7 Back to School Safety Tips for the Whole Family

As the summer heat begins to fade, children are enjoying their final days of free play and parents are preparing to send the kiddos off to school. As the new school year approaches, it’s important to prepare your family for back to school safety.

Apartment dwellers with school-aged children can help prevent accidents by teaching and adhering to these safety tips.

1. Drive with extreme caution

kids walking to schoolkids walking to school

When school starts again, more children will be on the roads in the morning and afternoon hours. It’s always important to be focused when driving, but during the school season, it’s especially important to be alert and aware of your surroundings.

Small children will be on the roads and you may not see them in your blind spots. Recognize those children on the road, err on the side of caution and don’t assume kids see your car and know your intentions. It’s best to drive slowly and cautiously to keep kids safe.

2. Adhere to school zone lights

school zoneschool zone

In designated school zones, you’ll see the yellow flashing lights signaling for drivers to slow to 20 mph. Any time you see the school zone lights on, you must slow down to ensure the safety of children walking to school.

Children may not be observing traffic, and it’s up to the adults to follow school zone speeds to help keep kids safe. Even if you don’t see children in the school zone, it’s better to play it safe to ensure back-to-school safety.

3. Stop behind the school bus

cars behind school buscars behind school bus

School buses are one of the main modes of transportation for kids. When the stop sign is activated on a school bus, never try and pass the bus on either side.

Children will be exiting the school bus and crossing the street. Passing a school bus when the stop sign is on is not only dangerous, it’s illegal.

4. Follow the school’s pick up and drop off policy

dropping off at schooldropping off at school

Each school will have a different system in place to help parents safely pick up and drop off their children.

Before the school year starts, talk to your school and get a thorough understanding of the policy. This will help protect your child and other children during pick up and drop off times of the day.

5. Teach your kids how they’ll get to and from school

kids on bikekids on bike

Not all kids are driven to school, so there are some rules to teach your children about walking and biking to school safely. First, you’ll want to ensure they know how to get to school from your apartment. Second, you’ll want to make sure they know which direction to walk back, which building they live in, what apartment number and floor level.

Apartment complexes can be vast and buildings can look similar to a child. To keep them safe, make sure they know how to get to and from school on their own. Also, if they’re walking to school without parental supervision, you may want to consider a GPS tracker for kids. This will loop you in on their whereabouts so you can confirm that they got to school safely each day.

In the weeks leading up to the first day of school, practice walking, biking or scootering to school so you can teach your kids the safest route to take, how to use the sidewalk and crosswalks and where to park their bikes or scooters when they get to school.

If your children will be biking or scootering to school, teach them to always wear a helmet. Once they get to school, ask the principal where the kids should park their bikes or scooters during the day and when and where they can pick them up after school.

6. Stop, look and listen

crossing guardcrossing guard

This may be the most fundamental back to school safety lesson you teach your children. As simple as it is, it’s one of the most important lessons a child can learn. Anytime they’re about to cross a street, make sure they follow the three-step plan:

  1. Stop at the end of the sidewalk
  2. Look both ways to make sure there are no cars coming from either direction.
  3. Listen for cars even if you cannot see them.

7. Teach school bus etiquette

kids getting on school buskids getting on school bus

As the school season kicks off, kids are excited to ride the school bus with their friends. While this is a fun time of life for children, it’s important they know the proper school bus etiquette and rules to promote back to school safety.

Before they start school, walk with your children to the bus stop so they know the safest route. Next, let them know that they need to stay on the curb until the school bus pulls over. When the doors open, the school bus driver will tell the kids when it’s safe to hop on board.

Teach your kids that they should never run to the school, but that the school bus will pull over for them and let them know when it’s safe to get on. When they get off the bus, let them know that they need to always look both ways before crossing the street.

Better safe than sorry

The beginning of the school year is often an exciting and, sometimes, scary time. Ease some of the nerves by teaching your children what’s expected of them and what could happen if they don’t follow the rules.

And you should follow these guidelines to promote back to school safety in your apartment complex, neighborhood and community. Remember to share the road and keep your eyes open for kids once the school season begins.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

6 Things You Should Never Say When You’re Selling Your Home

You know that expression about loose lips sinking ships? It holds true for selling your home as well. Sure, there are some things you have to disclose to buyers—such as if your home has lead paint or is located in a flood zone. But there’s plenty more you might volunteer when you would be truly better off keeping your mouth strategically shut.

We’ve already revealed the things buyers should never say to sellers. Now, let us share some things that sellers should never let slip to buyers, or the agents representing them.

To help hone your “less is more” attitude when it comes to talking with prospective buyers, here are a few doozies that agents recommend never, ever saying.

‘Our house is in perfect condition’

Your home is your castle, and in your eyes it may seem perfect—but don’t make claims that aren’t true, says Cara Ameer, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker.

“The home inspection may reveal otherwise, and, as a seller, you don’t want to wind up putting your foot in your mouth,” she explains. Bottom line: “There simply is no such thing as ‘perfect condition.’ Every house, whether it is brand new or a resale, has something that needs to be fixed, adjusted, replaced, or improved upon.”

If you’re not sure what to disclose, talk to your agent about the history of the house. Together, you can figure out what is important for buyers to know. Don’t have an agent yet? Here’s how to find a real estate agent in your area.

‘It’s been on the market for X…’

Never, ever discuss how long the home has been on the market with prospective buyers, says Pam Santoro, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. This info is often listed and available on the home’s information sheet, but bringing it up—especially if the home has been available for eons—can send sellers the wrong message. No one wants to buy a white elephant—and, if they do, it’s probably because they think they’ll be getting it dirt-cheap.

‘We’ve never had a problem with…’

If you’re hoping to move quickly, you may be tempted to tell a few little white lies. So you never had a problem with weird neighbors, eh? Or flooded basements? Or vengeance-seeking poltergeists? Realtors agree that your mistruths—however insignificant they might seem—could come back to you with teeth.

“You’re setting yourself up for potential liability,” explains Ameer. “You may not even be aware of the problem at first, but it could  translate into an embarrassing moment upon inspection.” So come clean with what you know and admit what you don’t.

‘We always wanted to fix/renovate that, but…’

Tempted to mention, “We always thought about knocking this wall down and opening the space for more light?” How about “We planned on renovating this bathroom but ran out of cash”? Mum’s the word when it comes to fixes you intended to address. Nobody cares about good intentions.

“When sellers point out things they might change, this only alerts the buyer of more upcoming costs for them,” says Maryjo Shockley, a Realtor with Keller Williams. Who knows? Your buyers may not even want to knock down that wall or redo the bathroom. So why plant those ideas, along with those dollar signs?

‘We spent a ton of money on X, Y, and Z’

Just because you love the Brazilian koa wood flooring you installed throughout the first floor, that doesn’t mean prospective buyers will be willing to shell out for it.

“The buyer doesn’t care whether you spent $10,000 or $100,000 on your kitchen,” says Ameer. “They are only going to offer what they feel the home is worth in relation to area comparable sales.” So, save your breath, or else you’ll risk sounding like you’re trying too hard to justify your price. Desperation isn’t cool.

‘I’m not taking less than X amount for my home’

When it comes time to sell, it makes sense that you want top dollar. We get it! But at the same time, it’s important to be realistic and open to offers within a reasonable range.

“If you send a message that you are inflexible or not open to negotiating, it may not invite buyers to even try to work out acceptable price and terms as they will feel defeated from the start,” says Ameer. “Word may spread that you have this sentiment as a seller, and people may start to avoid the house.”

Source: realtor.com

14 Business Networking Tips & Tricks to Build Great Work Relationships

“It’s all about who you know” — you’ve heard this expression before but does it really matter who you know in the professional world? The short answer is yes. Although the qualifications and experience you have in your field are essential when it comes to your career path, they aren’t always the catalysts that open doors and spark new opportunities. What can help you is networking.

The industry contacts you have allow you to cast a wider net when looking for a new job, business partner, or even a mentor. When you have a good relationship with fellow professionals, they can extend their networks to you, substantially expanding your reach.

But networking can be tricky. It requires tact, good social etiquette, and excellent communication skills. Here are some networking tips, tricks, and best practices to help you get the most out of your professional circles.

Networking Tips to Help You Build Great Relationships

Networking can seem simple enough on the surface. After all, you just need to show up at a networking event and shake as many hands as possible, right? Not exactly. Everything from your business cards to your attire, your body language, and your goals will impact how successful your networking has been once the event is over.

Here are some of the best tips and tricks you can use to ensure that your business networking efforts are fruitful.

1. Dress Appropriately

Whether a networking event takes place online or in person, you still need to dress to impress. That doesn’t always mean business formal though. Some networking events, like mastermind groups or casual meetups, don’t call for any specific attire at all.

Base what you choose to wear on the type of event that you plan to attend. When in doubt, opt for a business casual outfit.

2. Bring Great Business Cards

It goes without saying that for any in-person networking event, you should bring along a healthy stack of business cards to hand out.

Have you ever been handed a particularly attractive or unusual business card? Chances are that it caught your attention right away. Whether it was the quality of the paper or a unique design, something about it made you take notice. If you want your business cards to stand out, don’t go for the boring basics. Try something with a creative design, an unconventional cut, or a nontraditional format. Don’t feel like you need to hire some expensive graphic designer either. You can create a great business card yourself with Canva.

At events where business cards are being exchanged like there’s no tomorrow, you need to do everything you can to make an impression.

3. Be Aware of Body Language

We say a lot with our words, but we say even more with our expressions, posture, and eye contact. Be aware of your own body language at professional events, but also the body language of those you interact with. Smile, stand up straight, make eye contact, and pay attention to your tone to make sure that your body language doesn’t conflict with what you’re trying to say.

Different people will respond to energy levels in different ways, so approach each new person from an individual perspective. For example, extroverts may be comfortable in a boisterous group setting, while introverts may prefer a more subdued, one-on-one approach.

4. Have a Goal

Before you attend a networking event, have a goal in mind. That way, you can communicate what you’re looking for to others and have a better chance at meeting the right people. Some common networking goals include:

The goal you set will influence how you communicate with people and the connections you choose to pursue, so consider how it will affect your networking strategy at a conference or seminar.

5. Have a Mentor

Experienced, well-connected professionals often have large business networks, which is why mentors can be a great resource for meeting new people. Mentors can make introductions, get you into exclusive business networking events, and expand your professional circle exponentially.

Plus, many mentors have already established a solid reputation within their industry and profession, so having a vote of confidence from them can boost your chances of making viable and successful connections that help you to meet your networking goals.

6. Become a Mentor

If you’re not looking for a mentor yourself, consider becoming one. Growing your reputation as a mentor can open your professional network to new connections and events. Not only will it get your name out there, but it will also help you to build relationships with peers and emerging professionals. This is an excellent way to stay on top of new trends and to meet people with fresh perspectives.

It also means that you can start attending new networking events and seminars designed specifically for mentors, opening up your professional circle even more.

7. Meet New People

The whole purpose of networking is to meet new people, but many professionals find it hard to break away from their existing social groups. In group settings, try not to talk only to people you know, like colleagues and old classmates. Make a point of introducing yourself to new contacts. Sticking to who you know will keep your professional circle stagnant while meeting new people will help it to grow.

8. Prepare an Elevator Pitch

Before a networking event, you should prepare an elevator or sales pitch to summarize who you are, what you do, and the goal you’re hoping to achieve. Whether you’re looking to make sales or simply to meet other business owners, you should have a clear idea of how you want to introduce yourself and what you want to communicate to others.

This will help you to keep conversations on track and to deliver a clear, direct message from the get-go.

9. Focus on a Soft Sell

Hard sells can sometimes do more harm than good in networking settings. Don’t be pushy or overly assertive when meeting people for the first time. Your goal shouldn’t necessarily be to close a deal after you first meet someone, but rather to make a new connection that you can leverage and build a relationship with in the future. Essentially, it’s about playing the long game.

If you start off with an aggressive approach, you risk making a poor first impression, potentially ruining your chances of building a good relationship with a new contact.

10. Take Notes

Sometimes networking events lead to you meeting so many people you can barely remember any of them. That’s where taking notes can come in handy. But don’t take notes while people are talking. Instead, after each conversation is finished, take a few moments to write down key information like:

  • The person’s name
  • Their profession
  • Where they work
  • Whether they freelance, are employed, or own their own business
  • What their goals are
  • Anything you found interesting or noteworthy during the conversation

After the event, you can review your notes. This will help you remember each new contact and what you talked about when you follow up and if you meet them again later on.

11. Build Relationships

Don’t just focus on your goal and ignore the other benefits that networking has to offer. Building relationships with other business owners and professionals can lead to business partnerships, friendships, collaborations, and other meaningful connections. But only if you work toward making a legitimate connection with someone.

Networkers aren’t always clients or customers, but they may know people who are. If you put time and effort into building a relationship with them, you may become someone they’re happy to recommend to their own connections.

12. Provide Value

Everyone at a networking event is there for a reason. Just like you, they have goals in mind too. Pay attention to what they’re looking to achieve, and think about whether you can help them in any way.

For example, can you introduce them to a new connection with a similar goal? Or is there an opening at your company they could be a fit for?

Referrals are extremely helpful when it comes to building business relationships and landing new roles.

Whenever possible, use your connections and experience to provide value to others. The people you help will be more likely to do the same for you when an opportunity presents itself.

13. Reach Out Through Your Network

If you’re looking to meet a specific professional, receive an invitation to a coveted networking event, or get a referral for a meet-and-greet at a new company, explore your existing connections first. When you’re recommended to someone through a trusted mutual connection, you have a much better chance of getting your foot in the door compared to a cold call or email.

Reach out to anyone in your network who may have a connection or an in with the person, company, or event you’re interested in. It never hurts to ask whether someone happens to know someone — the worst they can say is no.

14. Follow Up

After a networking event, you need to follow up with your new acquaintances to solidify a connection. Whether you send a personal email, touch base with a phone call, or simply add them on LinkedIn, it’s important to reach out within a few days or you risk losing your new contact.

However you choose to check in, try to make it personal. Recall a detail your new connection mentioned when you met or ask what they thought about the event. Keep your initial message or conversation short, friendly, and professional. If they have questions about what you do or how you can work together, they’ll let you know.


Where to Find Networking Opportunities

Finding networking opportunities isn’t limited to traditional conferences and events. There are a number of different ways you can find and join professional groups online and in person.

1. Join Professional Organizations

Professional organizations like groups and clubs are the perfect way to meet other pros within your area of expertise. Most cities have a variety of specialized professional organizations, from advertising clubs and small-business groups to engineering networks and programmer meetups.

Another option is to look for online professional organizations if you can’t find any locally. Many host online and virtual meetups open to participants from across the globe.

2. Join a Mastermind Group

Mastermind groups are peer mentorship groups that focus on helping attendees to grow their careers and meet their professional goals, which makes them an ideal place to network. You’ll meet like-minded individuals who want to further their careers and pursue new opportunities. This can lead to collaborative projects, strategic partnerships, and an accelerated career path.

3. Attend Conferences and Professional Events

Conferences and other professional events are the most tried-and-true method of networking. After all, it’s almost impossible not to network when you’re at an event with a few hundred other industry experts who have similar skill sets, backgrounds, and interests. You’ll also have a chance to meet bigwigs in your industry, connecting you to some of the best and brightest your field has to offer.

4. Join Social Media Groups

Networking groups don’t always have to be in-person. Several social media platforms can be used to create and participate in networking groups. Some of the most popular ways to use social media to meet new professionals include:

  • Joining professional networking groups on LinkedIn and Facebook
  • Participating in professional chats and hashtags on Twitter
  • Finding public Slack groups specific to your profession, industry, or location

Social networking can be a great option for introverts or for people who are unable to attend in-person events on a regular basis.

5. Participate in Charity Events and Fundraisers

Local charity events and fundraisers often encourage all different kinds of community members to come together. Often, small businesses and professionals get involved in charities as a way to build their reputation and use their products or services for good.

If you want to give back while creating a name for yourself and meeting other movers and shakers in your area, charity events and fundraisers are an excellent choice.

6. Volunteer

Volunteering your time isn’t only personally rewarding, it can be professionally rewarding as well. Not only does it provide you with an opportunity to make new contacts, but it also unites you with others who share a common cause. This enables you to grow a strong network of like-minded people who share similar passions and beliefs to you.


Final Word

Networking plays an important role in the life of any ambitious and goal-oriented professional. From making new contacts and rubbing shoulders with industry leaders to finding investors and business partners, networking comes with a variety of career benefits.

By communicating clearly, planning ahead, and exploring different networking opportunities, you can be sure to get the most out of the professional events you attend and the business organizations you join.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Tipping Etiquette in the Time of Coronavirus: How Much Is Enough?

Delivery workers at restaurants, grocery stores, and other essential businesses provide a lifeline to homebound shoppers while the highly infectious and deadly coronavirus circulates, so you might be wondering: When do I need to leave a tip? And how much gratuity is enough?

From curbside pickup to alcohol delivery, there are many services that could warrant a tip, but the etiquette on tipping during a pandemic isn’t obvious.

“This is the time when we should be generous if we can, but there is no hard and fast rule for how much extra to give,” says Diane Gottsman, author of “Modern Etiquette for a Better Life” and founder of the Protocol School of Texas.

So, what does “generous” mean in dollars and cents? Follow these pointers to avoid an etiquette error the next time you go to leave a tip.

1. Always tip for delivery and takeout/curbside pickup

Whether you’re getting Mexican food delivered for Taco Tuesday or placing an order for delivery from your local cannabis dispensary, right now you should tip at least 15% to 20%, Gottsman says. The same goes for grocery or alcohol delivery.

If you’re picking up from a restaurant that started offering curbside pickup in the wake of the pandemic, leave a tip.

“The people that are outside are probably employees they’re trying to save from losing their job,” Gottsman says. “They’re probably working for gratuity but not a large hourly rate.”

But just how much should you tip for curbside or in-store pickup? That depends. While some etiquette experts suggest tipping the same 15% to 20% that you would tip for delivery, others say it’s OK to go lower.

“There is a difference between curbside pickup and actual delivery, and for delivery there’s more involved,” says Elaine Swann, a lifestyle and etiquette expert. “Anyone coming to your front door should get a little more money.”

Still, Swann suggests tipping at least 10% on pickup orders during a pandemic.

When it comes to grocery pickup, the etiquette is a bit more complicated.

“Grocers normally don’t allow their people to take tips; although in this scenario, they might have altered their policy,” Gottsman says. If you want to tip the curbside pickup person at your grocery store, ask first if a gratuity can be accepted.

Most of us aren’t in the habit of tipping drive-up window workers at fast-food restaurants, and that’s still OK, Gottsman says—those workers earn an hourly rate, and staffing the drive-up window is part of their regular job duties.

2. Tip just as generously regardless of who delivers

Whether you order your lunch directly from a restaurant or through a third-party delivery service like Grubhub or DoorDash, you should tip the delivery driver the same amount.

Gottsman suggests at least 15% to 20% here, too—although you might have noticed some delivery apps have a default tip set to 25%. If you’re able to swing it, it’s a nice way to thank the person facing the health risk to deliver essentials to you.

“Whether you’re ordering through a third-party service or the restaurant itself, the tip is intended for the person delivering it to you, so I think they should be treated equally,” Swann says.

Even if you have to pay extra for delivery through a third-party service, service fees shouldn’t cut into your tip. On that note …

3. A service or delivery fee is not a tip

When you see a delivery fee or service charge on your order total, that money doesn’t go to your driver—so don’t use it as an excuse to pinch pennies with the tip.

“A delivery fee covers other costs for the restaurant,” Gottsman says. “It’s really important not to confuse a delivery fee with a gratuity. They are two different things.”

4. Some workers can’t accept tips, but you can still offer a kind gesture

Right now, you might be feeling extra grateful for postal workers delivering mail and packages every day. But mail carriers aren’t allowed to accept cash tips or gifts worth more than $20 in value.

“What you could do for somebody you appreciate is leave a nice candy in the mailbox or a gift card for a cup of coffee,” Gottsman says.

What about your local boutique that’s started delivering home goods, or the pet supply store that’s delivering dog food? Many small retail businesses don’t expect tips, Swann says, but now is a great time to show gratitude by posting a glowing review online.

“Not only should we be patronizing our businesses, but we should be putting forth an effort to highlight our positive experiences,” she says. “If they can get that virtual high-five during this time, that would be very helpful.”

5. Be cautious with cash

For online or phone orders, you’ll likely add the tip when you provide your credit card information. But what about cash tips at a time when we’re all trying to eliminate unnecessary physical contact?

“If you do have to tip in cash, to put [workers] at ease, put the cash in an envelope in advance,” Swann says. “One of the core values of etiquette is to make sure we’re doing everything we can to put others at ease.”

And of course, if cash changes hands, sanitize or wash your hands before and after the interaction and follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines for maintaining safe social distance.

6. Tip on the total, not the subtotal

It’s the perennial debate: Should you tip on the subtotal before tax, or the total after tax?

“Just tip on the whole thing,” Gottsman says. As essential workers gear up in masks and gloves and take extra precautions to deliver food and necessities so the rest of us can stay home, now isn’t the time to be stingy.

“Do those few pennies matter? I think they matter to that person [you’re tipping],” she says.

7. Consider tipping contractors, fitness instructors, and others who go above and beyond

You probably wouldn’t normally tip a plumber or electrician who comes into your home, but if you can afford it, it’s not a bad idea, Gottsman says.

“If they come out in the middle of the night or they come out all masked and covered up, you might offer to give them some extra gratuity,” she says. “More than likely they will take it. … They aren’t having the businesses they normally have.”

If your favorite trainer or fitness instructor offers free workout plans or streaming classes while gyms are closed, you may also want to send them a tip on Venmo or PayPal.

“If they’re not charging you but just doing it to keep you going, then why not go ahead and send them a little something?” Swann asks.

8. When in doubt, just do what you can

This is a tough financial time for many people. If tipping above and beyond your normal amount feels out of reach, don’t beat yourself up—just do what’s in your budget.

“The bottom line is, we give what we can afford at this time,” Gottsman says. “Some people are not impacted at all financially, and some people don’t have jobs. To say across the board that everyone should tip more would be unfair.”

For more smart financial news and advice, head over to MarketWatch.

Source: realtor.com