Frugality

How to Compare Your Utility Company Options

One of the biggest shocks to many residents is that they have a choice with regards to their utility company. Since the deregulation of electricity, many citizens have more than one option. This is not true for every state. But in those deregulated areas, it is possible that portions of the population are not aware that they can choose something else. The first thing you have to do is determine if you are in a deregulated area.

The state of Texas is one of those states that offer citizens a choice of electric companies. Where there is choice, there is responsibility. We have a responsibility to research our options, and make informed decisions about what is right for us. Here are some of the things you should look for when weighing your options:

Deregulated Areas

It is not enough to know that Texas offers areas of deregulation. You can live in Texas and still not have a choice of power companies. If you do live in a deregulated area and are enjoying the benefits, you will want to be sure that your next move is to another deregulated area where you can pick up with the service you had.

TXU Energy is one of the big electricity retailers since deregulation in 2002. A site called Local Electricity Companies shows you where you can get that service. And provides a little information about service in that area. The first, most important thing you can do is arm yourself with where, and what your choices are.

Dollars and Cents

The main thing people want to know about their electric company service is how much their monthly bill will be. While there is no way to know for certain, we can make reasonable guesses. When comparing prices between electric companies, the only number you really need to know is the price per kWh. That is the number each provider can control. The rest are fixed costs like state and local taxes. Those costs will be the same regardless of provider.

The price per kWh can vary widely within a given market. One service might charge a price of 6.59¢ kWh, while another charges over 10¢ kWh. If price is your only consideration, then the comparison math is pretty easy. The state of Pennsylvania provides a handy price chart, along with an introduction to comparing the various services offered in that state.

Beyond Price

If money is the only thing we care about, then we cannot claim the moral high-ground over the greedy and heartless companies against which we like to inveigh. In every case I could find, the highest monthly rate goes to energy options that are 100% renewable. While I cannot tell you exactly why those options are higher, it is not entirely unexpected. In the same way that healthy eating is more expensive than less healthy options, there is a price associated with responsible alternatives. Each individual must decide how important those alternatives are to them.

There is also a matter of service. Monthly savings mean little if the service is dicey. When you call, do you get a machine or a person? If a service call is needed, how much is that visit going to cost you? Good service will almost always cost more than poor service. Often, a low monthly rate is made up by poor service and hidden fees. The important thing is that all of these rates and fees can be known beforehand. For many, quality service and responsible energy management will be more important than the variable price per kWh.

Choice does not just stop at electricity providers. For heating, you might be able to choose between electric or gas. You might also have more than one water option. The important thing is to choose what is best for you. And the only way you can do that is by doing your homework for the choices in your local area.

Business

Here are some of the qualities a good lawyer should have

When you were young you definitely had some dreams that you wanted to pursue, apart from the fictional fantasies, you had certain aspirations that could have been inspired by the people around you or something you saw. This was probably the first time you had a vision of your future.

You might have continued pursuing this dream and it could be what you are currently undertaking. Sometimes plans change and you get to know of other passions that you have in life. Whatever the case, the career goals you had, shaped your mindset and helped impart certain principles that have been helpful to you even till today.

If you are a parent right now, your wish is to see your children reach their full potential; you will most likely make some sacrifices so that your offspring can be able to have the opportunities that you did not. You are also to give the necessary love and support that they need.

One popular career that is known to be quite a high profile job is being a lawyer. This is a career choice that you are likely to be proud of, it is a job that entails standing up for justice and letting the truth be known.  This could be because you are a lawyer, and the child looks up to you, or the image portrayed about this job is very attractive to the kid.

You know that the career choice of an individual usually reconciles with the personality of the person. Just like people who work in the media and entertainment industry are normally outgoing people, with law, there are some attributes that you expect to see. Some of them can be developed over time. Here are some of the behaviors a good lawyer should have;

  • Be very good at communicating.

For lawyers especially the ones who go to court, articulation is something that is valued very highly. You are expected to clearly explain the case and your standpoint to the court, and to make the judge or jury understand why your argument is the one that should be taken as true.

  • Have great research skills.

In this career, you should know that your argument should be based on facts and there is no tolerance for opinions that do not have proof. If you have good research skills you will be able to give solid business legal advice to the clients that require this information from you.

You should encourage your child in every endeavor they decide to undertake. Strive to allow your offspring to enjoy every opportunity that they can access to make them acquire important skills and experiences. Law is a career path that is not easy, but with the right attitude and having these features, success is almost certain. 

Bio

Gerald Box is a well experienced lawyer; he has been in practice for over twenty years and has a specialty in business legal advice. Gerald is also a trained life coach and has conducted many seminars to young high school students on career paths.

Business

Does your mobile business accept credit cards?

One of my favorite mobile businesses in the world are food trucks. They’re becoming more and more popular and are having a wider variety of food. One of the problems that I always had when going to a food truck event was being able to pay for the food. They would always be cash only, and let’s face it, not many people carry a lot of cash with them. So there would be many times I wouldn’t have cash on me and I’d have to go hunting for a rare food truck that took cards. I always wondered how much money these food trucks were missing out on because they didn’t have the ability to accept credit cards.

One of the reasons they didn’t take credit cards is because they just didn’t know of a way to take them in a food truck. Technology has come a long way and taking credit cards these days is as easy as plugging in your phone and downloading an app. There are several companies out there like Sumup that offer a card reader to take credit cards and an app to download for apple or android phones. It’s easy to start taking credit cards once you’ve got everything setup.

How do I get paid?

So you may be asking yourself, “when does the money show up in my account?”. The answer to that varies from company to company. It’s usually between 1 to 2 days before you receive it directly into your account. Obviously the faster the better so it would be a good idea to do your research before you pick the company to go with.

Ok, great. But how much is it going to cost me?

So now to the important part. How much is this going to cut into your profit. This is also something that varies from company to company but they are usually pretty close. They’re usually a little under 3% of the transaction with some change on top of it which can vary from 15 to 30 cents per transaction depending on the company. If you have smaller transactions then finding a low transaction fee is going to be a priority. 15 cents per transaction is going to save you a lot of money over time even if the percent per transaction may be slightly hirer. You have to do the math yourself to see what your priority is going to be.

That’s it. There’s just a small upfront investment for the card reader that attaches to your phone, usually $50-$100, create an account, and download an app. It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3. It’s not rocket science and it will allow you to do business in the 21st century. There’s no reason to not take credit cards when it’s so easy and it will allow you to tap into so much more money and get you to stop missing out on customers that don’t carry cash. And no, you don’t just have to be a food truck business. This would work for any business that has transactions. Even if you have a store, you can still use a mobile card reader to take payments. Why? Because it’s a lot easier than setting up one of those old-fashioned credit card readers that go over the phone lines and it could be cheaper too. Remember, the less time you have to worry about the technology, the more time you have to make money. So do yourself a favor and start taking credit cards today.

Money Management

Budgeting: For The Just Getting Started

So you have come to the realization that you need to control your finances. Well I’m here to help you get started. Starting a budget is somewhat easy but there are a few steps that can trip you up. What I’m going to do is walk you through the mine field so you can have a budget that you can call your own.

Starting out

What your first step needs to be is make a list of categories of bills that you have every month like rent or mortgage, phone bill, etc.  Here’s what mine looks like:

budget

The reason to list those first is so when you decide how much goes into each category you can get the necessary bills out of the way first and know how much you have left over for the rest of the categories.

Next make a list of all of your monthly variable expenses like this:

budget 2

If you want to make the categories more detailed go for it. You can make eating out into breakfast lunch and dinner if you want. Customize it to whatever works for you. Don’t worry about making it perfect the first time around though. Budgets tend to evolve over time so just make a first one that will get the ball rolling. The Spouse 1 and Spouse 2 is for fun money for each person FYI. Be sure when you put the two groups together that you add a line for savings between them.

Divvying Up Your Money

After you’re done making categories for your spending it’s time to find out your spending. This step is to find out how much money you spend in each category. There’s a few different ways to do this.

One way is to guesstimate how much you spend in each category. Your regularly monthly bills will be pretty accurate but your variable spending will probably be pretty off. With this method you’ll be adjusting your budget a lot and can be frustrating so I wouldn’t recommend it for most people.

The other way is to track your spending for a few months and fill in the categories with those amounts. If you have a debit card I would use that because then you can see your transactions online and it’s so much easier to keep track of. If you don’t have a card and you just use cash then think about getting a small note pad and writing your purchases down. This isn’t the most fun step but it is the most eye opening experience. When you actually see how much you spend a month you may be very surprised.

At the end of each month put all of your purchases in their different categories. This will give you an idea about how much you spend in each category. Now comes the meat and potatoes part. The point of a budget is to control your money instead of letting it control you. So this is where you decide how much you want to cut back on variable spending. I’d recommend you cut back slowly so that it’s not a big shock and turns you off. If you spent $300 on entertainment try to cut back to $250. If you cut back a lot you might get frustrated that you can’t stay within budget and could cause you to give up. so each month just cut back a little more and eventually you’ll figure out where a comfortable level is for that category.

Once you figured out your budget write it down on a piece of paper or put it in a spread sheet. I write down my budget in a notebook so I can carry it around wherever I want to and work on it. I have mine set up like this:

Budget 3

Another reason I write in a notebook is because I fill out, on the page after my budget, columns with the different variable spending categories and amount budgeted. Then through the month I write down the expenses as they occur in the correct category. This helps me save a lot of time.

budget

That’s pretty much it. Not hard at all. Over time your budget will be customized to your situation. What you just created is a gateway to a better financial life.  This is a tool that’s going to help you get control over your finances.

How was your experience setting up your first budget?

Do What You Want

5 Great Benefits of Renting a Photo Studio

Outdoor pictures can offer candid shots. However, an indoor studio setting is valuable if you want to produce formal family photos or portraits that your clients will treasure and save for years. A studio offers photographers specific amenities that they cannot get outdoors. Since not every photographer can afford to set up their own studio, renting one is a great idea. Read on to know the benefits of leasing a professional photography studio.

Equipment

Most photography shooting facilities have professional equipment and gear. Some of the machinery may be too expensive for most ordinary photographers to acquire. However, you may rent these devices at a small fee from the studio.  This will give you freedom to test out and utilize various photography gear that you may not otherwise have access to.  You will also have the advantage of using them in one place rather than moving around with them from one location to another.

Background choices

Most indoor studios will have a wide range of photography background choices. You will have various textures, scenery and colors, ensuring that you get the look that you want. Most studios will have countless props that you can use. They will also provide different furniture such as chairs, stools and vintage furniture pieces. Some studios will even provide costumes, clothing, and masks to help you achieve the look that you want.

Controlled environment

When photos are taken in an outdoor setting, it is difficult to control the weather patterns and physical distractions. The wind can come in any time and it might start raining just when you are starting your photo shoot. Furthermore, outdoor elements may mess up with the makeup, hair and even clothing of your models. An indoor photo studio is free from distractions as you are able to control every element that you want to regulate.

Assistance

Photographers who have little studio experience can get help from individuals working in the photography studio. These professionals will offer advice, answer your questions and help you out whenever you have any problem. This can be of great help, especially if you want to use equipment that you are not familiar with or want to try out new photography styles.

Acquire knowledge

Renting a photography studio space can be a learning experience for most photographers. Studio owners are knowledgeable about this field and will readily pass this knowledge to you. This is because they have dealt with photographers who specialize in different genres and with varying experience levels. They acquire lots of knowledge through having conversations, observations and interactions with different professionals. They will offer tricks and tips of the photography trade, lighting techniques and even sound business advice that will help you in the long run.

Professional studio photography will cost you money in the long run. However, you will be guaranteed of getting high-quality and valuable photos as your final product. Furthermore, you will not regret your decision whenever you look at the photos that you have produced.  Make sure that you rent a studio that provides a comfortable environment. This will ensure that your mind is focused on churning out high-quality pictures without any distractions.

Author Bio

Peterson Jose is a fashion photographer in Miami. He shoots over 5,000 pieces of clothes every year for a variety of renowned fashion houses and models. Peterson also operates a well-equipped and popular photo studio in Miami area.