How to Keep Your Employer from Knowing You’re Looking for a Job

headhunterWith all the various methods for instant communication available today, keeping your job hunt a secret from your employer is more difficult than ever. And keeping it a secret is probably exactly what you need to do. In many companies, you can be fired for even attempting to look for another job. It’s often referred to as disloyalty to employer, which is a firing offense.

While it isn’t possible to guarantee complete secrecy, there are a number of steps you can take that will minimize the likelihood of your employer finding out that you are looking  at least until you are ready to let them know.

Use a headhunter, but not too many of them

One of the best ways to conduct a job search in secret to use a headhunter. A lot of people do this when looking for a job, but there are additional steps you need to take in order to cloak your effort.

Only work with one or two at a time. By working with only one or two headhunters at a time, you will be better able to maintain some control over the number of contacts they make. If instead you’re working with half a dozen recruiters, there is a very good chance that news of your search will get back to your employer. You simply cannot control that many people.

Be sure to emphasize that the search must be done in private. We often assume that a headhunter automatically knows to keep your search private. But never overlook the obvious let them know that it is private, and that they are not permitted to release your name to a prospective employer unless that employer has first expressed interest in your skills. In the recruiting industry, this is referred to as providing blind resumes. These are qualification-only resumes that provide no identifying information.

Let them know that the search must be very specific. Unless you are desperate to find a job, any job, instruct the recruiter to introduce you only to a very narrow range of employers and jobs that you would consider interviewing for. The last thing you want have is for them to blast your resume out to 100 or more employers at a time. That’s like announcing your search in the newspaper!

Keep your applications to a minimum

We just talked about keeping a recruiter from blasting your resume out all over the place. You need to follow the same advice. In most communities there are only a limited number of employers in a particular field, and most people who work in the industry know the major players. If you let every employer in town know that you are looking for a job, it may be just a matter of time before your employer catches wind of what you’re up to.

Network – but don’t ask for a job

When you network in the hunt for a job, try to do it from a different angle. Instead of being blunt about your desire to seek employment, instead try to establish common ground with someone who may be likely to hire you.

The idea is to build up a working relationship with other people in the industry by talking shop, and to get them to solicit you rather than the other way around. Since the prospective employer will have a specific interest in you, they will be careful not to disclose your exchanges back to your employer.

Never search on company time or on company equipment

It’s always tempting to conduct a job search on company time. After all, it’s always easiest to contact prospective employers during normal working hours. Since you are at work at the same time, you might want to make phone calls from your job. But don’t! In most organizations, someone always has a glass to the wall and is listening in. And nothing in an office moves quite as quickly as gossip!

Make any job hunting phone calls on breaks, on lunch hour, and after hours, and always outside the office.

Likewise, don’t ever use company equipment to help you in your job search. That includes company telephones, email, or word processing. Employers increasingly monitor the traffic on the systems, and you should always assume that someone is either listening or watching what you’re doing on company equipment.

Don’t discuss it with others

Have you ever heard the term loose lips sink ships? When it comes to searching for a job, discuss it with as few people as possible  and with no one in the office.

It’s very rare that work friends fall into the category of true friends. You often don’t find that out until there is some point of conflict. A friendly coworker might resent your decision to leave the company, or might even conclude that he can improve his own position in the hierarchy by ratting you out.

If you are planning a job search, you’ll want to engineer the entire process on your own terms. But spilling your guts to too many people, or to the wrong person on the job, could turn the job hunt from a choice to a necessity in short order.

Have you ever had an employer find out you were looking for a job before you were ready to tell them?

photo by thetaxhaven

When To Foot the Food Bill

food billI wholeheartedly believe in generosity, but there are definitely times where I notice that some of my most generous friends, and even myself, have been taken advantage of by others at restaurants. In today’s day and age where etiquette is growing increasingly cloudy, it can be easy to forget who should pay for what and when. Plus, not all of us are raised in the same way with the same rules, so it can be challenging to navigate many of these situations if your friends don’t know or don’t understand these things the way you do.

So, below are some tips of what I have learned growing up and by experiencing awkward situations when it comes to money at restaurants. They are by no means hard and fast rules for etiquette nor do I claim to be an expert on manners. They are just situations that I’ve noticed over the years that could help someone else get out of some of those sticky moments. So without further ado, here’s when you should foot the bill:

1. When You Extend The Invitation

The number one thing that can get each and every one of us out of an awkward situation is to be very clear about our intentions. Many awkward who-grabs-the-check moments can be avoided if the host would extend an invitation like, Do you want to go grab a sandwich with me? My treat!❠Conversely, you can say, Do you want to go try that new restaurant in town? I’d love to treat you but I can’t today. It would be great to have the company though if you can come!❠You can also answer when the waiter asks if the bill is together or separate. If you’re feeling especially generous, you can also put your guest at ease by saying, Order whatever you want! I know I am. It’s my treat.❠The point is that if you are ready to extend the invitation, be ready to pay for your guest’s meal as well.

2. When You’re a Guy On A Date

I sense that I may possibly get comments from those who disagree with me on this. So, I definitely want to reiterate that I am no expert when it comes to modern day etiquette. I just know that when I was dating, I really appreciated it each and every time a man paid for my dinner. I found it to be very sweet and kind. Even today, I always let my husband pay for the bill, even though it comes out of the same bank account. There’s just something about having him take care of me that woos me.   However, I can understand women who insist on paying for their own half of a meal if that is what makes them more comfortable. Either way, I find that it’s always important to offer.

3. When You Want To Honor Your Parents

I believe there comes a point in everyone’s life where they should treat their parents to dinner. I know that mine always pay for everyone’s meal, but as I progress in my career over the next few years, I look forward to taking them out to dinner some time to repay the favor. Resentment can definitely build if you eat with your family and expect someone else to pay every time. Like the situation above, even if your parents or grandparents love to treat everyone, offering to pay for your portion might be a gesture that is appreciated, even if they turn you down.

So there, you have it: three situations where you should foot the bill. I know there are more that I’m not listing, so please leave a comment below and share your take on it.

photo by epsos

How To Thank Someone When They Give You Money

Throughout our lives, we might receive money for various things. This could include college graduation, a donation to your favorite charity in your name, a wedding gift, Christmas gifts, and the list could go on. I know that people have very mixed feelings about money and gifts. For example, I have a friend who really hates receiving money as a gift. I know, I know – It sounds a little bizarre. However, she would prefer for someone to go out and and purchase something with her in mind, which definitely makes sense. I, on the other hand, think receiving money as a gift is great since I can go out and pick out something I know I actually want. Regardless of your feelings on the subject, though, one thing we all have to do is thank the person who gave it to us (mostly because our moms told us so!) Here’s a good step by step to make sure it’s done in style.

1. Write It On Stationary

These days, snail mail is definitely a dying art, and that’s sad because a sweet, handwritten note just takes a small bit of extra effort. However, we’re more likely to sit down and throw out a quick e-mail to someone thanking them for their donation to our 5k race. However, you know how awesome it is to get a little bit of snail mail. There’s just something about opening the mailbox and having a nice note inside that can just make your day. The best part about getting into the habit of writing notes is that the giver will likely remember it more. This means they are more likely to do it again. Everyone loves a bit of affirmation and if someone knows that their efforts will always be appreciated, they’ll be more willing to give year after year.

2. Tell Them What You Used It For

When I was a kid, my mom always told me to write my grandparents and tell them what I bought with the Christmas money that they gave me. I am still in this habit to this day, and now I realize why it’s so important. Sure, it’s great to send a note that says, “Thanks so much for sending that $10. It was so kind of you!” However, it’s more meaningful to say, “Thanks so much for sending me that $10.00. Your contribution helped us raise $1,000 for charity! Those kids’ are going to be so excited when they find out they are getting new shoes!” It only takes a few extra minutes to jot down another line or two, and it makes the person really feel special for the gift they gave.

3. Be Consistent

People talk. (At least, they do where I’m from in the deep south!) Just remember that if you are going to send a thank you note to one member of the family that you send it to everyone else who gifted you something as well. It’s easy to forget or be more excited about the $100 bill than the $10 bill, but treating all gifts equally ensures you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

All I can say is that I’ve never regretted sending thank you notes. It’s always a nice, calming thing to do every year after the holidays or after my birthday. I just love getting new stationary and keeping up my address book. While I know that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, there’s something about knowing that I’ll brighten someone’s day that keeps me doing it year after year. Plus, they get the satisfaction of knowing their money is being enjoyed and put to good use.

Do you give or receive money often? Do you like giving money as opposed to a specific gift that you bought at the store?

photo by lindsaydeebunny

Affordable Romance

affordable romanceAs any man who has ever tried to impress a woman can tell you, a romantic dinner can end up costing you a small fortune. When factoring in valet services, bottles of wine, appetizers, two courses and dessert . . . the bill easily climbs into the triple digits. What’s worse, when you take a date to a fancy restaurant, it’s considered extremely taboo to ask her to stick to tap water rather than bottled. However, there are other ways to avoid racking up a ridiculously high tab. Instead of taking your lady out to dinner, opt for brunch instead. Equally romantic, the prices are less than their nighttime counterparts and many establishments provide complimentary mimosas and Bloody Mary cocktails for a reasonable rate. If it is warmer, sitting outside of an intimate eatery for brunch and people watching together is a viable substitute for the opulent setting that is expected during evenings. A second alternative is to take your date to an entertaining performance like a jazz concert or comedy show; though the two of you might end up eating there, your focus will not be on your plates so, naturally, both she and you will be inclined to order less. Of course, there is always the option of treating your date to a homemade dinner or preparing a picnic; your thoughtfulness and effort will not be wasted.

Another aspect of romance that can dig deep into your pockets is the giving of romantic gifts. Earrings, flowers, perfumes . . . you might find yourself wincing as you leave the jewelry store hundreds of dollars lighter than you entered. While there are, of course, some women that have come to expect their presents to be shiny, most women appreciate another aspect of the gift; the effort and thoughtfulness behind it. It is the spontaneity and not the sparkle of a gift that will wow her, so perhaps consider ideas like surprising your girlfriend or wife with delivered pizza when she and her friends are having a movie night. Consider your strengths and weaknesses when being inventive with gifts. For instance, if you are not a passable chef, there is no need to have her sick to her stomach after tasting your homemade sushi.

A honeymoon or romantic getaway can breathe fresh life into a relationship . . . unless you can’t afford the expenses. When you are spending savings that you cannot afford to be frivolous with, your stress-free vacation can turn become emotionally taxing as the guilt and worry plagues your thoughts. Perhaps you manage to ignore these rational anxieties . . . you probably will return having spent more than you originally intended and experience the financial fears tenfold. The good news is that you can still have your desired romantic holiday without significantly denting your savings. A good place to start is by investigate romantic hot spots that are within driving distance of your home; you don’t have to fly into another hemisphere to identify breathtaking backdrops, refined accommodations and invigorating local cultures. A more romantic, practical alternative to climbing behind the wheel of your car is to catch a train to your chosen locale, as this will provide opportunities to relax, soak in the surrounding countryside and do a little work, thanks to the Internet connection that is complimentary aboard many trains. Additionally, consider traveling during the shoulder season,❠the brief window of time that is sandwiched between the height of a destination’s tourism season (when the prices are significantly higher) and the time in which the weather turns undeniably unpleasant. By readjusting your travel dates by even a week, you can potentially take advantage of significant discounts. Another way to save money when travelling is to be weary of tourist traps,❠which includes restaurants. Just like a restaurant in New York’s Times Square is considerably more expensive than its Brooklyn counterpart, other cities have touristy areas in which prices are ballooned to take advantage of visitors’ ignorance. The solution is, therefore, to not be ignorant. Do your research prior to your travels and ask locals for advice, not the hotel concierge.

By not dropping outrageous amounts of money on dates, presents and vacations, you are preventing resentment and added stress, which ultimately helps to keep romance alive!

When Corey Lommer graduated with a  his degree  in Communications degree in 2009, finding a job didn’t come easily. Though he now is happily works in social media, the time he spent unemployed instilled within him the value of selective spending. He enjoys researching and writing about topics  like  which investments are reliable, how to maximize your savings, and    ways to spend less  without sacrificing quality of life.

photo by battled_void

5 Inexpensive Ways to Amass Your Own Personal Library

libraryI am what you would refer to as a bibliophile – someone who loves reading and collecting books.

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved books. When I had no money (and our family didn’t give out allowances) I went to the local library to check out a book I was eager to read. Or, I would go to the back of my classroom at school and select one from the bookshelf – you know, the shelf nobody except the especially nerdy kids ever bothered to go near?

I started collecting books when I was around seven or eight after reading Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. Franklin too was an earnest reader and spent all of his money he earned as a youngster working at his brother’s newspaper on books, using them to teach himself spelling, grammar, and good sentence structure.

While most of those books I collected then, such as Trumpet of the Swan and Chronicles of Narnia, are now in the large box marked “For the grandchildren” in my parents’ attic, I continued buying books when I went off to college.

It was there I began the process of amassing the large personal library I have today, which includes hundreds of books that fill up three large bookshelves, and then some. And I’m still adding to it whenever I can.

Name a classic (my definition may be somewhat different from yours), and chances are I have it tucked away somewhere.

The surprising thing is I built up this library while a poor college student and when I was working retail, yet I was able to pull it off, most of the time with the few spare dollars I had in my pocket.

For you aspiring bibliophiles out there, here are five personal tips of mine which may be of help in your quest to build your own personal library.

I do have to say, though, is that if you’re trying to buy a recently released novel or a specialized/technical book, this might be  more difficult, but it is still possible. These tips work the best when attempting to collect classical literature.

Additionally, you may have to give up book condition for frugality’s sake. You’ll get a book at Barnes and Noble in magnificent condition and exquisitely formatted, but chances are you won’t be able to buy more than two of those lovely books without having to put down a bill with President Grant’s face on it – unless they’re one of the classics.

1. Online stores

During my freshman year of college I purchased around 40 books and spent less than $100 on them. The trick is to buy them not only used, but in bulk from the same seller. If you do, the seller will generally ship them together to save on transportation costs. So rather than having to pay $2.99 each for three books, they can be shipped together for the same price.

Books can also be found eBay, though the auction environment can often cause prices to inflate. I’ve purchased several books on eBay, but only because they were unavailable anywhere else. If you’re looking for a rare book, I would recommend going here, but if you’re trying to keep a handle on your spending I would suggest looking elsewhere, though your experience may be different.

2. Thrift stores

Goodwill and Value Village are examples of great stores to look for books. Though their prices have jumped recently,  they’re still a relatively cheap. Most of their paperbacks run in the $1-3 range, which is a steal comparatively speaking. Hardcovers are around $5-6, though you’ll want to check individual store prices when you go in.

Often times you can find real treasures there, since unlike a book store they don’t price the book based on its print edition or age.

Once I found an $5 early edition of Dr. Zhivago, and inside there was a newspaper article from 1957 discussing the controversy the book generated when it first published in Italy, due to its anti-communist themes. I plan on getting the article laminated and taped to the interior of the book.

Another consideration is the book format, because this actually determines the price of the book. Many of the books in my library are Dover Thrift Editions; these books, designed for affordability, are extremely compact and tightly formatted. They’re cheap, but the price you pay is the readability, as it can sometimes be difficult to follow. The paragraphs tend to be elongated, which makes it harder to follow. and can slow down your reading pace. At the same time, if you can buy a Dover book for $2 instead of $20, and you’re strapped for money, it’s hard to turn down.

3. Used books stores

Stores like Half Price Books usually have a value rack in each book section with novels for one dollar. I even bought a copy of Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens’ last completed novel, for 50 cents. I walked out of my local Half Price Books many times with two bags of books, having spent only $10.

Additionally, sometimes you can find literary gems at stores, too, if you are willing to invest the time to look for them. Among my collection of old books is an 1888 edition of Les Miserables for $10. I later bought a newer version to read for $1.

These stores also have sales, so you can always check out their website to see if there’s one going on.

4. Library sales

These are another great place to go because libraries generally sell their books for a lower price. I haven’t gone to many library sales myself, but those whom I know who have always rave about some great deal they got. Check out your local library’s website or the friends of the library for any upcoming library book sales.

5. Garage sales and Craigslist

Dirt cheap and tax-free, this is the way to go during the summer or if you’re trying to get a specific book. Garage sales work because the owners are typically in a hurry to get rid of everything and therefore will have their books at bargain basement price.

The advantage of Craigslist is that you can find rarer books, like first editions, sometimes cheaper than regular books. The price often depends on the urgency of the buyer. Since it is more or less a kind of modern-day trade post, the price isn’t necessarily fixed, which gives you the ability to possibly lower it if the seller can’t find another buyer.

You can also check the “free” section of the site to see if anyone is trying to just get rid of books.

Lastly, this isn’t necessarily a tip, but you can also ask for gift cards to bookstores or specific books for birthdays, Christmas, etc.

photo by ell-r-brown

Handling Restaurant Bills With Cheap Friends

handling restaurant billsDo you have friends, family members or co-workers who you go to restaurants with and end up inâ”let’s say this politelyâ”sticky situations? They may be regular lunch or dinner companions and you may even enjoy their company, but when it comes time to pay the bill there’s always an issue.

Somehow or another it always ends up with you subsidizing their meal. If it becomes a pattern, and it usually does, they’ll not only order dinner, but they’ll begin to throw in appetizers, alcoholic beverages and dessert. Even though you don’t order any of these extras, you still end up paying for part of theirs through one manipulation or another.

âLet’s split the bill down the middleâ

This is probably the most typical outcome. A single check is ordered for the whole table and everyone agrees to split it down the middle. This isn’t a problem if all parties have roughly equal budgetary constraints and buy equivalent orders. But often the friend orders from the high priced end of the menu while you order from the children’s menu in an effort to offset your contribution to their extravagance.

What often complicates splitting down the middle, is that the party who is taking advantage of the arrangement is usually its most vocal supporter and any attempt to disagree has a high chance of resulting in a confrontation. You and others go along in order to avoid any unpleasantnessâ”which is exactly what the manipulator is counting on.

âHere’s ten dollarsâ”we’ll even it out laterâ

This is a more extreme version of splitting the bill down the middle. What it really means it that we’ll split it down the middle later, but later will never come. The freeloader is now taking a bold step forwardâ”he’s no longer maintaining even the pretense of a 50-50 split. He’s moved on to capping his contribution at what ever amount he chooses.

âDarn I don’t have any money (left my wallet at home, etc.)â”I’ll get you next timeâ

This usually happens when the offender is feeling so comfortable with taking advantage of you that he’s pushing the envelope even further. He’s gone beyond having you subsidize his extravagance and away from making even a minimal contribution. He’s now forcing you to pay for his entire meal!

At this point nothing short of bold action will fix the problem.

Ultimate solutions

In my experience, this unbalanced arrangement never gets better on its own. You have to take actionâ”and do it very decisively.

Don’t waste your time confronting them. Here’s the thing, if a person has done this to you repeatedly, they know what they’re doing and it’s intentional. Confronting them in any way is likely to a) offend❠them that you’d make such an accusation, b) be a complete waste of time, or c) end the friendship completely. Nothing will be fixed by bringing the problem to their attention, so forget it.

Insist on separate checks. If you want to keep the friendship, insist on separate checks as soon as the waiter or waitress come to your table. You may need to alert the offending party before arriving at the restaurant so as not to step into an uncomfortable situation. Tell them that funds are tight and you have to keep your bill low, but you don’t want that to affect them. Do what ever you have to but be firm. The first time will be the most difficult but after that the lines will be drawn and it will be much easier going forward.

Never go out drinking with them. If eating with such a person is a drain on your wallet or a burden on your credit card, going out for adult beverages will be even worse. No only will liquor dull everyone’s judgment (including yours) but the offending friend may very well take advantage of the confusion to take even bigger advantage of your apparent generosity.

Find new friends. If the friend, family member or coworker resists all of your efforts to stop paying more than your fair share, it may be time to find new friends. Regrettably, for some people this type of behavior is part of the way they operate in life, and if it is it’ll never improve. Often just by insisting on separate checks, you won’t need to distance yourself from the offending partyâ”they’ll do it for you.  If you frequently shop online you can find some incredible deals from

Have you ever had friends, family members or coworkers like the ones I’m describing? How did you handle it?

photo by thefoodplace

25 Dates under $25

cheap datesAfter two years of marriage, date night is a rare occurrence in our house. Fancy dinners out and long weekend getaways are now replaced by Redbox, take-out and errands. Where did the passion go?

In our quest to ignite the fire once more, my husband and I have committed to reinvigorating our social life. Since we are a young married couple on a budget, we set the limit of our dates to $25. But there are lots of options for having dates on a budget. All it takes is a little bit of extra creativity and perhaps some planning.

25 Dates Under $25

  1. Picnic in the park
  2. Visit the beach
  3. Go on a hike
  4. Go to a matinee movie, or better yet, visit the $1 theater
  5. Find a local cheap wine tasting (we googled and found one that has 8 tastes for $5!)
  6. Take a class at Whole Foods (learn how to make sushi? Yes Please!)
  7. Visit a local fair or festival
  8. Scout out free local Art Walks
  9. Attend a free concert in the park
  10. Take advantage of happy hour
  11. Order dessert at a four-star restaurant
  12. Visit a museum on a half-priced day (there are a lot in the summer)
  13. Find an adventurous recipe online, go buy the ingredients, and cook together
  14. Go thrift store shopping
  15. Walk to get frozen yogurt together
  16. Create DIY art for the home
  17. Tackle a home project together that ends with an evening of wine
  18. Spend $25 in gas and take a day trip (pack a lunch)
  19. Go to your local zoo
  20. Volunteer at a local animal shelter
  21. Bake a decadent dessert together
  22. Drive around looking at your dream houses
  23. Go for brunch at a small boutique diner
  24. Take advantage of a good Living Social or Groupon deal to a restaurant
  25. See if your city offers Restaurant Week and take advantage!

The Importance of Date Night

Date Night has long been a discussion in many women’s groups, as well as ministries across the country that commend the importance of a night out with your significant other. Most of these discussions are geared toward people with children, since couples can often lose sight of their relationship while trying to raise little monsters, er, I mean kids.

However, date night isn’t just for couples with children anymore. We find ourselves–as a relatively young married couple–falling into the same routine and ruts. Perhaps, it doesn’t help that we have conflicting work schedules, with one of us sometimes working weekends and nights, that makes it really hard to plan a good date night.

Date night is not just a reason to go out and spend money. It’s a time to reconnect and separate yourselves from the drama and exhaustion of everyday life. We often get bogged down by the little things, like things that need to be fixed around the house, bills that need to be paid, or social obligations that we need to attend. It gets to be too easy to just say “We’re tired, let’s stay in.” And while I am the biggest proponent of staying in and vegging out, I also realize the importance of date night and how great I feel after having some quality uninterrupted, no-distractions time with my husband.

The Key to a Good Date Night

Oftentimes, it’s not what you’re doing on date night that’s important. What matters most is that you both feel that you’re getting what you need from the relationship. Make a point to act like teenagers–kiss more, hold hands, be affectionate. And most importantly, be present in the moment. Don’t let yourself get bogged down by grievances and annoyances.

If you’re feeling like you just really won’t be able to enjoy date night, offer your partner a massage to help them destress. That always leads to best kind of date night ; )

photo by spiritquest

Five Tips for Eating Out on a Budget

eating out on a budgetEating out is a blissful way to de-stress and live life to the fullest, filled with drinks, great food, and a social setting that produces some of our best memories to be formed. On the flip-side of things, however, dining out can also prove to be excruciatingly expensive, existing as a money-swallowing social habit that can lead to some serious bummed-out vibes upon checking the status of your bank account.

Rather than giving up restaurant ventures altogether, we’ve provided a slew of helpful tips for enjoying a night out while not leaving you penniless by the end of the evening.

Pay attention to the nightly specials

As easy as it is for your eyes to skip right past the enumerated specials on the menu, make a bold attempt to give the list more than a passing glance. Sometimes restaurants will offer throwaway specials on desserts you don’t want anyway, but other times you’ll find that restaurants desperate to draw business or attention from critics will highlight fantastic entrees and appetizers with eye-catching buy one, get one❠deals or budget-conducive reduced prices. Furthermore, consider coupon applications and websites like Groupon to be your new best friend for eating out â“ deals can range from half-off❠specials to, on a rare occasion, getting an entire meal (or at least a drink) free of charge.

Take restaurants for a test drive

If you’re dying to check out a new restaurant, try checking it out without throwing large sums of cash out the window if you just want the experience.❠Keep in mind that, unless you stumble upon an uncannily grumpy restaurant owner, no one is going to throw you out of the joint for only ordering a beer and an appetizer. Keep your goals in mind when going to a restaurant, and try picking your new favorite places by dabbling with the menu rather than ordering a feast for five. Better yet, upon finding these places, establish yourself as a regular â“ who knows, you might find yourself with a cheaper bill one night than you deserve or a free dessert to top off your meal.

Check out the lunch menu

Though there are portion differences, there are also marked price differences. A smaller portion of the entrée you desired for a lower price is more than an acceptable compromise for being able to afford eating out. You also gain the benefit of receiving better service, as most servers are fully aware that someone ordering a lunch special is ⓠmost likely ⓠon their lunch break and in a hurry to get back to their place of work.

Don’t let your drinks cost more than your meal

Large drink tabs can overwhelm a bill total, which is generally the basic business idea behind a bar/restaurant. As a solution, if you plan on drinking more than one alcoholic beverage during your night out, plan to follow-up your restaurant experience with a trip to a local bar that boasts some pocketbook-friendly drink specials. You’ll be happy you did when you find that you haven’t wasted more money on your drinks than you intended to spend on your entire three-course meal.

Avoid splitting bills

If your friend or business associate declares that you can both split the bill, talk your way out of it by suggesting the server bring back separate checks. There is no need to deal with the extravagant meal expenditure of your company if you only ordered a BLT and a cola. Also plan to pay the tip based on the calculation of what you ordered, rather than allocating the entire tip to one person.

(QuickQuid is an ethical  in an online payday lender that helps hard-working Britons find a fast and convenient solution to financial emergencies from the privacy and convenience of home. Its cash advances are a hassle-free solution to household bills, emergency expenses or short-term money needs.)

photo by zigazou76

How to Split the Bill and Avoid Awkwardness

how to split the billBeing out with friends for a social gathering is something that many of us enjoy doing. Probably the most common time for gathering is for eating out together. But once the bill comes to the table, do things suddenly take a dramatic turn for the worst? Why does the subject of money provoke such uncomfortable feelings? What do you need to know on how to split the bill when eating out with friends so that they remain your friends?

Some individuals in a group will announce up front to split the check evenly. But this is a train wreck waiting to happen. Someone is going to get burned with their portion, causing hurt feelings that they probably won’t make public, but which may persuade them to pass on the next group outing.

Even bill splitting isn’t really fair because of several things that can, and probably will, occur. One or more people are going to order an appetizer that others don’t want, someone will order mixed drinks, or even dessert. And, inevitably, someone is going to have to try the most expensive entrée in the establishment while you are feasting on a burger and fries.

There are several ways around this predicament. First, is to immediately suggest separate checks as soon as the server first appears. Don’t wait for someone else to suggest it or that person might be holding out for someone else, too. If everyone who agrees with this philosophy waits then the person who wants to split the bill evenly will undoubtedly be the first to speak.

Make it a casual comment, even jokingly, so that it is taken lightly, but the point is still made. This avoids the conflict right up front so everyone can enjoy their meal, and their meal selections.

Splitting the bill evenly is still okay as long as everyone is in agreement. You can judge this from the group. If everyone has relatively the same eating styles and appetites then it might be fine to do. If it is mentioned, look at the faces of others to judge reactions. If someone looks uncomfortable, but hasn’t spoken up, mention it for them. You will be able to see the look of relief in their eyes.

Splitting bills evenly is awkward if you are dining with an entirely new group or at least some unfamiliar people. This is when you had better speak up or face the possibility of footing the bill for someone’s steak and lobster dinner.

If it is a small group and the gathering is going to be a routine occurrence, maybe you could suggest that payment be rotated. This only works for very small groups of close friends that you feel comfortable suggesting this to. But offering to pick up the entire check now could haunt you if the same people do not show up next time. Plus, appetites and locations may vary, which could significantly alter how much each bill totals. That’s why this is only suggested if you are okay with the possibility of it not paying off for you down the line.

7 Side Business Ideas that are Worth your Time

side business ideasThere are literally hundreds of articles online that talk about legitimate side business ideas.  Unfortunately, most of them talk about fluff jobs that are just simply not worth your time.  Do you want to make the big bucks or not?

This article is all about honing in your energy and placing it somewhere where the money will flood in.  You have to be strategic with the type of side business you start.  It’s stupid to just do something if you have a “passion” for it.  What if your passion doesn’t pay?  I think you see where I’m going with this.

Here are 7 side business ideas that are worth your time because they all can pay  huge dividends over the long term.  Another benefit of the following side jobs is that they are easily managed along-side a full time job!

Here we go:



I’ve seen some of my friends make BIG money through tutoring.  The real money is made in this side business with extremely wealthy families that are looking for someone to tutor their kids at home while they are at work.  I know of tutors who make a full time living out of this side business.  The beautify of it is that you can be flexible in terms of hours and often times weekends are the best times to tutor kids.  With the never ending pressure to have successful children, tutoring can be a great side venture while you work at your day job.



Wow, all I can say about this is that it’s an incredible way to make money.  Figure out what you’re passionate about and the money will follow in the blogging world.  While blogging is not a get rich quick side business, it’s a sweet way to make long term passive income over time.  I blogged for free for 6 months and only survived because it was something I loved to do.  If you can survive the initial hump, blogging will put dollars in your wallet guaranteed.  Something similar to this is website acquisition.  If you have the cash, you can purchase a blog instead of building one up.  I recently did this with Redeeming Riches.  Instead of creating a second  successful  personal finance blog, I decided to purchase an authority site within the same industry.  After a payback period of a couple months, it’s pure profit going forward.  If you do this with multiple sites, the money can add up quite quickly.


E-bay store

If I had more time on my hands, I would start an E-bay store.  With very little overhead and the potential to make a killing, it’s a wonderful side business idea.  Most people go about this side business the wrong way.  If I did it, I’d make all my purchases off ultra-discounted sites like Woot and Whiskey Militia.  Buy your merchandise of choice through these sites and then tack on a 20% mark-up in your E-bay store.  It really is as simple as that.  I remember a TV that was on sale ($499) through a discount site and hundreds were available.  I checked Ebay and they were selling for $899.  See the potential with this?  It’s a very straight forward business model and one that can be done after work or on the weekends.  Rinse and repeat, you now have an endless stream of opportunities!


Freelance writer

When I first started blogging, I didn’t make a cent.  To help me achieve my goals, I ended up doing some freelance writing.  I contacted other big name bloggers and offered my freelance writing services.  At one point I was writing for twelve blogs on a weekly basis!  I was pulling in around $800/month and loving it!  Another huge benefit of freelance writing is that you can do it anywhere!  My favorite spot to freelance was the  local  Starbucks overlooking the beach.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  Think about all the time you waste during your lunch breaks, after work, and weekends.  Why not use some of that time to start your freelance career?  Recession or no recession, quality writing is always in style and there will always be a market for it.  I encourage you to try this side business out immediately!


Jack of all Trades

How many times have you found yourself frustrated with your lack of experience solving a plumbing leak or adjusting a new door in your house?  This is where a handy-man comes in.  People will always have small issues with their houses that don’t necessarily require a full blown general contractor.  I’ve been seeing handy-man businesses popping up all over the place and I understand why, they charge$60/hour!  So if you know you’re great with your hands or are an especially good problem solver, why not do some handy-man work on the weekends?  I’ve seen this type of side business turn into some significant income for people and it’s fairly easy to get started!  Also, once referrals start coming in, the marketing will take care of itself.



This is one that I don’t have any personal experience with, but my future wife (Hannah) does.  She currently works as a nanny part time and is making great money.  As this is a referral game, making a good first impression and being responsible are critical to your long term success.  Again, this is a side business that requires no up-front investment and the hours are typically very flexible.  If you love working with kids and like the idea of getting paid to make babies laugh, then working as a nanny is for you!



I personally love landscaping and doing work out under the sun.  Much of my college tuition was paid for by odd-job landscaping projects, most being from Craig’s List.  Landscaping is another great side business to get involved in.  It’s awesome if you have a full time job or are a student in college because homeowners typically like having their landscaping done over the weekend when they can be around to watch.  To get started, you can start contacting family and friends.  Once you have a couple projects under your belt, you should plan for a flood of new clients coming in.  Who doesn’t want to hire someone they’re comfortable with?


It’s time to go make some greenbacks!

I’ve always been a huge fan of starting a side business.  Not only is it great to increase your income but it reduces the stress related to solely relying on your day job’s income.  It also provides you with an opportunity for YOU to be the boss, not your employer!

So do something you love and get paid for it.  If that’s not common sense, I don’t know what is!