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Mary, the “mom”

While driving yesterday, I heard a news report about teens and their reactions to their families cutting back spending, including allowances, in the face of the economic crisis. The report indicated that in recent months teens are spending less, presumably because of cutbacks in allowances, although I’m sure loss or unavailability of part-time jobs plays a role as well. Apparently many teens’ reactions to such a situation are to be upset or angry, according to the report. This really caught my attention. My own kids have been remarkably supportive about cutbacks we’ve implemented. In fairness, we’ve been able to avoid cutting the things we know are most important to them, but still, many smaller things have been cut that do affect them. Just as I was getting worked up that it wasn’t fair to generalize in such a way, the report continued that such a reaction from teens was often a sign of fear for their families, as opposed to selfishness. Phew!

But, this raises a point. We need to talk to our kids about money in general and this economic crisis in particular. Even if your family isn’t feeling the pinch, if you’re not talking, your kids may be imagining the worst. I definitely need to sit down with my kids and be more specific than “we can’t afford that right now” or “money is tight”, because who knows what they’re worried about. Apparently, they might be more worried about their parents or their college fund than that new pair of brand name jeans.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to communicate with your kids about economic issues, ParentingTeensOnline has an article, The Money Talk, about just that, and a very helpful article with suggestions for conversation starters. There was also a post on a Business Week blog, Talking to Your Teen About the Financial Crisis.

So, “Dad”, what’s your approach to discussing the financial issue with your teens? Rach, what about you? Do your parents talk to you about money? How do you think parents should talk to their kids about financial stress?

Rach, the “teen”

Most of the teens I know whose parents are struggling with the economy (so, all the teens I know), are reacting really well. Some of our parents have talked to us, and some of them haven’t. Only recently did my parents start including me and my brother in talks about money. That is, we know how lucky we are that our family saved up and planned early for college and other long-term expenses like that.

For most of the teens I know, this means that they need to get more financial aid from colleges, or that they have to give up driving their own car around. It’s also been tough for us in the job market. Most of my friends are unemployed, not because they want to be, but because it’s freaking hard to get a job.

So, I think it’s really important for parents and kids to talk about money issues in the family. Money affects way more than just the parents, and “mom” is totally right – kids imagine the worst. So, be honest with them.

Lauren, guest teen blogger

Many teens are worried about their family and the situations they’re in. The teens that are only thinking about designer jeans probably have enough money that they’re not feeling the crisis going on. So most teens aren’t thinking about it in a selfish way, but teens are feeling it and worrying. Parents who aren’t letting their kids know are certainly upsetting their teens. As a teenager, I know that a lot of the time we pick up on our parents’ and other people’s emotions when they think they’re hiding them well. Parents think that kids not knowing they’re stressed about things will keep their teens less stressed, but really it’s exactly the opposite. So parent’s make sure your teens understand your current situation with money.

Personally, I’m hearing that money is tight on daily basis. We don’t need to be reminded when it’s not at that moment relevant. It can be upsetting to hear so often how stressed parents are. Also, the stress for parents seems to carry over to more than just money. It makes parents stressed about work and life in general. It can make them stressed about things that have never been a big deal before. So you have to find a happy medium. You need to let your teens know about your current situation but don’t make your money situation a huge part of your teen’s life.

Brad, the “dad”

Talking about money has always been a balancing act around our house. My wife comes from a well-off household where she never really wanted for anything, including a college education, and they never talked about money. I came from a small-biz lower-middle-class household where there was virtually no extra cash ever, at all, especially for college…and we never talked about money, either. So we decided from the beginning that we would be open about our finances, whether the news was good or bad.

Easier said than done. The hard part is keeping them apprised in an age-appropriate way without scaring the heck out of them when you have to say, “We can’t afford that,” or “we really can’t pay all the bills this month.” The trick is keeping them in the loop, but going light on the details…and always giving them a sense of hope for the future, even when you’re not necessarily feeling that way.

On the one hand, the girls have responded with wonderful strength and resilience throughout our years of economic roller-coaster, and I think it’s made them far more realistic about the world, and far more appreciative of every dollar we have, without being fearful. On the other hand, I feel constantly guilty – truly, deeply guilty – that we haven’t been able to give them whatever they wanted without worrying about the cost. ‘Cause part of me says that’s what Dads are supposed to do (even if it’s not all that healthy for the kids).

My advice: be honest, but tread lightly. And don’t underestimate your kids: they understand a lot more than you realize they do, and they can handle a lot more than you imagine. And yes, absolutely: if you don’t let them know what’s going on, they will almost certainly assume the worst. So talk, already. And teach them how to balance a checkbook!

Competition often goes hand in hand with anger. I have experienced the rage of people in pick up games or all types when they simply lose it. Often this is because trying to prove they used to have some talent at some time and cannot admit that even if they did at one point, they don’t have it now. Their old, flabby never exercised body just can’t perform like their brain thinks it can. Speaking in the arena where I have the most experience, basketball, this is such a common occurrence that I guarantee if you bring up the subject among a group of guys that do or have played, there will be an endless stream of stories.

Let me paint the picture. Mr “I think I’m a basketball star” tries to impress everyone on the court with his aerial acrobatics flying haphazardly through a crowd of people towards the basket. When he misses, which is far more frequent than he makes, he shouts out foul to cover his complete lack of control and ability. Everyone on the opposing team looks at each other wondering who could have touched this loudmouth, and then of course knowing that they did not, start shooting off derogatory (yet fitting) comments about said court maniac. His response is to get in the face of anyone opposing him in an obvious attempt to establish dominance as any bully does, even when they know they are wrong. Tempers flare, at times shoving and even fists fly. This seems to happen almost as often as the injuries that old guys like me get when trying to play at levels no longer sustainable.

There are perhaps many reasons why this happens with the old guys, but you see it as well in the younger crowds. Egos ride as high as most can jump, and perhaps higher. Whatever happened to showing a little class on the field/court/whatever? Sportsmanship – that’s for wimps, at least that seems to be the message most people are getting from professional sports. This is what I think is the root of the problem. Case in point, the recent Nuggets/Knicks brawl near the end of the game. What a bunch of thugs these players showed themselves to be. I could really care less what these overpaid egos are capable of doing on the court, but for some reason, our youth hold them up as role models, so whatever they do gets viewed as the “thing” to do on the local hardtop as well. I loathe these players that have such terrible persona’s, both on and off the court. Kids look up to them no matter what we do, and they emulate everything they do.

I could create a long list of players, almost all of them quite popular to many people, that I just can’t stand to watch. I will often turn off a game if that player is featured. I’ll skip the list though, you know who they are, and I would hate to leave one out. There are a lot of things wrong with modern professional sports, but this is one that I just can’t stand. I think most people are getting tired of it too as commentators, league officials and most sports sites are decrying the actions when they happen. It makes news though, so secretly I think the media side of it can’t get enough.

I’ve had enough though. I’ll still watch an occasional pro football game, but I have all but given up watching pro basketball. I stick primarily to college games. They aren’t missing my dollars because I have rarely actually gone to a game – usually, I just catch what’s on TV. I’m just tired of it and would rather turn off the boob tube that catches a game full of these types. Maybe it’s a good thing (shudder) that I have a bum knee and can’t play basketball anymore; maybe I would just be one of these over competitive guys that make life miserable. Actually, I know better, I’m a good sport when I play. Competitive, but I grew out of my tantrum stage back as a kid. Apparently, that stage lasts much longer for the good athletes, so I just don’t know.

If you have a mail address and have at least one friend in the world, you likely have had some email joke/story/whatever forwarded to you. We all have done it, and we are all more than likely guilty of at some point having forwarded something that ended up not being true. Yep, Urban Legends, fake virus warnings, etc. were all the rage for some time and somehow continue to linger even today.

Because I have been on the receiving end of many very public email addresses, I somehow end up on the mailing list of everyone that still believes these things and forwards them right on through to their entire address book. Adding insult to injury, I get the same message more than once as everyone wants to be the first to let you know that [insert name here] virus is running rampant and you better protect yourself! Thanks, twenty other people have already given me fair warning.
Some of my favorites? Making money from Microsoft/Disney/Oracle if you simply forward this message on to 10 other people. Why is it the email newbie’s believe there is some magic way of tracking the forwards first off, and that these big companies have the power much less the interest in following a chain letter to pay you for doing it?

How about the Nigerian offshore money scam? That one still runs rampant because there are people that fall for it and really they have been selected for the chance of a lifetime to scam some government out of millions. They never stop to ask themselves why would their email be found or if this sounds fishy? No, it must be true, and I’m getting my piece of it, how about you?

One of the very earliest versions of the email forwarding spoof made popular in the media was a warning about gangs driving around with their headlights off waiting for someone to do the common courtesy of flashing their lights to let them know. The email warned you not do this because if you did they would force you off the road and attack you. I remember specifically receiving this email dozens of times from different sources within one week. Unfortunately, because of the media attention the “joke” received, some wannabe gangs started acting out on it.

Seen the tallest woman in the world? Lead in your lipstick? Shark jumping out of the water to attack a helicopter? The list goes on, and on, and on and….on. About.com lists the top 25 urban legends if you care to see how many you have received in the past. I was actually surprised there were a number of them I haven’t seen.

I actually don’t mind receiving some of the better jokes or feel-good stories out there, but please, if you are going to forward on an email, follow a few basic rules of courtesy. Basic net etiquette, or Netiquette as it has become know. Summarizing a bit of what you can read over at Wikipedia from that link, and adding a few thoughts of my own:

Urban Legends: Please Don’t Send Me Email Hoaxes

Think before passing something along. Is it old news that has been forwarded to death? Ask yourself if it sounds plausible. If something sounds too incredible to be true, there is a good chance it might be.

Do a little research. If you are going to take time to fill up your email recipients on that email, take a few extra moments to check out the credibility of the story. There are many sites providing a great service of pointing out hoaxes, but two of my favorites are
About.com – urbanlegends.about.com
Snopes – snopes.com

Trim the fat. Nothing is more annoying than receiving a forwarded email that has the words “FWD” in the subject a dozen times, all the email addresses and headers of the previous forwarding along with forwarding angle brackets (>) galore. If I see a message with all this detritus, honestly I just delete it. It isn’t worth my time to search through the message to find the meat of it all. Along with my laziness, I figure I’ll get it again sometime soon from someone else.

Don’t make my email public. Worse than actually receiving the message is seeing my email publicized in all its glory along with a hundred others for the world (and viruses ridden computers) to see. I have actually seen some emails of some pretty prominent people this way. Learn the power of the blind carbon copy (Bcc) function. You have to enable this field on some email programs, but please do. By entering emails where you don’t show everyone else who you have emailed to. Simple common courtesy.

Turn off your footer. Along with cleaning out the automatic footers and salutations of previous posters, turn yours off. Nothing is more of a turn off to reading a good story or joke than seeing your company advertisement at the end of it. Is that why you sent it to me, to get me in your downline of whatever you are a part of?

Actually, include a message from you. Yes, I may know you well or perhaps not-so-well, but please write even a short note about why you are forwarding this on. If I just receive the message along with the rest of your oh so lucky recipients with no note from you, I am likely going to figure it is spam and toss it. If you tell me why you sent it along, I may actually give it a read.

Only the good stuff. This is completely subjective of course, but use a little discretion and be selective on what you forward on. Don’t forward on everything that you happen to get. Yes, I realize you may be excited to receive email at all (”They like me, they really do”), I am not that way. I happen to receive hundreds of emails a day, so I prefer not to wade through too many extras. I love a good joke or feel-good story, as long as it is really good. I hope that my friends and family value the fact that if a story is sent to them by me, it really must be worth reading because of I very selective on what makes it pass my filtering. Only the good stuff.

Never use the reply to all button. Just like forwarding on, you may feel inclined to write back on a good email to say thanks for sending it and throw in a ROFL or LOL. Good for you, but please, please only reply to the person that sent it to you. It kills me to not only receive the original email but also a half dozen replies from recipients that feel the need to tell the entire group how hilarious they found the joke. Of course, if the original sender had used the Bcc, this would never happen.

For several years now whenever I get an email that is badly formed or has a hoax that has tricked the sender into forwarding it on, I take a moment to politely teach them these principles. For hoaxes, I include a link to the relevant entry at About.com and ask that they check this site in the future before forwarding things to me in the future. Usually, people are not offending and actually grateful to have been educated. Repeat offenders get a reminder with a little less subtlety 🙂 and continued abuse makes gets them elected to my spam-blocking list. These days I actually get very little forwarded on, and I enjoy the times I get something good sent my way.

I’ll stop there. I could, of course, think of many more bits of advice to give, but I figure you get the point. Sadly I expect that most of the people receiving this don’t need the advice. You’ve likely learned your lesson in the past. I don’t fault anyone for having gone through a stage of bad habits if you have nicked them and participate like a good netizen these days. We all have to learn someday. Now you have a job, teach the newbies.

Back in 1998, very soon after I was offered the job (on a temporary basis, hah) as host of a struggling new NPR quiz show, I had a conversation with Doug Berman, the creator of both our show and Car Talk.

I said, “I want to be clever, smart, edgy, just like [name of well known political commentator/comedian.]

There was a pause. And then Doug said…

“Well, sure. He’s very funny. But he’s also an asshole.”

I remember that conversation because it was the first time I confronted a lesson that I had to learn as I became the host of Wait, Wait… and am probably still working on 14 years later. I had always assumed the most important thing when talking on the radio was, well, what you said. Were you funny? Were you interesting, new, provocative, different from what you or anyone else had done before? That had been my goal during my prior career as a playwright, and I assumed it would carry over into radio.

What Doug was pointing out then — and what became the most valuable and important lesson he ever taught me — was that all of that is far, far less important than simply being somebody an audience wanted to spend time with. Radio, as I learned, has an intimate, long term relationship with its audience. People don’t flick around the dial like they do with cable TV. They tune in to something — more importantly, someone — they like, and they stay with them because after a while it feels like a friendship. We in radio are in your homes, in your cars, in your kitchen, sometimes in your bathroom. Why would you invite someone to those places if you didn’t like them? And why would you listen to someone — no matter how funny, provocative, or clever somebody was — if he or she was a jerk?

I will confess, back then, I didn’t care much for Car Talk. I considered myself way too smart and sophisticated for Tom and Ray and their braying laughter and their silly jokes. But as I struggled with Wait Wait to become even a fraction as successful as they were, I learned to appreciate, and then admire, and then finally envy their ease, the way they were able to project the best part of their characters through the radio, every week, to an audience that loved them for doing just that.

It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Tom and Ray are exactly who they sound like on the radio, although of course, there’s more to them than their radio personas — Tom, in particular, has Very Strong Opinions, and a profane way of putting them — but getting to know them over the years made me realize that in radio, maybe in life, it’s much more important to be kind than it is to be clever. And that instead of being different every week, it’s more of a challenge, and more of a reward to your listeners, to find a way to be yourself.

Tom and Ray have announced their retirement, but Car Talk will continue with “new” episodes culled from 25 years of archives. And although the material will be familiar, that won’t be a problem for their fans — of whom I am now one, of course — because being familiar was always the point.

Looking to boost your tech skills but hate paying money for things? Then you’re probably going to want to sit down for this. Modern Lessons is a free online learning platform I’m starting up in an effort to bring educators, parents, and school administrators around the world into the modern era of technology.

From learning the basics of Facebook to an advanced course on deploying iPads in the classroom, there’s a whole range of courses for every skill level. There’s a ton of stuff dedicated to beginners though at the start. I’m working on more advanced and intermediate courses though.

Modern Lessons brings free tech skills to teachers
So what are Modern Lessons? Here’s a bit from the site about why it got started and what to expect:

[Modern Lessons] is our solution to one of the biggest problems facing education: lack of technical know-how. The people running schools and teaching our children know less about technology and social media than most students. That makes for a difficult classroom for both student and teacher.

With Modern Lessons, teachers (and anyone else involved in education) has the chance to level the playing field. Think of Modern Lessons like it’s a cheat sheet that lets you quickly build your skillset in hours instead of months.

Let’s say you want to learn the basics of how to use an iPad, spiff up your resume, or launch a BYOD program in your school? You won’t find these courses available on any other site and you certainly wouldn’t find them for free. So Modern Lessons wants to fix that.

We think of our model as a ‘Khan Academy for educators’ and plan on helping as many people as possible. We’re not in this to make a billion dollars. We have much grander goals: to improve education from the inside out.

Modern Lessons brings free tech skills to teachers

So here’s the deal: Modern Lessons is a free tool for teachers, students, parents, school administrators, and everyone else looking to boost their skills. We’re currently specializing in offering mini-courses designed to help those relatively new to technology. We’re also building some premium and accredited courses that will go a bit more in-depth.

We figured it’d be helpful to make this online learning platform as simple as possible, as useful as possible, and as cost-effective as possible. That’s why there aren’t a ton of features (that’s a feature in itself!) and basically, all courses are free.

We hope you enjoy this resource and help yourself to our skill-building courses to improve your life!

So, get excited. The platform is just in its infancy and has already seen more than 5,000 teachers sign up and take courses. In fact, most of those teachers are taking more than one course. Don’t be surprised if you find a new skill that you’d like to learn.

There’s even a ‘request a course’ feature where you can ask, well, me to make a course for you. Doesn’t get much more personal than that!

Also be on the lookout for the accredited course in the near future. Those are going to be paid and very high quality. Just FYI.

Just over two years ago, ASX-quoted Black Mountain Resources’ Chairman, Peter Landau, suggested to an interested lunchtime audience of potential investors and media, including Mineweb, here in London that the company’s New Departure high grade silver property in Montana, USA, would be the next U.S. silver mine and would be brought into production in a matter of weeks and its Conjecture property should be on stream perhaps a month later. It seems that he was being a little over-optimistic as two years later we are still waiting for either of these properties to mine any of their high grade silver!

In the latest Black Mountain announcement the company waxes lyrical about the latest sampling results from its New Departure property reporting that “extremely high grade sampling results surpass expectations with up to 422 oz/ton of silver returned over 1.9m from channel samples – grades never before seen even in the old high grade mine’s historical results” and that “25% of samples taken from the Blue Dot Level showed mineralisation of 3oz/ton silver or above.”

The company went on to note that overall 111 channel samples were taken in total from the Main Drive and Blue Dot Level in line with the company’s strategy to complete its 3-D mine model ahead of production upon securing financing.

Landau stated that “We are focused on delivering high grade silver ounces for production and these excellent results, including a significant number of samples that returned over 20 oz/ton silver, provide encouraging support for this model. With this in mind, as we finalise funding to enable us to meet our production goal at New Departure, we are strengthening our understanding of the historic mine and further sampling will be undertaken in the coming six weeks which will contribute to our 3-D mine model and ultimately the commencement of mining.”

See: Black Mountain – high grade silver production imminent

So two years and around a month after that presentation lunch in London a mine which was back then supposedly due to come into production in a matter of weeks still apparently has an undefined start date!

At the time, Mineweb noted that the geologist who oversaw the then most recent resource assessment on the Conjecture property and was a technical consultant to the Black Mountain board and a great believer in the mine, nonetheless told us that he remained sceptical regarding some of the potential mining problems likely to be faced, particularly regarding dilution, likely overall ore grades and the stated time to be taken to bring the mine into production. It looks like these same factors must have applied to New Departure too.

Landau is perhaps renowned as a perennial optimist – maybe to be in the mining sector one needs to be to stay sane – but nonetheless, if he is going to carry his investors with him he needs to be a bit more accurate in his predictions. Black Mountain’s properties undoubtedly do offer very high grade, but probably small tonnage, potential, but the company still has not been able to provide a market compliant resource statement which can be the kiss of death when trying to raise finance when markets are as depressed as they have been of late.

Resurrection of old high grade properties like New Departure and Conjecture can be a profitable business – as shown by a number of Mexican operators who have succeeded in doing this. But the old miners will indeed have taken out most of the initial high grade material and that remaining is likely to be patchy – and mining narrow channels, even of ultra high grades, is difficult to do without serious dilution thus reducing mill grades substantially. It is perhaps notable that many of the rebuilt operations in Mexico are working largish tonnages of lower grade material left behind by the old miners which have become economic through better mining and processing techniques. It is not certain from drilling and sampling to date how much of this, if any in significant quantities, remains at Black Mountain’s properties which still though have to remain interesting because of some of the very high grades being found to date and perhaps of other silver mineralisation surrounding them and/or at depth. It is presumably still uncertain whether there is enough of this yet to make for a profitable mining operation.

The Conjecture property in particular, though, does offer the interesting prospect of mining the unworked Revett formation – source of considerable amounts of silver in the prolific Idaho silver mines, but this is at depth at Conjecture and would thus require substantial amounts of capital to test out, develop a resource (if it is there) and then mine. It would make for an interesting exploration project for a miner with bigger pockets than Black Mountain presumably has.

The company is noticeably uncomitted nowadays in coming up with a production schedule. It still talks in non-definitive statements. For example from the latest half yearly report released in March: “Commencement of first silver production at New Departure is the Company’s predominant near term goal and in the coming weeks the Company will be focussed on implementing all the necessary corporate and operational requirements in order to reach this transformational goal. With the Conjecture Project due for development immediately following this, we are not far from having two productive high grade silver mines within our stable US portfolio. At this point we will be perfectly poised to undertake rigorous exploration programmes to uncover the proven high grade mineralisation spanning the surrounding patented and unpatented claims, which will be funded, at least in part, from internal revenues.” This looks like junior miner speak for ‘this year, next year, sometime..’ Black Mountain needs to come up with some kind of more definitive schedule to keep its shareholders on board.

It’s estimated that by 2017, the number of SIP users will have grown from 7.2 million in 2010 to 59.1 million[1]. But why such a massive increase? To answer that question is to understand where the telecom industry is going in regards to voice technology, and that’s an important thing to know if you’re a business owner. After all, the telephone is often the front line between you and your customer. So, let’s take a look at the four factors driving SIP migration… SIP Migration

The death of POTS

Thanks to a strong push from providers, plain old traditional [phone] service (POTS) is disappearing. The reasons are numerous: decaying infrastructure, lack of new technicians trained on repairing/maintaining traditional phone technology and higher overhead costs associated with POTS technology, just to name a few.

While this may not have a huge impact on larger businesses with more complicated phone systems, small businesses will have to adapt. Many, if not most of them, will look toward a SIP solution to replace dying communication technology.

 SIP Migration

Short- and long-term cost savings

Because of the consolidation of communication infrastructure associated with SIP lines and SIP trunking, business save on overhead – there is less equipment for them to maintain and house, and the technology simply costs less to implement. When considering the long-term implications of SIP migration, one report estimates businesses will generally see a 60% reduction in telecommunications costs[2] after they migrate to SIP.

Enabling unified communications (UC)

Utilizing Internet Protocol for voice communication opens the door for integration of voice and other communication mediums on the same network. UC technology can provide access to voice, instant messaging and video conferencing from one interface on desktop computers or even mobile devices. When implemented properly, this can have a big impact on workplace efficiency.

 SIP Migration

Functionality and practicality

The bottom line is SIP technology just offers businesses more optimized communication capabilities. The ability to control and balance traffic, capacity and call routing; the ability to more easily scale the number of lines up or down to meet business demands, and greater internal control of every communication medium in use is simply more appealing from a usability perspective.

Many people hope to take an exciting, memorable vacation, but are limited by a financial budget. However, abundant inexpensive vacation destinations are available for the savvy traveler. Planning ahead, shopping for discounted destination rentals and hunting for free activities can contribute to an unforgettable vacation that won’t break the bank.

Stay Local

Inexpensive Vacation IdeasA popular budget vacation trend is the staycation, a new term that references staying local and exploring the area. Without the responsibilities of work and constraints of social engagements, vacationers can discover their own city and nearby towns in as if they, themselves, were tourists. Because staycations free up money generally geared for lodging, flights, gas or pet boarding, more money can be devoted towards bills (without skimping on entertainment and exciting local activities). Consider coordinating a staycation with popular local events, such as Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival or Washington D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Festival. Sift through online media and local newspapers for free activities held locally, including author readings, concert events or dance classes. Evaluate the top tourist destinations in your city–from aquariums to art museums to major sports teams–and schedule at least two experiences during your staycation. Splurge on a discounted hotel downtown to get away for a night and live it up like a city tourist. Plan a day trip to a nearby town for wine tasting, horseback riding or berry-picking. Additionally, discover the great outdoors in your region through a day hike or overnight camping trip. Learn about the nearby topography and native animals and plants through kayaking or bicycling adventures. Remember to catch up on sleep, finish at least one home project and put your vacation savings towards any outstanding debt to make a staycation a worthwhile experience.

Discounted Destination Rentals

Inexpensive Vacation IdeasDuring a struggling housing market, vacation homeowners often slash rental prices to solidify an occupant in a competitive market. Recently, the Columbia State Newspaper reported that South Carolina coastal homes had reduced rental rates from 10 to 25 percent (see Resources). For those traveling on a budget, look for last-minute destination rental deals. Additionally, shop around the market to achieve the best rate, vacation during an off-peak time and look for beach-access homes (versus waterfront) for deeper savings. For beach home rentals, consider spots less-plagued by tourists–such as Cape Hatteras, Biloxi or Tybee Island–to keep more money in your pocket. Additionally, mountain cabin rentals offer a unique vacation experience coupled with financial savings. Consider traveling to Dahlonega (Georgia), Durango (Colorado), Missoula (Montana), Chattanooga (Tennessee) or Asheville (North Carolina) during the off-peak months to discover charming cities, outdoor adventures and magnificent scenery. For travelers who appreciate extremely rustic conditions and hope to reduce any extra vacation costs should contemplate ChillBilly Acres in Canada. At $15/night, travelers can visit Ontario and Toronto (without the glitzy hotels and hefty price tags) and experience the natural wonders surrounding the cabin.

Discover Camping

Inexpensive Vacation IdeasOftentimes, the best vacations are ones that allow for personal discovery, an outdoor experience and financial savings. Plentiful camping opportunities abound throughout the country; Consider the season to help assist in choosing the best camping experience. Warm, summer weather allows for enjoyable camping in Montana, Washington, Oregon, Minnesota and Colorado. Cooler, winter months should warrant a visit to the Southern states, from Arizona to Florida. Evaluate your ownership of camping supplies to determine any vacation-related costs, and purchase any needed equipment at discounted rates. Discover America’s Parks for inexpensive camping and hiking opportunities that offer magnificent encounters with nature, such as Big Basin Redwoods State Park in California or Zion National Park in Utah (make sure you get a permit before camping, if required). Consider Manzanita Campground in Sedona, Arizona for easy access to downtown Sedona and multi-function trails that wind through the Red Rocks. At $18/night, campers can reserve a spot, pitch a tent, make s’mores and enjoy a relaxing evening. Don’t have outdoor supplies and not up for sleeping beneath the stars? Many state parks offer onsite lodging (sometimes as low as $35/night) that provide an inexpensive opportunity to discover America’s great outdoors.

There are a number of people that are looking to book cars on a daily basis. The needs of each of these people vary. Some are for personal use while others are for family members and friends and there are others that book it for daily commute to and from work. If you have not yet jumped on the bandwagon and you are not sure how a car rental service will work for you then you need to make sure you take advantage of these services today. If you’re looking for the best car rental service and this is your first time using it then you need to go and check out limohire-sportcarhire.co.uk. One of the best things about this car rental service is you will be treated very nicely because customer service is their priority.

Most car rental services do not really take care of the customers and they end up treating customers badly. This could lead to you not using car rental services ever again in future and missing out on one of the best things in life. A car rental service is not necessarily just for commuting. You can just get away for a long drive to clear your head if you have a lot of stress at work and this is where a car rental service will help you. You do not need to worry about driving anywhere or parking anywhere. All you need to do is sit in the car and tell the driver wherever you want to go. You can just enjoy the view, clear your head and gather your thoughts and get back to your daily life once you are back.

Another advantage car rental services is you will be able to ensure that you get everywhere on time. People are usually late for work when they depend on public transport. This is due to the rush during peak hours as well as traffic. You may end up missing the train because there was a lot of crowd or get stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. With a car rental service you will not have to go to these problems because the rental service does not necessarily take the most common route. The drivers are given the liberty of taking routes that are slight detours and can avoid traffic as well. The drivers are well trained and they will ensure that you reach your destination on time and safely.

Another advantage of hiring cars from the reputed car rental services is you will be able to ensure that you get the best rates possible. Most people think that renting a car can be quite expensive especially if it is a high end car. However that is not the case and the best rental services usually make the services affordable because they want you to keep coming back again and again to avail their services. Once you get used to renting a car and travelling in comfort you will never want to go back to taking the public transport to work or anywhere else that you need to get to.

After enduring weeks of strenuous tests, annoying assignments and 20-page midterm papers, spring break arrives in the nick of time to save you from the verge of a nervous breakdown. When that school-free week finally comes, it’s time for you to party and let loose. College students spend their spring break vacations in destinations across America, but a few places cater to the spring break crowd. Read on for tips on spring break vacation ideas.

Spring Break Vacation Ideas

Kick It in Cancun

College students and high school seniors alike head to the wild city of Cancun to party ’til dawn. This spring break mecca is popular among the 21-and-under crowd, since the legal drinking age in the city is 18. MTV has hosted numerous events in and around the city during spring break, including concerts stacked with popular music artists from that respective year. Students flock here for foam parties in Cancun’s hottest nightclubs, day parties on the beach and dance contests around the city. The city’s bars run rampant with spring breakers downing tequila shots and shaking their hips on makeshift dance floors.

Spring Break Vacation Ideas

Dance the Night Away in the Bahamas

The Bahamian city of Nassau is a prime destination for spring breakers from around the country. Students spend their days sipping fresh juice concoctions in coconut halves while lounging on gorgeous beaches, snorkeling and scuba diving in the island’s blue-green waters and shopping on Paradise Island. At night the city’s bars and clubs come to life with thousands of students partying underneath the stars at open-air clubs and dancing to reggae music at Nassau’s indoor hot spots. Spring breakers over 21 can also head to the city’s casinos.

Spring Break Vacation Ideas

Get Wet and Wild in Panama City, Florida

Panama City, Florida, is yet another town notorious for its spring break appeal. The city’s sunny, warm weather, white sandy beaches and massive clubs have made it a hit with the hundreds of thousands of spring breakers who flock to the city every year. While you have to be 21 to drink at the clubs and bars in the city, if you’re over 18 you can enter most of the clubs.

Party in Miami

Miami, Florida, is like a paradise if you’re looking for more of a chic, fashionista spring break vibe. Spring breakers pack the glitzy shores of South Beach, downing frozen drinks and dancing at beachside bars by day and hitting the city’s famed party scene at night. Students with big budgets shop ’til they drop in Miami’s high-end shopping malls, then don their duds among the masses mingling along Ocean Drive.