The Most Useful Car Websites You Have Never Heard Of

2 Jun

We all know about Uber and Lyft, but what if there were services to help you with the rest of the issues we have to deal with when it comes to our cars? My 10 year old sports car was really costing me a lot of money to keep it running. After a month of trying, I was so grateful to sell it. But what to do next? I was carless with an hour commute to work; luckily I found a few very helpful websites that made my life easier.

I was test driving and researching cars, the process seemed daunting and I didn’t want to feel rushed. In the meantime a rental car was going to cost a fortune. I was considering a Prius, so I decided to rent a different type of Prius for a week at a time, in order to try them out. Turo is an amazing app that allows you to rent cars from individuals, sort like Uber for car rental. Discounts of up to 25% are given with a weekly rental length. I started with a late model Prius-C which cost me about $200 for the week. I really liked the car but it was a little noisy on the freeway, and was missing a few bells and whistles. Next I rented a late model Prius-V for a week at about $180. I was able to find it down the street from my house, and picked it up at 11 p.m. around my schedule. I really liked this car, with my stop-and-go driving I got even more amazing gas mileage. While I enjoyed the satellite radio, I decided that the one feature I couldn’t live without in my next car was a backup camera. Unfortunately this car had a missing headlight from a recent accident. I guess you can’t have everything in a Turo rental car.

I didn’t want a huge car payment and I also didn’t want to be stuck with a lease for 3 years. I discovered Leasetrader.com a website that serves as sort of a platform for people who want to get in and out of existing car leases. I found that many of the cars listed weren’t available, but after vetting a few cars in person the third one I saw did the trick. It was a 2015 Standard Prius in a charcoal grey with only 10k miles on it, and it had a backup camera. The owner was moving out of the country, and 18 months remained on the lease. Leasetrader ran a credit check on me and I passed. I would be taking over the $270/month payment on a virtually new car with no down payment required. The miles allowed were still 26k for the remainder of the lease as the owner hadn’t done much driving. This was the perfect solution for my long work commute. I would now have to wait a few weeks for the paperwork to go through Toyota Financial. Leasetrader took a $150 commission from me the buyer, and $150 from the seller. Toyota Financial took a $200 transfer fee from me. The seller was so gracious and allowed me to take the car early during the paperwork process. I once again had a car to drive, this time it was mine.

While I waited for the paperwork to clear, I wanted to be sure the car was in good running condition, just to be safe. I was unable to leave work to get to a mechanic for very long. I found Yourmechanic.com. With a $20 first time user coupon, I prepaid for an inspection. The total cost was about $65 and the mechanic came to my work the next day. My mechanic Lucas spent about 30 minutes inspecting the car, looking under the hood and test driving it. He explained that the car was in good condition with great tire tread and brake pads but the brake fluid seemed a little low. He even went over the manufacturer warranty with me since I didn’t really understand it. This service was such a convenience.

It took a few weeks of car website ingenuity, but I am so happy to have my new Prius. And I owe it all to these helpful websites that guided me along the way.

Wedding Technology Goes Beyond Pinterest

23 Feb

So you are planning to get married and everything should be at your fingertips, right? If only it were so easy to navigate through the sea of wedding apps without iWedding burnout. Hopefully these tips from a wedding pro-turned bride will help guide you to apps that will truly help to make life easier and narrow down the vast world of weddings.

The Ring! If you are a groom and you have yet to propose, check out Ritani.com. This website has an endless supply of loose diamonds and settings at affordable prices. The best part? Most are IGI Certified and appraised so that you know exactly what you are getting. Plus this is one of the largest diamond brokers out there, so Ritani has the ability to offer lower prices than most retailers. And you don’t have to rely on some photo online either. Simply get approved on your credit card (no charge) and have it shipped to a local partner store where you can view the ring or stone with no obligation. Just like retailers, Ritani offers no-interest financing. No, I’m not a spokesperson, I’m just a grateful bride who stumbled on this website. My ring is beautiful!

The List! Start with a guest list, it will guide all the decisions you will make, particularly budget. There are tons of different guestlist apps, but the best is still good old Microsoft Excel. The spreadsheet will be most versatile to send to vendors, have the in-laws add to, and check off those gifts and RSVP’s. Google Docs made my life so much easier. Whether adding a name to the guest list while at the office or at home, I could jump on the web to quickly make the change.

The Dress! Lookbook by the Knot is an absolutely amazing app with over 9,000 dresses that can be searched by price, style, fit, designer, fabric and even location where it can be found. It can even give you suggestions based on favorites selected. This app was my favorite part of planning my wedding.

Your Checklist! Planning a wedding can get overwhelming, even if you have hired a wedding planner. If you want to keep all your tools together stick with the Knot. If you want a checklist that you can customize and rearrange by date, try the WedHappy app. It’s a very customizable wedding task manager that will help you to keep track of your checklist, hired vendors and payments. I don’t think the app serves to budget effectively, but it can track total payments once you enter them.

Registry! We all know about Macy’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, Pottery Barn, etc. But what about all those other items you would love, but aren’t available on the store registries you selected? Have no fear, the mega registry websites are here! Sites like Zola, myregistry, simpleregistry and blueprint allow you to host your registry and choose from an endless array of items from all over the internet. I do suggest you play with these newer registry apps at length, they do have some minimal drawbacks in keeping track of guest purchases all over the Internet. I also suggest you register at a minimum of one traditional registry, so that guests who want a storefront or who want to shop somewhere more familiar will feel comfortable.

Your own wedding app! There’s an app for everything else, why not for you, the bride and groom? For about $50 you can create your own wedding app through Appy Couple. We used ours to link directly to our hotel room block webpage, tell guests about airports, shuttle, our registries, and other wedding weekend festivities. Plus it’s very easy to customize, though customization does need to be done from your computer, not your smart phone or tablet..

Happy Apping, and Happy Wedding!

 

What You Need To Know About A Destination Wedding in Mexico

27 Jan

So what does a big-time Los Angeles Wedding and Event Planner do when it’s time for her to get married? Elope. Well sort of… like many of the people in our industry, 10 years working the back end of elaborate and over-the-top weddings sort of takes the magic out of having your own. My fiancé and I decided that our wedding was going to be more of an intimate event about uniting in marriage as opposed to a big elaborate wedding… apparently this still meant 80 of our closest friends and family in Cabo San Lucas. I’d like to share the planning stages and what I learned about planning a destination wedding. This will be more relevant if you are planning to invite more than a handful of guests, and you have higher expectations than what you could throw together within a months time. And yes, we were planning a full Destination Wedding in Mexico, not just a $5,000 fiesta.

  1. First, I hired a planner. Jessica really knows the area, understands the all-inclusive hotel wedding market and the local wedding professionals. She is a native Californian who speaks fluent Spanish and lives in Cabo San Lucas. I found her in the same way that you might find a destination planner, on Google. Then I read her online reviews. If you would like to check her out http://caboweddingservices.com the company is run by Jessica and her Mom, Tammy and they have an office in Cabo. You need someone to really put in the time for you down in Mexico, unless you plan to make half a dozen planning trips yourself. The cost will run you a few thousand dollars in but will be well worth the countless hours that will be put in on your behalf.
  1. Here are the areas that you may find frustrating in planning your wedding. Much of Mexico is trying to increase floral exports. This means that you CANNOT bring flowers with you on a plane, and you cannot order most imported flowers. Local flowers in Cabo are limited and expensive. Expect tropical flowers, roses and orchids and to pay about twice the price that you would in a large city like Los Angeles. If you are from the Midwest, plan to at least quadruple your floral budget back home. I really liked communicating with Baja Flowers because they do a lot of big weddings and events, and have more access to a selection of different types of flowers than some smaller florists it seems.

Many resorts and restaurants will not allow any live amplified music outdoors. I found this sad, as I had always wanted a live band. A wedding planner is also important here, because unlike in the U.S. you may find that the power at many resorts won’t be sufficient for a full band and you will need a generator.

Churches and chapels are not easy to book. In order to get married in Cabo at one of these houses of worship, you need a signed document from your local clergy for both you and your fiancé. And that house of worship must be the same sect of Christianity in Cabo. This goes for actual Priests and Preachers as well. Many will not marry you at the beach or a resort, and you will have to find a non-religious minister or religious minister not affiliated with a specific church in Mexico.

In my opinion the photographers in Cabo that are $2,000-3,500 are not as skilled as I would have expected. This is one area where it might really be worth paying to fly in a photographer. The selction of wedding photographers in resort cities of Mexico doesn’t exist, so they can charge more based on the demand. Perhaps there are some great photographers down there that I didn’t find, but I bet they are pretty pricey.

  1. The pros and cons of the all-inclusive resort wedding. If you are like me, you planned to go to Mexico in order to save at least some money. Surely your guest list will be significantly smaller at least. What I found is that many of the non-inclusive resorts where you book a wedding regardless of who is staying there, were over $150 per person for food and beverage alone, and some are much higher. Also, Resort cities in Mexico have a tax rate of around 20%.

Therefore the least expensive option is to have a wedding at an all-inclusive resort. What this means is that you will pay a per person price for food, alcohol and cake that is based on whether each guest is staying at the resort or not, and whether they have an all-inclusive food and beverage package or not. You then encourage guests to book at the resort (or resort group) where the wedding is being held. As an example, the Villa Group has three resorts in Cabo, all near one another. and the per night cost for 2 guests to get a hotel room ranges from $125 (non-inclusive) to about $500 all-inclusive at the most elaborate resort of the three. Most of the time you have to guarantee 10-15 guest rooms, but guests call to make room reservations directly, through the wedding room block.

For the wedding itself to give an example, Villa Group for 2016 would charge you about $85 a head for guests who pay for the all-inclusive rate at the resort. This means that for those guests the wedding dinner, alcohol, cake, tables, chairs, basic linens, taxes and gratuity totals $85 per person. For guests who do choose to stay at a Villa Resort but do not pay for an all-inclusive rate, you pay about $125 per person for the wedding dinner, alcohol, etc listed above. And for guests who decide to stay somewhere other than a Villa Resort, you pay in the neighborhood of $160 per person for the wedding dinner, alcohol, etc listed above.

Find out if the resort allows you to use your own vendors. It could be that your wedding planner has a great minister for $400, but your resort will require you to use one of their ministers for $800. The resorts have the power to require whatever they want, so be aware of what you may be forced into before signing anything.

  1. I cannot tell you enough how important it is to read a lot of reviews, not just scan them but really read them. Trip Advisor, yelp and other online review sites, you should be able to find them for major Mexico tourist areas. I was very interested in a couple of wedding locations until I read from guest reviews that there had been quite a few cases of food poisoning in the past. A year ago, one of the high end Cabo beach hotels had a major Norovirus outbreak that lasted for months. In the U.S. that resort would probably have been closed down until this was cleared up. So do your homework.

In the end because of a turn of family events, we had to ditch the Cabo idea entirely and are have our wedding here in Southern California Wine Country. However I hope that my experience has helped you to gain some insight on having a Mexico Wedding. Happy Planning!

Online dating tips for ladies

7 Jan

Quick online dating tips for the ladies from a Matchmaking Professional

Recently I got great feedback on some advice I gave on a dating profile, so thought others might find it helpful as well.

-Keep your profile simple. Profiles and emails should be for sparking interest. After a couple emails, tell him that you use email for business so much that you’d love to have a less impersonal chat on the phone. In my experience you will weed out ¼ of the guys just by intuition once you are on the phone. Plus, nobody can express themselves via email or text like they can over the phone or better yet in person. And there is a lot of room between the lines to assume tone in writing. Also, he will likely have scanned your profile not because he doesn’t care about what you have to say, but because he doesn’t know if you will respond. If you keep things brief he will be more likely to see the highlights of what you have to say and read it.

-Make it personal. A man is on the other end reading about you on his computer or phone, so write to him and not to a sea of men out there.

– Foremost your goal is to write a profile that captivates attention from a man who is also looking for love. Elaborate on what makes you tick, what makes you stand out and what makes you unique from EVERYONE else.

-eharmony works. It takes some time and you won’t always have luck. I do think from experience it is far and above better than any other dating site. I met two of my ex-boyfriends on there, both were great guys who were very successful, hardworking and cuties. I will say those two guys were probably more compatible for me than most people I have ever dated. However both were somewhat long distance and that did cause problems in the end.

-Keep an open mind in all aspects of dating. Age, distance and little differences can end up being a good thing. I once dated a guy who was “trying to quit smoking”. He really did quit. Keep your standards high, but try to think outside the box. Love should be worth the effort. I approached my boyfriend across a bar while in Vegas. He lives 15 minutes away from me here in L.A., and we would have never met if I hadn’t spoken to him. Totally outside of my comfort zone… but one year later we are planning our wedding.

In the Know- Las Vegas Nightclubs

28 Jul

Oh where to begin, people seem so confused about what to do to get into the newest and hottest clubs. Las Vegas Clubs Clubs like 3 things in their door: Money, Girls and Money that will result from plenty of girls being inside their club. Essentially Las Vegas likes money.

GUEST LISTS: These lists were designed to make you feel like a VIP since you don’t have to pay a cover to get inside in most cases. But that doesn’t make you special, in fact in makes you a number. Promoters even walk around the hotels inviting you to be put on a guest list, thereby ensuring that crowds always attend. So what does that mean for you? The majority of club-goers will be in the guest list line.

SPECIAL GUEST LISTS: Staff lists are a bit different than Guest Lists. If I’m hoping to get into a Vegas club for free and the group includes guys, I will always be sure I’m on a staff guest list. This means that someone who works for the club itself (not a promoter) will be onsite to facilitate entry. Likely this is a doorman or security.

GENERAL ADMISSION: Most of the popular clubs will also have a line for General Admission for those people that didn’t have the foresight to get on a guest list, or didn’t plan the evening in advance. There will generally be a line here, as well as the cost of a premium ticket price to get in at the door.

PRE-SALE: If you are a guy and you aren’t buying Bottle Service, this is almost always the best way to go. You can get a ticket deal for around $25-30 on the club website, days beforehand in most cases. Women are normally offered lower prices on this site as well. The Pre-sale line to get into the club is normally short. And just in case it’s not, get on a guest list as a backup. It goes to show that the early bird really can get the worm.

LADIES LINE: If you are sober enough to navigate the 20 sets of lines outside, there may likely be a small “Ladies Only” line. Last time I was at the newest hottest spot in Vegas, we two ladies waltzed up, were escorted to the front, and walked right in. The whole thing took a total of 5 minutes.

BRIBERY: If all else fails and your group of guys shows up at midnight with nobody on the guest list, a subtle bribe will usually do the trick. I would normally find someone that is by himself and not at the front. As I mentioned, Las Vegas likes Money.

OTHER TIPS: Try a discounted Bottle Service App such as Party Petition. You might be able to score a bottle of liquor and a table for as little as $100 per person. You will likely spend this after entry and a few $20 cocktails anyway.

Use common sense… if you aren’t dressed up, you don’t smile, and you are already a little drunk in line, chances are you won’t be welcomed in quickly.

Have a backup plan. Most hotels on the Strip have at least two nightclubs. Get yourself on a guest list for a second club just in case the line is hours long or the club is already past capacity.

5 steps to ditching under eye circles for an important day

1 Jul

Have a special event or photo opp you need to look tip-top for? Get rid of those under eye circles and bags in a few days with these tips.

Quit any drinking or smoking. You should really do this for longer than a few days.

Use benedryl cream under your eyes but be careful not to get it into your eyes! Don’t make this a regular routine though.

Remove your makeup every night. Be sure you get all the eye makeup residue

Get some sleep- without sleep your eyes will be puffy, there’s no way around it.

Take a decongestant such as Claritin-D for 48 hours before you need to look perfect.

10 Ways to get over a Breakup

25 Mar

by Jacqueline Baird
Owner: Stilettos and Cufflinks
High-End Matchmaking
http://www.stilettosandcufflinks.com

1. Travel with a friend. Explore new scenery away from work and your current routine. This will give you a chance to find your new life.

2. Indulge. Don’t go into debt, but buy a big ticket item you have wanted forever and wouldn’t let yourself buy. Maybe it’s a handbag, or a fancy camera, or braces. Buy something for YOU that will make YOU happy every day. You deserve it.

3. Workout and become the hottest self you can be. Not for him, but for you. Once you are in the best shape of your life you won’t be able to stop smiling. Can’t seem to get yourself to the gym? Make a few appointments with a personal trainer, so that you have to stick to a schedule. Pretty soon the gym will seem normal.

4. Get out like you are single! You may feel awful, but once you do your hair and get your makeup done, the guys at the club will be showering you with attention. Don’t believe me? Buy a hot new dress and try it out!

5. Avoid drinking too much alcohol. It seems like a no-brainer, but you don’t actually think all those teary love songs were written by sober people, do you?

6. Get outdoors. If you live somewhere that has nice weather, see the sunshine every day, and go hiking on your days off. Vitamin D is good for you and it’s also good for your mood.

7. Try something new that you have always wanted to do. Maybe it’s skydiving, joining a softball team, training for a marathon or scuba diving. Push yourself and fall in love with something new.

8. Volunteer. Doing something for others will make you forget about your woes. Help the needy, and you will realize just how much you have in your life worth cherishing.

9. Adopt a pet. Rescuing a dog or cat will give you new routines, keep you busy, and give you a loving companion to fill the hole it feels you have been left with. And that love won’t just help for now, you will have it for a long time to come.

10. Find your passion. If you don’t love your job, get a new job! The truth is that you are the only one you can count on to take care of you. Life is too short, find what you want to do with your life and go for it. The rest of your life really does start today.