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Saturday, March 31, 2012

SHRI RAM NAVAMI in 2012 is on Sunday, the 1st of April.

SHRI RAM NAVAMI in 2012 is on Sunday, the 1st of April.

Ram Navami falls on the ninth day of the Hindu lunar year (thus named Chaitra Masa Suklapaksha Navami).

Rama Mantra
Neelambhuj shyamalkomlang Sita Samaropitvambhagam Pano Mahasaikacharoochapam Namame Ramam Raghuvanshnatham

Origin Of Rama Navami
According to the great epic Ramayana, once upon a time there lived a King named Dasarath, then king of Ayodhya, who had three wives named Kaushalya, Sumithra and Kaikeyi. As even long after his marriages, Dasarath was not blessed with a child, this has become a question of worry for him. Even the people of Ayodhya were disheartened because they had not heir to their kingdom. At this stage, Rishi Vasistha suggests Dasarath to perform Puthra Kamesti Yagna, through which he can have a desired child. Soon King Dasharath agreed to do the Yagya and headed to Maharshi Rushya Shrunga's ashram, to get him for performing the yagya. Maharshi agreed and accompanied Dasharath to Ayodhya to solemnize the perform Puthra Kamesti Yagna. As the result of yagna, Yagneshwar appeared and hands Dasarath a bowl of kheer and asked him to feed this to his three wives. Dasarath did the same. He gave one half of the kheer to his elder wife Kausalya, and another half to his younger wife Kaikeyi. These two gave one half each of their kheer to Sumithra. After few days all the three Queens conceived Dasratha's child. On the ninth day (Navami) of Chaithra Masa (first month in Hindu calendar), at noon Kaushlya gave birth to Lord Sri Ram, Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharath, and Sumithra gave birth to twins, Lakshman and Shatrughan. It was the day of joyous celebrations in Ayodhya. This day since then is celebrated as an auspicious occasion by the devotees.

History Of Ramnavami
Ram Navami is one of the most ancient festivals celebrated in India. It is said that the date of Ram Navami can be traced back to the pre-christian era, as Hinduism is the oldest religion of the world. The reference of Ramnavami can also be found in the Kalika puran. It is said in the earlier times, when caste system was prevalent in India; Ramnavami was one of the few festivals that the lower castes (shudras) were allowed to celebrate. In Hindu religion, it is considered to one of the five major sacred festivals and it is said that, properly observing this fast leads to the attainment of salvation.

Significance Of Fasting On Ram Navami
Like most of the Hindu festivals, fasting holds special significance in the celebrations of Ram Navami too. It is believed that when a devotee observes fast on Rama Navami, with sincerity and immense devotion, he/she is blessed with health, wealth and prosperity for the year ahead. Therefore, it has been a tradition since a long time to observe fast on the festival. This perception has been supported by the ancient religious texts of Hinduism, according to which, fasting is the only means of gaining happiness in the material world and achieving salvation at the same time. Moreover, Rama Navami vrat is considered as the five of the most important fasts in the ancient times.

Ram Navami 2012 Date When: Sunday, 1st April 2012 India
All across India, the day of Ram Navami is celebrated as the birthday of the Lord Ram, one of the most familiar and loved deities in the Hindu pantheon. Lord Ram is known as the seventh incarnation of the Dashavatara of Vishnu and was born to the Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya of Ayodhya. The Ram Navami festival falls in the Shukla Paksha on the Navami, the ninth day of the month of Chaitra according to the Hindu calendar. The nine days leading up to Ram Navami are days of fasting and prayer for the devout, and the day of the festival itself is marked by pujas and satsangs (public gatherings). The period is also known as Shri Rama Navratra.

Ram Navami Celebrations and Significance

Ram Navami is a major festival for Lord Ram’s worshippers. Lord Ram's dynasty considered themselves to have descended from the Sun. Therefore the celebrations on Ram Navami festival begin early morning by praying to the Sun. In the afternoon, which is supposed to be Lord Ram’s birth time, a special prayer is performed in temples. It is also considered auspicious to undertake a fast on this day. The more religious ones fast for all nine days preceding the day of Rama Navami. The fast is kept to seek perfection as a human being and is considered as an exercise to build up will power and self discipline. Many temples perform elaborate prayers throughout the day. A very important practice during this festival includes reading of the Ramayana by a pundit in the temple for all nine days and this is a crowd puller as people come to listen to the fascinating story. Although this festival is celebrated everywhere in India, there are two cities- Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh and Pondicherry which are especially renowned for their Ram Navami celebrations. Both these places are mentioned in the epic Ramayana. Ayodhya is the place where Lord Ram was born and during the festival resplendently decorated rath yatras or chariot processions are carried through the town. The main attraction of these processions are lavishly decorated chariots carrying four people dressed up as Lord Ram, his wife Sita, brother Laxman, and his disciple Hanuman. The chariot is followed by many other people dressed up as King Ram’s soldiers. These rath yatras take place all over north India and continue for two days, accompanied by much fanfare and rejoicing. During the processions participants sing religious songs and praise the happy days of Ram's reign. Other sacred places like Ujjain and Rameshwaram also draw thousands of devotees from all over the country during this festival. People visit Rameshwaram to take a ritual bath in the sea before paying homage at the Ramanathaswamy temple. Fairs are hosted in various places in north India in connection with this festival that end in spectacular fireworks on Rama Navami.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

50 Ways to Improve Your Finances in 2012

A guide to mastering your money in the new year

By Kimberly Palmer

A new year offers a fresh start. Whether you're ready to ramp up your earning power, start saving more money, or manage what you have more effectively, this 50-step guide is designed to help you improve every aspect of your financial life, from overall security to specific saving and spending strategies.

[In Pictures: 10 Ways to Give Your Money a Makeover.]

1. Focus on the "why" of your goals instead of the "how." Planning exactly how you will reach a goal, such as saving more money, can actually make it harder to reach that goal, according to research by Julia Belyavsky Bayuk, an assistant professor at the University of Delaware. She found that focusing more on the motivation behind a goal instead of the specifics of how it will be achieved can increase the likelihood of success. That's partly because having a more "abstract" mindset can help people deal with unexpected challenges along the way.

2. Rethink your relationship with money. For those struggling to make better money decisions, life coach Christine Hassler suggests thinking about money as if it's a person. "How's your relationship with George?" she asks, referring to President George Washington's face on the $1 bill. In her book 20 Something, 20 Everything, she encourages readers to first examine their history with money. "If they don't excavate what they believe and their sense of worth, they are unable to progress," she explains. That history includes one's financial situation growing up and patterns of spending. The first step to fixing a dysfunctional relationship with money is to acknowledge its existence.

3. Protect your privacy. Whenever someone asks for your Social Security number, question if it's necessary to share it. Never give it to a solicitor on the telephone or in an email, and if you ever notice a suspicious charge on your credit card, follow up with your card company—it could be the first sign of identity theft.

4. Plan a comeback. A lot of people have struggled over the past few years, but that downswing doesn't have to be permanent. Jude Boudreaux, who now works as a certified financial planner in New Orleans, turned his life around after running up $5,000 in credit card debt in college. He did it by ruthlessly cutting out "extras" in his budget so he could focus on his bigger financial goals, including getting out of debt. Today, Boudreaux says his past struggles are an asset, since he's living proof to clients that it is possible to make a complete comeback.

[See 6 Steps to Dig Out of Debt.]

5. Visualize your future self. People who feel connected to their future identities are more likely to delay gratification, according to research from the Columbia Business School and University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The researchers offer a relatively simple way to do this: Take a moment or two to meditate on your future self, and just how similar it is to your current self.

6. Get organized. Financial accounts often come with monstrous amounts of paperwork. You'll probably need to hang on to important documents (some states require taxpayers to keep up to 10 years of filings on hand), but much of your old paperwork belongs in the trash or the shredder if it has valuable information on it, such as bank account numbers. Store your most important documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, in an archival box or a locked metal file cabinet that's separate from your day-to-day files.

7. Create a paperwork system. Keeping all of your paperwork in one place can be step one to a better financial life. Brooke West, a private financial adviser and vice president at SunTrust, suggests a three ring-binder, which she calls her "financial bible." She uses a new one every year to hold all of her paperwork. She has tabs for bank statements, Social Security benefits, estate planning, pension and retirement benefits, investments, and credit reports. For a few paper-heavy categories, such as flex-spending receipts, she has separate files.

8. Live below your means. Danny Kofke, a teacher and father of two, manages to live well on his $40,000-a-year salary. In his book, A Simple Book of Financial Wisdom, he explains that he does it by following a pretty simple strategy: Living below his means. He doesn't buy what he cannot afford, even when he wants to, and avoids debt at all costs.

9. Coordinate with your partner. Not talking about money is one of the biggest money mistakes couples make. Couples considering moving in together or marriage can save themselves a lot of trouble by talking about hot-button topics such as how to share household expenses, credit card debt, and anticipated future expenses. Don't forget to bring up your long-term goals, too, which can make the discussion a little more romantic. Do you want to swim with dolphins in the Bahamas? Backpack around Europe together? Agreeing on common goals makes it easier to save.

[In Pictures: 10 Smart Ways to Improve Your Budget]

10. Pick a better bank. There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to banks anymore, which means consumers have to do their own research to pick the best fit for them. In general, says Today Show financial editor Jean Chatzky, larger banks offer more ATMs and lower interest rates on savings accounts, while smaller banks might be less convenient but offer lower fees. Meanwhile, online-only banks might be able to offer higher interest rates, but lack the bricks-and-mortar presence. She recommends the comparison tool FindABetterBank.com, which makes it easy to search by ZIP code. Other websites, including Bankrate.com and Google Advisor, also offer free customized searches.

11. Automate savings. Online banking makes this technique easy: Sign up for monthly transfers into a brokerage or savings account. You can also transfer funds directly from your paycheck so you never even see the money, which means you won't miss it. Check in with your human resources department—you might be able to set up an automatic savings account through your paycheck in addition to your automatic retirement savings.

12. Take advantage of online tools. Mint.com lets users upload account information and get immediate insight into where their money is going. It's free and user-friendly, and comes with a smartphone app that lets you track your budget wherever you are.

13. Create stronger passwords. Scam artists prey on those with easy-to-guess passwords. Avoid becoming a victim by never using the same password on multiple sites, avoiding common words or names, and using a long password that only you know, such as a sentence.

14. Bank safely online. With more customers managing their money through online accounts, mistakes that lead to vulnerability are also more common. Don't "friend" strangers online, and beware of sharing any personal information publicly that could be used to guess your passwords. Take care when entering passwords on smartphones, too, because such devices generally lack the anti-virus software that's more common on computers. If you do notice anything suspicious, contact your bank right away.

[In Pictures: 10 Ways to Avoid Online Scams]

15. Watch television for free. From the network news to serialized primetime shows to cable programming, the show you want can almost always be found online. In most cases, all the viewer has to do to access a show is watch a short 30-second advertisement before the opening scenes, or a longer two-minute ad where a commercial break would normally be. Not a bad price, considering that most of us watch ads anyway when we tune into our expensive cable channels. Check out Hulu.com, iTunes, and network websites.

16. Travel for free. By taking advantage of credit card reward programs as well as airline mileage, Brad Wilson, 30, earned a free trip to Australia and New Zealand, valued at around $40,000. "It turns out there are a lot more opportunities than people realize," he says. He suggests actively seeking out deals, layering them on top of each other, and staying organized.

17. Move in with family. The Pew Research Center recently found that there are more multigenerational U.S. households today than at almost any point in modern history, with a total of about 51.4 million Americans living with relatives. That's about 16.7 percent of all Americans, the highest percentage since the 1950s. (During World War II, shared housing was more common, with about 1 in 4 Americans living in a multigenerational household.) The report likens the phenomenon to an "anti-poverty program" that Americans are enacting to insulate themselves from the dark side of the Great Recession.

18. But don't ruin each other's finances. Parents are often pressed for cash, too, especially as they near retirement, which means they have to watch out for their own finances. Budgeting for any support can help, as can exchanging non-financial help, such as shared meals and networking advice.

19. Waste less money on food. Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland, estimates that Americans waste at least 160 billion pounds of food each year. To minimize that, he suggests shopping more frequently and buying less on each trip to the store, and maintaining an uncluttered fridge so you don't forget about items that will soon expire.

20. Become a better cook. Sometimes you have to spend money to save money. Nowhere is that truer than in the kitchen, where investing in a few key pieces of hardware can help you cook better, faster, and cheaper. And anything that makes your food taste better and gets it on the table quickly can lessen the temptation to order budget-busting take-out. Consider investing in a slow cooker to make meals even easier.

21. Use less energy. Small changes, like closing doors to unused rooms or turning off the air conditioner during the day, can make a serious dent in utility bills. So can unplugging appliances, turning off lights, and shutting down computers at night. Even televisions can use power when they're turned off, so unplugging them when they're not in use saves energy. A $30 power strip, called the Smart Strip, automatically cuts power to devices that don't need it when they're off, such as a DVD player, while maintaining power to those that do, such as a cable box.

22. Reduce your utility bills. Making sure your home is properly insulated can save you money on heating and cooling costs. Using a programmable thermostat so that the temperature automatically rises (in the summer) and falls (in the winter) when no one is home during the day can yield annual savings of about 30 percent. While some 25 million households own programmable thermostats, only half actually use them.

[In Pictures: 8 Ways to Reduce What You Pay at the Pump]

23. Forget the Joneses. With Facebook making it easier than ever to compare your own material status to others, it can be easy to always feel one step behind. But it's easy to be unaware of the debt supporting a friend's lifestyle, or their own private financial stresses. Cultivating a sense of gratitude can help ameliorate feelings of jealousy.

24. Take advantage of job benefits. If your employer offers flexible-spending accounts, gym-fee reimbursements, or other perks, be sure to take advantage of them. The human resources department can help connect you with the right paperwork.

25. Plan ahead with big-ticket purchases. Big purchases, such as cars, homes, and vacations, often come with major hidden costs. Homes, for example, can lose value or spring a leak in the roof. Cars depreciate and break down. Waiting to buy until you have the cash reserves to handle those unexpected costs can prevent a lot of financial stress later.

26. Stop receiving email sales alerts from your favorite retailers. Electronic junk mail might not carry the same environmental impact, but it can still convince you to spend money on items you don't need. Unsubscribe to retailer alerts to avoid the temptation.

27. Take advantage of your bank's free tools. Banks are increasingly offering easy ways to track your spending online. If your bank offers a free tool, use it to see where your money is going and where you can cut back.

28. Negotiate, even in this economy. Even if their salary itself is fixed, employees often have room to negotiate on other benefits, such as flexible work hours or vacation, which can result in a more appealing employment package. In the worst-case scenario, the request will be denied, but many employers expect some back-and-forth during the negotiation process.

29. Pick up a few side jobs. Many people don't realize they have valuable skills that others are willing to pay for, such as teaching a second language or even craft skills. To get ideas for how to earn extra money, check out the services section on Craigslist and see what people are advertising—editing, gardening, and event planning. Earning just a few hundred dollars a month can help get you back on your feet, plus you'll get valuable job experience and the possible start of a successful small business that you can continue to grow.

30. Develop a back-up plan. In today's economy, no job is 100-percent secure. Create a list of steps you would take if you were to lose your job, even though you hope never to have to use it. Having a Plan B can give you peace of mind as well as a practical "to-do" list if you ever face the shock of an unexpected job loss.

[In Pictures: 10 Ways to Start Earning Extra Money Now]

31. Save up before quitting your job. Even in this economy, between 1.5 million and 2 million people quit their jobs each month. Storing up enough savings to pay for a year's worth of expenses can make that transition easier. Of course, toxic or depressing work environments don't always allow for that kind of flexibility.

32. Get famous. Boosting your own name recognition can lead to a salary increase in almost any profession, according to public relations experts Maggie and Jay Jessup, authors of Fame 101. They suggest choosing a specialty within your field, then gaining notoriety as the go-to expert by taking advantage of social media channels as well as free publicity by being quoted in articles.

33. Invest in your career—even when you're being frugal everywhere else. Investing in a career coach or development course can help you snag a promotion, get "unstuck" from a career rut, or transition into your dream job. The price of one-on-one coaching typically starts at about $200 an hour, but less-formal advice can come from meeting with more experienced colleagues over lunch or coffee.

34. Embrace DIY projects. From making candles from scratch to growing your own potatoes, crafty projects can save money throughout the year. In their book The Bust DIY Guide to Life, Laurie Henzel and Debbie Stoller explain how to sew, grow, and craft your way through dozens of do-it-yourself projects.

35. Reduce your tax load. Have you moved to take a new job? Do you have business expenses? Or child care that allows parents to look for work? If so, you are probably eligible for certain tax deductions. The IRS website, irs.gov, offers detailed guidance on what's allowed—and what's not.

36. Pay off expensive debt. If you're carrying around high-interest credit card debt, paying it off can save you a lot of money in the form of fees and interest. If you already have an emergency savings account and have the funds to pay off the high-interest rate debt, consider doing so.

37. Build a strong credit history. Some people avoid debt and credit cards to such a degree that they fail to build up a strong credit history, which can make it hard to get a loan when they want it, such as a mortgage. Recent college grads with little credit history, for example, can get penalized when they apply for a mortgage or auto loan. Lenders often want to see that you have experience taking on credit and paying your bills on time. As Rod Griffin, public education director for Experian puts it, "You need to demonstrate over time that you handle your debts well."

38. Improve your credit score. The easiest way to do this is by making steady, on-time payments every month and otherwise keeping your accounts in good standing. Get your free credit report once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com to check for any mistakes (and fix them).

39. Choose the best credit card for you. If you pay your balance off each month, you should have a card that gives you rewards points. If you carry debt, just focus on getting the card with the lowest interest rate. Most people have multiple cards that aren't suited to their needs. Pick the one that fits you best and stop using the others. Don't close them, though, because that can hurt your credit score.

40. Check up on your insurance policies. Do you have the auto insurance, renters insurance, and life insurance that you need? According to insurer Allstate, Two in three renters skip insurance altogether, even though most could benefit from the relatively cheap protection. Life insurance is another awkward topic since no one wants to talk about death. But many people are under-insured, which puts their families at risk. Review the insurance that you have and decide whether you have the right amount.

41. Host affordable (and fun) parties. Socializing with friends doesn't have to be expensive. In their new book, Plan to Party, professional party planners Elizabeth Mascali and Dawn Sandomeno suggest saving on invitations by emailing them and splurging on a few special touches, such as adding fresh lemons to water and other drinks or berries as a cocktail garnish.

42. Give better gifts. Surveys show that most Americans say they want to spend less and give more meaningful presents. When birthdays or other events come up, think about how you can give an experience, such as an afternoon at a museum or conversation over tea, instead of things.

43. Celebrate friends' milestones without hurting your bank account. Bridesmaids are famous for their self-sacrifice. Not only do they have to wear the dress, but they are often expected to host events in honor of the bride, travel to the wedding and related events, and give the happy couple wedding gifts. The WeddingChannel.com recently reported that it costs more than $1,600, on average, to serve as a bridesmaid. You can avoid that by splitting costs with friends by room-sharing at the wedding and giving a more personal gift than one on the registry.

44. Create an estate plan. You don't need to be rich and famous to need an estate plan, although celebrity estate planning mistakes hold a few lessons for all of us. Amy Winehouse left her affairs in remarkable order, despite having a relatively complicated personal life, including an ex-husband. Michael Jackson created some complications for his heirs by choosing his elderly mother as a guardian for his young children.

45. Decide what type of investor you want to be. If you're like most people, you probably want to skip stock-picking and put your money in low-cost index funds. Create a diversified portfolio, with longer-term savings in more aggressive investments (such as an index fund that tracks the S&P 500) and shorter-term savings in safer spots such as money market funds.

46. Run some numbers. Most people fail to calculate exactly how much they're on track to save, or how much they'll need, in retirement. Check out the retirement calculators available through your financial institution (Fidelity, T.D. Ameritrade, Transamerica, and T. Rowe Price have them, among others) or use free calculators from Bankrate.com. Experiment with different rates of returns, inflation rates, tax rates, and lifetime expectancy, since no one can predict those factors with any accuracy.

47. Get a detailed home inspection before buying. Home inspections, it turns out, are much more limited than many first-time buyers realize. "The purpose of a home inspection is to look for material defects of a property—things that are unsafe, not working, or that create a hazard," explains Kurt Salomon, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors and an inspector based in Salt Lake City. Home buyers, however, "think we can see through walls and predict the future," he says. If you have specific concerns, such as pool safety or childproofing, consider working with a specialist before buying.

48. Start saving for college. The cost of college can be daunting, but several new strategies make it a little easier to manage. In addition to 529 college savings accounts, which allow parents to invest after-tax money that then grows tax-free, parents can also opt for prepaid tuition plans, which lock in prices today, as well as employer-sponsored college savings plans.

49. Pass on money lessons. Many parents say they feel more comfortable talking about drugs and sex than money. But children learn a lot from their parents' financial habits, often by example. Parents can turn to websites such as Mymoney.gov, AmericaSaves.org, ING Direct's Planet Orange, and SchwabMoneyWise.com for help.

50. Give a smart allowance. Alisa T. Weinstein, author of Earn It, Learn It: Teach Your Child the Value of Money, Work, and Time Well Spent, suggests teaching children to work for their money—in a fun way. She suggests connecting the allowance with tasks related to various careers, such as being a travel agent or chef. Travel-agent tasks include reporting on a destination in an appealing way, creating a brochure, and for older children, calculating exchange rates. "This way, the child is making the connection between effort and money, and the feeling that you worked hard for something. If you can capture that, then you're much more likely to have a child who grows up and can find emotional and financial fulfillment in their careers," says Weinstein.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

101 Ways To Live Your Life To The Fullest

“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs (101 Most Inspiring Quotes of All Time)

How do you feel about your life today? Are you living every day in exuberance? Do you love what you’re doing? Are you excited every single moment? Are you looking forward to what’s coming up next? Are you living your best life?

If your answer to any of the above is a no, maybe or not sure, that means you’re not living your life to the fullest. Which really shouldn’t be the case, because your life experience is up to you to create. Why settle for anything less than what you can get? You deserve nothing but the best. In the past years of my life, especially since after I pursued my passion in ’08, I’ve been living every day to the fullest, filled with joy, passion and rigor. It’s an amazing experience that I want you to experience that too.

This is a list of 101 timeless principles I use to live my best life, and I hope they’ll help you to do so too. As you live in alignment with them, you’ll find yourself becoming more conscious, more alive, and more importantly, experiencing life on a whole new level. Be sure to bookmark or even print out this page and refer to it daily to guide you to your best life.

Here are 101 ways to live your life to the fullest:

  1. Live every day on a fresh new start. Don’t be held back by what happened yesterday, the day before, the week before, the year before, and so on.

  2. Be true to who you are. Stop trying to please other people or be someone else. It’s better to be an original version of yourself than an exact duplicate of someone else.
  3. Quit complaining. Don’t be like the howling dog, always howling and never doing anything. Stop complaining about your problems and work on them instead.
  4. Be proactive. Stop waiting for others around you to do something and take action yourself instead.
  5. Rather than think “what if”, think “next time”. Don’t think about things you can’t change (namely what has happened and thoughts of other people) or unhappy things because these are disempowering. Instead focus on the things you can action upon. That’s the most constructive thing you can do in any situation.
  6. Focus on WHAT vs. How. Focus on WHAT you want first, before you think about HOW to do it. Anything is possible, as long as you set your mind, heart and soul to it.
  7. Create your own opportunities. You can wait for opportunities to drop in life. Or, you can go out there and create your own opportunities. The latter is definite and much more empowering.
  8. Live more consciously each day. Stop sleepwalking through life. Your life is something to be experienced, not coasted through.
  9. Be committed to your growth. In the Map of Consciousness, there are 17 levels of consciousness – from Shame to Enlightenment. The higher level of consciousness you are in, the richer your life experience. Achieving higher consciousness comes from your commitment to growth.
  10. Know your inner self. This means knowing who you are and what you represent. Be clear of your personal identity.
  11. Discover your life purpose. Set the mission statement for your life; one that will drive you to life your life to the fullest.
  12. Live in alignment with your purpose. What can you start doing immediately that will let you live 100% in alignment with your purpose? How can you live true to your purpose within every context/situation/environment you are in, every second of the day?
  13. Set your life commandments. Define your personal commandments to live your best life. What adages and principles do you want to follow in your life?
  14. Discover your values. Values are the essence of what makes you, you. Read article #11: Discover Your Values in Personal Excellence Book (Volume 1) on the importance of values, my values and how you can create your own.
  15. Hold yourself to the highest conduct. Every one of us have our own set of ethics, principles and moral codes. Live true to them every day. Also, live in full alignment with your purpose (#11), commandments (#13) and values (#14).
  16. Design your ideal life. What is your ideal life? Design it. First, assess your life at the moment via the life wheel. Then, ask yourself what it takes to live a 10/10 life (in all 10 areas – career, health, love, social, etc…). What is the life that will make you the best person you can ever be? Set your BHAGs – big, hairy and audacious goals! There are no limits in life – only those you set for yourself!
  17. Stop putting life on hold. Are you putting any parts of your life on hold? What is one area of your life you have been putting off/avoiding/denying? Uncover it and start working on it.
  18. Create your life handbook. Your life handbook is your life-long personal manual to live your best life – from your mission statement, your values, your long-term goals, short-term goals, personal strengths, blind spots to address, plans, among others. Create your book first then build on from there.
  19. Set your goals. After you design your ideal life, set your 5-year, 3-year and 1-year goals. The more specific your goals, the better! Read the 10 principles on how to get winning goals.
  20. Take action on your goals and dreams. Create an action plan with your strategy, plan and immediate next steps. ESPER: 7-part Goal Achievement series is a great tool to get you started.
  21. Create your bucket list, i.e. things to do before you die. Then, get out to achieve them.
  22. Don’t do things for the sake of doing them. Always evaluate what you’re doing and only do it if there is meaning behind them. Don’t be afraid to quit the things that don’t serve your path.
  23. Do the things you love, because life is too precious to spend it doing anything else. If you don’t enjoy something, then don’t do it. Spend your time and energy on things that bring you fulfillment and happiness.
  24. Discover your passion in life. What sets you on fire? Go out there (and explore inward) to know what you love to do.
  25. Make your passion a full-fledged career. Then, start pursuing it. Stop working in a job you are passionless towards. Quit your job when you are ready to do it full-time.
  26. Turn your passion into a huge success. Turn your passion into a multi-million dollar business. Better yet, make it a multi-billion dollar one.
  27. Learn from criticism. Be open to criticism but don’t be affected by it. Criticism is meant to help you be a better person. Learn from it.
  28. Be positive. Is the glass half empty or half full? How about neither? It’s actually all-full – the bottom half is water, the top half is air. It’s all a matter of perception. Take on empowering perceptions, not those that bind you. If you can see the positive sides of every thing, you’ll be able to live a much richer life than others. Purge unnecessary negativityfrom your life.

  29. Don’t badmouth other people. If there’s anything you don’t like about someone, say it to him/her in the face – otherwise, don’t say it at all. It’s not nice to do that.
  30. Be empathetic. If everyone only see life from his/her own perspective, we’ll forever be close-minded and insular. See things from others’ shoes.
  31. Be a compassionate person. Show compassion and kindness to everyone around you
  32. Develop 100% self-belief. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Remove your limiting beliefs and replace them with empowering ones (In Day 25 of Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program, we delve deep into our underlying beliefs). If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect others to believe in you?
  33. Let go of unhappy past. This means past grievances, heartbreaks, sadness, disappointments, etc.
  34. Forgive those who may have done you wrong in the past. “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and realize it was you.” – Lewis B. Smedes
  35. Let go of attachments. Don’t fixate yourself with a certain status, fame, wealth or material possessions. These are impermanent and will ultimately disappear one day when you die. Focus on growing and living life to the fullest instead.
  36. Let go of relationships that do not serve you. That means negative people, dishonest people, people who don’t respect you, people are overly critical and relationships that prevent you from growing.
  37. Spend more time with people who enable you. Hang out with people who you compatible with, like-minded people, people who are positive, successful, strong achievers and positive for your growth. You are after all the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

  38. Build genuine, authentic connections with people around you – strangers, friends, family, colleagues, business partners, customers/clients, etc. Spend more time to know them better and foster stronger connections.
  39. Connect with an old friend. There is no end to the number of friends you can have. Reach out to people from the past.
  40. Do a kind deed a day. What is something you can do today that will make the world a better place? Go and do it.
  41. Help other people who are in need. Voluntarism is one outlet. You can also start with your friends and family.
  42. Help people when they least expect it, without reason. You don’t need any reason to help others. Do it because you want to. Share the love with everyone.
  43. Go dating (if you’re single).


  44. Fall in love:D
  45. Review your life. Set a weekly review session to assess how you are doing for your goals and your life. Review your purpose once every 3-6 months too so you know you’re on the right path.
  46. Overcome procrastination. Procrastination is a huge waste of your time (and your life). Get rid of it once and for all.
  47. 30 minutes a day. Set aside at least 30 minutes every day to work on a quadrant 2 goal that, when you achieve it, will bring about the biggest source of fulfillment and happiness in your life
  48. Get out there and make new friends – whether in your workplace, online, friends’ friends, social groups, etc. Read: 10 Tips To Make New Friends
  49. Make deeper connections. Beyond making new friends, aim to make deeper connections out of them. Read: How To Have More Best Friends in Life
  50. Be your advisor (from the future). Imagine you’re the future you, 5 years later. How would you advise yourself? Write it down. Now, apply them. Check out Future Prediction Exercise article in Personal Excellence Book (Volume 1), which teaches you to predict your future, then learn from it.
  51. Write a letter to your future self. Actually, write 3 letters – for yourself in 1, 3 and 5 years. The longer the letters, the better. Envision how you’ll be like in the future. Make each letter a minimum 2 pages long. Now, seal them and put them in a safe place. Set it in your calendar so you’ll know to open them when it’s time. This will inspire you to work your hardest and achieve your maximum results in the time period.

  52. Declutter. Start from your computer, then your table, your room, your bag/wallet, and your home. The more you throw the unwanted and old stuff away, the more room you’re creating for new things to enter.
  53. Keep learning. There is something to learn from everything you see, hear and experience. This includes your mistakes and past misshaps (if any). Learn to interpret each event objectively. Focus on what you can learn from it so you can apply them moving forward.
  54. Keep developing yourself. Equip yourself with a huge breadth of knowledge. Learn different skills, pick up different hobbies, study different fields.
  55. Keep upgrading yourself. Equip yourself with a huge depth of knowledge. While you can usually only level up to 99 in video games, in real life you can level up to infinity. Go for further studies if need be. Develop your skills. Level up. Build your >10,000 hours in each skill.
  56. Try new things. What’s something you’d normally not do? Get out of your comfort zone try something different. It can be something simple like taking a new bus route, trying a new food item, picking up a new hobby, or something bigger like studying a different field, picking a new skill, traveling to a country you’ll never visit, etc. You set your own limits.
  57. Get yourself out there. This applies for everything. (a) Get out there geographically. Go out, travel and explore the world. Set sail into the sea. Go backpacking by yourself and visit as many countries as possible. Get on a road trip and visit the different places that come out. (B) Get out there situationally. Stop sticking to routines and comfort zones. Try something different. (c) Get out there in life. Stop watching TV and living vicariously through the TV characters. Go and live the life of your dreams.
  58. Be the absolute best in what you do. Go for the #1 position in what you do. If you want to spend your time doing something, you might as well be the best in it. Strive for the best – you don’t deserve anything lesser than that.
  59. Don’t settle. In the same lines as #58, don’t settle for less. Don’t settle for someone you don’t like as your partner. Don’t settle for a job you don’t like #25). Don’t settle for friends who make you feel like a lesser person (#37). Don’t settle for a weight you are unhappy with. Go for what you really want.
  60. Stretch yourself. What are you doing now? How can you achieve more? Set bigger goals. Explore your limits and break them.
  61. Embrace new ideas. Don’t mentally limit yourself; Let your mind be a breeding ground for new ideas. Read: 25 Brainstorming Techniques.
  62. Create your inspirational haven. Turn your room into a place you love. Do the same for your work desk. Get rid of things that make you unproductive. Surround it with things that inspire you and trigger you to action. Read more: How To Create An Inspiring Room
  63. Behave as your ideal self will. All of us have an ideal vision of who we want to be. How is your ideal self like? How can you start to be that ideal self now?
  64. Set your role models in life. With role models, you become much better than you can be by yourself. I personally am inspired by Tyra Banks (for her passion for helping women build their self-esteem and changing notions of beauty), Ivanka Trump (for her success, intellect and beauty), Donald Trump (for his success and drive in life), Oprah (for being who she is), Lady Gaga (for her talent and not being afraid to be different), and many more. Seeing them and what they do reminds me of what I can be and what I can do, so they drive me on to greater heights.
  65. Get mentors and/or coaches. There’s no faster way to improve than to have someone work with you on your goals. Not only will they drive you to achieve more for yourself, they’ll also share with you important advice which you can use to create even more success for yourself. Many of my clients approach me to coach them and the net result: they achieve significantly more progress and results in their life than if they had worked alone.
  66. Uncover your blind spots. The more you uncover, the more you grow, the better you become.
  67. Increase your consciousness. The more conscious you are, the more evolved you become.
  68. Ask for feedback. As much as we try to uncover our blind spots(#66), there will be areas we cannot identify. Asking for feedback gives us an additional perspective. Some people to approach will be friends, family, colleagues, boss, or even acquaintances, since they will have no preset bias and can give their feedback objectively. Day 19 of Be a Better Me in 30 Days Challenge: Get Feedback From Others is about getting feedback from others so as to uncover our blind spots.
  69. Generate passive income. Create passive income streams so your income is not tied to the time you spend on your work. Of course you’ll still continue to work, but only because you want to and not because you have to.
  70. Help others live their best lives. There is no better way to grow than to help others grow. Ultimately, the world is one. We are all in this together.
  71. Get married / Start your family / Have kids!
  72. Improve the world. There are many things in the world that need your attention and help. Poverty. Disaster recovery. Illiteracy. Children in need. Depleting rainforests. Animal rescue. Endangered species. How can you do your part?

  73. Spearhead a humanitarian cause/organization you are passionate about.
  74. Give more value than you receive. There is so much unspeakable joy that comes from giving. And when you keep giving, you’ll find that you actually receive a lot more in return, in spades.
  75. Be big picture focus. You can either set your eyes on the big things or get hung up by the nitty gritty details. The former will help you get a lot more out of life than the latter. Focus on the big rocks in life and put first things first (Quadrant 2 tasks). Practice the 80/20 rule – focus on the 20% things that give you the 80% fulfillment in life.
  76. Be clear of your end objective. What is the end goal you seek? Is what you’re doing bringing you there? If not, put it aside. As long as you keep taking on things that meet your end goal, you’ll eventually reach there.
  77. Go the 80/20 route. For every goal you have, there are different paths to achieve it. Pick out the 80/20 path, i.e. the most effective path that brings you there the fastest with least amount of effort.
  78. Prioritize (80/20 actions). As you embark on the 80/20 path for your goals, focus on the important tasks and cut out the less important ones. That means do the 20% actions that give you the 80% results.
  79. Live in the moment. Are your thoughts wandering around all the time? Calm your mind down. Be present. The only time you’re ever living is in this moment. Meditation helps to remove mental clutter.
  80. Relish in the little moments. Snuggling under warm covers on a rainy day. Ice cream on a hot day. A kiss with your loved one. Being with your best friend. A walk by the park. The breeze on your face. Quiet, alone time. Watching the sun rise/set. Soak in all these little moments of life. They are what make up your life.
  81. Take a break. Being the best also requires you to take breaks when needed. Make sure you rest when needed. Doing so lets you walk the longer mile ahead.
  82. Stop wanting things a certain way. I wrote a 3-part series before on the downsides of perfectionism and how to overcome them. Be firm on your end goals (your objective goals) and your ideals, but let go of the fixation that things have to be a certain way. You’ll realize it’s by doing that that you achieve what you want.
  83. Focus on creation. Think about what you can bring to the world, and create that.
  84. Don’t criticize or judge others. Respect others for who they are.
  85. The only person you can change is yourself. Stop expecting others to behave in a certain way. Rather than demand that others around you change, focus on changing yourself. You’ll be happier and live a more fulfilling life this way.
  86. Embrace gratitude. Be grateful for everything you have today, and everything you will get in the future.
  87. Express gratitude. Let the people who’ve touched you know of your gratitude towards them. You’ll be surprised what a little act like this can do. If you don’t tell them, they’ll never know.
  88. Let loose and have fun. Sing at the top of your lungs. Dance in the rain. Run barefoot and feel the ground underneath your feet. Release of your self-imposed shackles and be free :D.
  89. Get into nature. Many of us live in concrete jungles. Soak in the beauty of nature.
  90. You have a choice. Recognize you always have a choice in how to live your life.
  91. Laugh more. Are you reading this with a straight face? Smile and have fun :D.
  92. Embrace change. The only thing that’s constant is change. Change means growth. Rather than resist change, learn to versatile such that you can make the best out of the changes that come. In fact, become an agent of change.
  93. Be more risk-inclined. Don’t be afraid to take risks. The bigger your risks, the bigger your return.
  94. Embrace mistakes. The more mistakes you make, the faster you learn. Make sure to draw lessons so you can build on them. (#53)
  95. Embrace disappointments. Many people try to avoid feeling disappointed. They develop a resistant relationship with disappointment. However, disappointment is part and parcel of being human – it reflects your real passions. Don’t resist it – instead, embrace it. Understand it, then channel into it to create more in life. Read: How To Overcome Disappointment (4-part series)

  96. Challenge your fears. All of us have fears. Fear of uncertainty, fear of public speaking, fear of risk… All our fears keep us in the same position and prevent us from growing. Rather than avoid your fears, recognize they are the compass for growth. Address and overcome them. Read: How To Overcome Fear (3-Part Series).
  97. Maximize your mind, body, heart and soul. Living your best life requires you to maximize yourself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. If you’re highly successful, very materially abundant, have a big circle of friends, very spiritually aware but you neglect your physical health, that’s not living your life to the fullest. The same for other scenarios where a part of you is blocked off. Maximize all 4 aspects of you.
  98. Be your best self. Essentially all the articles here at Personal Excellence are about being your best self and achieving your highest potential. It’s only through being the best we can be that we live our life to the fullest. This is why the motto of the site is “Be your best self, Live your best life“.
  99. Love yourself. You are the person you have to live with for the rest with your life. Treasure and love yourself. :)
  100. Love others. Be grateful for all the people around you because they help you to grow. They enrich your life experience. Without them, your life would not have been the same.
  101. Last but not least: Love life. I always find living to be a fascinating experience. How we’re all on earth, with millions of species, 30,000 different life forms, over 7 billion people, and all thriving in its own way, existing, co-existing and in co-creation mode. There’s so much we don’t know out there, so much to be experienced in life, that it’s just wonderful.






Sunday, March 25, 2012


1. Types of options

2. Why trade options?

3. What instruments can be traded?

4. Some types of Option strategies

5. How options are priced?

6. How to evaluate different option trades?

7. An idea about expected returns from options
1. Types of options

At the basic level, there are 2 types of options:
a) Call option (CE) - In simple terms, you buy call if bullish or sell call if bearish.

b) Put option (PE) - Again simply put, you buy put if bearish or sell put if bullish.

More specifically, this is what can be done depending on view on underlying stock:
a) Stock expected to rise in short term - Buy call.

b) Stock expected not to fall below a certain level - Sell puts of strike level below which you don't expect it to fall.

c) Stock not expected to rise above a certain level - Sell calls of strike level above which you don't expect stock to rise.

d) Stock expected to fall - Buy puts.
Now, what is stated in above 4 points, form the basic building blocks of 100s of option strategies for e.g. if you expect stock to be range bound you can initiate a 'Short Straddle' or 'Short Strangle' (you sell both call & put).

some details about some strategies in 3rd section.

Based on option price w.r.t price of underlying stock/index, there are 3 types of options:

a) OTM - Out of money options - e.g. if NIFTY is trading at 5317 currently, all CE's above strike of 5300 i.e. 5400, 5500, 5600 etc are OTM options. Similarly all puts below 5300 are OTM.

b) ATM - At the money - Options where strike price is same as price of underlying stock/index. e.g. Coal India is trading at about 340. So, 340 CE & PE are ATM options.

c) ITM - In the money - These are CE's where strike is below spot (spot is current price of underlying stock/index) or PE's where strike is above spot e.g. all CE's below 5400 are ITM.

2. Why trade Options?

One advantage of option trading as compared to stock trading is the amount of flexibility, you have lots of option strategies to make money in any kind of market -

a) Stocks going up

b) Stocks going down

c) Stocks remaining stagnant or range bound

(These have been my favorites over last 1 year or so!)
Another advantage is that your money is always liquid. This being a long term investment group, this may not be a consideration for people, but to make money from stocks, you need to block your capital for comparatively longer period of time.

Whereas, in options, mostly trades are held maximum till expiry of current month, which is last Thursday of every month. So, you make money without really blocking your capital.

Disadvantage of option trading as compared to stocks:

There is no free lunch!!
Higher returns came at the cost of higher risk.

Derivatives are complex structures & proper risk management needs to be in place.
So, expectedly, you need to have a good knowledge about the nature of stock movement, this is where knowledge of technicals come into picture. For example for case

(c) of making money from range bound stocks, following technical characteristics can be used:

a) See if price is oscillating within a channel i.e. not really trending in up or down direction.

b) Momentum indicators like RSI or directional indicators like ADX can give an idea if stock is trending or not.

c) Check support/resistance levels, moving averages etc.

d) Option chain (can be checked at NSE's website -
http://www.nseindia.com/live_market/dynaContent/live_watch/option_chain/optionKeys.jsp?symbolCode=-10006&symbol=NIFTY&symbol=NIFTY&instrument=-&date=-&segmentLink=17&symbolCount=2&segmentLink=17) gives Open Interest added at various option strikes (e.g. NIFTY - 5400, 5500, 5600 etc), which acts as support in case of puts & as resistance in-case of calls.

So, OI gives indications in addition to the technicals checked earlier. But please note that these are just indicative, nothing more. If we look at Option Chain for NIFTY for this month, support comes at 5200 & resistance is at 5600 as these have highest OI build up for puts & calls respectively .

3. What instruments can be traded?

All FNO stocks & major indices like NIFTY, BANKNIFTY etc can be traded.

But in Indian stock market, most of the stock options are illiquid & hence pose a big risk of getting stuck in case stock makes an unfavorable movement.

So, always trade in liquid options.

Some of the stocks which are amply liquid are - Reliance, Bharti, DLF, Coal India, Infy, Tata Steel etc.

Out of some 200 FnO stocks, there are about 40-45 stocks where current month options are reasonably liquid.

So, do not trade outside of these instruments.

NIFTY is a great instrument for options trading for following reasons:

a) Highly liquid.

b) Huge option of strikes (5300, 5400, 5500 etc) available which can be used in different option strategies.

c) Even options of next few months are reasonably liquid which can be used in strategies like Calendar Spreads where you combine options of this month & next month expiries.

4. Some types of Option Strategies
There are many option strategies to pick from, depending on your view about the underlying.

Just to give an idea how strategies can be picked based on view on underlying, HERE some simple strategies:

a) Short Straddle - Sell both calls & puts of same strike.

Here we expect stock to remain stagnant or within a small range. Let us again take example of CoalIndia.
It is trading at 342. Its 340 CE for current expiry is trading at 8.2 & 340 PE is trading at 5.05.
We sell both call & put & get a total premium of 8+5=Rs 13. If CoalIndia remains at 340, our profit is Rs 13000 per lot (Coal India has a lot size of 1000).

Also, if Coal India remains between 340 - 13 & 340 + 13 i.e. between range 327 - 353, we'll make some profit.

b) Short Strangle - Sell call & put of different strikes - If we expect range for CoalIndia to be 320-360 from today till expiry (29th March), sell 320 CE & 360 PE. If CoalIndia indeed stays between this range for next 2 weeks, our profit will be Rs 3000 per lot (Rs 2 from 360 CE + Rs 1 from 320 PE).

C) Bull Spread - Here buy a CE & sell CE of a higher strike - This is for stocks where we feel stock will have a spurt of 5-10%.

So, we can buy a ATM CE & sell higher OTM CE. e.g. if we will DishTV can move up to 60 from here before expiry, we can buy 55 CE for Rs 2 & sell 60 CE for Rs 0.85. So, our net outflow is Rs 1.15 per lot.

This means that we'll make guaranteed money if DishTV closes above 55+1.15 = 56.15 before expiry. Also, Rs 1.15 per lot is the maximum loss that we can have.

d) Bear Spread - Similar to Bull Spread, but here view is bearish & we create a spread with puts.

Long Straddle/Strangle - Here we buy both CE & PE expecting a big move in either direction but we're not sure of the direction of move.

For e.g. just before budget, one can initiate a long straddle/strangle if we believe if market will make a decisive move based on budget announcements.

5. How options are priced?
Option premium/price consists of 2 parts: a) Intrinsic value - Represents "money-ness" of options

(This can be compared with 'Book Value' in case of stocks :)).

b) Time value Let us take example of NIFTY 5300 CE for current month, trading at 61 (as of 18/3), whereas NIFTY is at 5318.

In this case, out of Rs 61, Rs 18 (5318 - 5300) is intrinsic value & Rs 43 (61 - 18) is time value premium. It is very important to note that by the expiry, every option value is same as its intrinsic value i.e. its time value premium becomes 0.

So, if NIFTY closes at 5318 by expiry, 5300 CE will close at Rs 18. 5400 CE will close at 0.
Now next obvious question is how time value premium is determined.
This is where 'Option Greeks' come into picture.

Following greeks are the factors that determine time value premium:

a) Delta - Delta represents correlation of option price with price of underlying. Delta is different for OTM, ATM & ITM options.

b) Vega - This represents correlation with volatility. Higher the volatility, higher will be contribution to time value premium.

c) Theta - This represents decay in the time value premium with time. Remember by the expiry, time value premium will become zero. So, this determines how it will converge to zero provided other greeks do not change.

d) Gamma - Represents acceleration
There is also Implied Volatility (IV) that is evaluated from current option price. It can be compared with historical volatility to get an idea about the option valuation.

(similar to way we compare current P/E with historical P/E of a stock :))

You don't really need to get into greeks (except theta) when it comes to option trading in "stocks". But vega is really important.

For NIFTY, use VIX (available on NSE website) for vega. Higher VIX means higher option premiums. So, when VIX is high, it is a good time to write options provided you are confident about short term support/resistance levels of NIFTY.

6. How to evaluate different option trades?

Consider following before initiating any option trade:

Investment required incase of a Debit strategy i.e. you are buying an option

b) Maximum profit potential - This is limited incase an option is sold for e.g. if you sell CoalIndia 320 PE @ 1.1, Rs 1100 is your maximum profit potential per lot.

Maximum loss risk - Incase option is bought, premium paid is the maximum loss. But if option is sold, loss can be the theoretically unlimited!

Breakeven point - Again lets say you buy CoalIndia 340 CE option @ Rs 8.2 assuming a bullish view. In this case, breakeven occurs at 348.2.

So, you'll make money only if CoalIndia closes above 348.2 by expiry.

e) Return if stock price remains unchanged

7. An idea about expected returns from options

one can make consistently returns of 5-6% per month trading
"full time". If compounded annually over 12 months, this translates into annual returns of about 100%. I don't trade full time due to my hectic job but manage to generate positive cash flow whenever I've time to trade. Of course, derivative trading also has its own risks & it can cause huge loses if not properly managed. So, risk management & money management are most important aspects as with normal stock trading. Let me take a simple example of naked put writing trade (naked writing is risky for beginners!) to illustrate how monthly returns of 5-6% can be generated. Consider NIFTY currently at 5318. Now, it is a reasonable view that NIFTY will not go below 5100 by expiry (which is 9 trading sessions away)? So, one call sell 5100 PE which is currently trading at Rs 23.45. So, if NIFTY closes above 5100 by expiry, this sold put will reduce to zero & money made per lot would be 23.45 x 50 = Rs 1172. Margin requirement per lot for writing 5100 PE is Rs 18354 (Please note that margin needs to be blocked for option writing). So, percentage returns in this trade = 1172 / 18354 = 6.3%. So, in 9 days you can make maximum of 6.3% profit. Also, since you get a premium of 23 by selling 5100 PE, means you will start making loss if NIFTY closes below 5100 - 23 = 5077 by expiry.