Archive for November, 2010

Smart Phone Buying

What's Wrong with the iPadMake your choice about buying a smartphone based on how you will use it, not on how it looks or what the most popular model is. This is a great statement, but really difficult to follow. It is like saying don’t be emotional about the car you really want to buy, even though it is too expensive for you. If you are in the market for a new phone, and are planning to move to a smartphone, you really have to decide how you are going to use it. Also were you are going to use it and what applications you will use to make sure you will get the value you are looking for. Smart Phone Buying is as complex as purchasing a computer that does many different functions. In fact the smart phone is a computer.

Once you get past the price of the phone and many are free or almost free, it is the monthly costs that will really surprise you. Data plans can add up in a hurray, especially if you download a lot of material from Youtube and use GPS location services. If you roam , the cost can skyrocket, so it pays to think through this carefully before you buy a smartphone.

The up-front prices of smartphones have dropped, and you can score even some of the newest models for free with a two or three-year contract. High end models can still cost a lot as well. But add-ons bump up the cost of ownership fast. Determine your price range for both the device, added memory, chargers, car chargers, transfer fee’s etc  and the service before you walk into a store.

Mobile Phone CostsGenerally you’ll need a voice plan, a data plan and a text-messaging plan. To figure out what to buy, look at your old cellphone bills: How many minutes have you actually used each month, were they incoming or outgoing, what time of day did you make the most calls, and how many texts did you send? Do you send a lot of data, or is it just emails that you receive. Going over your plan limit is like an overdraft fee on a checking account — it’s an expensive mistake and a waste of cash. Also your plan may include added fees for call display, voice mail and other services that you routinely use. Make sure you have included all of these services when you are comparing a new plan and a new smartphone service to ensure that you receive good value for your phone purchase.

Save Money – Smart Phone Buying

One way to save money is to check out family plans, even if only one family member wants a smartphone. Some plans will let you share voice minutes without adding text messaging and data units to all the phones on the plan. That way, only one member of the family has to pay the additional fees — and the overall cost may be more reasonable. While this is a reasonable approach, it only works if you are able to and willing to speak to the customer retention group. Let them know that you are thinking about moving elsewhere and they may offer you a better deal.

What is WiFiTiming your purchase can also pay off. Take advantage of the beginning of the school year, Christmas, the end of your contract and other special sales that the phone companies offer from time to time. If the competition is making a big play to gain customers, you may be able to leverage this into a better deal for you, while staying with the same company.

Other factors are also important when you choose a smart phone. Screen size can make the difference between enjoying movies and playing games a success. The bigger the better. Touch screen phones are really intuitive and easy to use. This is an important feature that you probably want to consider.

Applications are becoming as essential as the smartphone itself. Apple is the market leader with over 300,000  applications, but other competitors like Android are in full throttle and are catching up.

Talk to friends and family, even strangers who are using the phone you are considering and find out if it is really the smart phone for you. It is combination of features, price for the phone, and price for the services. You may get a great deal on the phone, but then pay a lot for the services so do your homework before you take the plunge. For more information on smart phone buying, click here.

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Maximize Your Budget by Travelling to the U.S.

Maximize Your Budget by Travelling to the U.S.When we first wrote this post the US dollar and the Canadian dollar were at par or very close to it. Many people on both sides of the border are planning trips across to the other country to shop and visit places that interest them. However it is not so attractive now for Canadians any longer. Canadians are paying a premium to visit and shop in the states. Still  Canadians by the thousands still visit the US for a day of shopping or spend their vacation dollars there. It is now even more important to Maximize Your Budget.

Maximize Your Budget – Where can you Get the best Value

A dollar at par is very attractive, but lets include the fact that most states charge in the range of 8% sales tax, (some none at all) while the Ontario government charges 13% sales tax. There is  a savings right there of 5%. Next you have the price of gasoline. Recently it was $1.08 per liter, which translates approximately to $4.08 a US gallon. Gas at US stations currently sells for around $2.50 a gallon or less. The biggest savings of all if that were not enough, are the sales and the lower prices. We shopped recently in the US at one of the outlet malls and the prices were phenomenal!

Many banks forecasts the Canadian dollar to remain where it is through the end of 2018. While some of its strength may ease slightly over the second half of next year, they expects the Canadian dollar to finish 2017 at 78.00 U.S. cents. So a lot of Canadians are going to be heading south ( unless you are in Windsor, you head north) to spend vacation time and purchase their groceries, clothes and much more. We found that even at Lowes, there were better deals than we could get at our Canadian counterparts.

Whether you go for a single day shopping trip or are planning to spend your vacation in the US there are a few things to consider to make sure your trip is a success and that there are no issues while you are in the US. If you want an example of a driving trip to the US with a vacation, click on the following link. Driving the USA

Travel Insurance

Remember to pack travel insurance, this could be the most important tip of all – Don’t forget about travel insurance when planning short cross-border trips. Regardless of the length or type of trip, it’s important to consider emergency travel medical insurance as medical treatments in the U.S. can be very expensive. Frequent travelers should consider a multi-trip annual plan to save both time and money.

Develop a Travel Plan

Always have a plan of were you are going to go, make reservations and bring your itinerary with you, especially if you are spending a long time in the US. You will need to convince the US customs that you have a plan and will be returning to Canada at some point. You will also need your passport . Tell someone were you are going and what your plans are so that they can get in touch with you if there is an emergency at home.

Open a US Savings Account

Open a U.S. savings account – A U.S. savings account is an option to consider if you are planning a U.S. vacation or shopping trip or if you have money left over from your holiday. Look for an account with low or no fees that enables you to take advantage of exchange rates when they are favorable and gain interest. Some will also allow you to purchase U.S. dollars through online banking at a preferential rate by simply making a direct transfer from your Canadian dollar bank account to your U.S. savings account from anywhere.

A US Dollar Credit Card

Use a U.S. dollar credit card – Frequent U.S. travelers may want to consider a U.S. dollar denominated credit card, which gives cardholders the flexibility to make transactions in U.S. funds and avoid the hassles of exchange rates or daily currency fluctuations. Coupled with a U.S. savings account, it also allows holders to take advantage of favorable exchange rates over time using dollar cost averaging and then pay off their card balance using U.S. funds directly from their savings account.

Bring Debit and Credit Cards Along

Consider cash alternatives – Debit or credit cards along with U.S. travelers cheques are easy and secure alternatives to carrying large amounts of cash when shopping or traveling. Credit cards are hassle-free and accepted virtually everywhere and many come with purchase protection and extended warranties. Cross-border debit service only requires your bank card and Personal Identification Number (PIN) for ATM withdrawals or purchases at any of the 1,000,000 merchants in the U.S. that use the NYCE network. Travelers cheques are easy to cash and come in many denominations.

Cross Border Banking

Make cross-border banking work for you – If you often travel to the U.S. or are one of thousands of Canadian snowbirds who head to the U.S. over the winter, consider a cross-border banking arrangement that provides access to your banking services on both sides of the border including U.S. mortgages.

Financing Options

Look for easier financing options if buying property in the U.S. – If you are thinking about buying U.S. real estate and you have sufficient equity in your current home, consider a loan or line of credit secured against your Canadian home to buy your U.S. property. This will avoid the need for a U.S. mortgage approval and property appraisal.

In Case of Emergencies

Tell someone were you are going and have in your wallet or purse who should be called in case you are unable to for some medical reason. It makes it much easier for the authorities to deal with getting in touch with your family.


Smart Phone Growth

Smart phones are being purchased so quickly that in just a few more years , the gadgets will be ubiquitous. In fact smart phones have recently surpassed the purchase of non smart phones and are causing the disconnection of thousands of land lines.

Many people think that by 2015, ownership of smart phones will surpass 80% in North America, matching the ownership of PC’s or desktop computers. This represents a huge market for the companies that got in early and have developed a platform to build on.

Wifi & Your Data PlanThere is becoming a clear distinction between smart phone use and the use of personal computers. Although most if not all PC owners will also have a smartphone as well, their uses will be quite different. Staying in touch by email, text messaging, social networking will migrate to the smartphone. Preparing documents of all types, research, etc etc will continue to be the playground of the PC. Some smart phones will cross over partially. With suitable forms type app’s, they can be used as on the job reporting devices to assist them in reporting everything from sales to reading meters.

There is no doubt that there are new opportunities waiting for the folks that took the plunge in developing a smart phone as well as those that are focused on developing applications for the smart phone. Creating new business models and cash flows will definitely put some pressure on the existing incumbents as sales and cash flow come under pressure.

If experts’ predictions come true, the tech world could look quite different in the next five to 10 years.

Smart Phone Growth – Your Personal Always On Device

Apple iPad 2Desk top PCs  can be shared among multiple family members or coworkers, lap tops became more personal since you typically carried it with you to meetings and on business trips. A smart phone on the other hand is always with you and always connected, making it your personal always on always connected device. That makes it very, very personal and heralds a huge change in the way we communicate.

For some users the smart phone is becoming your personal electronic wallet, your financial manager and your personal assistant that gets you to meetings etc on time and in the right place.  Apps store passwords, health information, financial transactions, daily calendars, to-do lists and detailed e-mail trails, plus games and vast entertainment libraries of books, movies and music.

From Cars to refrigerators, all will have a smart capability and be connected, however the smart phone will be  the remote control for our digital lives. Many people will still use PCs, iPods, iPads, laptops, tablets and many more devices, but it will be the smart phone that will always be on and will be always with you!

Your digital stalker

When to Buy Cell Phone InsuranceThe smart phone knows where you are, constantly and that means also that thephone company or your phone provider can also find you anytime as well as long as you have your smart phone with you. That’s another watershed for the tech field.

No one knows quite how that technology will play out (or pay off), but everyone wants a foothold. Twitter and Facebook recently added location-aware capabilities, and venture capitalists are throwing cash at location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla. Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), Yelp and Groupon are diving deep into the local advertising markets.

Where you are is now one of the most important — and potentially lucrative — aspects of your identity from an advertising perspective, because this information provides vendors with information about what they can advertise to whom based on location.

The Tech Field Will go Through an Re-ordering Process

The roster of gadgets orbiting your smart phone will vary based on application and use. For example most people will still use desktops, with large screens for their work, especially information workers who generate content and applications. Tiny screens are just not suitable for these types of activities. Some people who like specialized equipment will still use other gadgets for specific tasks. A smart phone is ok for a quick picture to be sent off to your friends and family, however if you want high quality pictures, most people will go with a dedicated camera,

Some devices will die off or become specialized. We will gravitate to less paper, but never eliminate paper so printers will still be needed. In fact there are people who own desktops, cameras and smart phones, but no printers already!

Competition

The tech giants are competing for the smart phone and this is a giant battle that will not be soon over. Already giants like Apple, Dell and others are introducing enhancements to their phones. Even Google with Android is in the competition for space in this market. The carriers are also lining up with smart phones, however they seem to be taking a more careful approach. Rather than bet on one horse, they are introducing as many smart phones as they can to attract as many customers as they can.

These carriers such as Verizon and Sprint in the US and Bell and Telus in Canada along with Rogers are competing for every minute and bit of data that can be carried on their networks.

The question is, is this the beginning of a major shift in technology and the way we use these devices, or are we well along the way. Only time will tell, but you can be sure that all of the major players will be competing for your dollars in the market for some time to come.

We would like to hear your opinions about this post and more specifically what you think the next big disruption is going to be in the technology field. For more information about smart phones and other items of interest, click here.

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Save Money – Split Meals at Restaurants

Save Money - Split Meals at RestaurantsWe really enjoy watching the biggest loser. This past week we also learned that we already do some of the things that they discussed on the biggest loser which helps us control our weight and also save money ! Portion control is one way to manage your weight and we have taken this to restaurants that we go to by splitting meals and reducing the amount of food we actually eat when we go out. This step also helps us to save money as well when we go out. It is an inspirational show, we actually learn a few things about diet and about how to manage our food intake.

Portion control!

Portion control is really the biggest thing to help you control your weight, lose weight and manage your diet.  Eating less also has a side benefit. You spend less money buying food and preparing food!  It is the old adage, energy in must be less than the energy you burn if you are going to lose weight. So one way to manage this is to control the size of the portions you are eating and also save money.

If you are at home, use a small plate. I know for myself if I use a large plate, I have a tendency to fill it up, while I do the same thing with a small plate, there is only so much food I can put on the plate. BY the time you have finished the food on the small plate you are starting to feel full and if you can wait 5 minutes, you will definitely feel full. Sure you might go back for a second helping, but again you are using a small plate and it will only hold a small amount of food. Sure you are tricking your mind and your stomach, but if it works why not use every trick you can to lose weight.

When you are out of the home dining in a restaurant, it is a bit more difficult, so we have another suggestion that will also help to save some money as well.

Split Meals at Restaurants – when dining out!

As we travel around the country, one thing we notices is that the size of the meals served at restaurants are huge. Portion sizes at restaurants have gotten out of hand. Many restaurants and I guess their patrons as well feel that they must serve large portions to attract their guests.

We have found that for many meals if we split the meal it is more than enough for each of us and we save money at the same time. The restaurants for the most part are ok with this, and sometimes will even split the meal for us, serving it on two separate plates. Sometimes they will bring us a second plate and let us split the meal our selves. Either way we eat less and we save money. What a deal! Many of our meals costs us half of what it will cost other people! Some would call us stingy, but I am more concerned about weight and on top of that I get the side benefit of spending less.

There are some places that want to charge a fee for splitting the meal. We just do not go back to them and we tell people as well. They end up losing business as a result. So when you go out to eat split your meals.

Portion Control and Buffets

Buffets are really difficult. You cannot split meals here and you cannot save any money as well, so unless it is a really good deal, it is best not to go to them. If you have a problem controlling how much you eat, it is probably best if you avoid going to a buffet. With all of the excellent food it is usually best to just not go, because it is human nature to overeat when all of that food is just sitting there. Use the small plate approach and eat slowly, but we are pretty confident that you will still over eat in this situation.

Eat slow, Wait 20 Minutes So your  Stomach Feels Full!

This post is about saving money, however it is also a message about controlling your weight so we talk about eating slowly which in the end will save you money as well. This is one of the best ways to manage the portion size and how much you eat. Apparently it takes a little time for your stomach to register that it is full and let your brain know that you have eaten enough. Some people say wait 10 to 20 minutes and then decide if you are going back for second helpings.

Fast eaters tend to over eat, so if you wait even 5 minutes before getting that second helping you may find that you have eaten enough. We find that discussing topics over the dinner table is a great way to slow down your eating and also get that full feeling. Let’s face it you cannot eat when you are talking, at least you should not, just for good manners. Talking slows you down and forces you to enjoy the food more and provides time for your stomach to register the fact that you are full. maybe you will realize that you are full and will avoid going for that second helping!

Use Every Trick in the Book

Aside from just deciding to not eat as much, we are suggesting that you use every trick you can to control how much you eat and save some money as well. If you use a couple of little tricks to manage your eating, so what. At least you are losing weight, or controlling your weight.

Bottom line, you need to deal with the long term reason regarding why you have over eaten. Using these tricks will help you get going, but to maintain your weight or lose weight you do have to deal with the reasons why you over eat.

There are probably a lot more tha can be used as well. If you know some of these tricks to control the portion size, why not leave us a comment and let our readers know about it. Spam comments will be auto deleted!


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