I live in Minnesota, one of the few states that bans Sunday alcohol sales – with the exception of specially brewed “near beer” varieties that have less than 3.2% alcohol by weight, or about 4% alcohol by volume. The limitation extends to retailers including grocery stores and gas stations, and the state legislature only just passed a law allowing breweries and distilleries to have onsite taprooms. Despite these restrictive statutes, or perhaps because of them, we’ve seen an explosion in the number of homegrown craft breweries since the beginning of 2010.
An emerging, highly flexible economic network known as the sharing economy allows people to share resources – such as equipment, services, and skills – with one another, often at significantly lower cost than traditional retail or employment arrangements. You can now get a loan directly from your peers, share the same office space with dozens of different companies, and stay at a stranger’s house instead of a hotel when you’re traveling out of town.
The rise of ridesharing and carsharing has greatly expanded the options available to urbanites who find car ownership to be costly and cumbersome.
Ridesharing and carsharing are like two sides of the same coin, as both make it possible for you to use your car less – or even ditch it altogether. Ridesharing is similar to using a taxi, but more flexible: You log into an app and hail a nearby driver, who picks you up in his or her own vehicle and drives you to your destination. Carsharing is more like renting a car: You reserve (or, in Car2Go’s case, find) a vehicle and drive it yourself, paying for the time you use.
Zipcar offers city-dwellers a viable alternative to traditional car ownership. Its hundreds of hubs around the globe make it one of the world’s largest carsharing companies, and once you have a membership you can use its vehicles anywhere – including Europe. Like fellow carsharing service Car2Go, and the locally based nonprofits it competes with, Zipcar is great for folks who don’t drive frequently. It’s also useful for travelers who want the peace of mind that comes with having on-demand access to a personal vehicle, but who don’t want to pay for – and park – a rental car.
Sidecar is a ridesharing app that lets you hail point-to-point rides from your phone. Though not as popular or widely available as its two main rivals, Uber and Lyft, it is available in Seattle, the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Long Beach, San Diego, Chicago, Charlotte, Boston, and Washington, D.C. as of fall 2014 – though more markets are in the works.
Lyft is a popular ridesharing app - also known as a transportation network company, or TNC - that’s available in several dozen American cities. Like Uber’s similar app, Lyft lets you electronically hail cars driven by independent contractors. In practice, it functions a lot like a taxi service, although it’s far more technologically sophisticated, tends to have shorter wait times, and doesn’t directly employ any drivers (its drivers are independent contractors).
With a presence in more than 40 countries and hundreds of cities, Uber is the world’s most popular ridesharing app. Like the Lyft app, it lets riders hail drivers electronically and compensate them for their services by credit card. Unlike Lyft, the Uber app offers access to several different levels of service, from a cut-rate option (UberX) that competes with Lyft and other ridesharing apps, to a luxury service (Uber Lux) that competes with limousine firms.
By Brian Martucci
Maybe your personal budget isn’t as generous as you’d like it to be. Perhaps you’re getting tired of your nine-to-five grind. Or maybe you just want to earn some extra spending money. There are plenty of side hustles for folks in your shoes, from legitimate ways to make money from home, to part-time and seasonal jobs that put cash in your pocket. Now that ridesharing apps - also known as transportation network companies, or “TNCs” – such as Uber and Lyft are available in most major U.S. cities, you can add hiring yourself out as a personal driver to that list.
Everyone born in the United States receives a unique, nine-digit Social Security number at birth. Without this identifier, you can’t enjoy many of the perks that American citizens and legal residents take for granted, including retired and disabled worker benefits. Of course, you also need a Social Security number to file your taxes.
Business entities don’t get – or need – Social Security numbers. However, they can obtain a unique, nine-digit identifying number through a system that’s nearly as ubiquitous as Social Security: the Data Universal Numbering System, or D-U-N-S. If you own your own business or are thinking about starting one, you should know more about the uses, benefits, and drawbacks of having a D-U-N-S number.
By Brian Martucci
In May 2014, after what seemed like an eternity of planning and worry, my wife and I got married in a small-town Iowa church, just steps from her old high school. Our reception was a few miles down the road in a beautiful river valley with a hundred-year-old barn.
We were blessed to have a huge crowd of our friends and family, many of whom traveled from the coasts and the Deep South, to celebrate with us. The ceremony went off without a hitch, and aside from a brief, violent thunderstorm at the very beginning, the outdoor reception was an absolute blast. I don’t get emotional often, but I certainly did that day.
By Brian Martucci
My family currently has two cats. One is an orange barn cat that was foisted onto my wife’s parents, and then onto my wife, by a proverbial cat lady. He’s seven years old, give or take. The other is a former stray who appeared on our doorstep, cold and hungry, about four years ago. Our vet estimates her age at six or seven.
We find the experience of owning two cats to be manageable and emotionally rewarding, and we wouldn’t trade our particular two for the world. However, we’re also budget-conscious, which means we’ve developed some strategies for controlling the cost of owning cats without sacrificing their quality of life.
Like a bond, an exchange-traded note (ETN) is a debt instrument with a set maturity date upon which its issuer promises to repay your investment. However, unlike a bond, it does not accrue interest or guarantee to pay a fixed percentage of your initial outlay. Instead, it tracks an underlying index or asset class, without actually granting ownership in any of its components.
By Brian Martucci
While many major population centers are blessed with beautiful surroundings, big cities also have many drawbacks, such as soul-crushing traffic and long commute times, pressure to conform to social expectations, and high living costs. For some, these tradeoffs are worth it. For others, the lure of a slower pace and quieter surroundings wins out. Every year, thousands of working-age people move from big cities to smaller cities, often in scenic areas, that are better known for drawing seasonal tourists and retirees.
By Brian Martucci
My longtime girlfriend and I recently took a brief break from our busy lives to tie the knot. The whole experience was unforgettable, but one of the highlights was the amazing outpouring of generosity from our friends and family members, many of whom we hadn’t always been good about keeping in touch with. We got all sorts of presents, some of which are still sitting in storage as we get moved into our new place.
Though changing technology and the digital revolution have put many travel agencies out of business, it has been a boon for the lodging industry. Thanks to travel booking sites such as Hotels.com, Hotwire, and Kayak, you can seamlessly book hotel rooms in every corner of the world without picking up the phone. With so many travel booking resources at your disposal, it’s easy to compare prices and accommodations at different sites to ensure that you’re getting the best deal.