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Resources and Reference Guides Every Store Owner Should Have

Posted By: on September 18, 2014
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Running a retail store is extremely difficult work, and it’s possible to get so caught up in daily operations that your store team has little time for general maintenance and upkeep. However, reference guides and resources can make your work significantly easier. Having resources like sales tax rates, support phone numbers, and case studies on hand can reduce the amount of time you spend maintaining finances and conducting transactions. Make these resources easy to access on paper or digitally.

Sales Tax Rates

Business owners need to be acutely aware of their local sales tax rates. Keeping these posted in an area that is easy to access can help you manage taxes and avoid trouble with the IRS. Check out your state government website for these resources – they’re often posted in a special area for business owners. Calculate and pay local taxes on time to avoid penalties.

Transaction Processing and Support Numbers

Say your point of sale system goes down in the middle of a big transaction. Who are you going to call? Make sure your sales associates have access to important support numbers, so that your store can get transactions back on track right away. Make note of special phone tree key presses or extensions, so that callers don’t need to waste time listening to automated messages. Some help lines assign retail stores special ID numbers, so make sure that these digits are accessible to all of your employees.

Another list of numbers to have on hand are card and check processing numbers. These support lines can protect your company from fraud. If a customer’s credit card does not work, contact the credit card company directly. Don’t allow the customer to personally dial a credit card or check verification phone number, because they might be contacting a fraudulent third-party.

Expense Case Studies

Your store can’t succeed in a vacuum. Business owners who learn from the mistakes and triumphs of other retailers can apply key principles to their own retail stores and succeed. Case studies of other national retailers can help retail leaders see how managing expenses can guide a business to success.

Retail leaders can improve the overall quality of store experiences and internal operations by making key resources available to their employees. Case studies, support numbers, and current tax information all play a crucial role in running a retail business. Make this information easy for employees to access, and watch your store flourish.

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How to Plan a Successful Basement Remodel

Posted By: on September 17, 2014
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Typically, one of the last places that gets finished or remodeled in a home is the basement. Even if that’s because the basement is usually less visible than other areas of the home, it still adds value and living space to your home and benefits your family.

If you’re preparing to attempt a basement remodel, a few aspects of the project are common to nearly everyone’s remodeling experience. Here are a few items to study before you get started.

First things first

There may be a few homeowners out there who believed their basement was waterproof and went ahead with a full remodel, but they probably had a wet winter pour water into their basement, just like what happened to everybody else.

Weather changes and so does the water table sometimes. So it’s important for you to take measures before you start a remodel to ensure your basement will not flood.

If you live in a region that experiences heavy winter storms or substantial spring rains, then it’s a good idea to have an expert inspect the drainage systems around your basement. If it appears that drainage systems alone won’t do the trick, you may want to consider installing a sump pump that will go on when the water table rises.

That’s an effective way to ensure that your basement will stay dry year-round.

Coordination is key to success

People sometimes say that one of the biggest strains on a marriage is doing a remodel together. That isn’t really all that true, but it does highlight the fact that there will be some inconveniences to your family in terms of living space as the work progresses, with resulting stress.

According to some basement remodel specialists, there’s a way to minimize the strain of having to coordinate work with multiple vendors: include a project manager on every project. When you have a single point of contact who knows everything about the state of the job and is in charge of all of the subcontractors who are doing the specialized work, it makes your experience a lot easier than it would be if you did all the work yourself.

Don’t hold back on design

A lot of families use their finished basement as an extension of their house during parties. They entertain guests in a movie room or use a rear patio-basement combination as the perfect party area during the summer.

This is reflected in some of the most popular materials that have been chosen for basement remodels over the past few years. From stone facing on columns, to marble fireplace inserts, or granite slab countertops in a common area, homeowners are dressing up their basement so they can enjoy their entire home.

So when it comes to making design choices, remember to choose materials and styles that will last for a very long time. You don’t necessarily have to hold back because “it’s just a basement.”

When you’re ready to get started remodeling your basement space, it can be an exciting time for the family. Just remember that focusing on the right parts of the process during the planning stage can help make the job a truly enjoyable experience.

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TopCultured Legends

The Sheep and Billy Mays: Why We Fall for Infomercials

Posted By: on November 1, 2011

The excitement. The need. The deal. All of these things contribute to America’s belief in infomercials. The art that the late, great Billy Mays mastered continues on and is hotter than ever. Why do we Read On »

5 Tips to Be Healthy and Wealthy When You Retire

Posted By: on September 24, 2013

When you think of retirement, your mind might gravitate toward many different images. You might regard retirement as a period of memory loss and bad health. You might also see yourself as being unable to Read On »

Autonomous Cars Scare Old People

Posted By: on May 2, 2012

It makes sense. Technology has always been adopted first by the young, then gradually working up the scale until today even our grandmothers have iPads to check their Facebook friends. Autonomous cars – that’s taking Read On »

4 Ways to Fight the Stress of Job Hunting While Unemployed

Posted By: on September 16, 2014
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Gone are the days of life-long careers. Unlike previous generations, the modern workplace thrives on constantly rotating workforces. The flux of hiring, layoffs, and resignations can seem overwhelming to navigate as you seek your next job. The digital era has enabled dozens of competitors to apply electronically, which increase response rate times from hiring departments. These periods can seem excruciatingly long for anxious job seekers. Here are four ways to take your mind off the stress of the job search.

Stay Productive

When you first become unemployed, it might seem like a neat vacation from work. But if you land a gig right away, the inactivity might start driving you crazy. Don’t sit idle waiting for the offers to roll in. Use your spare time wisely by volunteering for causes you’re passionate about. Volunteer work can serve as experience on your resume and give you important talking points during your interviews. Or begin a personal project that you’ve been putting off for a significant amount of time.

Try New Versions of Your Resume

If you’re not getting anywhere with your current resume or cover letter, then test new ones out. Create a variety of drafts with different styles and content. It can be nearly impossible to tell what recruiters are looking for. If your current resume doesn’t resonate with businesses, then perhaps a variation will.

Stay Healthy

Discouragement and anxiety can build during the job seeking process, especially if you don’t receive callbacks right away. You can stave off negative emotions by getting exercise and eating healthy. Use your extra time to reach new fitness goals and explore affordable physical activities in your neighborhood. Visit community centers, such as local libraries, to learn about free events that can be personally enriching.

Follow Up

Recruiters are oftentimes flooded with responses to job postings. Note the dates of your applications, and schedule follow-ups one to two weeks after your application. Check in via email or over the phone. This reminds recruiters of your continued availability and interest in a position.

Searching for work while you’re currently unemployed can be extremely stressful. However, your situation can turn around within moments after you receive a call back or job offer. Don’t let this process get you down. Stay active, practice your interview skills, and learn as much as you can about the industry you’re exploring. Keep a positive attitude while focusing on your goals, and you’ll start seeing results!

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What to Do if You’ve Been Injured by a Medical Device

Posted By: on September 15, 2014
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Whether you’re a child or senior citizen, millions of people rely on medical devices and prescription drugs to treat chronic conditions. Diabetes, arthritis and high blood pressure are just some of the ailments people suffer from, but gain relief through medical breakthroughs. However, some medical solutions may not be magical by design. There could be little-known side effects permanently affecting you right now. You do have rights if you feel a device or drug has negatively affected you.

Consult Your Doctor

The moment you have a bad or unusual reaction to your device or drug, contact your personal physician immediately. For many patients, you may be just acclimating to a new experience, such as a hip joint replacement. However, it’s possible that the device or drug isn’t working correctly. The doctor determines the best course of action, providing you with alternatives or a reprieve from the troublesome substance.

Avoid Direct Contact with Manufacturer

Although it’s tempting, don’t contact the manufacturer yourself. Most businesses use recording materials to record conversations. If you call in voicing an issue, they could use that information against you if a lawsuit arises, such as from a disability claim brought on by the device or drug. The manufacturer may even ask you to waive your rights as a consumer or offer you a monetary settlement. Simply staying away from the maker is the best way to protect yourself.

Speak with an Attorney

Once you find a comfortable alternative with your doctor, consult with an attorney well-versed in medical lawsuits. To avoid publicity, many companies will hide a handful of medical issues to continue selling the drug or device. By bringing an attorney into the fold, you force the manufacturer to answer for their indiscretion. With the media’s help, the open issue could save other lives.

Manufacturers and the FDA

Medical device and drug manufacturers don’t have free reign over their industry. In fact, the FDA must be involved if severe or deadly issues arise with a particular product. Some makers downplay the severe effects of some products, however, bypassing the FDA’s strict regulations. When you bring a lawyer into the situation, the manufacturers must divulge almost all information to the FDA to avoid severe penalties.

Try Another Remedy

The medical device or drug that worked so well for you may never be back on the market. It’s up to you and your doctor to find a safer alternative. The product may not have all the positive effects of the previous substance, but its time-tested reliability is a welcome change. Your doctor has colleagues and schooling to fall back on to find the next great medical innovation.

Don’t hesitate to contact your medical professional if you feel concerned about a device or drug’s interaction with your body. Only you know when your body doesn’t feel normal. By speaking out, you could save other people from countless hours and days of pain and suffering. It starts with just one voice.

 

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Fall Window Treatment Ideas

Posted By: on September 14, 2014
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green-blind

Cooler fall weather is just around the corner and you may be trying to think of new designs in your home. One way to give your home a new look for autumn is to experiment with creative window treatments. These ideas can help you boost the look of your home without spending a lot of cash.

Wood Grain Blinds

One of the hottest window treatment concepts for fall is wood grain blinds. Wood is making a comeback as a popular shade choice, with bamboo, birch and maple ranking highest among decorators for a unique look in windows. Today’s wooden shades come in various colors and allow in diffused light that lets you see outside but offers privacy. The shades work with many different room decors as well.

Add Vivid Color

This fall, vivid colors, such as navy, lavender, persimmon, gold and orange are growing in popularity for window treatments. Consider pairing brightly colored draperies with black or navy shades to give your room that little pop of brightness to warm it up. Brown will also dominate in window treatments this year, according to experts, as a basic color.

Luxury Fabrics

Decorators are using more luxury fabrics on window treatments this fall, such as velvets, leathers and suede. Although overall room design is leaning toward simplicity, window treatments are becoming more embellished and luxurious over past years. Add some sparkling crystal beaded tassels for additional luxury on your windows.

Dressmaker Details

Window treatments for fall are leaning toward dressmaker details such as ruffles, cording, beading and lace. One popular fabric this year is grosgrain, a woven, ribbed fabric made of silk or rayon, used as ribbon on blinds and drapes. Designers are also using velvet banding or tape to cover the holes used for blind strings.

Panel Track Systems

Sometimes, it is difficult to find good treatments on large windows, such as French and sliding doors, leading many people to turn to those unattractive vertical blind systems. However, panel-track systems made of fabric or wood panels look contemporary. Some even bring an Asian-feel to the room that is modern and clean.

Silk Draperies

Although not an economical choice for window treatments, the shine and luxury of silk can instantly brighten a dull room. For fall, some designers are choosing silk panels in plaid or paisley designs, while others enjoy embroidered silk. If silk is out of your price range, choose a soft, flowing fabric with a shimmery look.

High-Tech

Today, window blinds can be controlled through remote control devices, a light switch or even from your laptop while you are vacationing or at work. However, high-tech window gadgets do not mean your window treatments must be stark and boring. Many designers are layering fabrics to provide a cozier look in rooms that are geared toward high-tech living. According to research, Baby Boomers spend the most on luxury home goods, while Generation-Xers are spending more on high-tech home products. This has led to a more youthful look in home decoration.

Window treatments are sometimes overlooked as a way to change the entire look of a room. These ideas can help you spruce up your home for fall in preparation for the holiday decorating season.

 

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Packing for Safety and Fun on the Next Camping Trip

Posted By: on September 13, 2014
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Whether you enjoy hiking a waterfall in spring or gazing at falling leaves in autumn, camping out has many attractions for every outdoor enthusiast. Aside from planning for the time of year, camping also requires some forethought about safety for the entire group. You want to roast marshmallows and explore the countryside without any emergencies marring the trip.

Covering the Skin

Whether its winter or summer, covering your skin from the elements is a top priority. The hot summer sun burns while bitter winter winds dry out skin. Consider wearing long sleeves and pants to protect your largest organ. You’ll only need to put sunscreen on any exposed areas, such as the face. This clothing strategy also protects you from scratching branches on long hikes. Even bring extra socks to keep feet dry in case of rain or stepping in a large puddle.

Nighttime Resource

Always practice making a fire well before the camping trip. Everyone in the party should be able to create fire in an emergency. For added safety, bring along a strong flashlight with extra batteries. When the sun sets, camp areas are often pitch black. Industrial-strength flashlights give you a sharp view of the surrounding area, especially if you need to search for a straggling hiker or just find the nearest bathroom cabin.

First Aid Kit

Never leave the house without a full first aid kit. Camping is all about discover and good times, but all of that changes if someone is hurt without the proper recovery tools. Look through the kit to check for ample bandages, tape, antiseptic and other ointments. Automatic cold packs are a smart addition to the kit. It doesn’t weigh that much in your overall supplies, but can be a lifesaver when necessary.

Safe Foods

After cooking up that caught fish, clean up the area meticulously. Store away any utensils, pans and trash to avoid attracting wildlife. You are in the wild even if the camping site is obviously designated for visitors. Raccoons and bears are curious and hungry creatures, depending on your location. Hiding all foods away after use keeps your group safe. Try to bring canned foods if you don’t live off the land. Sealed cans have no enticing scents to wildlife.

Location is Everything

You’ll definitely want to explore the area while you’re visiting. Get familiar with the ranger’s location and phone number in case of emergency. Bring along your own traditional compass and GPS devices. You always want to know your location and the camp’s coordinates. Being lost in the wilderness is difficult to do when you pay attention to location and landmarks. Even get the kids into the spirit by pointing out key landmarks, such as a river. Teaching them about finding their way could be a lifesaving lesson.

Being aware of your surroundings and packing accordingly keeps everyone safe. If there are any special needs, such as chronic disease medications, bring an ample supply to avoid complications. The outdoors should be a time of reflection rather than worry. You’ll feel calmer knowing safety measure are already in place.

 

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Used Car Buying Guide

Posted By: on September 12, 2014
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When it comes to buying a used car, as with most major purchases, buyers are primarily focused on one thing: getting the most for their dollar. In the world of used cars, there is no established price for any particular vehicle. Plus when you factor in the costs of vehicle ownership, it’s more than clear that there is no better value than purchasing used. And then on top of that, there is a virtually endless selection of used cars. While used cars can offer the most value, they also carry the highest risk. There are plenty of stories of car buyers getting stuck with lemons, and having no way out. Fortunately there are tools such as the Kelley Blue Book that you can use to get information you need to know the ideal value of a certain car.

What’s The Right Vehicle For You?

Only you can make the ultimate decision on the type of vehicle you’d like to have. With that being said, you have all the help you need, including the valuable research tool known as the Internet. If your options are fairly wide open, it’s best to start by deciding your preferred vehicle body style. This choice should be in line with both your personal taste and your needs as far as a vehicle is concerned. For the latter, you have to consider things such as how many passengers you will regularly need to carry and gas mileage and safety features. Once you’ve considered the body you need and have one or two models selected, you can narrow your search by setting a strict budget and looking at the mileage of used vehicles fitting within your criteria. Get as much info as you can about a vehicle before you go see it. Always be sure to use caution, especially when using the Internet to shop around.

Money

You should get to a point where you have a number of vehicles to look at in person. Have a financial plan in place before you go. This doesn’t just mean having a strict budget in place but considering other costs of ownership such as fuel costs and insurance rates. As far as price, value is in the eye of the beholder. Purchase price will be determined by how much the seller or buyer is willing to budge.

Closing The Deal

Before signing anything, make sure to get everything that you’ve been promised in writing. This is especially important for anything that relates to a money-back guarantee or any other form of warranty. Even in this case, sign an “As is” document only if you know the vehicle you’re getting is pristine, because that document will override anything else you’ve been promised. At this point, you should have just as much knowledge on the vehicle as the owner does, but still, you do not want to leave anything to chance. After you have all the paperwork in order, you can drive away satisfied with the value you received.

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3 Things You Must Know if You’re Buying Your First Home

Posted By: on September 10, 2014
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homebuy

It’s an exciting time when you decide you’re ready to start looking at moving into a home that you own. But the purchasing process will likely throw a few challenges at you if you don’t know what to look for.

Here are three of the top recommendations for first-time home buyers before they enter the market.

  1. Pre-qualifying makes life easier

If there’s one thing that can help make the purchase process a whole lot smoother, it’s making the effort to pre-qualify for a home loan so you know in advance that whatever offer you make on a desirable property will be good when you make it. To get started, find out how much you think you will qualify for independently, then start talking to either financial institutions or mortgage brokers.

The primary thing to remember is that if you want a home and make an offer, and someone else wants the same home and makes an offer, the party that’s pre-qualified is much more likely to have their offer accepted.

  1. Don’t forget to ask for what you want

If you’ve studied the home buying process at all, you’re probably aware that there are various options available to you when with regard to financing. Making a predetermination about which form of financing or loan you want to get is a really wise idea.

If you do, there will be no surprises when it comes time to secure your loan. You merely make a formal request for what you intended to get. This can be extremely useful in payment terms.

Often, lenders will offer incentives for slightly different mortgage packages that make those more attractive to the people you’re working with. It’s a good idea to keep yourself open to your lender’s advice, but don’t neglect to verify that it squares with what you originally wanted.

  1. Gauge the market and act appropriately

During the housing boom a decade ago, many folks who wanted homes would bid the asking price and be surprised that the seller did not accept their offer. That’s because the sellers were typically receiving other offers that exceeded the asking price.

At that point, people stopped asking for home inspections just in order to get their offer accepted in time. When the market slowed down, conditions quickly shifted and the buyer gained more leverage.

Today, every region has a different reality when it comes to knowing what you can expect when you’re making an offer. The best person to talk to about this is your real estate agent, who will know roughly where the market stands in the area where you’re looking.

You can also ask use the agent as a sounding board to find out whether certain requests such as repairs would be something that would hurt your offer or not. Many times, the key to success here is finding an agent that will cater to your needs.

First-time home buying specialists are normally very in tune with spending the extra time necessary to ensure that your requirements get met.

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Greg

Boom Go the “Tides”

Posted By: on September 9, 2014
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Check out the hot new music phenomena Lindsey Stirling’s newest video “Master of Tides”. In the high energy video, she crosses unsuspecting shoppers and swashbuckling adventure, much to the thrill and surprise of the patrons. Even Poseidon and the mighty Kraken make an appearance. With choreography by the world renowned Suze Q and brought to you by UE Boom, it’s a spectacle no one will soon forget. For more info, visit www.MakeMusicSocial.com.

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Want to Extend Your Summer Romance?

Posted By: on September 7, 2014
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romance

Not all summer romances have to come to an end, and now that the weather is cooling down and the leaves are turning, you have an important decision to make: Should you extend your warm weather romance? There are many considerations and, of course, your partner needs to be on the same page. It used to be that summer romances were considered fleeting because people are naturally more carefree and amorous while on vacation and also because anyone meeting on a summer vacation might be facing a long distance relationship.

These days, the idea of adults having ample vacation time in the US to even develop a summer romance is rare. Your paramour is probably living in the same region as you already. Plus, even if long distance is an issue, with the latest technology there’s Face time, video chatting, WhatsApp, texting and social media to keep the flames burning across the miles. Just because you’re gearing up to store your summer goodies doesn’t mean you need to shelve your romance, too.

Don’t wait to have the talk

If one of you is heading out of town for good, give yourself ample time to have “the talk.” You deserve to know what your partner’s thinking, and adding extra stress with a time crunch isn’t going to do anyone any favors. Be up front and transparent, because that’s what this situation deserves. Saying something like, “I really enjoy being with you, and I’m wondering where you see this going from here on it,” is a great way to start the conversation.

Today, there are many more long distance relationships that work, but that doesn’t mean it should be a given. It’s pointless if you don’t see your lives aligning again in the future without a lot of sacrifices. For example, if both parties are in college on opposite sides of the country, giving up your college experiences in order to wait for someone you’ve only known a few weeks is a poor move. If you can, stay friends and keep in touch, but don’t give up the chance of meeting someone else great just because you’re holding out for a summer fling.

When it works

If you’re lucky enough to both be sticking in town for the foreseeable future, the bigger question is whether or not your partner sees this as a fling. There can be a lot of expectations heading into the holidays. Family travel, the big New Year’s date and of course winter couple activity staples like visiting pumpkin patches and tree farms are right around the corner.

The sooner you have the talk, the sooner you can start planning for the rest of 2014 (with or without your partner).

 

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