Tuesday, May 24, 2016

4 Ways to Serve Fresh Cabbage

Late summer is time to set out the second planting of cabbage in the home garden. The cool season vegetable provides us with two fresh crops a year and plenty to preserve for the in-between months. Even if you don’t grow your own cabbage heads, the cheap cost at the supermarket and farmer’s market make it a nutritious meal-stretcher. But if shredding a batch of cole slaw is the only way you know how to serve fresh cabbage, the cheap veggie would get boring very quickly. Stock up (or plant) on a few inexpensive heads of cabbage this fall and try these four serving suggestions.

Bacon Sautéed Cabbage

I know, I had you at ‘bacon’. Any cut of pork pairs well with cabbage and you can’t go wrong with bacon. Fry up a few slices of bacon, drain and set aside. While bacon is frying, thinly slice a red onion and rough chop a head of cabbage. After bacon is removed from skillet, add red onion slices and sauté for five minutes in the bacon grease until the onions caramelize.

Remove onions from skillet, add 1 tablespoon of oil and chopped cabbage to skillet and cook for 8-10 minutes. Return onions to skillet to heat through, spoon onto serving platter and top with crumbled bacon (and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar if desired).

Boiled Cabbage with Ham

This is a great way to use up bits of leftover ham (tenderloin, pork roast, fatback etc.). Half cabbage head and remove core, then rough chop and place in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Dice bits of ham (or other pork) and add to cooking cabbage. Cook until cabbage reaches desired tenderness (10-20 minutes). Pour off some of the cooking liquid if needed and serve this one pot meal with hot cornbread and pinto beans.

Roasted Cabbage with Apples

Pair another fall food with the cabbage to add sweetness (and sneak in another serving of fruit to your family. Cut cabbage head in half and remove core, then cut each half into three wedges. Quarter your favorite apple variety and remove core. Place cabbage wedges and apple quarters cut side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, squeeze fresh lemon juice on top and top with toasted pecans or walnuts.

Cabbage and Bean Soup

Chop a red onion and 2-3 potatoes. Heat 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauce pan, add onion and potatoes and sauté until they just begin to soften. Add minced garlic to taste (2-4 cloves), a pinch of red pepper flakes and 2 tablespoons of thyme. Rough chop half a head of cabbage and add to the pot along with 1 can of cooked white beans. Pour in enough chicken stock to cover; simmer 20 minutes over low heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

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4 Ways to Save Money on Prescription Drugs

If you have purchased any type of prescription drug recently, then you are well aware of the high price tag on most medications. Many on fixed incomes have resorted to splitting pills, taking medications only on alternating days or forgoing taking prescribed medicine altogether to save money. Very dangerous, potentially deadly, practices. Use these 4 ways to save money on prescription drugs and take your medicine everyday as prescribed to maintain your health.

Prescription Savings Programs

Many chain pharmacies offer some type of prescription savings program that you can sign up for and save money on generic brands and/or long-term medications. Sometimes the money-saving programs have a small up-front fee (usually around $10), but will save you far more than that nominal amount for one prescription. Call the different pharmacies in your area to discover what type of prescription savings programs they may offer to their customers.

Company Website

Pharmaceutical companies often offer money saving coupons for long-term maintenance drugs on the company website. Special offers and/or rebate cards may also be offered. Before having a new prescription filled, check the pharmaceutical company’s website.

Talk with your doctor about the cost of a new or existing prescription. Pharmaceutical companies frequently give drug samples and discount prescription cards to physicians to hand out to their patients.

Payment Helper Sites

Know that you are not alone in the struggle to meet the rising cost of prescription drugs and several ‘payment helper’ groups have formed to help people who are struggling to purchase their needed medications. Visit some of the online websites, like TogetherRx, to see if you qualify for free or reduced priced medications.

Go North

Across the Canadian border prescription drugs are up to 50% cheaper than here in the United States. The drug prices are so much cheaper up north because Canada’s federal government controls the prices of new drugs. When doing business with an online Canadian drugstore, make sure they are certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and display the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site seal on their website. This will ensure you are getting top quality medications and not being scammed.

Source:

TogetherRx

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4 Ways to Recycle a Jack-O-Lantern After Halloween

Now that Halloween is over and the trick-or-treaters have come and gone, here are four ways you can give your jack-o-lantern a new purpose.

1. Use it to fertilize your garden.
This may surprise you but pumpkin works great as a fertilizer. I scatter chunks of it all over my garden after Halloween and then I cover it up with leaves. The nutrients from the pumpkin fertilize the soil, which sets the stage for beautiful plants and flowers. Just be sure to remove the seeds because one time I didn’t and I end up with pumpkins all over my yard! If you don’t have a garden but still want to fertilize your soil, bury it and just let it decay.

2. Turn it into bird treats.
Another way to give your jack-o-lantern a second life is by turning it into bird treats. Birds love pumpkin seeds, so they will flock in no time. Break the pumpkin into small pieces and set it out in a feeder. If you don’t have a bird feeder, a small dish will also work. Also don’t worry about removing the skin and seeds, they will eat the whole thing. If you know someone who is enjoys bird watching, you could give the pumpkin bird treats as little Christmas gifts. I have elderly family members that don’t go outside that often or have a difficult time walking around, so they enjoy seeing the birds come to their windows for their treats.

3. Donate them to the local zoo.
Contact local farms and zoos to see if they accept jack-o-lantern donations. Many animals like to eat pumpkins and it’s a fun activity that the whole family will enjoy. It also helps the farmers and zoos because they spend a lot of money on treats. I take my kids to the local zoo every year after Halloween and we always have a blast watching all the gorillas and tigers enjoy their pumpkin treats. If you cant donate your pumpkins, you can make homemade cookies or a pie out of them. Just make sure the pumpkins aren’t damaged in any way before cooking.

Unlike most Halloween decorations, jack-o-lanterns are very versatile. Once they start looking past their prime, they can be used several different ways. Whether its turning the pumpkins into animal snacks or using them to grow spring plants, you definitely get a whole lot out of them.

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4 Ways to Stay Sane as an Online Editor

I am an editor for an online publisher. I spend more than forty hours a week writing and editing content. It’s sickening, and I adore every minute of it. That said, surviving that type of text inundation on a daily basis requires four things that I use daily — some not even exclusively linked to writing.

1. Learn How To Relax

Many editors seem to be borderline perfectionists, and sufferers of generalized anxiety. If the stress of never missing a comma doesn’t culminate in a complete mental breakdown it definitely shows itself in bodily deteoriation, at least in my experience. Periodically throughout the day, I check in with my body and my anxiety levels: Are my muscles tense? Are my hands in fists when I’m not typing? If I’m not relaxed, I engage in progressive muscle relaxation before I continue my day to reduce anxiety; this drastically reduces the physical pain that eventually comes if I let the tension build up, allowing me focus more on my work.

2. Find Your Writing Space and Time

Don’t write when you have the time, make the time to write. If you’d rather take a nap at 3 p.m., but that’s when you can finally begin that essay, newsletter or horrible memo, TAKE THE NAP. Experiment with finding a writing time that works best for you; like any activity, writing will come easiest at a different time of day for every individual. For me, it’s early morning, after a ton of coffee.

3. “Search in Document”

Editing hundreds of articles has taught me one thing about humans: when they’re tired, they like to repeat words — especially if the subject only has a handful of keywords available. When in Microsoft Word, the “Search in Document” feature is a complete lifesaver; it helps not only find repetitive phrases, but makes sure certain things do not appear (like the word YOLO).

4. Keep It Simple

When structuring sentences, less is more. You don’t need much to make up a sentence, but mucking it up with lots of words will take away from the meaning and make it difficult for the reader. Sure, if you’re writing a 12-page paper on a subject you loathe, you’ll be tempted to use phrases like “this is a prime example of a the complex paradigm shifting subject of whatever,” but it’s a bad habit. So please, stop.

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4 Ways to Grow Your Business and Increase Your Sales

Entrepreneurs and salespeople are constantly striving to grow their business and increase their sales. Any businessperson will tell you that the person waiting for customers or clients to come knocking on their door will soon be waiting in an unemployment line. The four ways to grow your business seem obvious but clearly articulating the methods of business growth can help the picture become clearer and give you some valuable insight. I will illustrate how these methods apply to small businesses by using the example of an independently-owned billboard/sign business and for B2B salespeople I will relate how these small business growth strategies can be applied to their sales techniques.

Improve

Business growth can be stimulated by improving your business processes. Build better signage with a longer lifespan to position yourself as a provider of quality products and services. Another way to approach the “improvement” method is by building things faster; if you can offer a faster turnaround on services then you will have a compelling competitive advantage to market to your clients. Alternatively, there is always the low-cost angle for improving your business. Find a way to undercut the competition’s price and those seeking to cut expenses will find your offerings attractive.

As a person in sales, you most likely will not have a direct influence on the quality, speed, or price, of the products or services that you are selling. However, that does not mean that you have no influence over how your goods or services are perceived. Compare the products you are selling to those of the competitors and evaluate them based on the metrics of quality, efficiency, and price. Establish where your products or services excel and highlight those traits to properly market them and stimulate the perception that you are in fact representing the best. Sell more expensive goods based on their “value added” benefits.

Innovate

Innovation is an obvious outgrowth of the notion of product improvement but the importance of innovation cannot be overstated and thus it warrants its own discussion. When a product contains a cutting edge technology that is not common in the marketplace, it helps position the product as a beacon in its given industry. Following the sign company example, a company that actively promotes the integration of social media via QR codes can be seen as an innovator in some markets and will have a competitive advantage over companies that do not offer these integrated marketing solutions.

So, how does a salesperson innovate when he has no direct control over the products or services he is selling? Innovation from the salesperson’s perspective deals with how you position existing products; focus on the “sales pitch.” For instance, let’s say you are in merchant services and the company you represent is actively trying to get a gift card program off the ground. The common pitch revolves around holiday gifts but everyone is doing that. Devise an innovative pitch that differentiates your product during your presentation. For instance, target establishments like coffeehouses around college campuses and have the decision maker consider an initiative that pushes gift cards during freshman move-in weekend or parent/family weekend – parents can buy a perpetual and practical “care package” for their child and save on shipping costs. Think outside of the box.

Scale

One of the most basic economic theories is that of “economies of scale.” Every business has certain fixed costs that inherently remain the same regardless of sales volume. Increase sales volume and increase profit. It’s that simple.

Scale can be particularly tricky for outside sales representatives since they will often stress out over sales figures and start “shooting from behind the 8-ball” during sales presentations. While tweaking your sales technique is important, salespeople learn their technique by getting in front of decision makers and learning from each and every experience. The law of large numbers is crucial here. Cast a wide net and catch more fish. Let’s say, for instance, that you make a hundred cold calls, set up ten meeting and close two deals. How can you double your sales? Double your cold-calls and track your responses. You will double sales and eventually that figure will improve even more as you learn what works and what does not work.

Strategic Acquisitions and Alliances

While the small business owner may find the notion of strategic acquisitions to be something that only pertains to the big players, it can be a valuable initiative for even the most ground-level entrepreneur. How does an independent sign maker make his business more lucrative or capture sales that he may be losing to larger competitors? If you are only making signs and billboards, you should consider acquiring a local copy company or forging a strategic alliance with them that is mutually beneficial for both parties. Make your business a one stop shop for all printing needs; improvement, innovation, and scaling, all handled with one lucrative investment or wise alliance.

A salesperson cannot simply buy his competition or companies offering ancillary products, you say. This is true, but a salesperson can acquire client books. But who would sell me their client book? Create a referral system that is mutually beneficial for you and for those giving the referrals. This system is a means of client acquisition and shrewd alliance formation. All successful salespeople facilitate these systems in some guise.

The contributor has a decade’s worth of sales experience in banking, fashion, and entertainment.

More from this contributor:

5 Luxury Car Features Becoming Common Across All Price-Points: Thoughts from the Los Angeles Auto Show

The One Where I Treated The Bank Like They Treat Their Financially-Strapped Customers

3 Classic Lincolns to Inspire the New Lincoln Motor Company’s Product Line

Tags:4 Ways to Grow Your Business and Increase Your Sales

4 Ways to Naturally Treat Depression

Many people suffer from depression. Some suffer from only mild forms of depression, while others suffer from more sever forms. Regardless of how sever one’s depression might be, many people are quick to seek medicine to aid their depression; however, there are many natural ways that depression can be treated. Here are four ways to naturally treat depression.

Exercise: Exercising regularly is one of the best ways to naturally treat depression. Exercising naturally creates an endorphin rush in the human body, which will give a person a feeling of euphoria. Hence the term “runner’s high.” Exercising regularly will also give a person an added boost of confidence, because they will look better and feel better.

Eat Vegetables: Green vegetables, like spinach and broccoli are natural antidepressants. They contain high amounts of folic acid, also know as vitamin B9, which research has proven to be a natural mood stabilizer. Eating more vegetables will reduce the amount of junk food a person eats, which will help cleans a persons body of toxins and chemicals that could be affecting their mood. There are a variety of other foods that act as natural antidepressants. Lists of these foods can easily be found by searching on the internet.

Get Plenty of Sleep: Sleep deprivation in any way can cause depression. Weather lack of sleep is caused by insomnia, drugs, or forcing one’s self to stay awake in order to complete a task; a lack of adequate sleep will cause a person to be irritable, at the very least. If you are suffering from depression, and sleep less then a few hours a day, adding more sleep to your schedule will make you feel better and improve your overall mood.

Identify the Source of Your Depression: Most people are usually depressed because of something that has happened or is happening in their life. It may be a job, the actions of a loved one, or a bad decision that was made in the past. Identifying the source of your depression and resolving that issue could permanently cure you of your depression.

Depression is a horrible disease, but making simple changes in your lifestyle can help to permanently reduce it. If you suffer from a debilitating form of depression, you should seek professional medical assistance; however, if you suffer from a more normal type of depression that most people deal with, you should consider implementing some of these natural remedies before you resort to prescription medications.

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4 Ways I've Stay Balanced Through Life's Ups and Downs

At only the mere age of 26, I feel that I’ve had quite a fair share of life experiences — living in East Asia for a year and a half, traveling to third world countries, making new friends in the spur of the moment, traveling alone to New Zealand, pushing myself to overcome personal fears, striving to overcome blocks projected upon me, and, more recently, beginning graduate school in a state far from my own.

It’s been a bit of a unique ride so far and, though it may appear like pure “fun” to the observer, it’s actually been a rather stressful one as well.

So how have I learned how to survive language barriers, racism, bargaining, moments of being practically forced to do the completely illogical (from western culture standards), and incidents happening without really anyone I knew at the time around for help?

Stay focused on the goal. I feel like most all of us need some goal to strive for to keep moving, regardless of age. I’ve recently seen a perfect example of this first hand where I recently met a fellow colleague of mine at my university who is starting her master’s degree at 60. It has been a dream of hers for many years, but it just never worked out until now. As she said, “I knew if I never did it, I would regret it forever”. I feel that this is very critical for many of us. The moment we cut ourselves off from our dream, we lose our inner passion and drive. We lose that one thing inside of us that we love because we’ve told ourselves “No, I can’t have that”. So decide what your goals are and maintain a dedication to achieving them someday in the back of your mind. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, but rather that you have a goal and that you are dedicated to achieve it.

Keep (or start) a healthy routine. I can’t stress enough from personal experience the importance of eating well and moderate exercise. The way your body feels very much so impacts our minds and emotions. We can achieve such a greater sense of peace by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and a simple 20 minute walk or bike ride every day. Some days we may need more to release tension and some days we may simply not have the energy, but we need to pay attention to what our bodies tell us and appreciate the things it does for us. The moment we choose to do that, things can shift.

Find a creative outlet. One thing that I started doing while living overseas was watercolor painting. It was an art that I knew absolutely NOTHING about before starting class, but that’s what made it so much more special. Finding a way to express myself creatively helped me to reduce stress and become more balanced when dealing with the every day stresses of living in a foreign country. You may also find things like writing, dance, or music as great outlets for you.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff”. I think Dr. Richard Carlson hit the nail on the head when he wrote the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”. You know what payment that’s due next week? It’s a small thing. You know your printer that’s acting up again? Your current issues with the postal service? That small scratch you got on your car last week? They’re all small things and, ultimately, they really don’t matter. When you accept the moment as it is rather than resist what is, you can save yourself a lot of strain and energy. So next time you find yourself impatient waiting in the line at the grocery store, tell yourself that everything will be fine and you will get everything done in time. When you start to trust in what is, you realize that your fears and anxieties don’t really matter to much. They are merely are what they are — fears and anxieties.

More by Jennifer:
5 Practical Steps to Living a Happier Life
3 Tips to Find the Help You Need
7 Steps to Discovering Your Dream Job

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4 Ways to Reform Your Needy Girlfriend

We have all seen it happen before. You start dating a girl and things are going great for the two of you. She’s super hot and all your buddies approve of her, then all of a sudden things start to change. She goes crazy on you and starts to drive you completely crazy. She becomes all needy and clingy. This can be fixed, so don’t go dumping her just yet, especially if you like her. Your girlfriend changed because she doesn’t feel very secure in the relationship anymore. That’s usually because something in the relationship has changed. It doesn’t mean its anything big, in fact it can be quite small and here are 4 ways you can get your old girlfriend back.

Keep her Informed

Tell her things that are happening, especially if they involve her in anyway. Like you were working and something made you think of her, let her know that. Letting her know tings at odd times will score you major points. Tell her things that you are thinking about doing. If the guys want to go out, let her know, don’t lie to her. That’s one of the worst things you could do is lie to her. Keep her informed and she will trust you much better.

Do what you say

If you tell her you’re going to do something, then you need to actually do it. If you say you are going to call her when you get home from work, then call her when you get home from work. Women count on these things and when you don’t do something that you already said you would make them think all kinds of crazy things. It’s funny how fast women can spin their thoughts. So if you tell her you’re going to do something, and you actually do it, she is going to be easier in the relationship.

Observant

If you really want to score some major points with your girl, then you need to become observant of her. Pay attention to how her hair is, how her clothes look that she normally wears. When she changes them, make a comment. Ask her if that’s a new outfit and she will know that you are paying attention. Make little comments about things that she has worn or is wearing. She will love these comments and become less crazy if you notice these things.

Out of Site, Out of Mind

This should not be your line of thinking. Just because you go out with the guys doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want to hear from you. This doesn’t mean you have a short leash on either. You don’t have to call her every few minutes while you’re out with the guys. That wouldn’t be very fun and I’m sure you guy friends would make fun of you. When you go to the bathroom or somewhere else away from your guy friends, send her a quick text letting her know that you are thinking about her. This will score major points with your girl and put her mind at ease.

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4 Ways Teachers Can Use Webkinz in the Classroom

A Webkinz Habitat Project: Students who own these plush toys are able to take care of them online. Webkinz owners can feed them and select their clothes. Teachers can give students an assignment that will bring these responsibilities to life. Create this assignment by having students select their favorite Webkinz toy. The students will then have the responsibility of creating a habitat for their animal to live in. They will be responsible for providing shelter, food and an environment in which the animals can entertain themselves.

Students can use a shoebox, cardboard box or flat board to build their Webkinz habitat. They must be large enough for their selected animal to navigate with ease. As a teacher, you can give students a deadline to create the project at home. This animal habitat project could also be completed in class which may be more beneficial. You can assist the students with their individual projects and also create your own habitat. Another fun challenge would be to grade students on real-life living conditions of their chosen animal.

Student Webkinz animal reports: Instead of using Webkinz for fun and games, students have an opportunity to learn more about animals and wildlife. Teachers can create an assignment where students have to build a report on the life and habits of their favorite Webkinz animals. It can be a written report or an oral report depending on the teacher’s preference. A Webkinz animal report will require students to do research on their animal and collect visual aids to accompany their findings. These student animal report assignments can be setup in groups or individually. Teachers can also have students compare two similar Webkinz animals in their report such as the differences between a bullfrog and a tree frog.

The Classroom Webkinz puppet show: Putting on a puppet show using Webkinz can create a fun group activity in the classroom. Teachers can apply this classroom activity by having students vote on their favorite story or play. This is also an opportunity to teach students a new story or lesson. Select a short play that has enough characters to cover the number of students in one class. The teacher should play any characters that are leftover. When the character assignments have been made, have students bring in a Webkinz toy to take on their new persona.

A Webkinz short story presentation: Students can enhance their reading and writing skills by creating a short story about selected Webkinz animals. This classroom assignment would require students to develop a short story at home using their Webkinz animals as the main characters. Each story should be read in front of the class when it is completed. Students do not have to bring in their actual Webkinz animals for a short story presentation. The presentation and written assignments should be graded separately.

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40 Free Things You Can Do with Kids

If the kids are bored and restless, use any of these ideas of free things you can do with kids. This list includes 40 fun things to do with kids, all absolutely free! Don’t let cabin fever drive the family crazy – use your imagination, and the ideas below, and you’ll find there are many things you can do for free with kids. Have fun building long-lasting memories!

40 free things you can do for with kids –

1 – Make a birdfeeder – With a few simple supplies, you and your child can make a cute birdfeeder out of a milk carton. Learn how to make one here.

2 – Go on a nature walk – Get the kids out of the house and take them on a nature walk. Bring along a small box to collect special treasures.

3 – Personalize backpacks and school supplies – Use free printable stencils to customize and personalize school supplies, backpacks, and other items. Find out where to get free printable stencils.

4 – Take the kid to McDonalds – Fun things you can do with kids may cost a dollar or two at McDonalds, but it’s worth it. Spend a dollar for a drink and let the kids spend a few hours on the McDonalds playground. Bring a book for yourself!

5 – Make fun chore charts – Kids won’t mind doing their chores so much when they can personalize their own unique chore charts. Find a great selection of FREE chore charts for kids here.

6 – Make a ‘me’ box – Hand out shoeboxes and let the kids decorate it to resemble themselves. Use old wallpaper books instead of craft paper and hand out other small craft supplies for detailing. (Get ideas for more free activities for kids using old wallpaper books HERE)

7 – Play balloon ball – You may have never heard of balloon ball, but it’s a fun game kids love. For rules, and other fun balloon games, CLICK HERE.

8 – Visit your local library – Acquiring a library card is a big deal for kids. Head to your local library and let them get their own card and check out their favorite books. Check your library schedules for free book readings and other events.

9 – Head to the museum – Spend a few hours at your local museum. Museums provide educational and fun free activities for kids.

10 – Go to the park – Let the kids run wild at the park! Be sure to apply sunscreen if they will be exposed to the sun.

11 – Play online games – Regardless of the age of your child, you can find a gaming website for them to play on. PBS, Nickelodeon, Primary Games, Mini Clip and Fun Brain have a great selection of safe online games for kids.

12 – Make holiday place cards – Get ready for the holidays by making your own place cards. Kids can personalize the cards for each guest. Learn how to make holiday place cards.

13- Have a puppet show – Let the kids make puppets out of brown paper bags and have them put on a fun puppet show.

14 – Pick wildflowers – Some wildflowers are protected by the state, so don’t pick those! But, you can have a great time picking out ‘weed flowers’ and arrangement cute bouquets.

15 – Go on a bike ride – Pack up the bikes and go for a ride somewhere new.

16 – Bake cookies – Make a batch of basic cookie dough and grab your cookie cutters. Make fun shapes and let the kids help decorate. Get the recipe for basic cookie dough HERE.

17 – Make a batch of chocolate & peanut butter NO BAKE cookies – With this delicious recipe, you won’t even have to turn on the oven! Kids love to help bake, and these chocolate & peanut butter no bake cookies are delicious. Find the recipe here.

18 – Visit a local festival – Check your local newspaper for listings of FREE festivals and events. Local festivals are filled with things you can do for free with kids

19 – Make fairy houses – Head into the backyard and make little fairy houses out of sticks, leaves and rocks.

20 – Build a fort – Build a fort using blankets, pillows, sheets and boxes. Hand out flashlights and have fun!

21 – Play with your food – Use food in your pantry to make unique ‘food people’. Then, eat them!

22 – Play sports – Grab a baseball and bat or a basketball. Head to the local high school and play. You’ll build fun memories and get the kids outside!

23 – Get them ready for school – If you have a child that will be entering Kindergarten, get them ready with these FREE kindergarten readiness worksheets. First graders can use the worksheets found here.

24 – Go fishing – Let the kids dig in the yard for the bait and then head out on a fishing excursion.

25 – Play cards – Is it possible the kids don’t know how to play ‘War’ or ‘Go Fish’. Grab a deck of cards and show them how!

26 – Play in the sprinklers – Throw on a bathing suit and play in the sprinklers with the kids. Make sure to apply sunscreen first!

27 – Go swimming – Head to the local pond or beach and spend the day swimming. It’s great exercise and one of the very few free activities for kids still around.

28 – Bake a cake and decorate it – Let the kids help bake a cake and them supply them with frosting and small candies so they can decorate it. Use these Easy Cake Decorating Ideas.

29 – Set up a lemonade stand – Whip up a batch of lemonade and set up a table and chairs outdoors. Let the kids create signs to advertise their lemonade stand. (An adult should be present at all times for safety reasons)

30 – Have a movie marathon – Turn off the lights, pile up the pillows and blankets and have a movie marathon! Kids like movies about baseball. Try out any of these Best Baseball Movies for Kids.

31 – Have a relay race – Set up an outdoor course and have an exciting relay race. If it’s raining, create an indoor one.

32 – Have a fashion show – Kids love to play dress up so turn them loose in your closet. Be sure to take lots of pictures!

33 – Make a time capsule – Give the kids a box or container and let them create a time capsule. Have them draw pictures, write notes, or put in favorite pictures. Leave instructions to NOT OPEN the time capsule for a few years.

34 – Make Playdoh – Making your own Playdoh is a lot more fun than buying it! Learn how to make Playdoh, and let the fun begin!

35- Build a robot – Use empty boxes, toilet paper rolls, buttons and other supplies and build your own robot.

36 – Have a scavenger hunt – Make a list of random items and have the kids search the house and yard for them.

37 – Make a coloring book – Find printable coloring pages online and create a unique coloring book. Grab some free coloring pages. Try out these hockey coloring pages. Or these soccer coloring pages. How about these patriotic coloring pages! Fun things to do with kids don’t have to cost a lot of money! Use online freebies for cheap entertainment.

38 – Play hopscotch – The children of this generation may not even have heard of hopscotch. Grab some sidewalk chalk and introduce them to the fun!

39 – Have a spa day at home – Whip up your own homemade spa treatments using things you have in your kitchen, and have fun pampering each other. Learn more about how to make your own homemade spa treatments.

40 – Plant a garden – Kids can take pride in watching their garden grow. Plant flower seeds, sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds, and so on. Use these ideas for Unusual Garden Containers.

** To read more from this author, CLICK HERE.

SOURCE:

Personal knowledge and experience

Tags:40 Free Things You Can Do with Kids

401(k) Plans Automatic Enrollment Results

How does an employer achieve auto enrollment for its 401(k) plan?

Congress approved Automatic Contribution Arrangements (ACAs) with simplified requirements that encourage adoption of Defined Contribution Plans such as 401(k) retirement plans having an automatic enrollment default built into the plan’s design.

The employer may introduce automatic enrollment feature(s) in its existing vehicle or the employer can adopt a new automatic 401(k) plan. Fiduciary obligations to make sound business decisions for the benefit of plan participants solely must be followed.

With this impetus to overcome apathy, inertia, procrastination, fear, or reluctance to invest, Vanguard Investments studied the impact of participants being automatically enrolled in their company’s 401(k) plan.

Per US News Money , 24 percent of 2010 Vanguard 401(k) plans included auto enrollment. Hewitt found 36 percent of mid-size and large U.S. companies without automatic enrollment say they are likely to begin automatically enrolling new employees this year.

Are Automatic Plans working for Low Income Minorities?

Yes, per Vanguard Investments research of its 2010 Auto Enroll 401k Plans for over 250,000 employees within seven major plans, use by low income, Black, and Hispanic groups is successfully on the rise. The push for participation behind these increased numbers is introduction of auto enroll features:

Up 60% for Black employees (risen from 57% to 94%)

Up 40% for Hispanic groups (risen from 67% to 95%)

Study findings about default rates among low-income Blacks and Hispanics?

1) They now participate due to auto enrollment versus self-enrollment solely.

2) Blacks earning less than $30,000 per year now participate at 93 percent instead of a previous 35 percent.

3) Hispanic groups earning similarly jumped from 36 percent to 94 percent.

How about other employee population groups?

Other employee groups or classifications also rose. The participation growth due to auto enrollment is across the board.

Summary:

Plan design featuring automatic enrollment does reduce participation disparities previously seen among racial and ethnic groups by increasing the rate of overall participation regardless of classification.

Whites and Asians typically opt for higher contribution rates than the normally standard 401k plan default rate of 3 percent of earnings. Automatic enrollment does not push employees to increase their savings rate beyond the default level.

Whites and Asians are more likely to aggressively opt for equity funds.

Whites and Asians average 0.5 to 2 percentage points higher in contribution rates than blacks and Hispanics.

If an employer has concerns about disparities in participation of 401k benefits among its employees, as a plan sponsor they should give serious consideration to an auto enrollment feature in their Defined Contribution or 401(k) plan.

A 1.2 million 401(k) participant study by Mercer found auto enrolled employees’ average savings rate in 2010 was 3.5 percent. Voluntary, or self-enrolled, employees savings was 8.5 percent. “Those who self-enroll and set their own contribution rate are contributing nearly two and half times those who are automatically enrolled,” says Dave Tolve, U.S. retirement business leader for Mercer’s outsourcing business.”

If you need participation to be up, consider auto enrollment; if you need savings rate to be up consider other strategies too.

Tags:401(k) Plans Automatic Enrollment Results

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