Friday, March 27, 2009

Ten Fuel Saving Tips

Get the most out of your usually expensive fuel by trying out these tips and tricks

1.Avoid High Speeds
As your speed increases, your aerodynamic drag increases in an exponential fashion. Driving 62 mph (100 km/h) vs 75 mph (120 km/h) will reduce fuel consumption by about 15%.
2.Do Not Accelerate or Brake Hard
By anticipating the traffic and applying slow steady acceleration and braking, fuel economy may increase by as much as 20%.
3.Keep Tires Properly Inflated
Keep tire air pressure at the level recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. A single tire under inflated by 2 PSI, increases fuel consumption by 1%.
4.Use A/C Sparingly
When the air conditioner is on it puts extra load on the engine forcing more fuel to be used (by about 20%). The defrost position on most vehicles also uses the air conditioner.
5.Keep Windows Closed
Windows open, especially at highway speeds, increase drag and result in decreased fuel economy of up to 10%.
6.Service Vehicle Regularly
Proper maintenance avoids poor fuel economy related to dirty air filters, old spark plugs or low fluid levels.
7.Use Cruise Control
Maintaining a constant speed over long distances often saves gas.
8.Avoid Heavy Loads
Remove the sand bags from your trunk in the spring and pack lightly for long trips.
9.Avoid Long Idles
If you anticipate being stopped for more than 1 minute, shut off the car. Restarting the car uses less fuel than letting it idle for this time.
10.Purchase a Fuel Efficient Vehicle
When buying a new vehicle examine the vehicle's rated fuel efficiency. Usually choosing a small vehicle with a manual transmission will provide you with great fuel economy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Should You Work For Avon?

I know, I know you see the t.v. commercial all the time right? Be your own boss,work your own hours, never get laid off,never get fired etc... Yea I know the Avon commercial is a real seller to the unemployed,laid-off,down sized, part-time, one income only,homemaker and all the like - right? wrong, or MAYBE... My mother was approached by an Avon Rep, who wanted to hand out her brochures and recruit warm bodies looking for extra income- why my mother gave up my name and number is beyond me- am I broke, does my job suck, do I wish to be my own boss, have unlimited earning potential- operate from home, the Internet, and on the street- at the mall even- absolutely! Ok so I was like yea I have seen the commercial ALOT lately and I wonder what is the scoop on being a Avon salesperson- what do they have to offer- can I gain anything from working with them?? Hmmm- the Avon sales rep called and before I knew it,I was writing down all the information on the company and the benefits of being an Avon salesperson. Here is the real truth (yea what they leave out of those commercials):

1. It does cost to become a sales rep with Avon ($10.00-20.00) To get the lower fee sign-up with a Representative- not on the Avon website- then you will be charged $20.00- And yes it is a one-time fee. Also,you get some free brochures, fliers and samples

2. You can have your own web page to sell products and guide clients to- it cost $7.50 a month- the fee is waived only if you get a sale through your site at least once a month

3. The brochures or mini catalogs with all the Avon merchandise is only free for so long- which means you get 20 free. Afterward you have to pay for them, like 10 for less than $6.00 etc... depending on how many you want- I was told the more you order the less it costs. Also, brochures come out twice a month - you have two different ones to hand out to clients

4. Commission is 50% for each complete order total for the first 2 months- afterward it depends on the order total and the products, falls somewhere between 20-50% then

5. If someone does not pay for their order or wants to return it- you are held responsible- you ca try to re-sell the products or mail them back to Avon in a timely manner at your (I was told small)expense. And yes you can get paid upfront before putting the clients' order through

6. Avon charges each customer a 75 cent shipping and handling fee - you receive half of that, to be added to your account(I was told to let the money add up and the use it to buy the brochures)

7. When you are paid cash for your orders you can pay yourself first then send the rest to Avon- I was told this I am not sure on every small detail...

8. To make extra money you can be a recruiter- once again I was told they can make a lot of money- not to sure how much- ask a Avon Rep

9. Yes you can make some decent if not excellent cash- start with people you know, look forward to referrals and never stop talking to people and leaving the mini catalogs and fliers all over the place- Also you can get help and tips from a Avon rep and the Avon website that helps to guide,train ,and answer questions for you

10. This is cool for extra cash if you need it and are driven,flexible,and friendly
Otherwise do not quit your day job :)

*** Once you get a client- keep emailing and calling them at least, once a month to answer questions, and to see if they want to re-order from you- or if they want a new mini catalog


Monday, March 9, 2009

Best Hot Stock Picks

Divide a given interest rate into 72. The result, more or less, is the number of years needed to double your money. So a compounded 6% return doubles your money in about 12 years. A 7% return takes just over 10 years. The opposite works, too. Want to double your money in five years? You’ll need a return of more than 14% a year.

The Rule of 72 works pretty well for reinvested dividends, too, although since dividends are often paid quarterly and therefore compound more often, the wait is a touch shorter. Two conditions: The dividends must keep coming, and the stock price mustn’t plunge all the way through to the end of the waiting period. Temporary drops are OK, even welcome, since reinvested dividends will buy shares at the lower prices.
Here are some stocks that might double your money, even without big price gains. No guarantees, obviously.

14 years

You’ll need at least 5% a year in dividends. Food stocks like Heinz (HNZ) and Kraft (KFT) pay that much. So does Boeing (BA), which I particularly like. Its shares, at less than six times this year’s earnings forecast, are priced as though mankind has come up with something better than airplanes for long-distance travel. And Genuine Parts (GPC) looks likely to profit from all those cars Americans aren’t buying, since it sells the parts needed to keep old cars running.

12 years

That’ll take a 6% yield. Merck (MRK) seems capable of keeping its meaty payment coming. Philip Morris International (PM), too. Verizon (VZ), another high-yielder, is growing its broadband unit about as fast as it’s losing business in its landline division, resulting in flat profits at the moment — a fairly enviable state.

10 years

Dividends of 7% and up are suspicious. Be careful of stocks whose prices are being pounded on the likelihood that dividend cuts are coming. Pitney Bowes (PBI) seems a good bet, especially since it recently increased its payment. Egg producer Cal-Maine Foods (CALM) yields 6.9% but is something of an odd bird; it pays one-third of profits as a variable dividend. With shares at less than four times this year’s earnings forecast, such a policy could produce a yield of greater than 8%.

Acne No More

Acne can be a real problem. There's nothing more embarrassing than knowing that you have a blemish on your face. Immediately, you feel less confident and less self-assured.

If you are an acne sufferer then you are no doubt aware of the dozens of acne treatments out there competing for your business. Acne is serious and because it may take months for an acne treatment to make an impact (or let you down), it is super critical that you pick the right product that has the best chance of working for you.

How then to decide which products to try?

Avoid harsh chemicals, like benzyl peroxide that can irritate your skin, not to mention leave marks on your clothing and pillow!
Pick a product that works 24/7 - acne does not take a break, so your treatment system shouldn't either.
Pick a product that is developed by an accredited dermatologist, preferably someone with extensive experience treating acne.
Pick a product that allows you to try it free first so that you can be sure it works for your skin before you pay for it.

0% APR Credit Cards

Be careful with your credit cards... A lot of the time we make more than one kind of mistakes with using our cards- here is a BIG one- how to avoid it and make 0% work for you...

There are some things to consider before transferring your balance to a new card:

1.Always take into account the length of the 0% APR period.
2.Be sure you are able to pay off your balance within this introductory period, otherwise high interest rates often kick in when the period ends.
3.Make a payment schedule and set aside money each month to pay towards your balance.
4.Also, be aware of transfer fees that may be charged by the credit card companies. These can come as unexpected surprises and throw off the payment plan you have created.
Another factor to consider is whether or not the 0% APR offer applied to purchases as well as payments. If interest is charged for your purchases on the transfer card, this can leave you with lingering debt even after your principle is paid off. If interest is charged for your purchases try and limit use of the card to emergencies only to avoid this occurrence. Also, be sure and compare the rewards programs offered by a card, as these will be available to you once you have paid off your balance. Pick a card that rewards you the way you want in the future.

A 0% Balance Transfer can be a great way to get out from under a seemingly insurmountable pile of debt and greatly improve your credit score and spending power at the same time.

Water/Sewage Bill Reduction

Do not over pay for water again! Here are some tips to lower your water/sewage bills:

Make sure your commode doesn't leak. Listen carefully for the tiniest dripping sound. If it's old you might want to buy a new water saving model. Or, place something plastic inside the tank to displace the amount of water being flushed.

Use only as much water taking a bath as you need. A full tub is fun but not necessary. For showering use a low-flow showerhead. Get wet; turn off the water and soap. Turn water back on and rinse. When shaving or brushing your teeth, don't run water during the entire task. Running water while brushing for two minutes can waste up to four gallons of water.

Most washers use up to 60 gallons per load so use load settings on the smallest possible. Permanent press cycles use a third more water than the regular cycle so use that feature judiciously.

Run your dishwasher only when full. The amount of water used is the same regardless of how many dishes you wash. At the sink, use hot water only when needed. You waste a lot of water waiting for the hot water to reach the faucet

Lawns are more resilient than you think so water lawns and gardens only when necessary. Mulch around plants to hold moisture. Water either early or late to prevent evaporation during the heat of the day.

A soaker hose conserves more water than a sprinkler and gets to the roots better. Native grasses and plants require much less water. Use a broom or blower to clean your sidewalks.

Don't wash them down with water. If you wash your car, don't let the water run continuously. Get a hose brush that has an on/off water switch. Wash your car on the grass to water it with runoff from your car.

Repair drippy faucets. The smallest drip can waste over 300 gallons a month. Check both inside and outside faucets. If you can't fix it right away, place a container to catch the drip water and use it to water plants or clean floors. Encourage your family to be water misers and your bank account will remain more liquid.

Business Loan Tips

There are some things that everyone should know before applying for a small business loan. It's always important to know what the bank or lending institution is looking for, what factors go into their decision to either grant or reject your loan. By playing to these factors, you can better your chances of securing that money for your business.

What is your personal story? Firstly, the bank will want to know about you. Your credit history, experience and education will all be factors preliminarily considered in the process of your application. These things speak to who you are as a business person, your credibility for running your own business.

What is your Business Plan? The meat of your proposal will be in your Business Plan. This is an outline you will present to the bank detailing your business idea while providing answers to the questions that the bank has.

How much are you applying for? This figure should be all-encompassing. It should include costs for startup and overhead as well as operations costs like payroll and inventory. It is very important to you and the bank that this number be as accurate as possible.

Where is this money going? Again, accuracy and detail are important here. Your business plan should have a detailed breakdown of how much is going where and for what.

When can you repay your loan? This is the question that anyone, from the bank to your wealthy relative will want an answer for. Be professional. Use financial statements and cash-flow projections to illustrate how your business will generate profit and be a good investment for the bank.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Garage Sale Success

Tips for a successful garage sale:

•Signage is key. Make sure signs can be read by someone driving past. Littlefield suggests attracting people to a sale with colorful balloons or a vintage car. "You want large items to collect eyes," he says. Also, place an ad on craigslist and in your local newspaper.

•Have plenty of change. Five-dollar bills and singles are a must. If you can, grab some $2 bills — some shoppers will be so excited to receive one they may tell friends where they got it.

•Add a neighbor and his junk. The more stuff to look at, the more people you are likely to attract.

•Set up the sale as a real store. Hang up clothing and avoid clutter. If it looks like dirty clothes stuck in a hamper, "People aren't going to buy it," Littlefield says. Price everything, too — unmarked items in retail stores can cause frustration — something you don't want at your garage sale. Have an extension cord handy to test electrical items.

•Get a permit if required. California, Tennessee, Utah and South Carolina all have permit laws. Check on your state's requirements.

•Give your leftovers to charity. "You'll feel good about it and get a tax write-off," Littlefield says.

•Price fairly but competitively. Pricing at 20% to 30% higher than value will invite bargaining, which is good. Use humor — perhaps on signs — to invite bargaining.

•Use masking tape to price goods. This will help deter theft. During your sale, the sound of ripping tape should be a cue to check your inventory. Just make sure the tape doesn't damage items.

But if dealing with strangers in person and coping with potential weather problems sounds terrible, the online marketplaces may be a better option.

Different e-markets have different rules and formats, but here are some tips to keep in mind when selling items online:

•Do some research. In many cases, all of your competitors' information is easy to see. Take a look at how others price similar items. Use keywords in your postings that helped previous sellers. But also look for ways to set your ad and item apart — the goal is to drive traffic to your sale.

•Take a picture. A professional-looking photo in an ad will help sell the item. Use a cloth backdrop to make your item stand out.

•Be honest. "It's OK to sell things that are chipped and cracked, but you need to be honest," Waddick says. "Show an additional photo so people know what they are bidding on."

•Mention shipping/pickup arrangements. This varies by site. On eBay, for example, the seller is responsible for shipping items. You determine the shipping costs and arrangements in the listing. Be competitive but fair. On, transactions can occur similarly. But if a transaction is local and will be done in person, safety and cost issues must be considered.

•Remember that feedback occurs. On sites such as eBay, after every sale, buyers and sellers have the opportunity to comment. Feedback will affect future sales, so be honest and treat your listing and buyers like a business.

•Consider fees and payment options. EBay charges a listing fee, listing upgrade fee, a commission fee and a final value fee. Though small, they can add up. For example, a shirt listed in an eBay auction for $12, with pictures and bold font, will cost you $5 in fees. Though the site is not affiliated with eBay, you can calculate your fees at PayPal and other payment options allow sellers and buyers to trade products for cash without revealing either party's financial information.

Q&A On Car Waxing

Q: My dealer said that my car’s clear coat of paint would never need waxing. The people at the car wash say that it does. Who’s right?

A: That depends upon what was actually said. If the dealer said that your car would never need waxing, they not only put you in the car -- they also put you on. However, if what they actually told you was that today's clear-coat finishes stay shinier longer, resist wear longer and don't need as much maintenance because they are more resistant to UV radiation, then they were being straight with you.

But the car wash is also contesting for the George Washington/Cherry Tree Award. They’re not out to lose a steady customer just to sell you a one-time wax job. To these people, paint is paint and armor it isn’t. Every day, they deal with cars like yours with factory paint jobs like yours, and every day, they see what can happen to even the finest factory finish through misinformation, neglect or both.

The car wash will tell you that although the new clear coats may resist heavy damage from UV rays, there is nothing in the new paint to counteract the destructive effects of bird droppings, tree sap, industrial fallout, acid rain and thick-enough-to-chew air pollution that tries to finish off your car's finish every day.

My advice is to keep the pollution pox from scarring your car with a nice, thick coat of protective wax.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

College Savings Plans

Plans for College Savings

For parents planning for their children's college education, there are several investment options to consider. One option that seems appealing is state-sponsored prepaid tuition plans available in several states. These plans allow parents to pay today's tuition rates with the assurance that the child will have the money to go to college when the time comes. They also allow participants to defer paying federal income tax on earnings until money is withdrawn for college.

These plans sound very attractive because of their guarantee as well as relative simplicity. Prepaid tuition plans differ from college savings plans that seek higher returns not tied to the increase in tuition. College savings plans do offer the potential for higher returns than the rate of tuition inflation, but there is a risk that your investment could lose value.
Prepaid tuition plans allow parents to lock in a tuition rate and begin paying the cost of college today.
If college is still a long-term consideration, parents may get a better rate of return by investing in stocks or a state-sponsored college savings plan that seeks higher returns.
Many plans do not allow for account transfers or payments to out-of-state colleges. Withdrawal of funds for anything other than tuition can result in substantial penalties.
Assets are attributed to the account owner, not the beneficiary, resulting in a lower impact on need-based financial aid.
Parents can also purchase CDs guaranteed to pay a full year's average tuition through College Savings Bank in Princeton, New Jersey.

Questions to Ask:
Is it transferable? To whom? When?
What is the enrollment period?
What costs are covered?
Can out-of-state residents participate?
What happens if you stop paying?
What happens if your child goes to private college?
What happens if your child goes to out-of-state college?
What is the tax effect?

Read the fine print on each prepaid tuition plan you evaluate. Make sure you understand all the fees and rules.
If you have more than one child, consider signing up for a plan that would let you transfer one child's unused money to a sibling.
If relatives ask for gift ideas, suggest a contribution to your child's prepaid tuition plan.
Encourage your child to contribute earnings from part-time work. He or she may take a college education more seriously after playing a role in financing it.

Retirement Relief

Sometimes good things come disguised as minor rule changes. And for retirees, that’s certainly true this year. In recent months senior citizens received two relatively small breaks designed to improve their retirement incomes—the suspension of required minimum distributions (RMDs) for IRA and 401(k) accounts for 2009, as well as a 5.8% cost of living adjustment (COLA) in Social Security payments. Nice, but no big deal, right? Actually, those changes could add up to a significant chunk of change

If you are age 70 ½ or older, you are normally required to withdraw a regular minimum amount from your tax-deferred accounts each year. (The exact amount is determined by a formula that factors in the account values and life expectancy.) Problem is, taking those RMDs now, in the midst of an epic bear market, means locking in big losses. So in December, Congress enacted a new law that suspends the RMDs for 2009. (There’s no exception for 2008 RMDs.) That change allows you to leave a sizeable amount in your IRA or 401(k) that can continue to grow as the market recovers, whenever that may be.

You might be surprised at the difference forgoing a single RMD makes to your nest egg. For example, someone age 75 with a $500,000 account would typically withdraw $21,834 in 2009. If you could afford to skip the distribution this year and let that money grow until age 90, you could end up with an extra $47,327, after adjusting for inflation and assuming a 7% annual average return. That’s nearly 10% more than your original portfolio.

Collecting Your Social Security COLA

The bout of inflation that raged in late 2007 and early 2008 (remember when we were worried about rising gas prices?) led to the 5.8% COLA for Social Security recipients this year. To put that in perspective, Social Security’s baseline assumption is for 2.8% annual increases.

For a 70-year-old retiree who is drawing maximum Social Security payments, the difference might seem small—only about $84 extra a month. Still, those three extra percentage points added to your cost of living adjustment make a big difference over time, with the biggest cumulative benefit going, of course, to younger retirees. That 70-year-old retiree will end up with an extra $35,623 between now and age 95,Someone age 80 will bank an extra $19,902.

Maybe it’s not enough to make up for your market losses, but every little bit helps.

How To Find A Body Shop

Accidents are bad enough without the added worry of making sure your car is properly repaired. You will receive lots of suggestions about which body shop to use, so make sure to ask the following questions to locate a good one:

Is the shop familiar with the make and model of your car?
How long has the shop been in business?
How do they handle disputes or complaints?
How does the shop look? Is it clean? Professional? Well-equipped?
How does the ongoing work look? How are other cars being handled?
Do they follow original manufacturer guidelines in making repairs?
Are there recognitions from business and industry groups hanging on the walls?
Are certificates of advanced courses or diplomas of competence for the employees displayed in the shop?
Are all policies, guarantees and methods of payment clearly posted?