Saving Money in This Economy For Your Family on Your Food Bill

With ten percent of the population out of work and most of the rest trying to scrape by it is important to save as much money as we can for our families. This is not to say we have to live a life of minimalism, we just have to start watching what we buy, when we buy it, and to rely on ourselves more for the things our family needs.

In a family a large portion of the budget is consumed by food. You can save a lot of money for your family by watching how you do grocery shopping, where you eat, and brown bagging your lunch. When going to the grocery store always have a list prepared ahead of time. Try to stick to that grocery list as much as possible and not to buy any food on impulse. Do not go to the grocery store when you are hungry. You will end up buying more food than you need for the week. If you have children try to leave them home when doing the weekly shopping, they have a tendency to throw extra things in the cart that is hard to say no to. This is not to say you should not buy snacks for your kids, it is just easier without them to be the one who regulates what kind of snacks they will be.

Use coupons where you can and if your grocery store has a discount card program use it. Buy generic products. Most of the time generic products are just as good as the name brand ones. Buy things that you will use in bulk if you will use all of it before the food expires. Try to keep the grocery shopping to once a week instead of going every other day. This will save on gas and you will end up buying less. Make your own coffee at home and bring it with you in a travel cup or mug. Coffee costs around $ 1.75 at the conveinence store, you can make it at home the way you like it for under 50 cents.

With both the husband and wife having to work in families to make ends meet it gets hectic. Try to cook dinners at home to save money. I love it when my wife cooks dinner, I also love cooking for her and our family. This will not only save you money in your food bill by not having to go out to eat so much, it will also give you some good family time around the dinner table.

These are some great tips to save your family on your food bill in this tough economy. These ideas should not hamper your lifestyle too much and at the end of the work week you may have extra money in your pocket.

How to Select the Best Mobile Payment Application

Mobile point-of-sale (POS) solutions enable merchants to accept credit card payments where it is most convenient for their customers. Mobile payments allow merchants to accept and process credit card payments in the aisle, outside the store or anyplace customers prefer to pay. Small business owners or large enterprise merchants with a mobile sales team or non-traditional storefronts can expand their business and increase revenue by accepting mobile credit card payments using their existing smart phone.

Mobile POS systems are setting a new standard in convenience and are easy to implement and support. Merchants equipped with an iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile or Google Android device can submit, authorize and settle transactions quickly and securely.

Mobile POS systems offer several advantages:

  • Decrease Processing Cost- Merchant can lower their processing cost by using a single merchant account to accept retail and mobile payments.
  • Customer Satisfaction- Improve the customer experience by offering multiple payment options.
  • Flexibility- Mobile transactions allow merchants to take your storefront anywhere you go.
  • Stability and Reliability- Mobile POS software rivals those of the largest e-commerce, trading, and portal Web sites. Mobile POS applications can handle millions of transactions every month.

Lower Entry Cost

Considering that most people would rather lose their wallet than misplace their cell phone, it comes as no surprise that the mobile platform is quickly becoming a new payment option for small business owners. For many, our cell phone never leaves our side. It maintains its place at the dinner table, is easily accessible on your belt clip or in your pocket, and often, somehow it even manages to end up sharing your pillow at night. Today, cost conscience merchants can accept credit card payments without purchase traditional point-of-sale equipment or paying for expensive system customizations.

Market Expansion

Mobile POS solutions are priced for the small business owner and independent sales representative. Merchants can purchase a quality smart phone payment application from $0-$29.95. Questions to ask your mobile payment provider:

· Is the mobile application PCI compliant?

· Does the application support both small and large payments?

· Does the system require a payment gateway service? If so, recognize payment gateways require an additional recurring monthly fee.

· Does the application support swipe and non swipe transactions? Swipe transactions provide lower processing fees.

· What card readers are supported?

· Does the card reader support data encryption?

· Does your system provide online statements for viewing customer transactions?

· What mobile phones are supported?

· Does the system ensure no customer payment information is stored on the cell phone?

· What are all the fees associated with accepting payment?

· How quickly are customer payments funded to the merchant’s bank account?

· What is the license agreement? Specifically can the merchant load the mobile payment application on multiple devices?

We’ll undoubtedly see many mobile application providers come out of the woodwork as the industry matures. However, merchants should look for a mobile payment provider with multiple years of experience in the payment processing industry.

Top Mobile Payment Applications

1. MobileAuthorize (Google Android, BlackBerry, iPhone/iTouch, Windows Mobile)

2. iPayPOS (iPhone)

3. RoadMerchant (BlackBerry)

4. MobileMerchant (iPhone, Windows Mobile)

California – The Best Center For Careers in Teaching

Over the past few years, the teaching career has become one of the major and most preferred professions in the United States. Many educational institutions and experts predict that in next few years the education industry will need to hire two million new teachers. Today it will not be wrong to state that the industry has gained great importance and was responsible for generating jobs for millions of people in the United States. If we carefully look at the present circumstances of the teacher ratio in various states of the United States, California ranks at the top level. The California's teacher work is the largest in the country, with more than 300,000 public school teachers serving a student population of over 6 million. In fact, California is one of the few states in the United States where teaching is one of the fastest growing careers.

Over the next decade, it is also estimated that public schools in the California will require hiring 195,000 teachers more. Rising student enrollment and an increase in the number of teachers retiring are few factors that have contributed to the growing demand for teachers. Although the state excels in agriculture, manufacturing, aerospace and entertainment, but this "land of golden opportunities" promises to be the most rewarding employment destination for teachers.

The state even offers several opportunities for teachers to find well-paying and satisfying jobs. In addition to this, the state even offers its teachers the highest salies in the nation. The teaching salies in this state have proven to be highly competitive with other professions requiring similar levels of education. According to the recent analysis done by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state's $ 60,426 average elementary to secondary teacher salary is one of the highest in the nation. The following breakdown may further aggravate the salaries range, a teacher can earn in this state:

  • Elementary teacher salary: $ 58,850
  • Middle school teacher salary: $ 60,820
  • Secondary teacher salary: $ 61,970
  • Special education teacher salary: $ 60,306

This career even offers some additional benefits that may come along with being a teacher in any California school. These days many universities have programs that make it easy for teachers to get additional training and certification and the state holds teacher quality as a big factor in the overall effectiveness of their educational system. California teachers enjoy special incentives including bonuses, mortgage assistance and tax breaks. However, it is important to understand that like most states, the number of years of experience and the level of education can have a big impact on the salary of teachers in California as well.

If you are a teacher who likes the idea of ​​year-round sunshine, consider a teacher career in California. Although the employment outlook for teaching largely depends on one's experience, but if you are experienced in a subject that is previously understaffed, the probability of securing a well-paying job or participating in incentive programs can be very good in this state.

What You Need to Know about Vacation Rentals before You Go

That time of the year is finally here. You know what I'm talking about, the one or two weeks you get every year to escape from "real life" and just be you. Relax, eat and drink well, enjoy your family, catch up on some much needed sleep. But, before you pack up and head out, rethink the all-too-normal hotel stay. Believe it or not, you have options, one of which is the vacation rental.

Would not it be nice to leave your own home, arrive in your destination city and settle into a "home away from home" for your next vacation? That's what vacation rentals are all about. These are homes waiting to be rented out by people on vacation. Each vacation rental owner will have different criteria in what type of renter they are looking for, each vacation rental house will vary in amenities, and each price will be dependent on the time of year and the length of stay. So, it sounds like a great idea, but how do you figure out how to make it all happen? Not a problem. Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions regarding vacation rentals. Read on, my friend, your next "home away from home" vacation rental is right around the corner.

Frequently Asked Questions on Vacation Rentals

What are the advantages of a vacation rental?

Do you ever wish your hotel room had just a little more personality? Yeah, I thought so. Well, renting someone else's home for your vacation might just be the thing you're looking for. Usually offering larger living spaces than hotel rooms, these vacation rentals are all about living like you were in your own home. They offer greater privacy than hotel rooms and most rentals have a kitchen area for cooking, which in the end will save you money if you prepare some of your own meals.

You'll enjoy several rooms, and maybe even different levels, instead of one big room where the whole family sleeps. Many owners will leave information on things to do and see in the local area. Vacation rental homes are clean, friendly, comfortable and inviting. This is because many of them are not just rental homes, but also function as the owner's own residence for part of the year.

A majority of vacation rentals tend to be cheaper on a per night basis than their hotel. By renting directly from the owner you will avoid taxes, tips and other external charges. However, there is a wide variation among others based on a number of factors (see How Much Should I Expect to Pay below)

What are the drawbacks of a vacation rental?

Of course, there's always the other side of the coin. As vacation rentals are not usually monitored by a central managing company, you'll only know what you're getting yourself into when you actually arrive to your rental. Many owners require pre-payment, or at least a large deposit fee, before arriving. Therefore, if things are not the way you anticipated after arriving, or if you find your dwelling unacceptable and decide to head to a local hotel, you may lose any money you prepaid. This is also true for last minute cancellations. There is not usually a refund. You always run the risk of getting less than you expected, but, it's rare.

Most times, vacation rentals tend to be cheaper than an average hotel room per night. But, not always, so make sure you are comfortable with the price you will be asked to pay.

Another disadvantage to vacation rentals is the lack of a managing member on site to deal with any problems that you may encounter with the home or during your stay in general. Most owners get around this by having a list of emergency numbers, utility companies and other such items available to the renter should they need anything.

What amenities are included in a vacation rental?

Since every rental is owned by a different owner, each will include different amenities. Some come with swimming pools, hot tubs, others with golf packages, and horse stable privileges. In cities with tourist attractions, some owners include tickets to local attractions.

Most vacation rentals come with the essentials: TV, equipped kitchen, towels, linen, and everyday appliances, but it never hurts to ask these questions when searching for the perfect place. Be sure to understand exactly what you are paying for before sending in the payment.

What types of rentals are available?

Pretty much any type of dwelling that you would want to live in during your vacation is available somewhere. From studios in downtown Manhattan to a villa in the south of Spain, you'll be able to find what you're looking for. The range of available options is mind boggling. Additionally, each week, month and year there are new possibilities as owners put their homes up for only certain weeks or months of the year, the choices are constantly changing.

Are vacation rentals only available in the US?

Vacation rentals are available worldwide. They can be found in every state of the US and almost every country in the world. Do not be fooled by their different names, though. Vacation rentals are also known as holiday cottages, tourist rentals and holiday rentals. If you are looking for one in Europe, the Italians call them agriturismi, while the French say gites. If you are in Germany you will be looking for ferienwohnungen (yep, try to say that three times fast with a bratwurst in your mouth!)

Regardless of what you call it, though, a vacation rental is a great option for those getting ready to take a few weeks off from reality and enjoy the good life a bit.

How do I find a property?

There are several ways to go about finding the perfect vacation rental for your next trip. Check with your local travel agent to find someone in your area that specializes in finding owners and renters and getting them together. Another option is the yellow pages. Finally, there is a wealth of information on the Internet. Type in a search for "vacation rentals" and over 13,300,000 websites can be found just on http://www.google.com alone. Some websites only list vacation rentals in the United States while others specialize in vacation rentals worldwide. There are some sites that will allow the potential renter to look for a residence by specific search criteria such as a particular destination, certain number of bedrooms and types of amenities that are included in the property.

Most of the vacation rental services on the internet are only the "go-between" or the "classified" section of the newspaper. They take no responsibility for the truth or correctness of the ads that are listed on their sites. So, do your homework by making phone calls, speaking with the owner and asking specific questions. Make sure you feel comfortable with the answers, if not, move on to the next rental, there are plenty.

If you're not comfortable with the whole renter / owner thing, there is another way to rent a vacation home. Some companies exist that strictly buy and rent out homes to vacationers. They offer a bit more security so that you feel you are really getting what you bargained for (although nothing is ever 100% fool proof). Additionally, sometimes these agencies will give you cancellation insurance. In other words, if you cancel before arriving, they may be able to refund a portion of your deposit or payment instead of keeping it as most owners do if a cancellation occurs. With some agencies you'll find that you pay a higher price than going directly to an owner. This is how the agencies make their profits. There are always pros and cons to each scenario. Ensure you know which one works best for you.

How much should I expect to pay?

This is a tough question to answer. The amount you pay will depend on what country or state you are visiting, number of days you are staying, and type of house you are renting. Some owners offer package deals including tickets or sightseeing events along with the rental, others include bonus days if you stay for a certain length of time. There are other owners who may offer free or add-on house cleaning service with your stay while some go to great efforts to ensure you have everything you need, even additional items such as a crib, highchair or wheelchair. Each vacation rental will be entirely different from the next. Your best bet after deciding on your destination is to review multiple rentals to determine which is better suited to your needs and overall budget.

Are there any hidden fees?

Hidden fees usually only emerge after you have arrived. These may include extra for phone calls, house cleaning service, extra person fees, excess heat and air-conditioning bills, pet deposit, computer access … etc. Again, be extremely thorough when interviewing the owner of your prospect vacation rental. Ask about any "extra" fees, or if the house is "all-inclusive". Do you have free access to all the pantry and food items? How about the laundry supplies? All utilities? It never hurts to ask!

Vacation Rentals

In summary, cover all bases by asking lots of questions. Getting your agreement in writing is also a very smart idea. After these basics are out of the way you will be ready to take off for your home-away-from-home vacation rental. Try one this year and see for yourself that vacation rentals can be a fantastic means to really getting the full enjoyment out of your next vacation.