Sunday, May 24, 2015

Shopping Savings: Sears Memorial Day Military and Summer Deals

The Memorial Day holiday serves as a time for us to remember our military service men and women who have passed in the line of duty. This Memorial Day, Sears is offering a discount to all military service men and women.
 
 
Besides as day of remembrance, it also serves as the kick-off to outdoor entertaining and home improvement.  

From appliances and mattresses and more, Sears is the destination to ensure that you are ready to go for Memorial Day and on through the summer.
 

Giveaway: Coming Home

Memorial Day is approaching- and while BBQs and picnics take over our thoughts, it's important to remember that the true reason for the holiday is a celebration of those who have served our country.
 
With this in mind, I'm able to offer a giveaway of Greg Ruth's incredibly poignant picture book, COMING HOME, which beautifully illustrates the story of a young boy waiting to reunite with his military parent at the airport. It's garnered immense praise from outlets like The New York Times, who wrote,  “Coming Home makes as strong a case as a picture book can for visual storytelling, and for making few words count.”
 
To enter, leave a comment with why you're most interested in the book. Deadline is May 25th.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Shopping Savings: Family Finest Make-N-Bake Pizza

Since the only thing kids love more than ordering delivery pizza is the chance to make their own custom pies, Family Finest's Make-N-Bake Pizza Kits are the key to ultimate pizza party success! Right now you can get Family Finest's $1 Off Coupon to save!

Money Makers: Franchise Tips

Similar to buying a home, it is vital that a perspective franchise buyer has realistic expectations, preparation and know cash flow capabilities to invest. For years, mortgage companies have pre-qualified borrowers to establish a price range for the home they would lend to.  The benefits are many, including a pre-qualification provides tremendous buying power and the right guidance on lending ratios—debt to income level, for example. This knowledge gives the buyer confidence for making purchase decisions.
Investing in a franchise is very similar. The amount financed to own a franchise is an important consideration—debt service is a fixed cost that must be paid every month. Realistic business expectations, solid revenue and cost estimates, are critical to purchasing a franchise opportunity.

I had a chance to interview  Mr. Alan George, Vice President - Franchise Strategic Planning at Franchise Marketing Systems about things to be aware  of when considering a franchise.

What are the benefits of a franchise investment?
 
"Better than the bank" is a very easy benefit.  Interest rates are at historical lows, saving your money in the bank in the past had a potentially rewarding return.  Banks offering 1% interest rates would take 72 years to double you initial investment. The investment in a franchise substantially improve the rate of return.   A sound and expected return on a franchise should be 20%  after taking a salary.
 
Stocks right now are at all-time highs, buying low and selling high is the name of the stock game.  The rates of return on a stock and 401K are healthy can be a great path to wealth.   Top fund managers are returning 7 to 12%.   At 12% rate of return it will take 6 years to double your money.
 
Active participation is another great benefit.  Driving the business decisions and making business happen is the American Dream.  In the book: The Millionaire Next Door, that millionaire is most likely a business owner.   Driving the business and controlling the investment is a hug benefit. Active participation can grow your investment at the rate you want.    Want to grow faster, triple your advertising and sales effort.  You are in control.
 
How does pre-qualification work and why is it important?
 
Pre-qualification is the process of outlining your ability to fund a franchise investment.  that outline should include capital at hand and the ability to borrow.   Capital management is vital to the business and a wise mix of leverage can extend the growth of any business.   Getting  loan pre-approved will give you the ability to show worthiness.  
 
Why is pre-qualification important: Let's use a poker analogy: Pre-qualification is putting your cards on the table and showing what you have in your hand. Providing a strong capital plan shows the franchisor you are serious about investing.   The Franchisor needs to understand that the potential investor has the ability to make the initial investment and the ongoing investment. To continue with our Poker analogy, if you have 4 Aces in your hand, it best to show your hand and collect your pot.​  Remember a franchise is awarded, not purchased.  There are many times when 3 or 4 players are in the game for an area and the winning hand gets the potential area.
 
What are some considerations people need to think about before investment in a franchise?
 
Whether their money is better off in the bank or in their investment portfolio.  79% of all Americans want to be the boss, but only a fraction of the 79% will be successful running a business.  Buying a franchise greatly improves your likelihood  of success, but there is still risk involved.
 
Another consideration is risk.  Are you a risk taker?  Can you manage risk>  Can you minimize or avoid risk.   Good business owner have the ability to reach for the reward, while mitigating the risk.
 
Last consideration, is being ALL IN.  If you are going to take the risk, do everything it takes to win.  Expect long hours, testy customers, demanding vendors, expect  to juggle family and work.  Learn the work/family balance and make sure that the balance allows for your return, but also for the ability to enjoy your return with your loved ones.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Freebies!

Olay Regenerist (2 options available)
FrizzEase Beyond Smooth
U by Kotex
Curad Bandage

Caring Causes: Lucid Brake AIDS/Lifecycle

LucidBrake, creator of the first smart wireless bike brake light, recently announced that it will give 20% of all pre-order sales of LucidBrake at www.lucidbrake.com to HIV/AIDS awareness and research. Until July 2015, LucidBrake is donating 20% of every pre-order to AIDS/Lifecycle: Ride to End AIDS, the annual 7-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money and awareness of HIV/AIDS, held May 31-June 6, 2015.

The LucidBrake wireless press-on safer biking brake light is now available for pre-order after recently completing its successful Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns, with pricing of $50 until July 2015 (normally $74.99). Early-birds can order the patent-pending smart brake light that can save lives through safer biking and also help fight HIV/AIDS at the same time through LucidBrake’s support for AIDS safety awareness and research.

 
Lucid Brake Features:
  • Ultra bright brake light visible from ½ mile away at night and ¼ mile in the day to prevent cyclists’ injuries.
  • Flat back allows it to mount onto multiple surfaces, backpacks, helmets, etc.
  • 4 different beacon modes (flashing, fast flashing, solid, off) with modes aligning to the E.U. laws (off or dimmed tail-light).
  • Angled cover design increases degree of visibility.
  • Brake Light Indicator:
    • No pressing a pedal or button necessary.
    • Knows when going over bumpy roads, down a hill, or really slowing down.
    • Adjusts to the mounting angle.
    • Flashes more intensely when stopping suddenly, alerting others.
  • No on/off switch: automatically goes into sleep mode when not in use or by changing the position of the unit or storing in flat or horizontal position.
  • Long battery life of over 1 year with 2 AAA batteries.
  • Waterproof :  operates under water for biking in rain or snow, for boating, or other aquatic uses.
  • Lightweight:  under 2 oz. total weight (including batteries).
  • Many other creative non-bicycle uses possible - such as at the end of long truck or car loads.
 
About LucidLights, LLC

Founded in 2007, LucidLights, LLC designs innovative smart LED lighting technology for safer living. LucidLights ™ are hand-held, oscillating light devices that use persistence of vision to paint bright images (text or graphic) in thin air, stopping people in their tracks with their novel brilliance.  In 2013, LucidLights created prototypes for LucidBrake and with the help of a successful crowd-funding campaign, produced their first production run. The new LucidBrake is set to ship in July 2015 with a more advanced algorithm for how and when it turns off and more advanced beacon modes, as well as modes that comply with German E.U. rules of the road.  For more information, see
www.lucidbrake.com.

About AIDS/Lifecycle

AIDS/LifeCycle: Ride to End AIDS is a fully supported, 7-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money and awareness in the fight against HIV/AIDS. AIDS/LifeCycle 2015 will take place May 31st through June 6th, 2015. Every year, this landmark ride through beautiful California delivers a life-changing experience for thousands of participants from all backgrounds and fitness levels united by a common desire to do something heroic. For more information on AIDS Lifecycle, see:
http://www.aidslifecycle.org/.

Caring Causes: Chef Koochooloo

Chef Koochooloo is a start up located in Mountain View, CA that strives to empower families and educators to engage in fun, interactive culinary studies while enhancing math, science, and social studies knowledge. The curriculum allows children to learn by touching, tasting, feeling, smelling, and listening. They love every aspect of the program because they can use all of their senses.  They are also able to make sense of science and math in a more concrete tangible way.


They have a campaign through IndieGoGo to raise $40,000 to help launch their new app.It's a great idea to try to incorporate real-life skills like cooking with academic subjects - it makes instruction more interesting and relevant, and gives kids hands-on experience with things they'll use their whole lives. Check it out and donate if you can!

The Chef Koochooloo program provides practical experience with many essential skills such as reading non-fiction, (the fun facts are engaging enough to capture their attention), following directions, and measuring. Observing the class through the short videos Layla provided has made me realize that the program truly helps its students to develop fine motor skills, eye hand coordination, and early concepts of math and science. There are just so many great benefits to this program that I would love to see it implemented in many more schools across the country. 

Cooking with kids is a great early childhood education. It is an opportunity to meal plan, look for recipes and share ideas on why and how to make meals healthier.

Smart Safety: Pool Features to Look For

The temperature is remaining warm, Memorial Day is around the corner and the kids are almost out of school. For tens of thousands of children, their eyes switch from the books to the pool.
Children are almost always attracted to water, so how do you know if your pool safe? Doug McCarron, an attorney with The Haggard Law Firm, has represented several families who have experienced tragedies because of unsafe or unsecure pools and pool areas. In many cases, the errors are common. Considering this, McCarron wants to share a few things parents should look out for to keep their little ones safe in and around pools.

1.       Self-Latching Pool Gates
McCarron says self-latching pool gates are the law in many states such as Florida, which has the highest rate of drowning deaths in the country. A self-latching gate can mean the difference between life and death, and there are several styles to choose from. If a home association or apartment complex you want to move to does not have a self-latching gate, request one from the association, or do not move there.

2.      Dual main drains. This underwater element is one that many of us do not usually think about, but a dual main drain can save a life. Having dual drains distributes the water suction between the two drains. This lessens the possibility of a child’s or adult’s hair getting sucked into a drain and possibly causing drowning. There are laws governing specific requirements for this in many states, so be sure to ask a pool expert.
                      
3.       Alarm! Making noise can make the difference. Children can easily wander about, and it could only take a few seconds for them to find the pool. McCarron says a safety measure that is not required by law, but can be crucially effective, is an audible alarm system on all doors that exit to the pool area. With an audible alarm system, an open door signals a subtle alarm when anyone exits the house. This could potentially be a lifesaving feature and can create an extra sense of security for parents.
    
Douglas J. McCarron received his Bachelors of Science in 1993 and his Juris Doctorate in 1995, both with Honors from Florida State University. Upon graduation, Doug served as an Assistant State Attorney in Miami-Dade County for four years. While there, Doug was a member of the Career Criminal Unit where he distinguished himself in over 50 trials prosecuting violent crime.
McCarron joined The Haggard Law Firm in 2006 and has lent his expertise by handling a wide variety of cases including negligent security, pool drowning, construction accidents, auto accidents and wrongful death cases.  Since becoming a partner in 2007, he has resolved numerous cases resulting in over $65 million in settlements and verdicts.  

Fun Freetime: Fifi Cat Therapist

Is catnip losing its appeal? Are you dealing with owner-anxiety? Well, fear not! Fifi, cat therapist extraordinaire, is back with cat-titude and fluffier than ever in the new second season of Fifi Cat Therapist only on DreamWorksTV.

Fifi’s therapy sessions are booming, when her owner leaves the house she’s so busy. From local zoo animals to the neighborhood pets, this feline has the purr-fect solution for her sometimes scaly often furry four-legged patients. Whether she's giving advice to an oversized dog that thinks he’s still a lap puppy or an awkward teen giraffe who's going through identity issues and seriously crushing on a zebra, Fifi’s quick wit and sass helps them all, one tail at a time. 

Check out these brand-new first three episodes of season two below and tune in on Thursdays to catch more Fifi!

Reptitlement Issues - Allie, the big city gator, wants to hang out with her friends under the mall, but her daddy is ordering her to get a summer job, ugh! Can Fifi teach Miss privileged Allie the importance of work?   
Daymares - Fifi has too much fun figuring out the cause of tough guy Bobby the Bobcat’s terrible dreams and pays the price!
Bullyfrog - Fifi has some fiery advice to end the teasing David’s getting from the school bullyfrog.

For more DreamWorksTV, visit www.YouTube.com/DreamWorksTV

Giveaway: Aurorae Aqua Towel

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

I recently received an Aurorae Aqua Microfiber Beach Towel. My only complaint with the towel is the color - I'm not a huge fan of the sand color (although it comes in plenty of other pretty choices). Otherwise, this towel is great. It's very lightweight for its size, so it's easy to carry along; it's large, so it's long enough to lay on or use as a picnic blanket, or use for multiple kids; and it's lightweight, so it dries very quickly. It's soft too - much softer than most of our beach towels. Aurorae also makes other products for an active lifestyle, including yoga mats and accessories, resistance bands, and aromatherapy. They are making strides with some great eco-friendly features for their products as well.

I have a chance to give away a beach towel. To enter, leave a comment with what you like best about it! Deadline is May 26th.