Tuesday, November 24, 2009

If you haven't already pulled your Thanksgiving turkey out of the freezer, than today is the day. According to USDA the following time is necessary to thaw a turkey:

Fact Sheets

Poultry Preparation

Let's Talk Turkey—A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey
Fresh or Frozen?

Fresh Turkeys
  • Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.
  • Buy your turkey only 1 to 2 days before you plan to cook it.
  • Keep it stored in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook it. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak.
  • Do not buy fresh pre-stuffed turkeys. If not handled properly, any harmful bacteria that may be in the stuffing can multiply very quickly.

Frozen Turkeys
  • Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.
  • Keep frozen until you're ready to thaw it.
  • Turkeys can be kept frozen in the freezer indefinitely; however, cook within 1 year for best quality.
  • See "Thawing Your Turkey" for thawing instructions.

Frozen Pre-Stuffed Turkeys

USDA recommends only buying frozen pre-stuffed turkeys that display the USDA or State mark of inspection on the packaging. These turkeys are safe because they have been processed under controlled conditions.

Image of seal of inspection for poultry DO NOT THAW before cooking. Cook from the frozen state. Follow package directions for proper handling and cooking.

Allow 1¼ pounds of turkey per person.
Thawing Your Turkey

There are three ways to thaw your turkey safely — in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave oven.

In the Refrigerator (40 °F or below)
Allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds
4 to 12 pounds 1 to 3 days
12 to 16 pounds 3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds 4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds 5 to 6 days

Keep the turkey in its original wrapper. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. If necessary, a turkey that has been properly thawed in the refrigerator may be refrozen.

In Cold Water
Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound
4 to 12 pounds 2 to 6 hours
12 to 16 pounds 6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pounds 8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 pounds 10 to 12 hours

Wrap your turkey securely, making sure the water is not able to leak through the wrapping. Submerge your wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Do not refreeze.

In the Microwave Oven
  • Check your owner's manual for the size turkey that will fit in your microwave oven, the minutes per pound, and power level to use for thawing.
  • Remove all outside wrapping.
  • Place on a microwave-safe dish to catch any juices that may leak.
  • Cook your turkey immediately. Do not refreeze or refrigerate your turkey after thawing in the microwave oven.

REMINDER: Remove the giblets from the turkey cavities after thawing. Cook separately.

Friday, November 20, 2009

10 things that you didn't know Google could do!

Everyone knows Google! Even the verb to "google" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary on June 15, 2006. It's the standard for searching information on the internet. But few people are aware of how powerful it really is. Here is a list of tricks that you probably didn't know google can do in addtion to regular website searches, shopping and Gmail.
(Click on Pics to enlarge)

1.) Calculations- google can perform basic math functions.

2.) Conversions-Most units of measure can be converted.

3.) Spellcheck- Just type a word in google, and it will present you with the right spelling.

4.) Correct addresses - If you type a partial address in Google it can correct it for you.

5.) Translate- google has the ability to translate phrases and documents in maost major languages.

6.) Flight Status- You can check a flight Status right from google.

7.) Stock Quotes- You can Type Ticker Symbols Directly into google.

8.) Population- Google can identify populations of Citys, States, Country's, ect.

9.) Bus Routes- Google can provide public transportation info.

10.) Free 411- google has its own free directory service like 411.

And if thats not enough, they also Store Medical Records, create and share online docs, Host Blogging, provide voice over IP chat, a virtual library, and even more.

Now we just need it to make me us toast in the morning. How do you use google?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Budgeteer

I never really understood budgeting until recently, but now "Budgeting" is my new hero. It allows me to easily set aside money for large expenses, and prevents me from running out of cash before each payday.

With tools like my Ginzu Paycheck Slicer, I can confidently spend money without worrying about over drawing my account. It's so simple, that I don't know how I ever lived without it.

"Budgeting Guarantees that you only spend what you have, and nothing more."

How to become a Budgeteer
Making a Budget is simple, all you have to do is plan how to spend you money before you spend it. Some people use envelopes, others may manage an elaborate spreadsheet. Below is the method that works for me:

On each payday I simply transfer my cost of living from each paycheck into a bill pay account where my reoccurring monthly expenses are automatically deducted. Anything left over is put into the Ginzu Paycheck Slicer, where it can be divided up to accommodate all my irregular expenses and spending. I can list any upcoming expenses, and then distribute the money that I have accordingly. I also include a line item for personal spending money, and a line item for miscellaneous or unforeseen expenses to act as a just-in-case buffer. After a few minutes of working with my Ginzu Paycheck Slicer my Budget is complete. I know where all of my money is going, and that everything has been accounted for, without spending a single penny.

Are you a "Budgeteer?" Comment on methods that work for you.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Commercial Staging Areas

This weekend, I'll be trying a new decluttering/money making technique called "Staging Areas." Sounds cool right! It involves marking three 4' x 4' squares on the floor of the garage with blue painters tape. These squares designate items to be Sold, Donated, or Thrown Away. Next, I'll search the house for items to fit each staging area.

Items that are no longer wanted, but may be of value to sombody else, can be sold by:
  • Ebay -Small niche items easily shipped
  • Craigslist -Large bulky items difficult to ship
  • Garage Sale -Big ticket items that can be sold quickly
Anything that can't be sold should be put in the Donate area. Consider going through your closet and boxing up anything that you can no longer wear, or that you haven't worn in the last year. When you have enough for a trip to the goodwill, just back up you car to the staging area, and load up. Remember to get a reciept for the tax write off.

Throw Away/Recycle
Anything that the can't be donated should be place in the Throw Away/Recycle area. This are should be disposed of weekly with you garbage or with frequent trips to the dump. There is absolutely no reason to hang on to trash. Recycle if possible some places my even pay you for items such as scrap metal.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Gas Money Metaphor

I believe that a car's fuel gauge is coincidentally accurate at depicting personal finance habits. Like a checking account, the contents of your gas tank fluctuate. If you just filled up on payday, the sky is the limit and money grows on trees. But towards the end of the pay period, you might be praying not to run out of gas, while trying to locate change in the seat cushions.

Most of us have experienced both extremes, but we usually have a low gas comfort limit before refueling. Below are some typical limits and my interpretations of correlating spending habits. How long do you wait before refilling on average?

Rolling on Fumes
If you're known for coasting up to the pump in neutral on the cars last breath of gas, than you probably also known for blowing your paycheck within a few days, and find youself scrounging until next payday. Don't worry you're are not alone.

No need to stop for gas, there's still a quarter tank
You probably pay you bills on time, and can manage your day to day expenses, but you still live paycheck to paycheck, and have little to no savings. Congratulations you are part of the majority.

I've got a half tank but who knows how far to the next station
Not only are you in complete control of your finances, but you also have a little nest egg of savings. You are better at managing your finances than most, and could probably teach others a thing or two.

I'm already at three quarters of a tank, I thought I just filled up?
You live well below your means and in addition to savings, you have a little spending money for hobbies and capital ventures.You are part of an elite group of well balanced personal finance aficionados.

Its a rental..... filled to the brim or else they'll charge me
You're a paranoid penny pincher, you save all of your money and don't do anything fun for yourself. You may even plan your routes on Gasbuddy.com to maximize every refueling. Its nice to have a full tank, but feel free to let your hair down.

There's an extra gas can fastened to the bumper
In addition to the other limits, there are those uber prepared who carry an extra gas can for emergencies. Carrying an extra gas can shows your willingness to be prepared for the unknown, but does not guarantee that you are financially responsible.

Again these are only my observations. Feel free to comment on how you drive, and whether I'm on target or out in left field.

Friday, November 6, 2009

How to turn $100 into a Partime Job

After reading "Best Ways To Invest Small Amounts of Money" on The Digerati Life, I started thinking about what to do with $100.00, and how to earn the best return on such a small investment.

"A lot of us don’t have much money to spare. Sometimes you may find yourself with an extra $100; maybe someone finally paid you back for a long-forgotten debt (it’s happened to me!) or your mom sent you over a cash gift for your birthday. Or chances are, it’s just an extra $100 rattling around in your bank account that could find better use somewhere else." -By Silicon Valley Blogger-

$100 is a perfect number. It is enough money to be substantial, but not enough to be out of reach for most people. If have ever come across $100 dollars and asked yourself what to do with it, than here is my list of how to turn $100 into income."

  • Valet Car Wash- Get yourself some cheap business cards, and print some fliers offering to wash peoples cars while they are at work. Provide a copy of your license and proof that you are insured to drive their car. Take it to a public hand wash or a "touchless" car wash. Then return with a nice shiny car to collect payment.

  • Buy a vending Machine- A simple gumball machine can be purchased used or new for around $100. Convince a local mom and pop restaurant or convenience store to keep it by their front counter for a percentage of the profits.

  • Walk/Feed Dogs- Make some fliers, get yourself a leash, poop bags, and dog treats. You could walk/feed dogs for people on vacation or at work.

  • Become a Barber - In college, I knew a guy who bought some clippers, scissors and supplies for cutting hair. All of us starving college students lined up around the block to get a cheap buzz cut.

  • Start Blogging- Build yourself a blog using Blogger, and start using adsense. If it becomes popular, buy a domain name and/or web hosting.

  • Be a Handyman -If you have basic tools laying around the house and are handy, consider doing simple handyman repairs. Post signs on telephone poles in retirement communities.

  • Dance/fitness/martial arts instructor - If you are athletic try holding classes in a public park and advertise.

  • English tutor- If you are fortunate enough to speak another language, consider teaching English to non native speakers, at public meeting areas or your local Starbucks.

  • Computer Tech Support- Setting up a Pay per minute phone is easy and only costs a few dollars a month. Just Google it and you'll find tons of companies willing to get you started.

  • Window Washer- Get some industrial sized bottles of Windex and a squeegee and print some fliers.

  • Knife Sharpener- Purchase a electric sharpener and a inverter for the car, or a nice hand sharpener. Show up at restaurants at off peak hours, and offer to sharpen their cutlery.

  • Furniture Mover- This works better if you have a friend, but many people appreciate a helping hand when moving, especially if you have a truck.

  • Ride to the Airport- If you are a punctual person with a car, consider picking up people from their house and driving them to the airport. All you need is a cell phone, email address, and advertising.

  • House Cleaning- Load your vacuum in the car, and by some cleaning supplies. With a little word of mouth advertising you could make some extra cash on a regular basis.

Some times the best ideas are the simplest, with just a little creativite advertizing and you could have a secondary income for under $100.