Shopping for Gifts on a Budget

Holiday shopping is seldom easy. Whether you're just hopping around department stores or just surfing the net, the limitless choices made available by advertisers can actually be more of a detriment for someone who is in a real hurry. This can be quite problematic if you're on a budget and have such a long shopping list. Time constraints do not really provide you the benefit of thoroughly comparing every item in each store in an effort to find yourself the best bargain. One who has been shopping for hours can quite easily succumb to the pressure and end up buying gifts beyond a planned budget.

If you're in this very familiar predicament, all is not lost. When shopping for holiday gifts it sometimes makes more sense to look for items that are simple yet meaningful. While a sophisticated electronic gadget could certainly get a friend excited, simple inexpensive gifts like personalized mugs or engraved pens may just elicit the same amount of appreciation.

Nothing is perhaps more appropriate than a gift that actually captures the holiday spirit. As holidays bring sentimental moments, you'd want to give something you would be remembered for. Embroidered pillows and blankets would be good choices. Collectibles like cd's and personalized caps should also do the trick. Listed below are some gift items worth considering:

• shirt of a home team

• cross stitching kit

• bottle of a local wine

• personalized notepad

• stationary

• photo album

• memo holders

• tool kits

• Carpentry kits

• versatile pocket knife

While you'll certainly be shaved with praises by giving a fancy cellphone or notebook, it sometimes makes more sense to go for something more practical yet thoughtful. You do not really have to dent your budget to please a friend. People tend to get appreciated more for the amount of effort that they've performed in looking for that meaningful gift that touches the heart. Whether it's Christmas, Thanksgiving, or a major school reunion, there's really no reason to panic. All it takes is just a little imagination and a touch of creativity.

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Affiliate Programs To Sign Up With

Make money online with affiliate programs can be tough but it can be the most rewarding choice you have ever made. Choosing an affiliate program to start with is the most important part of your online business.

There are so many affiliate programs to choose from. It can be difficult to know which one to sign up with. I personally recommend Clickbank for a comprehensive list of top ranking and highest paying affiliate programs. You will receive a check from Clickbank for your contracts earned twice a month.

If you prefer to receive payments via PayPal, then go to PayDotCom. It is a huge affiliate center with marketplace of products you can promote.

When considering which affiliate programs are best for you, I recommend that you choose one that is specifically related to your site's content and target audience. You can also promote a variety of online digital products as an affiliate. I personally recommend that you choose an affiliate program or products that you are familiar with. This way, it is better for you to recommend these to other. Imagine you are selling something that you know nothing about, you are not going to convince someone to buy it from you.

Personally, I mostly use Clickbank and PayDotCom but I suggest you look around because most companies offered free affiliate programs. Some only allowed affiliates to sell their products after they have purchased it. Whichever websites you are viewing, just scroll down to the bottom and look for affiliate link. Some business owner does not like to display the link in the homepage for everyone to see, so sometimes the affiliate link could have been found in the "about us" page.

The Pros And Cons Of Affiliate Marketing

Making money is a priority for everyone. After all, just about everyone could use a bit of extra money right? Well, today, more and more people are turning to the lucrative field of affiliate marketing to make cold hard cash. In fact, many Gurus argument that there is a lot of money to be made with promoting other people's products. However, as a newbie Affiliate Marketer myself, I can tell you that there are some advantages and disadvantages to this business model. In this article, we'll discuss both.

First of all, if you do not know what affiliate marketing is, do not feel bad, I did not either at first. Affiliate marketing is basically a cooperative agreement between a merchant, and an online affiliate. The affiliate gains contracts by providing customers to the merchant.

There are typically three payment structures for affiliates. With pay per click payment structures, affiliates are paid when the customer visits the merchant from the affiliate's site. On the other hand, per lead payments are made when an affiliate reiter someone to the merchant's site and that person fulfills the required action. For instance, let's say you're an affiliate for an insurance company who pays you when prospects fill out an application. In this instance, you'll be paid when someone submits a valid application which is called paid per lead. The third type is called pay per sale. During this instance, an affiliate is paid only when a potential customer purchases the merchant's item.

Advantages of affiliate marketing:

o Money, money and more money. There is a lot of money to be made with affiliate marketing and many people make great incomes promoting other people's products and services.

o You can be your own boss. You work when you feel like it, or when you are able to. You basically write your own paycheck with the amount of work you can do. When you need extra earnings for holidays, or paying a really huge bill, you just invest more time into marketing products and make more money.

o Promote what you love. You can promote any product that you want to promote. There are literally millions of products to choose from, you simply have to find one that you like and go for it. In fact, some affiliate marketers test out niches and then produce their own competitive or complimentary products. By thinking outside the box, they are able to rake in even more money.

o Earn money while you sleep. You earn money continuously, even when you're not on the computer. You do not have to monitor your work with an affiliate program, because the customers will go to the merchant's sites whenever you are online or not. In fact, you can even make money while you were sleeping … what could be better than that?

Disadvantages of affiliate marketing:

Now that we've discussed the advantages of affiliate marketing, we'll now discuss the disadvantages.

o Hard to find good products. It can be tricky to find a product that is worth promoting. There are literally millions of products that you could promote and it is sometimes hard to focus in on just one.

o Dishonest merchants. It can be difficult finding a merchant or vendor that is really honest and legitimate. In fact, there are some merchants who are dishonest that they lie and refuse to give you credit for your referrals. In some cases, these merchants would rather shut down their businesses than pay up. And, the bad thing is that affiliates basically have little recourse whatever.

o Lots of competition. There is a lot of competition among affiliate marketers, especially for the good products. In fact, some technically savvy affiliate marketers have even figured out clever ways to steal commissions using special equipment. Although there are some precautionary measures affiliate can take, this can be quite problematic.

o It's not your product you're promoting. As an affiliate marketer, you are basically promoting someone else's product or service so your responsibilities are in their hands. If they decide to quit the program or reduce the responsibilities, you'll have no say so whatsoever.

In conclusion, there are advantages and disadvantages of being an affiliate marketer. Although there is great potential to make substantial income, marketing other people's products, puts you at a disadvantage. Therefore, your best bet is to take your time, test it out and build your own product so that you can get others to market it for you. That way, you'll be the one calling the shots.

Some Things Your Car Insurance Company Won’t Tell You

1. How to determine the value of “total loss.”

Most companies will tell you that they use at least three methods or schemes to determine the actual a totaled vehicle’s value including value books, computer-generated quotes from dealers, and local market research. In this case, you will probably think that local area is your current neighborhood, but it is not specifically defined by the insurer. If, in any case, the company cannot find an auto replacement in your neighborhood, so they have to find it not from your “local area,” your totaled car’s value is certainly affected. For example, if you currently live in New York, replacing your totaled vehicle in suburbs will be cheaper than in the city. Insurance company will, of course, use quotes from suburbs area as the most-reasonably-priced estimates. The main purpose in totaling a vehicle is to allow the consumer (the insured person) to purchase the same car that is totaled in an accident within the local market. Since they use three different schemes to figure out real value of a totaled car, a consumer may end up with a cheaper car than the totaled one. It is impossible to be sure what value you will get when your company does not tell you how they determine it.

Fortunately, you can do some smart methods to help yourself and your company to do the value determination. First, you have to produce valid proof that your car was in good conditions when the accident occurred; car in good condition has better value than a wreck. Bring a copy of maintenance records including oil changes and inspection by an authorized mechanic. The records will tell your company that your auto was regularly maintained, meaning it was actually in great shape (in terms of appearance and performance) when the accident occurred. Moreover, you probably had special features installed such as multimedia system, anti-theft system, anti-lock brakes, rear view camera, or 5-harness seat belt. The car insurance company may charge you more because of some special upgrades, so make sure that your insurer includes that in the evaluation.

Another good thing is to find at least three dealers and get quotes on replacement from them; make sure all dealers in your local area or at least within short driving distance from your home. Present the quotes to your insurer and ask your insurer to provide a list of some car dealers who probably can provide a car for the price listed in the quotes. If you are not satisfied with the company’s value determination or you get less than you expect, you can choose to do mediation. So, meaning you present the case to third party (neutral) to get help to settle the dispute, or arbitration, or you can even request a formal inquiry to the court.

2. If you want to cancel your policy, do it officially

Most companies say that consumers can cancel their policies at any date, but you need to notify the insurer concerning the exact date you want to end the coverage. The statement is clear enough; in other words, it says consumers have to notify their companies when they want to cancel their policies. However, consumers often think that when they ignore the last bill before renewal, the company will automatically end the policy. Too bad, this is not how it is done. People can forget and deliberately miss a bill, and the company totally understands that. After this first missed bill, your insurer is going to send you one more bill for premium payment; if you don’t pay the bill, you will be cancelled for non-payment, and the record will hurt your credit score.

What you should do when you want to cancel auto insurance policy is to let the company know that you are canceling. Please make sure that you provide a specific date; it helps you avoid being totally uninsured for a certain period, time, term. The cancellation request will be sent to you, and all you have to do is to put your signature. It is recommended that you carefully check the document before signing it. Some companies may require you to provide valid proof that you indeed have another coverage before they can approve the cancellation. If you’ve financed your car, the dealer needs the updated policy information because valid proof of insurance is required in the purchase contracts.

Credit history still matters

The use of credit information to determine approval and premium rate is still common, despite the fact that some states already started to ban such practice. Some (if not most) companies use the credit history to generate risk score. They believe that it strongly linked or correlated to the likelihood of the consumer reporting a claim. More likelihood of filing a claim is exactly the same with high-risk driver that usually also pays more expensive premium fee compared to “safe-driver” or “the preferred class.” The preferred consumers are those with stable credit card history as it suggests financial stability, meaning they are not likely to miss a payment. People of this category are safer consumers to insure compared to people with shaky credit history. Auto insurance companies do not like consumer who pays sporadically or changes accounts quite frequently.

There are some credit card issuers who offer free credit score checking, but in most cases, you need to pay for the service. Unlike credit score, risk score for insurance-related matters will not be available for you, but both probably indicate the same thing which is financial stability. If you are currently in the market to purchase auto insurance, and it turns out that you have quite unusual activity on your credit history within only certain time frame, you can wait until one month to allow the credit activity to go back to its usual condition. If you cannot keep the credit score stable, prepare yourself to pay more expensive premium fee.

3. Budgeting by installments is not always efficient.

Installments can pay almost all items, and consumers think that it is indeed the best way to budget the expense. When it comes to auto insurance, you can ask the company to divide the annual premium into a monthly basis, quarterly, or on six month. Please put in mind that dividing the annual premium will cost you “fractional premium.” You can consider this additional service fee to arrange the installment. It can be as cheap as $10 per payment; the more you break it down, the most fractional premium to pay.

Most companies will probably offer you to pay in installments since it makes more money for them. When you apply for insurance, it is wise to ask whether there is any additional charge for installments option, and then you can compare the difference. If the fractional premium is not very expensive, then perhaps it is worth it. Another big difference between upfront payment and installments is that certain companies will immediately cancel your coverage if you miss one payment; even worse, they can do it without notification. It is best to pay up front if you can; the entire process will be easier, and you can indeed save few dollars.

Every vehicle model and type has certain premium rate

Of course, you all know that sport cars need more expensive insurance policies than a van, but insurance companies will not tell you the exact numbers. In general, it is true that attractive, sporty, luxurious car with turbocharged engine will go very quickly on the road, and it increases the risk of accidents, but this is not always true considering the discounts for safety features, security features, mileage (especially when you drive it less), etc. Auto insurance companies have a specific system to know the premium for all car models you can buy, based on the system rating by ISO (Insurance Service Office). Every type of car is rated from 3 to 27; higher number means a higher premium. Insurance Service Office says that it will not release the rating system for publication because its clients are insurance companies.

You will not get the rating system from your insurer; you may not even find it anywhere at all. The best thing you can do when you want to purchase a new auto is to ask the insurance how much insurance premium you need to pay for a new car that you want to purchase. If you keep a good relationship with an independent agent, he/she should be able at least to predict the price based on raw calculation.

4. Filing claim increases your premium.

People are always interested to see insurance companies reduce premium fee to attract potential customers. It is indeed one of the best things customers get from the competition in the market, but your insurer can increase the price right away after you file your first claim. The industry standard is to increase premium fee up to 40% of the base rate after first-at-fault accident. With the help of an online car insurance calculator you get a base rate of $500, your premium increases by $200. Some companies have different rules, but there is always a big chance your premium will go up after the first-at-fault claim. Some insurers offer “first-accident forgiveness,” meaning your first actual claim will not affect the premium at all, but the variable and requirement for eligibility can be different from company to company. You should ask your insurer if such discount is available and how to qualify for it.