Monthly Archives: May 2014

Best Ways To Save Money Cooling Your House This Summer

Running the AC day and night can get really expensive when you live in a climate that gets almost stiflingly hot. On average, the cost of AC cooling in America costs around $11 billion and each home releases two tons of carbon dioxide into the air every year. This year, try tweaking a few things to save money and help out Mother Earth.

Plant Some Trees or Shrubs

Putting plants around your house can block the sun, provide shade, and also cool the air. When you’re landscaping this spring, try planting bushes and trees so that they block the sun during the hottest parts of the day. Planting deciduous trees on the west and east sides of your home can save you up to 35% on your cooling bill! East trees will cast shade in the morning sun and west trees block the sun at the hottest part of the afternoon and make the most impact on your utility bill.

Change Your Bulbs

It may seem insignificant bulb to bulb, but when everyone is home and all of the house’s lights are on, quite a bit of heat can be generated from those little lights. Consider switching to energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs or halogen infrareds. Remember that the fluorescent corkscrew bulbs have mercury so consider using another bulb in areas where children may accidentally break them.

Use Some Fans

When the sun goes down, the air outside can become deliciously cool. Utilize this cool air and shut the AC off when the sun disappears. Place some fans in front of the open windows and blow that naturally cool air into your bedrooms to keep you cool while you slumber. Use ceiling fans to keep you cool while you’re in the room (remember, fans cool people, not rooms) and set the thermostat higher because the fans will help cool you down.

Use Dehumidifiers

Have a lot of humidity? You can attest that humid air can make you feel hotter than you really are. When you remove the humidity, it will feel much cooler than it really is. Use a dehumidifier in your house to suck the moisture from the air. This can reduce how much your AC is actually running because you’re not dragged down by the weight of humidity.

Changing a few little routines during your day can go a long way towards saving you money when the heat outside is almost unbearable. Along with regular AC Unit Maintenances via a company like Comfortable Home Systems, get creative to keep you and your family cool and keep you from cringing when you open your utility bill.

Win the Hearts and Appetites of the Local Hipsters For Your Food Truck

You’ve heard of the food truck, they’re popping up everywhere, and almost every major city in the US has a food truck scene going on.  In fact, they are so popular now that people will follow the trucks on Twitter and seek them out, following them far and wide, for a familiar taste of a delectable delight they’ve not only grown to love, but feel cool telling others that they’re eating.  That’s every food truck’s dream: not only to be successful, but to have the cool area hipsters actually feel cool themselves by eating at your truck.  You can’t just hope and pray for that, you have to have a cool idea, and cool image, and then a cool and delicious food.  Here are some ways to win the hearts and appetites of your local hipsters with your food truck.

1.  Be Where the Drinking Folks Are

DisplayOutlet-FirstBatch-11-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s the best way to get business?  Be where drunk or tipsy people are.  Park that truck outside the bars of a local popular area for drinking.  It shouldn’t be hard to find.  At first, you’re going to want to try out a few different locations and once you find one that’s particularly successful, you may want to hit that spot on the reg.  That’s a great way to attract loyal and repeat customers among the cool and Tweeting.  That’s a dream come true, someone with 10,000 followers regularly bragging about how cool they are for having your taco or your grilled cheese sandwich.  Drunk people love to eat irresponsibly and so they might as well do so at your truck.

2.  Make the Menu Obvious

DisplayOutlet-FirstBatch-11-2

 

 

 

 

You don’t want to have a long list of things to order, you want to keep it simple.  One way of doing that is printing the various items on your truck.  But at peak times, that could cause a cluster mess at your window, so another cool idea is to have a roll up banner stand that you can unroll and present outside your truck when you’re set up for the night.  These can be purchased for real cheap at The Display Outlet and they will help you drum up business because the drunk folks won’t want to think too hard about what to order.  They’ll want to be presented with a few simple options and just point.
3.  Local Theme and Local Flair

DisplayOutlet-FirstBatch-11-3

 

 

 

 

 

One thing people like is a little bit of authenticity, so whether you have a taco truck or a lobster roll truck, make sure the employees know a thing or two about the food they’re serving.  No one wants a taco made by a scraggly white dude, we want it from a Mexican who hardly speaks English.  It may not seem politically correct, but our food truck desires are never politically correct.  Same with that lobster roll truck: make sure at least someone in there has been to Maine or ideally is from Maine.  Are you really going to eat an expensive lobster roll from New Yorkers who’ve never lived in Maine?

 

How To Know If Your Car Insurance Is Really Saving You Money

Car insurance companies spend a lot of money to convince you that you’ll save money by getting insured through them. While hype abounds, it isn’t always easy to know if you’re actually saving money. Here are some key ways for you to tell.

Shop Around

The typical car insurance policy runs 6 months to a year and you’re not obligated to stay with any company. Anthony Clark Insurance Brokerage, a Calgary auto insurance provider, recommends getting quotes from other insurance companies when your policy is coming up for renewal. If the quotes come back higher than what you’re currently paying, you’re saving money. A quick word of warning, you should be sure to specify the levels of coverage you want. If you want more than just basic liability coverage, it can change your quote dramatically.

Check the Discounts

Most insurance companies offer a number of discounts, but the discounts aren’t always identical. Look at the discounts offered by your company to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the ones you qualify for. Look to see what discounts the competition offer. Insurance companies sometimes make arrangements with specific organizations, such as alumni associations, professional associations and unions, to provide discounts to members that can drop the premium below what you currently pay.

Check with Your Employer

Businesses often negotiate a discount or group rate on insurance for employees, but that information may be tucked away in the back of an employee handbook or forgotten during orientation. Ask your employer if they have an arrangement with an auto insurance provider and, if so, how to go about securing the discounted rate. Alternatively, your bank may offer a similar deal to its members to get discounts on auto insurance policies. If you’re stilling paying less than the discounted rate, your company is saving you money.

Combined Coverage

Ask if your insurance company offers combined coverage for auto and home. Combined policies often come with a nice discount, as much as 15% in some cases. If your company doesn’t offer combined coverage, you may well be paying out more than you need to for both car and home insurance.

 

Determining whether or not your car insurance is really saving you money does take some legwork. You need to compare rates, discounts and policy options across companies. You also need to investigate whether your employee or an organization you belong to offers a better deal. If you do the legwork, though, you can know if your insurance saves you money.

The Best Personal Finance Books Everyone Should Read

As debt continues to be a problem for many people, they are seeking answers to help them escape the money pit they find themselves stuck in. Fortunately, there are many financial experts who have taken their expertise and written easy-to-understand books providing strategies to deal with personal finance issues.

The Total Money Makeover

Written by Dave Ramsey, this book has proven to be a hit with readers for its simple strategies to climb out of debt and avoid bankruptcy. Based on Ramsey’s “baby steps” method to overcoming debt, his idea is to overcome debt by taking one small step at a time, eliminating small problems first and gradually moving on to bigger ones. According to Abakhan & Associates Inc., taking small steps early on regarding financial problems can ultimately help many people avoid bankruptcy, with these strategies being highly recommended by readers everywhere.

Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security

Jean Chatzky believes people make money far more complicated than it is, and instead offers readers simple strategies such as “hope is not an investment strategy” and “you can fix any financial mistake by saving more.” Simplistic yet effective, Chatzky has made money management stress-free and easy for her readers to understand.

Living Large for the Long Haul

Financial expert Clark Howard uses off-the-beaten-path strategies to help people get back on track. As bankruptcy in Victoria BC and other areas continues to be a problem for consumers, Howard’s book has first-person stories from real-life consumers who have overcome bankruptcy and lived to tell about it. Howard’s philosophy is to overcome debt by using methods that often go unnoticed, such as applying for government grants to help with education expenses and job training. He believes that by looking where few others ever do, getting back on track financially is well within everyone’s reach.

How to Retire the Cheapskate Way

Jeff Yeager’s financial philosophy is to avoid financial problems by being what he calls a “cheapskate.” He believes all financial problems are a matter of spending habits, so breaking bad habits will result in more money in one’s pocket. If you’re seeking the path to retirement, this is a very interesting book to read.

 

With various money experts putting their financial philosophies out there for people to read, finding the one that works best for you can be a challenge. Sometimes one book can have all the answers, while some problems may require reading multiple ones to find a winning strategy.

Expanding Your Portfolio: 5 Places to Put Your Money

Diversification and expansion are two important terms for investors to remember in 2014. With the American economy in full recovery mode and the European finance ministers busy with stabilizing their formerly perilous central banks, investors have many opportunities for profit from now until the decade comes to an end.

 

The following five investment sectors and ideas are being discussed by market analysts and experts as options for portfolio expansion, but it is important for investors to remember that they must first perform due diligence and talk with their advisors before making any monetary commitments.

 

1. Value Stocks

Blue chip stocks and the giant enterprises that make up important indices such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 never go out of style. Granted, some of these darlings of Wall Street gave investors a scare during the financial meltdown of 2008; nonetheless, their recovery has been swift, and in 2014 they are in a strong recovery mode.

 

2. Precious Metals and Industrial Minerals

Direct investment in gold or rare earth metals can be very lucrative, but it can also be very risky. The best way to incorporate these investments in a portfolio is by means of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which can be bought and sold just like stocks but focus their financial interest on mining, financing, logistics, and other aspects of this booming sector.

 

3. Direct Investment in Real Estate

Over the last few years, the White House, Congress and the Federal Reserve Bank have taken careful measures to repair the damage caused by the irrational exuberance of the American housing market during the early 21st century. These measures have resulted in a healthy recovery and a particular trend among home buyers who are almost exclusively looking for brand-new homes. Analysts at TheStreet.com have been watching the new residential construction segment closely in 2014, and the demand for new homes in the U.S. has continued to grow at a gradual pace.

 

4. Alternative Energy

According to a February 2014 report by the NASDAQ, alternative energy projects in both developed and developing countries are making fast progress. Just like with metals and minerals, investors should consider ETFs when researching this portfolio option since direct investment can be costly and risky.

 

5. Health Care

The Obamacare insurance reform legislation in the U.S. may have initially reduced the profit-making ability of giant medical insurance companies, but it will not take long for them to return to top form. These companies have a knack for returning to profit in no time, and by 2015 they are expected to become very lucrative once again.

 

Research is the key to expansion and diversification. Investors should not rush to add or remove items to their portfolios solely based on this article. The idea is to discuss these options with qualified and reputable advisors.

 

Informational credit to http://www.henrywalkerhomes.com/

How To Upgrade Your Style On A Budget

Many people assume that upgrading their wardrobe requires plenty of money to purchase designer labels and high-end pieces. Although it’s easier to upgrade your outfits with a large budget, there are still several ways to makeover your clothing in frugal ways that are affordable.

Bid Online

Many online websites sell high-end clothing and accessories through auctions that allow customers to determine the price that they want to pay. Some of the clothing may be brand new, still in the box, or second-hand, but are all worth a deal with a bit of patience and persistence when participating in bidding wars.

Rent Designer Labels

Designer labels are available to rent through several companies that will loan the products out for an a period of time. Most of the products can be rented for an average of a month, making it an easy and affordable option for upgrading your style without paying more than you can afford.

Take Advantage of Annual Sales

Annual sales at major department stores offer major discounts that can mean up to 75 percent off of clothing, accessories, and designer labels. This makes it easy to upgrade your style each year and stay current on the latest trends and looks.

Shop at Flea Markets

For those who appreciate vintage pieces, flea markets offer many different treasures at low prices for those looking to purchase an old Louis Vuitton purse or perhaps a fur jacket. Come with cash and don’t be afraid to barter for an incredible way of upgrading your wardrobe at a fraction of the cost.

Compare Online Prices

Instead of paying full price for your favorite pair of Bermuda shorts or a leather jacket, compare prices online to obtain the lowest price by visiting several different websites. You can upgrade your style in the summer heat with an affordable Fendi hat or beat the chill with a Farah Vintage Macin the winter. By shopping online, these popular items often retail at a lower cost then in stores.

Buy During the Holidays

Whether it’s Memorial Day weekend or Black Friday, each department store and clothing boutique is competitive when it comes to getting customers in the door. Wait to shop until major holidays for an easier way of finding coupons in the local newspaper and taking advantage of the latest promotions that are available.

 

Upgrading your style is easier than you think without having to pay more than you can afford. Take advantage of local promotions, online auctions, and flea markets for an incredible way of purchasing trendy items that are attainable to the average consumer.

 

 

Savannah Coulsen is a freelance writer. She lives in Raleigh. Savannah loves to read and write and she hopes to write a novel someday. Savannah also loves learning and is a self-proclaimed health guru. Savannah likes to beat the chill with a Farah Vintage Mac.