6 Employee Motivation Tricks

As a leader are you managing your team with metrics, standard scoring and standardized feedback? How’s that working out for you? Odds are low your employees are ready to rock if they are locked in a box full of must do’s with no escape plan to get out of the box. Lack of inspiration can be costly. According to Gallup in 2018 alone, estimates for the cost of poor management and lost productivity from employees in the U.S. who are not engaged or actively disengaged is somewhere between $960 billion and $1.2 trillion. Following are six motivational maneuvers to lower disengagement costs while raising the bar for employee productivity.

1. Train them. Whether you are onboarding a new employee or transferring an existing employee to a new department/project it is import to train them effectively. Does the employee know how to use the software? Are the project procedures highlighted in a clear and comprehensive manner? Take the time up front by making sure the employee has access to the tools, necessary passwords and contact information for reaching out to the proper manpower for assistance.

2. Provide the tools they will need to do their job effectively and efficiently. Different jobs require different tools to get the job done properly. Make sure equipment, software and resources are all up-to-date. Have additional funding available for outside training or online courses that will enhance employee knowledge.

3. Empower them. While a new hire may need oversight and guidance in the beginning, once they have their solid footing, allow them to provide input. Make sure the employee knows they have the freedom to act without getting permission to act. No one wants to be micro-managed.

4. Listen to them. Let your employee feel secure enough to voice their opinions. Team meetings should be a safe place to recommend changes, ideas or voice concerns. Not every concern or idea needs to be addressed or acted upon but the option to express oneself should always be available.

5. Consider their needs for a flexible schedule. For some employees the option to come in early so they can leave early to pick up their children from school is a huge factor in providing relief, thus allowing them to concentrate on work more completely. Allow your employee to work from home when they need to take their car in for repairs or to visit the doctor. If possible allow employees to work remotely one day a week or when weather conditions are poor.

6. Assign a mentor. A mentor is a resource the employee can feel safe reaching out to. A mentor can answer questions about how to best get the job done as well as how to strengthen one’s career path within the corporation.

Notice none of the tips require an increase in salary. Employees won’t work harder or longer just for the sake of it. There’s a quid pro quo and often it is not about money. So drop that stale performance review form and apply these tricks; you’ll see your employees jump through hoops to get the job done right, right on time.

Hiring an Emergency Plumber

If you ever have to hire an emergency plumber then there are a few things that you will want to be prepared for. The thing about plumbing is, you never know when something is going to mess up on you. It is hard to tell when a bathtub is going to get stopped up, a garbage disposal is going to get jammed, or when pipes are going to burst and try to flood out your home. There are times when you might need a plumber’s services as quickly as you can get them. Here is some information that will help you to know what to expect if one of these situations ever arises.

When you are looking for a plumber to take care of your emergency, you can compare it to trying to find an auto locksmith to unlock your car. There are certain things associated with emergency services that you should expect. One of those things is a high price for the services that are rendered. You can expect the price to be far more than it would be if the plumber were making a routine visit for repairs not related to an emergency. This is because you have a higher demand for the service and the plumber may have to cancel other appointments or other things which may potentially cost money.

Something else that you should be aware of is the length of time that it may take a plumber to reach your home. Just because you are having a plumbing emergency does not mean that your plumber is going to arrive with the same speed that emergency personnel would. It depends on where the plumber is when he gets the call about your emergency and it depends on what he is doing. If you are dealing with a good company then they will be able to give you an estimate of the amount of time that it should take for the plumber to show up at your home, so make sure to ask if time is a factor in your decision to hire a certain plumbing service.

These are just a couple of things that you should know about hiring an emergency plumber to come out to your home. By making yourself more aware of the price and the speed of time that it takes for someone to arrive, you will be able to save yourself a lot of headache and frustration that would be added to an already frustrating situation.

Replace Handbrake Pads on a Jaguar E-Type Without Removing Subframe

The handbrake pads on a Jaguar E-Type are located within the rear subframe and operate on the top of the discs. While this makes access difficult it is quite possible to change the brake pads without removing the subframe, saving considerable cost/time if you know how to do it. Most of the job is relatively straightforward and the only part where access can makes things difficult is the refitting of the retractor plate designed to pull the calipers apart when the brakes are released. This too can be achieved without too much effort with the right approach. These instructions apply to all 6 cylinder models fitted with self-adjusting handbrakes which is all but the very early models. They are a supplement to the instructions in the Jaguar Workshop Manual.

The image shows the forward side of the subframe with a rear footbrake caliper in the middle and the front of the differential casing in the background at the bottom left. The handbrake calipers are attached to the footbrake calipers by means of two pivot bolts. These bolts also hold the retractor plate in position with its two tines which reach across to the two caliper halves.

The process is as follows:

1. Remove split pin and clevis pin linking the operating lever to the handbrake linkage.

2. Fold down the locking tabs and remove the 7/16″ pivot bolts, lock tab and retractor plate.

3. Push the caliper over the top of the disc towards the back of the car. The caliper can be withdrawn from the subframe through the centre opening at the back of the subframe.

4. Loosen the 5/16″ nuts clamping the pads to the carriers – there is just enough space between the reinforcing ribs to swing a 12 point ring spanner. In the unlikely event that the clamp bolts aren’t badly rusted you can then slide the old pads out with the aid of some tapping. It is more likely you will be completely removing the bolts and replacing these at the same time.

5. Fit the new pads taking care to mount them the correct way round – the triangular edge upwards and the chamfer towards the adjuster bolt which links the two caliper halves.

6. You will now find that there is not enough clearance between the pads for the disk and you will need to reset the self-adjusting mechanism. Simply hold one of the caliper halves and rotate the other anti-clockwise to unscrew the adjuster until the inner faces of the pads are 12 mm apart.

7. Now you’re ready to reinsert the calipers. Push them back in and around the top of the disk the way they came out.

8. Line the retractor plate up with the two mounting holes, place the locking tab on top and insert the pivot bolts into the holes hopefully finding the holes in the handbrake calipers with some judicious wiggling. Gently tighten them but not fully as you will probably be taking them back out.

9. This is where the problem occurs. In all probability the tines of the retractor plate won’t line up with the holes in the top of the calipers. If the subframe is off the car this is not a problem but with the subframe on there is no way you can get anything in there to bend the tines to get them in the holes. But don’t despair. Get an inspection mirror such as dentists use and take a close look to see in which direction each tine is out and by how far. Make a note of this, unscrew the pivot bolts and take the retractor plate back out. Bend the tines according to your estimates and then reinsert. You may have to do this a couple of times but once you have it right you will be able to reach in over the tines with a screwdriver and push them down into the holes.

10. Now you can tighten the pivot bolts properly and push up the locking tabs.

11. Pull the operating lever repeatedly until the ratchet of the self-adjusting mechanism stops clicking.

12. Refit the clevis pin linking the operating lever to the handbrake linkage and fit a new split pin.

13. Adjust the handbrake according to the manual as necessary.

Why Modern Medicine is the Greatest Threat to Health

There is the underlying assumption that modernity translates into better health. A corollary of this logic is that we can live our lives pretty much as we want because we can always buy a repair. You know, the car won’t start, the TV is broken, the telephone is dead – no problem. Just call in an expert, spend some money and all is well.

People carry this over to their thinking about health. Our ticker falters, joints creak or an unwanted growth pops up – no problem. Buy some modern medical care. If that doesn’t work, it’s a problem of money, better insurance, more hospital funding, more research for the “cure,” more doctors, better equipment and more technology. Right?

Wrong.

Don’t take my word for it. Listen to the perpetrators themselves. The following is taken right from the pages of the Journal of the American Medical Association (July 26, 2000): “Of 13 countries in a recent (health) comparison, the United States (the most modern and advanced in the world) ranks an average of 12th (second from the bottom)…”

For example, the U.S. ranks:

· last for low birth weight

· last for neonatal and infant mortality overall

· 11th for post neonatal mortality

· last for years of potential life lost

· 11th for female life expectancy at one year, and next to last for males

· 10th for age adjusted mortality

The World Health Organization, using different indicators, ranked the U.S. 15th among 25 industrialized nations. (If ranked against “primitive” cultures eating and living as humans were designed, the whole industrialized world would be at the bottom of the heap.)

Some might say these dismal results are because of smoking, alcohol, cholesterol, animal fats and poor penetration of medical care. Not so. Countries where these health risks are greater have better overall health according to epidemiological studies. It’s also not due to lack of technology. The U.S. is, for example, second only to Japan in the number of magnetic resonance imaging units (MRIs) and computed tomography scanners per unit of population. Neither can lack of medical personnel be blamed since the U.S. has the greatest number of employees per hospital bed in the world.

So what is the problem? Here are some clues as revealed in the same journal cited above:

· 12,000 deaths per year from unnecessary surgery

· 7,000 deaths per year from medication errors in hospitals

· 20,000 deaths per year from other hospital errors

· 80,000 deaths per year from nosocomial (originating in a hospital) infections

· 106,000 deaths per year from adverse effects of medications

That totals 225,000 deaths per year, the third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer. Another study – we’re talking just hospital related deaths here – estimates 284,000 deaths per year. An analysis of outpatient care jumps these figures by 199,000 deaths for a new total of 483,000 medically related deaths per year. And this assumes doctors and hospitals eagerly report all their mistakes. Think so?

The poor health ranking in the U.S. is in large part not because of lack of modern medical care, it is because of it! This does not deny that each person’s life choices do not impact health as well. People cannot live with abandon and then expect anybody to fix it regardless of their technology and skills. You can imagine the frustration physicians must feel faced day-to-day with patients wanting a quick fix for a lifetime of unhealthy life choices. Be that as it may, it does not deny that modern medicine in and of itself is a huge risk to those who surrender to it.

Why do we not hear more about this? It is just too difficult to come to grips with the inevitable – and unbelievable – conclusion: When all the deaths (not counting the hundreds of thousands who are maimed or otherwise harmed but don’t die) reported and not reported are tallied, medical intervention is arguably the leading cause of death in our country.

Time to splash some cold water on the rely-on-modern-medicine inebriation. And remember folks, the above are just cold statistics. Take any one of these numbers and humanize it to the real pain, suffering, financial devastation, grief and family disruption, and each one is a heart rending story deserving of anyone’s deep concern and sympathy. It is a tragedy of a magnitude unequalled by anything in human history. And it’s repeated every year. It makes 9-11, all the deaths in all U.S. wars, deaths by auto, homicides and everything else pale in comparison. (Not to minimize the tragedy of each of those things.)

The media should be shouting about medical risks from atop their broadcast towers. But there is mostly silence, just reports in obscure (to the public) medical and scientific publications. In the meantime, trusting people keep flocking to the slaughter. From just 1995 to 2002, pharmaceutical sales jumped from $65 billion to over $200 billion. That’s about one prescription for each man, woman and child in the country every month. This escalation in medical dependency is paralleled in surgeries, lab tests, emergency room admissions, elective procedures and outpatient visits.

You can do something about it. Begin today to take control of your own health destiny. The philosophical paradigm of conventional, allopathic, symptom based, reductionistic, crisis care, episodic, after-the-fact medicine is seriously flawed … and very deadly. Good and well meaning doctors are hamstrung by wrong philosophical premises. They are crippled every bit as much as those who once believed in a flat Earth. Trying to achieve health with modern allopathic medicine is like trying to fix computers with a hammer, just because that’s the only tool you were taught to use or believe in.

Don’t wait for the system to change. Old ideas die too hard. The mega-medical industry is not going to be quick in either admitting error or revamping itself. Your health is at stake. Think prevention and natural holistic cure. Study, learn, grow, be skeptical, change lifestyle, be self-reliant – be a thinking person. That’s your best road to health.

For further reading, or for more information about, Dr Wysong and the Wysong Corporation please visit http://www.wysong.net or write to [email protected]. For resources on healthier foods for people including snacks, and breakfast cereals please visit [http://www.cerealwysong.com].

What Are Solar Roofing Shingles?

With all the incredible innovative advancements achieved over the past decade in solar technology, solar roofing is now more affordable than ever. This is thanks to solar shingles, which are a new roofing material that saves energy and reduces electricity costs for property owners. Continue reading to learn more about solar shingles, and where to get trusted roof installation advice for your home or building.

The Advent of Solar-Powered Roofing

In the past, most people would imagine big, blue, incandescent panels on the top of a house or building when thinking about solar power. But in today’s world, that is not the only option for home-based solar power anymore. On the other hand, that technology has been the inspiration for the dawn of a new and improved type of solar power known as solar shingles.

Solar roof shingles are basically photovoltaic cells that have been specifically designed to look like asphalt roof shingles. Their advent was a result of improvements made in the field of thin-film photovoltaics. Homeowners are pulled toward this technology for many reasons, as solar shingles provide a long list of benefits.

Benefits of Solar-Powered Roof Shingles

Solar shingles are flexible and lightweight, making them easy to install. When it comes to integrating them with customary asphalt shingles, the incorporation is virtually seamless; you can hardly tell the difference between one shingle and another, especially on roofing systems that are dark in color. In fact, they tend to look better on darker rooftops.

Not only are solar roof shingles aesthetically pleasing compared to the old, bulky solar-powered technology, they are also economically beneficial. They can save homeowners money on energy costs by increasing their home’s energy efficiency. Homeowners may even be eligible for certain solar tax credits.

Installation

In most cases, solar shingles are applied with an existing power grid to ensure that your home is powered even when there is no sun. In the fortunate case that you generate more power than you actually use, you might have the option of selling it back to the power company. Although solar shingles are known for their ease of installation, they can only be installed by qualified roofing contractors who are licensed and experienced in the industry.

In addition to a licensed roofing company, you will also need an electrician to hook everything up to your electrical system for you. Generally, you can expect them to install an “inverter,” which will convert the generated electrical current to standard AC power.

Talk to a Pro

Solar-powered roofing systems are costly upfront, but can render homeowners a lifetime of savings. Since it is a big investment, it is important to fully weigh your options before making a final purchasing decision. Talk to a local and trusted roofing contractor for professional advice and recommendations you can trust.

Emergency Tree Removal

It is a fact, hazardous weather conditions can cause trees to fall and create extremely dangerous situations. For this reason, declining trees that cannot be saved or dead trees in close proximity to residential properties should be removed before a windy storm can potentially knock them down. Every year, a significant number of trees fall on houses, automobiles, buildings, structures, power lines, etc. Many homeowners who face the unfortunate occurrence of a tree that has fallen and damaged their property are frantic and unaware of what to do. They think, hm…

  • Is this covered by my insurance company?
  • Is this my neighbor’s tree or my own?
  • If my tree falls into my neighbor’s yard, am I responsible and liable for the damage?
  • What about damage to my own property – am I covered?
  • Is a local tree service available immediately to remove the large tree that fell on my house?
  • How long will it take to fix the whole in my roof?
  • Who is responsible for fixing the whole in my roof, and at whose expense?

These are all very good and common questions that arise during an emergency situation. In most cases, it is an insurance company that is responsible for footing the bill for emergency tree removal. That is, if a tree falls on a structure such as a house, shed, fence, or car. This is generally when a home owner should contact their insurance company for help. Insurance companies have preferred vendor lists of local tree companies to provide the home owner. The home owner will call to obtain a free estimate to perform the work. In some cases when a tree falls on a house, an insurance company will provide the homeowner with a general contractor who is responsible for handling all aspects of repair, including finding a tree service. In some cases, if a home is located in an HOA, the association representative will handle the situation. Most of the time, this burden falls on a homeowner them self, and usually the tree company who responds the soonest and has the ability to perform the job the quickest are awarded with the task. Often, if a tree falls onto the roof of a house, a crane is required to help perform the removal. Tree companies with a fully staffed crane operator and their own crane are best suited for this type of tree removal.

If a tree falls through a house, the job is usually performed within hours of the occurrence, unless it is pouring down rain at 3am when it is dark outside. In this case, a tarp is usually put on the home, or the part of the house that was damaged is blocked off for the night until daylight. The estimate and emergency tree job is then completed when the sun rises that morning. It is much safer to perform emergency tree removals during daylight hours. There are many emergency tree removal scenarios, and local tree removal companies are immediately available for the customer. Once a fallen tree is removed from a house, a contractor will fix and enclose the whole in the roof. Fixing the whole in the roof is completed by different contractor, and is separate from the tree removal.

So what if it was my neighbor’s tree that fell onto my house, then who is responsible? This can be a dicey situation since neighbors want to keep a good relationship with each other. Technically, any part of a tree that has fallen on a persons property, it is that individuals responsibility. Therefore, it does not matter who’s tree it originally was when standing. There is one scenario that your neighbor could be responsible if it was originally their tree to begin with. That is if the neighbor was negligent and denied or rejected to remove a hazardous tree from their property after being told by someone. Then the burden can possibly fall onto them. The property that a fallen tree lays on generally determines who is responsible for cleanup.

To perform an operation as complicated as emergency tree work, tree services must have the appropriate expertise and equipment. There have been many times when large storms sweep through the DC metropolitan area and caused major tree damage. It is known that the tree service industry is one of the most dangerous in the world. Hiring a licensed, and fully insured professional tree service is an absolute necessity. Lives are lost, and major injuries occur every day in the tree service business. It is a priority to hire a reputable, experienced, and well equipped company that can get the work completed safely.

JL Tree Service – Tree Removal

Used Automobile Dealers Facing Tough Market Amid New Car Competition

Years ago, it appeared that purchasing a used automobile was a prudent and practical thing to do because it was much more affordable compared to acquiring a brand new vehicle. Fast forward to 2013, industry experts concur that used car dealerships are having a difficult time in this market as potential car owners are shifting towards new rather than used.

Speaking with The Nation in September, Somchai Trakulpirom, general manager of Master Certified Used Cars, noted that the used car industry needs to make adjustments in its business model and provide better offers than what is presently being offered by their counterparts.

The difficult market, for instance, is suggesting that consumers are buying because of the attractive promotions that are being listed, such as zero down payment, low interest, inexpensive bi-weekly or monthly payments and other special promotions – stronger offers are even expected as dealerships attempt to clear out their inventories.

Most of these heightened promotions have been running since the summer and have been fueled because of the federal government’s first-car-buy initiative launched last year. Dealers are looking to build upon its new car sales growth it has been experiencing for quite a while now.

In addition, with the rise of smaller, smart cars, they’re maintaining a price that is just as affordable as a superior, used vehicle model: the Chevrolet Spark LS is $12,995, Smart ForTwo Pure is $13,240 and the Nissan Versa S Sedan is $12,780.

Anuchart Deeprasert of the Thai Hire Purchase Association reported that finance lenders have found a 20 percent reduction in used car loans – other estimates suggest as much as 30 percent. However, the organization did say that it expects used car purchases to return to normal growth sometime next year.

Furthermore, used vehicles, according to Trakulpirom, consist of a depreciation rate of between 10 and 25 percent. This means bad debts equates to fewer loans and financial institutions are becoming fastidious in approving loans due to the large number of high rate of bad debts.

“For example, the first-car-buyer scheme, which at first looked attractive because of the increased production volume and cash flow, has been responsible for stealing future demand,” Trakulpirom told the news media outlet. “Some buyers made purchases under the scheme to make a direct profit, while some buyers who would not be able to afford a vehicle in normal conditions are now facing difficulties in paying the monthly installments, and are allowing the vehicles to be repossessed by the finance companies, resulting in a large number of bad debts.”

He added: “If finance companies have a large number of repossessed vehicles, they will be more careful with loan approvals and deny more applications. Demand for used cars is now controlled by financing requirements.”

Last month, forecasters and analysts predicted softer prices and an enhanced used vehicle selection in 2014. This is due in part to the sheer number of eight- to 12-year-old cars that currently need to be replaced. Although most concur that prices of used vehicles will not plummet, it is believed that smaller and mid-sized cars will experience the highest price drop because of competition in that market base.

Nevertheless, with the Motor Expo 2013 gearing up, auto manufacturers and dealers may unite and increase its promotions, such as a low-down-payment offer for civil servants and state-enterprise officers as well as even a grace period.

The sales of 98,000 vehicles per month are surely an incentive for both manufacturer and dealer to persist in running these campaigns to draw in more consumers throughout 2014.

How to Choose An Expert HVAC Technician

Your HVAC system is like your car. Your car needs routine maintenance to keep it running well through the years. Your heating and air conditioning system needs routine maintenance to keep it running through the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter.

You also need a qualified HVAC contractor if you are installing a new central heating or air conditioning system. Central HVAC installs are generally out of the realm of do-it-yourself projects for the average person.

So you go online and your soon find two dozen contractors that service and install air conditioners and heating systems.

How do you find the right HVAC tech for your job?

Homework

Generally speaking, every state will have specific requirements regarding licensing for HVAC Technicians and Contractors. For instance, in California, if you service, install, and/or repair air conditioning and heating systems you have to be licensed with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB).

Make sure that an HVAC technician is properly licensed by your state and meets all the basic requirements for doing business in your state. For instance, most states in the U.S. will require an AC and Heating Company to be licensed and bonded.

Ask for Referrals and References

In the age of Yelp reviews, people tend to forget about the good ole fashioned referral, but referrals are one of the strongest ways to find a good service company. Chances are your neighbors, your co-workers, and your family all have Central AC and Central Heating Systems. And all of them have used an air conditioning and heating technician to repair or service their system.

So ask them for a referral.

When you are calling prospective air conditioning and heating companies, be sure to ask for references. Asking for references is standard operating practice when dealing with any type of service company. That goes for construction, plumbing, or HVAC.

If a company does not want to, or cannot provide references? Don’t use them.

If a company gives you references? Make sure you call them. Sounds obvious but many people ask for references and then fail to follow up to make sure those references are valid.

Get Estimates in Writing

For larger jobs, like a major heating system overhaul or new air conditioner install be sure to get a couple estimates from a couple different companies.

The general rule says, Get 3 Estimates. For major jobs you may want to get more than three. Make sure every estimate is written and itemized. If a company gives you an estimate for a central air conditioner installation and it consists of a single item “AC Install” and a flat rate with no accounting for labor time, parts, etc then you probably don’t want to deal with them.

What if you just need a routine AC and heating maintenance? An in person estimate may be a bit extreme. Referrals, homework, and phone estimates may suffice. But you’ll still want to get any service agreements in writing.

Most HVAC companies offer yearly service plans or service contracts where a technician will come out twice a year to service your air conditioner and heating system (i.e. furnace) for a flat fee. Those fees usually range from $50 to $100 a year.

Don’t Be Swayed By Brand Names

Air Conditioner and furnace makers put a lot of money and time into marketing. Marketing that is largely designed to give you the impression that Furnace Y is better than Furnace X. The truth of the matter is that brand name matters a lot less when it comes to HVAC.

What makes a difference? The competency and experience of your HVAC company and their technicians.

3 Tips When Choosing A Window Tinting Service for Auto or Residential Window Tinting

Are you looking to get window tinting for your car, truck or SUV? Or perhaps you are even considering getting the windows tinted on your home or office to save on energy bills? Either way, it is important to know what to look for in a window tinting provider, otherwise you might not be happy with the outcome. In this article, I will outline 3 things that you can factor into your search to hopefully end up with a result that you are happy with.

1) The first thing that you should consider when looking for a window tinting service is whether or not you are in their service area. Since these companies usually work out of garages for auto jobs, you need to make sure they are close by or you are willing to make the drive their. Alternatively, if you are looking to get your home or office done, you need to make sure they are willing to come to you to do the job. Don’t waste time researching companies that don’t serve you. This should be one of the first things you look at.

2) When it comes to window tint, there are a couple different things that can cause the cost to vary. One is the product itself, in this case, the type of tint you are looking for. Some brands or types of tint are not as high quality as others, and therefore cost less. You should consider which kind of tint you want to use early in the process so that you can shop around for better deals. In addition to the tint cost, there will be labor charges, and this is where there will usually be a bigger difference between providers. Once you know what type of window tint you want, shop around and get some estimates from different companies so that you can see who offers the best deal, and go with them as long as they meet your other criteria.

3) Lastly but still very important, is to look at online reviews. You will be able to find out so much about a company by reading reviews from other customers of theirs. It can be very telling, and many times you will even find a review from a customer who was getting the same product or services that you plan on getting. So seeing their opinion and experience can really help you gain some insight into what it would be like to use this particular company. It is also good to do this because window tinting providers can sometimes be one-man companies who do this out of a van or are on a very low budget. So it’s good to know whether or not they are reliable business men and can deliver the service in the way that you expect.

Following these 3 simple steps will surely help you to find one of the best choices for a window tint provider in your area. As long as you do your research and spend a little time focusing on the finer points, you will most likely be very happy with the end result.

Are You A Street-Smart Consumer – Take This Quiz

The ability to find the lowest price and best value is both an art and science. The science comes from the ability to comparison shop prices, quality and value for the dollar.

The art comes in your skill at smelling out good bargains others walk over without noticing. The art also comes from your ability to negotiate down the price or negotiate up extra-unadvertised services or other perks.

To find out where you stand on the Street-Smart consumer ladder take this short quiz.

1. I use a shopping list before going to the supermarket.

2. I get at least 3 estimates before making a buying decision.

3. I purchase at least 25% on merchandise that’s out of season?

4. I am a label reader most of the time.

5. The larger of a quantity I buy – the more of a discount I expect most of the time.

6. The cheapest price is not always the best value.

7. The best way to tell if a business has any complaints against it is to contact the Better Business Bureau.

8. Laws don’t protect you if you neglect protecting yourself.

9. I check my credit reports at least once each year.

10. I avoid buying clothes that force me to buy expensive accessories with them to look decent.

11. I avoid buying clothing whose styles change from year to year.

12. I check clothing labels for fiber content, care and cleaning instructions before buying.

13. The easiest and most effective way to reduce auto repair cost is through preventive maintenance.

14. Regular oil changes is the most important action you can do to protect your car’s engine and make it last longer

15. Buying a dependable used car can save you several thousand dollars off on new car depreciation.

16. Before signing any contract, I make sure I have all promises in writing.

17. I know the importance of negotiation and do it on big-ticket items.

18. I save money on insurance by carrying a larger deductible than the minimum.

19. I avoid buying items with my credit card I can’t pay off in 30 days or less.

20. I have a monthly budget and stick to it each month.

21. I review my monthly budget each month to see how well I did.

22. I avoid trying to keep up with the Jones.

Now that you’ve finished, review each question and give yourself 1 point for each yes answer. See the graph below for your results.

15 -21 yes answers

You are a street-smart consumer.

12-15

You are moving in the right direction to street-smart consumerism. Pay more attention to how you approach your purchases and how you spend your money.

9-12

You’re missing opportunities to save more money by a lack of information and/or desire to save. Take the time to get and practice the money saving information that’s available.

5-8

It’s hard to save money if you ranked in this category, but all is not lost. If you pick up the pace now by reading and studying solid money saving information you can get on the road to bigger savings.

1-5

If you landed in this category, either you have your own software company, you’re a distant cousin of Bill Gates or you don’t like money. However, if you like to have more money in your pocket you have to make a commitment to saving money. It doesn’t just happen. Find someone to help you, a mentor, a financial counselor or one of the many free financial services offered in most cities.

Congratulations on taking the time to take this quiz. Wherever your result or the category you landed in, it was the goal of this message to inform you. Now you can make any mid-course corrections to get on the road or further down the road to saving more money.