Saving Money in This Economy For Your Family on Your Food Bill

With ten percent of the population out of work and most of the rest trying to scrape by it is important to save as much money as we can for our families. This is not to say we have to live a life of minimalism, we just have to start watching what we buy, when we buy it, and to rely on ourselves more for the things our family needs.

In a family a large portion of the budget is consumed by food. You can save a lot of money for your family by watching how you do grocery shopping, where you eat, and brown bagging your lunch. When going to the grocery store always have a list prepared ahead of time. Try to stick to that grocery list as much as possible and not to buy any food on impulse. Do not go to the grocery store when you are hungry. You will end up buying more food than you need for the week. If you have children try to leave them home when doing the weekly shopping, they have a tendency to throw extra things in the cart that is hard to say no to. This is not to say you should not buy snacks for your kids, it is just easier without them to be the one who regulates what kind of snacks they will be.

Use coupons where you can and if your grocery store has a discount card program use it. Buy generic products. Most of the time generic products are just as good as the name brand ones. Buy things that you will use in bulk if you will use all of it before the food expires. Try to keep the grocery shopping to once a week instead of going every other day. This will save on gas and you will end up buying less. Make your own coffee at home and bring it with you in a travel cup or mug. Coffee costs around $ 1.75 at the conveinence store, you can make it at home the way you like it for under 50 cents.

With both the husband and wife having to work in families to make ends meet it gets hectic. Try to cook dinners at home to save money. I love it when my wife cooks dinner, I also love cooking for her and our family. This will not only save you money in your food bill by not having to go out to eat so much, it will also give you some good family time around the dinner table.

These are some great tips to save your family on your food bill in this tough economy. These ideas should not hamper your lifestyle too much and at the end of the work week you may have extra money in your pocket.

5 Tips for A Creative Retail Branding and Design Strategy

Quality retail branding is meant to connect businesses with customers in a way that builds trust and desire in the consumer for the brand and their product. Branding has been around since ancient times (from Roman columns to Chinese stamps), but modern commercial branding is a new phenomenon. People are more involved with brands than ever, locally and globally, to the point where two golden arches are immediately recognizable by almost everyone around the world, without any words in the picture.

In the complex world of retail, which is composed of multiple elements and disciplines, a consumer can see connections, or a lack of connections, between all the different aspects of retail at a glance. And that is where design comes in. Retail branding and design aims to create a harmonious and holistic schema out of all of the elements of retail, from personnel to product presentation. Design is not just about looks, but about function. Without a good branding and design strategy, retail stores are a mishmash of unrelated ideas that can confuse and put off potential customers.

Design your layout based on traffic flow:

When customers enter the store, where do they look? Which way do they go? Position your best products in areas where customers are more likely to notice them. Pedestrian traffic is often influenced by vehicular traffic. That is, in areas where people drive on the right side of the road, in-store traffic patterns tend to move in a clockwise pattern. Use these patterns to your advantage.

Create a focal point in your visual displays:

Don’t just bring attention to anything and everything in the store, but draw customers in by featuring one item prominent, whether that’s in a window display or in the middle of your store. Strategically position lights and other items to point to your featured product and avoid distracting customers by putting equal weight on too many items at once.

Make window effects:

Windows make small spaces look larger and more inviting. Creating windows in the walls separating two rooms can give the entire building a more airy ambience, or creating visual illusions of windows such as white panels or drapes around mirrors, can also create a window effect, increasing the feeling of light and movement, especially if you are in a small space.

Avoid clutter:

Clutter feels noisy and uncomfortable for customers. Don’t overload your customer’s visual circuits with signs and patterns and displays galore. Instead, use neutral colors for larger items and accent the space with smaller items with brighter colors, and do not place your merchandise too closely together.

Use lighting to your advantage:

Lighting is important in any shop, and especially so in small corners. Make sure that your store is well lit, or else you will not be making good use of your space – customers don’t usually prefer to wander into dark, shadowy areas, so any merchandise displayed there will not receive a fair consideration. Use a combination of different lights to keep the space illuminated and to add variety and interest to the space.

Computer Maintenance – Computer Repair in Hawaii

Computer Repair Hawaii

Computer Repair Services in Hawaii is not so much different than the mainland, especially on the island of Oahu, but there are a few challenges. Having lived on Oahu over 45 years ago in Ewa Beach, and returning just over 7 years ago, the scene has changed drastically. Things were more rural back then, and of course there was no internet.

In Oahu, people seem to work on one side of the island and work on the other. Since there are only 1 or 2 ways to get around, traffic can be extremely congested, and parking can be a challenge. So while you are looking for a Computer Repair Shop to drop off your computer, or waiting for a Mobile Technician to drive out to you, timing can be a challenge. For some reason, even in Paradise, things can get pretty busy. With that said, I just wanted to put out my two-cents that affect both the customer and the service provider about computer repair in Oahu.

Traffic Challenges

If you live in Waianae, Waialua, Haliewa, or the North Shore, Windward and around Waimanalo, you will have to rely on Mobile Technicians willing to come out to your location, or to drive the distance yourself. The problem with dropping off a sick computer yourself is that most shops open about 9-10am and close at 6pm. You either have to take time off from work, hope traffic is light after getting off work, or just wait until a day off.

For some reason, there are no shops I am aware of in Waianae, Haliewa and all through the North Shore. Shops on the Windward side are scarce as well, but I vaguely hear that there may be a shop out in Kaneohe, but they must not do much advertising. If you have a Macintosh, there is definitely a shop in Kailua, just be aware that not all shops repair both PCs and Macs, and while do mobile technicians.

My Rant About Windward Computer Repair

Concern computer repair for our valued Windward customers, I have to rant a little bit. Windward customers in Kaneohe and Kailua are fiercely loyal to their local businesses, which is a good thing. But when it comes to computer repair and they are looking for a mobile technician, they always want someone who looks closer to where they are, which at first, looks to make sense.

If they call you and you actually have a physical location and provide both in-shop and mobile services, they get hung-up on your shop's physical location even though they are calling for mobile service. The truth is, that they have no idea where the technician is coming from. The technician might already be scheduled to be out in that area for another customer and can easily set an appointment for you as well. They are not just just sitting around at home all day waiting for you to call, so you just can not accumulate where they will be dispatched from. That may sound harsh, but it always surprises me when we spend some valuable time over the phone with a prospective customer, trying to understand their computer problems and comfort them with our solution to their problem, and as soon as we mention that our shop is over the hill on the other side of H3, they start backing out of the conversation almost as if they thought they were doing "us" a favor and say thanks but no-thanks, we'll just call someone a little closer. I do not get it, and even when I can truthfully say that I have a tech in the area already, they do not care. I know other shop owners who get this same response about mobile repair on the Windward side. The fact is that we are happy to serve customers on the Windward side, and we appreciate their loyalty once they finally hire us to repair their computer. But it is a hurdle starting that relationship. I might add that it is a beautiful drive to the Windward side, especially if you get to drive back through the Northshore if you have the time. I always look forward to a good Shrimp Plate lunch from one of my favorite shrimp trucks along the way.

Parking for Mobile Computer Repair Technicians

If your business or home is located in a reliably populated area away from the areas I just mentioned, you'll have plenty of options for both in-shop and onsite computer repair in Oahu. But if you need service in the congested business areas of downtown or Waikiki, parking is a problem. My suggestion is that if you want prompt service, that you provide information to the technician about the most convenient place to park as well as any parking fees (which may be added to your bill). You might even be able to pre-arrange parking in a reserved area for vendors. And lastly, it even helps to know details such as any vehicle height restrictions for parking garages, or detours due to emergency or special events.

Giving Directions

When setting an appointment for mobile service, it is vital that you provide an accurate address and phone number. Many local Hawaii residents prefer to give directions and landmarks than actual addresses, but Mobile Technicians end up learning the island very well and even use GPS devices these days. Some even print out directions with Yahoo or Google before coming out. We would prefer that you just give us your complete address and then maybe a landmark if you live in an obscure hard to find location. We need the address for our invoice anyway. We appreciate the directions, but customers somehow assume we will be driving to their location the same way they do everyday, but the fact is that we might be coming from the other way, and then left become right, and right becomes left and it gets confusing while driving.

Be Sure to Give and Get Correct Phone Numbers

As for your phone number, things happen and we may need to call you. We also like to call before we come out to ensure you'll be home. Fortunately, we are not like the cable companies that tell you they will arrive between 9-5. Mobile Technicians can usually provide you with a 30-60 minute window. But if you have something come up, we would appreciate if you could call us as soon as possible to postpone.

Also, be sure that you know which Computer Repair company you made the appointment with and have their correct number. Many customers call quite a few shops before they choose who they will make their appointment with and get phone numbers mixed up. Some even call us more than once because we have more than one phone number. It gets quite funny hearing the same person calling again, now using a better description of their problem because of talking to us earlier. The problem is that it might get confusing to remember who you chose in the end. Now and then I'll get a person calling us by mistake to cancel an appointment that we never made. Imagine the frustration of the technician when he drave out to your home or business just to find out that you said you called and canceled already, why are you here?

In-Shop vs Onsite Computer Maintenance

This basically boils down to price, turn-around time and convenience. In-shop repair fees are usually flat rate fee based, and takes days to get back, but you will get more thorough service this way. Shops are also more prepared for the extremely difficult problems. With shops, you can just walk-in during normal business hours, although you should call first to get guidance on what to bring. For laptops, you should always bring the AC Adapter (battery charger). For desks, we usually only need the computer itself (no cables or peripherals, although it would not hurt if you bought your CDs).

Onsite service is usually hourly fee based, and may even have a trip charge. Onsite service by nature is by appointment only, but many problems can be diagnosed and repaired within an hour or two. With onsite service, it is critical that you describe your computer problem as well as possible, because if it sounds obvious that it might be a hardware problem, your computer may be a better candidate for in-shop repair. It's already difficult enough to get certain types of parts on island such as motherboards and CPUs at a Computer Store, so you can expect that a Mobile Technician will not have every part needed to fix every computer in their vehicle. Some parts even have to be ordered online and can take a week or so to arrive. Hopefully you can see the complications this may cause with setting another appointment as well as how the technician will bill you for the first and second appointments. It would just be better to bring these problem computers to a shop.

Major Limitations for Mobile Only Technicians

I certainly do not want to knock mobile only technicians, because I got my start that way. But you have to know that these ones can only serve a small finite number of customers in any given day. Many people get attached to their computer guy once trust is established, but it can get frustrating when your trusty Mobile PC Tech can not make it out fast enough. They might even need to take a vacation and when you get a hold of them on their cell phone, you find out they are on the mainland for a week or two. If you can not wait, you have to find someone else.

Mobile repair is limited as well for reasons spelled out in the "In-Shop vs Onsite Computer Maintenance" section above. There are also certain types of maintenance that will never get done onsite due to how long it will take. If I think I have to perform a surface scan on a hard drive just for starters (which can take 2 hours or more in some cases), I almost immediately recommend I take the computer back to the shop to complete at the flat rate. Some computers develop multiple problems and can take 4-5 hours to repair. For one, it will save you on further hourly charges, but it will also help the technician to be on time for other appointments after you, since he probably only allotted 2 hours for your appointment. The complicated part is that a mobile technician may not have a shop to take your computer to, and may only be able to take it to their home. If you are okay with that, then fine, no problem.

I would add that a technician that has both in-shop and onsite experience are the best technicians. For mobile only technicians, it can be hard to get this experience because they will rarely get a customer that is willing to pay a technician to spend 4-5 hours onsite, not to mention having to dedicate their own personal time as well to be there . But if the technician does not ever get the chance to spend time on the real hard problems, it is unlikely that they will ever progress to become a master technician. If you were choosing a doctor for a complicated surgery, how concerned would you be about his or her experience? The answer is obvious.

Anyways, while our computers and online lives might not be life and death situations, we seem dependent on them suddenless. So I hope this insight into both sides of Computer Maintenance and Repair in Hawaii help you make the right decisions when that inevitable computer problem occurs. That way, you can be armed with the insight to make the best choice available for your computer needs.

Watches With GPS – Garmin Forerunner Advanced Workouts

Watches with GPS are perhaps one of the more sophisticated innovations in performance and fitness tools to have hit the market recently. Sports Watches that features GPS are useful for any athlete who is involved in running, cycling, rowing and other motion sports.

GPS watches can track your pace, speed, distance traveled and can plot your course on a map. The most advanced offer a suite of fitness functions that cater to almost any athlete’s demands.

The most popular GPS sports watches are currently Garmin’s Forerunner line.

Garmin have just released two new upgrades to their most popular models, the Forerunner 405CX (supersedes the Forerunner 405) and the 310XT (supersedes the Forerunner 305).

Perhaps one of the reasons why the Forerunner watches have become such a hit amongst athletes is the strength of it’s fitness features. Forerunner sports modes like “Workouts”, allow athletes the ability to create just about any combination of structured training session one can imagine. The watch’s display can also be heavily customized to show read-outs that include just about any real-time field possible, with the option of cycling through several pages of data-fields in mid session.

The Forerunner workout types include advanced and simple workouts, heart rate and interval workouts. The workouts allow the creation of a structured work out including warm-up, cool-down and in some cases intervals.

The Advanced workout feature is very much like the feature name suggests – it is a watch mode that allows the creation of complex sessions. Unlike the other types of workouts, Advanced workouts structures the workout in a series of steps. Goals at each stage can be configured and the sessions scheduled in the watch’s calendar. The watch will issue a reminder when your schedule for the day is due.

The advanced workout features is handy in the gym, when you might be switching between a number of different apparatus or could be used to create a loosely structure Fartlek running sessions.

The Forerunner will display the name of each step during a current workout, your goal if you have set one and all other relevant workout data. As you near the end of a step, an alarm counts down until the next step begins. The LAP/RESET button can be pressed to end an advanced workout early.