“Proud American”

I’m 30, I’m single, and I’m proud to be an American. I live the American life, dream the American dream. Wear my nationality with confidence, arrogance even. Being a part of the leading country of the world has its perks. And they are in no way insignificant.

Why would everyone in this country be oozing patriotism? Plenty of reasons. Here are just a few:

Our Environment:

The climate here is fantastic. From the snowy winters of Seattle to the warm sunshine of Florida, it’s a pleasure staying anywhere across the nation. We do have hurricanes now and then, here and there, causing death and destruction. But that is really no biggie now, is it? We consume the highest amount of oil in the world, with China being a distant second. And China’s population is over 4 times that of USA. But really, not much should be read into those statistics. Global warming isn’t just our responsibility now is it?

Money:

Let me just say this one straight, WE ARE RICH! I’m not ashamed. It is what it is. We are a wealthy nation. We live extravagant high spend, low save lives. And we love it! Who is anyone else to tell us what to do with what we make.

Only 59% of Americans own their homes, way behind an 82% in Ireland or 80% in Spain. But how does that matter? We are still rich! We spend the money we have on expensive stuff – and very often also the money we don’t have. That’s what makes our average household debt the highest in the entire world. The figures for the UK, which ranks second, are still less than half of ours. But we lead the good life, and that’s what matters. And as we have already established, we don’t really believe in stashing money for the future and all that now do we? How important could that be? So it’s no surprise that the average household saving in Japan is about 11 times that of the Americans. Like in every other field, we beat all the other nations in respect of inequality of income too. True leadership that!

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The Bizarre, Unusual and Deadly Side of 2013

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” – Thomas Campbell

In this past year, 2013, the world lost a lot of famous people – some beloved, some abhorred, some admired. Nelson Mandela, Paul Walker, Conrad Bain, Donald F. Hornig, Hugo Chavez, Margaret Thatcher, James Gandolfini, Pran, Hiroshi Yamauchi, Peter O’Toole and numerous others left us behind. These deaths were widely reported, talked about, mourned and reminisced.

And then there were those that bordered on bizarre. Sometimes unusual, sometimes gruesome, but always tragic. These deaths seem to have walked right out of the Final Destination franchise. Most unexpected and untimely – they hit their victims when they least expected it.

Here is a list of the top 10 deadly and bizarre incidents of 2013 that shook the lives of the families and townships involved, if not the world.

Roman Pirozek Junior1.  Roman Pirozek Jr., age 19, a model aircraft enthusiast, was killed on 5th September 2013 at a freak accident at Calvert Vaux Park in Brooklyn, New York. He was there trying some tricks with his remote controlled helicopter, when he lost control and the machine came down on his head, with the moving rotor blades scalping him to death. His own father watched the horrifying incident as the chopper went out of control and slashed his throat and sliced off a part of his skull.

Roman had been a regular at performing daredevil stunts with his RC helicopter and had posted several videos on Youtube. This one however, went horribly awry. A tragic way to end a 19 year old’s life. [Read more →]

Shopping Tips for Black Friday

You’re probably familiar with the shopping frenzy that follows Thanksgiving Day - Black Friday, which falls on 29th November 2013 this year. As the first official day to start shopping for Christmas, you have probably encountered not only the great deals available on the day but also the mad rush in stores.

In fact Black Friday is often described as the busiest shopping day of the year so it follows that retailers and marketers want to sweeten the deal and make it all the more appealing to shoppers to make purchases on the day. Here are some tips to get the best out of your Black Friday shopping experiences:

Make a list – this is actually a no brainer, but surprisingly few among us bother to make a list or remember to stick to it. Impulse shopping or shopping without a plan will mean that you end up getting a lot of stuff that you don’t need – stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time, but now seems like a dead loss. Also without a list you will end up forgetting to buy the important stuff and may then regret having let Black Friday pass you buy.

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Shopping Then and Shopping Now

Remember how grandma shopped? Well you probably don’t, but never mind that – she took a shopping bag, trudged to the store, looked at her shopping list and bought what they had. She also kept an eye on the clothing store to see when it announced a sale and then if she was lucky she would get her hands on that dress that she had her eye on. Not so now. Consider how you and I shop now.

We have the benefit of shopping online – literally millions on products are within arm’s reach. We don’t have to go to stores unless we want to – practically everything can get delivered to our doorsteps. The choice is vast, you have access to so much more information and sellers fall over themselves to get your custom.

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Unwanted Gifts? Here’s What You Can Do With Them

We all get them from time to time – unwanted gifts – things that we already have, things that we don’t want, things that don’t fit, or quite simply do not like. A careless cousin, a well meaning aunt, a misguided friend or colleague may all have been guilty of presenting you with that unwanted gift. So what do you do with it?

Re-gift

The obvious thing to do of course is recycle unwanted gifts. The purple angora sweater may not be to your liking, but it may be just the thing that will gladden the heart of your aging aunt. Here’s a caveat though – give some thought to the gifting. If you think someone was thoughtless in giving you a gift, don’t be thoughtless in return. Even if you really just want to get rid of something, be reasonably sure that the receiver will appreciate it.

Donate

You can give away the gifts to a local shelter or your charity of choice. If you have no idea where you can donate your unwanted gifts, check out The Giving Effect. You can send them clothes, books, food, cleaning supplies, cameras, spares, baby items, gadgets, accessories and they ensure that these things reach people who really need them.

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Do You Make These Common Shopping Mistakes?

Shopping is an art – I firmly believe this. You should have an eye for good deals and understand what good value for money is. I also believe that I have this quality – why else would so many people enviously tell me “I never get the deals that you seem to find” and so many of my friends take me along for shopping expeditions? My best friend in fact calls me her “lucky shopping mascot”! My point is, you can shop smart too – just avoid these common shopping mistakes:

  1. Not shopping around – Shop around; especially for the big ticket items like home appliances or designer wear. Compare prices in different stores, check online and then decide what to buy and when.
  2. Not making a list – make a list and don’t make impulse purchases. To the extent possible follow that list and try not to buy stuff simply because it seems like a good deal in bulk.
  3. Buying TV dinners – Don’t buy pre-prepared meals. They may be convenient and in an emergency they may be fine. But on a regular basis they are a drain on your pocket when compared with the cost of cooking yourself. They are also terribly unhealthy, loaded as they are with preservatives, fat, sugar, salt and artificial flavors.
  4. Buying crates of soda – No one needs to have soda – seriously there is no reason to consume those fizzy beverages packed with empty calories. They are quite simply a waste of money. If possible leave the sodas off your shopping list altogether but if you feel you need to have some of the stuff once in a while, get a bottle or two home.  [Read more →]

Top Things You Should Always Buy Used

You know I am this discount loving soul and I wait for things to go on sale before I let myself wrap my greedy little fingers around them. So since I have this predilection towards not paying the sticker price for things, I also tend to favor the idea of buying gently used pre-owned – used, secondhand stuff. And here’s my list of things that I feel one must buy second hand; in some cases, only secondhand:

  1. A home – A majority of us are never going to be able to afford to build a home of our choice and to our specifications. Best to look around and buy what someone else built. You may end up getting freebies such as furniture, a concept kitchen, additional woodwork etc with the home.
  2. Baby clothes – Children outgrow stuff so darn quickly it makes sense to use hand-me-downs. However beware of using used car seats, cribs and other safety equipment – it may not be equipped with the latest safety features and may be damaged by prior use.
  3. Car – Thoroughly perform all checks beforehand, but buy a used car. A car’s value depreciates the minute you drive it out the first time. And buy a used car particularly if you have fancy tastes in cars – else how will you ever afford the Beemer or the Merc?
  4. Designer clothing – The sticker price for new designer clothing is usually so obscenely highly that used designer togs are all you should opt for. [Read more →]

Caribbean Cruising for a Deal

This is a Guest Post by Austin Gambino, The Cruise Web Team

There’s a lot that goes into booking a Caribbean cruise. Every traveler is looking for maximum value for their dollar, as well as the right cruise line, region and cruise excursions for their vacation. Want to get the most bang for your Caribbean Cruise buck? Take a look at these tips for getting the best Caribbean cruise deal.

Book Now

The best prices and finest availability for booking a Caribbean cruise is always as soon as the itineraries are released. Although you’ll see last minute deals, and late price drops, the best price will usually be about a year out from the sail date.

So, book now and forever hold your peace.

Use Your Shoulders

The ‘shoulders’ are the parts of the cruise season when taking a Caribbean cruise is considered to be less popular. If you book a Caribbean cruise sailing during the ‘shoulder’ season, you will be more likely to get a lower price.

  • January and February are a good time to sail (post-holiday months).
  • The fall months – September, October and November (hurricane season) – are also great times to sail, at least during non-holiday weekends.
  • Pro-tip: the best price will commonly be found a year out, just after the winter holiday, in January.
  • Warning: there’s a reason the shoulders are cheaper, weather may affect your vacation.

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Amusement or Addiction? Recognizing Signs of Shopping Addiction

I write about shopping all the time, and thought that it would be irresponsible of me not to touch upon the subject of shopping addiction from time to time. If you find yourself being unable to resist buying things you may wonder if you’re actually addicted.

It is actually a recognized disorder called Oniomania or Compulsive Buying Disorder – and I sometimes wonder if I have it. So I did some research to find out the symptoms of shopping addiction. According to the experts, some of the warning signs of this shopping problem could be: (I was quite relieved to find that I display none of the worrying signs, except being a woman that is)   [Read more →]

Tips for Guilt Free Shopping

Shopping is an enjoyable pass-time; the person that named it retail therapy wasn’t far wrong. Shopping and window shopping are leisure activities for me; great ways for me to relax and have a good time. However sometimes the self indulgence can make you feel guilty as well. Is it possible to shop and feel good about it? Well here are some ways to enjoy guilt free shopping:

Cruelty free products

Pick products that are made without harming any animals; products that have no animal hides, skins, or any animal products at all. Pay particular attention to this when you buy shoes, bags, jackets and so on. Eschew all products that use fur, leather, animal skins, silk, honey or other animal products if at all possible.

Ethical products

How much do you know about any product that you’re using? Do you know where it was made, the conditions under which the workers made it, their age, how much they were paid and so on? Ethical products are made without using sweat shop labor or child labor and by giving fair remuneration to the workers who made it.

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