Category Archives: Bundling

Get started on your financial goals

As the new year approaches, it is easy to say to ourselves, “Next year is going to be different.  I’m going to be thin, rich, and much, much happier.”  Inevitably, next year will be quite similar to this year unless you put your mind to making a big change.   But what if you committed yourself to a small change?  Something that is easy to attain?  What if you made a small change in your finances that would help you reap big rewards down the road?

In this segment, I have compiled a list of finance-related tips for 2017 from a number of websites (all of which are linked).  There are so many tips out there, so I have found the ones that I feel are doable and will actually make a difference for a wide range of people.  I hope this helps get you on track for your financial goals in the coming year!

  1. Make saving automatic – it’s easy to say that you will put aside a portion of each paycheck, but when the time comes around, there are bills to pay and things you want that always seem much more important than saving for later.  But many banks offer an automatic deposit into your savings account.  Speak with a banker to find out what options are available to you, and figure out how much you can actually afford to save.  At the end of the year, you may be surprised at how much you’ve accumulated!
  2. Track your spending – an effective dieting strategy is writing down every bite of food you put into your mouth, and assessing where you are going wrong at the end of the day.  This is the same idea – write down every single penny you spend, then take a look to see where you could save.  You may even opt out of purchasing something unnecessary because you don’t want to put it on paper!  This diary will come in very handy when you are setting your new and improved monthly budget.

    Expenses Costs Track Spending Sticky Notes 3d Illustration

  3. Focus on your debt – no matter which financial strategy you follow, you won’t find one that tells you to get into more debt (unless your financial planner also works for your credit card company).  Debt is bad . And it creates more debt.  And while you may see getting out of it as impossible, take whatever steps necessary to accomplish that goal.  As your debts lessen, so do your monthly expenses.  Which leaves you more money to pay your debts.  Seems simple enough, right?  It isn’t.  But it can be done, so set your mind to it and make a change this year!
  4. Review your insurance coverage –  when you set up your health insurance, you might have been in family planning mode.  Now that you’re out of that phase, you might not need as much coverage.  Check it out and see if you could be saving money each month.
  5. Shop around for deals and discounts – it is certainly easier to buy everything at one place, but if you do your homework you might be able to save quite a bit of money by shopping at multiple locations.  Take advantage of sites like Ebates that offer cash back on purchases, but don’t get married to those sites.  Do the math and figure out which deal is actually best, when you take into consideration shipping, tax and rebates.
  6. Grocery shop online when possible – everyone has the best of intentions when they make a list to take to the store.  If we’re really intent on sticking to it, we make sure to eat first and set a shopping time limit.  But unless you are the most disciplined person in the world, chances are you will run across something you just have to have, or you “forgot” to add to your list.  When you shop online, you can type the items you need into the search bar, find the best deal and add to your cart.  There is little chance of purchasing items you don’t need, as you won’t be passing them at every turn.  Many places offer this now, and will even deliver for free if you spend a certain amount.
  7. Reflect on 2016 – how did things go this year?  Were you able to save money, pay off debts, or overcome obstacles?  Did you spend too much, not save enough or make major financial mistakes?  Looking at what went on last year can help you to make improvements for the year to come.  Correct any mistakes you made, and look to improve upon your successes.

I hope these tips will help you to leap into 2017 on the right foot, confident in yourself and your ability to make changes where needed!  Even a small step in the right direction is an improvement, so don’t be disheartened if you aren’t a millionaire by 2018.  As long as you are doing your best, you’re doing something right!

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Lessons Learned

My best friend died six weeks ago.  My head is filled with all kinds of new knowledge that I have needed to share with others, but have not found the strength until now.  I do not want her passing to be in vain, so I hope that some of the lessons I have learned will benefit you as well.

Lindsay and I met when we were 14 years old.  We shared 18 years of laughter and tears, secrets and inside jokes, momentous life occasions and not-so-momentous everyday life experiences.  Lindsay was probably best known for her giant smile and amazing sense of humor.  She was also that friend that was always there, for every important and unimportant event in your life.  She was intelligent, kind and genuine, and this world is a lot crappier without her in it.

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Lindsay had ovarian cancer, and that is the first lesson I would like to preach about.  Ladies: pay attention.  This is a very deadly form of cancer because the symptoms do not talk to you; they whisper.  Know the symptoms, and talk to your doctor right away if you are experiencing them.  Men, talk to your wives and sisters and mothers and daughters.  Make sure that every woman you know and care about is familiar with these symptoms and prepared to take action right away.

I will now step down from my soapbox and talk about dealing with difficult situations.  Personally, I find myself empathizing with others when they are going through terrible times, but still in the back of my mind feeling thankful that it isn’t happening to me or someone I love.  You never think it’s going to hit your world, but the fact is, it does.  In one way or another, you will experience grief and heartache and you have to ask yourself: how will you handle it?  I always imagined that I would be the sort of person who got under my covers for six months until my family had an intervention.  However, I somehow found strength within to support Lindsay’s family and I feel so grateful for that.  At a time when all I wanted to do was help, and the only thing they wanted was for Lindsay to be healthy, I found myself arranging food on the table, getting ice and providing wine.  Not much, but it made me feel useful and gave her family extra moments to spend with her.  This is not so much of a lesson, but something to think about – how can you be of service to others who are grieving?  And how will you take care of yourself during that time?

The next lesson I learned was to hold on to your friendships tight.  Lindsay and I attended different colleges, and while we kept in touch, we weren’t in regular contact with one another during those years.  About six years ago, Lindsay and I decided to start having monthly dinners.  And thank God we did.  I would not trade those six years for anything, and feel so grateful that I got to spend that time with her to rekindle our friendship.  If you have a friend that you care about and want in your life, then do everything you can to keep that friend in your life.  Friendships are like any relationship – they need to be nurtured, and you have to be willing to put in the work to keep them alive.

Finally, don’t wait to do the things you want to do.  Don’t feel embarrassed to reveal your dreams to your loved ones, as they will likely help you accomplish them.  To quote a line from about a million songs, you may not have tomorrow.  Take advantage of every moment you have on this earth, work to accomplish your dreams, and strive to have no regrets.  Be kind and loving to others, so when you do pass on, the memories people have of you will be positive and happy, just like the memories that myself and Lindsay’s loved ones have of her.

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Con Artists at work in Dublin, Ireland

One of the things that we are most proud about at Royal Services is our honesty and transparency. In an industry where many of our competitors have a used car salesman reputation, it is obviously a big struggle to get potential partners to lower their defenses. However, since 1993 we have treated our clients with the honesty and respect that they deserve. We are a family owned company and we live by family values. If we make mistakes we own them. If we can’t do something we communicate with our clients and try to find an alternative solution. When we bid a project, we do it as thoroughly and accurately as possible and provide our client with what the job will take. Unfortunately many of our competitors will make promises ahead of time and provide you with low prices, and then take advantage of you once they have got you in the door. 

royal services in dubin

This week’s article looks at a dining experience that we had on our recent trip to the Emerald Isle. We had purchased the Cityscape “hop on, hop off” bus pass, and after an incredible 2 and a half hour tour of the city, the driver and tour guide suggested that we visit Murray’s bar and restaurant. He told us that it was one of the most popular venues in town and that we would be able to get a “2 for 1” deal on meals by showing our bus tickets. We thought that this sounded like a good idea so got off of the bus at the nearest stop to Murray’s and made the short walk along O’Connell street.

We arrive and are immediately handed a piece of paper with a very simple menu on it. It looks like something that a 4th grader put together for a simple project using the most basic of online templates. There was a good variety of meals available with all meals apart from starters priced at 12.95. We could see the “traditional menus” under the hostess stand so assumed that we had by default been handed the “Cityscape menu”. The moral of this story is to not assume 🙂

We spent a few minutes reviewing the options available to us and then placed our order. It took some time to get our order but once everything had arrived we all tucked in and enjoyed our evening meal. We sat and chatted for a while as our 2 year old “flirted” with the waitress and then the screaming emanating from our 10 month old’s mouth signalled that it was time to head back to the hotel.

Temple Bar Dublin and Royal Services

We ask for the bill and all of a sudden the barman goes into hiding and has one of his colleagues bring the check to us. Upon quick review we noticed that we had been charged f0r all 6 meals, and that the discount had not been applied. We questioned the barman who informed us that we should have told him ahead of time that we were looking for the discounted menu. Obviously the fact that our tour brochure and bus tickets were clearly visible on the table didn’t mean anything. The barman showed little signs of wanting to solve the problem and provide us with what had been promised, so we had to take it to the next level. In more ways than one 🙂

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

We immediately headed upstairs to find the manager and get things rectified. As we were waiting to speak to the manager, the barman comes flying up the stairs thinking that we had done a runner. I imagine that there have been several customers that have done this in the past, but two wrongs don’t make a right. To his credit, the manager acknowledged the original deal and reduced our bill accordingly. He then mentioned about the need to make things clearer and let patrons know ahead of time what the deal was, but a quick search on Google shows that this scam has been going on for some time with several visitors expressing their disappointment with this “deal”.

This tactic might earn some short term business as a large percentage of patrons are tourists who will never be in Dublin again. There are also many non English speaking visitors from all corners of the world who wouldn’t be able to understand what is going on and how they are being mislead. However, it doesn’t matter who your customer is, you need to do the right thing and take care of them if you want to be successful in the long term. This experience felt similar to a company shortchanging a customer because she was blind and couldn’t see what was going on.

the emerald isle and royal services

This left a very bitter taste in our mouths, and even though the food was very good, the dishonesty and trickery from this establishment means that this is not a venue that we would recommend. After all of the talk that you hear about how beautiful Dublin is and how welcoming the people are, we left with different feelings after our encounters. This company did themselves no favors here, and I do not think that their future is going to be anything special. In anything that I do I need to be able to look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day knowing that I have done the right thing. I might not make as much money, or drive the same car as my highly successful neighbor, but I can live with a clear conscience.

Where have you felt hard done by? Which establishments have lied to get you in the door? Who made you feel like you had been stolen from? Let us know in the comments section below.

As the Irish say, Schloncha, and happy travelling 🙂

Guiness pint and Royal Services