Eating Out vs Grocery Shopping

new age

Statistics show Americans spend more eating out at restaurants then they do shopping for groceries.  According to Commerce Department data the sales for restaurants finally overtook the sales from grocery stores for March 2015.  American eating habits are changing mainly because there are more people in the Millennials category than ever before.  The restaurants Millennials target is fast food, deli, and pizza more than traditional casual dining with table service.  Casual dining is generally more expensive and the food takes longer to cook.  For March grocery stores had close to $50 billion in sales and restaurants were estimated at $50.4 billion.

The statistics for March 2015 is not 100% accurate because Commerce Department data left out Costco, Target, and Walmart for grocery stores.   The three are highly profitable and where most consumers shop for groceries.  The Commerce Department has them recorded as “general merchandise retailers” category instead of the “grocery store” category.  20% of consumer spending for groceries alone is made at Walmart.  Adding the data for all three would likely change the statistics in favor of grocery stores for the month of March 2015.

Even with the flawed statistics, what’s apparent is more people are eating out at restaurants than ever before.  The data gathered by Commerce Department although not 100% accurate does show a gradual increase for restaurant spending.  The data should be analyzed most by restaurant owners and future restaurant owners.  Statistics provide the type of restaurants most popular and may offer a few strategies of what needs to change at current operating restaurants that are not profitable.  The restaurant business is highly competitive known to be cutthroat.  It has a high failure rate so understanding consumer trends can help keep more restaurants in business.  It’s undeniable what customization can do for restaurants because most consumers enjoy options for the food they eat.  They want to be the ones to decide what ingredients are added or removed from meals because not everyone has the same taste preferences.  The trend is for low cost meals with options because Millennials are more focused on what they eat.  They take about 14.5 billion visits to restaurants every year and spend close to $96 billion.

New Year’s Resolution 7/10

LearnSomethingNew

Learning is important because it boosts self-confidence and can lead to a better quality of life.  It is uncomfortable for most people to learn because the process opens people up to making mistakes and being vulnerable.  Learning takes a lot of time and effort to master and some rather not learn at all because of the limited short-term benefits.  However, people without much motivation to learn appreciate things less, are more socially awkward, don’t pick up on details, and are more likely to prejudge.  The pursuit of knowledge is essential for personal and professional development.   Learning is needed for an individual’s full potential and is the reason why it’s part of many New Year’s resolution for 2015.  Below are top four traits most people want learn or do better for self-actualization.

Learn How To Code:  Coding is important because it allows the individual to write a story using technology.  Coding tells a computer what to do by providing step-by-step commands for the computer to follow.   It is very important to learn because every website, computer calculator, and app rely on code to operate.  Some may argue coding is the building blocks for our future.  Coding is the main reason why graphics look the way it does on a website.  One can manipulate the graphics on screen by learning how to code.  Coding will help the person learn technology the way they never did before and will change the way you think.  If you want to learn the basics of coding without paying for a class http://code.org/learn, http://www.codecademy.com/ , and https://www.khanacademy.org/computing/computer-programming would be an excellent place to start.

Fluent in a second language:  Learning a new language is difficult to do but makes people more cultured.  It will increase the individual’s global understanding by stepping inside the mind and context of the other culture.  Countries are starting to become more dependent on each other for supplying goods and services and solving political disputes.  If one does not understand other cultures then mistrust develops and an inability to cooperate.  A second language provides a competitive edge and for some to get their foot into the door in many areas.  To learn new language for free go to Duolingo.com or openculture.com.  For popular paid services there is Babbel, Fluenz, and Hello-Hello world.

Professional Writing Skills:  Proper writing is essential not only for school but also at work.  The worst situation is when emails are sent to your co-workers that do not make any sense or have a lot of grammatical mistakes.  It makes the individual look unprofessional, ruins productivity, and shows lack of concern.  Emails remain the most common form of communication in business and it is best to write as professional as possible.  Here are 10 quick tips for writing a professional email from abouteducation.com.  http://grammar.about.com/od/developingessays/a/profemails.htm

Fix a flat tire:  For drivers on the road there will be a time when your vehicle has a flat tire.  Many drivers do have roadside assistance available but the time one has to wait can take hours.  Roadside assistance programs run anywhere between $36 to $100 annually.  It’s a good idea to learn how to change a flat yourself by keeping step-by-step instructions in your vehicle.  Pepboys.com has instructions listed for essentials on what you will need to how to properly change the flat.  http://www.pepboys.com/tires/treadsmart/changing_a_flat_tire/

New Year’s Resolution 6/10

savemoneysss

Saving is always on peoples New Year’s resolution list.  Most want to save money for 2015 but will have a difficult time actually doing it because they need to meet basic needs for themselves and others.  Pressure from the ones around them such as your family, friends, and neighbors to help in a bad economy is a common reason why people don’t save much.  Society as a whole encourages spending by making major holidays and turning it into major sales event.  Overcoming the many pressures is difficult and not being able to predict the future is another reason why saving is important.  Extra funds are always needed for emergency situations that are unexpected.  No one knows when they will be laid off or have major medical expenses due to illness.  If you have a family their health needs are important as well.  People are living longer now than in the past because of advances in technology and medicine.  More are relying on their credit cards to make emergency or luxury purchases now than in the past.  So, how do you save money when society influences you to spend?

The start of the New Year should be a clean slate to people that had trouble saving in the past.   Providing realistic goals are important and one can do this by establishing goals that are attainable.  Always start small by establishing goals that can be completed weekly.  Examples:  Reduce your credit card bill by $20, not drive as much, turn the heater down two degrees, don’t eat out as much, etc.  By doing the small things it builds confidence and consistently.  Establishing realistic time frames is also important for saving money because unrealistic time frames will result in people breaking their goals and giving up.  Understand long-term goals of purchasing a new house or car will take many years (At least 5> years) to accomplish for most.  This will not happen in one or two years.  Work with what you have by budgeting accurately while reducing on spending.  It is wise to use cash for most purchases because the individual can see and feel how much money is being spent.  Sell the items you don’t use to bring in more funds while reducing spending habits that caused trouble in the past.  Record every expense on an excel template or on spiral notebook to understand exactly where every penny is going.  This will make it easier to determine your “problem areas” where a reduction can be made.  Experienced savers understand how to spend the money they do have while maximizing their income. Avoid the responsibility of new debt as much as possible, but understand if a loan is taken to pay as much up front as possible.  Interest on loans is another reason why many people have difficulty saving.  Have you heard of the 52-week savings challenge?  Save a $1 for week 1, $2 for week 2, and all the way up to $52 for week 52.  The total amount one can save is $1,378.00 for a given year.

https://www.affinityplus.org/Portals/0/Documents/Blog/52Week.pdf

Always remember when it comes to saving money you will never be alone.  I am on a budget myself for 2015 and will do my best to save for the New Year.  To receive competitive rates on savings accounts, money market, CD’s, and checking accounts go to Bestrates.com for full details or click:

http://www.bestrates.com/savings

Nerdwallet.com provides analysis of competitive savings accounts for 2015.  http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banking/nerdwallets-best-savings-accounts/

Best Value Car Insurance Review 2014

insurance companies

Car insurance is important because driving is dangerous and at times car accidents are unavoidable. For people that own a vehicle insurance is essential to cover car accidents and for natural disasters. Police officers can also issue tickets for not providing proof of insurance. To receive low car insurance there are many steps people can take such as getting more than one quote from various car insurance companies, receiving high deductibles, maintaining good credit, drive less for low-mileage discounts, pay premium upfront to avoid administration fees, claim all your discounts, and much more. Reviews.com is a great website to compare various popular auto insurances companies. The three that received 5/5 stars are GEICO, Progressive, and Nationwide Insurance. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of all three. Which coverage is best for you? It depends on personal circumstances and your driving habits.

GEICO: Offers low quotes, provides endless amounts of information on their website, and helpful online account management tools. The insurance company is popular among many because there is a large selection of policy coverage options with many add-on options. The GEICO information center is a great source of information regarding coverages, policy guides, FAQ, and much more. The best advantage for GEICO is their low price quotes. Generally, it’s one of the most cost efficient auto insurance quotes around. The flaws to GEICO are it lacks vehicle coverage options, not many local-area reps to help if you’re not internet savvy, and does not offer common discounts other insurance companies provide. What GEICO does not provide are price breaks for low-mileage drivers, no prepayment discounts, and no interior vehicle coverage for theft or break-ins.

Progressive: Is known for providing discounts and maintaining low premiums. The common discounts Progressive offers are accident forgiveness, military, loyalty, and good driver reward. Customers enjoy the 24/7 claims management by Progressive because they can file a claim that’s convenient. They can report and track their claim(s) online, over the phone, or through an agent. However, Progressive does not offer new car replacement and their mobile app is a bit difficult for apple and android users.

Nationwide Insurance: Best known for their coverage of mechanical problems. Engine problems or part replacements are covered and there is an option for road side assistance and towing coverage. It has an easy claim service and does provide GAP insurance that many insurance companies don’t provide. Your loan will be paid if your vehicle is stolen and not recovered. Nationwide however does not provide discounts for low mileage, military, paying in advance of full-policy premium, loyalty discount, and has an average mobile app rating.

Who Is Jack Ma And What Can We Learn From Him?

alibaba

Jack Ma is the classic example of rags to riches story. He grew up poor, his parents were musicians, and Jack had to overcome many failures to become the wealthiest man in China. Early on Jack always understood the importance of learning English. He traveled to nearby hotels and guided foreigners around the city just to practice and learn English. When Jack Ma was in high school he failed the national college exam twice because of his poor math skills. He didn’t have much luck in many aspects of his life. A trip to Seattle was the first time Jack discovered the internet. In 1995 he founded an internet company China Yellow Pages that eventually went bust. After the failed start-up Jack worked for the government. He formed a connection with an American visitor Jerry Yang (co-founder of Yahoo) while touring the Great Wall of China. Jack still understood the importance of the internet and how it can help China so he decided to start another internet company called Alibaba. The company was founded in a tiny apartment of Hanzhou, China. This time was different because Jack learned from his past mistakes mainly China Yellow Pages, figured out what not to do, and solved a problem China had in the past. Alibaba solved the issue for small business merchants in China of not having brick and mortar infrastructure. About 80% of China’s ecommerce now uses Alibaba. The internet site helps connect businesses across China. Alibaba is a Chinese e-commerce giant. It has a market cap reaching 300 billion and is currently greater than Walmart and Amazon. Jack Ma’s story is important because it proves hard work will create success if you capitalize on past mistakes and not give up. Before anyone starts something new the first step should be to solve an existing problem.