Archive for March, 2011

Spring Break Dollar Stretchers: Get More for Less with The Travel Mom, Emily Kaufman

March 4, 2011
Emily Kaufman, The Travel Mom

Emily Kaufman, The Travel Mom

Watch Video. After almost three years of trimming vacation budgets, Americans are eager to pack their bags and get on the road again.  According to a recent poll by TripAdvisor, 36 percent of people surveyed said they plan to spend more on leisure travel this year and 69 percent expect to travel internationally. Even those nasty airline fees aren’t dissuading people from taking to the skies since 24 percent of those surveyed expect to fly more this year, too.   But that doesn’t mean that travelers aren’t still looking for a deal and there are still ways to get a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to that great American tradition known as Spring Break. If you book your vacation smart, you can really stretch your vacation dollars by packing extra value into your trip.  The Travel Mom, Emily Kaufman, shares timely advice to put those spring break travel plans in full motion.

Travel Tip #1:  Find family freebies. Family freebies will make your dollars stretch further.  There are lots of hotels that include breakfast in the price to spring ski packages include lift tickets.  You may think it’s too late to book a great ski vacation, but this season brought record-breaking snowfall and many resorts in the West are open until the end of April to accommodate Easter travelers. The spring conditions will be the best they’ve been in years. If you’re still looking for a great deal to the mountains, Ski.com offers 100 resorts worldwide and has spring discounts up to 50% off. There are around 400 sample deals listed on their website, for example: A family of four can stay at the Great Divine Lodge in Breckenridge, Colorado, just a short drive from Denver, for 4-nights with 3-day lift tickets for just $360 per person.  Check out ski.com/spring for more information on these ski vacation travel deals.

Deals up to 50% Off at Ski.com

Deals up to 50% Off at Ski.com

Travel Tip #2:  Find family friendly drive-to destinations. Orlando is slated as one of 2011’s top spring break and summer vacation destinations.  It’s a great drive to destination and road trips can save families a lot of money on airfares and car rentals.  If you’re planning an Orlando vacation, your go-to place for great money saving tips and advice is the Walt Disney World Moms Panel.  This is a free online forum of park savvy moms and dads who’ve mastered the art of planning the ultimate Disney vacation.  They can give you tips on anything and everything at DisneyWorldMoms.com including things like how to maximize your food budget to customizing your Disney World vacation to fit your family’s needs so you can focus on having fun.

Tips on Everything Disney at DisneyWorldMoms.com

Tips on Everything Disney at DisneyWorldMoms.com

Travel Tip #3:  Have a Plan B to protect your vacation dollar investment. Now you also don’t want your vacation fun to get derailed by flight delays or cancellations that can really mess up your spring break, so part of your planning should include travel insurance. Coverage includes flight delays or cancellations, lost or delayed luggage and even emergency medical expenses that is so important when traveling with the kids.  Travel Guard offers a range of comprehensive plans including their GoldPlan that covers kids for free. You can get all the details at TravelGuard.com.

Travel Guard GoldPlan Covers Kids for Free.

Travel Guard GoldPlan Covers Kids for Free.

Travel Tip #4:  Use smartphone apps to save time and money on spring break vacation. Now more than ever, you can use your smart phone and apps to organize so many things for your trip.  These apps also save you time and money with lots of ways to find local deals on restaurants.  You should also program the numbers of airlines and hotel contacts into your phone as well so if you need to rebook a flight or hotel because of travel delays, the numbers are right there.

Travel Tip #5:  The internet is still your best resource for travel discounts and last minute travel deals. The internet is always a great source for last minute travel.  However, when it comes to spring break, you may not find a lot of last minute deals so book early – which means now – or you may find it hard to get the best travel deals. Also, one of the best ways to stretch your travel dollars is look for vacation packages or hotels that pack in lots of added value. From onboard cruise credits to free lift tickets to breakfast included or kids eat free programs.  These are ways to really save. Finally, definitely check out DisneyWorldMoms.com and Ski.com to find out more about deals and those added value travel features.

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Home Based Business Recession Survival: How to Avoid Top Five Mistakes

March 1, 2011
Jodie Watson, Real Simple, Real Life

Jodie Watson, Real Simple, Real Life

Watch Video. As an answer to layoffs and downsizing during the Great Recession, Americans have started home based businesses in record numbers.  With high levels of unemployment and job uncertainty, 84% of employees plan to look for a new position in 2011 (Money Magazine) or are looking into a “Plan B.” The extremely low start-up costs, flexible hours, and the Internet are fueling this growth of the home business segment.  TLC Network’s Jodie Watson knows this first hand as she is not only seen regularly helping entrepreneurs organize their home businesses on Real Simple, Real Life, but she has her own home based business. Jodie is on a mission to share her secrets on how to avoid making the top five home business mistakes.

Mistake #1:  Opening a Business in an Industry that is Not Your Skill Set. The reason that so many businesses fail is because people open businesses in an industry they know nothing about.  The secret to success is to start a business in the area you’ve been trained or have a skill set.  Like for me, I have a background in helping people get organized, so that’s why it works.

Mistake #2:  Not Organizing Your Home Work Space for Maximum Productivity. When you work at home, you need an organized work space just like you do if you’re an employee.  You can find great organizing tools at an office supply store and getting organized is as important as staying organized.  Regardless of where you work, one the things most people overlook when setting up a home office is a chair when you spend eight hours of their day sitting at a desk. Office Depot has a new line of HONoffice chairs where you can choose between 32 designs and patterns for your needs and style.  There are two chair models, the Volt and the Ignition, that have an  design ideal for sitting five or more hours a day.  You can choose your chair at www.officedepot.com/customdesign.

Office Depot Website

Mistake #3:  Overspending on Technology. You really need to do your research when it comes to technology.  It’s not just about price, but added value as well.  You can usually save hundreds of dollars a year if you bundle your internet, mobile phone service, and other services together at a discount package price.  Also, look for a smartphone that gives you the freedom to  make your home office mobile when you’re out running errands, at meetings or at dinner.  In fact, how about using a smartphone that can transform into your laptop, home PC, office PC and home entertainment center all in one.Together with an array of web applications such as Microsoft Office Live, you can now embrace the future of mobile computing. Home business owners can also purchase Motorola’s ATRIX innovative lapdock accessories to tap into truly new mobile computing environment. Motorola’s ATRIX 4G is a phone that acts like a computer, delivers both the power and performance of mobile computing, all while fitting comfortably in your pocket.  It’s literally like putting a laptop in your pocket and you can get more info at att.com/ATRIX4G.

Motorola ATRIX4

Motorola ATRIX4

Now, you can get stressed out working from home, but did you know that technology can help reduce stress? A recent clinical study found that playing Bejeweled 2 reduced stress 47% on adults tested.  The sequel Bejeweled 3 has launched with an expanded Zen mode for stress reduction where you can customize ambient sounds, mantras and even breath modulation settings.  You can get it in stores or at PopCap.com.

Bejeweled 3

Bejeweled 3

Mistake #4:  Not Setting a Schedule and Treating Your Home Based Business Like a Job. You One of the biggest dilemmas that people who run a home-based business face is keeping their home life and their work life separate.  First, keep your home-based office in a place that is as cut off from the rest of your home as possible.  Second, when you work from home, you are still working; so you must treat it like a job in every way. Have a schedule, office hours, self-discipline but, if you lack these things, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Mistake #5:  Not Keeping Track of Expenses Will Cost You at Tax Time. One of the biggest mistakes you can make that will cost you at tax time is not keeping track of your expenses and keeping accurate records. Your legitimate deductions will save you a bundle on tax day, but you have to be organized with your receipts.

Jodie Watson is an organizational expert and the Founder and President of Supreme Organization. Jodie can been seen regularly on Real Simple, Real Life, a lifestyle make-over show on the TLC Network where she helps women identify their day-to-day organizational challenges and offers realistic solutions that save them time, clear the chaos, and make their lives less stressful and more manageable.  After working in the entertainment industry for many years including Joan & Melissa River’s Rugby Productions, she launched Supreme Organization in 2005.  Jodie is a member of the National Association of Organizers (NAPO), Vice President of the Los Angeles Chapter of NAPO, and has a roster of celebrity clients