The date is set. The invitations need to go out in the next couple of days. The theme is decided and the decorations are waiting for you at the party supply store… Oh yeah, why don’t we have an entertainer for the kids this year.Cue the screeching brake noise…now.If you’re at this point in the process the pickin’s are gonna be slim in the entertainer department. You need to back the planning truck up about four weeks to make sure that you have time to locate and book quality entertainment. Yes, it is possible to find a quality entertainer last-minute–but don’t expect them to be there just waiting for a phone call. A good entertainer will start seriously booking shows for birthdays about six weeks in advance. Four weeks is still a fairly safe bet, but beyond that the dates get tight.Most people want to have the party on a Saturday about mid-afternoon. Well, an entertainer only has about eight of those coveted spots in any given month. Once they are taken, you go to late afternoon/early evening or perhaps a Sunday (which is getting more popular nowadays). So Rule #1: Plan ahead at least one month.As I mentioned earlier, you can still get a good entertainer sort of last-minute, but you have to be more flexible with the party time or date. For instance, if possible, think about a mid-week party. Those times are usually more available, and some entertainers will even give a bit of a discount to fill an otherwise unproductive date.Once you’ve found a list of potential entertainers. Then what? How do you decide which one to invite into your home?Rule # 2: Do your research. First, visit the company website if one is listed. A good website should give you fair idea of what this performer is all about. Keep in mind that the flashiest web sites don’t always belong to the best performers. However, a nice site does at least tell you this person is serious about his or her business. Be sure to read all the testimonials, and look for names that you might recognise. If there is video, check that out as well. Look for kids laughing in the video. Don’t worry so much about the show. Most living room-type shows seem a bit sluggish or even campy when viewed on video. If the kids are laughing though, that’s a clear indication that this is a good children’s entertainer.You might also ask friends about an entertainer? Have they heard of him or her? If so, what have they heard? It should be all positive. Of course, you’ll want to call the entertainer and find out what you can expect to experience if he or she does entertain your child. Think of this as an interview for a job, and you are the employer. Here are a few questions you might ask.Are you a full-time entertainer? (A part-time entertainer may be just fine, but someone-who makes a living from entertaining will have more experience and may be more reliable because this is a business.)What do you do? (This is a general question. Don’t expect a blow-by-blow description, but listen to what is said and how it is said. the description should captivate you somewhat. Remember, this person will most likely be talking to or with your child and the other guests for quite a while.)How long have you been doing this? (That’s an important one. The longer someone does a job, the better that person gets at performing it. Nowhere is that more evident than as an entertainer. )Are you insured? (Accidents happen. You don’t want to be on the hook for the glass of purple water your entertainer spills across your new white carpet.)Do you have any references? (They may already have testimonials listed on their website. But if you can get a recent reference to actually talk with, that’s a plus. This may not be available — would you want to be the person getting calls in the future from folks?)In addition to these questions, note how many questions your potential entertainer asks you. Expect to be asked about the location of the party, the date, time, age of the children and what you are expecting. A good entertainer will want to know what environment he is getting into. He’s already planning for the event with every question. Conversely, if you get off the phone and realize that you did most of the talking — well, go back to your list and try another number.Rule #3: Decide what type of entertainer will fit the theme. There are a host of themes depending upon the age of the children. Your options at this point depend upon the interests of the birthday child. Dora the Explorer, Blues Clues, spys, magic, princess…the list goes on. Once this is decided, you might go to the internet and just search a few key words for your area regarding the theme you’ve chosen. For instance, if you’ve chosen Harry Potter as a theme, and you lived in Milwaukee, you might go to the internet and search for Milwaukee birthday magician. That should bring up a page with several choices. This might not be as clear with a specific theme like Blues Clues, but you might find a list of costumed characters that can visit your home.Some may still wish to let their finger do the walking and find someone who advertises in the Yellow pages. Keep in mind that the more savvy entertainers are fleeing the yellow pages in droves. The ads are expensive and most performers are finding the internet a better choice. So your choice will be limited in the actual printed book.If you follow all these tips, there still is no guarantee that you will get the best entertainer. You will have done your due diligence though. Not much more that to do. Do be sure to talk directly with the entertainer that will be coming to your home though. Sometimes, an agency will pop up first on the internet search. This agency may seem like it is located in your town, but in reality it might be on the other side of the country or in another country altogether. In most cases, these ‘agencies’ don’t know the entertainers and are just looking to put a warm body at the gig. Be careful. If you can’t speak directly with the entertainer — that’s a sign to move on, because you don’t know who may show up at your doorstep on the appointed day. You be the judge.
3 Ways to Make Money Through Low Risk Investments
Most people find “investing” to be quite scary, especially if you don’t have sufficient money to spare at the end of each month. As we’re all aware, all types of investments carry an element of risk. As such, it’s wise to seek out those low-risk opportunities but with reasonable profits.In order to make an investment safe, it’s best to go for the time-tested “top dog” where the return on investment (ROI) is from moderate to high.Types of investments you may consider:1. Bonds. Investing in bonds is generally safer than investing in stocks. This is because investment in stocks doesn’t come with a guaranteed ROI, whereas a bond is something like a loan and has a promised ROI, plus interest.- There is a distinction between guaranteed and promised. In fact, there isn’t an investment that’s guaranteed. However, with bonds, you know what you’ll be getting at the end of the day. Seek out investments in a company with a proven track record as it’s less likely to go bankrupt.- Bonds are normally paid back to you by year-end. Though, the payment terms can vary from one agreement to another.- The bigger is your bond, the bigger is your profit. But bear in mind, you’ll be making more money on a higher interest bond. So, it would be better for you to invest your money in one high-interest bond instead of multiple low-interest bonds.2. Stocks. As mentioned above, there is an element of risk when investing in all types of investments, but for stocks, the ROI will be higher. Of course, you can cut down your risks by investing in safer or defensive stocks.- Companies like Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), The Procter & Gamble Company (P & G), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) are among the safer picks in the stock market. These companies also place higher value on their shareholders’ positive return of dividends.- Investing in defensive stocks that are reliable and have a proven record of their sustainability and profitability gives some security that you wouldn’t get when investing in the newer and lesser-known companies, which can wind-up at any time.- Bear in mind, there are no one hundred per cent safe picks when investing in stocks, but you can lower your risk by going for stocks of a time-tested and profitable company. Alternatively, you can spread out your risk by investing your money in profitable and time-tested mutual funds where your ROI will be based on a part of a whole portfolio of stocks.- Stocks can be a better pick for your long-term investment plans. If you’re an investor who can’t afford to take higher risk, go for a long-standing profitable company to place your investment.3. Multi-family dwelling property. The right time to invest in a multi-family dwelling property will be during a housing meltdown. You’ll then find many multi-family dwelling properties going below market prices.- A multi-family dwelling property is a more secure investment than a single-family one for the simple reason that it can house more tenants. Therefore, if one tenant chooses to vacate at the end of their agreement, you’ll still have other tenants being housed in other units that are still giving you monthly income.- Multi-family dwelling properties give you a better return than single-family ones. For instance, if you have four units of 2-bedroom apartments and are renting them out for $600 each per month, you’re profiting $2,400 per month. Of course, your profit from a single-family one will be much lesser since it’ll be just from one tenant.Coming up with an investment portfolio requires patience and a sincere evaluation of the highest level of risk you can tolerate. Investing in properties is increasing in popularity in recent years. Having a fully tenanted multi-family dwelling property guarantees a monthly positive return even if you need to pay for maintenance and other charges from time to time.Bonds are a safer form of investment, but the return is, by far, the lowest. However, you can still find certain bonds in the market that offer higher interest rates. Though stocks give you a higher return, but you’re exposed to higher risk, and, moreover, the return isn’t guaranteed.A wise investment practice is to spread your risks and returns through a few investment portfolios where you have a few with lower risk and the rest with moderate risk. You should only partake in high-risk investments provided you have a high-risk tolerance threshold! By practicing this strategy, you should enjoy consistent and positive returns throughout the years.
Wheeled Carry on Luggage Makes Travel Plans Easier
Wheeled carry on luggage has become popular as a means of simplifying travel in this modern age where DIY (do-it-yourself) projects abound. Almost everyone looks for the easy way out, at a cheaper price. Being able to streamline airline travel, carry your own bags from your car or taxi directly to the airline gate, and then off again, bypassing baggage claim, heralds a new phase for the frequent traveler.The idea of hanging on to your luggage looks dim when you have to handle several pieces of heavy luggage and you do not have anyone help traveling with you. You can avoid this drudgery by packing your personal items in wheeled carry-on luggage.You can find luggage with wheels at the same stores you buy your other travel accessories. You can also surf the Internet for online sellers. You will also find most of the major brands at inexpensive prices from discount retailers. Also, look out for sellers who have sales.This handy luggage is available in all shades, colors, and all materials, both soft and hard. When you are considering buying new luggage, check first with your airlines to find out the correct allowable measurements for carry-on bags. It is possible to find sets that you like with many different featured pieces which will provide carrying capacity for all the items you wish to take with you on a business trip or a short trip to your in-laws.Wheeled carry-on luggage is ideal for all types of travel, but business travelers can benefit most. This is because business travel revolves around short and streamlined trips. The businessperson only needs practical luggage. The idea of a carry-on bag that can hold all your needs and can travel inside the cabin with you, enables you to make good use of your travel time. Carrying luggage is incidental to the trip. It is also ideal for the family traveling in a group. Young children will enjoy pulling their own cases just like the big folks, and that will encourage responsible travel habits early for those kids.Wheeled carry-on luggage comes in many different convenient sizes and types, from traditional looking suitcases to wheeled backpacks and other nontraditional cases. Manufacturers make these easy-to-transport suitcases and travel bags intending to make your travel easier. They simplify packing and carrying your clothing and equipment for whatever adventure you are embarking on, with whatever group you are traveling with.
Do You Make These Mistakes in Choosing Your Health Care Plans
There are a lot of details to consider when you are choosing a health care plan, whether it’s one offered through your employer or one you buy on your own. No matter what age you are, your health should be a primary concern, although young people often act as if they will live forever and sometimes postpone making health care decisions.Here is a list of common mistakes that people make all the time when choosing a health care plan. They are in no particular order, and all are important to consider, carefully and completely. If you are not conversant with all the terminology or are finding it difficult to make the decisions, you should ask for help from a neutral third-party such as family member or friend. Don’t ask a health insurance company unless you want to hear a sales pitch!Common mistakes
- You don’t check out your doctor, or any others – Although some healthcare plans require you to use a physician in their own network, other plans are more inviting. If you already have a physician, and are buying your own insurance, check with the doctor to see what plans he is a member of. If you do have to choose a new doctor, you should look into the health plan doctors’ credentials by contacting the AMA.- You forget “location, location, location” – The location of your doctor or clinic, and the travel time required, are other factors you should consider when considering health care plans. Find out where the doctor is located and also look into the regular and emergency hours of the facility.- You don’t consider specialists – If you already need specialist care, or think you may need to in the future, you need to know the health care plan’s procedures on using them. Some plans require you to contact a primary care physician, while others allow you to make specialist appointments directly.- You don’t consider your own specialist – You should definitely find out if your current specialist is in the health care plan you are considering. If not, perhaps your specialist can refer you to one who is.- You forget to check the policy on “pre-existing conditions” – Even though this should be a “no-brainer,” people forget to ask about the policies on pre-existing conditions. Coverage for pre-existing conditions varies widely among health plans. Some exclude them entirely, and will not even consider coverage, while others cover them fully. Many health care plans fall somewhere in the middle, offering coverage after a certain amount of time, or for a certain amount of time or expense. Rules promulgated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act guarantees you coverage for your pre-existing conditions if you join a new group plan offered by your employer after being insured the previous year. Do your research to make sure you know what your policy covers.Less common oversights
- You don’t ask about physicals and health screenings – Again, it seems an obvious thing to ask, but if you appreciate getting regular physicals and health screenings you should ensure that they are covered. Most “managed care” plans do cover these types of procedures, usually on an annual basis, but there are some plans that do not cover them. If you have children, make sure to ask if “well baby” check-ups, physicals and immunizations are covered.- You forget about additional services – Everything, from prescription drug coverage to mental health care, is an important consideration. You need to consider which of the various additional services that you may need are, in fact, covered when you are comparing health care plans. Other examples of these additional services that may be important to you are drug and alcohol counseling and treatment, home health care, nursing home or extended care, hospices, experimental treatments, alternative and complementary medicine, chiropractic care and physical therapy.Bottom line considerations
- You don’t price things out correctly – Once you know what you want in your health care plan you need to compare costs, and you need to do it right, which means covering all the bases. You will need to know exactly what deductibles must be paid first before the health care plan coverage starts paying, and don’t forget to ask if the deductible needs to be met before certain services can be utilized. Find out about “out of network” charges if you anticipate having to go beyond your plan facilities or physicians. Finally, there are co-payment, cap amounts and total-care limits you need to know about. Some plans have lifetime limits, some have lifetime and annual limits, and others have mixed formulas for making this determination. Get all the facts.- You don’t check the exclusions – If you don’t read the exclusions list, you will not know what is not covered. You need to see if any condition you currently have, or that you expect to contract in the future, is included. This is an important bottom-line consideration since, if you don’t get this settled and dealt with up front, you will likely spend a great deal of money down the line to treat excluded conditions.It is a difficult thing to look at your health in a dispassionate, dollar-oriented way, but that’s life. As we age, more of our energy goes into thinking and planning against death and disability, but the subject need not be morbid or depressing. Do your best to get a health care plan that covers what your particular needs are, and remind yourself that you are worth the trouble – and the expense.