Starting a Restaurant on a Server’s Salary

Even though it is one of the toughest professions to exceed in, it is still one of the most rewarding. As long as you know where to begin and know things to avoid (like having champagne taste on a beer budget) then opening your restaurant could be as easy as opening a can of soup (okay, maybe not that easy).

Location, location, location

Obviously you want to have your new restaurant in a prime spot, maybe on a busy street in a popular city or town. The problem with this is that the more “idea” the location is, the more likely the higher the rent. I’m not saying you need to start a business in the middle of nowhere to save a few pennies, but just be smart. For example, pick a location that was previously a restaurant. This way, a lot of the things you need – stove, dishwasher, bar – is already in place. This will save a ton of money on having to put these items in. Also, maybe look for a neighborhood that is up and coming, this way your rent will stay cheap while the area grows in value.

Spend smart

Once you have to start stocking your restaurant with all things needed, you will be overstimulated by how many options are out there. The best way to make sure you have everything you need – from menus to paper towel rolls – is to find a trusted partner. Restaurant Discount Warehouse is one of these vendors who can stay with you through the lifecycle of your restaurant. You will save money on things like menu covers, so you can spend more on upgrading your bar or oven.

As long as you remain smart about the decisions you make regarding opening your restaurant, you can be a successful entrepreneur. You just have to take the first step!

How to Avoid Payday Loans This Holiday Season

The stresses of affording gifts and other holiday items typically begins at the beginning of October. The kids start talking about what they want before Halloween and all parents see are dollar signs adding up in front of them. Those that are under-employed or minimally employed do have options to make extra cash for the holidays without having to take out one of those quick loans or other similar options.

Participate in Holiday Craft Shows

Learning a craft or taking items that you already know how to make for participating in craft shows is a great way to earn extra holiday cash. Many craft shows do allow food items to be sold as well. This is the best time to sell packaged family recipes. Make sure to follow the guidelines set forth by the directors.

Offer Winterization Services

Helping the elderly and those with busy schedules or disabilities prepare their homes for winter is a great money maker too. Many are not able to climb ladders or use their hands to make tight seals around windows and doors. This is a valuable service that does not require any particular licensing to be in place.

Types of services to offer for winterization:

  • Installing weather stripping around doors
  • Using heat shrinking plastic on the windows
  • Check vent airflow
  • Look for leaky faucets
  • Bringing plants indoors
  • Preparing the ground for winter

These services can be billed hourly or on a fixed rate agreement.

Open a Holiday Item eBay Store

There is still plenty of time before the 2015 holiday season. It is a great time to open an eBay store with specialty holiday décor and hot gift items. The money comes quick when you are competitive and there are several companies that you can sign up with for free that offer warehouse direct shipping so that all you have to do is place the items for sale on eBay. You don’t have to go to the post office; you just sit back and watch your items sell. Choose the items wisely.

Making money for the holidays is possible when you explore your capabilities. In many parts of the United States it snows far before Christmas. Take advantage of this and offer snow plowing or shoveling services for extra cash. If you have a large pickup truck, you can offer pulling services for those that slide off the road. Use these options rather than taking payday loans and get ahead instead of playing catch up this holiday season.

Tech For Teachers: The Number One Skill Needed – File Organization

It does not matter if you use or prefer a Mac, a PC or any other operating system. You must be able to quickly locate the material that you have saved on your computer.  I have been both a teacher and spent half a lifetime in the technology field.  In fact, for some time I was a network administrator and technician for a large school district, taking care of the tech for teachers.  I understand how most of them work.  One of their worst habits, we used to our advantage. It was their horrible file organization.

We had several thousand PC computers sitting on teacher’s desks, with a staff of less than 10 to maintain them all.  We found that with only a handful of exceptions, every file important to individual teachers was dumped all willy-nilly into that black hole of a folder called “My Documents.”  We played a bit of a trick on them to protect them.  Each teacher of course had a network/computer login.  We used that to change the physical location of their personal “My Documents” folder.  It really wasn’t on their hard drive at all. It was in a secure building across town!  (We didn’t even tell them.) We would often get a panicked call about a crashed computer and arrive to see a teacher literally in tears, thinking they had lost everything they had saved for years, including precious photos, student papers, grades, and essential paperwork.  I would sit a new computer on their desk, plug it in, turn it on and say, “Now log in.” then “Now look in your “My Documents folder. You did not lose a single file.”  The range of looks of utter shock, disbelief, relief and even confusion were amusing.  “How did you do that?” they would always ask, as if I performed a magic trick, which was usually followed by profuse thanks and even hugs and kisses.  Those teachers were lucky, because of their particular environment.  But it perfectly illustrates a lack of skill number 1, file organization.

Think of your computer’s hard drive being like an old fashion file cabinet, with drawers, those dividers, cardboard hanging folders, sometimes with other folders inside of them, and pieces of paper (files) within the folders.  That analogy is EXACTLY how a computer is organized and how your data should be treated.  If you had a real file cabinet, the drawers, dividers and folders would have different titles, depending upon what type of business you did or your work style.  Imagine a business, such as a doctor’s office, with everything paper, from patient records to billing. Someone says, “File this please.” They open a door to a large room and throw the paper in the air and it lands in a big pile.  That is what one does by putting everything in that one “My Documents” folder, all out in the open.

It is ok to put things there, but if you do, make that the outer container, like the file cabinet itself.  How you divide the rest up, and organize it is completely up to you. (To make a new folder in Windows, just right click and click “new”, then choose “folder” and give it a name.)  You could have folders based on dates, folders for lectures or teaching materials, students’ work, personal folders, you name it!  Try to come up with a system that is standardized to you, which you use on all your computers in your life. Be sure to make your backup hard drives or flash/thumb drives use the same system. The prices of external hard drives are quite good at Office Depot.  Have a system of how you name files and life will become even easier.  For example, if someone asked to see a paper, that a student named Jimmy Smith wrote 10 years ago, about frogs. You could find it in 5 seconds or less.  When you can do something like that, you have mastered tech skill #1.

3 Things that Are More Fun if You Do Them at Home

Are you bored? Do you feel like going out to a pub, to see a movie, or just drive around for hours without a specific purpose? Well, these are all great – but if you are a frugal individual like yours truly, you might want to keep the expense of these to a minimum. And the minimum in this case is zero – if you find the right activities to do. The list below has some of the activities I love to do at home – as I find them much more fun than the ones that need me to leave home. With friends, of course.

1. Instead of going to the movies…

Seeing the movie you have been looking forward to is great – but comes at a price. Drive to the theater, buy a ticket, buy some overpriced snacks – and be annoyed all the time because of the one idiot that didn’t turn his phone off and has a noisy bag in his hand. Has it happened to you? ‘Cause it has sure happened to me – several times.

… host a themed movie night with friends!

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Inviting your friends over for a movie night – especially if you have a big screen TV – can be just as much fun. Of course, most of them will have seen at least some of the movies you plan to show them, but even seeing an old movie is a lot of fun with friends. Prepare the popcorn, chill the drinks, and go for it – you won’t regret it.

2. Instead of visiting Vegas…

Driving to Vegas? Well, that would be an adventure – or would it? Hours of driving, all that fuel money wasted, arriving tired to an overpriced – or overbooked – hotel, crowded casinos and pubs, should I go on? It might be my personal misfortune that my last visit to the Sin City looked exactly like this.

… play your favorite casino games online.

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But why should I drive for hours and stress out because of all the things that go wrong when I can have the best experience without leaving home? I can load up the Red Flush online casino, browse to my favorite game and play it from the comfort of my own home – on the couch, on my phone. I don’t even have to put on pants for it. For me playing casino games online is just as satisfactory as being there in person. Besides, I can always take a walk to the fridge if I need a fresh drink or a snack. The Red Flush has all the games I can think of right at my fingertips. Its specials give me all the play time I need, and its friendly customer service is there for me whenever I have a question… Instead of going out to a restaurant…

… make reservations days ahead, fight for a parking spot, have a clumsy waiter and not be satisfied with your meal… I think this has happened to all of you at least once…

… why not host a dinner party?

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If you love to cook – and have a bit of a chef in you – you can treat your friends and family with a delicious and special meal without the need for an occasion. Sit around the table, have a nice chat and a nice meal, and save yourself the fuss of eating out.

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Top 10 Habits that can increase your fuel economy

Okay, we’ve talked about these gasoline/fuel economy habits many times before, but with the cost of gas still over $3.50 a gallon at many pumps around the country, we figured it was time to write about them again. Enjoy.

First, you should definitely drive slower. The simple fact is that as your speed increases, the “drag” on your car or truck increases as well. For example, if you drive 62 miles an hour rather than 75, you can actually reduce the amount of fuel that your car uses by nearly 15% just because of reduced friction.

When it comes to speeding up and slowing down, neither is good to do in excess. Basically what you need to do is anticipate traffic, traffic lights and stop signs in order to accelerate and brake moderately. This can increase your fuel economy by nearly 20%. This in turn helps you to increase the amount of money in your checking account.

Keeping your tires properly inflated is one of the easiest things you can do to save money at the gas pumps. Simply check the level recommended by either your vehicle manufacturer (in the instruction manual) or the company that manufactured the tires that you purchased to replace the original, factory tires. This can help increase your fuel economy from 1% to 3%.

While the jury is still out on whether or not using the AC increases or decreases fuel economy, it’s definitely well known that having your windows open at highway speeds increases drag and decreases your fuel economy upwards of 10%.

If you can avoid long idling times, especially over one minute, you will definitely save money as idling the car for longer than 60 seconds uses more fuel than stopping and then restarting it.

One of the best things you can do to increase your fuel economy is simply to have your car or truck serviced regularly. Things like dirty air filters, low fluid levels and spark plugs that aren’t functioning correctly will get replaced if you maintain your car correctly.

Another great way to save gasoline is to use cruise control.  If you can maintain a constant speed over a long distance, your car or truck will definitely use less gas.

Keeping the amount of junk in your car to the minimum is also a great way to save on fuel. The heavier your car is the more gas it will use,  so make sure to take out anything you might have put in there over the winter to give you better traction and just don’t drive around with a lot of stuff in your car.

Finally, the very biggest and best way to save money is simply to purchase a car or truck that is fuel efficient.

OK, now you’re all set again.  Don’t make us repeat ourselves for a while if you please, and happy motoring.

The Diverse Market of Alternative Fuel Vehicles

A new infographic from British motor retail dealership Motorparks analyses the diverse market that exists with alternative fuel vehicles.

The visual charts the recent successes of both electric- and hydrogen-powered vehicles, which have seen their popularity peak over the past few years and shows that petrol and diesel are no longer the only options people have when purchasing their next car.

As well as looking at the recent history of electric and hydrogen vehicles, the visual also points out that both of these concepts can trace their origins back to the early years of the 19th century.

For more details, view the entire infographic below:

The future of Alternative fuels - v2 (3)

Why You Should Open an Offshore Savings Account

Offshore banking has long been an ominous and mysterious thing, often thought of as bank accounts for the super rich or secret spies. In reality, offshore banking is utilized by everyday folks like you and I. A very simple definition of offshore banking is simple, it literally means to hold a bank account outside of your home country. If you live in the US then it means you have an account in a country outside of the US. Most countries that offer offshore banking tend to have favorable tax laws that make them low cost operations and thus favorable for banks to operate. Favorable tax laws are sort of a two-fold benefit. The first benefit is that offshore savings accounts tend to enjoy higher interest earning rates because of the lower operating costs. Second, the favorable tax laws usually mean these countries are tax havens for outside investors. They can safely store their money in a favorable tax environment and often times pay less in taxes than they would in their home country.

Being a favorable tax haven is nice, but it is certainly not the only benefit of offshore banking. Consider that you can hold your savings in other types of currency. Holding all of your money in your own domestic currency leaves you open to a lot of risk. We diversify our investment portfolios and other asset holdings, why wouldn’t we want to have a proper mix of currencies as well? Over the past few years we have seen currencies like the US dollar strengthen significantly and other currencies like the Euro and Pound have a reverse in fortunes. Just a few years ago the opposite was the case. This easily illustrates why you need to have an even basket of currencies.

Another benefit of offshore banking is that it is easier to invest in local stocks and real estate when you have a financial presence in that country already. Due to a mixture of laws and regulations, most local governments are more lenient on people that have accounts in the country they are trying to invest within. In the US, if you want to purchase real estate and try to use money from another country as a down payment you can often be rejected or pay additional fees. However, the regulations and restrictions are far fewer if you hold savings in the US already.

As you can see there are many benefits to be had with offshore bank accounts!

Top 5 Tips for Buying the Right Boat for summer

Summer is fast approaching and with it the urge to get out on the water, whether that water happens to be a lake, river or the ocean, and take advantage of all that mother nature has to offer.

The best way to do that is with a boat, if your budget can afford it, and today’s blog will help you to do just that and purchase a boat that fits your budget. Enjoy.

1) Your very first task should be to visit a large boat show. Boat shows are truly the best place to see a large number of different types and styles of boats, as well as different sizes, so that you can see all of the different prices, options and so forth. Having all of this information will allow you to make a much better decision on which boat/engine combination to purchase. A boat show is also an excellent place to meet lots of boating experts who can guide you in your decision.

2) Take your time. A boat is a large and expensive purchase and something you will likely have for many years. If you take care of it well, you may also be able to pass it onto your children. Point being, take your time making a decision on what type of boat to purchase so that you’re satisfied with that decision for the next few years (at least).

3) If you’re new to boating, definitely look into taking a boating safety course. The simple fact is this; while it might steer like a car, a boat handles much differently than an automobile and, if you don’t know how to handle it correctly, you could easily cause an accident or worse.

4) Keep in mind that their are a lot of additional costs when it comes to owning a boat. If you don’t have somewhere to keep it, you will need to either rent a space in a storage lot or a “slip” at a marina, both of which are relatively expensive monthly costs. Also, if you purchase gasoline from a marina, you can expect the price to be at least 30% higher than at your local gas station. Boating accessories like water skis, fishing rods, life jackets and so forth also will add to the cost, sometimes significantly.

5) If possible, take a test drive. Referring back to #2, a boat is something you will hold onto for many years. That’s why, whenever possible, you should definitely take it out for a test drive to make sure that you like the way it handles before you make your purchase decision.

And there you have them, 5 excellent tips that should help you to make the right decision when on a new boat. We wish you happy and safe boating!

2015 Will be a Great Year for Road Trips!

Consider this; during the Memorial Day weekend of 2014, gas prices were an average of $3.58 a gallon across the United States. This year? $2.35 a gallon!

According to cheapest gas station finding app GasBuddy.com, gas prices will even be lower then they previously forecasted for this summer. Their senior petroleum analyst, Patrick DeHaan, says that “Both numbers would represent the lowest summer prices in a decade”, referring to the estimated $2.45 a a gallon predicted by the Energy Information Administration and the $2.40 that GasBuddy predicted.

All around the United States drivers have been saving money over the last few months thanks to seriously lower gas prices. In fact, in a recent survey, nearly 20% of drivers reported that they were saving between $20 and $30 every time they filled their gas tanks, which can add up quite quickly.

Mr. DeHaan says that “The summer of 2015 will see the national average come in at a seasonal level we haven’t approached since 2005”,

The only bad news is that, as far as gasoline savings are concerned, the only place that most consumers will be able to reap the benefits is when they fill up their automobiles at the local gas station. As far as airline prices there won’t be much of the break because most airlines buy their fuel ahead of time.

That being said, the good feelings that most consumers have about these extra low prices that we’re seeing at the pumps of these days won’t soon fade as they are expected to stay below $2.40 through the end of Labor Day.

So, if you’re planning a trip this summer and it’s within driving distance, it’s going to be one of the cheapest summers in a decade to get there! Go ahead, pack up the family and hit the road!

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