It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas…

The 29th Annual Parade of 1000 Lights will illuminate Long Beach this Saturday at 7 p.m.

‘Tis the season for joyful melodies, decorated trees, homemade goodies, and jolly gift-giving! December is just around the corner and before you fill your calendar up with White Elephant gift exchanges and family gatherings, here are a few things you can do in Long Beach (and surrounding areas) to kick-off the most wonderful time of the year:

 

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade & Holiday Cruises 2011

December 1, 2011 – December 31, 2011, 5:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Adults: $30 & Juniors: $25

Newport Landing, 309 Palm St. #A in Newport Beach

www.christmasparadeboats.com

29th Annual Belmont Shore Christmas Parade

December 3, 2011, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

15th Block Stretch of Second Street in Belmont Shore, Long Beach

www.belmontshore.org

Long Beach Symphony Holiday Celebration

December 3, 2011, 6:30 p.m. & December 4, 2011, 2 p.m.

Terrace Theater, 300 E. Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach

www.lbso.org

29th Annual Parade of 1000 Lights

December 3, 2011, 7 p.m.

Downtown Long Beach Marina in Long Beach

www.shorelineyachtclub.com

Old Time Christmas Festival

December 4, 2011, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

$3 Doantion

Rancho Los Cerritos, 4600 Virginia Rd. in Long Beach

www.rancholoscerritos.org

There are many more events coming to Long Beach this month and Ernst & Haas will keep you in the loop each week! Have fun out there and don’t forget to spread some cheer!

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Leftover Lowdown

Thanksgiving Feast = Thanksgiving Leftovers!

Thanksgiving leftovers are the best kind of leftovers out there! But as with most leftovers, avoiding bacteria and spoiling is vital. Here are some helpful tips:

• Put food away within two hours. Bacteria rapidly begins to multiply at this point.

• Store leftovers in airtight, shallow containers. Containers should be 2-inches deep or less.

• Remove turkey from the bone. Store it separately from the stuffing and gravy.

• Use refrigerated, cooked turkey within 3-4 days. Use stuffing and gravy within one or two days.

• Leftover casseroles and cooked vegetables should be eaten within 3-4 days.

• Finish fruit and cream pies within 2-3 days.

• Reheat any leftovers to 165 degrees. Bring gravy to a steady boil on the stove before serving it a second time. Microwaving leftover gravy until hot is not enough to kill harmful bacteria.

How to Save Green on Black Friday

Black Friday is one of the most anticipated days of the year. Some save throughout the year in hopes of completing their Christmas shopping, while others camp out for days in hopes of scoring a fantastic deal. With the big day only a week away, here are some helpful tips on how to get the best bargain (and survive) this Black Friday:

• Check Out the Ads. Your local Thanksgiving Day newspaper will be stuffed like your Thanksgiving turkey with ads, coupons, and circulars. This will be your #1 source to local Black Friday savings. It will also help you organize your day to maximize savings, since many stores offer special discounts that are time specific (i.e. Receive an extra 10% off if you shop before 11 a.m.).

• Do Your Research Before Friday. If you are hoping to scoop up a deal on Friday on a big-ticket item, go ahead and get your research out of the way as soon as possible. A bad product is a bad deal no matter how cheap it costs. Being knowledgeable about the products you want to buy will help you avoid being sucker-punched with loud advertising for poor products.

• Compare Prices. Utilize price-comparison Internet shopping sites such as pricegrabber.com to assist you in comparing product prices. Compare the “options” included with the product. Some retailers will low-ball the advertised price on a stripped down product, and then you will be charged extra for the necessary parts that will make the product perform as expected. A good example of this is often seen with super low-priced computer printers that come without the cable or printer ink.

• Look for Early Bird Shopper Discounts. The Early Bird Shopper will be the real winner on Black Friday. Stores offering early-day shopper specials usually run the deals from 5 a.m. until 11 a.m. and with no “rain checks”, which means once they run out of the products, you are out of luck. Scanning the ads and routing your trip based on your buying priorities will be important with the time-sensitive deals that will be offered.

• Beat the Crowds with Night Owl Discounts on Thanksgiving. Internet shoppers can beat the early birds by shopping online in the pre-dawn hours of Black Friday. Many retailers will be posting their Black Friday specials, which can be ordered online and picked-up at your local store. Special “Web Only” deals will also be available starting as early as Thanksgiving Eve. Many of the aggressive outlet malls and factory stores will be opening  Thursday at midnight, with early bird promotions in hopes of capturing your dollars before the competition has opened.

• Bring the Ads. Many stores offer a “lowest-price” guarantee; however, you may be required to produce a copy of the exact product being advertised for less. Most local retailers will not meet Internet prices even when the product is advertised on the same company’s Web site, but it can’t hurt to try. Print the Web page that details the product and shows the advertised price. It may give you additional bargaining power and push the sales person into waiving other charges such as assembly fees.

• Know the Store Policies. Knowing the store policies on returns can help you determine where to buy. A previous trend of extending “return days” during the holidays is being seen less this year. Many retailers are including restocking fees and shorter return deadlines. Almost all of the major retail chains have clamped down on requiring receipts for returns and exchanges, and many keep a database of individuals who tend to abuse return policies. If you get onto an “abuse” list, prepare yourself to be turned down.

• Ask for Gift Receipts. Gift receipts generally include a description of the item purchased but do not disclose the price paid. Including gift receipts inside the gift box will make returns or exchanges easier for the gift recipient. Without proof-of-purchase, the recipient may be turned down for returning or exchanging the item, or receiving an exchange for the current selling price of the item.

• Saying “Charge It” Can Pay Off. Obviously, there is no bargain in running up high credit card bills and paying big interest rates, however, with proper spending disciplines intact, using the right charge card can be of value to consumers. Many credit card companies entice consumers with free benefits, which include extended free warranties, return protection, and sale price protection.

An enormous amount of advertising, locally and online, can be confusing and nearly paralyzing to the Black Friday bargain hunter. To maximize the benefits of hitting the stores on a day where there are big crowds and a better deal around every corner, developing a plan and doing preliminary research will help insure that the day is a shopping success.

 

Upcoming Thanksgiving Events…

Everyone celebrates Thanksgiving differently. Some gather at a relative or friend’s home for a feast. Some go out to eat and let others do all the cooking and cleaning. And some, well…some just run! From the annual turkey trot, to singing away your calories, here are some fun events to participate in this Thanksgiving:

9th Annual Thanksgiving Day 5K/10K Turkey Trot

Thursday, November 24, 2011 – 7, 8, 9, or 10 a.m.

Packet Pick-Up is Wednesday, November 23 from 2-7:45 p.m. (or 30 minutes before your race)

Belmont Plaza Pool, 4000 E. Olympic Plaza in Long Beach

Parking is free with a $1 donation to Community Action Team, the non-profit hosting the trot

Beachfront parking provided with any canned food donation

For more information, visit www.turkeytrot.us

Thanksgiving Lunch at Aquarium of the Pacific

Thursday, November 24, 2011 – 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way in Long Beach

For more information, visit www.aquariumofpacific.org, or call (562) 590-3100

Thanksgiving at Paradise Piano Bar

Thursday, November 24, 2011 – Open at 3 p.m., Food served from 4-8 p.m.

After dinner, enjoy karaoke with Carolyn Sweets from 9:30 p.m.-Close

Paradise Piano Bar, 1800 E. Broadway in Long Beach

For more information, visit www.paradisepianobar.com, or call (562) 590-8773

Regardless of how you spend your Thanksgiving, we hope you take some time to be thankful for all that you have!

Numbers To Live By

Percentages don't have to be burdensome!

Nowadays, it seems like every extra penny needs to be saved somewhere. But the question is how much goes where? And at what age do you start saving for what? Courtesy of Real Simple Magazine, here’s a quick reference guide that will help anyone at any age decipher how much should be put away for what:

• 28% = The share of your pretax monthly income that should go toward housing costs. During the housing boom, many people laid out unrealistic amounts of their gross income (sometime 45% or higher) for their monthly mortgage payment, real estate taxes, and home owner’s insurance. And everyone knows how that turned out. These days many banks have tighter lending standards, meaning they may not lend to someone whose housing payments are liable to exceed the benchmark of about 28%.

• 120 – your age = The maximum percentage of your retirement savings that should be in stocks or stock mutual funds. Before the recent recession, many financial planners used 100 minus your age as a rule of thumb. So why the increase? Generally, people need more exposure to stocks to recoup what they lost during the market crash (since stocks have historically outperformed other investments). That said, stocks can be risky, so the closer you are to needing the money – say, for retirement – the less you should gamble with it. That’s why this formula becomes more conservative year by year, as you get closer to cashing out.

• 5% = The maximum percentage of your take-home pay that you should owe to credit card companies. In an ideal world, you would pay off your credit card every month. Realistically, however, you probably carry a balance; the average American household has $15,799 in credit-card debt, according to creditcards.com, an education site. Next to overdue taxes, this is the most expensive money you can owe – the average interest rate is 14.4&, according to a recent Bankrate survey. And the bigger the debt, the deeper the financial hole you’ll find yourself in. That’s why experts suggest you work to get your credit-card debt under 5% of your net pay.

• 10% = The minimum amount of your pretax income to save for retirement. Chances are, you want to maintain your current living standard during your leisure years. First the bad news: Experts used to say that you would need 60%-80% of your current working income for your retirement years; now they recommend 100%, due to rising healthcare costs. The good news: It is possible to save that much – as long as you regularly tithe your own earnings. Use the retirement calculator at fidelity.com to compute your exact savings goal.

• 1 = The number of times a year you should review your retirement portfolio. Saving for your post-job life is a long-term goal, so you don’t need to tweak your investment choices often. (Yes, that applies even if your golden years are fast approaching.) And you certainly shouldn’t try to time the market – that is, buy and sell according to whether the Dow is up or down, since experts say it’s nearly impossible to succeed at that.

• 10 x your gross income = The minimum amount of life insurance you should buy. Estimating how much money your surviving family members will need at some point in the (hopefully distant) future is a real head-scratcher. And most people lowball the number – sometimes to avoid higher premiums. Fortunately, buying the right amount of coverage is surprisingly affordable.

We hope these numbers help direct you to a savings plan that is fitting for you and your lifestyle. And remember, the future is just as important as the present!


Daylight Savings Time Change

It's that time of year to "fall back" and set your clocks back 1 hour for Daylight Savings this Sunday, November 6!

Many things come to mind with Daylight Savings. For the spring, it means more sunlight, equaling long summer nights. For the fall – more specifically, this November 6 – it means gaining an extra hour of sleep. While some prefer one over the other, everyone can ultimately benefit from Daylight Savings if they use it as a semi-annual “check-up.” Here’s how Daylight Savings can benefit you and your home:

• Check and replace smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries. Don’t let a fire be the first to test whether or not your detectors are up to par. Check your detectors every Daylight Savings to make sure they’re up and running properly.

• Rummage through your medicine cabinet. It’s almost frightening to think of the amount of medicine that expires in our medicine cabinets. Be sure to check expiration dates and throw out and replace as needed.

• Update the household disaster kit. Just like our medicine cabinets, our disaster kits and first aid kits can become outdated very quickly. Make sure they are properly stocked with all the essentials.

• Adopt the “spring cleaning” mentality for the fall as well. Encourage your family to go through their dressers and closets and donate clothing, toys, and other items that haven’t been used in the past year. Doing this every Daylight Savings will make for an organized, clutter-free environment.

• Take care of your health. Although this doesn’t necessarily need to be done every 6 months in alignment with Daylight Savings, devote either the spring or fall savings to getting your annual check-up with your doctor, dentist, and any other healthcare professional. This rule can also be applied to pets and automobiles.

• Reevaluate your finances. Are you where you goaled yourself to be 6 months ago? If not, reevaluate your financial spending and goals and make the proper adjustments.

• Spruce up your space. Although total home renovations aren’t very cost effective, small changes throughout your home such as painting an accent wall, hanging new curtains, or moving around your furniture can make your home feel new and refreshed.

Don’t forget to turn your clocks BACK 1 hour this Sunday, November 6!

15th Annual Long Beach Veterans Day Parade

The 15th Annual Long Beach Veterans Day Parade will take place this Saturday, November 5 at 10 a.m. and is expected to be the best parade yet!

Parade festivities will include a Craft and Vendor Fair, food, prizes, and a variety of activities for the all ages.

The parade will start and end at Houghton Park, which is located at Harding Ave. and Atlantic Blvd.

For more information, call (562) 618-5558 or visit www.lbveteransdayparade.com.