Posts tagged with "tips"

Car Illustration via 360 MAGAZINE

What You Should Know Before Canceling Your Car Insurance

Many factors could prompt you to cancel your existing car insurance.

Probably, you got a better offer from a new insurance company. Or you may be moving to a new state. You may have planned to sell your car and don’t see any reason to carry on with the policy.

Whatever the reason for choosing to cancel your insurance, you should keep a few things in mind. 

When You Want A New Insurance Company

So you came across an advertisement for the cheapest car insurance in Nevada. The offer is irresistible and you think you’re all done with your current policy. 

You may now be wondering what to do next.

First things first. Assess the position of your coverage period.

If there’s still a lot of time for the insurance term, the insurance company may charge you for canceling so soon.

Wait until your policy is closer to expiry, only then apply for the new insurance. Also, arrange for the new insurance to be effective before the term for your existing insurance ends. This way, you’ll have peace of mind with continued insurance coverage.

When You’re Selling The Car

If you’re selling your car, you’d find it wasteful to carry on with its insurance. 

You should cancel insurance only after the sale of your car is legally complete. 

This means the title of the car has been transferred to the new owner and you have deposited the number plates to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

If you’re planning to buy a new car, your insurance company might suggest non-owner car insurance for you. 

With non-owner car insurance, you won’t have to cancel insurance in the first place and your new car will be covered automatically.

Informing Your Insurance Provider

In the rush of things, don’t forget to inform your current provider about your decision to cancel.

Getting another auto insurance doesn’t mean that the previous one revokes automatically. If you don’t let the insurance company know, they may assume you’re continuing with the policy.

In that case, the insurance company will cancel your policy for the reasons of failure to pay or failure to renew. The effect will be the same as canceling, except that you’ll be liable to pay heavy penalties.

You’ll get a notice for non-payment. You’ll have to give a formal reply and pay the penalty. 

All this and a lot more hassle could follow. Worst case scenario, your policy won’t be canceled at all, and your bank account will be billed continually!

Requesting The Cancellation

You should make a cancellation request, either through mail or over a phone call. 

You could also visit the insurance agency and discuss your options with the executives personally. They could guide you on how to go about the process while paying minimum amount as cancelation fee.

Check if your new provider will assist you with the cancelation process. Many companies offer this as an add-on service to their new clients. 

In this situation, you’ll just need to hand over the documents and information to their agent. The agent will complete all the formalities on your behalf.

Key Takeaways

Canceling your auto insurance isn’t a big deal if you’re careful about the following: 

  • You should cancel your insurance only once the new one is sorted. 
  • Don’t cancel your policy early in the insurance term, you’ll have to pay heavy penalties.
  • You may have to pay some charges even if you cancel during the grace period. So it’s a good idea to discuss the costs and your options with the insurance provider.
  • Your insurance provider should be formally informed about your final decision to cancel.
  • Check with your new insurance provider if they can offer any assistance with cancelation.
  • Always make sure your vehicle has continued insurance coverage.

Fifteen Tips for Hosting a Great Summer Party

Fire up the BBQ and send out the invites — it’s party time. Warm weather is here at last, which is the perfect excuse to have your friends and family for a fun summer bash. Whether you’re planning an intimate gathering or a wild party, you want your guests to have a memorable experience. Unfortunately, get-togethers don’t just magically prepare themselves. 

However, pulling off the perfect summer party may be easier than you expect. The most important thing is to have fun with the planning and prep. You set the tone for the entire event — so take a breath, count to ten and follow these easy steps for hosting a great summer party. 

  1. Write Everything Down

Party planning involves a lot of moving parts. Save your sanity by writing every little detail down, such as decoration ideas, guests, necessary supplies and your master to-do list. Keep track of everything you’ve accomplished and what needs to be done. This will be especially helpful if you’re forgetful, easily stressed or getting help with the party. 

  1. Pick the Right Mix 

If you want your party to have the right vibe, you need to consider your guest list carefully. You may be tempted to invite all of your friends and family to one big get-together, but these people may not necessarily have enough in common to feel comfortable with one another. 

Mixing your few more introverted friends, your overbearing aunt and your sorority sisters from college might not be the best idea. Sometimes your social circles blend well, and sometimes they won’t —- the balance is up to you. 

  1. Give Guests Enough Notice

The amount of notice you give your guests will probably depend on the formality of the party. For example, a laid-back BBQ wouldn’t need as much heads up as a birthday party. In general, though, you should give your loved ones plenty of time to make room on their calendars. The summer months book up quickly, so if you want most of your desired guests to make it, send those invites out ASAP. 

  1. Account for the Weather

The weather doesn’t always cooperate the way we want it to, so you should always have an indoor location ready to go in case of rain or extreme heat. Also, if you’re throwing a party at the height of summer temperatures, consider having your friends over in the evening. Once the sun starts to set, the air will feel more bearable. 

  1. Prep Your Home

Before you can begin to set up the decorations and get the food ready, you need to prep your space. Mow the lawn, eliminate weeds and hose down the porch to make the outside of your home ready for guests. You should also tidy and do a basic clean inside your home since guests will likely need to come through to use the bathroom. 

  1. Plan Some Entertainment

Perhaps you plan to just chat for the whole party, but even the most laid-back event needs some form of entertainment.  Try setting out some basic backyard games like horseshoes, cornhole, badminton or bocce. If there’ll be kids at the party, maybe plan some water games like a sprinkler or water balloons.

  1. Add Water and Shade

When planning a summer bash, many people often forget essentials for beating the heat like water and shade. If your outdoor area is large enough, set up a small tent for people to escape under or place a few umbrellas around. You’ll also want to stock your cooler with plenty of water to keep everyone hydrated. 

  1. Balance Decor

Themed parties can be a lot of fun when done right. However, it’s easy to go overboard with decorations and cutesy additions. For most summer get-togethers, the best option is to establish the primary focus like a wine and cheese pairing or backyard BBQ instead of an all-out theme.  

  1. Prepare the Food Ahead of Time

The last thing you want to do is spend the entire time stuck in the kitchen instead of visiting with your friends and family. Do as much cooking as possible before your guests arrive, or plan the gathering around the food. If you want to avoid food prep altogether, you could hire a food truck or caterer.  

  1. Establish the Tone

Spend some time putting together a playlist or find one online to match the mood you want for your party. Provide plenty of comfortable seating and add in soft lighting if you’ll be outside at night. Your choices in lights, decor and music will set the tone for your whole get-together. For meals setting the table before guests arrive will save you time and help to establish a particular ambiance. Paper plates and cups will feel very different from china and wine glasses. 

  1. Keep Pests Away

Many hosts forget about pest control until it’s too late. Don’t wait until your loved ones are getting eaten alive by mosquitos to remember tiki torches or bug spray. Also, your trash cans will probably be quite full of scraps after you finish cleaning up. Tightly secure your garbage to discourage foragers like raccoons, possums, deer and bears. 

  1. Offer a Variety of Drinks

Alcohol and summer parties tend to go hand in hand, so you’ll want to supply a decent variety for your guests based on their preferences. Water is also a great idea to keep everyone hydrated and cool. For anyone who prefers not to have alcohol, have a few other beverages they can enjoy like juice, seltzer or soda. 

  1. Prioritize Health

Nowadays, health is a primary concern for any large gathering. Take extra precautions by providing enough space for everyone to spread out if they wish. You can also designate hand washing stations where your guests can freshen up once in a while. 

Also, in case your guests forget something, set out baskets with some basics. For an outdoor summer party, you might want to include bug spray, sunscreen and sunglasses. 

  1. Put Someone on Picture Duty 

Have you ever reached the end of a great party only to realize no one took any pictures? Ask some of your guests to snap photos and share them with you afterward. Then you’ll have plenty of souvenirs to remember your great time. Send guests pictures they show up in, so they can share in the memories too. 

  1. Leave the Dishes

Just like you don’t want to be stuck cooking the whole time, leave the dishes till later and get out of the kitchen. There’ll be plenty of time for cleaning up after. Spend this time with your loved ones, soaking up every moment. Dishes will keep. 

Makeup Tips for Black Women

These are the Best Makeup Tips for Black Women

Finding the correct makeup that works specifically for you can be difficult no matter your skin type. And for women of color, this challenge is intensified. Luckily in 2022, women from all walks of life are catered for, and if we look at full coverage foundation alone, especially for black women, there is every shade available; we couldn’t be happier! What should I know to make up a dark skin? Today we leave you some #MakTips

Gentle but effective cleaning

For this type of skin, we must use mild cleansers with decongestant and purifying properties that help balance sebaceous secretion, and thus we can avoid the appearance of pimples.

Hydration

Skins of color have a strong need for hydration. These have a greater loss of water by having more sweat glands, so they feel more dehydrated. This is one of the reasons why it is important to apply moisturizers.

Get the right foundation color

Probably the biggest one out of the lot! Finding the correct color foundation is tricky, maybe not as problematic as it was 10 or so years ago. However, it can still be difficult especially if you are new to makeup – and if you are, you are in luck as UK Black Girl Makeup is a beauty trend to help you on this journey. The first thing to remember is that no one has perfect skin and that you should embrace the skin you are in, blemishes, pimples, wrinkles, and all! The foundation helps you here and there are a few magic tricks, like using a yellow-based foundation! Foundation can smooth out any of those kinks you are self-conscious about. However, it’s truly magical when you find the foundation that matches your skin tone. You can use a foundation shade finder to help you pick out the shade you need, or you can head to the drug store and check with any of the ladies at the makeup counter to help you.  

Although remember, the ideal is to apply products with light textures that maintain a good level of hydration without making the skin feel heavy. A good option is the MAC Matchmaster SPF15 Foundation makeup base. This has intelligent pigments that have the ability to adapt to the different skin tones that the client may have.

Use the correct brush

Using the correct brush is an essential part since it serves to give light to this type of face. But there are some useful ways in which to use makeup brushes. Let’s look at how to apply makeup using a foundation brush. For black women or ladies with darker skin, try this. When applying your foundation, whether liquid or powder, apply it across your face in broad strokes. The next step is to start at the center of your face working outwards. After this, buff the product into your skin in circular motions using the foundation brush. After this, you need to buff your product until it blends evenly across your face and looks natural or to your desire. If done correctly, your foundation will be smooth and last all day.  

Build some layers

All of us want the all-day coverage, and some days our skin just does not have the natural glow we are used to. But there are ways to get that look you want. Now, building layers will allow for greater coverage and do this in a few ways. If you are after light coverage, you need to apply a lighter amount of product and go over your face with your brush a maximum of two times. For a fuller coverage look, opt for applying more product and go over your face with your brush several times and work the product into your skin in layers. Here is a pro tip from makeup artists: Apply primer before applying your foundation if you are after an all-day look. It’s also great for oil control.  

Use concealer

If you didn’t know, concealer is the makeup type you use to cover up any dark spots, blemishes or pimples, or breakouts. It is particularly wonderful for darker tones, so try to find one that complements your skin. Apply concealer to all areas you wish to cover, paying particular attention to the T-zone. Another trick for ladies with darker skin is to use concealer to highlight some of your features. Here you can apply it below your eyes, above the cheekbones, and on your chin. This way, you are using your concealer as a form of highlighting.  

Spice it up

When using bronzer and blush, especially if you have dark skin, you might end up with a completely weird makeup look if you are not careful. Now, you can use bronzer and blush, but you need to use them correctly. Since these are makeup basics, they are also easy to apply. So, you need to dust some bronzer on the side of your face, the hollow sections of your cheeks, and then on your nose as well. Then apply some blush on the apple of your cheeks. Once you smile, you will see your work of art! Get it, girl!  

Go for the perfect pout

In the past, lipstick colors didn’t favor black women, but over time the different lipstick shades started to include other colors that work for darker women. Today, black women can find a range of lipsticks that work so well, and we couldn’t be happier. The advice here is to test out different shades to find the ones you know will work with your skin tone. This year there are so many makeup trends that are going to look great on every black woman out there!  

Cheats – wildcard:

  1. Putting a bronze or peach color is always a success on dark skin.

2. For a fresh and beautiful look, draw a line with cream eye pencil on the inner part of the lower eyelid, so they will look more rested and larger.

3. If you prefer to wear a more basic makeup, it would be to prepare the skin by applying a light base and make a colored eyeliner (for example purple or blue), these colors serve to highlight the look 

Tips and Tricks for Mastering Online Casinos

Online casinos are not just a great way to spend an evening. They’re an opportunity to make some big profits. Knowing how to play different online casino games can reduce the house edge and ensure you use the perfect strategy every time.

Whether you’re new to online casinos or a regular player, here are some top tips for mastering online casinos.

  1. Develop a financial management plan

The first thing you need to consider is how you’re managing your bankroll. Without a plan in place, you’ll be liable to overspend. There’s little point in searching for the best no deposit bonuses for online casino play if you’re blowing your hard-earned money on an ill-fated bet.

Think about your household budget and what you can afford to spare. You may even want to consider putting deposit and playing limits in place. Most casinos have these features built-in to their platforms.

  1. Choose the right games to play

After developing your bankroll management strategy, it’s time to examine which games you should play. As a rule, you shouldn’t be playing a game if you don’t understand how it works and what the house edge is.

You want to know the payout rates and the exact rules of the game before playing. Every online casino has variations when it comes to these aspects.

And don’t forget, stick to the games you actually enjoy playing. Ultimately, online casinos are about having fun.

  1. Use any and every bonus

Online casinos are awash with bonuses to entice people to play with them. The online gambling industry is expected to be worth $92.9bn by 2023 due to the relaxation of anti-gambling laws in many parts of the US.

This has meant casinos are in a fierce battle to compete for customers. To do this, they offer bonuses. Smart players will often create accounts with different casinos to take advantage of these bonuses.

Hunt down different bonuses and figure out a strategy for the best way to use them. Make sure you read the terms and conditions of each bonus to ensure they’re worth your time.

  1. Study new gaming strategies

Some games have a lower house edge than others. For example, blackjack and roulette are among the table games with the lowest house edges. Beyond that, you need to take advantage of those low house edges by learning the strategies that shift the odds in your favor.

For example, playing blackjack using a basic strategy can lower the house edge to a mere 1%. Practice developing new strategies by reading online gaming guides targeted at specific games.

Advance your knowledge gradually, and you’ll soon become an online casino master.

  1. Choose your casinos with care

With so many online casinos to choose from, how do you select the one that’s got your best interests at heart?

Firstly, ensure that they’re registered with the proper authorities. Most online casinos tend to be based in friendly gambling jurisdictions, such as Malta, the Isle of Man and Luxembourg.

You can also lookup online reviews from your fellow players and see what they have to say. Reputation is everything in the world of online casinos, and it can tell you a lot.

There’s also the playing experience to consider. Some casinos specialize in certain types of games. For example, you might find a casino that places emphasis on their live dealer games. Others may have incredibly large progressive slots jackpots.

Once you’ve found a casino you can trust, it’s a matter of comparing their gaming catalogs and gaming experiences.

  1. Play with a calm head

The majority of online gambling losses come from people playing on tilt. In other words, they’ve just lost money, and they’re desperate to get it back before they log off for the night. This is when losses magnify.

Always make sure you’re playing when you’re calm and can think logically. Avoid alcohol, drugs or any other substance that could interfere with your decision-making abilities.

Perhaps the best skill any online gambler can have is knowing when it’s time to log off for the evening.

Conclusion

There are no guarantees when wagering your money at an online casino, but smart management of your account, where you play, and the bonuses you claim can push the odds in your favor and increase your likelihood of a big win.

Start your journey to becoming an online gambling master by selecting an online casino to play with. Choose your games. Master one game before moving on to the next one.

What’s your favorite online casino to play with?

Fifteen Reasons to Explore Telehealth for Your Next Doctor Visit

Telehealth has exploded in popularity within the last few years, and with good reason. Access to necessary technology is more widespread than ever and will only continue to improve. With so many methods of virtual medicine available, it makes sense to explore your options.

Doctors can now meet with patients virtually in a typical appointment style. You can leave written or video messages for your doctor to get back to you when they are available. Many providers also record vitals or other health information online for your doctor to keep track of and review with you at your next visit.

Meeting with your doctor online may seem like a completely foreign idea to you right now. Here are some of the many benefits to consider if you’re on the fence about telehealth.

No Wasted Sick Days

Telehealth appointments can be accessed anywhere, so there is no reason you need to take a day or half-day off from work. You can use a work or lunch break to meet with your doctor. Be sure to find a private location, like an empty office or unoccupied conference room.

Simplified Child and Eldercare

Many people have difficulty making it to appointments because they are caretakers for children or other family members. Attending an in-person doctor’s visit would mean seeking alternative care for loved ones during that time or bringing them along, neither of which is ideal. Virtual visits allow you to address your needs while caregiving.

Family Can Join From Anywhere

Having someone with you at a doctor’s appointment can be reassuring. A family member or close friend can ask questions and remember important information for later. However, not everyone’s schedules allow them to join you, and physical distance is also a factor.

Telehealth visits allow doctors to accommodate multiple users, allowing your support person to call in wherever they are.

Avoid Travel Time and Cost

The rush through traffic to get to appointments on time is a thing of the past since you can meet with your doctor wherever you are. Telemedicine can save you time spent in traffic jams and the cost of extra gas to get there.
Reduce Carbon Footprint

Less time spent traveling to doctors’ appointments means less gas used and toxic chemicals in the air. One health care facility tracked the environmental impact of its telehealth measures and found that its greenhouse gas emissions had decreased by an amount equal to removing 3,000 cars from the road each year. The implications for the environment are significant, especially if telemedicine continues to expand.

Spend Less Time Waiting

Being stuck in traffic is a thing of the past, as is time spent in the office waiting room. It is common to spend 30 minutes to an hour just waiting to be taken in for an appointment. Virtual visits allow you to check-in in advance and sign on when the doctor is ready.

See a Doctor Faster

Doctors book appointments far in advance. Getting a same-day appointment can be very tricky, if not impossible. Urgent care style telehealth would allow you to meet with the next available doctor. This works great for non-emergent but pressing health care concerns or if you have a small child who wakes up sick in the night.

Limit Exposure to Germs

Long waits at hospitals can lead to increased exposure to bacteria and viruses. You can avoid encounters with other contagious patients since a physical visit is no longer necessary for most appointments. Telehealth can protect others and yourself from the spread of germs. Patients with immune-compromised conditions are especially susceptible and can benefit from the practice of telemedicine.

Better Follow-up Care and Monitoring of Chronic Conditions

Telehealth offers medical professionals better opportunities for checking in with patients between visits by reviewing vitals and symptoms. You can submit vitals directly online for your doctors to check regularly, which is especially helpful if you have chronic health conditions that need regular monitoring.

More Cost-Effective

The cost of telehealth is typically much more bearable for patients than that of in-person visits. Many health professionals can reduce overhead costs by providing online appointments, translating into more affordable care. Patients without medical insurance would also be able to pay for visits more easily.

Easier Access to Health Care

For some, getting to the doctor is more a matter of distance than money problems. People in rural areas do not have as many options close to home as those in more urban and suburban settings. The limited possibilities mean these patients do not always have access to the health care professionals who can best meet their needs. Telehealth technology allows you to meet with doctors anywhere in the country.

More Accessible Mental Health Care

The stigma of seeking mental health care can often keep people from getting the help they need. Virtual visits offer you the ability to talk to someone in a place that feels comfortable and safe. Mental health professionals can be available around the clock if you or a loved needs to speak to someone urgently since they are not tied to an office.

Access to Support Groups

Support groups are an integral method of support for people with medical and mental health conditions, but some people do not have access to these groups because of where they live. Telehealth brings people together across the nation who share similar experiences with you. Plus, health professionals can join in and bring added value to these meetings.

Easier to Find Another Doctor

It is easy to find a new doctor if you are not feeling safe or pleased with your telehealth provider. You are no longer stuck with the professionals in your immediate area. Doctors across the country are available and willing to help. Take your time and find a team of professionals who meet your specific needs.

Feelings of Safety

Meeting from the comfort of your own home or another space where you feel safe can make seeing a doctor easier. People with germaphobia or an aversion to doctors’ offices and hospitals often do exceptionally well with virtual visits. Cutting out the clinical location can reduce anxiety and other concerns for you and your family.

Seven Tips to Help Yourself Unplug Before Bedtime

Modern society is becoming increasingly reliant on technological devices. While many of the technological advancements of the last decade or so have arguably changed life for the better for many, new technology also presents a host of new issues.

Screen addiction, constant notifications that can cause anxiety, and the way social media can make us feel insecure and isolated even though it’s supposed to connect us are just a few of the downsides of technology that we have started to notice over time, and that we have to be aware of. These factors don’t mean we shouldn’t engage with new technologies, but instead that we just have to be a lot more mindful of how we engage with them. 

One area where many people would benefit from being more mindful about technology is before bedtime. You likely know the benefits of unplugging before bedtime, but powering down our devices and detaching from the stress of the day can be easier said than done. It can be a challenge to calm racing thoughts or stop planning how you’ll tackle your upcoming stressful day. 

Thankfully, several research-backed methods help you slow down and prepare for sleep. Here are seven ways to calm your mind and get better rest. 

  1. Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

Aim to get ready for bed at the same time every night. Wind down from a stressful day by taking a warm shower. Consider listening to soothing music while applying essential oils to pressure points and moving through simple yoga poses to further your relaxation. Next, move into bed and read a book until you start to drift to sleep. Try to go to bed and wake at the same time every day, even on the weekends.

Consider these additional factors when making your room the perfect environment for rest. Ensure your bedroom temperature isn’t too hot or cold — the ideal temperature for sleep is between 66 and 70 F. Get blackout curtains or eyeshades to keep the sunshine out of your room. Try a white noise machine or fan to limit noises in your home that interrupt your rest.  

  1. Turn Off Your Phone

One of the best ways to help you prepare for rest is to turn off your phone. The high-energy blue light in digital screens can cause interruptions to your sleep patterns and suppress melatonin secretion. You could find it more difficult to unwind or rest if you use a blue light device too close to bedtime. However, 71% of Americans report using their phones until they fall asleep. 

Studies recommend avoiding blue light two to three hours before bedtime to keep your circadian rhythms in sync. Consider blue light suppressing glasses if you need to use a device to work. You can also apply an app on your phone or tablet to filter out damaging blue light. However, the best practice is to sleep with your phone charging outside your room.  

  1. Use Meditation Techniques

If you find your head spinning with thoughts as you lay in bed, you might soon begin glancing at your watch as your anxiety starts to rise. You can stop those thoughts in their tracks with helpful mindfulness and breathing techniques.

  • Progressive muscle relaxation: Use this mindfulness technique to activate each area of your body and eliminate the stress you’re carrying. You’ll progressively tense and relax each muscle group, relaxing into sweet slumber.
  • 4-7-8 breathing technique: To practice this breathing activity, inhale for four counts. Hold your breath for seven seconds. Then, exhale through your nose for eight counts. Repeat this technique to steady your breathing and lull you into deep relaxation. 
  • Yogic breathing: The practice of pranayama or yogic breathing has been proven to slow one’s breathing, blood pressure and heart rate. Practicing it for five minutes can prepare you for sleep.     
  1. Exercise More

Consider adding exercise into your daily routine. Whether you bike, run or walk, research suggests there’s a positive relationship between exercise and sleep. You’ll find it easier to unwind and fall asleep the more regularly you work out. However, because physical activity is stimulating, it’s best to exercise earlier in the day and at least three hours before bedtime.    

  1. Make a List 

If you find you have a lot on your mind and are having difficulty shifting your thoughts from the stresses of tomorrow, consider making a list to organize the coming day. Write down all the things you’ll need to accomplish, outlining the necessary tasks at work and home. A study conducted in 2018 found participants who created to-do lists for their upcoming days fell asleep faster than those who didn’t. 

  1. Disconnect From Work

Make an effort to create boundaries between you and your job. Do not check your work email in the evening or only do so once for half an hour after dinner. Put this plan into effect by turning off your notifications when you get home and resisting the urge to check them. Consider turning your phone off and putting it away if you think you’ll be tempted to do it. Remember, the boundaries are to help you unplug and unwind. 

  1. Limit Social Media

Another great way to feel more relaxed and ready for bed is to limit your social media use. The easiest way to restrict it is to turn your phone off an hour before bed. This might not be an option if you use your cellphone for other purposes like an e-reader or a white noise machine. 

Try scheduling your social media time to an hour a day. That way, you don’t waste time mindlessly scrolling. Another great option is to limit your platforms to a couple of sites rather than all of them. You’ll be happy you don’t have to keep up with all the notifications. 

Follow These Steps to Detach

Following these tips will give you the best opportunity to get quality rest. Utilize mindfulness and breathing techniques to relax and unwind if you find it challenging to unplug. You’ll be entering dreamland in no time.

cookware illustration by Alex Bogdan for use by 360 Magazine

Six Winter Tips for Restaurant Management

The restaurant industry has witnessed more than its fair share of change over the preceding months. Now, just as things are starting to return to normal, the seasons have turned, demanding still more alterations.

You do need to do things differently in today’s world, but many of your tried-and-true practices from yesteryear will also benefit your customers. Here are six winter tips for restaurant management to increase your profit margin.

1. Improve Your Visibility

By 5 p.m., winter skies obscure your eatery under the cover of darkness. While humans can see with low light levels in partial darkness, it takes our eyes several hours to adjust. You might have the most clever billboard out front during daylight hours, but it won’t draw a single customer once the sun goes down unless you illuminate it.

Signs are the most visible communication tools a restaurant has. Ensure you use proper spelling and grammar on your signage — you don’t want to end up getting poked fun at on a subreddit forum after someone posts a picture. Use large, easily legible fonts, especially if your venue lies along a public thoroughfare like a highway. Potential customers don’t have time to interpret funky cursive at 55 mph.

Your graphics also matter. Think about what customers want. If you serve alcohol at your establishment, a beer bottle or cocktail glass lets thirsty travelers know where they can rinse a little road dust off their tongues. When it comes to food, think comfort this season — a mouthwatering roast or pie gets salivary glands flowing. 

2. Address Customer and Staff Safety Concerns

Despite public opinion cries of “hold, enough,” the Covid pandemic continues. Vaccines mean fewer restrictions and more reasons for restaurateurs to rejoice — but you still need to protect vulnerable customers and staff members alike. Doing so can increase your profits as you gain a reputation for an eatery that cares.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should change your layout to ensure all tables remain six feet apart. You should continue to limit seating capacity to encourage social distancing. Doing so may require you to adjust other policies. For example, you might decide to start taking reservations, even if you previously operated on a walk-in basis.

Additionally, it would help to keep and possibly expand your delivery and take-out options. If you don’t have a dedicated fleet, you can often find smaller delivery apps that provide service at a fraction of the price of large names like GrubHub. Adding extra touches — like various sauces and condiments — to take-out bags keeps customers coming back for more. Allow for as much customization as possible.

3. Update Your Menu With Seasonal Ingredients

Top chefs know that cooking in season results in improved overall nutrition and more delicious flavor. You should update your menu to reflect what’s in season and take advantage of local produce vendors.

For example, now is the time to add plenty of braised kale and steamed broccoli to your menu as they come into season this time of year. Other good choices include winter squash, collard greens, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and turnips.

Get creative with your drinks menu, too — cocktails can significantly pad your bottom line. Invent beverages unique to your venue so that if customers have a craving, they have to come through your door. Mexican restaurants can create a signature margarita. Those venues hoping to draw holiday traffic can craft red and green cocktails that make folks feel festive.

4. Adjust Your Hours of Operation

If you’re like many restaurants, you probably keep consistent hours of operation during ordinary times. You’ve no doubt noticed that the present is extraordinary.

Therefore, you might have to adjust your hours of operation based on customer demand and staff availability. Some venues choose to do so by closing certain days of the week. Others open a bit later or close earlier.

Base your business practices around the clientele you typically attract. For example, you might consider switching from lunch and dinner to an exclusive brunch-through-early-afternoon business model if you notice that you get slammed with corporate customers from nearby office buildings around noon but hear crickets in the evening. Could you bring on more midday staff, expand delivery options to local offices and curtail your dinner service?

5. Attract Large Groups and Avoid Slow Times

If you’re still struggling to rebuild from pandemic slowdowns, you might have to get a bit creative. Can you fill empty seats by attracting large groups, thus cutting back on your slower hours?

For example, many organizations are now returning to in-person work. Others are experimenting with hybrid solutions because many staff prefer telework arrangements. Could you partner with such local businesses, offering meeting space during your slower afternoon times? Their organization could replace a full month of conference room rent while increasing your traffic and sales.

Likewise, happy hour discounts and specials are the perfect way to drive business right now. Those who have grown weary of telecommuting welcome the opportunity to once more mix and mingle with colleagues in the afternoon. Find a low-cost appetizer special that people love and upsell your drinks, perhaps crafting special cocktails for this traditional social time.

6. Reward Your Staff Members

Many restaurants had a tough time finding staff members. In the hospitality industry, your team works together to create an experience for your customers — a job they can do more readily when they aren’t worried about how to pay their rent.

While the federal minimum wage remains at $2.13 for restaurant employees, you know that your staff deserves better. The living wage for a family of four is $68,808 per year, which breaks down to $16.54 if there are two wage-earners in the home, twice that if the individual is a single parent. Please consider increasing the hourly rate and implementing policies that ensure your workers receive fair compensation.

For example, some establishments include gratuity on the check to eliminate the risk that customers will dine and go without tipping. Others get rid of the tip system altogether, opting instead to find new sources of revenue or raise prices. Experiment and see what works best, including your team in the process. Ask for their input and democratically choose the best process.

Winter Tips for Restaurant Management

The restaurant industry knows how to overcome changes, especially after recent events. Implement these six winter management tips to improve your bottom line.

Rita Azar for use by 360 Magazine

Travel Tips During the Holidays

Travel Preparedness Expert Cheryl Nelson has generated a few travel tips to keep you and your family safe during the holidays! Let’s break down these travel tips.

Packing

Nelson encourages holiday travelers to not overpack! Ensuring that you and your traveling party have not overpacked can save a lot of time, stress and even money. Make sure that you only pack what you really need and know you will use! If you are traveling by plane and must check a bag, know your airline’s weight restrictions prior to check in. If you’re traveling with a roller bag, make sure that you can lift that bag into the overhead bin by yourself. If you also plan on buying more items on your trip, make sure to save extra space in your suitcase.

Another specific tip that Nelson has is to roll your clothes when packing them instead of folding. This surprisingly saves a lot of room!

When packing your medications, try not to pack every single medication or supplement bottle. Pack your pills in a pill container or small bags and label them. Nelson recommends keeping a cold shortening product with Zinc on-hand, such as Zicam, to deliver general health while traveling.

Vaccination cards

Travel expert Nelson recommends having your physical vaccination card on hand when traveling this holiday seasons. Some states and even restaurants (like New York City) require proof of vaccination, so it’s best to do your research on the area you’re traveling to beforehand. Definitely make note to bring your vaccination card when traveling outside of the U.S. Nelson also urges travelers to make copies of both the front and back of the card, and to also keep a spare copy in your luggage as well as at your home. Another smart tip would be to take photos of the card to keep on your smartphone.

Nelson suggests keeping your card in a sleeve like this to ensure its protection. She also advises to not laminate the card as there is a potential to add to the card with future booster shot information.

Read the updated CDC guidelines

Continue to consider the plans of your travel leading up to the anticipated dates of travel. Evaluate the amount of people you may be around, if there are COVID-19 outbreaks in the location and if there are specific restrictions in your place of travel. Although traveling by air is not risk-free, Nelson believes that traveling on a commercial airline to be safe. The cabin’s air is run through a HEPA filter and refreshed every few minutes, and airlines also still require masks as protection tactics.

Be mindful of others around you

Prioritize good personal hygiene throughout your trip. Wash your hands in warm water for at least 20 seconds, carry hand sanitizer and use it after touching common surfaces. If you are vaccinated and still feel more protected by wearing a mask, wear a mask. Throughout the duration of your trip, continue to make time for rest. Drink a lot of water and don’t forget to exercise, even by just walking. Remember that it is OK to give yourself a mental break! Nelsons encourages travelers to relax, and

Image by Ivory Nguyen for use by 360 Magazine

Twelve Tips For New Homeowners

Owning your first home is exciting, but it’s also a learning experience. You’ll have new responsibilities to handle that you might not think about until it’s too late. Here are the top 12 tips for new homeowners so you can stay ahead of repairs, fees or financial emergencies. Use them to create your dream house, even on a budget.

1. Collect All Your Paperwork

There’s much more paperwork to keep track of as a homeowner. Instead of a lease, you’ll have a deed to your house, a buyer’s contract, and documents to keep track of things like your mortgage payments or homeowner’s insurance. Collect everything in one place, like a fireproof safe. You’ll never worry about losing track of anything important.

2. Find a Long-Term Handyman

The best handyman will know how to fix necessary repairs and work with your preferences. You will likely stick with someone you know and trust for the long term. If your home needs repairs or upgrades, keep each contractor’s name or business card so you remember which teams you did or did not like.

3. Meet Your Neighbors

The renters in your previous apartment complex may have come and gone too frequently to create any lasting relationships. The people who live in your neighborhood will likely be there much longer than a few months. Figure out creative ways to meet them, like throwing a housewarming party or delivering baked goods. They’ll likely become great friends and make your neighborhood even more welcoming.

4. Schedule Pest Prevention

Landlords often take care of pest control on their properties, but now that’s up to you. Open your planner or electronic calendar and schedule regular prevention sprays around your home. It’s a crucial step to make your house safer because professional teams maintain a protective barrier against pests that lasts through every season and prevents costly damage.

5. Give Your Renovations Time

Even though you want to install new countertops or a new bathtub immediately after moving in, it could take more time. Have patience with your contractor’s estimates or your financial abilities. You’ll remain in your home for a while, so you have time to make careful, considerate decisions.

6. Change Your Locks

You might want to trust the previous homeowners to throw out their keys, but that doesn’t always happen. Changing your locks will ensure your family’s safety by guaranteeing that the only people who can access your home are those who live there.

7. Prioritize an Emergency Fund

Sometimes homeowners purchase new construction and assume they won’t have to repair anything for a long time. That isn’t always the case. A storm could damage your roof or flood your crawlspace, leading to thousands of dollars in damage.

Settle into your home and have some fun. After unpacking your boxes, start prioritizing an emergency fund. Put money aside for unexpected costs and you’ll be prepared for costly repairs later. Financial experts recommend saving three to six months of expenses, but you can also use an emergency fund calculator to figure out the best amount for your needs.

8. Replace Your Air Filters

Air filters catch dust, debris and allergens as your HVAC filter circulates air through your home. Most last for two months, so remember to replace them at least six times a year. If you forget, your family may have irritating respiratory problems related to breathing debris. Avoid unnecessary sneezing and coughing by proactively replacing your air filters as often as their packaging indicates.

9. Look for Smart ROI Projects

Homeowners want a good return on investment (ROI) for their property. When you need to move again, you should sell the house for more money than you bought it for. Local property prices may rise and make that more likely, but you can also guarantee a profit by picking specific renovations.

Research where you live to find the best projects with the highest ROI. Someone living in a hot climate could install a pool, while someone who lives in a cold environment might install a heated driveway. You can also consider smaller projects like getting modern appliances or remodeling your bathroom.

You might figure out another type of project by thinking about who could buy your house. If your home is in an area that attracts retirees, grab bars in the bathroom or an elevator in a multistory home will interest buyers faster. Consider these factors before investing in any home projects to get your money back and more.

10. Clean Your Carpets

Houses have more square footage than apartments, which means you probably have more carpet to maintain. Microscopic bacteria and debris will settle in the fibers and pose a health threat. Dirt can also stain your rugs and leave visible traffic patterns through every room.

It’s your new responsibility as a homeowner to schedule carpet cleaning appointments. A professional team can stop by with deep-cleaning machinery to make them look new. You can also invest in a cleaner and do it yourself. It depends on how badly your carpets need attention and how much time you can invest in them.

11. Save for Property Taxes

Property taxes often catch new homeowners by surprise. Renters don’t have to pay them because landlords cover the extra fees, but now that falls on your shoulders. Find your county website to pinpoint the current tax rate.

Your local government may change the tax rate every few years or once a decade. It depends on the laws surrounding property reappraisals. The website will also state the deadline for each year’s payment, which you should save in your financial planner.

Add the total cost to your monthly budget. Setting small sums aside every month will make the new bill less of a hassle when the deadline comes around.

12. Note Your HOA Rules

You may not have thought twice about buying a house with homeowners association (HOA) fees. The monthly bill may not cost too much, but it also means you have to live according to the association’s rules.

Look through any printed information or website pamphlets you received after moving in. They’ll outline precise rules that could cost exorbitant fees if broken, even accidentally. Pay attention to how you can decorate your yard for the holidays, what kinds of landscaping you can renovate and how trash collection works.

Some HOA boards make highly specific rules, while others are more relaxed. Save the paperwork where you’ll easily access it before starting any property projects or renovations. You can refer to it as you get used to the daily restrictions, like trash pickup, and when you want to update your home.

Keep These Tips in Mind

These are great tips for new homeowners because they cover things you might not think about otherwise. Remember to build an emergency savings, pay your property taxes and prevent pest-related damage to maintain your house and avoid surprise expenses.

Image via Booksavvy Public Relations for 360 Magazine

Karen Gershowitz – Travel Mania: Stories of Wanderlust

Yes, You CAN Fit Travel into a Busy Career. It Just Takes Planning.

By Karen Gershowitz

I know what you’re thinking: Travel is opening back up and I’m itching to go. But when I’m drowning in deadlines and work and want to spend time with family and friends, how can travel possibly fit in? The answer is, with planning.

My career as a marketing researcher and strategist is intense. Yet in 5 decades, I’ve managed to travel to 90 different countries. Travel is my passion. Reducing or giving it up, even for work, is out of the question. These competing priorities have taught me to plan ahead and be creative.  I talk about some of the many ways I’ve done this in my memoir Travel Mania: Stories of Wanderlust.

At the beginning of my career, two weeks of vacation was the maximum allowed. I planned those weeks around long weekends to get the most out of them. Four vacation days became nine-day trips.

Another possibility I discovered is to rollover vacation time, allowing for a longer trip.  You might take one week the first year, then plan for a three-week trip the next. That strategy allowed me to go to Tanzania for a photo safari and then climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

If you can afford it, consider unpaid leave. I did that for a trip to Australia that took me across the globe when after the flight and recovering from jetlag, two weeks would have been whittled down to just over a week of satisfying travel. That extra vacation time is unlikely to change your career trajectory and will leave you with memories for a lifetime. Negotiating extra travel time when taking a new job is a great tactic, and in this post- COVID world where labor supply is short, now might be the perfect time. Two weeks is far too short to satisfy a travel itch. In negotiating for extra vacation time when changing jobs—four weeks in total—I only brought it up after we had settled on pay. The deal with my boss was that the month had to be split into three periods scattered across the year. That worked for the company; my absence didn’t stop any projects from proceeding. It also satisfied my desire for travel. 

You might also consider taking an extended break prior to starting with a new employer. time off between jobs. It’s a magical time with no stresses about what you’ve left behind. When I negotiated for four weeks of vacation time, I also negotiated my start date. I gave myself a full month, which allowed me to take three separate trips–Hawaii, Spain and Puerto Rico. I began my new position fully rested, with a clear head and excitement about the work. 

If you do find yourself with a quiet stretch take advantage of it. Rather than fretting about not having work or creating make work, scour the internet for last minute deals. Traveling to a lesser known place may lead to fabulous, unexpected finds. Years ago, I went to Venezuela at the last moment and discovered nearly empty pristine beaches and an Italian village in the Andes.

Here are some tips for making whatever time you have enjoyable, worry-free and non-jeopardizing to your career.

  • Give everyone lots of advance notice if you will be gone for more than a few days.  No one likes surprises, least of all clients and colleagues. This gives them time to discuss what should happen while you are away.
  • Try to anticipate any issues, problems, or questions and make sure you’ve dealt with them before you leave. 
  • Update your boss and co-workers on any current projects in detail and in writing so they have a reference document if they need information. 
  • Make it clear that you will be unreachable during your away time (you don’t want to be brought back to “reality” while traveling).  If necessary, tell them wi-fi is likely to be unreliable where you will be staying.

For much of my career I have also traveled for business, both domestically and internationally. This allowed me to see the world while my clients paid for my flights and other expenses. If you are also lucky enough to travel for business, here are some ideas for how to experience the location beyond meeting rooms. 

  • Try to plan the trip near a weekend, then stay a couple of extra days. Or even plan your whole vacation in some desirable destination. I traveled for two weeks in Asia, following a meeting in Singapore.
  • Once virtual conferences become an option instead of a necessity, if you attend them and can choose, find ones that meet your needs and are in a destination you’d like to see. 
  • Ask local business associates what to see and do. Because they live there, they may have some great tips for restaurants and sites off the usual tourist routes.
  • Before going, look for events taking place while you’re there—concerts, ball games, walking tours, cooking classes, art or antique shows. 

I hate clichés, but where there’s a will, there’s a way really applies to fitting travel into a career. If you want it enough, plan ahead, don’t keep it a secret and enjoy every moment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Gershowitz, author of Travel Mania: Stories of Wanderlust, has been traveling since age 17 when she boarded a plane to Europe and stayed there for three years. She has since traveled to more than 90 countries, experiencing countless bold, once-in-a-lifetime adventures: climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, trekking atop an elephant in Thailand, hiking in the blistering heat of the Moroccan desert—and much more. While studying ceramics as an undergraduate at the Kansas City Art Studio, Karen proposed and received a grant to photograph ceramics studios, potters and their work throughout Japan. She later built a career as a marketing strategist and researcher with companies who sent her around the globe to conduct focus groups, interviews and meetings. She lives in New York City, but is a citizen of the world.