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Don't Get Ripped Off by In-Flight Food Prices

September 18, 2012 3:36 am

Low-cost airlines appear to be anything but budget when it comes to the on-board price of food and drink, with popular items such as Pringles costing 495 percent more than supermarket prices, according to new research from TravelSupermarket.

In fact, after comparing both supermarket and on-board snack prices, there is an average mark-up of 347 percent on food and drink in the air. This included popular items such as sweets, chocolate, baked goods, chips, soft drinks and alcohol.

With people already under pressure to remember all the important things before jetting off, such as tickets, boarding cards and passports, many can be tempted to loosen their purse strings and splurge on food and drink up in the air. However, this could be a pricey move, as travelers can pay anything up 1,471 percent more for a 500ml bottle of still water or 495 percent more for a tin of Pringles.

Here are a few top tips for saving money on airline food:

• It is always worth checking what your airline includes in your flight. Some airlines such as British Airways include free drinks and a small snack on short haul flights. On long haul flights, many airlines do include complimentary food, even if you still have to pay for some drinks. So before buying unnecessary food and drink at the airport, check to see what is included.

• Take your own food with you from home and save a fortune spending $50-75 plus for a family of four for sandwiches, drinks and a chocolate bar. You could even provide your own/buy at the airport for significantly less than buying up in the air.

• Remember you cannot take liquids over 100ml through security, so do not pack drinks from home or liquid foods such as yogurt.

• Take your own fruit with you - it's cheap and healthy and you will not find fresh fruit salad or vegetarian options on board.

• If you choose to have a meal on the plane, then save money by pre-ordering to ensure you actually get the meal you want.

• Look out for meal deals on board to save money.

• If you are going to eat/drink on the plane, but don't want to take food from home with you, then buy at the airport once you have cleared security, as it is cheaper than buying on the plane.

• Remember, passengers cannot buy alcohol in the airport for consumption on board an aircraft. You may only drink alcohol supplied (free or at a charge) by the cabin crew.

• Finally, you could always be sneaky and take your own cup and tea bags/coffee with you and ask for hot water, although there is no guarantee the airline staff will serve you.

Source: TravelSupermarket.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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2012 Holiday Hot Toys List

September 18, 2012 3:36 am

September is the month when savvy moms and dads start scouring stores and searching the internet for toys to present to their little ones on Christmas morning. Lucky for them, this year's holiday shopping just got easier. To help ensure that the toys that parents will be snatching off the shelves this season match the letters kids everywhere are scribbling to Santa, here is one of the season's first guides to all the hot toys for Christmas 2012, courtesy of the Best Toys Guide:

30 Hot Toys for Christmas 2012 are:

Barbie Photo Fashion Doll from Mattel®
Bobble Bots from Innovation First®
BuckleyBoo from BuckleyBoo®
Crayola Digital Light Designer from Crayola®
Furby from Hasbro®
HEXBUG Warriors from Innovation First®
Imaginext Eagle Talon Castle from Mattel®
LeapFrog LeapPad 2 from LeapFrog®
LEGO Lord of the Rings from LEGO®
littleBits from littleBits Electronics®
Master Moves Mickey from Mattel®
MEGA Bloks World of Warcraft from MEGA Bloks®
Melissa & Doug Suspend from Melissa & Doug®
Nanoblocks from Ohio Art®
NERF Elite Hail-Fire from Hasbro®
Nintendo Wii U from Nintendo®
Playmobil E-Rangers Headquarters from Playmobil®
Razor FlashRider 360 from Razor®
Skylander's Giants from Activision®
Tegu Mobility from TEGU®
ThinkFun Roll & Play from ThinkFun®
ThinkFun Stenzzles from ThinkFun®
Tonka Tumblin' Chuck from Hasbro®
Twister Dance from Hasbro®
UglyBuddies from Uglydoll®
Vapor Delta 500 from Razor®
Vtech Cogsley from Vtech®
Vtech Switch & Go Dinos from Vtech®
WowWee Flip Force from WowWee®
Zing Z-X Crossbow from Zing Toys®

Source: Best Toys Guide

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Haunt the Halls with Halloween Party Ideas

September 18, 2012 3:36 am

Halloween is rapidly approaching, but fear not, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Halloween with all the chills and thrills. September is the perfect time to transform any home into a haunted house and plan a frightfully fun Halloween party. To gear up for the second largest retail holiday (according to the National Retail Federation), families can begin decorating their home with fall flair and spooky scenery. Prepping for the spookiest month of the year doesn't have to be a terrifying task with these easy Halloween party ideas.

• The Grave Outdoors: Give trick-or-treaters and party guests a gothic greeting with a scary landscape. Line the yard with tombstones, Halloween mini-fences and signs to create a wicked woodland. Place zombie arms and skeleton parts next to tombstones so they emerge from the grave, and scatter dead flowers across the lawn to enhance the cemetery-like setting. For a final touch, use a fog machine to fill the entryway with a frightful haze.

• Sophisticated Spooky: The coffee table, mantle and sofa are all essential set pieces on the Halloween stage. Play up the trend of chic simplicity by adding a few understated touches that reflect a sophisticated style. Remove everyday centerpieces, picture frames and vases, and replace them with trendy but terrifying decor, like eye-catching ravens and petrifying paper fans and lanterns. Instantly antiquate the scene by covering all surfaces with webbing, gauze and moss. Weave spiders and other creepy crawlers into the webbing for a full infestation. Exchanging family pictures with black and white photos from past centuries creates a spirited scene.

• Terrifying Tabletops: Draw attention to the dining area with creative centerpieces of weathered tombstones, skull groupings and other creepy crawlers. To achieve a more upscale look, place them in clear glass cake platters and jars. Create eerie unexpected placeholders by putting name cards inside of vampire fangs, atop a small coffin or wrapped around a mini skeleton. Dress up the table by draping webbing off the sides and along candelabras and gauntlets.

• The Monster Mash: Monsters have made a comeback this year in both blockbuster hits, like "Hotel Transylvania" and "Frankenweenie", and as a kids Halloween party themes. Frankenstein, Dracula, mummies and werewolves creep into Halloween party supplies like tableware, favors and sweet treats. Bright colors like lime green, purple, orange and yellow make this monster revival full of fun instead of fright.


• Eerie Edibles: Guests will go batty over a display of to-die-for desserts. Spiders, candy eyeballs and tombstones turn cupcakes into creepy confections. For a simple but sweet decorating solution, cupcake costumes instantly transform ready-made cupcakes into classic Halloween characters. These ghoulish gourmet cupcakes mimic the monsters of movies like "Monsters and Aliens" and "Monsters Inc.", with no decorating skills required. Place witch fingers combing through candy to create a cheerfully chilling bowl of toil and trouble.

• Pick Your Poison: Eat, drink and be scary with a shocktails bar of screamingly scrumptious thirst-chasers. For positively Pinterest-worthy cocktails, garnish drinks with olives and lychee nuts to make eyeballs. Dress up glasses with dreadful details like dripping blood curdling red syrup around the glass rims and black licorice strips over the edges of glasses for spider legs. Disguise bottles with labels of "Witch's Potion" and "Raven's Blood Brew." Serve up a punchbowl of sinful sangria and spiked cider for any bloodsuckers at the party.

Source: Party City

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mistakes Homeowners Make When Moving and How to Avoid Them

September 17, 2012 3:34 am

Now that you’ve found your dream home, be sure the actual moving process goes just as smoothly. Here are five common mistakes movers make and a few suggestions on how to avoid blunders when moving to your new home:

Getting a quote over the phone or Internet.
A big mistake that consumers make when planning their moves is obtaining a quote over the phone or the Internet. Any quote obtained in this manner is a non-binding quote. The only way to obtain a guaranteed or binding quote is to have a visual survey of your household goods by a reputable mover. If you choose to accept a quote over the phone or Internet you are setting yourself up for a nasty scenario when the mover shows up at your new home and demands more money.

Waiting too long to line up a mover
Allowing time for a visual survey, receiving a written and binding quote, and reserving a truck for your move takes a lead time of four to six weeks. Although moves can be arranged in a shorter period of time, many consumers find that their choices are limited by availability, especially in the busy summer months. In our current real estate market, many homes are taking longer to sell, but once sold are closing very quickly. The time to obtain estimates for your move is before your home sells so that you are prepared when it does.

Misrepresenting what you are moving
It is very important to show the surveyor or estimator everything you are planning to move. If you forget to show items in a basement, garage, attic, or off-site storage unit and then add those items at time of pick-up, your estimate will no longer be binding. In the same vein, if you commit to packing your own items but don’t have time to finish, the van line will pack your items and charge you for the service. If you are uncertain of whether you will be taking something, or are not sure if you will have time to pack everything, ask the surveyor to put the items or service in the estimate. If you decide not to take something, or do not require the packing, the cost will be adjusted downward.

Paying a deposit upfront
Reputable movers do not ask for payment upfront to reserve trucks or dates. This is a classic red flag in moving. A reputable mover will expect payment upon delivery.

Finding a mover based upon price rather than reputation and service
If a mover gives you a price that is significantly lower than other movers, it is likely that you are being low-balled. If a surveyor has underestimated your weight in order to give you a lower price you may find, on moving day, that the moving truck does not have enough room for your shipment. This is called an overflow. An overflow means that your items will not all travel together, will not all arrive at the same time, and will generally cause you a big hassle. Another way to lower costs is to compromise service. Look for a competitive bid from a professional mover who is certified and reputable. Although price is an important factor, don't base your decision on price alone.

If you are planning a move in the near future, be sure to avoid these five mistakes. By planning ahead of time and being honest with the movers about your plans and expectations, you can be well on your way to a smoother move to your new home.

Source: The Move Advocate

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Credit Utilization Ratio: What Does It All Mean?

September 17, 2012 3:34 am

Some spenders may view their credit as a maximum spending limit they can achieve before being penalized or declined. But what most don’t know is that credit scores place a large emphasis on your credit utilization ratio, that is, how much of your credit is used every month. Your credit score takes a plunge whenever that number climbs high.

Credit scores do not distinguish between balances you are paying off, it only looks at the new charges you are racking up. If you want to keep your credit score high, it is of dire importance that you keep those balances low.

To calculate your utilization ratio, add up last month’s balances and divide that by the total of all your credit limits on open accounts. The two-digit number after the decimal point is your utilization rate. Do the same for each individual card as well—FICO scoring looks at how much of your total limit you’re using, along with each card individually. Utilization is a significant portion of your scoring—30 percent. It is recommended that you try to achieve the lowest score possible. Those with the highest credit scores, 760 or above, usually have a utilization of approximately 7 percent.

Know the Difference between Charge Cards and Credit Cards

The main difference between charge cards is that they require you to pay the balance in full every month. They also aren’t included in your utilization rate, according to the most recent versions of the FICO scoring system. If you have a card and are unsure if it’s a charge card or credit card, call the issuer or check your latest credit report. Notations indicating “revolving” mean it’s a credit card; notations stating “open” means it’s a charge card.

Experts say that worrying about utilization rates or credit scores is unnecessary, but it can pay off to look more closely if you are a year or less away from purchasing a home or car, have unexplained card problems such as declining credit scores, or if you have a new card and want to see its impact on your credit score.

Understanding your credit can be extremely important, especially in situations when you need to rely on a good, solid credit score. By keeping your balances low and properly managing your credit card usage, you will hopefully never be financially limited by a poor credit score.

Source: Bankrate

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Selling a Home in Today's Market

September 17, 2012 3:34 am

For homeowners contemplating selling their homes in the current market, here are several tips to help sellers maximize the final sale price, get the home sold quickly and move on to their new home. While many factors come into play with finding the right buyer at the right time, there are many things sellers can do to help put the odds in their favor.

1. Do not overprice the home. Buyers today are looking for a bargain, and the seller in the end will likely have to bring the price down to meet market demands. The longer the home sits on the market, the stronger the negotiating position buyers have.

2. Select Internet-friendly pricing. More than 80 percent of home buyers begin their real estate searches online. Most real estate sites filter the prices in $25,000 to $50,000 increments. So while a creative price of $555,777 may grab attention, buyers who set their search maximum filter at $550,000 will exclude it. Additionally, prices ending in 000 (such as $500,000) tend to sell at a larger discount than homes ending in 500 (such as $524,500).

3. List the home on a Friday. Most buyers are checking out new listings on Fridays so they can see what is new for the weekend.

4. Occupy or stage the home. Buyers appreciate a home that is well attended. A vacant home typically feels cold and empty, while one that is still occupied has a warm, cozy feel, attracting more buyers. However, keep the personalization minimal; having neutral decor and paint colors will make it easier for a buyer to visualize their own style in the home. If a seller moves to a new residence before selling the old residence, it is a good idea to have the home professionally staged as if someone still lives in it.

5. Monitor local foreclosures. Foreclosures are costing sellers money and have become very aggressive opponents in today’s market. If the seller’s neighborhood has a lot of foreclosures, wait until they are sold before listing the home, if at all possible. Most banks are extremely eager to sell, thus creating an underpriced competitor. If the seller cannot wait to list the home, it will need to be priced competitively with the foreclosures, which can dig significantly into the home’s equity.

6. Keep the home neat and clean. With so many foreclosures on the market today, buyers are seeing homes at their worst. If the home is presented in the best possible way, it will attract more positive attention.

7. Keep records. Foreclosures do not come with any disclosures. Sellers who keep updated records, photos and permits handy for the buyer to review will make them feel much more confident about buying the home, giving the seller a competitive advantage over foreclosed properties in the neighborhood.

Though you can’t control market conditions, there are certain aspects of selling your home that you can grab a hold of. By following these tips, you can be one step closer to selling your home at a reasonable price.

Source: Relocation.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What You Need to Know about Apple's iPhone 5

September 14, 2012 3:30 am

Technology titan Apple has finally unveiled its plans for the highly anticipated fifth version of its seemingly magical mobile device. Announced on September 12, Apple has confirmed pre-order dates, shipping dates, and tech specs for the iPhone 5, proving that the wait for this impressive upgrade has definitely been worth it for consumers. Here is everything you need to be in the know:

Despite wide-spreading rumors, the phone is simply called the iPhone 5 and the screen is, in fact, bigger. Apple has upgraded the screen size to an expected four inches, making room for a fifth row of icons on the home screen, plus the usual shortcuts on the bottom. With its 326ppi Retina display, the phone now boasts a resolution of 1136 x 640 and carries a 16:9 aspect ratio with it. Any App that doesn't provide an update to fit these standards will appear letterboxed.

Size does matter, and this iPhone is a mere 0.3 inches thick and weighs only four ounces. Compared to the iPhone's last model, that's 20 percent lighter and 18 percent thinner. Although it has a redesigned shell, many aesthetics remain the same, such as the device's volume and mute buttons.

The iPhone 5's processor is the new Apple A6 chip. What does this mean? The phone will have twice the CPU speed and graphics power, while the chip is internally smaller and way more battery friendly than the iPhone 4S. Add to this the fact that the iPhone 5 will run on 4G making it Apple's first ever 4G LTE phone.

The phone's camera is still 8 megapixels and almost exactly mirrors the 4S model's cam. However, the iPhone 5 can shoot panorama shots to produce a 28MP image and it can also take photos while shooting a video.

Perhaps one of the biggest changes for the iPhone is its dock connector. Welcome to the new eight-signal mode coined "Lightning." It's 80 percent smaller than what Apple fans are used to, and old dock connectors will be made available. It's uncertain if these will ship with the phone.

iOS 6, Apple's new mobile operating system, is included with this update. With this system, users will find Passbook, Apple's new e-tickets app, plus the ability to FaceTime over 3G (network depending). Apple has also revealed its own maps product, featuring detailed satellite imagery, turn-by-turn directions and 3D imagery of buildings on the street.

Pre-orders for the iPhone 5 start today, September 14, through the Apple Online Store. The phone is expected to ship starting September 21. Prices will start at $199 for the 16 GB model, $299 for the 32GB, and $399 for the largest model, a whopping 64GB. Check with your carrier for more information about their own specific roll-out dates.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Make an Impact with the Perfect Quote

September 14, 2012 3:30 am

Relying on quotes for any kind of public speaking can help build the right tone and message you are seeking. A quote's real strength is in its ability to move others to feel or to act. It should transcend time, and uniquely and clearly encapsulate an idea, thought, maxim, or opinion.

The right words at the right time can be pretty powerful. What and how something is said, whether in person, online, or in writing, can change your world, or worse, get you into trouble. Using the perfect quote, however, is often the best way of communicating, persuasively and efficiently, in speaking and writing.

So what are the ways one should and should not use quotations?

• Be relevant. Do your homework and know your subject.
• Be light. A witty one- or two-line quote is much easier to pull off than any joke. Go for smiles, not guffaws.
• Be safe. What you say, or quote, publicly or in print can be taken out of context and spread within minutes.
• Be humble. A self-deprecating quotation can help gain needed support or change public perception.
• Be brief. Use quotes to avoid your own flowery language and simplify complex ideas.
• End wisely. People remember best what is expressed last.

Quotations can be a powerful tool. Use them to add power to your written and spoken words. You never know what kind of connection they can help you build with your audience.

Source: PartnerCom Corporation

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Retirement Planning at 40-Something - Halftime of the Big Game

September 14, 2012 3:30 am

If you started retirement planning early in your career, it's good news by the time you hit your 40s. But for those 40-somethings just thinking about retirement – it's like halftime in a football game.

Since football season is upon us, we'll use the gridiron analogy. Let's face it; working in your 40s really is like halftime in the big game. Your career is about half over, and it's time to stop the game, assess where you are and make any necessary adjustments to your plan. You have 20 years of work behind you, and roughly 20 years of work ahead. If you haven't been saving for retirement, it's time to get started. If you've been socking money away for years, then it's a good time to reassess where you are, and what you need to do over the next 20 years.

In your 40s, you still need to have an offensive strategy to continue building dollars for the future. On the flip side, a defensive strategy is still just as important to have in place for the possibility of premature death, disability, economic crises and other unforeseen financial needs. Just like any football game, you have to have that half-time 'locker-room talk' about preparing for the worst, but hitting the field with the mentality and the tools for ultimate success.

Here is a recommend checklist for creating a retirement strategy:

Plan - At this point in your career, you should have an excellent feel for when you'd like to retire, how much you need in those retirement years, and where your current career is likely to take you. For that reason, you should be able to create a very accurate retirement plan.
Do - At 40-something there is simply no time to waste. Once you've figured out what you need to do, just do it.
Check - If you're playing catch up, then you're going to need to check your retirement plan every two years or so. Because of the relatively short time between now and when you retire, you need to pay close attention to things such as the return on your investments to make sure they agree with your planning assumptions.
Act - As you check your plan, you may need to make adjustments to things such as retirement age and your rate of savings. Since you have half your career behind you, during each of these cycles you should only be tweaking your retirement plan.

Source: PFG Advisors

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Leftovers Good for Wallet and Waistline but Make Sure They're Safe

September 13, 2012 3:30 am

Saving leftovers to eat later is a great way to practice portion control and save money. For those times when our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, heating up leftovers to eat later is a no-brainer. However, making sure that food is stored and reheated properly is important to prevent you and your family from getting sick.

Keep these food safety tips in mind when reheating leftovers:

1. Refrigerate leftovers to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below within two hours of them being served to you. (In hotter weather over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, refrigerate after one hour.)

2. Seal leftovers in an airtight, clean container, and label it with the expiration date.

3. Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and use a food thermometer to make sure all types of food reach the safe minimum internal temperature throughout before you eat.

4. Check on the shelf life of leftovers and discard when it's past the expiration date. When in doubt, throw it out!

Unfortunately, you can't rely on sight and scent alone to tell if food is spoiled or contaminated with foodborne pathogens. That's why it's important to follow these simple steps, to avoid putting yourself at risk for food poisoning.

According to a 2011 survey conducted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, only 23 percent of Americans always use a food thermometer to check the doneness of their foods, and only 28 percent regularly check the refrigerator thermometer.

It's important to properly store and reheat leftovers, whether at home or the office. Encourage those around you or your work place to regularly clean the refrigerator and ensure it remains under the recommended temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Source: Home Food Safety

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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