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Watch Out For Charity Scams

Today is Memorial Day, a holiday in the United States for us to remember our fallen solders.  Unfortunately, in many ways, the holiday’s purpose has been forgotten and people think of it simply as the beginning of the summer.

But while you’re out today, at a barbecue or a picnic, take a look around and notice the extra American flags flying.  Consider flying one outside your house.

And while you’re out, you may also see signs up for various charities supporting our soldiers, our veterans,  and their families.  There are so very many amazing charities out there.  I’m personally familiar with the Fisher House Foundation and TAPS, but there are hundreds upon hundreds of great charities doing great work who would appreciate your time or your money.

But buyer beware.  Not all of the charities out there are doing the great work they say they are.  Personally, I use Charity Navigator to research charities.  This is a free site that evaluates all kinds of charities and reports on their Financial Health and their Accountability and Transparency.  They use a scoring system, which makes it quite easy to learn a bit more about the charity you choose.  The two that I mentioned above both get high marks from Charity Navigator.

And the site doesn’t just evaluate military charities.  They have a great page featuring “Hot Topics” so if you’re looking to donate to a recent crisis, like the earthquake in Nepal, you can quickly find a great charity doing work in that area.  And you can also do your best to avoid the charities who may be misusing the money or not using it to the best of their abilities.

They also have an entire page of tips for donors, so that even if the charity isn’t rated by their organization, you can figure out if that charity is a good place for you to put your money.  There are so many great causes out there and it’s so easy to be overwhelmed by all of the information that is being thrown at you, so it’s wonderful to have an easy place to find information and make sure that the work that you want to support is actually being done by the group you help fund.

Now, go enjoy your Memorial Day.  And take a minute to remember a fallen soldier and thank him or her for the sacrifice.

Zone Control: How Your Ductwork and Air Conditioning Can Save You Big Bucks

If you have an air conditioning system in your home that uses the ductwork, you may find that you are often cooling rooms that you don’t use very often. Because of this, you could be spending more on your energy bills, and it is for this reason that some people decide to invest in a ductless system.

However, you don’t necessarily need to buy a new system. Often homeowners make the assumption that if they want to choose which room they cool, they have to buy a ductless system, but this is not the case any longer. Instead, you can use a zone control system to choose which rooms are cooled by the air conditioning unit. Here is a guide to how it works and why you should consider this.

How It Works

If you have ducts in your home, you can get zone control installed by a professional air conditioning technician. The way this works is that the technician will dismantle the ductwork and insert electronic dampers, which are then connected to a system of thermostats.

Each thermostat will control a different zone of the home. You can then decide which zone you want to cool and which you want to leave, and you can use the thermostats accordingly.

Sorting out the installation of a zone control system is easy. If you already have an air conditioning system in place, simply find an experienced installation service in your area, like Red Star Cooling and Heating, and they will be able to set up the dampers in no time.

Key Benefits of Zone Control

One of the key benefits of zone control in your home is that you can make some serious savings on your energy bills. If there are rooms in your home that you do not need to be cooled, you can simply leave them as they are, and this will save on the energy you use and therefore cut your utility bills.

In addition, you will know that you are helping the environment by cutting the amount of energy you use to cool your home. If you want to do more to reduce your carbon footprint, this can be an excellent way to make a difference and do your part. If you don’t know what your carbon footprint is, you can find out using the EPA website.

Another key benefit is that the inhabitants of your home will get to enjoy greater levels of comfort. Different people have different requirements when it comes to the temperature of their rooms, and a zone control system enables them to have complete control over how cool their room is.

It may even help you to keep your air conditioner in better condition. The more space you have to cool, the harder your AC will have to work, especially during the hot summer months. So if you can cut the amount that you use it, even by a bit, this could help you to get more life out of your system. For more about maintaining your air conditioner, check out the advice at

Control the Zones in Your Home

These are some of the great reasons why a zone control air conditioning system can be a great idea for your home. If you think that you are spending too much on energy bills, and you are tired of constantly cooling your entire home when you don’t even use some of the rooms, now could be a great time to invest in zone control. So speak to your local air conditioning service and start enjoying all the benefits.


Christina D. Tidwell works as a financial advisor. She enjoys sharing her insights on living better for less. Look for her posts on many family and lifestyle blogs.


On Board Deals and Steals: The Pros and Cons of Last Minute Cruising

Many options exist for those who desire relaxation, and satisfied vacationers have been choosing cruises for years.  But how do you get a great deal?  You’ve heard of last-minute deals regarding hotels and concert tickets but ‘last-minute’ adopts a different definition when it comes to cruising.

Well in Advance

Time stops for no one, so while it may be an added preliminary step to book your cruise well in advance, as time passes, you’ll have reason to look forward as well as added money in your wallet.  Cruise professionals advise, as with airlines, cruise ships offer discounts and possible extras to those who book well in advance – eighteen to twenty-four months ahead of time.  Smart travellers book about 150 days before shipping as online surveys reflect.  Such ‘early bird’ rates could equal up to 50% less than the advertised brochure price.  Click here to peruse online options.

Wait Until the Eleventh Hour

To contrast the suggestion above, if you’re not terribly picky, wait until a few weeks before a cruise sets sail, when vendors are rushing to book rooms and accommodations are still available.  The strategy comes with a caveat; you’re not likely to get the best rooms and must be flexible regarding where the ship is going.  If you’re just searching for relaxation in addition to keeping money in your pocket, this may be your best choice.  Again, if you’re accustomed to getting your way and don’t like being flexible, this strategy is not for you.

Book a Reposition

So called ‘repositioning cruises’ are associated to extended time at sea with the ship moving locations (from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean for example).  If you’re a newcomer to the sea, this option may not be for you, since you’re unsure if you’re prone to seasickness.  You’ll have to settle for scaled-down personnel and limited onboard options in addition to a longer time at sea, but for some, this is a welcomed alternative and a great way to save a lot of money.

Go Out of Season

It’s popular to head to warmer climates in the winter or seek winter wonderlands for ski season, but those are times for hotels and vacation vendors to increase prices; demand dictates supply and price!  However, taking a cruise to a destination that is labelled ‘out of season’ is another way to save a lot of money and avoid larger crowds.  However, cruise professionals suggest seeking ‘shoulder season’ (February and late October) as opposed to 0ff-season cruises.  The latter attracts crowds while the former is largely passed over by the masses and those on Christmas vacations, etc.

Choose an Inner Cabin

Just like those who don’t seek apartments or houses in the prestigious regions of a city, those who are not picky about their cabin or the view on a cruise ship save lots of money.  Considering cruise vacationers spend little time in cabins and have access to the main decks of the ship, choosing a smaller, inner cabin is a great way to save lots of money on your next vacation.  If you book a less-popular room well in advance, inquire about a possible upgrade a few weeks before the cruise begins.  Some lines, happy to fill open rooms, may reward your early patronage by bumping you up to a better cabin by time of departure.
Michael Wilson is the Managing Director at Bolsover Cruise Club, originally known as Bolsover Travel, a company founded by his parents in the late 1960′s. He is passionate about the business, taking an interest in every aspect of it. Outside of work, Michael likes gardening, rugby and holidays with his family.

Bad Credit Loans to Get Rid of Debt: Better Than the Rest

It is a fact that bad credit can damage the credit status in the market and makes you less worthy in the presence of the loan lender. However, those who have bad credit history such as default payments, arrears, late payments and so many others can enjoy the benefit of loans for those with bad credit facility as this facility is particularly designed their needs. Bad credit is related to difficulty in finding loans. The loan industry has expanded significantly within the last years and so has the market for loans for those with bad credit. As a result, the consumer has the advantage of getting good opportunities for the bad credit loans.

However, today, many people who have bad credits are now enjoying the benefits that most people who have good credit standing are enjoying. People who have a bad credit score do not need to feel like they cannot get approved for a loan any longer. They too can get a low interest loan but it will be slightly higher than those who have perfect credit. Quite often it is the collateral being offered that will make the final determination of your annual percentage rate.

People who thought that with a history of bad credit they cannot get a loan can think again. Bad credit loans offer help to those people seeking loans with bad credit. All that is needed is your valued credit report which includes your borrowing and repayment details that are based on which the credit score is calculated. Online lenders provide the tools that the borrowers need and information to help get a low interest loan with affordable monthly payments that they deserve. Loans for those with bad credit not only help with getting the money for things they need but these loans also help the borrower get their credit score up. This is a major benefit for those who have less than perfect credit.

 bad credit loans

How to get a Bad Credit Loan?

If, you want bad credit loans, the best way is to search for the lenders online. This gives you a chance to compare and contrast various money lenders and their interest rate and policies. This saves your time and energy, as you are saved from going from one lender to another.

Generally, the process of obtaining loan is quite simple and hassle free. In most cases you can obtain the loans in as less as even a day’s time. When you apply for a loans for those with bad credit, it’s a good to itemize your monthly outgoings and compare them to the income for the lender, if you do this, the lender will be confident that you will be able to repay the loan and consequently will be likely to give it to you.

In addition to this, you should understand all the terms and conditions associated with the bad credit loan mortgage that you are applying for. Neglecting any details that are stipulated in the contract might just lead you to a disastrous financial situation – in fact, many people find themselves in deeper trouble because of this.

There are also few things that you can do to keep access to bad credit loans better even if you have a bad credit history. The first and most important thing is to keep your number of loans per year low. It is a little known fact that those that are in the habit of taking out loans will actually have their credit rating affected by this act alone.


If you are a person with bad credit history and you have a financial need to be looked after and for that if you need a loan. There is no need to worry with bad credit loans now you can fulfill not only your needs but all your fantasies as well. You can also get several other benefits which are very useful.

Buying a New Car

After just under 11 years with my faithful vehicle, I bit the bullet and bought a new car this weekend.

Why did I buy a new car?

A few reasons.  I knew that my car was going to need some serious maintenance in the next few thousand miles.  There’s the standard maintenance and replacement that comes when your car hits certain odometer milestones.   One of the window motors was also going, which is an expensive fix.  Finally, the bumper and side mirror had seen better days and I wasn’t sure how much longer they were going to stay attached.

Yes, you could say I don’t treat cars as a status symbol.

So realizing that I was going to have to put more money into the car than it was worth, I decided to start researching.

Buying a car is very different from when I last purchased 11 years ago.  First off, it’s a whole lot easier to research, not only cars themselves but prices and dealerships.  There are a number of great sites out there that you can use to determine a good price on a new car with the features you want.  Dealers don’t have the ability to totally shake you down for a ton more money.  In fact, I think nowadays, the dealers make most of their money on bonuses from the manufacturers and not from the money they specifically make on your car.

There are a number of different sites out there that let you compare the cost of cars.  I think I used all of them.  I ran numbers.  I crunched numbers.  I also knew that I had a chunk of cash set aside to buy the car outright if that made sense.

One big key was that the initial numbers the salesman brought me were all about monthly payments.  I wasn’t worried about the monthly payment. I wanted to know bottom line.  So I sent him back to get me that information.  From my reading (and listening to This American Life), I knew that I was likely to get a better offer if I financed.  Doesn’t mean I plan to carry the payment for the full 60 months, but I wanted to know it was an option.  And once we crunched the numbers, it was clear that because of the kickback the dealership was going to get by having me finance, I was better off financing.  I made sure there were no early payment penalties and they just asked that I make the payments for three months so that the bank didn’t come back and try to get the bonus back.   For the discount I was getting, that was doable.

I went into the dealership knowing what I wanted to pay.  I knew what I wanted, and I managed to walk out of there getting pretty much everything I wanted.  So I’m happy.

Yes, I know new cars aren’t all that practical, but after doing my research, this was the car I wanted with the safety features that I knew were best for me.  So I went for it.  After all, if I’m only buying every 10+ years, I can treat myself.