Investing In Your Home Can Be Smart When Markets Peak

smart home automationIn times like these when the markets are at or close to all-time highs it can be a good idea to take some money off the table.  But where should you put it to generate some sort of reasonable return.  Here are a couple ideas on how you can put some money into what is most likely your biggest asset and generate a decent return.

Investing in Your Home

One of the easiest ways to invest in your home is to remodel old or outdated rooms.  Since 2006 nearly 1 in 3 custom homes is built with a home theater system.  As anything technology related is prone to do, these systems become outdated and antiquated.  Instead of the cutting edge surround sound system you purchased 9  years ago, you’ve got the equivalent of a tube TV.

While you may not be looking to sell your house anytime soon, upgrading this system can help you if you do decide to.  Investments in technology like 4k TV’s and projectors, BluRay players, and online movie services allow you to better leverage current technology for your home entertainment needs.

Intelligent Home Management Systems

Another way to invest in your home is to add energy saving features such as motorized shades and blinds or lighting control systems.  Automated shades and blinds control the amount of sun that enters a room.   This can drastically lower your heating and cooling costs.

Pickering Home Theater & Audio of Orlando Florida regularly installs smart home products in their clients homes to help them save on energy costs.  Using home automation systems like Control4  and Savant they can integrate all of a home’s systems together to help drive down energy usage.  For more information on these technologies you can contact:

Pickering Home Theater & Audio
2211 Lee Rd
Winter Park, FL 32789

These systems can even monitor and control HVAC systems and solar panels.  This allows your home to use energy when it is cheapest.

A lighting control system allows you to use less electricity by lowering the level of lighting when it’s not in use.  It can even turn lights on and off based on occupancy sensors in the room.  Systems from Lutron and Crestron offer full control of any light in your house.  You can even retrofit the system using wireless keypads instead of hard wired.

While it may be a challenging time to find value in the stock market, there are always places where you can put your money that will offer a decent return.  Invest some money in your own home.  It may be some of the best money you’ve ever spent.

Self Storage Facilities Offer Alternative Investment Opportunities

self storage units in bend oregonWhile it has been a great ride over the last 7 to 8 years, the S&P is beginning to look as though it’s hitting a top.  The Federal Reserve is claiming that they will raise interest rates later this month on the 16th.  So what should you do with your money if you’re not going to keep it in the stock market?  One alternative is to look at self storage facilities.

Why Self Storage?

While it is certainly not the sexiest investment in the world, storage facilities can be extremely profitable.  Once they are constructed they act like a long-term annuity.  Management and upkeep are minimal.  Security can be handled with electronic gates and surveillance equipment including CCTV camera systems.

On top of the fact that they require such little maintenance, recent trends in the housing market are driving more and more families into rental properties.  And this generally means downsizing.  Rather than just getting rid of all of their stuff they tend to keep some of it in long-term storage.

Depending on what part of the country you are in there might be some additional requirements.  Some facilities in the South require cooling so that humidity and moisture buildup don’t cause mold.  But all of these expenses can be built into the cost of the monthly rents you charge.

Let’s do some real quick math.  If you build a storage facility with 250 units of various sizes, you can most likely rent them for $150 per month on-average. Climate controlled units might be a bit more.  Once your facility is full you’re looking at revenues of over $35,000 per month.

While vacancy rates vary across the country.  Hot areas like Bend, Oregon experiences constant shortages on self storage units.  We spoke with Jerry at Bend Oregon Self Storage to see how his facility has performed over the past few years.  His vacancy rate is typically less than 1%.  While this might be a bit unusual, in most areas of the country a well run facility can maintain a vacancy rate of less than 10%.

Your fixed cost on these types of operations are typically pretty low.  There is the land, insurance, any staff, maintenance care for the units, and any utilities for lighting and such.  Many facilities operate at nearly 50% profit margin which is pretty impressive.

So if you’re thinking the stock market is looking a little rich, a self storage facility might be a great alternative investment.

Has the Fed’s QE Helped the Economy?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA recent news article ran stating that the top 400 richest people in the world accrued more that $92 billion dollars in additional wealth this year.  A significant portion of this wealth has come from the continual run up of global stock markets.  But is this statistic any sort of indication that the U.S. economy is on the mend?

 The Economic Data

Most of the economic data that comes out now day’s is so manipulated that it is difficult to make any real analysis of it.  Numbers are continuously adjusted based on seasonal factors.  In years past this was somewhat normal.   But in the past year we have seen this ‘adjustments’ enter the realm of the absurd.  Continue Reading

A Home Theater System is a Serious Investment

While most people would consider a home theater a toy for big boys, these rooms and systems are also a serious investment.  In many high end homes, an exotic home theater room can set it apart from many homes in the same price point.  So while they are certainly built for entertainment purposes, you should consider it an investment in the overall value of your home as well.

Custom Home Theater Design

If you’ve read through magazines like Home Theater or CEPro, you know that people can spend obscene amounts of money on a customized media room or theater.  From $100,000 projectors to speakers that can literally blow your mind, and your ears, there is basically no limit to what you can spend on one of these rooms.

But there’s more to it than just equipment.  The best theaters out there take into account the acoustics of the room and a whole host of other things.

If your room is poorly designed, it doesn’t matter how much money you spend on your equipment.  Certain room dimensions are a to be avoided at all costs.  If you work with a professional design and installation team starting before you being construction, they can help you design and lay out the room to get the most effect from your equipment.

Everything from speaker placement, room angles, seating materials, and wall materials comes into play when trying to create the perfect sounding room.  Essentially you want to only hear the sound as it comes to you from the speakers, not after it has been bouncing off of the walls of the room.

Dimensions play an important role in this, as do building materials.  You also want to consider the sound that will be escaping the room into the rest of the house.  Insulating your theater is important so that you’re not waking the kids when you’re watching a movie late at night.

An Exotic Look

Anyone can throw a bunch of equipment into a room.  A truly magnificent home theater has a theme all to itself.  This Los Angeles home theater company has won many awards from industry magazines and is a great example of a business that consistently incorporates innovative designs with great sound.  Contact Audio Video Experts in Los Angeles for more information.

If you’re on the opposite end of the country another great example of a business that prides itself on unique theater designs is Innovative Sight & Sound.  If you check out their website, you’ll see that they have a large portfolio of jobs that have highly customized theaters in a wide variety of locations.  You can see a couple of their Destin home theater systems on their Facebook page.

If you’re interested, swing by one of their showrooms.

Innovative Sight & Sound
5008 US-98 #3
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
(850) 654-5383

Innovative Sight & Sound
5060 Coosaw Creek Blvd
North Charleston, SC 29420
(843) 737-6145

Innovative Sight & Sound
4400 118th Ave N #203
Clearwater, FL 33762
(727) 539-0000

A typical high end theater company will employ the help of an interior designer.  With their help they can capture the look and feel that the client wants, and still deliver the performance required of a custom theater system.

And of course all of this costs money.  But on the flip side, this is also money that you might make back should you ever decide to sell your house.  Because the odds are the next people interested in buying it will be impressed with a professionally installed and designed theater system.

Bohemian Home Decor on a Budget

One of the most popular styles of home decor in the past couple of years is bohemian chic or ‘boho chic’.  And while you can spend a great deal of money decorating your home in this eclectic style, there ways to get the look you want without spending a ton of money.

Start With Small Producers

One of the best ways to save money AND at the same time ensure a cohesive design is to go with someone who can hand make all of pieces you want to incorporate into your home or room.  When most people think of handmade items they assume that this means that they are more expensive.  But this isn’t always the case.  Often if you dig around on various websites that specialize in handmade one of a kind pieces you can find some pretty good deals.

If you are willing to purchase multiple items from these small producers they are also much more likely to offer you a bulk discount.  This is something that you will never get from a big department store or chain.

Another advantage of going with a small producer is that you can request a custom color palate that will mach the rest of your decor exactly.  While this isn’t always necessary, especially in bohemian room decor, it can make fitting pieces in much easier.

Some Popular Boho Techniques

One of the most popular techniques within the boho chic style is Shibori.  This is an ancient Japanese technique of dying using indigo.  Most people are more familiar with the term tie dye.  It is essentially the same thing.  The artists uses ropes or rubber bands to constrict the fabric before dipping it into a dye bath to produce interesting patterns.  While Shibori fabrics were typically created using indigo, any color will do.  It’s simply a matter of your personal taste.

You can find any number of Shibori pillows and fabrics at websites like The Tangled Path.  This website specializes in bohemian home decor and their web address is  It’s a great place to start looking for these sorts of items.

These Grain Free Paleo Cookies are Sure to Be A Hit

One of the biggest struggles for anyone trying the Paleo Diet for the first time is giving up sweets.  But with these Paleo cookies you can indulge to your heart and mouth’s content.

The Paleo Diet is gaining more and more momentum. But it’s hard to give up your favorite treats.  There are numerous recipes online for grain free paleo cookies on Amazon, but most require a whole list of unusual ingredients.  And paleolithic baking is nothing like standard baking.  It can be very challenging to say the least.

One company has decided to capitalize on this nutrition trend with a product that takes all the work, and willpower, out of sticking to your diet.

Gourmet Paleo is an Oregon based business that makes Paleo treats such as cookies and brownies.  It was started in the fall of 2013.  Since then they have moved into several grocery store chains.  In addition they have developed a website that allows customers to order their products from all over the world.

There are several different flavors of cookies.  One is chocolate chip pecan.  It has huge chunks of pecans and dark chocolate chips.  The taste and texture of this cookie will blow you away.  It doesn’t taste like any kind of diet cookie you’ve ever had before.

The most popular flavor by far is the Paleo coconut cranberry chocolate chip cookie.  It has toasted coconut flakes and tart dried cranberries.  It makes for an amazing breakfast with a cup of coffee.

The final flavor is their double chocolate macadamia nut.  This paleo cookie recipe is loaded with dark chocolate chips and big crunchy chunks of macadamia nuts.  This one is well on it’s way to becoming one of the most popular flavors.

As of right now the cookies are available in 20 stores or so throughout Oregon.  Through their website they regularly fulfill orders from all over the U.S.  They are also available here and here on Amazon.

Since the cookies are so low in sugar, and higher in fat, they have become a popular snack amongst bikers.  The long lasting energy is perfect for a long ride.  Plus the higher fat content helps to stave off hunger for long periods of time.  They’re so filling in fact, that it’s difficult to put away more than one.

So if you’re in the mood for a treat, try some of their best Paleo cookies today.  They are available at

Is Bitcoin Here to Stay?

Much has been made of the recent move in Bitcoin.  The digital currency started the year at around $20 and in the last week has traded as high as $900.

One of the biggest draws to Bitcoin is that it is currency that is beyond the reach of government control.  This differs from the dollar in several important ways.


Because of the encryption that is an inherent part of Bitcoin, individual owners of Bitcoins can spend them any way they like, in complete anonymity.  This is one of the reasons for the Silk Road’s success as a website.  People were able to purchase drugs, prostitutes, and any number of other black market goods without any fear of being caught.

These sorts of purchases would obviously be much more difficult with standard forms of payments.

This anonymity is one of the reasons that governments are extremely concerned about the rise of the digital currency.  When they control the money supply, they can trace anyone and everyone.

Of course you can use Bitcoins to purchase more innocuous goods as well.  Many websites allow the use of Bitcoins for any number of normal transactions ranging from CrossFit shoes to rental cars.


Perhaps the most important difference between Bitcoin and any other major currency in the world is that it cannot be manipulated by central bankers.  For all it’s power and prestige, the dollar is still just a fiat currency.  It isn’t backed by anything and our government can create as many dollars as they wish.  The quantitative easing policy of the Fed is a perfect example of this.

Bitcoins cannot be created out of thin air.  There are a finite number of them and there always will be.  In fact, the only method of producing Bitcoins, called mining, will eventually end.  Once all the digital coins have been mined, the value will remain consistent.  Bitcoins are also infinitely divisible.  Even though the quantities are limited, it’s relative value can still be determined by using partial bitcoins.

Here’s an example.  Once all of the bitcoins have been mined, you’re in the market for something relatively inexpensive, like a yummy Paleo dessert.  Instead of paying x number of dollars per cookie, you would pay a fraction of a bitcoin.  This is essentially where we are now.  With one Bitcoin trading at roughly $700, you would only use the equivalent of .07 Bitcoins for a $50 transaction.


Another advantage of Bitcoin lies in it’s security.  All transactions are safe because the entire network replicates the transactions almost instantaneously.  This means that no one can steal Bitcoins or duplicate them through fraud.

For instance, if you were to go online looking to buy something for your home, perhaps some home decor.  You would place your order.  Upon finalizing the transaction, the servers within the system record it and replicate it.  For someone to duplicate the order they would need a system bigger and faster than the existing network.  Essentially it’s a mathematical certainty that this can’t happen.

So while governments may not be happy about Bitcoin’s arrival on the scene.  It would appear that it is here to stay, as more and more merchants are accepting them worldwide.

For more information on Bitcoin, visit

What’s Behind The Recent Move In Gold?

The drastic price movement in precious metals over the last few days have seen some of the biggest drops in decades.  It has shaken many investors confidence in the traditional safe haven during times of market turbulence.  So what is behind the massive moves in the price of gold, silver, and other precious metals?

There has been a lot of speculation over the last few days as to the real reason behind the drop in the price of gold.  Here is an excerpt from an article posted on the Emirates 24/7 website.  It details how a massive sell order hit the market at the open on Friday April 12.

Reports suggest that a 4 million ounce (124.4 tonnes) sell-order, worth $6 billion (Dh22 billion) at current prices, by a large investment bank spooked the markets and led to this decline.

“It appears that the significant selling pressure last Friday was amplified by a four million ounces (124.4 tons of gold) selling order, to be executed on Comex opening. This was clearly too much for a relatively empty market to handle, and the initial pressure resulted into waves of selling, which in turn attracted further selling all the way down,” Gerhard Schubert, Head of Precious Metals at Dubai-based Emirates NBD, wrote in his weekly report. more at

This would explain the initial downward leg on Friday.  A 4 million ounce sell order in a relatively small market such as gold would indeed cause a bit of a panic.  The collapse in the price would most likely cause a string of margin calls for those that were leveraged in the precious metal, causing them to sell their holdings.  This has the effect of depressing the price even further since there are only sellers in the market.

Here is an accurate synopsis of what occurred according to  It details the involvement of bullion banks, central banks, and of course Wall Street banks.  All of these powerful forces working directly against those that are attempting to protect their wealth by investing in precious metals.

So the timeline here is easy to follow – the bullion banks:

1.  Amass a huge short position early in the game
2.  Begin telling everyone to go short (wink, wink) to get things moving along in the right direction by sowing doubt in the minds of the longs
3.  Begin testing the late night markets for depth by initiating mini raids (that also serve to let experienced traders know that there’s an elephant or two in the room)
4.  Wait for the right moment and then open the floodgates to dump such an overwhelming amount of paper gold and silver into the market that lower prices are the only possible result.
5.  Close their positions for massive gains and then act as if they had made a really precient market call
6.  Await their big bonus checks and wash, rinse, repeat at a later date… read more at

It paints a pretty clear picture of what is going on.  The Federal Reserve is attempting to discourage investing in alternative currencies such as gold and silver by depressing the prices and scaring off investors.  This forces them back into over-inflated stock market, which we all know is the only true indication of how the economy is doing.

All this continues along with the other policies of our government to keep the hood over our eyes.  Anything to keep the truth from coming out about how bad the economy truly is.  We continue to see poor employment numbers, declines in salary data, and rises in food prices.  But this isn’t enough.  We have to suffer through manipulations of the markets in which millions of people have their savings secured.

Americans are in one of the toughest economies in the history of this nation.  People are having to resort to all sorts of methods just to keep paying their bills.  Many have turned to selling things online.  A classic example is to list things on Ebay or  Here is an example.  Someone who used to be in corporate sales is now making things from home just to supplement their income.  While it is a beautiful elephant pillow, it shows how it is becoming tougher and tougher to survive in this economy.  Here is another example of one that is just an elephant pillow case without the insert.

And of course it only makes things harder when the biggest bank in the world as well as all of Wall Street is working against you.

Update:  Things have only gotten more obvious as the Fed has decided to move forward with their ‘tapering’.  Its patently absurd that the entire financial world hangs on their every word.  This can only lead to impending disaster.

In a world like this it’s best to keep some protection around.  Having sharp knives is a good place to start.  And sharp knives require the best knife sharpener you can buy.  Just to be on the safe side, an electric sharpener should always be backed up by a manual sharpening system.   That way if the power grid collapses, you wont be out of luck.