Top 10 Travel Scams to Watch Out For

Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 4:14am by Site Administrator

Traveling is generally an exciting and enjoyable experience, but it doesn’t take much to ruin a good trip. Every day, unsuspecting tourists fall victim to sneaky travel scams. It doesn’t matter how beautiful or quaint of a location, there are always scammers waiting to prey on naive, money-toting vacationers. Most scams can be prevented by using your common sense, while others are trickier and harder to spot. Before you travel domestically or internationally, it’s a good idea to do your homework and brush up on these 10 common travel scams.

  1. The overly helpful local

    Whether you’re traveling in the states or internationally, you should be wary of the overly helpful local who might try to scam you. This scam can be initiated by one or multiple people, but the goal is generally the same. The overly helpful local may approach you and warn you about pickpocketing and the safety of your wallet. They will also offer help with the ATM, so they can either get a good look at your pin number or steal your cash on the spot. These overly helpful locals have also been known to scout out people with flat tires or car problems and ambush them. Many times, the local will assist you and demand a tip for their help. Beware of these overly helpful locals and try to get assistance from a reputable source or establishment.

  2. The swoop-in

    The swoop-in is a carefully planned scam that preys on unsuspecting travelers. One of the scammers squirts mustard or a white substance that looks like bird poop and another person swoops in to wipe the mess away with napkins. While the unsuspecting tourist is being helped, another person or two come to the scene to steal wallets, purses, passports, and anything else they can get their hands on. Avoid becoming a victim of this scam by refusing help and cleaning the mess yourself.

  3. The attractive flirt

    This scam mostly applies to single male travelers who are easily smitten by attractive, foreign women, but that doesn’t mean an attractive male couldn’t pull the same stunt on a woman. The scam is fairly simple and quite predictable. An attractive, flirtatious woman approaches a single man and invites him to have a drink with her at a bar or nightclub. One drink can turn into several, resulting in an exorbitant bill at your expense. European travel expert, Rick Steves, says there are some variations to the scam, but warns against accepting invitations from complete strangers, especially when drinking.

  4. Monkey business

    It’s not every day that you see a monkey roaming the streets in America, which is why so many tourists fall for this unexpected scam. Once you get down on their level, everything is fair game for these furry creatures. The quick and nimble monkeys are trained to swipe your wallet, purse, passport, camera, sunglasses, and other belongings and run off. Then, a seemingly helpful local will offer to retrieve your items, but not without a fee or tip for their assistance. Oftentimes, the person who retrieves the goods is actually responsible for training the monkeys to be petty thieves. The best way to avoid this scam is to stay away from the monkeys or keep your important belongings out of reach.

  5. Phony police officers

    Scammers often go under disguise to make their ploy much more believable. A popular scam is to pretend to be police officers. They will stop travelers on the street and ask to see their wallet to search for counterfeit bills for their "protection." While the fake police search your wallet, they might take some bills and credit cards in the process. Although it can be difficult to tell the difference between real police and fake police, you might want to study the city’s police uniforms to avoid falling for this scam.

  1. Gold ring scam

    The lost gold ring scam has been going on for years and is particularly bad in Paris. Scammers will approach tourists with a "lost" gold ring and ask if they dropped it. As tourists examine the ring, they discover the pure gold authentication and the scammer asks them to try it on. Once the person tries on the ring, they are stuck. The scammer will ask the tourist to pay for the ring, often at a much higher price than what he or she paid for it, then proceed to beg for money. Avoid falling victim to this scam by ignoring the scammers or simply tell them "no" in your language of choice.

  2. Menu switcheroo

    While dining out abroad, watch out for the menu switcheroo. Restaurants that are looking to make some extra money will show tourists one menu before they order and present an overpriced bill after they finish eating. Anticipating a complaint, the manager or restaurant employee shows the customer a different menu with the inflated prices and insists that the bill is correct. This scam doesn’t always work out in the restaurant or establishment’s favor, but it’s a good idea to study the menu, keep one at your side, and brush up on the local language in case you have to argue your point. Also, before you travel, see if the U.S. Embassy has issued a tourist advisory that names certain places that have been known to rip off travelers.

  3. The slow count

    Another scam to look out for is the slow count, where cashiers purposely count a tourist’s money slowly, hoping that they will get antsy and leave before getting their total amount. The cashiers will take long pauses and move extremely slowly to make the process even more aggravating and drawn out. Avoid this scam by clearly stating the value of the bill and counting your money before you leave.

  4. Overpriced taxi ride

    Taxis are a necessary form of transportation when traveling abroad, so it’s important to keep your guard up when riding in them. The most common taxi scam is being overcharged by the driver. Avoid becoming a victim by using taxi stands, asking for the fare up front, and only taking taxis with meters in them.

  5. The gypsy baby toss

    If you’re traveling to Italy or Eastern Europe, you may have been warned about gypsies and their pickpocketing ways. A common way for gypsies to snatch your cash and belongings is to do the baby toss. Gypsy women will target single female travelers and approach them while holding a baby in a blanket, which is often a baby doll. Then, they’ll toss the baby into the travelers’ arms and another person will quickly steal their purse, wallet, jewelry, and anything else that’s accessible. The best way to avoid this shrewd scam is to steer clear of gypsies and beggars because they’re often up to no good.

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10 Most Recognizable Business Mascots

Monday, January 16, 2012 at 4:28am by Site Administrator

Used to be that a mascot for a business, be it a cartoon character, member of the animal kingdom, or human stand-in, existed only in two-dimensional form on signage and print advertising. These days, with more outlets for advertising than ever before, advertising mascots appear on Facebook pages, tweet on Twitter, and even star in their own sitcoms. Some mascots are so entertaining on their own, you might not know or care about the product they’re trying to sell. Here are 10 of today’s the most recognizable business mascots, mascots designed to brand a service as opposed to a product such as breakfast cereal or pancake syrup.

  1. The GEICO Gecko

    Most recently voiced with a Cockney London accent by actor Jake Wood, this charming and earnest reptile maintains his own blog, sharing updates and photos from his travels around the world.

  2. The GEICO Cavemen

    The joke just doesn’t get old. Articulate quasi-metrosexual Neanderthals repeatedly find themselves the butt of GEICO’s "So easy, a caveman could do it…" tag line. (Honorary mascot mention: Kash aka the stack of cash with googly eyes identified as the money a person saves when using GEICO. Kash’s recurring music cue is also a hoot.)

  3. The AFLAC Duck

    The ad agency responsible for this mascot credits the ducks in the ponds of New York’s Central Park for demonstrating how much "AFLAC" sounds like a quack. That team of creative ducks received payment for their help in the form of several loaves of white bread. Gilbert Gottfried voiced the character for more than a decade, but he was fired in spring 2011 when he made jokes about the recent tsunami and earthquake that company officials deemed "lacking in humor."

  4. The AOL Running Man

    Back in 2009, AOL tried its best to replace the Running Man with a variety of new branding images, including a goldfish, all of which seem to be gone now in 2012. That little yellow guy is still their best icon.

  5. Juan Valdez

    Created in 1959 by a New York ad agency, this fictional character, wearing the traditional dress of an arriero, or mule driver, is directly inspired by Colombia’s real-life coffee farmers. In addition to being the brand symbol for the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, Juan Valdez is a national folk hero, representing the very real demographic of rural coffee farmers that help make Colombia the world’s third-largest producer of coffee.

  6. The Twitter Blue Bird

    Perhaps it’s not surprising given the nature of the Internet, crowd-sourcing, and out-of-date copyright laws, that Twitter paid the designer less than $6 for this now ubiquitous image of a blue bird. That’s just a couple bucks less than what the designer of the Nike swoosh received.

  7. Mayhem

    If fate is a hunter, than Allstate’s Mayhem is looking to mount your head on his wall. He is one of the most frightening and funny mascots in current advertising culture, and very much a product of our uncertain times.

  8. Flo the Progressive Girl

    In television commercial after television commercial, the incessantly bubbly and, well, kinda sexy Flo the Progressive Girl for all of her oddball quirkiness, somehow delivers a consistent message regarding credibility and customer service. And her 2.4 million fans on Facebook can’t all be stalkers, right?

  9. Reddy Kilowatt

    Those of you born later than 1930 may have no idea who this freaky character is. The lightning bolt limbed Reddy was once the super-charged mascot of more than 200 electric power companies promoting electricity as a safe utility for homes and businesses.

  10. William Shatner

    There are no second acts in American lives. Unless your name is William Shatner, who has experienced at least four or five. In addition to starring in two different hit television shows after playing the iconic Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series, Shatner has enjoyed a lucrative career as less of a spokesman and more of a mascot — albeit a very butch, post-modern, self-aware mascot — for a variety of companies, including DirectTV, Smith & Hassler Attorneys at Law, and perhaps most famously, Priceline.com.

10 Green Businesses that Made It Big

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 4:13am by Site Administrator

Decades ago, many people didn’t care about environmentally-friendly businesses and what they had to offer. Promises of natural ingredients, sustainable practices, and social responsibility were not a priority for the average shopper. But the times have changed and people have turned a new leaf to the idea of going green and are using more natural, sustainable products. Check out these 10 green businesses that made it big.

  1. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day

    Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day is a popular line of earth-friendly home care products and supplies. The products were inspired by an Iowan mother of nine, Mrs. Thelma A. Meyer, who wanted to develop cleaners that "smell like a garden, but clean like the dickens." The phosphate-free and biodegradable products come in a variety of delectable scents and have earned their place as a top-selling household product line.

  2. Tom’s of Maine

    Tom’s of Maine is an eco-friendly manufacturer of personal care products that uses only natural ingredients. Known for their natural fluoride toothpaste and aluminum-free deodorant, Tom’s of Maine has earned a reputation for producing some of the best natural, sustainable, and environmentally-responsible items on the market today.

  3. Seventh Generation

    Seventh Generation is a Vermont-based manufacturer of household and personal care products that have become a favorite among conscious cleaners. Seventh Generation was established in 1988 and has been committed to making safe and sustainable products ever since. The brand continues to grow in terms of revenue and environmental responsibility, earning multiple awards for its business strategies and contributions to Mother Nature.

  4. Burt’s Bees

    Burt’s Bees is one of the most well-known and successful natural personal care brands in the country. From their beloved beeswax lip balms to their natural lotions and potions, Burt’s Bees has a very loyal following that continues to grow year after year. The multi-million dollar enterprise began on a much smaller scale. In 1984, creators Burt Shavitz and Roxanne Quimby started the mom-and-pop company, which only produced beeswax candles at the time. Quimby expanded the brand with natural soaps, perfumes, and their best-selling lip balm. Burt’s Bees was an instant success that was capitalized by their $925 million buyout by Clorox in 2007.

  5. Method

    Method is a San Francisco-based company that produces naturally-derived, biodegradable household and personal care products. This green company was founded by former roommates Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan. Their vision of developing a safe, yet powerful line of cleaners that are fragrant and stylishly designed came to fruition in 2001. Method is one of the fast-growing private companies in America and their eco-friendly practices continue to gain recognition.

  6. Whole Foods

    Whole Foods is a supermarket chain that prides itself on selling natural and organic products. Based in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods got its start as a small natural foods store, called SaferWay. Since its humble beginnings in the early ’80s, Whole Foods has expanded into a massive chain that dominates the natural food supermarket industry. Whole Foods has also succeeded in its social responsibility, earning a top ranking as the Green Power Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2006.

  7. Aveda

    Aveda is an environmentally-friendly manufacturer and distributor of cosmetic products, based in Blaine, Minn. Aveda’s personal care products use non-toxic, plant-derived ingredients that are safe and sustainable. Aveda was founded by Horst Rechelbacher in 1978 and his affinity for natural, healing ingredients led him to create Aveda’s first shampoo. Rechelbacher has since sold Aveda to Estée Lauder, but the separate entity has maintained its commitment to producing natural products for people to enjoy.

  8. Zipcar

    Zipcar is the world’s largest car sharing company that gives drivers a cheaper and more environmentally-friendly alternative to car ownership and car rentals. This American membership car service has taken off with tourists, car-less college students, and those who just need a car for the day.

  9. Trader Joe’s

    Trader Joe’s is a specialty retail grocery store that has spanned across nine states, bringing exotic, natural foods to people. There are more than 365 stores across the country and the number is expected to grow as the chain expands to other states. Trader Joe’s has earned a reputation for being a socially-responsible and eco-friendly store that emphasizes the use of its reusable grocery bags and offers sustainable food.

  10. American Apparel

    American Apparel is a Los Angeles-based clothing manufacturer that prides itself on being sweatshop-free and made in the U.S.A. The successful clothing retailer is most widely known for its basic, solid-color t-shirts and underwear, but has added several garment pieces, accessories, and bedding to the mix. The socially-responsible brand continues to intrigue shoppers with its risquée advertising and bold messages.

9 Businesses That Depend On The Holiday Rush

Monday, December 19, 2011 at 4:19am by Site Administrator

For the majority of people, the holiday rush is an extreme annoyance. Stores are crowded, shoppers are frantic, and you can’t turn left out of a parking lot to save your life. Many of America’s businesses, though, look to the holiday season to make up for losses during the year or just push them farther into the black. Of course, major retailers make some serious money as consumers clear their shelves, but these businesses in particular are extra merry after the holiday rush.

  1. Professional photographers

    As everyone is preparing their Christmas card photos to make their bratty kids seem like little angels to distant relatives, professional photographers, either with their own businesses or with department stores, can really rake in the cash. Weddings may bring in bigger chunks of money throughout the year, but the holidays bring a bigger quantity. There’s also the chance to photograph holiday events and parties or even pictures with Santa.

  2. Airlines

    If you’ve ever seen Home Alone, you know how crowded and crazy airports are during the holidays. Everyone is trying to get home to their families for Christmas and that means lots of packed flights. Not only do the airlines sell more tickets during this season, but they also raise the prices so they are maximizing their profits. With so many airlines facing money problems or declaring bankruptcy, the Thanksgiving and Christmas rush will be a boon to their budgetary deficits.

  3. Hallmark and other greeting card companies

    You might hear people argue that holidays were created by greeting card companies just so they could make a tidy profit. This might be true for some minor holidays and events (let’s consider that Hallmark recently made a "sorry you lost your job" card), but the December holiday season was already a built-in profit-maker for card companies. Though sales are consistent throughout the rest of the year, business spikes as Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa cards fly off the shelves, and people buy gifts and ornaments while they’re in the store.

  4. Fireworks retailers

    Fireworks are really only sold twice a year — for Fourth of July and New Year’s — so the holidays are crucial for a fireworks retailer to break even. Fireworks stores and stands light up the areas outside of city limits across the country a couple weeks before each holiday and do big business with party-throwers, cities, and teenage boys. Firecrackers and fireworks can be ordered during the rest of the year for special events, but if it weren’t for the holidays, none of these retailers would make any profit.

  5. Credit card companies

    Spending with credit cards has decreased in recent years, but it’s picked back up again with the holidays in sight. Credit card companies and banks aren’t letting the opportunity pass, offering extra benefits and incentives to get people to use plastic rather than cash. Many give discounts at certain retailers just during the holiday season, knowing that spending will be at a high for the year and that those dollars will push their profits up.

  6. Liquor stores

    Because there are plenty among us who enjoy a good glass of wine or a beer every now and then, liquor stores aren’t in any danger of shutting down, but the holiday season definitely contributes to the year’s profits for alcohol retailers. Liquor sales tend to peak the day before Thanksgiving (as people realize they’re going to have to deal with their crazy families again) and continue selling in high amounts throughout the holidays. In some states, the profit made between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is more than that made during the rest of the entire year.

  7. Package delivery services

    For people kind enough to send gifts to faraway friends and relatives (but not kind enough to actually go visit), delivery companies are a lifesaver. Sure, you have to make sure you plan ahead so it’ll arrive by Christmas and stand in a line at the UPS or FedEx office, but in the end, you’ll spread holiday joy without having to spend time with your family. This idea means lots of money changing hands at package delivery companies. Online purchases also contribute to the busy season, as 47% of consumers say they buy something online during the holidays. UPS alone says it ships more than 430 million packages during the short time frame.

  8. Online stores

    Christmas shopping is just one of the thousands of things that the Internet made easier. You don’t even have to face the throngs of crazed shoppers at the mall to get exactly what your family wants. Online retailers start preparing for the holiday season in July if they’re smart, because the glut of orders at the end of the year would make it impossible to catch up without serious planning. Many small, online-only businesses especially feel the benefits of the holiday rush. Etsy shops, for example, where many crafters and independent business owners sell items, see an increase in sales of 60% each year during the holidays.

  9. Nonprofits

    OK, nonprofits aren’t exactly what you would consider a business, but they do need to at least break even so they can continue their charitable work. The holidays bring out a fascinating spirit of giving in people who are pretty cheap and stingy the rest of the year, and many businesses provide avenues for people to contribute to nonprofits easily. Certain stores and websites donate a portion of the gifts you buy to a specific nonprofit, some people make donations in others’ names as a present, and many nonprofits launch campaigns to bring in extra earnings at the end of the year.

10 Worst Celebrity Business Ventures of All Time

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 4:21am by Site Administrator

A celebrity’s stamp of approval can do wonders for a business. But when a celebrity decides to take a business into their own hands, there’s no guarantee it will succeed. Even with the biggest names and the highest hopes, celebrity businesses have proven to be just as much of a crapshoot as the next. Here are the 10 worst celebrity business ventures of all time:

  1. Kim Basinger’s tourist attraction

    Actress Kim Basinger made a bad business move when she decided to purchase the town of Braselton, Ga., to make it a tourist attraction with movie studios and a film festival. Needless to say, the idea never caught on and Basinger’s $20 million purchase went to waste. She sold Braselton for $1 million and went back to what she does best — acting.

  2. Supermodels’ Fashion Café

    In 1995, supermodels Claudia Schiffer, Christy Turlington, Elle MacPherson, Naomi Campbell, and others opened Fashion Café at New York’s Rockefeller Plaza. The restaurant’s fashion-centered theme included display cases of outfits worn by the models and fashion show footage on the TVs, but the oddest part of all was the all-American menu filled with burgers, chicken wings, and pizza. Believe it or not, eating junk food while surrounded by images of skinny models didn’t thrill customers, and the restaurant closed its doors in 1998.

  3. Lenny Dykstra’s Player’s Club magazine

    Former New York Mets player Lenny Dykstra may have won on the ball field, but he struck out one too many times with his personal businesses. Dykstra dabbled in several different businesses and managed to drive all of them into bankruptcy. One of his biggest business failures was the financial magazine Player’s Club. The magazine was geared toward professional athletes looking for financial advice. Ironically, Dykstra was having his own financial crisis. He was accused of credit card fraud, as well as failing to pay printing costs and rent on the magazine’s Manhattan offices. Dykstra eventually filed for bankruptcy and lost all of his businesses.

  4. Hulk Hogan’s Pastamania

    Wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan stepped into the ring of restaurant ownership when he opened up Pastamania, a fast-food restaurant in Minnesota’s Mall of America. Hogan fans could feast on different pasta dishes named after the wrestler, such as "Hulk-a-Roos" and "Hulk-U’s." Although Pastamania was promoted by the World Championship Wrestling, the restaurant didn’t take off as expected and it went under less than a year after opening.

  5. Britney Spears’ Nyla Restaurant

    Britney Spears thought it would be a good idea to merge her two favorite places, New York and Louisiana, by opening up a restaurant called Nyla in Manhattan’s Dylan Hotel. The Cajun-infused restaurant opened in 2002, serving Southern favorites like fried chicken and fried okra. Despite its star-studded support, Nyla got bad reviews and violated several health codes. Spears severed her relationship with the restaurant after a short six months.

  6. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s promotion of Planet Hollywood

    The ’90s dream team of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Sylvester Stallone teamed up to promote the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain. Unlike Hard Rock Café, Planet Hollywood didn’t meet the mark. Despite the celebrity backing, the restaurant did not turn a profit. The company was forced to file for bankruptcy two times and Schwarzenegger eventually cut ties.

  7. Heidi Montag’s Heidiwood

    The Hills starlet Heidi Montag has made some regrettable decisions throughout her career, but one of her biggest offenses was launching her own clothing line, called Heidiwood. The fashion line featured poorly-made and barely-there pieces that didn’t quite resonate with shoppers. The clothing retailer, Anchor Blue, pulled the plug on Heidiwood less than a year after its creation.

  8. Steven Spielberg’s Dive! Restaurant

    Steven Spielberg has directed some of the most successful movies in history, but directing a restaurant business was a whole other story. Spielberg and Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg launched Dive!, a submarine-shaped restaurant that took customers on a simulated dive and served submarine themed dishes. Despite the clever concept, Dive! sunk in sales and never really developed a loyal fan base. Dive! hit rock bottom in 1999.

  9. The Kardashian’s credit card

    Almost everything the Kardashians touch turns to gold, but that definitely wasn’t the case with the Kardashian Kard. The sisters truly maxed out with their glitzy prepaid debit card that was aimed at teenagers and young adults. The problem was that the Kardashian Kard came with ridiculously high fees and a controversial marketing scheme. After selling a pathetic total of 250 cards, the Kardashians pulled the plug on their card and spurred a $75 million breach-of-contract lawsuit.

  10. Suzanne Somers’ meal prep business

    Suzanne Somer’s Kitchen, a self-serve meal prep company, really missed the mark with customers. The queen of the Thighmaster teamed up with Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown Jr. to launch the DIY family-dinner business that allowed customers to pick their ingredients and prepare meals at the store to take home. Somers and Brown butted heads on the original concept of the business. She insisted on using organic-only food, but Brown disagreed. Suzanne’s Kitchen went up in flames after less than three months.

10 Financial Benefits of Living With Your Parents After College

Monday, November 21, 2011 at 4:33am by Site Administrator

By Eliza Morgan

The number of college graduates who move home is at an all-time high, according to a poll by the consulting firm, Twentysomething, Inc. The survey found that 85% of college grads will return to Mom and Dad’s nest after graduation in hopes of finding a job and saving money. Moving back home and turning to your parents for financial help has become the norm and it really pays off for some. Although living with Mom and Dad again may not sound very appealing, boomerang kids have the opportunity to save money, learn good personal finance habits, and become more financially secure before moving out on their own. If you’re one of the thousands of college graduates who is moving back with your parents, take advantage of this grace period and start saving and investing wisely.

  1. Save money

    The No. 1 reason kids move back home after college is to save money. Living with your parents allows you to save the money you would normally spend on rent and put it in the bank. Whether you pay the bills or live rent-free, saving is much easier when you live cheaply. The more money you can save while living at home, the better your finances will be when you move out.

  2. Develop good money habits

    Living at home can expose you to good personal-finance habits. Whether you want to obtain a credit card or start investing in a retirement fund, your parents can help you achieve financial freedom and develop good money habits for life. While at home, observe your parents’ financial habits and ask questions to get a good idea of how they spend their money and invest.

  3. Learn the value of money

    Many college students have misconceptions about money and enter the real world with a lack of personal financial knowledge. All graduates, including those who took out loans to pay for school, could use a refresher in the value of money. Living at home can help you learn the value of money because you’ll have less of it to spend and will appreciate the cash you do have.

  4. Financial security

    College grads who live at home have the financial security of their parents to help them stay afloat until they can move out on their own. Some graduates will get a free ride from Mom and Dad, while others will have to pay their dues for living at home. Either way you look at it, you’re getting a good deal. Having the financial support of your parents makes transitioning from college to the real world much easier.

  5. Invest sooner

    Moving in with Mom and Dad after college can make it easier to invest sooner. College graduates can save tons by living at home and the money they don’t spend on rent can be invested into a savings plan. One of the smartest financial investments graduates can make is to start a retirement plan, such as a Roth IRA. These investments will help you manage your cash flow and prepare for the future.

  1. You can learn from your friends’ mistakes

    Living at home allows you to learn from your friends’ financial mistakes. Many college grads jump the gun on moving out because they want their own space and independence. While some friends may live within their means and have no financial problems, many end up overspending and have to move back home. When you live at home, you can be a spectator and learn from your friends and determine the right time to move out.

  2. Pay off student loans

    Living with your parents after college makes it easy to start paying down your student loans. Living at home allows you to save tons, so you can afford to put more money toward student loans. Chipping away at these pesky loans will help you pay them off in a timely manner and free you from debt.

  3. Incentive to find a job

    Considering the current state of the economy and the rising unemployment rate, finding a job is a difficult and often demoralizing task for college graduates. Moving home may be the only option for graduates, but it may also be the ticket to getting a job. Depending on your situation and your parents’ expectations, you may not have a choice but to find work right away. Pestering from Mom and Dad may be just what you need to get serious about job hunting and finding a job. Once you secure a job and get them off your back, you’ll feel relieved and more financially independent.

  4. Build and/or fix your credit

    Living at home allows graduates to establish or fix their credit. It’s important to build good credit or fix a damaged credit score before you move out because many apartment owners and even employers conduct credit checks. If you’ve never had a credit card or form of credit, now is the time to do so. If your credit score is less than stellar, then you can use this time to improve it.

  5. Budget for the future

    It is far easier to budget for the future when you don’t have rent going out the door each month. Use this time at home to set a budget that will help you achieve your financial goals. Budgeting will also give you a better idea if you can truly make it without your parents and how much it’s going to cost you when you move out.

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The 12 Strangest Celebrity Businesses

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 4:14am by Site Administrator

Celebrities are always looking for ways to keep the cash coming in. They never know when they’ll be between projects and need to buy a helicopter or new mansion or 20-carat diamond. To prepare for these unexpected emergencies, many stars try their hand at running a side business or two. Starting clothing lines, restaurants, and production companies are some of the most common, but other celebrities think outside of the box. Way outside of the box. These 12 bigshots got into some industries that don’t exactly fit their famous personalities — or the demands of consumers.

  1. MC Hammer’s search engine

    The rapper who brought us "U Can’t Touch This" and "2 Legit 2 Quit" is now trying to give us a new way to look him up on the Internet. His search engine, called WireDoo, is still not ready for a beta release, but Hammer says it has a "deep search" function that will make it better than Google by bringing up topics related to your keywords. Hopefully Hammer has done his research — though if he did, he probably used Google, which isn’t exactly a good sign.

  2. Gene Simmons’ KISS Kasket

    Merchandising is a huge racket for bands, but no one takes the business of cashing in on your celebrity as seriously as Gene Simmons. The KISS frontman started off selling the KISS-themed coffin online in 2001 and launched the newest versions of the "KISS Kasket" early in 2011. They each cost around $5,000 and there isn’t a huge market for them, but some die-hard fans have purchased them and Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell was buried in one.

  3. Kim Basinger’s town

    Some big-time actors buy islands for pleasure and privacy purposes, but Basinger, a former Bond girl, purchased a whole town as an unexpected business venture in 1989. Braselton, Georgia, located about 50 miles north of Atlanta was sold to Basinger by the Braselton family for $20 million, and she hoped to make it into a tourist attraction and bring a film festival there. Sadly, none of her ideas were realized and she ended up selling the town in 1993 and filing for bankruptcy.

  4. Raquel Welch’s line of wigs

    While other celebrities are trying to make their clothing lines stand out from the rest, Welch went a completely different direction and created a name for herself in the wig industry. You probably didn’t even realize there was a wig industry. Welch, considered a legendary sex symbol in the ’60s and ’70s, has dabbled in other beauty products and accessories but her high-quality wigs are what have really put her ahead of the rest.

  5. Andrew Shue’s mommy blogger network

    This actor is most recognized for his role on Melrose Place but in 2006, he made a switch to the business where the real money is: the Internet. Shue and a partner created CafeMom, a social networking site for moms to share worries, tips, and stories. Sure, Shue isn’t a mom himself, but he saw an untapped market and clearly understands how to make the ladies go crazy. By the next year, CafeMom had the most traffic among women of any website, and by 2009, it was profitable.

  6. Kendra Wilkinson’s stripper poles

    At least Wilkinson, the former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner and current wife of some NFL player, is sticking to what she knows. The Playboy model became the producer of stripper poles and workout videos to go with them. She calls them "sport poles" but we all know what they’re really used for. The poles are supposed to be sturdy and connect to the ceiling so you can spin and slide on them in order to get that stripper-worthy body you’ve been dreaming of.

  1. Venus Williams’ interior design

    It made sense when Williams started a line of tennis clothing. We understood when she wrote a book about how awesome she is and how you can be awesome, too. But you might be surprised to know she also owns an interior design company. Florida, where the company has its headquarters, was surprised, as well, considering Williams didn’t have a license or certification. The company is now licensed and legal and Williams no longer calls herself a certified designer, but does offer at least a meet-and-greet with each client. The other Williams sister is also thinking of a career change — Serena is actually studying to become a nail technician.

  2. Paul Newman’s salad dressing

    The old ladies of America would probably be sad to know that many young people only know Newman for his salad dressing and food line. But before he was dressing up salads, he was a dreamy actor who won several Golden Globes, an Emmy, and an Oscar. He co-founded the company, Newman’s Own, after he and a friend made salad dressing to give as gifts. Everyone loved the dressing so much, the pair made it into a business and slapped Newman’s face onto the label. The company now makes a variety of food items, from pizza sauce to cookies, and all the profit after taxes goes to charities.

  3. 50 Cent VitaminWater

    When 50 Cent leaves the club each night after celebrating someone’s birthday with Bacardi, he likes to rehydrate with VitaminWater. Since buying a minority stake in the company, he thinks you should drink it, too. Fiddy started appearing in ads for the brand and even helped create his own flavor: Formula 50. It tastes like grape, because you can’t spell "grape" without "rap." The recording artist now considers himself the "Air Jordan of VitaminWater," whatever that means.

  4. Marilyn Manson’s absinthe

    If you were curious what Manson’s drink of choice is, now you know. After discovering the spirit with Johnny Depp (who knew they were friends?), Manson now won’t drink any alcohol but absinthe. It was banned in the U.S. until 2007, and Manson decided to jump into the newly opened market. His 66.6% proof beverage, called Mansinthe, is produced in Switzerland and can be bought online by anyone wanting to experience the green fairy.

  5. Donald Trump’s cologne

    Is there any business that the Donald doesn’t have a hand in? Since every celebrity alive seems to have their own fragrance, of course Trump had to get in on the action. He released Donald Trump, The Fragrance in 2004, a product for the man who wants to experience the luxury and success Trump enjoys on a daily basis. The makers of the product say the main scent in the cologne is a secret exotic plant, but it’s probably just businessman sweat and comb-over products. The business mogul also introduced a new scent recently named Success by Trump, but getting anyone to buy these fragrances will be the real success by Trump.

  6. Joe Jackson’s grills

    To cash in on the excitement surrounding the 2010 World Cup, Jackson, father of Michael Jackson, teamed up with an international soccer star to sell barbecue grills. These weren’t just any barbecue grills, though. Clearly futbol fans won’t be satisfied unless their grills are shaped and painted like soccer balls. No word on how much profit was made from that venture, but it probably wasn’t any less successful than his other recent attempts at making money.

The Business Behind Halloween

Friday, October 28, 2011 at 3:03pm by Site Administrator

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The Business of Getting Hitched

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 7:07pm by Site Administrator

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10 Major Companies That Are Hiring Big Time

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 4:10am by Site Administrator

By Eliza Morgan

Working for a large company has its benefits. Typically, it may offer employees perks such as cheaper health benefits (with good health insurance<), an established retirement program, effective on-the-job training and additional educational opportunities (on the company’s dime). But, with the economy still in recovery mode, most people are skipping the details because, well, they just want a job. Large companies, which naturally employ larger workforces, require the most new employees when they choose to expand, and therefore make the biggest splash when they announce they’re hiring. Here are 10 that are currently reviewing resumes, doing their part to reduce that unsightly national unemployment rate.

  1. Amazon: The evolution of Amazon started with its expansion from an online bookstore to a full-fledged online retailer. Now the largest of its kind in the U.S., it has garnered praise for its creation of the Kindle and has subsequently built anticipation for its new Android tablet. To keep up with its diversification and overall demand, it announced late last year that it would build a distribution center in South Carolina, creating more than 2,500 new jobs. Additional jobs will be added to already existing operations in South Carolina, North Dakota and Arizona.
  2. Boeing: Projected to add 4,000 to 5,000 jobs this year, Boeing has benefited from growth driven by exports following President Obama’s bilateral trade agreements late last year with countries such as India and China. Production in its Seattle base and Charleston, SC, where the company is building a new factory for its new 787 Dreamliner, is increasing to meet the new demands of the industry. The global aviation leader and military contractor is seeking qualified engineers and technical engineers to design and assemble aircrafts, and interns who’ll develop into full-time employees.
  3. Ford: The American motor giant is on an upswing after the automotive crisis. In the first quarter of 2011, Ford reported its largest first-quarter profit in 13 years. The previous year, it passed Toyota as the country’s second-biggest seller. With its commitment to manufacture smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles and mission to recapture the title as the country’s No. 1 seller, the company will be continually adding jobs to boost its production. Entering 2011, it stated that it plans to add 7,000 positions over the next couple of years, including 4,000 hourly jobs and 750 salaried jobs this year. Currently, Ford employs more than 164,000 people.
  4. General Dynamics: A U.S. defense conglomerate with segments in aerospace, marine systems, combat systems, and information systems and technology, General Dynamics has a bounty of high-tech job offerings for qualified job seekers. Having already hired 100 new positions in the last few months, it’s looking to hire an additional 400 over the next five years. A bulk of those jobs will assist with the construction of Littoral Combat Ships, building and testing their electronic systems. Beyond that, further growth within the company is expected, as it has a track record of rapid expansion.
  5. Google: In 2010, Google added more than 4,500 jobs, mostly in engineering and sales, as it expanded into the mobile, display advertising and cloud realms — only in 2007 did the company experience larger growth. That’s expected to continue in 2011, which is predicted to be the internet giant’s biggest hiring year ever. It got off to a good start, adding 1,900 new jobs in the first quarter while giving all of its already existing employees a 10 percent raise, a reward for their work and an enticement for job seekers to choose the company. A variety of positions are open, ranging from the business side to the tech side — it’s constructing a team charged with building a web-based operating system — so a number of candidates will be considered.
  6. Intel: After struggling through the recession and the resulting global decrease in technology spending, Intel rebounded in 2010 with increased profits and expansion into new sectors. In early 2011, the semiconductor chip maker announced that it would add 4,000 jobs mostly for "permanent, highly skilled employees," according to CEO Paul Otellini. New factories are being built in Oregon and Arizona as its attempts to diversify its technology — specifically, it’s planning to construct its own mobile operating system. The company is targeting young engineers and software developers with only modest experience.
  7. Microsoft: Now that Apple has surpassed it as the world’s most valuable technology company, Microsoft will need to work harder to recapture its former place atop the rankings. People with experience coding in C, C++, C Sharp and using xhtml, javascript, xml and asp.net are most wanted by the company, which is planning to add 2,400 software engineer and research jobs by the end of the year. Additional jobs in operations and management, marketing and human resources are available, and more help will be needed as Cloud Computing continues to emerge.
  8. NCO Group: Known as the world’s largest collections agency, NCO Group handles outsourcing, accounts receivable and customer service for its clients, the latter of which will provide 400 new jobs in its Rockford, Illinois Customer Management Contact Center, the largest of the more than 100 NCO offices nationwide. Positions will be available for customer care associates along with those interested in team management, training and varying specialist roles.
  9. Siemens: Europe’s largest engineering conglomerate is well-established in the U.S., boasting more than 60,000 employees domestically and counting. Just recently, it announced that it’s looking to add 3,000 more jobs over the next few months, and recent college grads stand to benefit from the opportunities. Those who are still in college can secure their futures by participating in the company’s internship programs, which mold potential employees who’ll later occupy leadership positions. Of the 170 interns who participated in this summer’s program, for example, 75 will be offered full-time positions.
  10. YRC Worldwide: One of the world’s largest transportation service providers, YRC Worldwide is accommodating the increasing demand of its customers by adding approximately 1,100 new jobs this year, with many of them going toward the expansion of its sales force. The company is responsible for shipping commercial, industrial and retail goods for its customers, who operate all over the world.
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