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Posts Tagged ‘tips’

Why Many Americans Are Becoming Minimalists!

In Your Guest Writers on February 20, 2011 at 10:15 PM

(And how you can too)

By: Jennifer Brown Banks

 

 

Image Credit Somedarkson

 

 

“Sometimes less is more”.

If nothing can be said of a tough economy and uncertain times, it’s certainly causing us to reassess our lives and redefine what it is that we value. True? Prosper perspective is crucial for survival and optimal quality of life.

‘Dem days of living high on the hog, keeping up with the Joneses, and making bold risks have gone bye-bye like eight track tapes and “free love “ in the ’60s.

As a case in point, I was surfing the Net and saw where quite a few folks were constructing and living in what are called “Tiny Homes” now. These structures, that are a mere fraction of the size of your typical American Dream, are said to “house” just as much joy for those that own them. Not to mention, they cost less comparatively in many cases, and prevent the possibility of over indulgence and hoardering.

With this being said, here are some factors to consider if you’re contemplating this lifestyle choice in the future.

 

  1. Our parents survived on less, and in many cases were just as fulfilled. In former generations, many didn’t have cable TV, or Internet or fast food conveniences.
  2. Minimalism typically means less debt.
  3. Less debt leads to less stress. Less stress can lead to longer longevity and better health.
  4. Having an attitude of materialism and defining ourselves through our possessions is unhealthy and unrealistic. As we have seen through world events, our status can change with one act of God or misfortune.
  5. Stream-lined living and proper focus can cause us to spend more time with family and friends,  develop and sustain important bonds and relationships, and cultivate cherished memories.

 

A wise person once said, “You don’t have to have everything, to have everything you need.” Food for thought.

Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, Columnist, and Pro Blogger.  You can find her work at  Pen and Prosper, Coffeehouse for Writer’s and Technorati.com


4 Types of Insurance Everyone Should Have

In Your Guest Writers on January 15, 2011 at 1:36 AM

 

Image Credit Michal Zacharzewski

 

 

No matter how much or how little you make in a year, insurance is one financial topic that cannot be ignored. Insurance protects you, your family, your earnings, and your possessions. Without it, you leave everything to chance. On the other hand, you don’t want to spend too much on insurance or purchase insurance that you don’t need. If money is tight, you are better off focusing on the four types of insurance that you can’t afford to go without.

Auto Insurance

Despite the fact that some form of auto insurance is required by law in every state, more than 16 percent of the nation’s drivers are uninsured. For this reason alone, you should make sure you are protected when you hit the road. At minimum, you should have enough auto insurance to meet state minimum requirements. Collision and comprehensive coverage makes sense if you have a nice vehicle or a lien holder on your title. Your policy should also include some form of liability coverage, which pays for other people’s expenses when you are at fault in an accident.

Home or Renter’s Insurance

Although neither home nor renter’s insurance are required by law, both types of insurance are smart to have. If you own your own home, you should have enough insurance to cover 100 percent of your home’s replacement costs. You should also have some level of liability coverage in case someone is injured on your property–in addition to coverage for your personal possessions. If you rent your home, you will definitely want to have a replacement cost policy for your possessions as well as liability coverage. Your landlord’s insurance will not pay for anything you own.

Life Insurance

Life insurance is a necessity for everyone. When you pass, your family will need money to pay for funeral and burial costs. If your family depends on your income or even a portion of your income, they may need extra cash to pay the mortgage and other everyday bills. Other financial considerations could include retirement, education, and taxes. The amount of life insurance that you need depends on your individual situation. You can get an estimate by using one of the many free life insurance calculators on the web or by speaking with a qualified insurance agent or financial advisor.

Disability Insurance

A disability will affect one in five Americans at some point in their life. Most people are disabled for at least 90 days or longer. If a disability would prevent you from supporting yourself or your family members, you should definitely have disability insurance. An individual disability policy is designed to replace a specific percentage of your income if you are unable to work and can be purchased at a relatively low cost. You may also be able to get short-term and/or long-term group disability coverage through your employer.

Guest post from Bailey Harris, who writes about Car Insurance Quotes for www.carinsurancequotes.net.

Got Goals? How To Walk The Talk In 2011!

In Uncategorized, Your Guest Writers on January 7, 2011 at 12:08 PM

Image Credit Nikola Hartmann

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times: “I hate my job, but I’m stuck.” Welcome to the club. Truth is there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of worker bees humming the same tune. In fact, it seems that job dissatisfaction has become the norm. And, well, frankly it’s so ’90s!

Part of the problem is that too many folks are functioning on auto pilot and fail to devise a game plan to get out of their 9 to 5 hell. Perhaps it’s even you. If so, take heed.

You need to get some goal planning going. 

Goals serve like a road map to navigate your path on the road to success.  How can you go the distance if you don’t even know your direction?

With this in mind, here’s how to walk the talk.

  1. Bust a move! Stop dreaming and start doing. Identify the obstacles to career success. Do you need to go back to college? Become more computer literate? Blackmail your boss? Decide and then deliver.
  2. Establish a deadline. To quote a popular expression, “a goal without a deadline is just a dream.” For example, where would you like to see yourself next summer, (besides the beach)?
  3. Write your goals down. Studies show that individuals that commit their goals to paper are much more likely to see them manifest.
  4. Share your goals with a friend, family member, or coach. Ask them to keep you accountable.

And remember my sage words of advice, “He who creates goals creates gold!”

Follow these four tips in 2011 and “resolve” to have the career you’ve always wanted and deserve!  Live well with less stress.

Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, Columnist, and Pro Blogger.  You can find her work at  Pen and Prosper, Coffeehouse for Writer’s and Technorati.com

Photo:  Please feel free to use the image on your blog or in any commercial use.  The download is available for free here, at stock.xchange . 

10 WAYS TO COMBAT HOLIDAY DEPRESSION

In Your Guest Writers on December 26, 2010 at 10:47 AM

By: Jennifer Brown Banks

 

Image Credit Martine Lemmens

 

Tis the season to be jolly!

Still, for many Americans, the holiday season represents a time of sadness, angst, isolation, painful memories and depression.  This holds true particularly for singles who may not have a “special someone” to share this special time of the year with.

Perhaps you’re one of them. If so, don’t despair.

You’re not alone. The key to creating more pleasurable experiences or at least to navigating the holidays with your sanity intact is keeping the proper perspective.

To this end, consider the following tips as my holiday gift to you.:-)

1.  Recognize that happiness is a choice. It’s not always the stuff that goes on around us that determines our quality of life; rather it is how we internalize these things. Sure things could probably be better. We’re in a tough economy, the cost of living is higher, unemployment is rampant, and in many geographic areas the weather is really severe. But things could be worse.

You’re alive, you’re living in a free country, (with a Black president), and you enjoy many constitutional privileges that others are not afforded in other areas around the globe. “Don’t worry, be happy!”

2.  Have realistic expectations of yourself and others. Much of the stress associated with this time of the year comes from our “lofty” expectations. We watch the commercials and holiday movies with perfect families, perfect lives, and materialistic trappings, and we measure them against our own. Don’t!

More than likely the reality is Aunt Bertha will drink too much, Uncle George will still be holding a grudge from last year, there will be off colored jokes, disappointments over gift exchanges, and a “partridge in a pair tree!” Embrace it.

3.  Remember the gift of laughter. It’s true that it’s the best medicine. Lighten up and things will typically look up!

4.  Keep in mind the reason for the season. Due to over commercialization, the meaning of the season gets lost. Xmas is supposed to be in celebration of Christ’s birth. Honor it in thanksgiving and joy.

5.  Volunteer. Many times reaching out to others makes us feel connected and gives us a sense of purpose. Serve food at a soup kitchen, read to kids in the hospital, or perhaps make arts and crafts at a senior citizens’ home. Get over yourself and get involved!

6.  Surround yourself with positive people. I don’t know about you, but sometimes even family members can be a real “buzz kill” depending upon their personality, perspectives on life, and lack of “socialization savvy.”

Some can even be chronic complainers that really know how to “push our buttons.” Count to ten, and then count your blessings. In the words of Joel Osteen “you could be them!”

7.  If you’re without a mate, consider giving a holiday singles’ mingle for a group of your friends. Serve eggnog, play games, dance, exchange gifts. The possibilities are endless!

8.  Keep things is moderation. Don’t over do it—whether it’s food, shopping, drinks, or dialogue. Know when to say when!

9.  Dress yourself up! There’s great validity to the expression, “when you look good you feel good.” Adorn yourself with festive colors that accentuate your best features. You deserve it!

10.  Tune in to some beautiful music. Did you know that music has been reported to have therapeutic properties? It’s true. I personally recommend anything by Kenny G, Norah Jones, Michael Buble, the Whispers, or even some classical sounds. I’m willing to bet it’ll clear your head and lift your spirits. Go ahead, try it!

And last but not least, remember even during dismal times that “this too shall pass.”

It’s sure to put you on the path to positivity and put you in the right frame of mind . 🙂

Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, Columnist, and Pro Blogger.  You can find her work at  Pen and Prosper, Coffeehouse for Writer’s and Technorati.com

Five Scams That Steal Your Holiday Cash

In Our Guest Appearances on December 17, 2010 at 12:00 PM

 

Image Credit Georgie C.

 

 

It’s that time of year again when cyber criminals are hard at work trying to separate you from your holiday joy.  They’re busy tricking victims into contributing to made-up charities, investing in Ponzi schemes and bidding on phony auctions.  All in an attempt to take advantage of your generosity and to steal your cash.

Check out the rest of our post at here, at Inexpensively.com

Make Open Enrollment Work For You

In Our Guest Appearances, Your Health, Your World on November 28, 2010 at 1:41 PM

 

Image Credit Kurhan

 

 

Are you happy with your health insurance plan?  Or, are premium amounts, deductibles and copays draining your bank account? Are you paying for services you don’t need or want, like smoking cessation classes or a life coach?  And do you really know the differences between  PPOs, HMOs and POS plans?

This is the time of year when many folks are selecting  new insurance plans and reevaluating existing ones. Recent changes to health care laws make it important that you understand new policies and existing ones.

Read my full article here at Inexpensively.com.

 

Cell Phone Insurance: Hero or Villian?

In budget, Our Guest Appearances, Your World on October 28, 2010 at 2:19 PM

 

Image Credit Richard Lai

 

 

Picture this…

You just purchased the latest android powered 4G cell phone and you’re thinking, “Life is good!” Just as your sale rep finishes activating your phone she mentions that smart shoppers protect their investments by adding insurance to their plans.  A moment of indecision sweeps over you. You know the replacement cost for your new toy is just over $500 bucks.

What would you do?

Read the rest of our post, and get  the inside scope (and money saving tips) about cell phone insurance at Inexpensively.com

Family Friendly Travel Destinations

In Your Guest Writers, Your World on October 6, 2010 at 9:14 PM

Image Credit Chrissi Nerantzi

 

With a bit of creativity you can likely make any travel destination into a fun and safe trip for your children. Finding a place to go on vacation that will offer benefits to kids without a lot of effort or stress for you is slightly harder.  

Your entire family should have an enjoyable vacation, no matter what age they are, so we’ve compiled a list of family friendly travel destinations. If you have any additions please feel free to let us know in the comments section.  

Jellystone Park Campgrounds  

This might seem like one for the kids but Jellystone Park Campgrounds are fun for the entire family. These parks are located all across the US in places like Cooperstown, New York and Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. There are also 5 locations in Canada if you’re in need of northern road trip. Each of the Jellystone locations include all kinds of fun activities for kids, including water slides, swimming, playgrounds, and mini golf. There are also activities for adults like fishing, dances with manned DJs, hiking, camping, games rooms, and arts & crafts. The best part if that most of these activities can be enjoyed by both adults and kids.  

Williamsburg  

Williamsburg, Virginia combines the educational fun of Colonial Williamsburg with the just-plain-fun of the nearby Busch Gardens theme park. In the summer there is also the massive Water Country USA water park if you’re in need of a cool down.  

American history comes to life in Colonial Williamsburg. Volunteers and actors portray people from over 200 years ago; bringing to life pre-American Revolution life in the United States. There are other nearby historical areas that can be visited such as Yorktown – all within a short drive of Williamsburg.  

Mardi Gras in New Orleans  

This is one that you might think would only be for the adults (or maybe even just for college students). Mardi Gras may be infamous for its party culture but it’s actually quite family friendly if you get past those initial thoughts about the festival.  

Most of the hard partying during Mardi Gras takes place on Burbon Street, which means most of the rest of the festivities are focused on families. The festival is an amazing spectacle with it’s parade, music, and culture. It’s important to educate your children on how to travel safely before and even during your trip. This is important whether you’re visiting Mardi Gras, Disneyland, or even the in-law’s house one state over.  

San Diego 

This Californian city has everything you’re looking for – whether you’re a kid or an adult. Children can enjoy building sandcastles on the beach while their parents relax. 

The San Diego Zoo is one of the largest and most progressive zoos in the world and a must-visit if you’re visiting the city. The zoo, which is owned by the City of San Diego, has an impressive 4,000+ animals of more than 800 species including many endangered species. It is also one of the only zoos in the world to house a giant panda. 

Another great spot for kids in San Diego is Legoland. I’m sure a few parents have grown up enjoying Lego too! 

This was post was contributed by Ryan Embly from the rental car comparison website CRX. If you’re seeking car rentals in New York or any other city in the US visit their website today.

The Benefits of Cooking Groups

In Your Food, Your Guest Writers on October 4, 2010 at 8:21 AM

Image Credit Michaela Kobyakov

 

There’s almost nothing bad that one can really say about cooking groups. Defined for the sake of this article as groups in which likeminded people gather in a single place, cook large quantities of food, and reconvene to do the same thing weekly or monthly, a cooking group provides a number of opportunities: it gives one a chance to meet new people, discover foods and ingredients that one otherwise might not have come across, and come away with leftovers for less than it would cost to eat out or cook for one.  

Cooking clubs may specify a type of food or impose a dietary restriction to attract a specific crowd; for example, a number of cooking clubs exist to produce vegan or vegetarian meals. In doing so, they help people meet others in their community who may have similar social or political interests and bring together a group that may, depending on the surrounding area, be otherwise unserved by the restaurants around them. Others may focus on a style, or each week suggest a guideline to produce variety; one, for example, may emphasize Italian cooking one week, then produce Korean or Indian food the next. In doing so, attendants are forced both to expand their repertoire and get to learn new things to make when cooking outside of the cooking club. 

Some members may have connections of some kind, which can then translate into better deals and better meals for everyone. If a club has an attendant who, for example, butchers meat, that person may be able to provide cuts at a discount as well as in bulk, then share their expertise when that meat is prepared, served, and enjoyed. If a particularly experienced baker participates in one, they can show off the ways in which they prepare certain goods in order to teach other aspiring bakers. Amateur (or professional) beer brewers, winemakers, and distillers can supply their wares as well, adding another element to a cooking club. 

Cooking clubs often also cook enough to leave everyone with leftovers. This is an obvious convenience, as one’s labors are rewarded not just once, but several times throughout the week. Better yet, some produce difficult to make condiments, sauces, reductions, and garnishes, many of which either require costly ingredients or are, for various reasons, prohibitive to make at home in small quantities. By making them for a cooking club, you can get the experience without having a mountain of something that can only last a few days, ensuring that all of it will be used before it turns, expires, or otherwise becomes inedible. 

Organizing and finding a cooking club can be easy. Groups often promote them on social networking sites, friends (and friends of friends) likely know someone involved with one, and co-ops, local grocery stores, and area coffee shops may all help locate cooking clubs. If there are none, start one: by merely talking to your friends, gauging interest, finding a big enough kitchen, and hitting up farmers’ markets and bulk foods aisles, you’ll be well on your way. 

Andrew Hall is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on online schools for Guide to Online Schools.

The Science of Savvy Shopping!

In budget, Your Fashion, Your Guest Writers, Your Home on October 1, 2010 at 7:37 AM

(5 tips to a better quality of life)

By: Jennifer Brown Banks

In today’s tough times, there’s a special joy when we get a good deal for our hard earned buck. True? 

It almost feels as if we’ve cashed in at the lottery.

And with the housing crisis, double digit unemployment, and soaring consumer prices, we all need to save where we can.

But what few “divas” recognize is that being an “educated consumer” goes far beyond knowing the best stores to buy treasured items, or the debt cutting value of coupons. It’s much more.

This epiphany came to me recently when a friend of mine, while visiting my home, complimented my setting, (and the stuff I had acquired) while comparing it to hers.  Ironically, she makes more money than I do, and has similar circumstances.

For me my place is embraced as a “blessing”, while she views hers as a burdenShe often complains that her home is a money pit that she constantly puts cash into, but can’t get any real joy out of.

Because of this experience, I felt compelled to share my shopping secrets to enhance not just your ”surroundings”, but also your quality of life.

Here are a few cardinal rules.

  1. Know that it’s not “where” you shop, but “how” you shop that matters. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof. I’ve watched shows like Oprah and the Antique Road Show, (and no doubt you have too), where folks have scored items at garage sales, thrift stores, and specialty shops, for a couple of bucks, that were later appraised for thousands of dollars. Hello! Learn to spot quality.
  2. Recognize that there’s no value or validation in trying to keep up with the Joneses. One of the reasons that my friend “Wanda” is busted and disgusted, is that she’s constantly trying to establish her worth by buying what she feels will qualify her as being one of the “in”crowd. Big mistake. Instead, do you! As a point of reference, I don’t have cable. Never have. Though I enjoy T.V., so far it hasn’t impressed me enough to shell out extra money monthly for the idea of a few extra channels, (no matter how many million folks have it). Stop “perpetrating.”
  3. Consider that too much “impulse shopping” can lead to too little peace and buyer’s remorse. Evaluate. After you’ve taken a trip to your local mall and made purchases, how do you feel? Will your credit card payments last much longer than the life-cycle of the item (s) you’ve bought? Are you sacrificing paying an important bill to catch a deal? Your answers will determine your course of action.
  4. Keep in mind that your purchases should do more than just add to your “inventory”, they should add to your quality of life. For example, I love to buy house plants, beautiful baskets, books, fragrant candles, and unusual frames, because not only do they add to my décor, but they are reflective of my values and personal hobbies. Surround your surroundings with things that make you smile, that call to   mind special times, and are aesthetically pleasing. Make your place your personal sanctuary. 
  5. Accept that inner emptiness and low-self esteem can NOT be made better by “things.” It’s sad to say, but it’s true. Some folks shop to fill an emptiness. Whether it’s a bad marriage, a dysfunctional childhood, or feelings of inadequacy. Once they come down from their “shopper’s high” they’re in more debt and have even less that they feel good about. Don’t let this be you. There’s great truth to the adage, “Money can’t buy happiness.”

 With an uncertain economy, you can be certain that shopping habits from days of old can be detrimental to your finances and your family’s well being.  There’s no reason you can’t still be cute; just be smart as well!

And keep in mind that ain’t nothing cute about being “busted” and disgusted. 🙂

 

Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, columnist, professional blogger and managing editor at Coffeehouse for Writers.