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Realistic coupon guide!

Confused by lots of e-offers and need a simple, straightforward site to help you get the biggest savings? Over at The Simple Dollar they have created a coupon guide that is easy to use and integrate into daily living. Head over and see!

7 Finance mistakes that will ruin your business

Poor financial mistakes can lead to massive debt, restricted cash flow and becoming a substandard credit risk. These issues can hurt your business and prevent it from prospering. You may have to close your business and work for someone else because you don’t have the funds, or the access to funds, to carry your business through slow economic periods and hardships. Plan ahead to avoid many decisions that have severely hurt business. If you are a small business owner here are seven financial mistakes you should avoid to ensure your company stays in good financial health.
You should use solutions such as SWIFT payments that specializes in multi-banking connectivity. A good piece of software like SWIFT means that everything can be done on one standard platform, meaning you can receive integrated messaging from all the banks you have accounts with to have a better picture of the combined financial data and help manage finances. These advisers want to help others avoid those pitfalls. Small business owners who don’t seek advice and guidance of knowledgeable individuals tend to struggle more and are at a greater risk for failure.

1. Not taking an accounting course: One of the most important ways to understand how your business is doing financially is by monitoring company budget and financial records. In order to understand all the numbers and categories, you need to have knowledge of accounting methods. This is important to prevent accounting errors if you are going to manage your own books, or to catch fraud or other problems if you hire an accountant to do it.
2. Buying non-essential items: A problem some small business face is “ego” purchases like buying fine furniture for the waiting area and paintings to put on the office walls to impress visitors. Restrict purchases to essential items like equipment, personnel, and sales material to help you grow your business until you have enough funds to purchase non-essential items without creating cash flow problems.
3. Not creating a streamlined method for banking: If you have international clients you may require multiple banks to make and receive payments. These will mean multiple account statements and procedures that can be confusing and time-consuming.
4. Avoiding the tax bill: You might be able to avoid the bill for a couple of years, but you will, in time, have to pay all the past taxes plus interest and penalty fees. If you can’t pay or make payment arrangements, the assets of the business could be taken and sold to settle the debt. You will also severely restrict your cash flow for future years while paying past taxes which could also drive you out of business.
5. Not seeking financial advice and guidance: There are government and private resources available to help small business people through the process of starting and managing a company. Many of these people are current or retired small business owners who have been successful in operating a business in the past and have learned first-hand about the pitfalls and risks associated with starting a business.
6. Using personal debt for business purposes: Debt can be a useful tool to help your business grow, if used appropriately. Avoid using credit cards and personal loans to pay for business items. The cost of credit is generally a lot higher with personal credit than it is with commercial credit sources and you are risking your personal assets in case something goes wrong and the business fails. Any debt you arrange should be based on the assets and cash flow of the business so you don’t end up losing your home, as well as your business, if the company fails.
7. Using business funds for personal items: One reason people go into business is because they dream of fine restaurants, expensive cars, and big homes once they become successful. However, the temptation to dip into business funds can be strong to pay for things they want and should be avoided because it will drain company funds and put the business at risk.

Avoid these detrimental financial mistakes and keep your business moving towards success.

Cool furniture repurposing ideas

Do you have old and unused piece in the house? Perhaps you can’t throw it out due to emotional attachment. Don’t worry! We understand that you want to do something productive with it and add some life to your house at the same time. The perfect solution? Repurpose your furniture. All you need is to be a little creativity. Here are some ideas:
Ladder it up Have a spare small wooden stepladder in your house, taking up storage space? Use any vibrant spray paint to decorate the ladder – bright and splashy, or low key and neutral. When you are finished painting, fix the stepladder on any bare wall in the house. This will function as a display mantel and an instant crowd pleaser.
Front door, or coffee table? I have an amazing idea of turning a front door into a customized coffee table for anywhere in the house. You will be giving your old door a new life. Have your wooden door polished, glue it to four legs and voila! - a coffee table.
Suitcase Have a wooden or any trendy suitcase that is too pretty to use? Clean your suitcase or give it a polish if necessary and put it on a structure with legs like all other dressing tables have. Now you have an antique and a very different dressing or side table – great for storage.
French doors Don’t you just love and adore French doors? They can also be used as tables. Attach the door to legs, and give it a nice finish and get ready to brag.
Chair or drinks holder Have a spare chair in your room that takes up a lot of space and isn’t used? Take out its cushion and drill a hole in it big enough to accommodate your drinks pitcher – ready for your next party.
Wallpaper table Reuse an old damaged table just by covering it with any floral or simple wallpaper. It will look stylish, exquisite and smart.
Bookshelf table You can also turn a built-up wire spindle into a blend bookstand and coffee table.
For more new and innovative home decor ideas, visit

Your wedding: staying on budget

While planning a wedding can be creative, fun and stressful in equal measures, one of the biggest elements likely to cause arguments and disappointments if it’s not sorted out early on is the budget.
It’s important to decide who is paying for what, from the start, and write down the budget so that it’s really clear to everyone involved. If you are paying for the wedding between you, you need to agree on how much you both think is reasonable. If your parents or relatives are contributing to the wedding, carefully consider if the money gives them any kind of level of influence on how you actually spend that money and if so, your comfort level with that.
Once you have established the ground rules for the budget, break it into all of the key elements to make sure you both have the same vision for how much all of the details will cost. Identify the most vital elements first, as it is really easy to get carried away spending money on things that really don’t matter, like expensive linens, or invitation designs. What you need to make sure you budget for is a ceremony venue, wedding cloths for the couple, and the rings. These vital elements should be budgeted for as the first priority. After these, everything else is really optional according to your theme, size of budget left and number of guests you want to invite. Other items typically involved in the big day include a photographer, reception venue, food and drink and the honeymoon. These are really expected elements for any wedding and although they can vary in cost depending on your theme and numbers. Don’t forget that many venues will require a deposit to be paid, and you may have to do the same for the dress and rings.
Moving down the scale on importance, but not necessarily cost, if you are planning to buy flowers for the venue, reception venue and of course a bridal bouquet, these can quickly add up and become an expensive part of the day. Talk to your florist to find out what the less expensive options might be (such as using native flowers in season). If you are staying overnight at a hotel the night before or after the wedding or perhaps both, then this will also need to be paid for and it’s worth being very clear on who is paying for any relatives’ accommodation to avoid any surprises when you get the hotel bill after the event.
Transport is another expense  – have you hired an expensive car just to take you 100 yards from the church to the reception? If so, it may be worth reconsidering. Bear in mind if there is any distance between the venues you may have to consider coach hire for your guests as well. Consider having the ceremony and reception at the same venue.
Have any budget left? Other pricey elements of a wedding you may consider include invitations, cake, table decorations, favours and dresses, hair/makeup and presents for your bridesmaids, honeymoon clothes, entertainment/music… the possibilities are endless.
Finally, stay focused on the important aspect of the day – your soon-to-be spouse. Be realistic: being in debt for a one-day party is really no way to start your life together.

Easy chocolate cake recipe (with a little history thrown in)

When many of us we were children, our very own “tightwad” parents were feeding us mountains of carrots and green leafy veggies onto our plates as an inexpensive and easy way to ensure we’d have healthy vision as we grew. But, like Popeye and his can of spinach, some of these tales were bit far fetched. Was eating plenty of carrots, full of essential vitamins and nutrients for health and strong eyesight, the really the right path to perfect 20/20 vision?
Look at it this way (ha ha), when some of our grandparents were coming of age during WWII, countries were experiencing government-mandated food shortages. War rations included basic necessities such as sources of dairy and protein.
As households were struggling to make do without their usual amounts of these ingredients, the government war machine released a story like this one, about an RAF fighter pilot nicknamed “Cat Eyes,” for his propensity to shoot down enemy aircraft at night (19/20 of which were downed were in the dark). This campaign was likely released to be effective on a number of different levels: It promoted the Victory Garden movement, (but that is a different post for another time). Carrots and other leafy green vegetables could help children and adults see in the dark, and that vegetables contain sugar, missed during the time of war rations. By doing so, eating more carrots would be seen as helping the war effort. 
Meanwhile other sources of sustenance were utilized as households dealt with the allocated war rations. Who hasn’t heard of apple pie made with crackers instead of apples? They used restrictions as opportunities to create new recipes that helped to ease the pain of having no sugar or chocolate.
Here is an easy chocolate cake recipe that doesn’t require eggs or milk. 
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar (it reacts with the soda and makes the cake fluffier)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cold water 
Combine dry ingredients into a non-greased 13 x 9” baking pan. Make three small “wells” into the dry ingredients with the back of a spoon, one larger than the other two. Into the largest one, pour in the measured vegetable oil. In the other two, measure and place vinegar into one and the vanilla extract into the other. Pour two cups of cold water over the mixture and combine with a fork. Bake at 375o for about 30 to 40 minutes. Check that it’s baked with a toothpick inserted into the centre and when it comes out clean - take it out to cool. Frost if you like but it’s great by itself.

Get your quiche on!

Tightwad has never met anyone who doesn't like quiche. It's an inexpensive way to get some protein in your family and keep a tight inventory on stuff in your fridge. Some call that a "mash up." Here's a quick recipe that will have you wondering why you never thought of making this easy dish before. 

- Preheat oven to 350o degrees 
- Sauté whatever veggies you want to add (to reduce water content)
- Take the two frozen pie shells you bought earlier (!) out of the packaging (deeper shells are better) and put on a sheet pan (or go crust-less by pouring mixture directly into pie plate)
- Mix 6 eggs and 2 cups of milk (that's 3 eggs and one cup of milk per shell) in a large bowl
- Grate cheese, add to mixture
- Season with salt and pepper (and whatever else... maybe you want to use dill?
- Add cooled sautéed veggies and meat if you plan to
- Combine everything with a whisk
- Ladle into pie shell
- Bake approximately 45 minutes
- Check it is cooked and remove from oven and let cool a bit before serving to set

Cheese ideas: Cheddar, Parmesan, Swiss, blue
Meat ideas: ham, cooked pieces chicken, cooked pieces of beef, bacon, salmon
Vegetable ideas: sautéed mushrooms, spinach, bell peppers, minced garlic, red onion, capers, asparagus...

The possibilities are endless. Here are some examples:

Once you get a "feel" for the recipe you can really experiment! What are your tips for making the perfect quiche?