How To Shop Smart And Save Big Money

Posted on 23. Mar, 2015 by .

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Shopping in the current economy can be quite overwhelming. We all want the designer shoes, the handbags, the 60 inch t.v., every beauty product known to man, and to have it all with a substantial amount of money in our savings account. Everyday living and extravagances can seem impossible, but they aren’t. You just need to know how to get savvy in order to cut costs where it counts. Below are a few ways to help you save on personal items, fashion, travel and more.

Save on Personal Items

There are ways to shop and save on all sorts of items like toothpaste, shampoo & conditioner, hair products, deodorant, toilet paper and those energy bars you like to eat just after you’ve hit the gym. Check out stores like Walgreens. Walgreens offers coupon codes and deals to get you extra savings and up to 90% off the retail price of all your favorite beauty and personal items.

Fashion For Less

Want to accessorize your Cynthia Rowley Dress with a Rolex? Or just look like you did? Check out stores like Nordstrom or Forever 21. Nordstrom carries a boat load of designer deals. While Forever 21 has all your knock-off, look-a-likes for less. Whether you’re looking for a cocktail dress or swanky earrings, both of these stores are regularly advertised on Groupon with killer savings in free coupon codes.

Travel Savings

 Travel can be a bit of a burden. Searching for the cheapest car rentals, hotels, flights and more can be a pain and super-time consuming. Try booking with places like Fox Rent A Car for up to 90% off the retail price. Plus, save wear and tear on your own vehicle and get out of dodge for a relaxing weekend or family holiday.

DIY Deals

Doing it yourself really is the best way to save the most money. Once you find a contractor or landscape architect, they jack up the price in materials, charge you labor for an extra guy you’ve never seen, and tack on the taxes after giving you a low quote without them. Avoid the expensive upcharges and look for coupon codes to stores like Home Depot, who can help you find the materials you need, offer you free shipping on select appliances, and save you labor costs.

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4 Ways to Make your Small Business more Efficient

Posted on 20. Mar, 2015 by .

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Time is money. If you run a small business and you feel that everything is moving as slow as molasses, you need to put more efficient systems in place to streamline your operations and speed up your business processes. The faster things move, the more money you make. It’s really that simple. The more you sell, serve and process the more you rake in. Here are a few ways to drive productivity up in your small business so you can see an ROI faster.

Ban Facebook and other time wasters

Facebook, browser based games, YouTube and other forms of time wasting endeavors shouldn’t be allowed in your place of business. Employees waste so much time on cat videos or celebrity fails, your bottom line will suffer as a result. You can ask your IT staff (if you have one) to configure your router to ban these websites outright. Or, you can do it yourself by reading the tutorials on how to do it. Just make sure that your router’s setup page is password protected. When you ban certain websites and domains router-side, there is absolutely no way employees can access them. A good idea is to also ban proxy websites and periodically check the active connections on your router.

Get a POS System

If you’re still stuck in the cash register age, you need to get out of it and get yourself a POS system. These systems can and will streamline your business processes because it takes care of everything for you; inventory management, employee time keeping, sales tracking and so much more. While you’re at it, get one of those online Point of Sale systems that can work on tablets. Not only are these smaller and more lightweight than a traditional legacy POS system, you’ll also need less hardware to get a full functioning point of sale system for your store.

Engage in a little Methods Engineering

Do your guests have apprehensions on sitting in a particular spot of your restaurant? Is your cashier blocking the natural flow of the checkout line? Hire an Industrial Designer or Engineer to check the workflow of your store or restaurant by doing a little Time and Motion study. Imagine a conveyor belt-type factory assembly line: the more efficient ones don’t even need that much supervision because the whole process from start to finish has been already mapped out. All the workers need to do is man their posts for the line to flow smoothly. Backlogs in the workforce occur due to the simple misplacement of office desks, or when the tables and chairs of a restaurant are too far from the buffet table. Iron out the kinks and backlogs in your store by hiring a consultant. You only have to pay a professional fee one time, but the results will be faster workflow and increased sales.

Harness the Power of Technology

Encourage the use of online collaboration among your staff members. Let’s say you run a small events company. The faster you and your staff can communicate and collaborate on ongoing projects can net you even more, because when you finish one, you can work on another. Use online document editing and sharing websites like Google Docs, Microsoft Office Online and Dropbox. Create, save, share and edit documents in real time. While in a meeting, you can ask your staff to edit a presentation for you if there’s something that needs to be added or taken out. No need to re-schedule another meeting. Make use of email, video chat and instant messaging to speed things up. Make sure your office is equipped with high speed internet and that all your phones and tablets are, too.

Final Word

In a fast paced business world, speed and efficiency play a major role in taking you to the next level. By stopping to consider all the factors that are holding you back, like the simple distractions of Facebook or the wrong placement of your checkout station, you can turn things around and run a more efficient ship.

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The Hyundai Elantra: More Bang for your Buck

Posted on 02. Feb, 2015 by .

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Bang for your buck. Don’t you just love it? I’m always on the lookout for the best possible deals, and the 2015 Hyundai Elantra seems like a solid contender for king of the bangs. Getting more for what you paid for is the name of the game these days, and auto makers are being as cutthroat as ever, one-upping one another in available trims, accessories and performance.

Smaller Sonata

The crowded compact sedan segment has undergone a major makeover these past few years, with automakers turning their compacts into smaller versions of the more expensive large sedan class. What we’re getting now is a well-appointed smaller car with all the trim and isn’t as gas guzzling as the larger sedans. I’ll take fuel savings any time of the day, thank you very much.

The Hyundai Elantra looks like the offspring of a Sonata and an Accent. With curved lines on the body and an aggressive front fascia that won’t be mistaken for cute, this compact Hyundai was made for the frugal everyday driver in mind.

Exceptional Fuel Savings

The SE and Limited versions of the 2015 Elantra share the same 145 horsepower 1.8L DOHC 16-valve inline 4-cylinder engine rated at 28/38 mpg/cty/hwy for the 6-speed manual and the 27/37 mgp/cty/hwy for the 6-speed automatic. Standard transmission for the Limited is Hyundai’s 6-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC and Active Eco System, which is optional for the SE.

There’s also the Hyundai Elantra Sport, which has a beefier 173 horsepower 2.0L DOHC 16-valve inline 4-cylinder engine rated at 24/35 mpg/cty/hwy. You can either save more juice while feeling like a real race car driver when you choose the Sport in manual, or you can pay extra for the 6-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC and Active Eco System found on the Limited.

Now, if you want your car to just sip fuel, go for ones with the base 145 hp engines (SE, LIMITED) and kick it oldschool with the 6-speed manual. The SHIFTRONIC is actually pretty damn good too, as it only sacrificed a point, so if you can’t drive stick, go automatic. Either way, the fuel economy on the Elantra with the base engine is pretty good for the class.

Bells, Whistles and Safety

This car is a Hyundai, so expect almost every little accessory as standard. That’s just the way they roll. If you want all of it however, go for the Limited version because almost everything on the list of features has “standard” on it.

When it comes to safety, the Elantra is dead serious, packing six airbags, Hillstart Assist Control, Electronic Stability Control, Anti-Lock Braking System, Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Daytime Running Lights and even a Tire Pressure Monitoring System. The only safety feature that’s not standard is the Rearview Camera, which is optional for the SE. There’s a host of others you can ask your Hyundai dealer about, like crumple zones, EBD and what type of airbags were installed. The Elantra was also awarded a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating by the NHTSA, the highest possible score.

Environmentally Conscious

The seats on the 2015 Elantra are built with environmentally friendly soy-based foam. This renewable resource has a smaller carbon footprint and has lesser impact on the environment as compared with traditional seating materials. Coupled with the engine’s exceptional fuel economy, this car is a sound choice for those who want a hybrid, but can’t afford one yet.

Final Thoughts

When purchasing your next car, always go over every single detail. Fuel consumption, safety, interior finish and warranty are the first ones I always check. Hyundai has really done well with the 2015 Elantra. The interior materials are soft to the touch and look good, using hard plastics and touches of leather and chrome. It also has five star safety rating and is fuel efficient yet powerful enough to pass other cars on the road. This is a good car, with a pretty good set of credentials at a steal of a price tag.

 

 

 

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5 Tips on choosing your next SUV

Posted on 29. Jan, 2015 by .

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Many people are buying SUV’s now more than ever. In the past, you had two choices when it came to a bigger vehicle: a pickup for hauling gear and a van for hauling people. There was also a third choice in the station wagon, which could conceivably do both and was a favorite of soccer moms and huge families with dogs.

Today, the landscape has changed. SUV’s rule the roost, with a combination of truck-like power for hauling gear and enough space to seat 5 – 7 people. Bigger, taller and heavier than cars, SUV’s are also a lot safer because of the taller ride height, higher ground clearance and more crumple zones. Larger and wider tires coupled with AWD or FWD also allows it to grip the road better, making the ride safer especially in snow and rain.

If you’re in the market for an SUV, here are a few tips you can use to come out on top and choose the best one to suit your needs.

  1. Choose the Right Size

When it comes to SUV’s, there are many sizes to choose from. Larger SUV’s can tow the most gear (up to 8,500 lbs) and have the most cargo space, but will hurt your wallet at the pump. Mid-size SUV’s are probably the best combination of size, power and fuel economy, while small and compact SUV’s get better mileage but have cramped interiors and smaller cargo space. When choosing an SUV, asses your needs first.

  1. Safety First

This is one of the reasons you should consider when buying an SUV. It’s why you’re getting one in the first place, right? The overall safety of any vehicle is very important, so check its safety rating first. Five Stars is the best and the highest. Also, look for SUV’s that have loads of safety features like dual air bags, side air bags, ample crumple zones, higher ground clearance, all wheel drive, hillstart assist, electronic brake force distribution, stability and traction control and a rearview camera among others.

  1. Space, and lots of it

Another reason to get an SUV is the loads of space you’ll get. Cargo space isn’t created equal, I’m afraid. Just like people, some SUV’s have bigger and more generous rear cargo space than the others. Check the specs online or visit a local dealer first and compare each and every model. If the cargo space is car-like, then scratch it off your list and just get a hatchback.

  1. Seating Capacity

If you’ve got a big family and seating is important to you, there are SUV models that have a flexible third row that has folding seats for extra passengers. Fold it back and you got space for gear. I personally like this option because it gives you the flexibility to add more people on trips where vehicles are limited. Although, when the seats are in use, you’ll be sacrificing your cargo space. Thank god for roof racks!

  1. Time to D-V8

Most SUV’s come with a 6-cylinder engine, which is powerful enough for most tasks, but still guzzles gas. Some mid-size and large SUV’s come with V8 engines, which are smooth and powerful, meant for towing heavy gear, but also suffer from poor gas mileage. Your best bet would be a four cylinder SUV equipped with a turbo. A perfect example would be the Land Rover LR2, which has 2.0L L4 Turbo DOHC 16-valve engine that churns out 240 horses and 250 lbs of torque. Compare that to the naturally aspirated Ford Explorer 3.5 V6, which pumps out 290 horses and 255 lbs or torque. The LR2 also gets better mileage than a standard V6.

Final Thoughts

When choosing an SUV, always factor in maintenance costs, insurance and real cost of ownership. Remember that you’re buying a bigger automobile, and it naturally comes with a bigger price tag and higher insurance premiums. What you’ll be getting in return is a better and more versatile ride that can do anything a car can do and can go anywhere a car can’t.

 

 

 

 

 

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Catch a Jaguar by the tail: Two cars under 30k that can beat the Jaguar XF

Posted on 26. Jan, 2015 by .

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In the realm of high-end automobiles, one name is synonymous to style, luxury and performance: Jaguar. Jaguar Cars was founded in 1922 as the Swallow Sidecar Company, originally making motorcycle sidecars before moving on the build passenger cars.

Jaguar made its name by producing iconic sports cars like the Jaguar XK120, XK140, XK150 and the Jaguar E-Type that were all successful in international motorsport competitions. The tradition of building fast and beautiful cars continue to this day with the latest crop of Jaguar cars, namely the Jaguar XK Series Coupe XKR-S and the Jaguar F-Type Coupe R.

These monsters of British engineering are super fast, with both of them sharing the same 550-horsepower, 502 lb. ft torque  5.0L V8 Supercharged DOHC engine (32-valve for XKR-S and 24-valve for the F-Type Coupe R) that can blow the doors off my Prius. Both of them are priced as big as their engines however, which makes them a lofty dream for most people.

Enter the XF

If you’re really in love with the big cat, but cant pony up $140,000 to own the top tier Jaguars, there is a model out there for you: the Jaguar XF. The XF is a beautiful car in its own right, with sleek curves, a low profile and the iconic Jaguar front fascia. This car is a looker as well as a keeper. It comes in five trims, the XF 2.0T, XF 2.0T Luxury, XF 3.0 AWD, XF 3.0 AWD Luxury and the uber top of the line XF 3.0 AWD Sport. For the sake of brevity, I’ll leave out the last three trims because of the price difference.

The base model XF’s, the XF 2.0T and the XF 2.0T Luxury share the same 2.0L L4 Turbo DOHC 16-valve engine that pumps out 240-horsepower and 251-lb. ft torque. The engine and overall performance is pretty adequate due to the turbo they slapped on the engine. If it weren’t for the turbo though, the story would’ve been really different.

Being a Jaguar, expect even the base models to be well appointed with accessories and leather trim. Alloy wheels, good safety features, heated seats and an optional navigation system await new XF owners. If you’re planning on getting one of the 2.0L XF’s though, you have to be ready to face these two cars that are way below the base XF’s price tag, but can match and even surpass the XF horses to horses, and then some.

Ford Focus ST

A personal favorite of many enthusiasts on the track and off, the Ford Focus ST is one beast of a hot hatch. Powered by a Turbocharged direct-Injection 2.0L EcoBoost Engine that produces 252-horsepower and 270 lb. ft tourque, the Focus ST also has race tuned suspension, track-proven front/rear disk brakes and precise handling, making this car one of the best high-performance cars under $30K. Don’t be surprised to see a Focus ST nipping at your heels and threatening to pass you on the freeway.

 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec

A true blue Korean sports car, the rear-wheel drive Genesis 3.8 R-Spec has a 3.8L 24-valve V6 DOHC GDI with D-CVVT that pumps out 348-horsepower and 295-lb. ft torque. Hell, the Genesis could even give the 3.0L versions of the XF a run for their money. Now, this car can definitely catch (and pass) the 2.0L XF on the freeway. Aside from having a bigger engine, the Genesis R-Spec is also a little bit lighter than the XF with a curb weight of around 3,515lbs. This actually is a bit of a shocker because I thought the Genesis would weigh less, being a coupe and all that.

Final Thoughts

For the most part, owning a fine piece of British engineering like the Jaguar is more of a privilege, and if you want that privilege, you have to pay top dollar for it. Practical? Not really. Makes economic sense? Not by a long shot. But if you have the money to burn, then by all means get one, but be sure to get the top of the line 3.0L AWD Sport. When it comes to luxury, either go big or go home.

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