Tag Archives: Season

Avoid Plastic Pitfalls This Holiday Season

The holiday shopping season has commenced! Merchants aren’t the only ones who want to capitalize on all the holiday spending. Credit card companies will make even more money than the retailers. To attract your business, credit card companies aggressively promote low rates and special offers. While there are some legitimate good deals to be found, there are also a host of pitfalls in the fine print. Be sure to keep your credit sanity in check by avoiding these potential credit hazards.

The first of those is found in the words “interest-free.” A favorite of retailers who promote their in-store cards, they promise you can buy something “interest-free until 2018.” While it is true that you won’t pay interest, the monthly statement usually encourages a minimum payment that won’t have you paying off the purchase by the time your interest-free period runs out. This leaves you a high interest rate on the remaining balance at the end of the promotional period. Even worse, sometimes-retroactive interest is applied to your debt if not paid off in a certain time period.

Beware of store credit cards. Even though they may come with tempting coupons or purchasing discounts, they probably come with a high interest rate – sometimes as much as 21%.

Watch out for balance transfer fees. Most major card issuers charge 3% on average for transferring a balance. For example, if you transfer a $5,000 balance, you could pay as much as $150 fee.

Always read the fine print. Make sure you know the terms of your credit card. Does it offer a low introductory rate and hit you with a higher rate at a later date? What about cash advances? Do they come at a higher interest rate than normal purchases? Don’t overlook those costly details that hide in the fine print.

Thousands of Americans use credit cards as a way to finance their holiday spending, and then aren’t able to pay it off. With high interest rates, that can be the start of a vicious cycle of bad spending and credit habits.

Instead of potentially becoming a victim of the problems of plastic, take out a low-interest holiday loan from your local credit union. If you are short on money this year, start saving for next year by putting money away in a Christmas Club account. Both of these options make you less dependent on plastic, affording you peace of mind that you’ll avoid all of the pitfalls over the holiday season.

Going On a Cruise Vacation This Holiday Season?

The month of December brings with it many changes including a change in topics of discussion. Already talk of Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations has begun. Millions of Americans will be celebrating the holiday season in their own special way. Some will spend it at home with family and loved ones. Others will celebrate it in another country. Some will take a holiday cruise.

When it comes to cruises, special considerations are required. Unlike air travel that lasts mere hours, cruises last for days and weeks. Passengers on board need to have everything they need to ensure their time is properly spent and any needs that might arise are taken care of either by themselves or by the cruiser liner. With that being said, there are certain things passengers can’t pack for themselves. This is where companies that provide special needs services truly shine.

These companies in the very basic sense are your very own concierge service that provides access to vital equipment during a cruise. Almost all of these items are vital in the sense they cater to a specific need medical or otherwise. These items include

On-board Transport

Don’t get on a cruise unless they offer these! Unless of course you love walking for miles. A cruise ship by all means won’t extend that long however the many decks and the passages within it can seemingly go on forever. To cover that much terrain will require the use of mobility scooters and wheelchairs, both of which should be readily available on the cruise liner. For people who have trouble walking or those with a medical condition that requires those to sit and not stand for extended hours will definitely benefits from this feature.

Facilities for Children and Toddlers

Just because you have a toddler doesn’t mean you can’t get on a cruise vacation. Cribs are a welcome sight for most vacationers going on a cruise. They provide a nice safe spot for the little ones. They are sturdily built and well balanced so as to not lose balance and fall. Now everyone can enjoy a cruise vacation and won’t have to put it off until the kids have grown some!

Oxygen Tanks

The sea air is not for everyone. Far from the pollution effects of land air, the ocean air can be a pleasant and at times intense experience for some; thereby requiring them to use oxygen tanks. If not that, travellers who have asthma or any condition that could hinder in their breathing would require the steady of use oxygen masks and tanks. Since they can’t be packed in a travel suitcase, cruise liners take the initiative to provide them for their passengers.

If you are going on a cruise, one of the first things to do is to inquire about all the services that it offers. Be sure to consult with a special needs group before making reservations. Knowing what all is offered is a great way to ensure you get to make the most of your holiday vacation.

12 Simple Ways to Support a Grieving Friend This Holiday Season

The holidays are upon us and it seems that many people have decided to simplify their holiday traditions this year. Instead of spending hours shopping and getting frustrated at the mall, they have decided to spend quality time with friends and family.

In the spirit of simplicity and kindness, we have compiled a list of 12 simple and memorable ways to support a grieving loved one this holiday season. This list comes from the suggestions submitted by our online community. So take a minute to check your holiday To Do List and be sure you have added your grieving loved ones to the list.

1. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the loss. One of the most important things you can do for a friend that is grieving is to understand that special occasions and holidays may be filled with both sorrow and joy. A message as simple as “I know the holidays may be difficult for you. I want you to know that I am thinking about you.” will let them know you care.

2. Listen and allow the tears to flow. Allow your friend the opportunity to feel all the feelings he or she is experiencing this time of year.

3. Allow the person to set the pace. Grief is a little like a roller coaster with many ups and downs. Your friend may want to cry one minute, talk about fun memories the next and then the next may want to have some time alone. Respect their needs and understand that their change in mood is not about you.

4. Encourage your friend to talk about the person that has passed away. If you knew the person, share your fond memories too.

5. Invite your friend to join your holiday gathering. As family members pass away, traditions change and a loved one may not be able to spend the holidays with their family. Including them in your family festivities will help ease the loneliness they may be feeling this time of year.

6. Send a card and be sure to acknowledge the loss. Don’t be afraid to mention the person’s name or to include your own personal memories of the person that has passed away.

7. Visit the cemetery with your friend or leave flowers with a note for the family at the gravesite.

8. Prepare your friend’s favorite holiday treat or a favorite food of the person that has passed away. Each year I prepare my mother’s holiday cookies to remember her love for the holidays.

9. Create a scrapbook of memories. Ask friends and family to write down their memories of the loved one that has passed away and put together a scrapbook of pictures and stories to give to your grieving friend.

10. Make a donation to their favorite charity in memory of the person that has passed away.

11. Encourage them to take care of themselves. Self care is very important to the healing process. Give a gift of pampering at a spa or prepare a care package that includes a relaxation CD, bath salts, and an aromatherapy candle. If going to a spa is not their way of relaxing, find an activity that brings them joy and relaxation.

12. Don’t run for the hills. Many people are afraid to be around a person that is grieving. They often treat the grieving person as though they have a contagious disease. A true friend is the one that stands by their friend and allows them the space to feel all the feelings they are going through…the good and the bad.

Offering your support, understanding and companionship during the holidays will be a cherished gift. Be sure to listen to your friend’s wishes and do not force him or her to participate in activities that may be overwhelming. Be sure to only offer your support if you know you can truly follow through. And remember, it is the simple acts of kindness that are delivered with an open heart that are remembered year after year.

Heartburn Diet for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us, joyous festivities surrounded by family and an abundance of good food. Unfortunately, for those of us that suffer from chronic heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD, it is a time of potential discomfort and pain. Fear not! A heartburn diet for the holiday season need not be overly restrictive. You may be surprised at the foods you can enjoy in this festive season.

I love the holidays. The colors of autumn signal the abundance of the harvested fields. We all partake of the bountiful summer harvest and fill our bellies with its many delicacies. It is as if we must fill our bodies with sustenance in anticipation of the cold blue wintry winds that strip the land of its life.

Fats and Cholesterol

Those of us that suffer from indigestion and acid reflux know all to well the consequences of our feasting. But, there are holiday foods that we can safely ingest that are beneficial to our condition and that reduce our suffering.

We all know that lowering our cholesterol levels is good for reducing the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and diabetes, but it also helps curb gastroesophageal reflux causes as well. Do not confuse cholesterol with fat. It is not a fat. Cholesterol is vital to producing some of the body’s hormones and cells.

Many of the foods we consume during the holidays are high in fats and some are high in cholesterol. Fried foods and foods high in fat content tend to slow digestion and increase the potential for acid reflux and heartburn.

Yet, we must consume some fats, if only to protect us from those long cold winter months ahead. Our bodies require the intake of fats. Fats are essential for some vitamins to dissolve in and for building cells in the body.

Saturated and Unsaturated

Fats are a combination of carbon and hydrogen atoms. If all the carbon atoms are linked to hydrogen atoms the fats are said to be “saturated”. If some of the carbon atoms are not linked to hydrogen atoms the fats are known as “unsaturated”. Not surprisingly, most foods contain both kinds of fat, saturated and unsaturated.

So, which fats are good and which are bad?

Generally, foods with unsaturated fats are more helpful for your body. Many processed foods and oils contain “hydrogenated” fats. These are unsaturated fats that have been artificially forced into a saturated state or into a state with more hydrogen atoms than normal (partial hydrogenation).

Partial hydrogenation results in “trans” fats that are not healthy at all. Avoid synthetically created trans fat foods like margarine, potato chips, and other processed foods.

The Mayo Clinic recommends that your total consumption of dietary fats be limited to no more than 20-35% of your total calorie intake based on a recommended intake of 2000 calories per day.

Foods To Eat

Foods with saturated fats also contain cholesterol. It is best to limit your intake of these fats to no more than 10% of your daily calorie intake.

Saturated fats are found in foods like butter, cheese, lard, bacon, ham, and tropical oils.

The remainder of your daily consumption of dietary fats should be from unsaturated fats.

Foods that contain unsaturated fats include almonds, walnuts, and turkey (a Thanksgiving Day staple).

All fruits and vegetables contain some fat, but the fat content is of such negligible amounts that the benefits of the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables far outweigh any concerns about fat content.

Check the labels of store bought food. Hydrogenated oils (bad fat) used to produce these items must be listed in the ingredients.

Any heartburn diet for the holidays should consider the fat content. It is more a matter of common sense. You can enjoy the holidays, be festive and enjoy good food, just be mindful of your indigestion and acid reflux condition. It all comes down to moderation.

One of the many temptations during the holiday season is the abundance of leftovers and that tempting late night snack. Not a good idea for a reflux diet! Eating late night snacks is a major contributor of acid reflux. If you don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night with that burning in the middle of your chest, don’t be tempted by that fridge full of delectable goodies.

9 E-Commerce Tips for the Holiday Shopping Season

It hardly seems possible that we’re entering yet another holiday shopping season. Year after year, advertisers start campaigning to win over early-bird shoppers earlier and earlier. Christmas decorations emerge in retail stores before some families are even planning for Halloween. So in light of preparing well in advance, here are some tips to prepare your e-commerce site for the 2013 holiday shopping season.

Use Holiday Terms in Your Campaigns

You can capitalize on early-bird shoppers by using those keywords in some of your campaigns. Do your due diligence first to analyze the potential in your particular niche, but incorporating key phrases related to the holiday shopping season could tap into the early-shopper market. Terms such as “early holiday discounts,” “pre-holiday sale,” “Christmas shopping,” and similar terms combined with your niche keywords can be effective in the pre-season with early shoppers.

Promote Pre-Season Prices on Hot-Ticket Items

Some shoppers specifically seek out early deals on hot items. The Skylanders video game is popular among children and teens right now, for example, and parents may be looking to buy game systems and characters before the prices start creeping up in time for the busy shopping season. If you’re offering a hot seller at discounted prices, let shoppers know.

Analyze Last Year’s Performance

Now’s the time when you should be carefully analyzing last year’s performance. What marketing tactics did you use, and how well did they perform? Should you allocate more of your budget to PPC or organic SEO this year? If you’re using content marketing, start planning your efforts and getting the ball rolling.

Get your plans in place now. If you need to hire a copywriter to spice up your product descriptions or run a branding campaign, you have the time to do so. But if you wait until holiday shopping season is in full swing, you’ll be chasing your tail.

Ramp Up Your Product Descriptions

Your product descriptions are what will sell your inventory at the end of the day. You can get visitors to your site by optimizing and using PPC – but your product descriptions are what will drive conversions. Take a close look at your product copy and revitalize it. Run some A/B tests to drill down to the most effective headlines and descriptions. You can also start planning how you’ll incorporate holiday-relevant copy in your descriptions, such as “must-have 2013 Christmas item for teens,” or “on the 2013 holiday hot list.”

Take Advantage of Google+

Google is really pushing Google+, so you should be using it to your advantage. Make sure your physical location information is up to date, and make sure you’re sharing your compelling content there. There’s a definite SEO benefit to Google+, not to mention you can drive additional traffic through your connections.

Fine-Tune Your Local Business Presence

If you also have a brick-and-mortar location, make sure your local business presence is solid. Local customers will find you online this holiday season. Update your hours, contact information, physical address, and description. Make sure your description is relevant and keyword-rich, including the main products you sell. Give directions if your location is tough to find.

Use Retargeting

Now is the perfect time to start using retargeting. Because shoppers are browsing the web for ideas, they may spend some time on your site and then leave without making a purchase. After all, they have plenty of time to place orders before the holidays.

But you can make sure you stay top-of-mind in consumers’ minds – and give them an incentive to buy – by using retargeting. Hit up visitors with special offers and deep discounts on items that are sure to be best-sellers, and offer some motivation by letting them know the items they looked at are in low supply at the current prices.

Be a Resource

Everyone has at least one difficult-to-buy-for person on their holiday gift-giving list, and shoppers are always looking for great gift ideas. Be a resource to your visitors by offering tips on finding the best deals, what’s hot on this year’s wish lists for different recipients, ages, and so on, and other fun and informative information. The more valuable content you provide, the better your organic rankings and the more likely visitors are to share your content.

Pay Attention to Mobile

More people are shopping via mobile devices than ever, so it’s critically important to ensure your site is mobile-optimized. This is particularly difficult with e-commerce, as the many product listings and the check-out process are often difficult to make mobile-friendly. But if you neglect the mobile audience, you’re going to lose valuable conversions. Your PPC ads are going to show up for mobile users, too, but they’ll bounce quickly when they realize how difficult it’s going to be to complete the checkout process from a smartphone.

It’s not too early to start thinking about the holiday shopping season. Retail stores already have holiday inventory on the shelves, and shoppers are going to be scouring the web for ideas and deals soon. Tap into the opportunity by heading into this year’s holiday season armed with your best marketing efforts.

Furnishing a Holiday Home During Off Peak Season

When we head off to our holiday destination, we want to feel like we are at a home away from home. The best way to do this is to keep your décor preferences in mind whilst thinking about climates and themes to make it the ultimate holiday home. It is a good idea to do your planning and furnishing after the holidays during the off peak season. When the holidays come around again, your holiday home will be ready for relaxation.

  • Beach House

Humidity is a common factor close to the beach. When decorating or furnishing a beach house you need to make sure that you don’t have iron or steel furniture as these metals rust quickly with the mixture of humidity and salt in the air.

Many people love the nautical theme which consists of a ship, lighthouse and anchor décor because it relates to the sea. If you are not a fan of these items you can be more subtle with different shades of blue and white. You will create a serene atmosphere with a holiday feeling.

  • Cabin in the Woods

There are different forms of camping. Some prefer to set up a tent and make fires amongst other campers whilst some would rather go out into the forest and set up their own secluded cabin to get away from the world.

The ideal furniture to have in a cabin would be wood. Wooden furniture has the strength needed to last and it has a homely finish. Keeping colours neutral will also relax your mind. Remember that sometimes bright colours and tones will continuously keep a person’s mind active.

  • House on the river or lake

These houses will need furniture that won’t rust too. The humidity might not be as strong or dense as that near the sea, but you will eventually notice your steel furniture rusting. Wood is an ideal material for the frames but expansion of it will also need to be considered. Gauzed doors and windows will also need to be installed because insects might enter your home such as mosquitoes.

  • Mountain loft

Wherever you are in the world, any mountain you visit will be cold and possibly experience snow. Wood is also the ideal material to have in these types of holiday homes. Wood insulates and retains warmth. Cushioning is also a good idea for warmth and decoration purposes. Add a blanket or two over the couch as a decorative piece that doubles as a cuddle blanket. Cushioned couches and blankets add that extra comfort to your own winter holiday resort.

To be comfortable in a place far away from home you should have comfortable furniture. Whether you furnish a living area with a lounge suite or separate couches, make sure that the end result is something that you will enjoy for years to come.