’t written about our family’s big move to Astoria. Personally, it feels like a pretty incredible story and there have been tons of money conversations along the way and still pending…we are set to close on our house in Portland this week (thankfully able to rent back) and crossing our fingers as we negotiate some pretty significant repairs for “our new house” in Astoria.

For those of you I’m not connecting with on Facebook/LinkedIn, my hubby, Kevin, has accepted the Community Development Director position for the City of Astoria. It’s truly his dream job, and I can hardly wait to see the ripple effect of his work in the community. For those curious about the town, I wrote a brief history below.*

After momentarily being taken aback at the idea of moving, and how it wasn’t my current “vision” for our family, and once I opened myself up to the idea, I realized that it actually expands my vision of what’s possible for us. Yes, it’s a tremendous leap of faith and a gargantuan task, but the truth is that I’ve felt more in flow in the past few months than ever before.

Here are the highlights of just how serendipitous things have been throughout:

  • We actually decided in January when setting our family goals for the year that we were ready to sell our house…although at the time we were planning to move into Irvington (we even put an offer on a house a block from school that wasn’t accepted!)
  • So, we had already been repairing and purging and prepping to put our house on the market by May.
  • I was still on the fence about the idea of moving when Kevin left to interview, but in the two days while he was away I realized just what a golden opportunity this would be for us.
  • Kevin was given a verbal offer just the morning after he returned…we both ended up having to be patient for another month until the final contract was settled.
  • Knowing that we needed to sell/move relatively quickly, we put our house on the market the very same weekend that we went out to Astoria to go house hunting.
  • Once we were visiting Astoria with the intention of moving, I suddenly realized how similar it feels to Kalundborg where I lived in Denmark. Add the wind and rain, and I’m going to feel right at home!
  • Our place in Portland quickly to a sweet couple from Brooklyn for what seems to be the new going rate in town of $51k above asking. (The process has been seamless, we’ll very soon be renting back our house until early August).
  • The very first house that I fell in love with online is the one that we have currently pending and very much hope to buy (structural issues and all!) I’ve started thinking of it as Mit Eventyr Hus (My Fairy House). It’s an amazing Craftsman home built in 1915 for a local Finnish surgeon. On top of having a spacious upstairs, it has a library, parlor, sun porch, theater and a hot tub in the basement! The home inspector thought that the woodwork alone would cost around $250k to replicate today. In Portland’s market the house would surely be over a million dollars!
  • Serendipitously, the house is on 7th Street, and my Twin Sis, Miel, lives on 7th Avenue in Portland. Our father’s birthday was on the December 7th, her son’s birthday is on the June 7th…and we were born in 1977. Very auspicious and spooky cool indeed.
  • On top of all this, nearly everyone I meet suddenly has a connection to Astoria: neighbors, friends, coaches…the New Season’s clerk!

From our view, one of the only trade offs is the rainy climate…It rains about ten inches each month from November to January! So, on our list of plans/desires is to get some stylish galoshes and rain gear that will help us embrace the rainy season. 🙂 Our family is savoring the summer heat, knowing that we’ll soon be adapting to the coastal climate. Truthfully, Makenna actually loves the wind and rain, and even made up her own song on our first visit.

There’s so much to share about our move. As much as I will miss be just a mile from Miel and Clark, and our lovely Portland lifestyle, I am simply so excited about our new life ahead of us!

Thanks for all of your well wishes on our pending move!

Darcy

*Astoria 101: For those of you only know of Astoria New York, aka Queens, Astoria Oregon is a beautiful maritime city at the mouth of the Columbia River. It’s the oldest white settlement west of the Rockies, and is near where Lewis and Clark first set up camp at Fort Clatsop. Interestingly, the town was booming a century ago and had nearly the same population as today. Astoria was the second largest city in Oregon with a population of 8,975. The population now is just over 10,000 (From the City of Astoria website). People talked about it being the “San Francisco of the North,” but apparently it rained too much in the winter for most people to stay.

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The Importance of Business Insurance: Reasons to Invest

It doesn’t matter what industry your business operates in, it is crucial that you invest heavily in protecting and safeguarding its assets. People often only associate insurance with certain industries, however, you’d be pressed to find any enterprise than wouldn’t benefit from insuring their assets. There are numerous ways that you can achieve this, whether it is generalized cover or very specific insurance.

It’s important you consider the following when looking for insurance. It pays to do your research and spend time making sure you are getting the best deal. Otherwise, you may find that you either overspend or you are not covered for everything you need to be.

  1. Accident or Injury

Every workplace has casualties, whether you own a factory driven operation or one that is office based. Businesses that operate out of an office may think this type of cover doesn’t relate to them but that’s not necessarily the case. Even small local SMEs should look into this as it could cause issues if someone does get injured and you have no cover. The simple act of an employee injuring themselves in the workplace can have devastating consequences, both in terms of long-term sickness and financial damages. Public liability and other forms of insurance can help to protect your business and reduce pay-outs in instances where you are not at fault. Without this, you are liable to pay over the odds even for minor injuries.

  1. Assets – Physical and Virtual

Business has changed a lot with the growth of the internet. Now almost every business has a broader range of assets. Even a domain name can be worth millions and businesses need to know how to protect these kind of things. An ecommerce site could generate big revenues per day so any problems with the site could result in big losses. While there is an increased focus on virtual assets and online insurance, it is important to understand the importance of protecting your businesses physical assets as well. These include anything you own, from your main office space to any facilities that you may own. Insurance coverage can protect you in the event of fire, vandalism and even acts of international terrorism. While this may seem like an unnecessary expense, it is one that can deliver huge peace of mind and it is also particularly ideal for firms with international offices. This may be more relevant to certain industries. For example, if you work in the energy sector, cover such as that provided by Catlin, protects you for working in that sector, detailing specific things related to energy and power.

  1. The right Image

Creating the right image for your business is very important. Customers need to be reassured that you are a serious business and insurance is a clear indicator of that. It’s more important than ever to gain the trust of your target market so you need to make an effort in any way you can.

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How the Pension Reforms Will Affect You

The 6th April marked the official introduction of some major reforms to the pensions system. Investment charges have been re-examined, an auto-enrolment scheme has been rolled out, and the ability to pull money from pensions has been completely redefined. With practically every aspect of saving for retirement scrutinised and changed by the government, almost all of us stand to benefit from reassessing our pension arrangements in light of these alterations, so which of these changes do you most need to know about?

Increased Freedom 

One of the most important changes implemented by the Conservative government has been to give people greater power over how they spend, save or invest their retirement pots. You’ll now find that you’re able to access your entire pension fund from the age of 55. Additionally, you’ll no longer be limited to removing 25 per cent of your pension pot tax-free on only one occasion; you’ll be able to make as many withdrawals as you wish.

Free Guidance 

An additional move by the government has been to introduce free money guidance to advise people on their options and how the changes will affect them. Although these sessions will not offer personalised advice, they will provide expert general guidance to help inform your decisions.

New Products 

These changes will also mean that a number of new pension products will be made available to those considering their retirements. New income drawdown schemes, in particular, look likely to see a surge in popularity thanks to changes in their format. These alterations will mean that they’re no longer only available to those with a certain amount of other guaranteed income, and that people may be able to invest in them alongside an existing work pension.

Tax Opportunities 

These reforms have been accompanied by a flurry of tax changes, foremost among them the ability for pensioners to pass on the remainder of their pension pots to loved ones tax-free. Many will welcome this, as the children of deceased pensioners must currently pay a 55 per cent tax on their inheritance. Now, those with a parent under 75 will not pay any tax at all, whilst those with an older parent will only be taxed at their current income tax level.

Increased State Pensions 

State pensions have also been altered, which means a 2.5 per cent increase in income for those currently receiving them. This means that those reaching retirement can now expect £115.95 per week. A ‘triple lock’ has also been introduced, which means that payments will increase by whatever percentage is the highest out of inflation, average earnings or 2.5 per cent.  In addition, the two-tier system also looks set to be phased out, with the intention that everyone should receive a ‘flat rate’ state pension of between £144 and £155 a week by 2021.

How will these changes affect you?

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