Holiday Shopping

first_imgBy Michael Rupured University of GeorgiaIt starts soon after the Thanksgiving turkey and pumpkin pie are gobbled down, the football games are over and the family is headed home. That is when serious shoppers – with adrenaline pumping – sort through all the advertisements to plan for the big after-Thanksgiving-Day sales. More than ever, it is important to shop smart. That means developing a sound spending plan. With economic conditions still shaky, now is not the time to pile up a lot of holiday debt. Know how much money you can spend. To avoid problems in 2009, limit your spending to the cash you have set aside for the season.Think creatively. Everyone is tightening their belts this year. Remember, it is the thought that counts. Homemade gifts, food, clothing or crafts may be appreciated more than a mass-produced item purchased at a local store.Give the gift of time. Things like babysitting, car washing or housecleaning may also be well received.When you get to the stores, keep your spending plan and shopping list in hand. Think carefully about each and every purchase. Avoid deciding on an item in the spur of the moment. Take your time. Think about your needs and the amount of money you have.Use the ads that appear in newspapers and mailboxes around Thanksgiving to plan your purchases. Compare offerings to find the best values. Once you decide on a particular item, compare features, quality, prices, installation fees, delivery charges and service rates. Sometimes the cost to use and maintain the item makes selecting a more expensive model the cheaper option. Look in the newspaper classified section for items, too. Person-to-person buying often saves money.Running from store to store may not be feasible. Instead of driving around town, use the phone and Internet to find information, particularly for gifts you will send out of town. You may find that it is cheaper to order the desired items and ship them directly to the recipients.Shopping online can also be an easy way to locate special or unique gifts. Do be careful. Use a secure browser. Shop with companies you know and keep your passwords creative and private. Pay particular attention to shipping charges. Be sure to print out and keep records of your purchases.With a possible recession looming, retailers started sales earlier this year than in years past. That means plenty of bargains, but you will need to shop carefully to find them. As the holidays approach, many will slash prices so the best deals may be still to come. Waiting for last-minute price cuts makes sense for items that are not in short supply.This might be the year to avoid buying gift cards. If you buy a gift card at a store that then goes out of business, you may as well have flushed your money down the toilet. If you do buy gift cards, make sure you understand the terms. Some companies begin charging fees after a relatively short time. These fees can eat up the value of the card.Bargains that sound too good to be true are usually just that. Expect a fair and reasonable price for goods and services. Read labels, seals, tags and instruction booklets. Ask questions. Get the facts before you buy. Find out what is promised, who stands behind the promises and what you must do to benefit from any warranty. Your holiday spending plan is not just about the gifts you plan to buy. Remember to allow funds for parties, greeting cards, charitable giving and clothing to wear to holiday functions, along with other things that make the holiday season joyful for you and others.(Michael Rupured is a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension financial management specialist with the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.)last_img read more

Vermont warns of health insurance scams in wake of health care reform

first_imgMany people do not yet fully understand how the recently approved health insurance reform legislation will affect their health insurance coverage, access to services, or options available to them or their families. This has created an opportunity for scam artists and criminals looking to confuse and defraud the public.Stories of fraudsters going door-to-door to sell phony insurance policies, and accounts of con artists attempting to make dishonest profits by urging consumers to obtain coverage in non-existent “limited enrollment” periods they claim are made possible with this new legislation have already been reported by the media.“Vermonters can sometimes feel like we’re a safe distance from the scams and fraudulent activities we hear about on the national news,” said Paulette Thabault, Vermont’s Commissioner of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration (BISHCA). “Unfortunately, Vermont is not immune from criminals looking to take advantage of individuals, and scams and illegal activities do occur in our state.”Thabault advises Vermonters to beware of health insurance policies that are offered with time-limited and offer-limited benefits, or ones advertised as necessitated by health insurance reform. She also encourages anyone who is unsure that an opportunity is legitimate to check with BISHCA before signing a policy or writing a check for new health insurance coverage.Consumer Services Specialists at BISHCA’s Health Care Administration are available to answer consumer questions about health insurance coverage. They can be reached at 1-800-631-7788 (toll-free in VT) or by e-mail: sends e-mail). Additional information on health insurance options in Vermont can also be found on the BISHCA website ( is external)).Source: BISHCA. 4.7.2010# # #last_img read more

Solar Company Shows It’s Possible to Combine Growth and Profitability

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:For a while there, leading residential solar installers had a one-track mind: They could grow or make money, but not both.The national players opted for growth through the early 2010s, until the deferral of making money started to catch up with them. It took out Sungevity, at one time the No. 3 U.S. residential installer. It led to Tesla’s takeover of market leader SolarCity, and the brand’s subsequent erasure.Sunrun still stands on its own, though, and it’s out to prove it can do two things at once.“We’re super bullish — we love our market position,” said CEO Lynn Jurich, in an interview. “Not only are we increasing market share, we’re increasing our margins and generating positive cash.”Tesla took a different tack, slowing growth to focus on profits. As a result, this quarter may be the first time that Sunrun outpaced SolarCity for residential installations. Tesla reported a combined 109 megawatts, deployed across all market segments.Sunrun deployed 90 megawatts of residential solar in the third quarter of 2017, up 12 percent year over year. That added up to 1,117 cumulative megawatts deployed, a 39 percent increase from a year ago.Sign up for the GTM newsletter. Stay up to date on all the latest!That’s actually a smaller year-over-year growth than in any of the previous 10 quarters, but it’s still a substantial step forward.The deployment count means Sunrun, which favors leases over cash deals by a roughly 9-1 ratio, has a growing number of little rooftop cash registers sending money back each month. The company claims $1.2 billion in net earning assets, a 24 percent increase year-over-year.With regard to making money…Sunrun is profitable, Jurich said, and will generate $40 million in cash this year.The core directive is to deploy rooftop solar systems that generate more value than they cost. The company measures this as net present value, which adds up the revenue streams a solar system will produce (including tax credits, rebates, payments from a 20-year customer contract) minus the costs to deploy and operate the asset.“It really is your purest way to talk about value creation,” Jurich said.This quarter, Sunrun set a company record for net present value at $1.15 per watt. That adds up to $93 million in total net present value created that quarter, a 21 percent increase from Q3 last year.Increasing adoption of energy storage boosts valueSunrun bolsters that net present value with its new killer app: energy storage.Many companies sell solar paired with batteries, but Sunrun has achieved unique scale in the U.S. — 2,000 units ordered, as of August. The numbers indicate Sunrun sees this technology as more than a trendy deluxe upgrade — it’s becoming a part of the business strategy.“Attachment rate” measures how many home solar customers opt to include storage, in this case via Sunrun’s BrightBox package that includes LG Chem batteries. Sunrun’s attachment rate among its in-house installers in California doubled in Q3 to more than 10 percent. Sunrun currently does not offer BrightBox through its installer partners in the state.That means that 10 percent of Californians that contracted directly with Sunrun chose to pay slightly more to add storage, in exchange for backup power and savings opportunities down the road. “Already, in much of the market from a today’s savings perspective, it delivers more savings to have a BrightBox than to have solar only,” Jurich said.In much of the country, it’s still hard to make the economic case for residential solar-plus-storage. California, though, has both high electricity prices and a number of policy incentives for storage deployment.In Hawaii, all of Sunrun’s systems now come packaged with BrightBox. High levels of solar penetration there prompted the utilities to adopt a tariff, known as Customer Self-Supply, that forbids solar export, meaning new solar customers must undersize their solar system or add storage, with the latter being the preferred option.BrightBox arrived in Arizona in July, so the company didn’t report data for that newly opened market.It’s too early to say anyone has cracked the code on residential storage, said GTM Research storage analyst Brett Simon, but Sunrun has made headway by streamlining the sales process.More: “Sunrun Aims to Prove Solar Installers Can Grow and Make a Profit at the Same Time” Solar Company Shows It’s Possible to Combine Growth and Profitabilitylast_img read more

Foundation seeks Medal of Honor award nominations

first_img Foundation seeks Medal of Honor award nominations The Florida Bar Foundation is seeking nominations for its annual Medal of Honor Awards.The Foundation has two categories for the medal of honor award. A nominee for the first category must be a member of The Florida Bar who has demonstrated dedication to the objectives of The Bar: “.. . to inculcate in its members the principles of duty and service to the public, to improve the administration of justice, and to advance the science of jurisprudence.”Nominees in this first category also must be Florida residents who are actively engaged in a profession relative to the practice of law including, but not limited to, practicing lawyers, judges, or teachers in the legal field. Recent award recipients in this category are Tallahassee’s Martha W. Barnett, a former ABA president, Patrick G. Emmanuel of Pensacola and former Florida Bar president, and North Miami Beach attorney and former Florida Bar and Foundation president Burton Young. Last year’s award was presented to Robert M. Ervin for his dedication to improving the administration of justice throughout a career of exemplary public and professional service as a lawyer and a leader in the creation and development of institutions and activities that continue today to advance the interests of the public and the legal profession.Nominees are also being solicited in a second medal of honor award category. This category recognizes the achievement of nonlawyers, or lawyers not actively engaged in the practice of law. Nominees must have made an outstanding contribution to the improvement of the administration of justice in Florida through research, writing, or other deeds of such character and quality that, in the judgment of the Foundation, warrant the highest award that can be bestowed by the Foundation.Nominees in the second category also must be Florida residents and may be members of The Florida Bar. Recent recipients in this category are: John B. Orr, Jr. (posthumously) for his courageous stand against a package of bills filed in the 1956 Florida Legislature’s special session whose purpose was to perpetuate school segregation, paralegal Raul G. Barrera for his leadership and dedication to improving the administration of justice by bringing truth to the ideal of equal justice under the law for migrant farmworkers, and Lois Thacker Graessle, of Jacksonville, for a lifetime of dedicated and selfless volunteer service in the pursuit of justice.The medal of honor awards will be presented at the annual dinner of the Foundation during The Florida Bar annual meeting on June 24, 2004, at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton.Nominations should list the specific achievements which would qualify an individual to receive a medal of honor and also should include a brief biographical sketch of the nominee. Nomination forms are available from the Foundation or can be downloaded from the Foundation’s Web site ( under the “What’s New” section. Nominations should be sent to: The Florida Bar Foundation, Medal of Honor Awards Program, Post Office Box 1553, Orlando, Florida 32802-1553, (800) 541-2195, (407) 843-0045. Nominations also may be faxed to (407) 839-0287 or sent via e-mail to The deadline for nominations is February 18. January 15, 2004 Regular News Foundation seeks Medal of Honor award nominationslast_img read more

What you need to communicate during branch closures

first_imgU.S. branch closings are increasing in record numbers according to 2013 research performed by SNL Financial. This means that the number of communications financial institutions are having to send out are increasing as well, costing them time and money.The FDIC manages policies that require insured depository institutions to communicate to their customers a certain way regarding branch closings. This article outlines the important aspects of the policy statement, focusing specifically on what banks and credit unions are required to send to their customers before the closure occurs.1. Communication ContentMAIL: Insured depository institutions are required by law to notify their customers of the branch’s proposed closing via mail. This means that before a branch closure is/can be approved, communications must start going out to that branch’s customer base. continue reading » 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Berger praises McWatters’ call for credit union exemption from CFPB rules

first_imgNAFCU President and CEO Dan Berger on Wednesday praised NCUA Acting Chairman J. Mark McWatters’ call in a letter to CFPB Director Richard Cordray to use the exemption authority under Section 1022 of the Dodd-Frank Act with respect to credit unions “whenever possible.”“We are grateful for Chairman McWatters’ strong leadership in calling for this needed reform,” Berger said. “NAFCU has long urged the CFPB to take advantage of its congressionally granted legal authority to exempt credit unions under Section 1022 of the Dodd-Frank Act. It is vital that the bureau recognize that putting member-owned, not-for-profit credit unions under the same standards as the Wall Street banks that caused the financial crisis is counterproductive and harmful for the 107 million members credit unions serve.“We look forward to discussing this matter further with Chairman McWatters and continuing to push for meaningful regulatory relief that would allow credit unions to focus on serving their members,” Berger continued.In his letter, McWatters discussed the regulatory burden for credit unions from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and the CFPB’s approach to unfair, deceptive and abusive acts or practices (UDAAP), and the need for regulatory relief in those areas. 14SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »last_img read more

Commission for Women Urges House to Vote Against Senate Bill 3

first_img Healthcare,  Press Release,  Public Health,  Women’s Rights If passed, Pennsylvania will have one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S.Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Commission for Women (PCW) Chair Randi Teplitz, on behalf of the commission, today issued a statement urging the General Assembly to vote down a restrictive abortion ban. Senate Bill 3 passed the state House Health Committee Monday evening.“As our commonwealth faces many challenges, it is disheartening to see that our Pennsylvania General Assembly — which is comprised 80 percent of males — has chosen to focus its efforts on passing one of the most restrictive, and likely unconstitutional, anti-choice laws in the nation,” Teplitz said.“This bill moved out of committee without transparency — there were no public hearings conducted on its merits. The Pennsylvania Commission for Women believes that any changes to abortion laws that impact women to this degree should not occur without a robust discussion that includes input from the health care community as well as the public, particularly Pennsylvania women.”Senate Bill 3 would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, and does not allow for exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or extreme fetal abnormalities. Governor Tom Wolf this week announced that if the bill makes it to his desk, he will veto it. December 05, 2017 SHARE Email Facebook Twittercenter_img Commission for Women Urges House to Vote Against Senate Bill 3last_img read more

$22m beach house tops year’s list of QLD’s most expensive homes

first_img45-51 Albatross Avenue in Mermaid Beach sold for $25m. Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality LevelsAudio TrackFullscreenThis is a modal window. The Video Cloud video was not found. Error Code: VIDEO_CLOUD_ERR_VIDEO_NOT_FOUND Queensland’s biggest sales over the past two years, and the view from 21-23 Webb Rd, Sunshine Beach.After just over three weeks on the market, a single offer was made for the Noosa estate by a buyer who “fell in the love” with the property during a two-hour inspection. Session ID: 2020-09-28:aab24b1ced891666cb2394f4 Player Element ID: vjs_video_1192 OK Close Modal DialogBeginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreen00:00THE ultimate beach house has become Queensland’s most expensive home sold in the past year, passing Brisbane’s $18.48 million top sale last year as well as Pat Rafter’s $18 million beachfront property. Much of the home offers stunning views of the beach. Picture: Tom Offermann Real EstateMore from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus21 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market21 hours ago“There is no doubt when we took the buyer in they fell in love with the 3,595sq m of prime beachfront land. The property offers privacy and seclusion plus the 44m of absolute beachfrontage is spellbinding,” he told The Courier-Mail. The buyer fell in love with the property during a two-hour inspection.The listing price for the home at 21-23 Webb Road, Sunshine Beach, was $22 million but agents can’t divulge the price due to a confidentiality agreement.Listing agent Nic Hunter of Tom Offermann Real Estate confirmed multiple inspections were held — six of which were earlier in the month — before the current buyer. The kitchen inside 21-23 Webb Road. Picture: Tom Offermann Real EstateMore big dollar sales were expected to come out of Queensland this year given the breadth of luxury lifestyle properties and the large number of active local investors and sea-changers as well as expatriates from London, Dubai, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore in the market.“The expat and interstate market continue to fuel the high-end property sales in Noosa,” Mr Hunter said. Mr Hunter put the recordbreaking sale of 21-23 Webb Road, Sunshine Beach, down to how rare the property was.“You can never put a cap on the lifestyle that people are seeking (and how much they’ll pay).”At close to $22 million, the super-sized 3,595sq m estate will change hands for three times what owner IT entrepreneur Daniel Wallis paid five years ago. Mr Hunter put the recordbreaking sale of 21-23 Webb Road, Sunshine Beach, down to how rare the property was. Inside the Sunshine Beach home. Picture: Tom Offermann Real Estate“The actual land component is such a rarity on the coast. There would be a handful of properties like it and how often does one actually become available to the market? It’s extremely rare, that’s why it sold so quickly.”Queensland’s most expensive residence sold in the past two years was Tidemark, the home of former Billabong executive Scott Perrin which landed $25 million in late 2016, while Brisbane’s top sale in that period was $18.48 million for a spectacular cliffhanger 1 Leopard Street, Kangaroo Point. FOLLOW SOPHIE FOSTER ON FACEBOOK last_img read more

ConocoPhillips, PDVSA Seal USD 2 Bn Settlement

first_imgU.S. energy corporation ConocoPhillips has signed a USD 2 billion settlement agreement with PDVSA, Venezuelan state-owned oil company.The deal relates to PDVSA’s failure to meet contractual obligations as indicated by an arbitral tribunal in April 2018, constituted under the rules of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).The Venezuelan company agreed to pay USD 500 million within a period of 90 days from the time of signing, while the rest of the amount would be paid quarterly over a period of 4.5 years.“As a result of the settlement, ConocoPhillips has agreed to suspend its legal enforcement actions of the ICC award, including in the Dutch Caribbean,” the company said.“The award relates to the unlawful expropriation of ConocoPhillips’ investments in the Hamaca and Petrozuata heavy crude oil projects in Venezuela in 2007 and other pre-expropriation fiscal measures.”This move is believed to be good news for tankers as PDVSA is now expected to resume exporting oil from most of its key Caribbean facilities and boost Venezuelan crude production, which has been on a major decline over the recent period amid economic crisis in the country.The Venezuelan economy is almost entirely dependent on revenue generated from the oil and gas industry.The country is in a desperate need of investment into its oil and gas industry, but the current political impasse with the U.S. and the currency crisis in the country are making it difficult to attract investors.ConocoPhillips has a separate and independent legal action pending against the government of Venezuela before a tribunal under the auspices of the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).As indicated by Conoco, the ICSID tribunal has already ruled that Venezuela’s expropriation of ConocoPhillips’ investments violated international law, and proceedings are underway to determine the amount of compensation owed to ConocoPhillips.last_img read more

State smashes daily cases record with 5,511

first_imgThe numbers of coronavirus cases in Florida continue to rise.Florida reported 5,511 cases in one day, shattering the record for most in a day by 1,462, as deaths rose by 54 to 3,281, the Florida Department of Health announced Wednesday.Testing has also gone up in the state. The state reported 15.91 percent of people who tested for the first time were positive. Two weeks ago, the percentage was 5.54. Of all results reported by labs, the positive rate was 18.43 percent of the 36,339 tests compared with 7.31 percent among 31,415 tests two week ago.The overall positive rate is 6.5 percent, which is up one-tenth of 1 percent, compared with 5.3 percent one week ago and 10 percent several weeks ago.The state cases reported Wednesday were 2,225 more than Tuesday’s total of 3,286. The record was 4,049 set Saturday. Earlier increases were a previous mark of 3,822 Friday after a 3,207 record Thursday. In addition, there was a record 2,783 one week ago Tuesday.Until recently, the increased cases daily were often under 1,000.last_img read more