Archive for April, 2011
When you’re planning to move to a new area, one of your biggest concerns is going to be the quality of the schools in the area. Doing a drive-by look at a school or even visiting the school website will give you very little idea of the quality of the education that your children might receive there.
- PSK12.com – This site allows you to look at the data from the ‘School Report Cards’ issued by the state’s Department of Education. With a free membership, you can see general data by county for some of the previous years, but not the previous year’s data. For more detailed and more current information, a paid membership is required.
- City-Data.com – This is a location based forum where posters asks questions of each other about different cities and areas. It is a great place to get the views of actual residents of an area without having to go door to door with a survey.
- NeighborhoodScout.com – A paid membership is required for this site, but it does have options as short as one month. The site will allow you to search for neighborhoods in your new location, which have the best school systems and lowest crime rates. The reports provided are very detailed.
- GreatSchools.org – On this site you can find ratings on the schools in the area that you are looking at. There may also be reviews on specific schools posted by other visitors to the site. The site is free to use and no registration is required.
- Schoolmatch.com – This is a paid internet service for anyone looking for information on a school or college, and compares both public and private schools. The information is very thorough, since it is designed to be used, not just by parents, but also by teachers and school administrators who are looking for positions.
- Schooldigger.com – Free customizable searches of schools anywhere in the nation. Search information based on what is important to you. Much of the same information that you would find on paid membership sites can be found here for free.
- PublicSchoolReview.com – If you are looking for basic statistics and also recent news items regarding the school district you select. The use of the site is free for anyone without registration.
- Schoolmatters.com – You can choose up to three schools in an area to compare side-by-side on this site. It will compare enrollments, reading and math proficiencies and ethnicity breakdowns.
- Visit the Schools – Take the time to make appointments with the principals of area schools and visit them yourself. This will give you the opportunity to see the conditions of the school yourself and to ask the questions that are most important to you.
- Ask for Referrals – Whether it is new co-workers or family, ask about their knowledge of the schools in the areas you are considering. You may be surprised with the information that you can collect from the people right around you.
There are plenty of resources available to help you find just the information you need to make a decision on which schools will be the best choice for your kids.
Demand for the daily newspaper has been declining for some time. More and more papers are finding their subscriptions shrinking, and as a result they are able to attract fewer businesses to advertise in their papers. Today there are many ways for us to get the news quickly, and without having to read. All of these options intrude upon the desire of people to wait for the morning paper to find out the news. Thus for the traditional newspaper, this has meant a slow death from depleting revenues, when their papers are not being bought. It is a problem that is growing and shows no signs of improving. Here are ten factors that have contributed to the slow death of print newspapers.
- Other forms of news. The local newspaper will carry stories on a wide selection of subjects in local, national and world news. However, you might not be interested in wading through all those pages just to find out some specific details on a given story. With email and RSS feeds, you can get target news sent direct to you on the areas you’re interested in. Between television, internet and radio you don’t have to spend your time looking through the paper’s pages.
- Cost. Why pay for the newspaper when you can get the same information on the internet for free? This is pure cost consideration. There may be some coupons you like in a given paper, but they may never offset the actual cost of subscriptions.
- Price of materials. Paper costs have been going up for a long time. But newspapers are only able to charge a set amount for their paper, or they will not find any subscribers. It is a difficult balance to maintain. It is another area that is causing them to struggle, that many people don’t realize.
- Influence Of Owners. Newspapers can be affected in how they present and report the news by the philosophies of their owners. Those biases can be evident by the stories they choose to publish. Many people are looking for news sources that will give them multiple views.
- Convenience. Unless you have the paper delivered to your house, and even then it can be subject to weather, there are times it is easier to look on the internet at your convenience. You can quickly search through items online for your topics of interest, rather than having to scan the pages of a traditional newspaper.
- Delivery problems. There is a low tolerance these days for poor customer service. How many times will you pay for the daily paper if you have problems with your deliveries? It is just easier to look to other means to find out what you want to know.
- Watching Versus Reading. Why read through lots of paragraphs when the news on the television will show you what is happening, often in live video footage. It doesn’t have to take as much time, and you can enjoy other activities at the same time.
- Listening Versus Reading. Just like with watching, listening to the news on the radio can be done while you are doing other things. You can listen while you are driving in your car while driving to and from work. We have become a multi-tasking society.
- Limited Interests. The more we get exposed to the entire world’s problems, the more we may wish to just dwell on limited or specialized news interest. We now have the ability to choose what areas of news coverage we want to receive.
- Competition. It isn’t that newspapers aren’t trying to keep up with the changes in information, they have their online sites too. Technology is simply leaving them behind in a race that they are finding it hard to compete in.
Today the future for the traditional newspaper is not very promising. Many have begun to search for ways to improve or change their approach to deal with this reality, but it appears to be a losing battle.
All those chores you have to do around the home after the end of winter won’t get done by themselves. But it isn’t easy to get your kids to choose them over video games and the internet. Trying to figure out interesting ways to involve them without it resulting in complaints, or them being uncooperative, can be a real challenge. Still, there are some things you can do to help overcome that problem, in ways that actually get them excited about helping. Here are ten ideas you can try to help get them involved, and make it fun in the process.
- Hunting for loose change. This is one idea where your child can get an actual reward and make it very exciting. Have them clean under the seat cushions, sort through drawers, clean under the bed, anywhere they can possibly find coins. Afterwards you can make it educational by counting the change and dividing it into types. Naturally, if there is enough change, you can have them save the money for some future trip to the store, or put it in a savings count. Even collect it in a jar until having enough for something special.
- Making art out of trash. From extra wire hangers to old wrapping paper the only limit on what you can do is in your imagination. It is easy to turn things into Christmas ornaments, greeting cards and about anything that your child wants to do that will make trash something artistic and fun.
- The Sorting Game. Take the mess out of your kids’ toys. Give them the kind of storage options where they can play with their games and toys as they want, then have a place to put them away later. You can also make a game out of letting them pick out any items they’ve outgrown to be donated to the goodwill.
- Sock Matching Match. Put all the family’s clean socks that came from the laundry and let your kids race to see who can match them up the fastest. Afterwards they can be folded together as they match and any ones that have no match can be given away. They can use the unmatched socks as dusting mitts.
- Alphabetizing the spices. This can turn into a game that lets each child test how well they know the alphabet. Have them take down the spice bottles and wipe them clean. Then, let them each take turns at putting them in the right order. You can let them see the spices on the rack afterwards, and take turns matching them more than once if they are enjoying the challenge.
- Shake, shake, shake. Take the toaster and let your child turn it upside down and shake out all the crumbs. You can let them use a wooden spoon or stick to get out the small crumbs that get stuck inside. This is best to do over a paper bag for the crumbs to fall into. A child can will enjoy seeing those crumbs falling like rain into the paper bag.
- Dust Bunny Skating. Let your child put on an old pair of socks and skate around the house to see how many dust bunnies can be collected. If you have more than one child have them see who can collect the most. Kids love physical activity and a little competition.
- Expiration Date Detective. This is one for the kids that can read dates. Have them go through the items in your ice box, cupboards or pantry where you store cereals and other items with possible expiration dates. Have them find the ones that need to be thrown away. You can show them the best way to dispose of each of them. Be sure to reward them for doing a good job.
- Follow The Leader. Give each child an apron and add an old rag tucked in so the other one can hold on. Then give them a squirt bottle with non toxic cleaner to keep in the apron pockets. Give them selected items around the house to clean. The leader can choose which things to clean first. Then switch leaders every few minutes.
- Pump Up the sound. Just turn up the stereo so it gives any chore an extra fun quality and a sound that the kids can be energized by, when doing a chore. Let the kids help choose their favorite music for each chore.
You can try several of these, and if you discover your kids truly are enjoying it, then you might make it a regular activity. It never hurts to ask them for suggestions to make the chores more fun. Kids have great imaginations.
Parents are becoming more aware of the negative effects of high doses of sugar on their children. Increased hyperactivity and dental cavities, being two of the most common. Because of this, many parents are looking for alternative fillers for their children’s Easter baskets.
We’ve come up with ten ideas that will make the kids happy and the parents, as well.
- Fancy pencils. Pencils that sparkle, pencils with their names on them, pencils with Easter messages on them. You’ll be surprised at what unique and fun varieties of pencils there are out there. Pick out a few for each basket, pretty ones for the girls and sporty ones for the boys.
- Small Easter toys. You’ll find plenty of little Easter toys available alongside the Easter candy: little chicks, bunnies, tops, noise makers. They’re colorful, inexpensive and fun, which makes them perfect for filling Easter baskets with.
- Costume jewelry. Little girls love getting pretty jewelry to wear. Bracelets and necklaces are easy to come by. Pick some out that have plenty of sparkle. You might also add some pretty headbands or barrettes for their hair as well.
- Stickers. Easter stickers are easy to find in a large variety, but you don’t have to stick to the holiday theme. Find stickers that fit the interests of the children, such as animals, dinosaurs, or their favorite videos. They’re inexpensive, so be stingy.
- Sun glasses. Kids love to wear sunglasses. Take the time to hunt down some really ‘cool’ shades for the kids. They’ll be thrilled to find them in their baskets and you’ll see them wearing them all day long, inside or out.
- Bouncy balls. Small colorful balls can be a great addition to an Easter basket. Their round shape and multiple colors can simulate the look of Easter eggs, hiding in the paper grass filler. You’re likely to find a few with glitter or stripes to add to the mix.
- Boxes of raisins. If you want to give treats that the kids can eat, without all the sugar, then stick in some small boxes of raisins for them to snack on. Raisins are healthy treat and still fun to eat.
- Matchbox cars. For the boys, add a few bright colored Matchbox cars to add to the treasures in their basket. They’ll like them as much as the girls will like the jewelry pieces.
- Markers. Pick out some special packages of markers to add to the Easter fun. You can get glitter markers or neon, glow in the dark markers. Kids are always in need on something new and fun to color with.
- Other small toys. Head to your local dollar store and see what you can find to add variety to the basket: small puzzles, travel games, mini-story books.
You have plenty of other options to choose from when looking for items that children will enjoy. If they’re colorful and fun, they’ll work to fill an Easter basket and replace all that sugar that the kids really don’t need.
Home party sales have been around for a long time. They’re a great excuse for women to get together and have fun. They get to enjoy one of their favorite past times, shopping together, without going to the mall. Here’s a list of the top ten items that are purchased at these home parties.
- Food items – Tastefully Simple and Pampered Chef are two of the leaders in this category. These parties always guarantee some delicious foods to sample. Nothing like fresh appetizers to get the orders moving.
- Kitchenware – This is definitely one of the biggest categories. Tupperware and Pampered Chef have both been doing home party sales for several decades. Their high quality products that last a lifetime, keep their businesses growing.
- Home Décor – There are several different home party businesses that operate in this product area. Home Interior is one of the oldest, but many newer ones have been giving them competition. Plaques, prints, mirrors, shelves and wall sconces all fit into this category.
- Jewelry – One of the newest home party favorites is the costume jewelry niche. The opportunity to try on new jewelry with your girlfriends, makes this a fun time. Big discounts are also a big draw for these parties.
- Candles – Candles are a big draw in the home décor parties, but there are also a few home party companies that specialize in candles. Long lasting candles and plenty of fresh new scents, keep people coming back to re-stock their supply.
- Makeup – Mary Kay and their pink product line and led the way in this area. Free facials and the chance to do home makeovers are a big draw to the parties. High quality products keep buyers ordering more.
- Holiday items – Just about every home party business promotes special merchandise for the holidays. Home décor will have tree ornaments for Christmas and centerpieces for every holiday. The food products will have seasonal and holiday favorites available. The dinnerware category will have special holiday settings for your table.
- Cleaning products. Cleaning products are another area that has been involved in home party sales for many years. These parties are more likely to draw the practically minded and those looking for safe, green household products.
- Health products – This is a little bit newer area for home party sales. Although the companies encourage a gathering of friends, they may not bill it as a ‘party’. Their format is a more direct sale approach, than the fun relaxed atmosphere you find with some of the other products.
- Skincare products – Lotions and body wash are popular buys at home-based party sales. They may be found among the makeup products and the health products.
Home party sales seem to enjoy popularity with each new generation of women. For those who are attending, it is a fun excuse to get together with their friends. For those who are involved in the sales end, it is a fun home-based business that allows them set their hours and bring in some extra income
There was a time only a short while ago where Americans could travel into Mexico and Canada by just showing their driver’s license. Times are changing and people who travel have to change too or limit their travel to the country they live in. Check out 10 reasons people need a passport.
- ID: Passports can serve as identification when requesting a new birthday certificate or a new driver’s license. It is also your main identification in foreign countries.
- Keep track of travels: Every time you enter a country they stamp your passport with an ink stamp that is uniquely from that country. By looking at your passport you can tell when you were in which country.
- Allow you to enter a foreign country: Without a passport is not possible to enter a foreign country. You need to show your passport at the border to be allowed into a country.
- Protection: While a passport doesn’t guarantee that the consulate will help you if you get into trouble in a foreign land, but the verbiage inside the passport requests help for the bearer of that passport should they need it.
- Return home: Your passport allows you to return home after traveling abroad. Leaving the country is easy, but getting back in is the hard part.
- Some hotels in Europe: Sometimes hotels in Europe will keep your passport overnight while they prepare records for the police.
- Visas: To receive a visa to travel or stay in certain countries you need to submit your passport to the correct agency that can give you a Visa. It’s important that there be a completely blank page in your passport for your Visa stamp.
- Spur of the moment travel: Just think, you best friend’s husband has become ill and she has two tickets to France and she asks you to go along. If you have your passport you will be able to take her up on the trip if not there is probably not enough time to get a passport before she is set to leave.
- To reassure Custom agents: Passports are closely tied to border security which people take very seriously. Having a passport in good order will allow you to pass through customs with little problem.
- To look cool at parties: Passports have been used in games at parties to match up singles at a meet and greet party. Looking at the stamps in each other’s passport is a great conversation starter.
Every little bit helps in tough economic times. When money’s tight, it pays to be creative in finding means to save even a little extra cash. It’s easy to overlook some of the smaller ways to save, but when you add them all up, you can start to save some real dollars. Let’s take a look at one of those penny savers, shall we? It’ ll be good for you to take a nice long gander at some of the ways you’ve been letting money sift through your fingers, and into Uncle Sam’s pocket.
Here are 10 ways you can save on postage stamps:
- E-Billing – Most utility companies and service providers offer some form of online payment method. As more and more businesses are going green, paperless billing and online payments have become the norm. Some companies even offer a discount on their services when you sign up for paperless billing. More savings for you.
- E-mail – wherever possible and practical, correspond via email rather than snail mail. It’s fast, it’s free and takes up a lot less space for record-keeping. Specify e-mail as your preferred contact method whenever you’re given the option to choose.
- Third Class Mail – When it absolutely, positively doesn’t have to get there by morning, why pay the difference? Mail it early and save the extra dough.
- Pack Light – When shipping parcels, use lightweight packing material such as Styrofoam popcorn. And don’t over-pack, especially if it means using a larger container. The added weight, and sometimes the larger size, will increase the cost of postage.
- Not-so-Special Delivery – Avoid sending anything Special Delivery during the week. It won’t get there any faster. Special Delivery only expedites night and weekend mailings, so the difference in cost is a wasted expense.
- Don’t Air Mail – Mail sent over distance within North America will be sent by air anyway, even for the less expensive First Class postage.
- Buy a Postage Meter – You can save significantly over time by avoiding over-stamping your mail. The money you’ll save by paying exact postage will pay for the purchase in no time.
- Use Certified Mail – instead of the more expensive Registered Mail when your outgoing needs signatures. It will satisfy your requirement of confirming receipt just as well, and for less.
- Scroooged! - Are you absolutely sure you want to send season’s greetings to everyone on your Christmas card list? Maybe it’s time to re-consider that couple you met 12 years ago at the time-share resort. You know the ones. They bored you with family updates every year for a decade and, if you recall, stuck you with the tab at the tiki bar that last night in Cabo.
- Shop Around – USPS isn’t always the cheapest alternative for shipping. Check the rates with other carriers before sending off that last fruitcake to your old time-share buddies.
See? Those pennies did add up, didn’t they? Now go ahead and roll them all up, buy yourself a nice little Thank You card, and send it UPS.
Many renters live in apartments, townhomes and condominiums and don’t carry renters insurance. For some, they feel the risk is small enough that they are willing to take it rather than to pay the premium for renters insurance. Others are under the mistaken belief that the building insurance will cover their losses in the event of a fire or theft. This is never true.
But how small is the risk? If you had to replace all the contents of your apartment, how much would it cost you; your entire wardrobe, all your furniture, your music collection, everything in your kitchen, your computer, camera and other electronic items? $7,000.00? $15,000.00? Probably much more than you think.
What could a renters insurance policy provide for you?
- Content Replacement. If every single item in your apartment was destroyed by fire, it is unlikely that you would have enough money in your savings to replace it all. With renters insurance you have both of the same options that homeowner’s do. You can insure for current value or replacement value. The first one will pay you the current value of your 5 year old television, in other words, what you could sell it for. The replacement value policy would pay for a brand new television of similar quality. Make sure you know which type of renters policy you have.
- Liabilities. If one of your visitors slips and gets hurt in the lobby of your apartment building, they can sue the owner for damages, but you have no liability for their damages. If they slip and get hurt in the bathroom of your apartment, then, you are the person liable, and you are the one they could sue for damages. If you have renters insurance, you’ll have protection against these types of suits.
- Living expenses. If your apartment is damaged by water, smoke or fire, you will likely need to find another place to live, at least temporarily. Do you have money to setup house in another location, or to stay in a motel? This is another instance where you would be very thankful to have an insurance policy in place that would cover these expenses for you.
- Medical expenses. This item fits in with the liability section. If a person does get injured in your rental space, even in a small way, you may be liable for their medical bills. Rental insurance would pay for the stitches in his head when he tripped and cut in open on your coffee table.
- Fire and smoke. If there is a fire in the building, the damage to your personal property can be immense, even if it is quickly extinguished. Smoke and water damage can expand far beyond the area of the fire itself. The building insurance will replace or clean your ruined carpet but everything else will be your responsibility.
- Theft. Rental units are becoming targets for theft, much more often than they used to be. Even in a ‘secure’ building, this type of loss remains a possibility.
- Water damage. If there is a water issue in the apartment above you and it comes through your ceiling and ruins your computer, the landlord has to pay for it right? Wrong! Even it was due to his negligence, the only way you might get him to pay for it would be to take him to court. Court takes time and has no guarantees of a decision in your favor.
- Vandalism. Renters insurance won’t alleviate your anger at having your possessions destroyed for no good reason, but at least it would help you with replacement costs and cleanup of the mess.
- Flood. If you live in an area where flood water damage is a possibility, you’ll want to have renter’s insurance that specifically covers that type of damage. Water can destroy just as totally as fire.
- Joint tenants. If you’re sharing your apartment with another tenant, you might want to get joint tenant coverage with your rental insurance. You may be buddies to start with, but sharing close quarters for a length of time, sometimes turns friends into enemies. A little preventative protection, can’t hurt.
To live without renters insurance is a big gamble. If you lose the gamble, the costs could put you in the poor house; either that or your mother’s house. Avoid both by contacting your insurance agent and getting the coverage you need.