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Updated: 14 min 29 sec ago

Family Fun: Indoor Trampoline Parks Grow by Leaps and Bounds

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 12:56pm
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(NewsUSA) - In case you haven't noticed, the indoor trampoline industry is booming with new arenas opening throughout the U.S. Not just because they're loads of fun (of course they are), but because it's something families can do together, while enjoying activities like dodge ball, basketball or even exercise classes.

Unlike other businesses despite the recession, the indoor trampoline industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds. According to the Association of Trampoline Parks, estimated industry revenue was approximately $12 million in 2008. Now, the association estimates that there are 340 indoor parks with revenues reaching approximately $680 million.

One of the emerging companies within the industry is Rebounderz Franchise and Development, Inc., founded by Mark Gurley and Al Palladino. Their idea was born out of a wish to occupy their teens' time that didn't include forking over a large sum of cash to an amusement park, yet give them something that would keep their kids active. From there, the two envisioned a place that would include trampolines but also be more than just a place to bounce.

According to the company's website, the two "poured their hearts into creating a truly unique, boldly athletic, family-oriented entertainment venue focused upon safe, physical activity and extreme, high flying action for all ages."

Since it first opened its doors in July 2008, the company now has multiple franchise locations in the U.S., and several more due to be finalized, where guests can jump, flip and bounce their way to health and happiness.

While its standalone trampoline facilities are still a fantastic business offering, Palladino points to a "growing popularity in non-trampoline offerings that provide something for everyone when it comes to active entertainment."

Palladino is referring to the company's family entertainment centers -- facilities that offers everything from fitness classes to slam-dunk basketball courts to kids' areas and foam pits.

"We believe we have an early investment opportunity in a proven and recession-proof business model that's still new to the marketplace. We have an opportunity to become among the first indoor trampoline arenas in most cities and communities," says Gurley.

For more information, visit

Popping the Question Over the Holidays? What Every Guy Should Know

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 10:02am
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(NewsUSA) - Congratulations, guys, on being so in love that you can save yourself at least one big headache this holiday season.

Yes, for those wondering, if you're planning on popping The Big Question -- marriage, that is -- a diamond engagement ring can also count as her Christmas or Hanukkah present. "If a guy's gonna pop the question eventually, he might as well use the opportunity to avoid shopping for a holiday gift and kill two birds with -- ahem -- one stone," the Washington Post declared.

And you won't be alone: While 39 percent of all marriage proposals occur between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day, what sane-thinking male wants to be the one who waited till February to give his girlfriend a ring she was expecting in December?

Ergo, to help you out, it's time to separate some myths from facts when it comes to the whole engagement ring-buying process. (Alternate Plan Alert: For those not quite ready to propose -- or, for that matter, who have other diamond jewelry lovers on their holiday lists to shop for -- we've also got some tips for you.)

MYTH: You need to be prepared to spend two months' salary on a ring.

FACT: That's just a guideline. Your financial circumstances -- and your girlfriend's taste -- ultimately rule.

MYTH: There's no way of telling whether a diamond has been produced "ethically" or not.

FACT: This is a big issue for some couples, so know that the Diavik mine in Canada's North West Territories, for one, has gone to great lengths to provide buyers with proof that it's adhering to international standards of labor, health, safety and environmental practices in producing the nicely sized diamonds of good color and gem quality it's famed for.

"Each certified gem is laser-etched with a unique number that indicates the date mined, and each gem's unique optical fingerprint is recorded in an international database so that it can be positively identified," says an expert in the field, noting that many insurance companies offer discounted rates in such cases.

MYTH: Most women want a pear-shaped diamond engagement ring.

FACT: Round diamonds are the most popular.

MYTH: You must pick the ring out yourself in order to maximize the effect.

FACT: Thankfully, no, so you've dodged a bullet there. But if you prefer shopping stag, at least have your girlfriend's hints in mind.

Finally, about those other diamond jewelry gift-gifting tips we promised.

"Classic diamond stud earrings will never go out of fashion," says jewelry and style expert Michael O'Connor, "and diamond line bracelets can be worn with any outfit."

Conserve Energy This Winter by Choosing the Right Windows

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 10:23am
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(NewsUSA) - Winter is upon us, but the window hasn't closed for homeowners to keep their heating bills from going through the roof.

While exploring tactics for cutting energy costs, there might be no more critical consideration than windows. A home with inefficient windows is almost like a home with a hole in the wall -- and installing energy-efficient windows can shave up to 15 percent off heating and cooling bills, according to estimates based on data set forth in the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Star Savings Estimates (

Numerous factors determine a window's energy efficiency. Windows with a lower "U-Factor," for example, are preferable in colder regions because they allow less heat to escape.

"Each homeowner's needs are unique, and it's important to choose windows that make the most sense for your home and environment," said Christine Marvin of Marvin Windows and Doors, a manufacturer of premium, made-to-order windows and doors. "To find out which product and glass solution might be right for you, we always suggest you visit your local dealer."

Here are some other tips to find the best windows for your home:

* Consider your conservation goals. One homeowner may simply want greater energy efficiency. Another may be drawn to "passive" or "net zero" building practices -- whose requirements are designed to maintain comfortable temperatures with incredibly minimal heating and cooling systems.

"At Marvin, our robust product offerings help homeowners achieve whatever type of solution they seek," said Marvin, who also pointed out that Marvin is the only major American window manufacturer to offer Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) certified options in the U.S.

* Don't sacrifice beauty for efficiency. Windows should be beautiful, functional, durable and energy efficient, says Marvin, whose company offers more than 150,000 energy-efficient options, including many standard product solutions that meet new Energy Star criteria that take effect in 2015 and 2016. "Rest assured -- there's a solution that fits both your design and efficiency needs."

* Add window treatments. Certain window treatments also can help maintain comfortable temperatures in a home. For example, homeowners can program Marvin's automated exterior shading system to provide the optimal amount of light, 24 hours a day.

* Consult an expert. Marvin suggests homeowners speak with a professional, when selecting windows, to explore and identify solutions for their home and climate.

For more information, visit or

Helping Golfers Stay in the Swing With Chiropractic Care

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 10:19am
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(NewsUSA) - It takes years of practice to become a great golfer and to hone your swing. But to reach that level, your body has to be up to the task. Well, it turns out chiropractic care can help golfers treat injuries and restore balance. For more information, visit

Watch the video at:

Gifts That Wow, and What They Say About You

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 11:48am
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(NewsUSA) - Wow.

Unless you're living in some alternative universe, that's the reaction you're likely shooting for when others open your holiday presents.

But with so many choices out there -- including a seeming bombardment of online offers -- you need to be aware that you're also sending a message about yourself with every gift that's unwrapped.

The right gift, as consumer behavior expert Kit Yarrow has written, "can enhance connections between people." A really bad one

. . .Well, we've probably all distanced ourselves from someone whose obviously inappropriate present screamed "clueless."

Here's what these "wow" gifts say about you:

* I'd rather be safe than sorry. Most women would be thrilled to receive a ginormous bottle of expensive perfume. But beware: A lot of others would interpret such an "easy" choice the way this New York writer did when her (ex-)boyfriend so gifted her after she'd spent weeks searching for the perfect briefcase for him: "It just seemed like something he picked up at the airport duty-free store." Ouch.

* My taste is impeccable. Few things telegraph a person's status like a good watch, and these two beauties from Swiss watchmaker Baume & Mercier ( make almost anyone look like roaring successes. For women, the new Promesse collection includes an elegant model with a black mother-of-pearl face, punctuated by Roman numerals and 69 strategically placed diamonds, with a glossy alligator strap that's thicker than a foreign empress' accent.

"It really makes quite a statement," says Lauren Dimet Waters of Second City Style.

For men, the gold Clifton 10058 -- no diamonds here, but another thick strap -- is absolutely the way to go to strike a perfect balance between classic and modern. You can shop both watches at the Baume & Mercier e-boutique or by calling 1-800-MERCIER, where free wrapping and free engraving are available. Watch the video at

* I recognize your passions. An Italian sports car is beyond the reach of most of us, but there's a whole cottage industry out there offering gift certificates for "experiences" like a few hours behind the wheel of exotic autos. Too Le Mans for you? There's also tandem skydiving and whitewater rafting.

* I'm hipper than you think. If your kids accuse you of being frozen in 70s music, buy them tickets to a hot concert. (Hint: Britney Spears is out; Katy Perry is in.)

One caveat: For those toying with contributing to a charity in someone's name, make sure it's a cause they believe in as much as you do. Otherwise, the message you may unwittingly be sending is "It's All About Me."

ACA Marketplace Complicates Tax Returns -- May Delay 2015 Tax Season

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 11:35am
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(NewsUSA) - No one wants a big surprise at tax time, which is why tax professionals recommend that clients review their tax situation early to make any necessary adjustments to withholding or estimated tax payments.

"This used to be a simple process," said Mary Olson, enrolled agent and manager of The Iola Tax Place in Iola, WI. "This year, many tax professionals need to devote more time to understanding the impact of the new Affordable Care Act on their clients. Taxpayers who obtained health insurance through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace may be in for a big surprise at tax time."

As part of the Marketplace, eligible taxpayers had the option to receive a subsidy to help pay their monthly health insurance premiums. This subsidy was paid directly to the health insurance carrier and was considered an advance of the premium tax credit. Eligibility for the subsidy was based on estimated household size and income.

Generally, individuals and families with estimated household incomes for the year between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level for their family size were eligible for the subsidy:

One person: household income between $11,490 and $45,960.

Family of two: household income between $15,510 and $62,040.

Family of four: household income between $23,550 and $94,200.

Olson cautioned, "If the actual 2014 household income exceeds these amounts, and a subsidy was granted, the subsidy will need to be repaid on their 2014 federal tax return."

Many people were exempt from the Marketplace, so the subsidy was not allowed. Those exempt were already receiving affordable minimum coverage through an eligible employer plan, were eligible for Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP or TRICARE, or were claimed as a dependent on another person's tax return.

In August, the IRS issued draft copies of the health insurance marketplace statement and the premium tax credit form, which must be filed along with the tax returns of those wishing to claim the credit. If the final copies of the forms and instructions are not released in sufficient time for the tax software companies to incorporate them into their programs, the start date for the filing of 2014 tax returns could be affected.

Filing a tax return can be daunting and stressful without the advice and guidance of a tax expert. Enrolled agents receive their licenses from the Department of Treasury -- they're America's Tax Experts. To find an enrolled agent in your area, call 1-800-424-4339 or visit the NAEA website at and click on "Find an EA."

Millennial Travel Is on the Rise

Tue, 12/09/2014 - 10:26am
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(NewsUSA) - Millennials want to see the world. According to a study by Boston Consulting Group, Americans ages 18-34 reported a greater desire to travel abroad by a 23 percent margin. While the economy rebounds, travel spending by this group is up.

These 80 million young Americans crave authenticity and adventure in travel; they are socially and ecologically conscious and strive for a healthy lifestyle. International travel and cultural experiences are their top priorities. One great travel option is adventure cruising on an eco-friendly ship.

Star Clippers' soft-adventure, healthful activities and unique ports of call make this cruise line perfect for millennials. They can explore several different countries in one vacation on an authentic and comfortable tall ship.

The intimate size of the ships -- just 170 or 227 passengers -- lends the feel of a private yacht. Special itineraries reach exciting destinations, including such exclusive events as the Cannes Film Festival and the Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez yacht regatta. Typical itineraries navigate the Caribbean in winter and Mediterranean in summer, visiting ports less traveled by large cruise liners.

The atmosphere on board is relaxed. An open deck plan encourages guests to climb the mast for a panoramic view from the crow's nest, relax in the bowsprit net or enjoy a cocktail on deck. Events like a pirate-themed party or sunrise yoga create a congenial milieu.

Shoreside activities include historical and athletic pursuits. Water sports, including kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkeling, are popular. Other options for enjoying a day at port range from biking the hills of Croatia to kicking back at a quiet beach barbecue.

For more information on Star Clippers itineraries and a virtual tour, visit


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