Wednesday, December 7, 2016

10 Tips for Negotiating Your Auto Insurance Rates

Consumers often forget that they don’t have to accept whatever rate a particular auto insurance company offers them. Insurance companies, just like any other business, strive to make money, and losing customers to competitors thrusts that goal out of whack. Negotiating your auto insurance rates sounds much more difficult than it is.

1- Talk to Your Agent

Don’t just call the 1-800 number on the back of your car insurance card. This is the worst way to negotiate your auto insurance rates because you’re just a number to the customer service representative. Instead, call your agent personally or visit his or her office.

2- Strip Unnecessary Coverage

The first thing you need to do when negotiating your auto insurance rates is cut any unnecessary coverage from your policy. For example, many drivers choose to drop comprehensive or collision coverage when their cars get older.

3- Open the Lines of Communication

After the third rate-hike in a row, I started the process of negotiating my auto insurance rates by calling my provider and letting them know that I was going to look elsewhere. I explained that there was no reason for the rate increases, and that I was dissatisfied with the value of my car insurance policy.

Believe it or not, thousands of people do this every year – and not just for car insurance. You can use this tactic with your phone company, utility company, anyone to whom you owe a monthly bill.

4- Ask About Your Options

There is no need to threaten when negotiating your auto insurance rates. Just explain that you are willing to look elsewhere if you aren’t offered a fair deal. Once you’ve told your car insurance agent where you stand, ask about your options.

The worst thing you can do is say, “I’m willing to pay X number of dollars per month.” For one thing, your expectations might be completely unreasonable; for another, you’ll talk yourself into a corner. What if they were prepared to offer you a lower rate than the stated maximum?

5- Talk About Your Car

Your insurance agent might not know about the alarm system you’ve installed in your car or the secure garage in which you store it. When negotiating your auto insurance rates, make sure to bring up any factors that might result in a discount.

6- Mention Your Loyalty

It is always a good idea to tell your car insurance agent how long you’ve been a customer. Loyalty is important in this industry, and the fact that you’ve stayed with them 10 years will carry significant weight in the price break you’re offered.

7- Ask About Programs

When negotiating your auto insurance rate, make sure to ask about programs, such as Good Driver incentives that might reduce your premium. This is an excellent way to take advantage of existing price breaks without having to talk your way into a lower monthly rate.

8- Cite Other Quotes

You can really get ahead with your car insurance agent by telling him or her what prices you were quoted with other companies. Grab three or four other quotes from different providers and rattle them off on the phone or during your meeting. This might provide extra incentive.

9- Bring Up Your Age

Senior citizens are often given a discount on car insurance, but it isn’t always automatic. You might have to ask for the discount while negotiating your auto insurance rates. Let your agent know how old you are and that you would like to take advantage of any discounts available.

10- Don’t Make Empty Threats

If your auto insurance agency is not amenable to negotiating, do what you said you would do in the beginning of the conversation: Shop elsewhere. There is nothing binding you to your current car insurance company, so call your agent’s bluff and find a better deal.

Labels: 10 Tips for Negotiating Your Auto Insurance Rates

10 Tips for Keeping Your Kids Active During Fall

When summer ends and the kids are back in school, it doesn’t mean fun activities must also come to an end. Fall is a great time for many outdoor activities that parents and kids can do together. If the weather hampers outdoor activities, you can switch to indoor activities. The main point is finding fun things that you can do with your kids. It’s easy to get in a rut of nothing but work and school, which can put a strain on parents and kids alike.

Staying Active Outdoors

The cooler temperatures in autumn are perfect for outdoor activities like these that older kids and teens will enjoy.

  1. Hiking– One of the best forms of exercise is walking. However, older children are not likely to want to participate in a walk with their parents around the neighborhood (my thirteen year old daughter would be at least half a block behind me). Instead, do a search online for hiking trails in your area. You and your kids may be able to witness some fantastic sites and stunning autumn scenery on a family hike.

  2. Stunt Kites– These kites are not toys like you would find at Toys R Us. Head over to a site like Into the Wind or Prism Kites to get an idea about what stunt kite flying is and of the type of kites used for this exciting sport. This is a great activity for very active parents and teenagers. You’ll get the best results on really windy fall days.

  3. Biking– Another great way to stay active and keep in shape is to go bike riding with your kids. Change it up a bit by riding in different areas. Look for parks or recreational areas that have designated biking trails and enjoy the beautiful fall foliage as you ride.

  4. Fishing– Fish often bite more in cool weather, which will help keep your kids engaged in the activity (speaking from experience, fishing is much more fun when you actually catch something).

  5. The Zoo– Crisp fall weather is the perfect time to visit your local zoo, for those living in bigger cities. If you live in a smaller community, you may be able to visit local wildlife sanctuaries.

Indoor Activities

On colder or rainy autumn days when outdoor activities are prohibited by the weather, here are some ways to spend quality time indoors with your older kids.

  1. Model Making– Go to your local craft store, where you and your child can pick out some type of model that the two of you can make together or get a couple of models to build simultaneously.

  2. Bowling– Gather up the kids and head to the local bowling alley for a fun indoor sport the entire family can enjoy together.

  3. Museums/Art Galleries– If you live in a larger city, look into visiting a natural history museum or an art gallery if you have children who are interested in art.

  4. Community Theater– Another entertaining and potentially educational activity you can do with your kids is to take them to your local community theater and let them experience a live performance. This would be particularly beneficial to older children interested in acting and the performing arts.

  5. Roller/Ice Skating– For parents brave enough to strap on a pair of roller skates or ice skates, heading to your local skating rink is a fun way to spend an afternoon with your children, while bringing back memories of being a kid yourself. However, think twice before trying some of the fancy moves you made when you were 15, especially if you value your tail bone.

Staying active with your children is something you can and should do no matter what time of year it is. Each season can bring opportunities for a variety of activities that will provide a lifetime of special memories for you and your kids.

Labels: 10 Tips for Keeping Your Kids Active During Fall

10 Tips to Live Debt Free on a 25k Salary

With the current wobbly economy many Americans find themselves living paycheck to paycheck. People seem to think that if only they made more money their financial woes would be solved. Unfortunately, unless you actually plan out your budget and stick to it, it really doesn’t matter how much money you make, you are still going to encounter the same problems. That’s why whether you make $25,000 or $125,000 you need to plan your finances so that you get the most out of your income.

1. Collect all the data and put it on paper.

You may need to dedicate and entire day to this task depending on how messy your finances are. Simply collect all your financial data (income, credit cards, accounts, IRA, expenses, etc.) and put it into two separate charts. The first chart will include all of your income: salary, side business, and otherwise. The second chart will list off all of your current expenses. You can also use free financial websites like to help you see exactly where your money is going.

2. Cut unnecessary expenses.

Do you really need an expensive gym membership? Can you cut some of your electricity and water use? The truth is that many times we are paying for more than we actually need. Find out where you can make some cuts and adjust accordingly.

3. The 60% Budget

A popular budget is the 60/40 theory. That is to say, 60% of your pay goes toward expenses and the other 40% goes into savings. You will be surprised at how easy it is to cut your expenses to 60% of what you make. You will also be surprised at how quickly your will savings grow.

4. Have some sort of secondary income.

Many financial experts will tell you that depending on one income is not enough. For this reason, you should start finding ways to make some extra money on the side. The Simple Dollar has an entire list of businesses that you can start on your own.

5. Keep your accounts simple.

There really is no reason to have multiple checking accounts unless you have a separate account for business expenses. With multiple accounts and no organization you will have a hard time keeping up with everything and may not even be able to track how much you spend.

6. Leave the credit card at home.

My credit card is locked away in a desk and only used for emergencies. If you are living on a tight budget there is no reason to add expenses to your credit card. Additionally, there is also no reason to have multiple credit cards at once.

7. Buy used.

Besides helping the environment and local business, buying used can definitely make a difference in a financial situation.

8. Cook your meals at home and brown bag your lunch.

Nothing puts a dent in your wallet more than eating out. Cook most of your meals at home and brown bag the leftovers for lunch, this way you save money and may even lose some weight.

9. Get rid of the landline at home.

A cell phone is more than enough to take care of your communication needs. You are probably already paying for nationwide long distance on your cell, so there really is no reason to have a landline at home.

9. Check out books from the library and rent DVDs.

Borrowing things is much more cost effective than buying a bunch of things you don’t actually need.

As you can see, if you are living on a tight budget there are several steps that you can take in order to avoid debt. With careful planning and perseverance, you will see that even $25,000 can go a long way.

MSN – A Simpler Way to Save: The 60% Solution
The Simple Dollar: 50 Side Businesses You Can Start on Your Own

Labels: 10 Tips to Live Debt Free on a 25k Salary

10 Tips to Keep Your Children Healthy During Summer Vacations

A great vacation consists of fun for all and no sick children. Here are 10 tips to help you plan for a healthy time traveling during this summer:

Breastfeed your infant

When traveling internationally (with infants), the best way to prevent diarrhea is by breastfeeding them. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diarrhea is the most common illnesses in infants and small children and is the cause of severe dehydration. To keep your children safe, make sure to keep them hydrated be providing them with plenty of fluids.

Visit your family doctor

Small children need a little extra care when planning a vacation overseas. Visit your doctor to see what medicine or vaccines they may need while in a different country. Some vaccines can protect your children from illnesses like malaria and other viruses. If your child takes any medication, make sure to pack enough of it with you for the duration of the trip. Don’t forget to pack an emergency kit with you, that includes band aids, antibiotic cream, aspirin, thermometer, etc. Be aware that some of the items (like scissors), you may not be able to carry on a plane. When traveling with children make it a point to learn where the local clinics, pharmacies and hospitals are located.

Stay away from insect bites

If camping with your little ones during this summer, make sure the tent has a screen that keeps insects out. Don’t let your children roam around in wooded areas without you, as they can get bit by mosquitoes and other insects that can shorten your vacation. Place your tent away from stagnant water and clean the brush around it, if this is not a regular camping ground. Also do your homework and learn about what insects and other animals live in the camping vicinity and how you should protect yourself. Always keep food away from any animal reach. This way, you and your family are safer while camping.

Keep your children safe while traveling by car

According to CDC, “Car crashes are the leading cause of death in children who travel, and drowning is the second-leading cause of death.” The best way to keep them safe is by making sure that they ride in car seats that are approved for their age. Don’t let your children ride in the front seat and without the seat belt on. Another way to keep your children safe in the car is by not allowing them to snack while riding, as they can choke and you will have to pull over.

Always wear life jackets while around the water

When vacationing near a lake, make sure to always supervise your children and never allow them to get in the water without a life jacket. Taking some swimming classes at the local YMCA would also benefit you and your children.

Keep your children away from animals

Children love to pet animals and you have to watch them when approaching someone’s else pet or wild animals. Don’t allow them to pet a wild animal as they could have rabies. If your children get bit by a stray or wild animal, visit the doctor as soon as possible. Before petting someone’s pet always ask for permission. This way, thy can get the animal prepared to know that they are about to be petted by a stranger and they will not be taken by surprise. If you take the children to a zoo or petting farm during your summer vacation, always follow the rules. There is a reason why there are rules, to protect you.

Flat tire on the highway

This is unfortunate but can happen while vacationing this summer. To keep your children safe while changing a tire, move them to a safe location, away from the car. Also pull the car off the road as much as possible before working on it. There are drivers who are distracted by your unfortunate event and they may run into you if not careful.

Healthy eating

When vacationing, it is important that children eat properly to avoid constipation and other health issues. If you camp and are away from any restaurants, a cooler with fresh foods and snacks is a necessity. If cooking burgers, make sure they are well done before eating to avoid food poisoning. Always wash everything and have children wash hands with clean water.

No drinking from rivers

You can never carry to much water with you while hiking and camping. Don’t allow children to drink form rivers as they can get harmful bacteria in their systems. Before hiking, know how long the trail will be to avoid running out of water.

Always supervise your children

As parents, we should always supervise our children, even on vacation. Don’t depend on others to watch for your children. Hold hands when crossing the road, stick together in crowded areas, sit besides your children on planes or buses, always wash hands, etc. More than anything, use common sense.

Prepare for your summer vacation ahead of time so that you and your family will be safe during your traveling. Never assume that your children are old enough to care for themselves. As long as they live with you, they are never old enough.


More from this author:
Do Your Kids Have Too Many Toys?

Outlaw Death by Overheated Cars During Summer

10 Manners to Instill in Our Children

Labels: 10 Tips to Keep Your Children Healthy During Summer Vacations

10 Tips for Maintaining a Wood Burning Fireplace

There can be many advantages to using a wood burning fireplace. Among other things, it can save money on heating costs and supplement your main source of heat. Here are 10 tips for wood burning fireplace maintenance.

1. Have your wood burning fireplace inspected and cleaned by a professional chimney sweep at least once a year and more often if creosote builds up on the chimney walls rapidly.

2. Between professional inspections and cleanings, monitor your wood burning fireplace for signs of buildup or other problems.

3. Your chimney has a cap with open sides (usually covered with mesh) to keep out rain, birds, squirrels and other animals, and other debris from entering the chimney. The cap should be inspected regularly and replaced when necessary.

4. Check the interior of your wood burning fireplace’s chimney for creosote buildup. Creosote is a dark colored or black substance that can accumulate if wood isn’t burning completely. It is flammable and, therefore, a buildup of creosote is a fire hazard and should be cleaned away with a creosote remover as soon as possible.

5. Also watch for soot buildup in the chimney of your wood burning fireplace. Soot is softer than creosote, flammable and should be cleaned out of the chimney regularly.

6. If possible, burn hardwoods like maple, oak, ash and birch in your wood burning fireplace. The advantages of hardwoods are that they burn hot and long; have less pitch and sap, making them cleaner to handle; and tend to cause less creosote buildup. On the other hand, they generally are more expensive than softwoods.

7. Troubleshoot anytime there is smoke indoors from your wood burning fireplace and immediately correct any problems that you find. Possible causes of smoke are a dirty chimney with creosote or soot buildup, other debris in the chimney, a damper that isn’t open or is only partly open and wood that is not burning completely.

8. To ensure wood burning fireplace safety, consider installing a stainless steel liner that will withstand even the highest temperatures and will keep the fire and its embers contained.

9. Also, to improve your wood burning fireplace’s efficiency, consider installing heat-proof glass doors to protect against heat loss and a fan or blower to direct the heat into the room can. Doors also are a safety feature, since they can keep live embers from escaping the fireplace into the interior of the home. Glass doors should be cleaned regularly with a paper towel and glass fireplace door cleaner.

10. Clean your wood burning fireplace’s interior including its floor regularly. Sweep out or vacuum up cold ashes. Wear a dust mask and gloves when cleaning the fireplace.

Sources:, Maintaining Your Woodburning Fireplace – Fireplace Safety

Mariette Mifflin,, Best Heating Firewood – Firewood that Burns More Efficiently

Kyrana,, How to Maintain Wood Burning Fireplaces/

Labels: 10 Tips for Maintaining a Wood Burning Fireplace

10 Tips for New Managers

When you transition into a management role for the first time, it can be a shock. The day to day activities of a supervisor are quite different from those of an individual contributor. A while back I wrote a list of the top mistakes that new managers make, so here is the companion to that list – 10 things you should do when you take on a management position:

1. Get to Know Your Team – Even if you were promoted from within the team, you need to take a look at the individuals who report to you with fresh eyes. Request their personnel files from HR including previous performance reviews, job descriptions, resumes and any other information that can help you get a more accurate picture of their skills and history with the organization.

2. Find Out What You’re Being Measured On – All companies measure their own performance and seek to improve it. No matter what industry you are in, your company has targets and goals that you need to be aware of in order to be successful. One of the primary roles of a manager is to steer their team towards the broad objectives set by upper management. If you don’t know what they are, you can’t be effective. To get this information, schedule a meeting with your direct manager and get to know exactly what metrics matter to your team.

3. Establish Status of Projects and Initiatives – The day you walk into a leadership position, you become responsible for the results of your team. Don’t get blindsided by a project or initiative that has gone off the rails. Get your team together and go through all major initiatives so you are up to speed on the status of each one, and any obstacles or challenges that might prevent your department from meeting their goals.

4. Put Vendors on Notice – Contact anyone who sells anything to your department and let them know that there’s a new sheriff in town. Let them know that you plan to review all contracts, and if they would like to submit revised bids or update you with their best pricing, now is the time.

5. Make Changes Slowly – While it’s tempting to jump in with both feet and start changing everything that looks wrong, it’s worthwhile to uncover the reasons behind existing processes and procedures before you turn everything upside down. First get a baseline impression of how the team performs using existing procedures, and then implement new initiatives one at a time so you can measure the results and see what works and what doesn’t.

6. Meet with Each Team Member – Have a one-on-one meeting with each member of your team and get to know what they are working on, how they feel about their job, what they would like to see changed and what they think works well currently. You may not implement every suggestion, but starting off with your ears open being receptive to feedback will help you foster a collaborative environment among your team members.

7. Set Goals – Each person on your team (yourself included) should have a goal plan which includes short and long range initiatives. Wherever possible these should line up with larger organizational initiatives. Have big goals for your team as a whole, and break them down into smaller chunks to spread the load.

8. Spend Time in the Field – Get a picture of a day in the life of each of the individuals on your team. Get to know what they spend their time doing, what processes work well and what things are frustrating. The management axiom “never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself” only works if you know what your people are doing.

9. Reach Out to Your Customers – In addition to soliciting feedback from your team, get to know your customers. If you are managing an internal support department (IT/HR), sit down with other department managers. Find out how the people who use your products or services feel about your organization, your team’s performance, and their historic interactions with your group.

10. Ask for Feedback – Starting any new job can be nerve wracking – don’t wait 6 months to find out if you’re meeting your managers expectations. Schedule a meeting once a week or every other week for the first few months to make sure that you are getting the feedback you need to stay on track. Let your manager know that you are open to making adjustments and are receptive to constructive criticism.

Adjusting to being a manager can be challenging. Make sure you get the resources you need to be successful. Use your network of friends, mentors and professional associations to find out how others have faced the obstacles you encounter, and keep a positive attitude. Ask whether coaching or consulting is available through your HR department or outside resources to help you stay on track. Check out my list of recommended reading for new managers for more tools and resources!

Labels: 10 Tips for New Managers

10 Tips to Keep You or Your Child Safe During Halloween

Halloween is a fun time of year, and Trick-Or-Treating is a Blast. Here are 10 tips to keep you and/or your child safe this Halloween:

1. Wear bright colors – You need to wear bright colors as much as possible so that cars driving by can see you. If you have a Dark costume, then try wearing a couple strips of white to make you stand out at night.

2. Use a flash light – Use a flashlight even in well lit areas for safety, so that you can be seen my vehicles, and so that you can see where you are stepping at night.

3. Use glow sticks – Glow sticks are fun, safe, will make you seen, and can be incorporated with your costume. Look for glow sticks that look like wands, or make jewelry (bracelets, necklaces, etc.) for you to wear.

4. Go to familiar areas -Try to stay away from foreign territory and trick-or-treat in familiar areas close to home. Again you never know who’s going to be standing behind that door, and don’t trust them no matter how nice they are.

5. Scout the sex offenders database -Scout the local sex offenders database if it’s available in your area. If you do have it, it’s a great and safe tool for you and your family.

6. Go in a group – It’s always fun, beneficial, and safe to be with a big group of peoples. It also makes it easier to go up to each door and say, “Trick-Or-TREAT!”

7. Always have an adult with you – For your own child’s protection even if they are older, it’s a good idea to have an adult with them. Even if you stay in a car and watch from afar.

8. Stick to well lit areas – Even if you are in your own neighborhood, it’s always good to stay in well lit areas. You never know who’s going to be hiding in the bushes.

9. Drive – Driving a car (or golf cart) to each location will not only make it faster to get from one location to the next, but it will also give your group a safety location or get you to a safety location if needed.

10. Check your or your child’s bag – And of course one of the biggest tips is to check you or your child’s bags for BAD treats. Things like homemade items, opened candy wrappers, holes in candy, etc. are things you need to keep a watchful eye on this Halloween.

Play safe and have a Happy Halloween!

Labels: 10 Tips to Keep You or Your Child Safe During Halloween

10 Tips to Lose Weight Now

We have gotten used to immediate results in today’s world. Whether it is good or bad is open to debate. There are no real instant weight loss programs. With the current technology and scientific understanding of the human body, instant weight loss is impossible unless you have a liposuction operation. However, there are small things you can do right now that will help you lose weight.

1. More H2O

This one is easy. If you are not getting adequate amounts of water, your body will hoard more water which adds to your overall body weight. Bodybuilders prepare before a competition by removing as much excess water from their body as possible so that they will look exceptionally defined. Their regiment is rather complex and probably not a good idea for the average person.

You can easily emulate what they do by drinking more water. Eight cups of water is recommended but, you won’t die if you drink twice as much. There might be more trips to the bathroom but, you’ll live. I’ve heard stories of people “drowning” themselves by drinking too much water. Maybe it is a rumor; I don’t know. Regardless, you will have to a drink an enormous amount of water for it to become harmful. The more physical activity you undergo, the more water you will need. There is plenty of water so you don’t need to ration it.

2. Eliminate Liquid Sugar

You’ll be surprised how many calories you consume in liquids on a daily basis. Any drink that is sweetened is likely to have a hundred calories or more in sugar. Diet and sugar free drinks should be safe. The average person drinks 20% of their total daily calories. The drink isn’t going to make you feel full for any lasting period of time because your body isn’t counting calories. Eliminate the sugary drinks and you’ll reduce your daily caloric intake by 20%.

3. Don’t Fear Fat

Low-fat diets used to be popular but now, we know it doesn’t work. If you’ve ever tried going on a low-fat diet, you’ll know that it doesn’t work. Some people will blame their lack of dedication or self-control. Man was never intended to live off a diet of bread and salad. One of the worse thing you can do in any diet is to avoid fat. You need to eat fat to lose fat.

Fat has this great property of keeping you feeling fuller longer. You obviously shouldn’t over eat on fatty foods but, don’t avoid it like the plague. Fat keeps you satiated so that you’ll end up eating less.

4. Replace a Meal

The easiest diet to maintain and follow is a meal replacement diet. You replace a meal with a liquid meal known as meal replacements. They are usually in the range of a couple to a few hundred calories and should have an optimal blend of carbs, fats, and proteins as well as vitamins and minerals. These meals are designed to be low in calories and make you feel satisfied.

You can buy an over-the-counter meal replacement product in the form of ready to use cans or powders that you need to blend. You can also make your own with the ingredients that you want. The latter is most complicated unless you know what you are doing.

5. Eat More Often

This is the popular diet mantra today and it works. However, the idea is not to eat gigantic meals. This is easiest to accomplish when you use it with the tip above about meal replacements. You want to eat five to six meals or more a day instead of three. Each meal will be smaller but, you will keep your metabolism running in high gear all day long.

A high metabolism will allow you to burn fat while you are doing nothing more than sitting around. You could be at work in front of a computer or watching TV on the couch. A high metabolism will help you burn more calories while doing the least physically taxing activities.

6. Don’t Starve Yourself

Some people use the strategy of starving themselves for a few days to dramatically lose weight. I try to make sure I never feel like I’m starving. It isn’t a pleasant feeling. What’s worse is that while you starve yourself, your body is breaking down muscle to use as energy. It is not breaking down fat.

In the long run, you will end up gaining weight. Muscle increases your metabolism because it takes energy to maintain. Breaking down muscle means you are losing muscle. While your weight will go down so is your metabolism. Once you return to eating as usual, the weight will come back with a vengeance.

7. Sprint

If you are like most people using a cardio machine at the gym, you are aiming for the “optimal fat loss zone”. That is all nice and dandy if you are going to be running no where for the entire day. If you are only going to spend twenty to thirty minutes on that thing, there is nothing optimal about what you are doing.

You want to employ the idea of high intensity interval training–HIIT. All you need to do is to add sprints to your cardio routine. Instead of going a steady pace for twenty minutes, you’ll sprint for 30 seconds and then go at a slower pace for a couple of minutes and then sprint again for 30 seconds and so on and so forth.

It’ll be a lot more fun and it won’t feel like twenty minutes. The concept here is that sprinting will keep your resting metabolic rate higher for the rest of the day and beyond. You will burn more calories all day long and end up burning more calories than you would have if you ran at a steady pace the entire time.

8. Want the Muscle

Most guys want to be somewhat muscular. We might not all want to look like a bodybuilder but, we also don’t want to have twig sized arms–I hear it isn’t very attractive. Most girls fear weights because they think they’ll get big. The only thing you need to know is that you should lift weights. The guys who are afraid they’ll turn into Arnold are dreaming and the girls who think they’ll look like Chyna–former female wrestler–are misinformed.

It takes an immense amount of work and “help” to achieve bodybuilder-like results. A woman is pretty much incapable of becoming huge because her body was not designed for it. Estrogen has the natural gift of making sure muscle growth is kept in check.

There is nothing more useful for losing fat and looking good than a healthy dose of muscle. It fills out clothing better and you look more human! Use the weights at the gym to put on some muscle. Every pound of muscle will help you burn about 50 calories a day by just existing. Don’t aim to be a stick figure–they don’t look good in art or real life.

9. Cheat to Stay Consistent

Although not good advice in a relationship, it is great for a diet. Give yourself a meal a week for anything you want. It won’t matter what it is or how many calories it is. You won’t destroy all the progress you’ve made with your diet. It will be completely guilt free.

The cheat meal will help you stay consistent by satisfying an urge on a recurring basis so that you won’t toy with the idea of forgetting this whole diet thing altogether. As long as you are consistent with your diet, the results will come. Being extremely strict and thinking that you can maintain it indefinitely is a losing battle. You’ll only end up caving in and never returning to the diet.

10. Snack of Celery

I’m not the biggest fan of vegetables but, celery has the great property of taking more calories to digest than it contains. So eating celery can be equated to eating negative calories. How awesome is that? Of course you’ll have to forgo the dip and anything else you might add. Celery is also supposed to be an aphrodisiac. Why not snack on it?

Labels: 10 Tips to Lose Weight Now

10 Tips for Making Money in Real Estate Investment

When investing in real estate, it pays to follow certain guidelines before making, and possibly regretting, such a costly decision. The following 10 tips will help you become a more successful real estate investor:

1. Do your research.

Before you buy a house for income generation, be sure to research historical price data for that particular neighborhood and country. Try to feel out whether housing prices in that area of town are rising, falling, or holding steady. Look up the selling prices of other homes in the house’s neighborhood. In this way, you will better know if this is the opportune time to buy your desired property.

2. Consider buying cheaper property.

If you buy an expensive home you will need to charge a higher rent; conversely, a cheaper home will mean more reasonable rent. Renters who pay a high monthly rent may just as easily move out and pay that money towards their own mortgage. Higher rent properties are a luxury, while cost-effective rents are a need. In other words, needs always outrank wants.

3. Add up all costs.

Don’t buy a property just because it is a “steal”. Consider all the costs of buying the property, including any needed repairs, utility bills, property insurance and taxes, and risk of vacancy. If possible, make a cash flow statement, or ask for a cash flow statement from the prior owners of the property (if it was used as a rental property). Collect as many documents as you can which detail the property’s utility and other costs.

4. Know your market.

Analyze your property, the type of neighborhood in which it is located, and what businesses or organizations are nearby. Would this property be suited for young professionals with no families? Would this property be better suited for renovation and resell to a family? Knowing what you are buying will help you better turn a profit on your property.

5. Consider cost of entry.

Depending on the country and even the state in which you buy your property, a significant amount of your money may be spent on purchasing fees. In Germany, for example, you may pay up to an additional 20%-25% of your house purchase price in fees and other charges. Knowing how much it will cost to purchase your income property will help ensure its profitability.

6. Consider capital growth.

Assess the neighborhood located around the property that you are buying. Are big corporations being built in the vicinity? Or are houses and buildings being shut down and demolished? Do you see evidence of quaint shops and shopping malls going up nearby? All these events will play a factor in your property’s future price at sale. They will also determine the demand for rental accommodation.

7. Consider cost of exit.

Different countries charge different capital gains tax on sold property. In Spain, a foreign seller may incur up to a 35% capital gains tax when selling a property for profit. Other countries, such as Turkey, do not charge this tax as long as the property has been in the seller’s name for at least four years.

8. Inspect the property.

Hire an accredited inspection firm to come in person and inspect the property you are considering. Do not overlook or skimp on this important step. It is imperative that the condition of the house be assessed, including its roof, fixtures, foundation, walls, and plumbing, heating, and electrical systems. Professional house inspectors will also look out for problems indigenous to that housing area, like termite, flood, or earthquake damage.

9. Do not purchase beyond your means.

While you may qualify to purchase a lot more property than you originally deemed possible, don’t. The last thing you need is to be house poor. The property you purchase will need an occasional repair or update and you cannot rely on rental income alone to keep abreast of such future developments. Keep at least 5% of your property’s purchase price in a separate account and be prepared to withdraw it should the need arise.

10. Think for the long-term.

Property purchases should always be considered as long-term investments. The exception might be if you are looking to purchase real estate in order to “flip” it for a quick profit. Otherwise, real estate is a long-term and slow to liquidate asset. If you suspect that you will need cash soon, it is best not to buy property.

In conclusion, even with the recent dip in the real estate market, you can still make a profit both here and overseas. You just need to follow certain guidelines: look for undervalued homes, know your market and the purpose of your purchase, and understand that real estate is almost always a long-term investment.

Labels: 10 Tips for Making Money in Real Estate Investment

10 Tips for Keeping Your School-Aged Children Active During Winter

My youngest of three daughters is 5 years old, and keeping her active in the winter has inspired me to get creative. While keeping kids active when it is cold outside is more challenging than when it is warm and sunny, it can definitely be done. Fitness is important to me, and as a result it is looked upon as fun and worthwhile to my child. Children follow by example, so I have used my desire to be physically fit to my advantage. If you need fresh, creative ideas for keeping your school-aged children active during the winter, try these 10 tips. While the tips are aimed at school-aged kids, many of them apply to youth of all ages since I have a 13, 11 and 5-year-old.

#1 Practice yoga with your children.

Participate in yoga with your children for a healthy way to bond with them. My little one loves yoga, and she is very good at it. I have taught her the sun salutation, also known as surya namaskar, which is a 12 posture sequence. She also enjoys the plow pose, and this pose relaxes the mind as it gives the shoulders and spine a good stretch.

#2 Bundle up and go ice skating.

Bundle up by dressing in layers, and enjoy a day at an indoor or outdoor ice skating rink. Many rinks offer walkers for less experienced skaters, and when my youngest daughter was 4-years-old she used one at her oldest sister’s ice skating party. Children of all ages enjoy skating on the ice. In fact, all three of my daughters have a blast every time we go.

#3 Go bowling or duckpin bowling.

Take your children bowling or duckpin bowling. Both offer pleasing, pin striking amusement for the entire family. Duckpin involves pins and balls that are smaller than the ones used in traditional bowling, making it great for young children. The first time my kids were introduced to a miniature version of this game, they were excited.

#4 Bowl at home.

Strike pins inside by making your own bowling set. I made a simple set with empty 2-liter soda bottles and a ball my daughter won from Chuck E. Cheese’s. She played with her homemade game every day for awhile, and she still enjoys it.

#5 Play indoor hopscotch.

Hopscotch isn’t just for playing outdoors when the weather is warm, and hopping indoors is a great way to keep children physically active when the weather is chilly. This fun game can be played by purchasing a foam or rug play mat. Similarly, Twister Hopscotch will serve the same purpose, and this is the way our family chooses to play this game indoors.

#6 Play games that involve physical activity.

Many games can keep school-aged children active during the winter months. Games such as Limbo and Pop Goes Froggio will keep kids moving while they are having fun. In fact, I purchased Pop Goes Froggio for my 5-year-old this year as a Christmas present to aid in keeping her active.

In addition, many consoles such as the Nintendo Wii offer video games that encourage motion. My 5-year-old enjoys playing Nickelodeon Fit and Wii Sports Resort on a regular basis.

#7 Take your children to a local bounce house.

Bounce houses offer hopping fun for school-aged kids. Children have a chance to use their energy while getting a workout. My kids have a blast for hours at bounce houses as they jump, slide and crawl on inflatable equipment. Many locations even allow parents to play for free with a paying child, so parents get to have fun and keep little ones safe at the same time.

#8 Go swimming at a local YMCA or recreation center.

Children love swimming in the winter because many times it is an activity they usually only get to participate in during the summer. Last winter, my youngest daughter took swimming lessons twice a week at our local YMCA, and she enjoyed learning to swim by herself. Furthermore, my husband and I got the pleasure of watching her swim on her own at such a young age.

#9 Have a dance party.

Don’t just have an ordinary dance party. Have one with an amazing atmosphere, sublime sounds and an abundance of energy. Fog machines and black lights give dance parties the added advantage of an awesome atmosphere. I purchased a mist maker after Halloween on clearance, and all three of my children think this is a magnificent machine. Add dance music and lighting for a fun, fat burning party that everyone will enjoy.

#10 Enroll your children in a sports class.

Sports classes such as karate, dance lessons or gymnastics offer children the opportunity to learn a skill while being physically active. Over the years, my children have taken gymnastics, ballet, cheerleading and swim lessons. They also participated in basketball during the winter.

More From Rebecca Bardelli:

3 Ways to Catch Your Child in a Lie

4 Ways to React When Your Child Says ‘I Hate You’

Top Five Most Common Sports Injuries in Adolescents

Labels: 10 Tips for Keeping Your School-Aged Children Active During Winter

10 Tips for Living Frugally in Raleigh, North Carolina

Living frugally is smart living. Here are ways that you can save time and money in Raleigh, North Carolina in fun and affordable ways.

Join to start receiving daily 50-90% off deals around town. I receive e-mails daily with discounted offers for food and services. My inbox is filled with LivingSocial deals like a Signature Manicure and Chocolate Bliss Pedicure for $10 at Studio 714 West, a Durham Bulls Baseball ticket for half off the regular price, pay $15 for $30 dollars worth of food and non-alcoholic drinks at Maximillian’s pizza kitchen (great place to eat by the way), discounted spa services, teeth whitening, massages, kayaking trips, horseback riding lessons, fitness classes, etc. Today, Stein Plastic Surgery had an unbeatable coupon for 20 units of botox for $149 (regular price $300).

Home Workouts

In small country towns, you do not have to lock into a contract for a gym membership. Fitness centers in Raleigh, North Carolina are expensive to join, and once you are in it is extremely difficult to get out unless you have a medical condition or are moving to a place where their gym is not within a certain amount of miles. You can save money by working out at home. Go to Walmart, Best Buy, Target, (or any place that sells work out DVDs), clear out some space in your living room, and get to work! Invite friends over to make your workout session more fun. They can also make sure you don’t fast forward the difficult segments of the video. You can also jog, walk, or run with a friend at a local park or around your neighborhood. Write down a strict schedule you can follow for the best results.


Search the free section for Raleigh’s Craigslist to find items people in the area want to give away for free. This is a great way to save tons of money on something you may need now or later on down the road. You never know what may be listed. Items I have seen are televisions, moving boxes, cat litter, firewood, dishwashers, furniture, clothes, diapers, and more. I put a pair of new shoelaces on the free section one time, and I was surprised people needed them. It worked out perfect because I was able to give them to a guy who was going to workout at the gym the same time I was.

Consignment Stores

I am in love with consignment stores because I find unique items no one else has, vintage dresses at extremely affordable prices, and old furniture I can decorate to make look brand spanking new.

Parents should consider browsing consignment stores when their children are begging for designer or brand name clothing they can’t afford to pay the retail price for. Consignment stores are also a great place for college students to hit up when looking for costumes for theme parties or Halloween.

Cheap Gas

S. Saunders Street (US 70-401) off exit 298A near Carolina Pines Avenue has unbeatable gas prices. Going from the Sam’s Club towards the Walmart is where you will find gas prices that are up to 30 cents cheaper than the rest of the city.

Commuting Around Town

Avoid driving in traffic, feeding parking meters, and putting expensive gas in your car by hopping on the Capital Area Tranit (CAT). Children 12 and under ride free while the costs for adults are 1.00 for a single trip, 2.00 for a day pass, 5-day pass $8.50. College students pay discounted fares for services. Riding the CAT can be a fun experience. The bus is normally filled with a diverse range of people, and you may also discover new routes for driving around town.

Raleigh Flea Market

More than 600 vendors set up on Saturdays and Sundays on Blue Ridge for the Raleigh Flea Market. This is a great place to save money on jewelry, collectibles, electronics, handmade crafts, furniture, and many more goodies. The Raleigh Flea market has the largest selection of antiques in North Carolina. Admission and parking are free.

College Students

“I’m a broke college student” is a phrase you will hear a lot in the Raleigh-Durham area. Instead of buying your own alcohol for every party, you and your friends should all split the price of a case of beer. Buy used books instead of new books. Carpool, ride the bus, or walk to your classes. Take your notes on your laptop instead of buying new notebooks each semester. Take advantage of using student ID at restaurants and stores around town.

Going to the movies

Carmike Blue Ridge 14 Cinema has the cheapest movies in town. You can watch movies at this cinema for only $1.50. The cinema is located on Blue Ridge Road.

Farmer’s Market

At the Farmer’s Market you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables cheaper than you can at the grocery store. You are also supporting local farmers which is a great way to go green.



Capital Area Transit

Raleigh Flea Market

Farmer’s Market

Labels: 10 Tips for Living Frugally in Raleigh, North Carolina

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