Gunning Daily News

Why Now Is a Great Time to Start Your Own Business

September 29, 2011 4:39 pm

Despite the economic woes that have plagued the U.S. over the past few years, there are still great opportunities out there for those who really want to find them, says women’s business coach and mentor Karen Terry.

"There has never been a better time to start a new business," said Karen Terry, a women's business coach and mentor based in Houston. "Many women who work in Corporate America dream of starting their own business but are afraid.” 

For others, Terry says they’ve hit the glass ceiling and wonder when they can be their own bosses. “Now is the time,” she says.

To help entrepreneurs start their own businesses, Terry has written a special report titled "The 10 Biggest Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Make When They Start Their Business."

Here are some of her favorite business ideas:

1. Create a financial safety net. Start saving money by skipping the extra coffee or newspaper. All that money adds up and can come in handy when you are running your new business.

2. Get one new client before you leave your current job - if you can. "Every little bit helps. For a lot of people it is scary to quit a job and not have any clients lined up. Clients translate into income, which helps ease the transition to self-employment," she says.

3. Use your network. If you are going through a career change, don't assume you can't use your existing network. For those who are simply venturing out on their own—use your network to your advantage.

4. Professional development. You need to identify your skills. If you are weak in certain areas, take a class so you can become the best you can be. You aren't going to be successful if you have certain areas where you are weak.

5. Mentors. It's always a good idea to work with a business coach who has also had experience running a business.

What You Should Know Before Buying Your First Car

September 29, 2011 4:39 pm

Buying a car for the first time is a celebratory moment in anyone's life, regardless of age, and the site's expert editors offers their 'best kept secrets' to ease the trip to the dealer with these easy-to-remember pointers. 

"The car-buying process is never filled with as much uncertainty as it is for the first time," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com. "With this advice in mind, Kelley Blue Book hopes to alleviate some of the stress inherent with such a large financial decision." 

Helpful Hints for First-Time Car Buyers 

For those in the market to buy a car for the first time, here are some helpful suggestions to keep in mind while doing your research and shopping. 

Establish a realistic budget
This figure is generally based on what you can afford per month. Calculate your cost-of-living in all the more important areas, like shelter, food, health insurance and Happy Hour. Once you have that total, the remainder could be spent on a car payment, car insurance and, of course, gas for your new ride. 

Know what you can spend monthly
While this may look similar to No. 6, your level of indebtedness is different from your monthly commitment. If you choose to finance your car, figure $25/month for every thousand dollars that you borrow for 48 months, and $20/month for 60-month financing. 

Establish your transportation needs
Make sure to choose a car that best fits your needs. For instance, if your lifestyle or career requires a car for hauling heaving items, then invest in a larger, heavy-duty vehicle. Given the cost of fuel, insurance and—in many cities—monthly parking, don't buy what you don't need. 

Identify and prioritize your wants
The first-time purchase doesn't need to be your be-all/end-all acquisition, but you should still pay attention to your 'want' list. Better to stretch a bit for those features that will bring more satisfaction in your purchase and prevent buyer's remorse. 

Do your research (it's never been easier)
There is an incredible amount of information and perspective on new cars and their late-model alternatives. There are listings devoted to cars for teenagers, cars for students and first-time buyers. 

Locate a convenient dealer
Don't feel intimidated, as the dealership salesman is closer to a normal person than you think. When deciding between different car models, compare dealer locations and showroom environments. We tend to stay away from dealerships where two-thirds of the sales staff is sitting or standing at the front of the entrance. 

For more information visit www.kbb.com.

Word of the Day

September 29, 2011 4:39 pm

Joint tenancy. Property owned by two or more persons with equal and undivided interest and ownership and the right of survivorship. If one owner dies, the property automatically passes to the others.

Question of the Day

September 29, 2011 4:39 pm

Q: Do I have to disclose a parent's gift to the lender?

A: Lenders prefer that you do. But relax, you are not penalized in any way for receiving parental help. An estimated one-third of all first-time buyers purchase homes with a loan or a money gift from parents.

Lenders also will approve gifts, with the proper documentation, from relatives, friends, an employer, church, municipality, or nonprofit organization – although stricter restrictions may apply for gifts from friends and relatives other than parents.

Expect the lender to ask you to present a gift letter stating that a repayment of the "gift" is not expected. The amount of the gift and the date it was given should be clearly stated in the letter, along with the donor's name, address, telephone number and relationship to you.

The lender also can ask to see a few bank statements to ascertain if the money was recently placed into the account.

A gift may be more acceptable than an actual parental loan, particularly if the loan must be paid back immediately, which could contribute to an increase in your monthly debt – something a lender may frown on.

Outdoor Fire Safety: Burn Bans, Restrictions, and Environmental Impact

September 28, 2011 5:39 pm

Outdoor burn bans are placed to protect the environment and prevent destructive fires. They make private wood fire burning illegal or only allowed by permission of the local fire department or local government. If your country has a burn ban in place and you looking for a way to enjoy an outdoor flame this fall, you will be happy to know that gas fire pits are exempt from many burn bans and provide a way to keep fires burning.

Burning a fire that runs on clean-burning fuel, like natural gas, will not produce the carcinogenic smoke created by a wood-burning fire. This means less impact on the environment, and neighbors won't complain about smoke floating into their yard. Gas fire pits not only meet requirements for many burn bans, they are also convenient with very little maintenance. No wood to buy, no soot, smoke, or ashes, and no messy clean-up. Clean-burning fuel options include LP, natural gas, denatured alcohol (non-pourable gel fuel), and pellet fuel.

Dan Shimek, President of The Outdoor GreatRoom Company states, "there isn't a 'surefire' way to bypass all burn bans. However, by choosing a UL listed gas fire pit it is possible to have year-round enjoyment of fire, in a way that is both safe and legal."

Stainless steel gas burners units generate a controlled fire, eliminate sparks, and do not create toxic smoke. State and local codes vary, as does the duration of individual bans. Research local codes online and check with code officials in each affected zone to and determine if UL Listed gas fire pit tables are a viable option.

From small urban balconies to shared campsites, UL listed gas fire pit burners make it easier than ever to rekindle the warm glow of a fire year-round.

Top 5 reasons to choose a gas fire pit table:
1. Safety & Peace of Mind. UL listed products are tested for safe use.
2. Eliminate Smoke that carries toxic particles and irritates neighbors.
3. Convenience. No hauling wood, no messy clean-up.
4. Quick to Start. Electronic ignition starts the fire.
5. Style and design. Pre-fabricated or DIY custom surrounds.

Top things to consider when buying a gas fire pit table :
1. UL listed burners ensure safety testing and approval.
2. Stainless steel burners and components won't rust.
3. Electronic ignition. Makes starting the fire simple and safe.
4. Remote control options offer convenience.
5. Natural Gas. If using NG, consult with a professional before making your purchase.
6. Attractive Propane Tank Covers. If using LP (liquid propane) gas, see if the fire pit table has the provision to house a tank underneath. If not, shop for an attractive tank cover that matches your space. Most fire pits use a 20lb propane tank - the same type used for gas barbeque grills.

For more information, visit http://www.OutdoorRooms.com .

Short on Cash? Try These 5 Ways to Stretch a Tight Budget

September 28, 2011 5:39 pm

Cricket Communications, a leading provider of innovative and value-driven wireless services, has teamed up with personal finance and savings expert Robert Pagliarini to offer easy tips to help people stretch already-tight budgets. Pagliarini is the author of The Other 8 Hours, Six-Day Financial Makeover and a certified financial planner.

"As the economy struggles to recover, people are looking for new ways to save money," says Pagliarini. "But no one wants to cut all of the fun and entertainment out of their lives, especially with deeply personal devices like cell phones and electronics."

Cricket has partnered with Robert to offer creative money-saving tips that can help save families hundreds of dollars each month.

PERK System - List all of your expenses and decide which ones you can "Postpone," "Eliminate," "Reduce" and those you must "Keep." Don't let the simplicity throw you. It's easy but incredibly effective and helps you prioritize and get your spending in line. The rest of my tips focus on expenses you can "Eliminate" and "Reduce."
"Budget" Nights Out - A night out can be much needed, but dinner bills, movie tickets and parking fees each month can quickly start to resemble a mortgage payment! Don't skip the night out completely, but consider eating at home before the movie. You can even invite your friends over for a cooking night—and they can return the favor the next time.
Small Cutbacks, Big Savings - Don't forget about the small everyday expenses you rack up – they add up to big savings. If you can cut out some coffees and brown bag your lunch a few times each week, you can save $150 a month.
Technology That Saves You Money – It seems counter-intuitive, but there are ways to cut your costs with new gadgets and services. You can slash your cable bill by using video subscription streaming services, online DVD rentals and an HD antenna—you still get 90% of what you watch through cable/satellite providers for one-fifth of the price.
Cell Phones - The average family spends well over $1,000 a year on wireless service, and that's before you start adding in costs like extra lines and fancy phones for the kids, apps and song downloads. For anyone who has ever given their kid a smartphone, you know this can be a recipe for a financial disaster.
The easiest, most pain-free way to save money is to stick with a fixed cost, pre-paid plan where you can save hundreds of dollars each year, without sacrificing all of the fun apps, games and music that you can't live without.

For more information about flexible service plans, visit www.mycricket.com.


Planning a Party? Follow These Group Event Planning Hints

September 28, 2011 5:39 pm

Whether planning a wedding, meeting, reception, convention, or party, the costs can add up fast. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. This can be done in a variety of ways that will save money. 

First get prices from multiple venues and hotels. Use competing proposals to compare prices and as leverage to lower the price of the preferred venue. If a block of hotel rooms is needed, hold the event in the same hotel where the guestrooms are located. The greater the number of guestrooms the lower the rate should be, and this will provide extra leverage to lower the price of the event space and can also be used to lower the catering costs.

Do not forget to compare hotels rates to rates from internet. If planning multiple events then commit to the same location for both. This is effective in lowering the cost of both events.

Hotel and conference centers are flexible when it comes to food and beverage pricing. They are more than willing to meet a required budget and reduce costs. Using a preferred outside caterer is another way to lower catering costs or this can be used to assist in negotiation of in house costs. These principals can be applied to audio/visual expenses as-well, another area that is open to negotiation.

If the event can be held during an off peak time or season there will be a much greater chance of getting a lower price. Good luck planning your next event.

For more information, visit www.meetingplanneronline.com.

Word of the Day

September 28, 2011 5:39 pm

Interim financing. Short-term loan usually made during the construction phase of a building project or until a permanent, long-term loan can be obtained. Also called a construction loan.

Question of the Day

September 28, 2011 5:39 pm

Q: Where can I find foreclosure properties?

A: Look in the legal notices section of your local newspaper. A notice is also usually posted on the property itself and somewhere in the city where the sale will take place.

However, real estate agents are the best source for information about foreclosures before they begin. Often a property will be listed and the agent will know if it is approaching foreclosure. Perhaps the best way to get the information is to have your agent put the word out that you are looking for properties with pending foreclosures.

Another source can be the bank or financial institution that holds the mortgage. Of course, they generally will not give you the names of those who are facing foreclosure, but they may give the property owner your card or phone number.

Buying foreclosures is not easy. Savvy investors are highly skilled at nabbing these properties. Inexperienced buyers may find themselves surrounded by pretty stiff competition. They will need to get as much information as possible, including a "foreclosure inspection report" and an appraisal from the lender.

5 Ways to Deal with a Whining Child

September 28, 2011 5:09 pm

Children can be great complainers, and it doesn’t take them long to learn that they can sometimes win your consent or attention by whining until you give them what they want. But, according to child development experts, there are better ways to hang onto your sanity and make your child more cooperative and pleasant in the bargain.

Here, from a panel of experts at Chapman College in Orange, Calif., are five proven ways to deal with a whiny child:
1. Pretend you don’t hear your child’s request when said in a whiny fashion. Go about your activities as though he had never said a word. Ignoring the whining sends a message that it doesn’t bring results.
2. At the first pause in the child’s complaining, say brightly, “Oh, I’m sorry. Were you talking to me? I can’t seem to hear that whiny tone. If you’d like to talk to me in a friendlier way, I’d love to hear what you have to say.” This sets up a clear standard for what you expect when communicating, and will surely get the child’s attention if he or she begins to whine out of habit.
3. Give your child a sense of control by offering choices whenever possible. “Would you rather go to the library or the park?” “Would you rather have green beans or peas?” A child who has some measure of control is better equipped to handle life’s little disappointments.
4. Redirect the blame when she complains. If she whines that she always has to clean her room, remind her calmly that if she kept it picked up all week long, she wouldn’t have to clean up all at once. Doing this teaches that she needs to accept responsibility for the actions she chooses to take.
5. Every now and then, play a game in which you are the child and he is the adult. Role playing shows your child how awful he sounds when he whines, and gives him a chance to vocalize solutions that can ultimately make both of you happier.