Gunning Daily News

Renting: A Financially Smart Option for Small Businesses

August 6, 2012 5:58 pm

(ARA) - Starting a business is a huge endeavor for entrepreneurs, especially when larger expense items are on the required equipment list. During a business's first few years of operation, renting equipment, rather than purchasing it outright, can allow the company to save money and invest toward becoming established.

Entrepreneurs started more than 550,000 small businesses in 2009, the most recent year with data available, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). Most of those businesses were financed through owner investment and bank credit, to the tune of about $80,000 a year, the SBA reports. That dollar figure doesn't stretch far when larger cost items like vehicles and office space are part of the picture. This is where renting equipment comes in handy. Some business items frequently rented include:

* Office space - Location is an important factor of doing business, but so is the cost of doing business in that location. Running a business out of your home is always the least-expensive option, and renting an office space or warehouse space - depending on the business - is usually the next best option for saving money. Renting also gives you flexibility to move if the rent goes up, or another space in a better location becomes available. However, because of low interest rates available for loans right now, it is a good idea to compare annual rent payments with potential mortgage payments, just to make certain that you're finding the best work environment for the best price.

* Vehicles - Many small businesses, from bakeries to flower shops, occasionally need larger vehicles for delivering products or transporting their equipment. Instead of purchasing a cargo van or refrigerator truck, contact Penske Truck Rental about commercial truck rentals for individual dates or on a repeated basis as the best solution for your business needs. Get the commercial truck you need when you need it, either with a guaranteed reservation or Penske's Rental Express program just for business that includes 24/7 roadside assistance. It's a great way to save money not only on the purchase of larger vehicles, but also the maintenance and upkeep.

* Phone and computer systems - With the speed at which technology is constantly updating, it's a good idea to review renting phone and computer equipment, rather than purchasing it. This works well for companies that have the potential to grow quickly - needing additional equipment - as well as companies where phones and computers are needed, but aren't an integral part of the business. The good news about renting is that as the latest updates happen with technology, you can easily update your equipment as well.

* Office furniture - If your business is a one-man shop run out of your home, it's probably a better idea to use the furniture you have on hand. But for entrepreneurs venturing into business with a small number of employees and office space, renting furniture is a great way to provide your workers with office furniture like desks, chairs, filing cabinets and even shelving units needed to go about business.

Careful management of budgets and expenditures helps small start-up businesses succeed. If you're considering becoming an entrepreneur and starting up your own company, look into the option of renting equipment to save money that could be better used in other areas of the business like client acquisition, supplies or marketing.

Word of the Day

August 6, 2012 5:58 pm

Promissory note.  A written promise to repay a debt on demand or at a stated time in the future.

Q: Do I Have to Consider Contingencies Made by the Buyer?

August 6, 2012 5:58 pm

A: You can reject, accept, or counter any offer that is presented to you. Most offers include contingencies, which protect the buyer in case something goes wrong.
The two most common contingencies deal with financing, which makes the sale dependent on the buyer’s ability to obtain a loan commitment from a lender within a stated time period, and an inspection, which allows the buyer to have a professional inspect the property to their satisfaction.

There really is no reason not to consider these contingencies because they are quite reasonable and standard.

However, think twice about a contingency that is predicated on you making expensive home repairs, such as a kitchen renovation. Now, if the roof is caving in, that is an entirely different story. You may need to spend money to replace it or lower the asking price of the home.

Laundry Lessons: Coming Clean

August 3, 2012 4:42 pm

Let’s face it: Most of us don’t exactly look forward to doing laundry. As a result, it’s one of those chores that are easy to put off until later. But putting the laundry off until later can have a downside. Hidden dirt can build up in your clothes, and it may be harder to get visible stains like chocolate or grass out of clothing.

A national survey by Wisk revealed that four out of five people admitted to at least one dirty laundry secret. Top secrets include:
• Going more than a month without changing bed sheets. In fact, only half of those surveyed wash sheets once a week.
• Taking dirty items out of the laundry basket to wear.
• Repeating underwear -- nearly one in three women admit to wearing the same bra for several days in a row, while close to one in three men admit to having worn the same socks or underwear for several days.

Most people say they "just know" when an item needs to be washed, but what they may not know is that the average wash load contains 20 times more body oil and sweat than visible stains. These hidden soils can get trapped deep in the fabric of clothes and build up over time. Leaving the laundry until later also means it becomes harder to remove visible stains. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to get rid of common stains:

Adhesive (tape, chewing gum, rubber cement) - Apply ice or cold water to harden surface; scrape with a dull knife. Saturate with prewash stain remover. Rinse, then launder.

Beverage - Soak stain in cool water. Treat with pre-wash stain remover, liquid laundry detergent, or a paste of powder detergent and water. Launder with fabric safe bleach.

Blood - New stains should be soaked in cold water for 30 minutes. Rub detergent into any remaining stain. Rinse, then launder. Dried stains should be pretreated or soaked in lukewarm water with a product containing enzymes, then laundered.
Chocolate - Gently scrape off excess chocolate. Treat the stain with a prewash spray. Follow up with an enzyme detergent to remove residue before washing.

Cosmetics - Treat with prewash stain remover, liquid detergent, a mixture of detergent and water, or rub with bar soap. Work into dampened stain until outline of stain is gone, then rinse. If greasy stain remains, soak in an enzyme product. Rinse and launder.

Grass - Treat with prewash stain remover, or soak with an enzyme product. If stain remains, launder in hottest water safe for the fabric, with a fabric-safe bleach.

Mud - Let dry, then brush off as much mud as possible. For light stains, pretreat with a paste of dry detergent and water, liquid detergent, or a liquid detergent booster; launder. Pretreat heavy stains by presoaking with a laundry detergent, a product containing enzymes.

Source: Wisk Deep

Your Pet Needs Top Nutrition, Too

August 3, 2012 4:42 pm

So maybe you’re already monitoring your own nutrition, adding in more fruits and veggies and sipping plenty of water. But don’t forget your furry friends!

When it comes to caring for your pet, you do everything you can to ensure they stay happy and healthy. And while there are a variety of pet foods on the market boasting recipes made using wholesome ingredients, if pets aren't digesting that food correctly, they may as well be eating the inexpensive fillers you've been trying to avoid.

In fact, many pet owners don't know their dogs and cats have sensitive stomachs, which may make it hard for them to properly digest their current food, and could lead to a host of problems. "Pets need consistency, they need to eat the same food every day to avoid digestive upset," explains Dr. Al Townshed, staff veterinarian with Holistic Select natural pet food, "If pets can't absorb the nutrients in the food they eat, it can lead to malnutrition, lethargy, frequent vomiting and worse."

The good news is there are pet foods on the market that offer well-balanced, easily digestible nutrients. With this in mind, Dr. Townshend shares these tips for choosing the right food for your pet:

Check the Label
Look for natural, wholesome ingredients and avoid fillers. Remember, while proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals all play an important role in the health benefits of your pet's diet, there are other ingredients to consider to help ensure your pet is properly absorbing these key nutrients.

Probiotics
Your pet's digestive tract requires a careful balancing act of bacteria. Probiotics -- or good bacteria -- help keep your pet's immune system healthy. Cat and dog foods like Holistic Select natural pet food contain live probiotics that are added to the food after it has been cooked and cooled. This process assures maximum survival of the probiotics, so that your pet reaps the full benefits of their food.

Prebiotics

Prebiotics stimulate the growth and maintenance of good bacteria, like probiotics, in your pet's digestive tract. Examples of prebiotics include beet pulp and inulin, which is a fructose found in plant roots and is believed to aid in the absorption of calcium and magnesium, according to a 2005 study published by the National Institutes of Health.

Natural Fibers
Just as fiber plays an important role in human digestive health, it also plays an integral role in your pet's digestive health. Fiber-rich foods such as oatmeal and flaxseed promote digestive regularity. Flaxseed, for example, helps with the movement of food through your pet's digestive tract, is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, and offers benefits for your pet's cardiovascular, endocrine and immune systems.

Easily Digestible Enzymes
Several organs such as the pancreas help break down food within the digestive process by producing enzymes. Adding enzymes to pet food actually helps with this process by ensuring your pet is getting the nutrients from their food, while reducing stress on their organs -- this is especially crucial for aging pets.
When it comes to choosing a pet food for your dog or cat, keep in mind that more than just the main ingredients matter

Source: www.HolisticSelect.com.

Bright Ideas for Your Summer Soiree

August 3, 2012 4:42 pm

Summer is the time of year when many people get the urge to entertain just a little more frequently. Interior design expert and TV personality Genevieve Gorder says the best approach to summer entertaining is to make your space shine with a comfortable, approachable style. Genevieve has partnered with Mirassou Winery® to help brighten up entertaining spaces for sharing good times and making good memories. Try one of her easy entertaining ideas to make your home feel warm and welcoming -- putting your guests at ease as they raise a glass to your hosting skills:

• Create a home bar on any surface of your home. Arrange beautiful wine bottles on a vintage silver or brass tray, add wine glasses and two taper candle holders. With a bit of mood lighting, glassware and beverages, a bar is just that simple and guests know they can pour their own wine.

• Put every surface to use when entertaining large groups, such as stacking coasters on the mantle to expand your typical entertaining space. Add a pop of color so guests know they can use the mantle as a gathering place.

• The next time you have guests over for wine and cheese, create a buffet table that works your guests along the line visually. Start at the highest point with flatware and rolled linen napkins in tall vessels, then use cake tiers for flatbreads and crackers, followed by cutting boards for cheeses and accompaniments at the lowest point in the middle. Move the eye line back up again at the finish with vases of nuts and bottles of wine.

• Don't be afraid to mix elements on your dining table to make your presentation really shine. Think about mixing metals like brass and silver with white glass to create a powerful triad. Then use mismatched plates and chairs to bring a homey and casual feeling to a gathering.

• A fun activity for simple summer entertaining is hosting an at-home wine tasting. Ask guests to bring a bottle of wine from the same region -- such as California -- and then spend the evening trying different wines and learning which you like best.

Source: www.mirassou.com.

Word of the Day

August 3, 2012 4:42 pm

Principal. The amount of money borrowed; the amount of money still owed.

Q: Are Agents Responsible for Disclosing Material Facts?

August 3, 2012 4:42 pm

A: They can certainly be held accountable, particularly if they had prior knowledge of a material fact or should have known about it.

For example, if the seller has to use pans to collect water after a heavy rain, it is the agent’s responsibility to question the seller about the integrity of the roof, and then relay this information to potential buyers. However, if the seller duly hides a defect from the agent for which the agent had no prior knowledge, then the agent is not accountable. Experts say agents are not home inspectors, but they are expected to use their best judgement when something appears suspicious.

What to Buy—and What Not to Buy—in August

August 3, 2012 4:42 pm

Nearly everyone is buying back-to-school clothes in August – whether they are going back to school or not – and rightly so, since every item of clothing from kids’ socks to designer shoes will be on sale this month.

But August is a good month to save money on a variety of other goods – and a good month to resist purchasing certain other items. Consumer advocate Jenny Lee keeps an eye on shopping opportunities – and recommends a few purchases it might surprise you to make or not make in August:

• Buy jewelry – Summer is a prime time for getting good buys on both fine jewelry and costume pieces. They are discounted by merchandisers to boost lagging sales until the holiday and Valentine’s Day rush kicks in.
• Buy swimwear – prices will never be lower as stores clear space for back-to-school and fall/winter fashions. Stock up now for both adults and kids.
• Buy hotel packages – As traditional vacation time comes to an end, hoteliers are looking ahead at potentially empty rooms in fall and winter. Cruise various websites now to snag economical, book-ahead deals.
• Buy grills and patio furniture – The selection may not be as great, but prices will be slashed on what’s left in August to make room for winter-friendly merchandise.
• Don’t buy fitness equipment – Prices tend to go higher as summer wanes. That’s because people are looking ahead to exercising in cold weather. Wait till winter when competition between merchants yields better prices on exercise gear.
• Don’t buy furniture – sales are basically over now as the newest fall styles are coming into furniture stores. If you can do with what you have through the holidays, wait on buying new furniture until January.
• Don’t buy bicycles – It seems logical that bikes would be on sale during the warmer weather. But historically, the best prices on bikes will come just prior to the holidays.

Save Money by Putting Home on Autopilot

August 3, 2012 4:42 pm

(ARA) - Every homeowner can remember a time when they wondered, "Did I lock the front door this morning?" or "Did I leave a light on?" Others can attest to that feeling of dread knowing their air conditioner is running full blast while they're away on a weekend trip. There's nothing worse than worrying about the security of your home - or your rising electric bill - while you're away.

Fortunately, recent advancements in home technology offer peace of mind when it comes to energy efficiency, security and time savings. Almost any home can be put on "autopilot" without breaking the bank. Many areas of the home can benefit from some simple technology upgrades.

Efficiency

Heating and cooling a home accounts for 50 percent or more of a home's energy bill, so it's important to incorporate the latest technology to make it as easy as possible to be as efficient as possible.

"We have seen some great advancements in home technology that maximize the energy efficiency of heating and cooling products," says Bobby DiFulgentiz, an energy efficiency expert with Lennox International. "For example, as thermostats become more advanced, homeowners now have the ability to optimize home comfort and energy savings."

One example of these smart thermostats is the Lennox icomfort Wi-Fi thermostat. Homeowners can maximize energy savings through its one-touch away mode and remote control capabilities. Additionally, the thermostat communicates with a home's HVAC system and provides real-time alerts to service providers regarding any maintenance issues that need attention. The icomfort Wi-Fi also is the only thermostat that can blend into its surroundings by using customizable "skins" that match wallpaper or paint, or even allow it to be disguised as a piece of art or a family photo.

Water usage also is a concern when it comes to efficiency. Homeowners can cut down on water bills by using home sprinkler systems that incorporate Wi-Fi technology. These systems allow homeowners to start or stop sprinklers from anywhere, avoiding water waste when heavy rains have already saturated the lawn. Many systems now even include wireless capabilities that prevent sprinklers from activating during rain or freezing temperatures.

Security

Homeowners can rest easy, thanks to automated systems that ensure their home is safe and secure. Companies now offer products that check, open and close garage doors directly from a smartphone, tablet or computer. There are also lock systems that respond only to the fingerprints of residents of the home. If that's not enough, new technologies send text or email updates when doors are locked or unlocked, and can remotely lock doors through Wi-Fi.

Time Savings

Finally, kitchen appliances are beginning to integrate technologies to streamline the day-to-day routines of homeowners, allowing for maximum time savings. Consumers can take the hassle out of finding the perfect cooking setting by using a microwave that can scan a bar code on a dish and automatically adjusts to the correct time and power for the particular product. Ovens equipped with Wi-Fi allow cooks to monitor their meals on a mobile device and put the crock pot to shame.

Families can also save time while enjoying the convenience of home automation. Wi-Fi-enabled mailboxes send text or email alerts when mail has arrived. Parents can even save the time it takes to beg their child to stop playing video games by using a tool that automatically limits the time spent on an electronic device.

Peace of mind isn't all about expensive, over-the-top upgrades. Home automation can save time and money, and offer customized comfort and security, often through simple technology tweaks.