Analysis: Trump snubs checks on power in massive assault on accountability

Donald Trump’s stonewalling White House is mounting a multi-front assault on accountability, testing the notion that a president must answer to citizens for whom he holds a public trust.


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Here’s How to Pick the Right Homeowners Insurance Company for Your Needs

Homeownership comes with certain responsibilities. If you borrowed money to buy your home, chances are that your lender requires you to carry homeowners insurance.

As with any other kind of insurance, homeowners insurance can be a pain if you don’t do your research before picking a company. And with so many coverage options out there, how can you be sure you’re making the right decision?

Before you even consider which company to go with, you need to become familiar with homeowners insurance and what it may or may not cover.

What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

Like any other type of insurance, a homeowners policy doesn’t cover everything, but some coverages are offered by most basic policies.

Fire and smoke damage are covered by most home insurance providers. Other situations usually covered include weather damage (such as windstorms), internal water damage, theft, vandalism, snow and ice damage and explosions.

Homeowners insurance also covers your personal property and the costs of living elsewhere if you need to move out during a home repair or rebuild.

Insurance companies offer additional coverage for natural disasters like floods and earthquakes, but these types of disasters usually aren’t covered by a regular policy. If you live in an area prone to flooding or earthquakes, you may want to opt into this additional coverage.

It will cost you more on your monthly premium, but if you ever need to file a claim, it’ll be worth it when you can repair or rebuild your home rather than losing all the money you’ve put into it.

Choosing the Best Homeowners Insurance

What qualifies as the best homeowners insurance policy for you might not qualify as the best for your sister or your neighbor. Before choosing one, consider what “best” means to you.

For example, if you’re on a tight budget, you might be most concerned with price. If you’ve had bad customer service experiences in the past, you’ll probably put more emphasis on high satisfaction ratings. And if you’re a worrier, you may be most concerned about making sure you have good coverage for a variety of factors.

To determine the best homeowners insurance companies, we used J.D. Power’s U.S. Home Insurance Study, which surveyed 14,122 homeowners and renters.

Ratings on a scale of one to five were given in six categories: overall satisfaction, policy offerings, price, billing process and policy information, interaction and claims.

Best Home Insurance on a Budget

If you’re on a tight budget, you should check out these homeowners insurance companies, all of which rated high when it comes to affordability.

Amica Mutual

Amica Mutual got top marks in the price category, making it one of the most affordable homeowners insurance providers on average.

Price Ranking: 5/5

USAA

J.D. Power rated USAA but didn’t include it in their final ranking because it’s only available to members of the military, veterans and their immediate families. Nevertheless, USAA’s score in the price category tied Amica Mutual’s, making it a good option for those who are eligible.

Price Ranking: 5/5

Cincinnati Insurance

While its name comes from Ohio’s Queen City, Cincinnati Insurance is actually available in 43 states and the District of Columbia. It scored four out of five in J.D. Power’s price category.

Price Ranking: 4/5

Erie Insurance

Erie Insurance scored five out of five in J.D. Power’s auto insurance study and four out of five for home insurance. Choosing to bundle your insurance under Erie could be a smart way to save even more money.

Price Rating: 4/5

MAPFRE Insurance

MAPFRE started in Spain and expanded into Latin America and eventually to the U.S., where it is now an affordable choice for homeowners.

Price Rating: 4/5

Best Home Insurance Customer Service

Before selecting an insurance company for your home, it’s a good idea to find out how the National Association of Insurance Commissioners scored it for consumer complaints. The search tool can be a little bit complicated to use, but well worth your time to make sure the company you are considering deals with complaints in a timely and ethical manner.

Amica Mutual

Amica had the highest customer satisfaction ratings and lowest customer complaint ratio in 2018, compared to home insurance providers of similar size. J.D. Power scored Amica at the top of the list for interactions.

Interaction Rating: 5/5

USAA

USAA also scored favorably in terms of customer service complaints. Like many insurance companies, USAA’s customer service is handled by a call center, so the biggest complaint is having to talk to multiple people about the same issue. However, when filing a claim, customers were typically assigned a representative they could reach directly when needed.

Interaction Rating: 5/5

Cincinnati Insurance

Cincinnati Insurance had an average number of complaints compared to other insurance providers. However, J.D. Power’s study gave the company five out of five for interactions.

Interaction Rating: 5/5

Best Home Insurance for Military Families

If you are an active member of the military, a veteran or a family member of a veteran or active-duty member of the military, you may choose to go with a VA loan to purchase your home. If you do, you’ll find the VA has certain requirements when it comes to your homeowners insurance.

One of these requirements relates to flood insurance. If you live in a FEMA-designated special flood hazard area, you’ll need to get flood insurance in order to qualify for a VA loan.

You can choose any insurance company that offers the coverage required by the VA, but USAA is a popular choice.

USAA

USAA scored top marks all around in the J.D. Power study. Its only downside is the fact that it’s only available to military-affiliated families. But if you’re in the military, a veteran or an immediate family member, USAA could be your best option. Here’s a list of who is eligible for USAA membership:

  • Active, retired and honorably separated officers and enlisted personnel
  • Officer candidates in commissioning programs
  • Adult children whose parents were or are USAA members
  • Widows or widowers of USAA members

Military Discounts

If you opt for a non-military insurance company, make sure you ask about military discounts. Many of the bigger insurance companies, like Progressive and Farmers, offer discounts for active-duty military. Availability varies by state, so your options will be different depending on your location.

Best Home Insurance for First-Time Buyers

Homes are next to mountains

There is no single best home insurance company for first-time buyers. But if you’ve never been on the property ladder before, you’ll need to educate yourself on the types of insurance you need to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Look for insurance companies that offer plenty of online resources to help you understand the homebuying process.

Allstate

Allstate provides resources to help you decide which homeowners coverage to opt into. This includes articles on dwelling insurance, flood and earthquake insurance and quote comparisons.

You can also take an online quiz to see what type of insurance is right for you. All of these resources are available before you’ve even contacted a representative for a quote.

Best Home Insurance for Coverage

If you’re looking for insurance that goes beyond the basic — for instance, you live in a flood- or earthquake-prone area — you may want to look at these providers.

Amica Mutual

Amica Mutual’s standard policy includes coverage for your dwelling, other structures like garages or sheds, personal property, personal liability and loss of use. But because Amica believes that homeowners insurance shouldn’t be “one size fits all,” you can choose to extend your coverage where you need it.

For example, you can opt into dwelling replacement coverage, which covers up to 30% above your rebuild costs. Additional theft coverage protects you while you’re traveling as well as at home. Catastrophic coverage will help cover repair and replacement costs if your home is affected by a flood or earthquake.

Policy Offerings Rating: 5/5

USAA

Home insurance coverage from USAA varies depending on where you live. The basic policy covers you for fire, theft, vandalism, most weather-related events, liability and even identity theft. USAA also covers uniform replacement for active members of the military.

You can also choose to add an umbrella policy that protects you further in case of liability. For example, if your dog bites someone or your child’s friend is injured while at your home, the umbrella policy would cover your legal costs.

Policy Offerings Rating: 5/5

Best Overall Home Insurance Company: Amica Mutual

Amica Mutual scored top marks in all six J.D. Power categories. Not only is it a smart choice for budget-conscious buyers, but it’s also the best of the best for coverage and customer service. Only USAA was able to meet Amica Mutual in all categories.

Worst Home Insurance Companies

The following homeowners insurance providers scored below average for overall satisfaction in the J.D. Power study.

UPC Insurance

UPC provides insurance in 12 states and specializes in coverage for areas prone to natural disasters like hurricanes. This sounds great, but if you don’t live in one of those areas, your rates will likely be higher than you’d find with competing companies.

Customer service also appears to be lacking, with a high number of complaints from customers, especially in Florida.

Overall Satisfaction Score: 2/5

Homesite

Homesite Insurance has one star out of five in Consumer Affairs’ Overall Satisfaction Rating. This rating is based on 41 ratings submitted in the last year.

Overall Satisfaction Score: 2/5

The Hanover Insurance Group

The Hanover boasts competitive prices on homeowners insurance and has local agents you can meet with in person. But overall, customer service ratings are pretty poor: the company has two out of five stars on Consumer Affairs. Some customers also reported a delay in payment and billing.

Overall Satisfaction Score: 2/5

National General

National General’s customer service rating fares better than some others on this list, but it scored two out of five in all categories in the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Home Insurance Study.

Overall Satisfaction Score: 2/5

Travelers

Out of 157 reviews that have star ratings (as of March 2019), Travelers’ homeowners insurance has 1.5 stars out of five in Consumer Affairs’ Overall Satisfaction Rating.

Overall Satisfaction Score: 2/5

At a Glance: Top 10 Best Homeowners Insurance Providers

The following table makes it easier for you to compare the top 10 home insurance companies, so you can get a better idea of the best companies to contact for a quote.

Company J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction Rating Price Ranking Interaction Ranking Policy Offerings (Coverage) Ranking
Amica Mutual 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5
USAA 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5
Auto Club of Southern California* 4/5 5/5 3/5 5/5
Cincinnati Insurance 4/5 4/5 5/5 3/5
Erie Insurance 3/5 4/5 3/5 3/5
MAPFRE 3/5 4/5 3/5 3/5
State Farm 3/5 3/5 3/5 3/5
Allstate 3/5 3/5 3/5 3/5
Auto-Owners Insurance 3/5 3/5 3/5 3/5
Farmers 3/5 3/5 3/5 3/5

*This company does not insure homes outside the state of California, so we have chosen not to include it in our analysis.

What to Consider When Choosing a Home Insurance Policy

Because your insurance premiums will vary based on your location and credit history, it’s in your best interest to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Here are some factors to consider when looking for a homeowners insurance policy.

Consumer Ratings

Read online reviews and consumer advocacy organization ratings of different insurance companies to get a feel for how the average customer feels about the company and how it treats customers and handles claims and complaints.

If most customer satisfaction reviews mention bad customer service or skyrocketing premiums, or it is rated poorly by consumer advocate organizations, you might want to scratch that company off your list.

You can also ask your friends and family members for recommendations. They will give you honest reviews based on their personal experiences, and you can trust these recommendations more than those that you read from ranting strangers on the internet.

Rebuild Costs

When getting quotes from your shortlisted insurance companies, make sure you ask about rebuild costs. This is how much your insurance will shell out to repair, rebuild or replace your house if it is destroyed or damaged.

This is important, because, depending on your coverage, you might end up having to pay out of pocket to repair or rebuild your home.

There are typically two ways your insurance company will pay out to repair your home: RCV or ACV

Replacement cost value (RCV) shells out the amount of money it would cost to replace the part of your home that is damaged or destroyed. For example, if your roof is destroyed, RCV coverage will pay to replace the roof.

Actual cash value (ACV) takes depreciation into account, so if your policy has only ACV coverage, and your roof is destroyed, your insurance company will pay only the amount it determines your roof was worth before it was damaged.

It’s important that you understand exactly what kind of coverage you have so you know what to expect after a disaster.

Medical Payments Coverage

If someone is injured on your property, your homeowners insurance will help pay their medical bills if you have medical payments coverage. Your policy will specify a limit, and after that, you will be liable for paying the remainder of the medical bill.

It’s up to you to determine where that limit should be, based on your financial situation and how much risk you want to take.

Additional Coverage

Before choosing a policy, it’s important to know what kinds of additional coverage you might need. The most obvious is flood insurance, which your lender will likely require if you live in a flood-prone area. (FEMA provides a handy resource where you can enter your address to see if you live in a flood area.)

Earthquakes happen most often in California but sometimes hit other states. You could choose additional insurance if you live in an earthquake-prone area. This type of insurance will cover the cost of rebuilding your home after earthquake damage, and will also cover any personal property inside your home.

Sinkholes can destroy not just your home but also your property. They are extremely costly to repair, and in some cases are irreparable, making your home and property uninhabitable and worthless. If you live in a sinkhole-prone area, you should investigate sinkhole coverage.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, some states require that standard homeowners insurance policies cover sinkholes at no additional cost, while others require that insurers offer optional sinkhole coverage for an additional premium.

If you’re buying an older home, you can purchase insurance designed for that too. Companies usually offer this for historic homes or registered landmarks.

There are a lot of options out there for home insurance, and deciding on the best policy can seem a bit like spinning a roulette wheel and hoping for the best.

But as long as you understand your needs, prioritize your requirements and do your research, you can be confident that your home will be covered in case of accident or disaster.

Catherine Hiles lives in Ohio with her husband and their two children. By day she manages a team of writers and graphic designers, and catches up on her own writing in her spare time.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Consider for a second that Westeros in Game of Thrones is a software company. Sansa would be the Operations department, and Daenerys would be in charge of Development. Meanwhile, Jon Snow is the DevOps Engineer whose primary role is to diffuse the palpable tension between the two so that Winterfell and the rest of Westeros can finally know peace.

See, as the head of development, Daenerys’ goal is to introduce new features and continuously improve the product. On the other hand, Sansa’s operations team is more concerned about the stability of the product. They’re aware that any big changes could potentially topple the system, so they try to defer them as much as they can. Read more…

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Samsung Delays Launch of Folding Smartphone: Report

Samsung has decided to postpone the launch of its anticipated folding smartphone after a number of reviews noted the device was too flimsy.

A report in The Wall Street Journal says the company has pushed the launch back until at least May. The Galaxy Fold, as it’s called, was set to launch April 26.

The Galaxy Fold, the first phone with a foldable screen in the U.S., created significant buzz when it was introduced. Several reviewers, however, noted that the device was breaking after just a few days use, with one screen flickering or not working at all after normal use.

The Journal said pressure from the phone’s hinge might be damaging the display.

Samsung was scheduled to host a launch event for the Fold in Hong Kong and China, but has postponed those.

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We’ve Got You Covered: Our Picks for 2019’s Best Car Insurance Companies

Car ownership comes with unseen costs. Everyone’s least favorite: the dreaded insurance.

Car insurance companies often get a bad rap, partially thanks to reviews from disgruntled customers. That makes it hard to determine the best auto insurance for you.

What does “best” car insurance company even mean?

The answer differs widely from consumer to consumer. If saving money is your biggest concern, you’ll probably value cheaper premiums over all else. If you’ve had bad experiences with customer service, you’ll want a company known for its superior service and reliability.

You may also want to consider other factors, like whether an insurer covers drivers with poor records or offers discounts for teen drivers with good grades.

Best Car Insurance on a Budget

Auto insurance rates depend on a variety of factors, including your age, location and driving track record. Therefore, the cheapest car insurance varies from driver to driver.

Here’s a list of companies offering budget-friendly car insurance.

Erie Insurance Group

You might not have heard of Erie Insurance Group. That’s because, as of February 2019, it’s only available in 12 states plus the District of Columbia. But compared to other insurers, Erie’s rates tend to be lower, particularly in Pennsylvania and Virginia.

In addition to offering competitive rates, Erie Insurance Group came at the top of the J.D. Power U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study.

If you live in Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, DC or New York, check out Erie to see if you could save money.

Average Rate: $ 1,052 per year

Geico

You probably know Geico from those commercials with the annoying British gecko. But that gecko’s claim about saving you 15% or more on car insurance could be true for you.

Geico is the second largest insurer in the U.S. and is available in all 50 states. Of those states, drivers in New York and Utah could save the most with Geico.

In the J.D. Power U.S. Claims Satisfaction Study, Geico ranked about average in most categories, and scored five out of five in the Rental Experience category, which focuses on customers’ experiences with getting rental cars while their own vehicle undergoes repairs.

Average Rate: $ 1,067 per year

American Family

Coming in at the third most affordable insurance company, American Family is also available nationwide. It ranks average in the J.D. Power U.S. Claims Satisfaction Study in all categories.

If your biggest concern is cost, it’s definitely worth getting a quote to see how it compares in your area.

Average Rate: $ 1,099 per year

Best Car Insurance Customer Service

Customer satisfaction is measured by many factors. To determine the most reliable car insurance company, we turned to the aforementioned J.D. Power U.S. Claims Satisfaction Study.

The study rates insurance companies based on seven categories: repair process, overall satisfaction, the initial claims reporting process, the process of getting an estimate, rental experience, claims servicing and settlement.

Here are the top three, in order:

Erie Insurance

As well as being the most affordable car insurance company, Erie scored top marks in the J.D. Power study, beating out many of its better-known competitors. It received five out of five in all categories except repair process, where it scored four out of five.

Overall Satisfaction: 5/5

USAA

USAA offers insurance for active duty military, veterans and family members of those people. It came in second place in the J.D. Power study with top marks in all categories, except estimation process, where it received four out of five.

Overall Satisfaction: 5/5

Amica Mutual

Amica Mutual came in third place in the J.D. Power study, receiving dings in a few categories. For first notice of loss and estimation process, it scored four out of five. The repair process scored three out of five, and rental experience was two out of five.

Overall Satisfaction: 5/5

Best Car Insurance for Teens

Women on tropical island road trip with retro car enjoying the sun and the sea

Teen drivers typically find it hard to get affordable insurance. A new driver’s lack of experience and maturity places a black mark on them, which equates to higher premiums.But there is hope out there for young drivers looking for decent insurance coverage.

State Farm

State Farm offers a variety of discounts for young drivers. The Good Student Discount offers discounts of up to 25% for drivers under 25 who maintain good grades in school. You can also get a driver training discount for taking driver’s ed classes.

The Steer Clear safe driver discount uses an app to record your trips, and you can also watch safe driving videos and take quizzes.

Erie Insurance

Erie Insurance is good for teen drivers as well as more experienced drivers. The Youthful Driver Discount is for unmarried drivers under 21 who live at home.

The Youthful Longevity Discount is designed for drivers who spend multiple years in a row under an Erie policy, whether their own or their parents’.

Finally, the Driver Training Discount gives cheaper rates — discounts range from 5% to 20% — to drivers under 21 who complete an accredited driver training course.

American Family

American Family offers a Teen Safe Driver program that can net you a nice discount on your premiums. The program uses an app to track driving behavior and suggest ways you can become safer behind the wheel.

After 3,000 miles or one year in the program, you’ll get a 10% discount on your insurance premium.

Best Car Insurance for a Bad Driving Record

If you have a bad driving record, chances are you find it hard to get affordable car insurance. But don’t despair: Some auto insurance providers do offer affordable policies even to bad drivers.

Geico

If you have a history of reckless driving, Geico could be your best bet. For drivers with a history of speeding, reckless/careless driving or running a stop sign, Geico could save you around 20%.

Progressive

For drivers with a DUI on their record, finding an auto insurance company that will take a chance on you can be tough. Progressive may be your refuge. This insurance company is also a good option if you have an accident for which you were at fault on your driving record. You could save 30-40%, depending on your exact situation.

Insurance Company Average Monthly Premium* J.D. Power Auto Claims Satisfaction Study Rating Good Student Discount Safe Driving Discount Car Safety Equipment Discount
Erie $ 1,052 5/5 No Yes Yes
Geico $ 1,067 3/5 Up to 15% Up to 26% Yes
USAA $ 1,468 5/5 Yes Yes Not specified
Amica Mutual $ 1,352 5/5 Yes Yes Yes
American Family $ 1,099 3/5 Yes Yes Yes
Allstate $ 1,718 3/5 Up to 35% Yes Yes
State Farm $ 1,372 3/5 Up to 25% Yes Yes
Progressive $ 1,241 3/5 Yes Up to 31% Not specified
Liberty Mutual $ 1,472 2/5 Yes Not specified Yes
Farmers $ 1,249 4/5 Yes Not specified Not specified
Nationwide $ 1,404 3/5 Yes Yes Yes

*Average monthly premium rates were determined by ValuePenguin.com, which obtained quotes from the largest car insurance companies based on the example of a 30-year-old driver.

How to Choose the Best Car Insurance Company For You

Consumer Reports recommends shopping around to get the best deal, even if you already have insurance. Doing so will show you the variety of available options so you can make the best decision based on your needs and budget.

Your best bet is to get in touch with the company and ask some questions pertaining to your situation. Here are a few important questions to get you started.

What Types of Claims Are Covered?

The minimum mandatory coverage varies depending on where you live. The first place to check is your state insurance commissioner’s website to see those minimum requirements. For example, in Ohio, where I live, only liability insurance is required by law.

But you might choose to buy more than the minimum requirement in order to more fully protect yourself and your assets.

Ask your insurance agent what they cover. If you stick with basic liability insurance, make sure you read the fine print to see the types of claims it covers. Ditto if you add things like physical damage coverage or anything above and beyond the minimum.

What Is Excluded?

Just as you need to know what’s covered, you should know what’s excluded. For example, some policies may not cover you if you’re in a collision with an uninsured driver, if you’re a victim of vehicle theft, if you collide with an animal or if your car is damaged in a natural disaster.

Ask for a list of what’s not covered so you can determine the likelihood that these exclusions will affect you. For example, if you live in an area prone to hurricanes, you’ll want to make sure your car is covered for natural disasters. If you often drive on country roads, you’ll probably want to be covered if you hit a deer.

Can I Choose Who Performs Repairs?

When your car sustains damage, some insurance companies will choose the auto repair shop that will fix your car. This is usually due to an agreement between the repair shop and the insurance company, where the shop cuts the insurance company a deal for sending customers their way.

Usually this works out fine, but if you have a preferred mechanic you might not appreciate being told where to get your car fixed. Or, if you have a high deductible, you might want to get a second opinion on price before committing to a repair order.

What Are the Costs?

With any insurance plan, the most notable costs are the monthly premiums. But your deductible could cause you some serious financial issues in case of an accident.

A high deductible means you’ll need to pay more out of pocket for a repair before your insurance policy kicks in and covers the rest. If you have enough in savings, you could get away with a higher deductible and lower monthly premium. But if your safety net is lacking, opting for a lower deductible and higher premiums could be a smarter choice.

What Additional Coverage Is Offered?

Liability insurance typically only covers damage to other people or property when you’re at fault. Under liability insurance, repairing your own car could be on you. For that reason, you might consider additional coverage to help cover you in a variety of different scenarios.

Comprehensive coverage protects you in cases where your car is damaged by an event other than an accident, like an act of Mother Nature.

Collision coverage pays to repair your car after an accident, typically whether or not the accident was your fault.

Uninsured motorist protection covers you when you’re in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have insurance. Without this type of protection, you would be liable for any damage to your vehicle, which could end up costing you big.

Personal injury protection, also called “no-fault” coverage, helps pay for medical and other costs no matter whose fault the accident was. It can also cover things like lost wages and transportation to medical appointments. Some states mandate this type of coverage, while in others it’s an optional add-on.

How to Save Money on Car Insurance

You have multiple ways to make sure you’re getting the best rate on your car insurance, no matter which company you choose.

Bundle Your Insurance

It pays to go with the same company for all your insurance needs. Most insurance companies offer discounted rates when you bundle things like home, auto and personal property insurance.

Drive Safely

It can pay to be a responsible driver. Most insurance companies lower your rates the longer you go without an accident. Others use technology like apps to measure your driving behavior and offer a discount for using the app to become a better driver.

Pay in Full

You might be able to get a discount by paying your annual car insurance premium in full. It’s worth considering if you have enough in savings and want to spend less overall on car insurance. If you can’t afford to pay in full, ask if you can get a discount for enrolling in an auto-pay program.

Driver Training

Many insurance companies will offer a discount if you complete driver training courses, regardless of your age.

Car Safety Equipment

Things like anti-theft devices, airbags and safety technology found in new cars could get you a discount. Make sure you mention these when getting a quote.

Choosing the right car insurance policy can be a stressful experience, but it pays to shop around and consider all your options before signing on the dotted line.

Catherine Hiles lives in Ohio with her husband and their two children. By day she manages a team of writers and graphic designers, and catches up on her own writing in her spare time.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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When’s the last time you read a book — a whole book? Maybe it was on a recent vacation, when you zipped through a trashy beach read you’d picked up from the airport. Maybe it was in college, but only because you’d fail a class if you didn’t. Or perhaps it was even longer ago still — say, upon your hundredth reread of your favorite Harry Potter novel. (The books *are* way better than the movies, FWIW.)

At any rate, it might comfort you to know you’re not the only one who’s struggling to make time to read: A Pew Research Center survey found that approximately one in four American adults didn’t read a single book in 2017 — the most recent year for which data’s available — either in whole or in part.  Read more…

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What CNN learned watching Robert Mueller for 18 months

Editor’s Note: When special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate Russian meddling in the US election, CNN, like most news organizations, endeavored to learn what we could about the famously secretive team’s work. So, in addition to other newsgathering efforts, CNN had journalists who stood outside their offices. Journalists often call this a stakeout. Here, the CNN team lays out the backstory of their assignment and how this investment of time yielded big journalistic returns.


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Double Down on Going Green: These Green Friendly Companies Hire Remotely

You may be looking for ways to go green  — and maybe make a little green while you’re at it. Working from home is a great way to do both, especially if it’s for a green-friendly company.

Transportation pollution is currently the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, and a close second is electricity usage. Commuters and office buildings are responsible for a large portion of those emissions, but the good news is that remote jobs, which disincentivize both commuting and large offices, are soaring in popularity.

The number of remote workers is up 140% since 2005, according to data from Global Workplace Analytics.

To add to those environmental benefits, remote workers also have $ 4,000 higher annual earnings. — Global Workplace Analysts’ telecommuting study.

“In terms of personal footprint, working from home is a big deal,” says Dr. Robert Brinkmann, Hofstra University professor of geology, environment and sustainability. “You can reduce your greenhouse-gas footprint significantly.”

That’s because working from home, on average, will cut 8,000 commuting miles off your odometer and will curb an estimated three tons of carbon emissions each year.

To double your environmental impact, we found  several green jobs you can do remotely.

What Are Green Jobs?

Generally speaking, green jobs are jobs that help the environment. They can be in almost any industry, but they must strive to increase energy efficiency and sustainability.

Direct examples include land, water and wildlife conservation, whereas a less direct example is a vegetarian food brand.

Companies With Remote Jobs That Help The Environment

If you’re a nonprofit organization or a business in green tech, it makes sense to hire remotely. Here are a few companies that put their environmental mission where their mouth is.

Audubon

Audubon, more formally The National Audubon Society, hires many jobs explicitly aimed at helping the environment, some of which are available remotely. The nonprofit membership organization was founded more than a century ago, and it lobbies the government on environmental conservation issues.

Remote work is available for interns and conservation organizers. Visit its job board for open positions.

Impossible Foods

detail shot of Impossible Foods burgers

This is a company you may have already come across in your daily routine. Impossible Foods produces plant-based meat alternatives to offset the environmental impacts of the agricultural industry. It’s made headway since 2011 in getting its faux meat into grocery stores and restaurants across the nation.

The company is based in California, but it offers some work-from-home positions, typically in sales. Check the current job listings for available opportunities.

Mercy For Animals

An advocate for cruelty-free farming, Mercy For Animals is a nonprofit organization that has spurred several factory-farming investigations since its launch in 1995. For most positions, applicants can choose between working remotely or at one of its physical locations. Remote jobs in tech, community organization and communications are available.

See current openings on its job board.

The Humane League

The Humane League started in 2005 in Philadelphia as a small grassroots organization. Since then, it’s expanded into an international nonprofit that campaigns for animal rights and sustainable farming practices. All jobs at The Humane League are remote, and its workforce is decentralized across several countries.

Check the current job listings to apply.

The Sierra Club

Long a champion of environmental conservation and sustainability, the Sierra Club boasts more than 3 million members, making it one of the largest nonprofits in the U.S. Most of its jobs are located at the California headquarters or in one of the field offices around the nation. Remote positions include volunteer management and communications.

For current openings, visit its job board.

For other remote job opportunities that aren’t directly associated with environmental organizations, browse The Penny Hoarder’s Work-From-Home Jobs Portal. We post legitimate remote jobs there all the time.

Other Ways It Pays to Go Green

close up shot of window with an air conditioning unit

If you’re interested in reducing your greenhouse gas emissions overall, Brinkmann says to think of your carbon footprint in a broader sense.

While, yes, working from home is a noble way to reduce about three tons of carbon pollution a year — if you’re not careful, you can easily undo those efforts in other areas of your life. Take travel, for example: A one-way flight from Atlanta to Beijing will produce roughly the same amount of emissions.

And if you’re working from home, you may be tempted to blast the AC all day.

Brinkmann says small energy adjustments around your home office can have a significant environmental impact, especially on your energy bill.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, about half of your energy bill is due to air conditioning. Ensuring your heating and cooling equipment is Energy-Star certified will reduce your bill and your emissions. A switch to energy-efficient lighting is another cheap investment that will save you in the long run, as the bulbs use 75% less energy and last up to 10 times longer.

For those times when you have to use services that emit large amounts of greenhouse gases, such as airplane rides, Brinkmann offers this solution: carbon offsets. These are small investments in renewable energy projects that help negate the impact of carbon-emitting services you use.

For example, to negate the effects of three tons of carbon dioxide emissions —  aka a year’s worth of commuting to work or one 12-hour international flight — you could purchase the equivalent in carbon offsets for as little as $ 30 through organizations such as Terrapass and Carbonfund, which use your investments for environmental initiatives like forest restoration and land conservation.

“When you buy [an international] flight, you just throw another 30 bucks in the coffers for that,” Brinkmann says.

To have a “guilt-free Earth Day,” as he puts it, be sure to earmark some of that money you saved from a lower energy bill and reinvest it in green energy.

“It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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US weekly jobless claims lowest since 1969; unemployment rolls shrink

First-time claims for state unemployment benefits were expected to total 205,000 in the most recent week, up slightly from the 196,000 claims reported for the previous week.
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Thinking About Taking Money From Your 401(k)? Here’s What You Should Know

Although I’m a full-time freelancer now, I remember the days of receiving pay stubs — reading that neat little list of all the places my money was going.

Mostly, I remember how many of those places weren’t my pockets. Federal and state taxes, social security, health care… and, yes, a percentage of my wages deferred to my 401(k), funneled directly toward my hope of future retirement.

This is a personal finance blog you’re reading, so we probably don’t have to reiterate the importance of retirement savings. (Even though we just did.)

But as responsible and saving-savvy as you might be, you probably still want to know: How — and when — can you get those 401(k) contributions back out again?

What’s a 401(k), Anyway?

Before we start talking about how to take money out of your 401(k), let’s talk about how it gets in there in the first place. What is this bowl of alphabet soup, anyway?

A 401(k) is a company-sponsored investment account designed to help you save money for retirement — and it gets you a tax break today, too. You set up a portion of your wages, usually expressed as a percentage of your overall salary, to be automatically deposited, or “deferred,” to your 401(k).

Then, you invest the assets and allow them to grow on the market, slowly but surely building up your nest egg you need to eventually throw in the towel. (Oh, and you won’t pay income taxes on those funds until you take them out, either!)

The really cool thing about 401(k)s is that, unlike many other retirement accounts, your employer can also make contributions — and many employers do, up to a certain percentage of your wages.

This is called an “employer match,” and it basically means free money: For every dollar you defer up to the designated percentage, your employer will put in another, which is a super-easy way to increase your retirement savings.

We don’t have time in this post to go into all the nitty-gritty details about how a 401(k) works, and regardless, you’ll need to check with your company for specifics.

Now let’s talk about how to access your contributions — and capital gains — after you invest them.

Withdrawals, Distributions and Penalties, Oh My!

If you were to head to the IRS website to try and learn more about 401(k) withdrawal rules, you might end up scratching your head. The word “withdraw” doesn’t appear even once in the resource guide.

But fear not: Your 401(k) funds aren’t actually locked away forever. The government just likes to keep things interesting by opting for very specific terminology.

A 401(k) withdrawal is known, in IRS-speak, as a distribution. And there are very specific rules regarding when distributions can be made.

In general, you won’t be able to take money out of your 401(k) — at least, not without incurring a penalty — until one of the following things happens:

  • You reach age 59.5. (You celebrate half-birthdays, right? The IRS is very fond of them.)
  • You die, become disabled, or “otherwise have a severance from employment,” which is ominous-sounding, indeed.
  • Your employer terminates the plan or goes out of business.

If you withdraw your money outside of these circumstances, you’ll be hit with a hefty penalty: a 10% early distribution tax, along with the regular income taxes.

As if that weren’t enough, there are also rules about when you must make withdrawals. You’re not allowed to let your 401(k) contributions grow forever.

Once you reach age 70.5, you must begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your 401(k) account, unless you are — heaven forbid — still working.

It might feel stifling, having your money restricted by so many ironclad rules.

After all, you earned it, and you did the budgetary shuffling required to afford to put it away. Why shouldn’t you be able to take it out whenever you want to?

Well, for one thing, ripping your retirement savings out of your account is a surefire way to miss out on compound interest, which is how you’re going to turn that measly 3% of your paycheck into a livable retirement income.

And since you’re getting a tax break, the government’s not too keen on having you withdraw your funds willy-nilly.

But there are certain exceptional circumstances in which you can take distributions even if you’re nowhere near your 60th birthday.

What Are the Exceptions?

As strict as the tax code may be, it’s not entirely without humanity. You can make penalty-free distributions from your 401(k) in the following circumstances:

  • You have, or develop, a qualifying disability.
  • You leave your job and the company agrees to remit periodic payments for at least five years, or until you reach the age of 59.5.
  • You’re required by court order to pay the money to your divorced spouse, child, or dependent.
  • You’re paying for medical expenses that qualify for an income tax deduction. The IRS allows you to deduct medical costs that exceed 10% of your AGI, or adjusted gross income (7.5% if you or your spouse is over 65). For example, if your AGI is $ 30,000, you’d be able to withdraw only enough to pay medical expenses over $ 3,000, or $ 2,250 if you’ve already celebrated your 65th birthday.
  • You’ve weathered a disaster for which IRS relief has been granted.
  • You die (😢), in which case the distributions are made to a beneficiary.

You can also take early withdrawals, known as “hardship distributions,” from your 401(k) if you can demonstrate you’re under certain types of serious financial burden.  

However, hardship withdrawals are limited to your elective deferrals only — that is, you can take out the money you put into the account, but not any of the investment gains you might have earned in the meantime.

(It’s up to your employer whether or not you can take out any of those matching funds we discussed earlier, or any other discretionary contributions made by your company.)

You should also note that you’ll still be required to pay income taxes on the distribution — and, if you’re not yet 59.5, the 10% penalty will still apply.

What Qualifies for a 401(k) Hardship Withdrawal?

The No. 1 criterion for qualifying for a hardship withdrawal is “immediate and heavy financial need.” The IRS outlines the following instances where this kind of need may arise:

  • You, your spouse, or your dependents incur medical expenses.
  • You need money to cover costs related to the purchase of your principal residence — but this does not include mortgage payments.
  • You’re footing the bill for higher education costs for you, your spouse, your children or your dependents, including tuition, fees, room and board.
  • You need money to avoid being evicted from your home or having your mortgage foreclosed.
  • You’re faced with funeral expenses.
  • You need to repair certain damages to your principal residence.

It’s important to note that your employer ultimately decides whether or not you can take a hardship withdrawal from your 401(k) plan at all, no matter what your financial deal is.

And if you do take money out, you may be unable to make further contributions for a period of six months thereafter.

401(k) Loans

It’s also possible to borrow from your 401(k) — but just like any other loan, it must be repaid, on time and with interest.

If you fail to meet the terms of your 401(k) loan, the amount you owe back to the plan will become a distribution, and will thus be subject to the same taxes (and early withdrawal penalty) as it would have been if you’d taken it without the intention of repaying it.

Just as with hardship distributions, it’s up to your employer and 401(k) custodian as to whether or not loans are allowed. If they are, you’ll be able to take a maximum of 50% of your vested account balance (i.e., funds you actually own, which may include employer contributions) or $ 50,000, whichever amount is lower.

In most cases, you’ll have five years to repay the loan, unless it’s being used toward the purchase of your primary residence.

If you meet these requirements, however, the loan is not considered taxable income… but you definitely want to make sure you can pay it back on time!

What is the “Age 55” Rule?

Businessman talks on the phone and rides on a train

If you’re almost, but not quite, at the age of retirement, these rules can feel even more stifling — which is why the IRS has implemented a special clause for savers aged 55 and older.

If you’re laid off, fired, or quit your job during or after the year of your 55th birthday, you get to make penalty-free distributions from your 401(k) plan… but only the one you were most recently invested in. That is, if you have other 401(k) accounts languishing from previous positions, you still won’t be able to access those funds until you reach the normal retirement age.

Which is one good reason to roll over your retirement account whenever you change jobs. Speaking of which…

Moving On: 401(k) Rollovers and Transfers

If you get a new job (or quit your career to go freelance or start a business), you may be wondering what will happen to your 401(k).

You might even be considering cashing it out so you can walk into your new life with a windfall. (We’d recommend you don’t, for reasons we’ll dive into in just a second.)

Although it’s not the same as withdrawing the money to be used from your own pocket, rollovers and transfers are another way to move your 401(k) funds — and given how frequently most of us change positions these days, it’s important to understand your options.

Here’s what you can choose to do when you’re leaving a job with a 401(k).

Direct Transfer

Probably the easiest way to deal with a dangling 401(k) is to simply roll it over into your new job’s plan — granted your new job has an eligible plan in the first place. (If you’re moving to a position that doesn’t offer a 401(k) or other compatible retirement benefit, you can roll the funds over into a traditional IRA.)

In a direct rollover, you never get to see the money — your existing plan’s custodian simply routes the money directly over to the new account manager. As such, you won’t have to worry about paying any income taxes or being assessed the early withdrawal fee, because you never have spending access to the funds in the first place.

Indirect Transfer or Rollover

Another option for bringing your 401(k) along with you to your new job is to do an indirect transfer, or rollover.

In this case, you actually do cash out your existing account, but with the intention of putting all the money right back into some other retirement-specific investment vehicle.

As long as you redeposit your entire account balance within 60 days of withdrawal, you’ll avoid paying any taxes or penalties.

However, there is one small fly in the ointment: Your existing account custodian is required by law to withhold 20% of the distribution, regardless of your good intentions… which means you’ll have to make up the difference out of your pocket when you fund the new account.

The money will eventually come back to you as a tax refund — but depending on the size of your 401(k), you might not have the funds to break even in the meantime.

And if you don’t redeposit the entire balance within the 60-day window, you’ll face those same early withdrawal penalties we’ve been discussing throughout the post, not to mention income taxes.

Take the Money and Run

Yes, you can cash out your 401(k) when you leave your job.

But if you do, again: You’ll pay the 10% penalty and add the windfall to your taxable income for the year.

And even worse, you’ll also be stripping yourself of one of the most powerful retirement savings devices at your disposal.

If you ever want to punch the clock for the very last time, you need to have some sort of investment vehicle… unless you’re independently wealthy or something. (In which case, you should still stash the money in a regular investment account so it can grow even more!)

Leave It Where It Is

Another option? Simply leave the funds where they are — as long as your company allows it. (If you’ve only worked there a short time or your account totals less than $ 5,000, they may force you to take it with you.)

Different 401(k) plans have different policies, fees and investment options, so if you’re happy with what your former company offers, you might let the money languish there and continue growing.

Of course, if you switch jobs, say, 10 times in your life and take this tack at each turn, you’ll end up with a scattered mess of a retirement portfolio — and as discussed above, you won’t be able to take full advantage of the age 55 rule.

Taking advantage of your company’s 401(k) plan is one of the very best ways to set yourself up for a comfortable retirement. These investment accounts carry lots of special incentives, including high contribution maximums as well as their tax-deferrable status.

But we get it: Life is expensive! And sometimes, you don’t have the cash you need to get through the present day, let alone some nebulous future moment.

Whenever possible, it’s best to leave your 401(k) funds invested and growing. Compound interest requires time to do its best work, and making early withdrawals can wreak havoc on your nest egg’s potential. It may take hard work and discipline, but future you is counting on your determination!

If you do need to take distributions from your 401(k), however, we hope this guide has offered some clarity as to how, when and why best to do so. (But really: Don’t. We mean it.)

Jamie Cattanach’s work has been featured at Fodor’s, Yahoo, SELF, The Huffington Post, The Motley Fool, Roads & Kingdoms and other outlets. Learn more at www.jamiecattanach.com.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Elizabeth Warren Calls for House to Begin Impeachment of Trump

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren on Friday called for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, saying the country can’t afford to ignore the obstruction uncovered by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

“The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty,” the Massachusetts senator wrote in a series of tweets. “That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the president of the United States.”

Mueller’s report released Thursday identified at least 10 instances of potential obstruction of justice by the president, including discouraging others from cooperating with the Russia probe and dangling possible pardons.

Warren’s impeachment calls comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenants have been trying to tamp down calls from progressive lawmakers in that chamber to begin impeachment proceedings.

Up until now, Mueller’s investigation has caused barely a ripple on the presidential campaign trail. Voters rarely mention it in questions to the candidates, and the contenders themselves have focused more on pocketbook issues like wages and health insurance.

Since Mueller’s report was released, several of the Democratic presidential contenders have suggested that impeachment should be under discussion, and some have urged further investigation. Warren’s comments appear to be the most direct call for the House to act.

Some of the other Democratic candidates such as Senator Kamala Harris of California and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg stopped short of calling for impeachment when asked about it after the release of the Mueller report.

Warren decided to call for Trump’s impeachment after reading the Mueller report while on a campaign trip to Denver and Salt Lake City, according to an aide to the senator.

“Mueller put the next step in the hands of Congress. ‘Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.’ The correct process for exercising that authority is impeachment,” Warren tweeted.

Around the same time as her announcement on Twitter, Warren sent an email to her list endorsing House impeachment proceedings against the president, which ended with: “I want to make sure you know where I stand.”

But the Warren aide, who asked for anonymity to discuss private deliberations, said Warren will continue to focus on her policy proposals and not on impeaching Trump when campaigning before voters.

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Mueller report shows Hope Hicks’ struggle to persuade ‘boss man’ Trump

She built a national reputation as the elusive public relations force behind President Donald Trump’s campaign and administration, but Hope Hicks couldn’t save the President from himself on Air Force One in July of 2017.


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This Woman Made $1,200 in a Season With a Home Garden Business. Here’s How

Finding myself utterly broke and apparently unemployable a few years ago, I decided that if I wanted to work, I would have to start my own business.

Since I didn’t have any startup money or business experience, I was forced to narrow down my ideas to the bare skeleton and ask myself two questions:

  • What resources do I have already?
  • What do I already know how to do?

Not much. I didn’t have a degree or own anything valuable I could sell.

But I was living with my parents, with a roof over my head, food to eat and a few acres of grass and trees at my disposal.

And I knew how to garden.

How to Sell Plants and Start a Gardening Business

In the Midwest, trees pop out of the ground each spring, just to get mowed over by well-meaning suburbanites, who flock to nurseries and garden centers to pay big bucks for new ones to plant.

I decided to take advantage of this cycle. Armed only with determination, a spade and a wheelbarrow, I began digging and potting.

I made a small profit the first year. It helped pull me out of “brokedom,” but it was nothing to brag about.

However, the realization of money actually can grow on trees inspired me to go full force the next season.

That year, I made $ 1,200.

Think you want to give it a shot? Here’s what to do:

How to Choose Plants

Chances are, if you have any kind of garden or yard, you have perennials growing out of control.

Carefully thin these out and repackage them, and you’ve got your stock.

Pro Tip

Want to give gardening a try before you buy? Hundreds of public libraries across the U.S. have seed-sharing programs free to patrons. Most programs only ask that you return some seeds from your yield.

I can almost guarantee you when friends hear about what you’re doing, they’ll offer you their own overrun gardens, too. Four of my friends did!

You can make small investments, too, such as raising tomatoes from seeds in early spring. Plus, the fruit that demands to be a vegetable also offers some of the biggest bang for your gardening buck — cherry and heirloom tomatoes offer some of the highest ROI among veggies.

Where to Get Compost

I was fortunate that my parents’ yard already had several compost piles in its corners — all I had to do was dig for limitless black soil.

If you don’t have one, here’s how to start a compost pile in your backyard.

How to Create Containers for Your Plants

Like most families who garden, mine had an arsenal of used plastic containers in our garage. I went through those first.

Throughout that first winter, I checked every container in the recycling bin to see if I could cut off the top and poke holes in the bottom.

Pro Tip

Wrap newspaper around containers like coffee canisters to form cheap seed-starter pots. Customers can plant with the pot still on — the paper will gradually break down in the ground.

I broke a knife in the process, but by spring I had enough containers for the entire season. Quite a few customers even brought me their extra containers at no cost.

Capitalize on the fact you’re only using natural methods and reused containers — customers will be happy knowing they’re helping the environment.

Fertilize for Free (Almost)

There’s no need to buy fancy, expensive supplies from a garden center.

An elderly woman taught me this simple hack: Set up an old garbage can under a gutter to catch excess rain water. Throw eggshells in and cover it with a lid.

Pro Tip

Let your fish feed your plants. Use the dirty water from a freshwater aquarium (and the accompanying fish waste, full of beneficial bacteria) to fertilize your plants for free.

Use this to water your plants. The nutrients from the shells provides them with all they need to flourish.

Make Your Presentation Perfect

My setup soon spread from a bench alongside the garage to cover the entire back porch and parking area.

I put the plants in sections and made sure there was space to walk between them so customers would feel comfortable. I set up a tarp for the shade plants.

Keep your “store” looking nice by keeping it clean and weeding out any droopy daisies (or other dying plants).

Be available and friendly to customers — explain what the plants are and how to take care of them. Do your research!

Price to Sell

I kept pricing simple: Most plants were $ 3, or two for $ 5. Large plants were $ 5, and nothing ever went over that price.

If people bought a lot of plants, I’d give them a few for free.

For example, if their total came to $ 70, I’d just ask for $ 60. You’ll be surprised how quickly the money adds up, even at these prices!

Don’t Forget Advertising

I advertised on Craigslist every few days, posting a detailed description of what I had in stock, how to find the store and prices.

I always added nice pictures of my best-looking plants.

Pro Tip

Connect with your customers on picture-heavy social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Include photos of your prize plants as well as gardening tips to create a community of loyal fans.

Be sure to provide a phone number in case customers have questions or can’t find you.

And in case you were wondering, I also hung up some old-fashioned posters around town and looked into newspaper advertising. Neither was effective.

Before You Get Started, Consider These Factors

Potting plants and taking care of your store takes time and muscle, but if you enjoy working outdoors, this could be the business for you.

You’re also at the weather’s mercy. My third year in business, it rained nonstop all spring, and I sold almost nothing.

Running your own business also can be mentally stressful. Frankly, for the number of hours you put in, you might make more money working for minimum wage as a cashier or server. You’ll have to motivate yourself to keep things running and turning a profit.

But at the same time, there’s nothing like the freedom and satisfaction of being your own boss.

Stephanie Spicer is a freelance writer, filmmaker and artist.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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U.S. FDA approves Teva’s generic nasal spray to treat opioid overdose

Generic drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical
Industries Ltd on Friday received approval from the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market its generic
nasal spray for opioid overdose, the health regulator said.


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4.18.19 Google AI helping law enforcement solve crimes; Rock n Play recall; CVS catering healthcare towards wellness

Google has artificial intelligence that is helping law enforcement officials solve crimes based on location and phone activity; Fisher-Price is recalling Rock n Play sleepers; CVS is making huge investments towards lowering healthcare costs by incentivizing wellness.

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

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Top judiciary Dem issues subpoena for full Mueller report

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler subpoenaed the Justice Department on Friday for a full, unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and the underlying evidence by May 1.


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http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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Do It for Mother Earth: How Working From Home Can Help You Help the Planet

Need another reason to work from home?

Do it for the planet.

According to a study published by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, 10 million cars — or approximately the entire New York State workforce — would leave the road each year if every U.S. worker who could and wanted to telecommute actually did.

“There is no single solution that offers as large of a potential environmental impact and reduction in greenhouse gases than having people work at home,” says Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics. “It is the biggest part of our burden on the planet.”

Pro Tip

By becoming even a half-time remote worker, you’ll gain back an average of 11 days a year that would have otherwise been spent commuting.

By cutting their commutes, the current U.S. work-from-from population keeps the equivalent of 600,000 cars off the road each year.

How much could dropping your commute do to save our planet?

Figure Out How Much Pollution Your Commute Contributes

Your actual contributions can vary based on a number of factors, including your commute time and driving conditions, but you can get a general idea of your personal output with this tool from the Environmental Protection Agency, which calculates your vehicle’s average mileage and CO2 output.

To figure out how much CO2 your commute produces annually:

  • Determine the number of miles you travel to and from work each day. For example, let’s say you drive 20 miles each way to work for a total of 40 miles.
  • Multiply that number by the number of days you drive to the office for the total number of miles you drive each year. Let’s assume you head to the office five days a week and get two weeks off for vacation: 40 x 250 = 10,000 miles
  • Multiply that number by your car’s CO2 output for your total. If your car produces 261 grams (or 0.575407 pounds) of CO2 per mile, then your commute results in 10,000 x .575407 = 5,754 pounds, or 2.877 tons of carbon annually.

Earth Day Tips to Help Remote Workers

Even if working from home isn’t always an option, every day you cut your commute can help, according to Brie Reynolds, senior career specialist at Flexjobs.

“When you’re able to work from home even one day a week, you’re reducing your commute by 20%,” Reynolds says. “Sometimes people think it’s all or nothing, but it can be some kind of compromise.”

Pay Attention to the Thermostat

In addition to cutting the commute, remote work can help reduce the environmental cost associated with working in office buildings, according to Reynolds.

“Energy consumption goes down across the board when you’re able to stop using office space,” she says. “When people work from home, they have more control over their environment — I know a lot of remote workers who pay very close attention to their thermostats.”

By opting to dress in layers or use fans around the house, you can control the comfort level of your space without wasting resources on heating and cooling, Reynolds notes.

Bonus: You can retire that office sweater you wore in your aggressively air-conditioned cubicle.

Pro Tip

Energy consumption goes down across the board when you’re able to stop using office space.

Choose Essential Office Equipment

In addition to the building, an office’s high-volume equipment often requires additional energy to operate and cool, according to Reynolds. Most remote workers can get by on a less equipment, which saves energy and money.

“If you are largely in a role that doesn’t require a lot of extra office equipment, you can get by on pretty much a laptop,” Reynolds says, adding that less equipment also means less of it ending up in landfills.

Reduce Use of Office Supplies

When you use your own office supplies, your cost-cutting tactics can also help the earth. Think: How many sticky notes do you use in the office vs. when you work from home?

“When you’re at home and you are the one responsible, you’re a little more hesitant to print something you don’t really have to,” Reynolds says. “Individual choice and individual consumption is a key piece of the environmental benefits of remote work.”

That’s a win for your employer, you and the environment.

Happy Earth Day!

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer for The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Earnings deluge could make or break sentiment

Next week will go a long way in determining whether investors should be concerned about the dawning of an earnings recession or whether back-to-back quarters of negative growth can be avoided in what is the heaviest week for profit reporting by U.S. companies.


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Netflix investing $100M to build 6 sound stages in NYC

ALBANY — Queens lost Amazon, but Brooklyn and Manhattan are cashing in on Netflix. The popular streaming service is investing $ 100 million by 2024 to build six new sound stages in Brooklyn and add 127 jobs to the 32 it already has in Manhattan, officials announced Thursday. Netflix’s new corporate offices will cover 100,000 square…
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The Justice Department released the redacted version of the report from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.


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http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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Herman Cain: ‘My voice is needed’ to counter Fed and its ‘professor standard’

The prospective nominee promises to pursue a stable dollar if confirmed to a central bank board that he thinks is too dominated by academics.
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The Ultimate Prescription for Dealing With Medical Debt

So you went to the ER or underwent an expensive medical procedure. Now the bill is here, and you’re worried that the shock is going to send you back to the hospital — and further into debt.

Your health is your most valuable asset. Yet there’s something so frustrating about going into debt over it. You didn’t decide to splurge on a hospital stay or a costly battery of tests just because.

Add in the maze of medical jargon and coding, health insurance and hospital billing departments, and medical debt can be downright maddening.

It’s probably of little comfort, but if you can’t afford to pay your medical bills, you have plenty of company.

About 3 in 10 people reported that they or someone in their household had trouble paying a medical bill in the past year, according to a 2017 Kaiser Family Foundation poll of 1,160 Americans over age 18. That same poll also found that 45% of people reported they would struggle to pay a surprise $ 500 medical bill.

Consider that the average patient with health insurance will pay more than $ 1,000 out of pocket for a hospital stay, and it’s easy to see how medical bills can quickly become a burden.

But there is hope. You have options for reducing or eliminating medical debt that don’t involve being hounded by debt collectors or filing for bankruptcy.

How Medical Debt Really Affects Your Finances

Before we talk about how to tackle your medical bills, let’s talk about how medical debt works.

Unlike your mortgage lender or credit card company, your doctor or hospital almost certainly doesn’t regularly report your medical payments to the three major credit bureaus. That means that unless your medical debt becomes delinquent, it will not affect your credit score.

Left unpaid, a medical bill will probably end up in collections, just as any other unpaid bill would. That’s when the credit bureaus will be notified.

Even then, medical debt collection works a little differently from other types of debt collection.

Regardless of when the debt was incurred, debt collectors must wait 180 days to report a delinquent medical bill to the credit bureaus, giving you extra time to work out an agreement with your provider or insurance company.

If the collections account is reported to the bureaus, expect your credit score to plummet. The exact impact depends on your credit situation, but even someone with a good credit score could see a drop of as much as 50 to 100 points, though the effect will lessen over time.

The good news is, FICO 9 scoring model weighs medical debt in collections less heavily than past models. The bad news: Most creditors are still using FICO 8.

Like other derogatory marks, an unpaid medical bill stays on your credit report for seven years, though if your insurance company pays the bill, the credit bureaus have to remove the debt from your file.

You could also be sued for what you owe. If a creditor gets a judgment against you, it could result in your wages being garnished or your assets being taken through a court-ordered bank levy.

The statute of limitations for unpaid medical bills varies by state. Typically, it’s between three and six years after the bill was reported as delinquent, though in some states, it’s as long as 15 years. If the statute of limitations has passed on a medical bill, a creditor can’t sue you over the debt, though they still might keep bugging you to pay up.

7 Ways to Deal With Medical Debt You Can’t Afford

Closeup of a senior man at an MRI scanning clinic waiting to be examined

When you can’t afford to pay a medical bill, the single worst thing you can do is ignore it. You have a lot of power to negotiate your bill, and medical providers are often willing to work with you.

Trust us: A hospital or doctor’s office will almost always be easier to work with than a debt collection agency. And when you’re dealing with medical debt — or any kind of debt you can’t afford — it’s in your best interest to take action right away.

If you need medical debt relief, try these seven steps. Note that these are all steps to take before your bill has been sent to collections. If your bill has already been sent to collections, don’t just silence your phone. Follow these tips for dealing with debt collectors.

1. Check Your Medical Bill for Errors

As many as 80% of hospital bills have errors, so the first thing you should do when you receive a bill is scrutinize it for mistakes.

Ask the hospital or medical provider for an itemized billing statement, which will include the charges for all medications, tests, procedures and other services.

If you have health insurance, ask your insurer for an explanation of benefits (EOB). This statement will tell you what services you were billed for, how much your insurance was billed, how much your insurance did or didn’t pay, and the amount you still owe.

Some inaccuracies will be tough to spot if you’re not a medical coding expert, but here are some common errors that could be easier for a layperson to catch:

  • Duplicate billing, i.e., when you’re billed more than once for the same service. This is one of the most common billing errors.
  • Incorrect patient information: If your name is misspelled, or your insurance information or Social Security number is incorrect, your insurance company could deny your claim.
  • Charges for canceled tests or procedures
  • Inaccurate medication quantities

If you don’t understand a charge or believe that your bill has incorrect information, call the hospital billing department or doctor’s office. Be sure to document every conversation.

2. Review Your Insurance Policy

If you have health insurance, read up on all that stuff that made your eyes glaze over during open enrollment — your copays, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums and whether your providers are considered in-network vs. out-of-network.

Make sure your bill and explanation of benefits match up with what your policy says it covers.

If you think a service should have been covered under your health plan, call your insurance company. You may find that your claim was denied due to an error — say, a procedure that your doctor incorrectly coded — that can be easily corrected.

But sometimes, claims are denied for more complicated reasons. For example, your insurance company may say a treatment is experimental or not medically necessary. In these cases, you have the right to appeal your insurance company’s decision. You can ask for an internal review by your insurer, but the Affordable Care Act also allows you to request an external review by an independent third party. Just be sure to ask your insurance company about any deadlines.

Pro Tip

If you’re appealing your insurance company’s decision, be sure to let your health care provider know to avoid having your bill sent to collections.

3. Negotiate to Pay Less

If you can’t afford to pay your bill, the best thing you can do is be honest about it. Call the hospital billing department or your doctor’s office and tell them about your financial situation. Be ready to provide documentation verifying your status.

Your provider is more likely to negotiate in hopes of getting something, rather than nothing, if they know you don’t have the means to pay the bill in full.

If you can afford to pay at least part of the bill in cash, you’re in an especially good position to negotiate. Try starting small by offering to settle the bill for 25% or 30% of the total in cash.

Pro Tip

Even if you can afford to pay the whole bill, ask if there’s a prompt pay discount. Some providers will give you a discount of as much as 30% when you pay upfront.

If you don’t have health insurance or were billed for out-of-network services, research what an insurance company would have paid for the services you received. Use a website such as Healthcare Bluebook, which estimates what insurers pay for treatments, and offer to pay the discounted price an insurance company would pay.

Regardless of your tactic, don’t expect to negotiate a major discount with a single phone call. Expect to hear “no” a lot. Don’t accept it. Keep asking for the supervisor of the person you’re speaking to and explaining your situation. Document every conversation. If you do agree on a reduced amount, be sure to get it in writing.

4. Ask About Financial Assistance Programs

When you think your medical bill is accurate but you still can’t afford it, call the hospital billing department or provider’s office to let them know.

Hospitals often have financial assistance and charity programs available for people who can’t afford to pay. You’re likely to qualify if you’re on a low income or don’t have a job, are uninsured or still owe a significant amount beyond what your insurance covers.

Some hospitals will require you to first apply for Medicaid, which will cover up to three months of expenses retroactively if you qualify, and then allow you to apply for financial help if you’re rejected.

5. Ask for a Payment Plan

If you can’t negotiate your bill down to an affordable number and you don’t qualify for financial assistance, many hospitals and providers will still allow you to pay your bill in monthly installments. The good news is, this option is often interest-free.

Just be realistic about what you can afford each month, and as with any agreement, be sure to get it in writing.

6. Work With a Medical Bill Advocate

If you’re dealing with an especially large or complex bill, it may be worth consulting with a medical bill advocate who can negotiate for you and possibly find billing errors you wouldn’t be able to spot on your own.

Medical bill advocates typically charge either by the hour (expect to pay $ 100 per hour or more) or a percentage of the amount they’re able to get reduced from the bill (25% to 35% is the norm). If you’re experiencing hardship, you may be able to get free or low-cost services through a nonprofit advocacy organization.

The Alliance of Claims Assistance Professionals and Medical Billing Advocates of America are two good resources for finding an advocate.

7. Consider Bankruptcy, but Only if You’re out of Options

There’s no such thing as “medical bankruptcy,” but if you’re overwhelmed by medical bills, filing bankruptcy might be your only option.

Unlike your student loan or tax debt, medical debt can be discharged in bankruptcy. Individuals and couples have two options: Chapter 7 bankruptcy, aka “liquidation bankruptcy,” which is for those who don’t have the means to repay their debt; or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, aka “wage-earner bankruptcy,” for those whose income makes them ineligible for Chapter 7.

Bankruptcy will kill your credit score, so be sure you’ve considered all your options before filing. Chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years, while Chapter 13 sticks around for seven years.

Pro Tip

Keep in mind that bankruptcy won’t protect you from future debts, so if you’re anticipating significant medical bills in the near future, you might want to hold off on filing.

Medical Debt Relief: 4 Mistakes to Avoid

Pharmacist taking a credit card payment from a female customer in a pharmacy

Being proactive is key to getting medical debt relief. That said, some solutions sound good but are either unreliable or could make your financial situation even shakier. Here are four things to avoid if possible.

1. Paying Your Bill With a Credit Card

Medical bills typically don’t accrue interest, while credit card interest rates are currently north of 17%. That means you’ll save money on interest by negotiating a payment plan directly with the hospital or doctor’s office.

Even if you have a credit card with a zero-interest introductory period, it’s way better to work out a payment plan. You won’t increase your credit-utilization ratio, which you want to keep low to have a healthy FICO score. Plus, your provider is way more likely to be flexible about adjusting your payment plans or late payments than your credit card company.

2. … Especially a Medical Credit Card

If you can’t afford a medical bill, your doctor’s office or hospital might suggest applying for a medical credit card that typically comes with what’s advertised as an interest-free period. Once that’s up, though, you’ll often pay more in interest than you would with a regular credit card.

But what makes medical credit cards really scary is that “interest-free period” is actually deferred interest. With a deferred-interest card, if you don’t pay your bill in full by the end of the introductory period, you’ll owe interest on the entire amount you charged. Seriously. So if you charge $ 3,000 and have a $ 500 balance at the end of the so-called interest-free period, you’ll owe interest on the entire $ 3,000.

3. Consolidating Your Medical Bills

If you have multiple medical bills, it can be tempting to consolidate them with a loan so you’re making a single payment. But remember: Medical debt usually isn’t accruing interest. So with medical debt consolidation, you’re likely to pay more in the long term.

4. Taking Money From Your Retirement Plan

You may be able to avoid the 10% penalty you’d normally pay on an early 401(k) or IRA withdrawal if you can prove medical hardship. But your 401(k) is protected from creditors in bankruptcy, as is up to $ 1,283,025 in your IRA, so avoid tapping into these funds if possible.

Plus, when you withdraw from retirement savings, you’re borrowing against your future. If you’re 35, withdrawing $ 20,000 from a Roth IRA to pay a hospital bill could amount to nearly $ 115,000 in lost savings by the time you’re 65, assuming average annual returns of 6%.

Pro Tip

Don’t count on crowdfunding to make your medical debt disappear. A 2017 review of 200 GoFundMe campaigns for health care expenses found that 90% of them did not reach their goal.

How to Avoid Medical Debt in the Future

This advice isn’t helpful when you’re already facing medical bills you can’t pay, but the best way to avoid medical debt is to plan ahead before you get treatment.

If you’re planning to get medical care, be sure to verify that your doctor is in your insurer’s network and that your insurer covers the procedure. Ask upfront about projected costs, and then comparison shop.

Also ask your doctor about cheaper generic alternatives to pricy name-brand drugs. If you have health coverage, your insurance company’s drug formulary is a great resource for figuring out what your plan covers.

When possible, avoid the ER and get treatment from your primary care doctor. If you can’t afford to go to the doctor, try these alternative ways to get treatment.

But when it comes to medical bills, the most important thing to remember is this: Don’t put off treatment because you’re worried about the bill. You’ll pay more money in the long term, and it could cost you your most valuable asset: your health.

Robin Hartill is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Attorney General William Barr to hold press conference Thursday on Mueller report

Attorney General William Barr will hold a press conference at the Justice Department on special counsel Robert Mueller’s report at 9:30am Thursday, the department announced.


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http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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North Korea Test Fires ‘New-Type Tactical Guided Weapon,’ State Media Reports

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised and guided a test firing of a “new-type tactical guided weapon,” state media reported, in a move probably intended as a provocation after nuclear talks with U.S. President Donald Trump stalled.

The Korean Central News Agency’s report didn’t refer to the weapon as a ballistic missile or nuclear, so the test may not scuttle prospects for continuing negotiations with the Trump administration. Trump has long defended his decision to hold two high-profile summits with Kim by citing the North Korean’s decision to halt nuclear and ballistic missile tests. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Kim’s move to undertake a new weapons test is likely to be interpreted as a bid for attention after the U.S. hardened its stance in negotiations with North Korea. Trump last week rejected a call for confidence-building joint economic projects between Seoul and Pyongyang, and his national security adviser said Wednesday that the U.S. would need to see more evidence that Kim was ready to give up nuclear weapons before scheduling a third summit.

“The president is fully prepared to have a third summit if he can get a real deal,” national security adviser John Bolton said in an interview Wednesday with Bloomberg News. The White House would need to see “a real indication from North Korea that they’ve made the strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons.”

The White House’s more skeptical tone comes after Trump walked out of a Feb. 28 summit with Kim, saying the North Korean leader was seeking significant sanctions relief without indicating a willingness to fully dismantle his nuclear program. Kim has escalated his rhetoric since the summit, asking top ruling party members to deal a “severe blow to hostile foreign forces” earlier this month.

Fortune

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Washington waits, but Mueller may solve nothing

A feeling of uneasy anticipation hangs over Washington ahead of the release of a redacted version of Robert Mueller’s report Thursday.


CNN.com – RSS Channel – Politics

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How humor saved Arby’s and propelled it to the forefront of pop culture

Arby's Paul Brown doesn't believe a "corporate-ish" approach is always best. Case in point: When Jon Stewart made offensive jokes about the sandwich chain on the "Daily Show," Arby's shot back with humor and turned the "ribbing' into an opportunity.
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14 Legitimate Ways to Get Free Money Online Right Now

The internet is a treasure chest of free cash — you just have to know where to look.

No, you can’t order money-tree seeds or buy a fully loaded cash cannon, but you can complete some quick and simple tasks to start making money online.

Free Money: 14 Places to Find Extra Money Online

There are a number of companies, websites and apps that offer easy money, so we scoured the internet to find the best — and most legitimate — ways to tap into that extra cash.

Ready to start digging for treasure?

  1. 1. Search For Unclaimed Money

    State treasuries throughout the United Sates have more than $ 43 billion in unclaimed funds, according to The New York Times. Just sitting around! Waiting for you to come play lost and found.

    There are a few websites that allow you to check for unclaimed property, including the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators and MissingMoney.com. (Beware of scam look-alike sites!)

    It takes less than a minute to check. The Penny Hoarder reader Kelli Howell heeded our advice, performed a quick search and found unclaimed money in her husband’s name — $ 56 from a “matured insurance policy.”

    Sure, it’s $ 56, but what an effortless way to tap into some extra money fast!

  2. 2. Invest in Good Causes, and Get a $ 50 Bonus

     Savannah Holley organizes money she got from the drive through banking counter at Mount McKinley Bank in Fairbanks, Alaska.

    Investing can be a great way to grow your money, but have you carefully considered which companies you’re willing to back? Their morals and values? You probably wouldn’t want to invest in a company that’s destroying our oceans or cheating the system.

    With Swell Investing you can invest in companies that are committed to clean water, zero waste, renewable energy or disease eradication, to name a few.

    Plus, when you invest $ 50 in one of these companies, Swell Investing will match you with a $ 50 bonus! Just use the code PENNY after making your initial investment.

    Swell doesn’t have any trading fees, price tiers or expense ratios. It charges a 0.75% annual fee — that’s about the cost of one coffee ($ 3.75) per year if you invest $ 500.

    Get started with Swell by signing up with your email address here.

    Disclosure: We have a financial relationship with Swell Investing LLC and will be compensated if consumers apply for an account and/or fund an account with Swell through links in our content. However, the analysis and opinions expressed here are our own.

  3. 3. Find Hidden Money in Your Inbox

    It turns out deleting your emails could be costing you money. Intrigued?

    One of our secret weapons is called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund when there’s a price drop.

    To save time, mom and blog manager Aimee B. does the majority of her shopping online — about 90% of it, she estimates. She stocks up on groceries, clothes and household necessities without leaving home.

    In the past two years, Paribus has found Aimee $ 1,315.41 in savings while shopping online.

    “It really is as simple as giving your email address,” she says. “It’s kind of a no-brainer.”

    Plus, if your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Paribus will help you get compensated.

    Disclosure: Paribus compensates us when you sign up using the links we provide.

  4. 4. Get Paid to Share Your Opinion on Survey Sites

    Jessica Warden walks through the city in New York, NY.

    Companies will pay you for your opinions when it comes to judging their brands and gauging your shopping habits.

    Survey sites are a great place to get money and gift cards through sign-up bonuses if you’ve got some spare time.

    Here are a few options we like:

    • MyPoints: With MyPoints, you can earn gift cards for taking polls and filling out surveys. Once you complete your first five surveys, you’ll earn a $ 5 bonus.
    • Survey Junkie: It doesn’t take long to earn points on this survey site. Take all the profile surveys to earn an easy 200 points or so upfront. Then, once you earn 1,000 points — equal to $ 10 — you can cash out for a gift card or cash via your PayPal account.
    • Swagbucks: This one is definitely a reader favorite. You can make money through surveys but also when you watch videos and answer polls. You’ll get a $ 5 bonus when you sign up and earn 2,500 SB (points) within your first 60 days. Then you can cash out for as little as $ 3 and get an Amazon gift card.
    • Vindale Research: This free online survey site offers some high-paying offers ($ 50 for one survey?!). Plus, you’ll earn $ 1 when you sign up. Hit $ 50, and redeem your earnings for a check or via PayPal.
  5. 5. Send This Company Your Junk Mail

    How many ads do you receive in your mailbox each day? What about in your inbox?

    The Small Business Knowledge Center is a market research firm that studies the way companies advertise via mail and email marketing — and it wants to see what you’ve been receiving.

    Sign up as a panelist, and start sending your qualifying junk mail in, via postage-paid envelopes. You can also forward your emails. You’ll earn points along the way, which you can redeem for a Visa debit card.

    The site says frequent participants earn up to $ 20 every six to 10 weeks — not bad for getting rid of your junk mail.

  6. 6. Invest in Cannabis and Get a $ 5 Bonus

    You don’t just want to invest. You want to invest in an industry you believe in. One that could take off and make money.

    You want to invest in cannabis, and now you can. You don’t have to have tons of money to invest in the cannabis industry. Using a micro-investing app like Stash, you can invest in increments as little as $ 5.

    Need a nudge? Right now, The Penny Hoarder is teaming up with Stash to give you an extra $ 5 after your first investment.

    Stash curates investments from professional fund managers and investors and lets you choose where to put your money. It offers more than 40 exchange-traded funds, including one for those who are already seeing green on the cannabis horizon.

    But it leaves the complicated investment terms out of it. You just choose from a set of simple portfolios reflecting your beliefs, interests and goals.

    Once you sign up with Stash, take a look at the app’s portfolio options, including one cannabis-related ETF, to find an investment blend that meets your goals. You can be as conservative or aggressive as you need to be.

  7. 7. Sign up for This Credit Card for a $ 150 Bonus

    If you’re not using a rewards credit card for everyday purchases, you’re missing out on free money.

    You just have to be sure you don’t get too carried away with those purchases — and that the card is paid off at the end of each billing period.

    Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $ 500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $ 150 bonus.

    There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire.

    Get signed up — and 0% intro APR for 15 months — here.

    The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.

  8. 8. Get $ 10 Now, Plus Cash Back After Each Grocery Run

    Albert Bell shops at Whole Foods in downtown Atlanta. Atlanta GA.

    Before heading to the store, search for items on your shopping list within Ibotta. Then shop.

    When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes to get paid.
    Some deals we’ve seen include:

    • 25 cents cash back for any item
    • 25 cents back on strawberries
    • 50 cents back on frozen fruit snacks
    • $ 1 back on a box of tea
    • $ 5 back on a case of Shiner Bock beer

    Notice a lot of those aren’t tied to a brand — just shop for the staples on your list, and earn money!

    Ibotta is free to download. Plus, you’ll get a $ 10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.

  9. 9. Start an Automated Savings Account With a Free $ 5

    Been meaning to save money? An extra $ 5 to start your account would be nice, right?

    Digit is an innovative app that automates saving for you. Simply link it to your checking account, and its algorithms will determine small (and safe!) amounts of money to withdraw into a separate, FDIC-insured savings account.

    Bonus: Penny Hoarders will get an extra $ 5 just for signing up. Additionally, savers will receive a 1.00% bonus every three months.

    Using this set-it-and-forget-it strategy, one Penny Hoarder saved $ 4,300 without noticing — read his Digit review.

    If you need that money sooner than expected, you’ll always have access to it within one business day.

    Digit is free to use for the first 30 days, then it’s $ 2.99 per month afterward.

  10. 10. Open a Shiny New Bank Account for an Extra $ 350

    Not happy with your bank? Open a new bank account — but first find a promotional offer to earn cash.

    We like the Chase Total Checking® account.

    You’ll get a $ 200 bonus when you open a new Chase Total Checking® account and set up direct deposit.

    Then you’ll get a $ 150 bonus when you open a new Chase Savings℠ account, deposit a total of $ 10,000 or more in new money within 20 days, and maintain a $ 10,000 balance for 90 days. You’re not required to open the savings account to earn the $ 200 Chase checking bonus.

    To get started, visit this Chase Total Checking® page* to apply online, or enter your email address to get a unique coupon to take with you to open your account at any Chase branch.

    This coupon expires July 15, 2019, so you’ll need to complete the application before then.

    This offer is available in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

  11. 11. Find Savings in Your Monthly Utility Bills

    Cindy Woodley using laptop in downtown Atlanta

    Finding free money doesn’t always mean digging up a treasure chest. You can find hidden money (ahem, savings) by negotiating your bills.

    Instead of sitting on hold, use Trim, a digital personal assistant that’ll negotiate your bills for you. We’re not just talking your cable bill, either. It’ll also negotiate your internet, cell phone, home security and XM radio bills.

    William Ellis, a Trim user in Ellettsville, Indiana, uploaded PDF copies of his Dish, Comcast and Sprint bills to Trim. That’s all he had to do — Trim worked behind the scenes, eventually notifying him of his savings.

    “Yes, anybody can call and do this,” Ellis points out, “but do you?”

    Curious how he did? Trim reduced his bills by:

    • $ 385.20 a year on Dish.
    • $ 800.18 a year on Comcast.
    • $ 80.04 a year on Sprint.

    Trim reduced Ellis’ bills by a total of $ 1265.42 per year.

    If Trim successfully negotiates on your behalf, it charges an upfront fee equal to 33% of your first year of savings, and you keep the rest. (Hey, Trim’s gotta get rewarded for its expert negotiation skills!) But that’s still a big chunk of savings.

    To get started, no need to pick up the phone. Just sign up through Facebook or with your email address, and upload your bills!

  12. 12. Earn a $ 300 New-Driver Bonus with Lyft

    Been looking for a new side hustle? A way to start making money on the side? Here’s an idea — and a way to get an extra $ 300.

    Try driving with Lyft.

    To be eligible, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a year of driving experience, pass a background check and own a car made in 2007 or later.

    Right now, Lyft is offering a $ 300 sign-on bonus to new drivers when you use code EXTRA300. Here’s what you need to qualify:

    • You must be approved to drive within 30 days of your application start date.
    • Once you’re in, complete 100 rides within your first 30 days of being a Lyft driver.

    And just like that, the bonus cash is yours. Easy, right?

  13. 13. Use an Automatic Cash-Back App

    hand raised against the sky with dollar bills

    There are a ton of ways to earn cash back on your day-to-day purchases, but here’s one that doesn’t require you to take photos of receipts, claim offers or watch long video ads.

    It’s Dosh. Download the app, link up your credit and debit cards, and go about your normal buying behavior. When you spend money at one of its connected stores, you’ll earn automatic cash back.

    Once you earn $ 25, you can transfer the money directly to your bank account.

  14. 14. Get an Easy $ 36 a Year If You Shop on Amazon

    Calling all Amazon shoppers!

    This is such an easy, passive way to rake in an extra $ 36 a year. ShopTracker, one of the leading public opinion research companies, wants you to share your Amazon purchase history. And you’ll be paid for every month you share!

    When you sign up for ShopTracker, it keeps your private information, well, private. All it wants to see is your order information.

    To earn your first gift card today:

    1. Sign up, and download the ShopTracker app on your Windows computer and Apple or Android phone. It takes about two minutes. You’ll need to answer a few questions about your Amazon use to qualify.
    2. Open the app, and log in to your Amazon account to automatically share your purchase history. You’ll receive your Visa e-gift card code for $ 3 via email within 48 hours.
    3. Take a couple of minutes to share your purchase history to earn another $ 3 each month.

    Enjoy Your Free Money, Honey! (Just Be Careful of Scams)

    Congratulations! You’ve made it through our list of ways to get free money.

    Now, want to go out and find some more money on your own? Just remember: The internet can be a scary place, so be wary of scams. To vet a “free money” opportunity like we do, take these steps:

    • Search the company or website’s name on Google. Read reviews, look up Better Business Bureau ratings, and sign up for scam alerts from the Federal Trade Commission.
    • Don’t offer your personal or financial information unless you absolutely trust the site. You should never have to pay money in order to receive it.
    • Give the company a call, and ask questions.
    • Be skeptical, and if something’s too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t think you’ll get paid $ 1,000 for taking a five-minute survey.
    • Peruse a site’s privacy policy to make sure your information isn’t going to be sold to other companies. (That might be why you’re getting all those junk emails and robocalls.)

    Overall, just be smart! Or the easiest way is to just keep checking back in with The Penny Hoarder to find more ways to earn free money.

    Carson Kohler (carson@thepennyhoarder.com) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s a big fan of free money.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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‘We can’t fall behind on trade:’ Trump must strike a deal with Japan now, says US Chamber CEO

When you stand still on trade, you fall behind. Nowhere is this more apparent for the United States than in Japan, the world's third largest economy and a top market for U.S. exports, writes Tom Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
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The next phase of Trump’s confrontation with urban America

President Donald Trump’s threats to relocate undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers to “sanctuary cities” capture his determination to constantly press the boundaries of law and morality with hardline immigration policies. But it may reveal even more about his political posture toward the nation’s biggest population centers.


CNN.com – RSS Channel – Politics

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Netflix surges ahead of quarterly results report; Disney in focus

Shares of Netflix jumped 3 percent on Tuesday ahead of the streaming video service’s quarterly results, with traders expecting a larger than normal reaction from the stock as new competition looms from Walt Disney Co.


Reuters: Business News

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These 11 Tips Will Help You Get Financing to Start a Small Business

For entrepreneurs, obtaining the right amount of funding can mean the difference between success and failure when launching a small business.

But for newbies, knowing how and where to find working capital can be an intimidating process. So, where do you start? There are several ways entrepreneurs can obtain money to fund the launch, expansion of day-to-day operations and cash flow of their small businesses.

Each method comes with its own pros and cons based on several factors, including the age of the business and the financial history of the borrower.

11 Ways to Obtain Small Business Funding

Below is a list of 11 ways entrepreneurs can obtain small-business financing. This ranking is based on ease of access, as some options might not be available to business owners with no prior experience or to people launching startups.

1. Bootstrapping

A woman counts money

With bootstrapping, entrepreneurs launch their businesses using as little external capital, such as loans, as possible. The funds come from either personal finances, such as selling assets, using savings or credit cards or from using revenue from the business once it gets going.

This is a very lean method of running a business, as entrepreneurs find the least expensive way to make a viable product or service. If you do choose to empty your savings or use credit cards to fund your business, be careful because there is no guarantee the business will pan out.

Nikki Larchar and her business partner, Tina Todd, bootstrapped their company by pooling their finances and launching the human resources consulting firm SimplyHR about 2 1/2 years ago. She believes bootstrapping her business instead of getting a loan is a significant reason why she was able to turn a profit within a year after launching.

“For us, it’s been monumental being able to grow the business how we want to grow it and not have a looming loan over our head,” she says.

Pro: Avoids starting your business in debt.
Con: Not an option if you don’t have assets to sell or personal savings to use.

2. Crowdfunding Platforms

Due to the rise in popularity of sites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter, crowdfunding sites have become a more mainstream way to gain capital for a business, service or product.

Here’s how it works: Entrepreneurs and small business owners create a 30-day fundraising campaign seeking investors in the company or project instead of going to a bank for money.

Usually, business owners reward individual investors with some kind of gift, product discount or, sometimes, equity in the company.

Last year, Larchar used Kickstarter to raise $ 10,200 to fund a comic book that human resources departments could use to teach employees about sexual harassment policies. They met their goal and launched in January 2019.

“[W]e were able to fully jump into the project a lot quicker than we would have otherwise,” she says.

Pro: Can generate buzz for your business while raising funds.
Con: No guarantee of hitting your desired funding goal.   

3. Product Pre-Sales

An easy way to acquire funds if you’re operating a small business selling products is to hold a pre-sale in which customers pay for goods up-front. The business owner can use the money raised to fund the manufacturing of the initial batch of products.

“Product pre-sales is such a great strategy because you’ve just proven the customers want your product,” says Kedma Ough, the statewide innovation director for America’s Small Business Development Centers in Oregon.

Pro: Can help alleviate some of the upfront costs of making the products.
Con: Not a viable option for service-based businesses.

4. Friends and Family

Friends and family may be a potential source for financial capital for your small business, but be warned: If the business doesn’t make it or falls on hard times, it might destroy the personal relationship.

Ough says she’s witnessed many cases where family members stopped speaking to each other because they went into business and things went south. “It doesn’t mean it can’t work, but I’ve seen enough in my lifetime [that] it’ll break your heart,” she says.

Pro: Easily accessible.
Con: May ruin relationships if the business fails.

5. Partners

Two businessmen hold a meeting.

Taking on a business partner can be a way to secure funding in exchange for equity in your company. Depending on the arrangement, the partner might be an employee, someone not involved with day-to-day operations or just an investor.

If you are considering taking on a partner, write down every detail of the business partnership, preferably with the help of a lawyer. Define clear expectations and boundaries of what each partner can expect while running the business and worst-case scenarios of how the business would dissolve in the case of a partner dying or wanting to be bought out of the business.

“Make sure all that is dialed in before you go into partnership,” Ough says.
Pro: Can offer funding and business support without family connections.
Con: All partners need to have defined roles and expectations to avoid conflicts.

6. Small Business Grants

Small business grants come from a variety of sources, including government agencies, nonprofit and for-profit companies. Government agency grants tend to have the most narrow eligibility requirements, as they often focus on businesses in the science, technology or energy industries that will bring direct growth to the community.

Grants from nonprofits may focus on specific types of business owners, such as women, minorities or veterans. Grants from for-profit companies often have the widest eligibility requirements and may be given out based on merit or by completing an application.

Your local Chamber of Commerce may have information on small business grants available in your area. The only catch is everyone wants free money, so these grants can be hard to come by.

“[Government grants are] definitely not something that most small businesses are able to get funding through,” says Priyanka Prakash, a senior staff writer at Fundera. “But if you think you meet the requirements, definitely spend time putting the application materials together because if you win, you get free money and it’s an amazing way to start out.”

Pro: Who doesn’t love free money?
Con: Highly competitive.

7. Angel Investors

Just as the name suggests, the idea of having a wealthy investor come in and fund a startup can sound like the answer to an entrepreneur’s prayers. Angel investors can be affluent people or groups looking to fund startups.

P. Simon Mahler, a small business mentor with Score, a non-profit that advises small businesses, says people can search for angel investors by industry and by location — one such way is by browsing Angel Capital Association’s national directory of angel investors and firms.

Once you find a potential investor, it’s a long, thorough interview process with the entrepreneur and that person’s entire business team to make sure the business is viable.

“They’re very conservative, very selective as to who and why they invest in certain businesses,” Mahler says. “They want the sure thing.”

Pro: Having a benefactor can alleviate funding headaches.
Con: Can be a slow, difficult process to get the money.

8. Venture Capital

Similar to angel investors, venture capital firms also provide funding to small businesses and startups early on in development. The difference is the speed with which they operate and what they ask for in return. But that speed comes at a price.

Mahler says venture capital firms are very niche in what they invest in and are aggressive once they decide to invest. For example, angels may offer advice with their funding, while venture capitalists may ask for equity in your company and request specific changes in your business model.

“You’re giving away a lot to get a lot,” he says. “That’s what a lot of people struggle with is that it sounds good to have VC [venture capital] money, but you’re giving away a huge chunk of the ownership stake in your business.”

If you think your business may be of interest to such firms, start by asking your network for personal recommendations. You can also opt to make a profile for your business on AngelList — a national platform for job seekers, angel investors, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists alike.

Pro: May be quicker than using an angel investor to obtain large amounts of money.
Con: May have to give up a big piece of ownership stake to get the funds.

9. Online Alternative Lenders

Online alternative lenders have become a popular business financing option versus getting capital from traditional bank loans. Online alternative lending companies, such as Kabbage, OnDeck or BlueVine, are a convenient and fast way to get funds. There is no need to go to a bank to apply as everything is done online and funds can be deposited in a couple of business days.

Just like loans, online alternative lenders also offer business lines of credit, where instead of providing one lump sum of money up-front, you can use as much or as little as you need within your limit.

But the downside to using one of these lenders is that doing so can be an expensive way to borrow money. Prakash says the interest rate of a bank loan may be 7%-8% while these online lenders may charge up to 60%-70% in interests.

“It’s definitely a trade-off between how quickly or badly you need the capital versus how much you’re willing to pay for it,” she says.

Pros: Easy application process, faster way to get funds.
Con: High-interest rates.

10. SBA Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration has a program to help business people get financing after they demonstrate success for a few years. SBA loans come with a guarantee that the loan will be repaid to the lender. If the business fails to pay back the loan, the government will pay the lender, which could be, for example, a traditional bank.

“It’s a way to take some of the risk off the lender, and it encourages banks to lend to more small businesses,” Prakash says.

The only catch is these loans are rather difficult to obtain for startups. “If your business is a couple of years old and generating good revenue and is close to a profit, then it’s a much more viable option for a small business loan,” she says. You can go to SBA.gov to find out if you qualify for an SBA loan.

Pro: Takes the pressure off the small business if the loan can’t be repaid.
Con: Not easy to get for startups.

11. Banks

Buildings with bank names are pictured

For entrepreneurs with not much experience under their belts, the most obvious place to obtain a business loan might not be the place to go.

Traditional banks want to make sure they’ll get their money back, so they’ll only work with what they’d consider a sure thing. This means unless you’ve been in business for a few years or have a track record of successfully starting small businesses, banks may not consider you for a loan.

Pro: Lower interest rates than online lenders.
Con: May not lend to newer businesses or startups.

What if You Have Bad Credit?

For people with a not-so-stellar credit score, there is still hope for launching a small business.

Funding options such as bootstrapping, loans from family and friends, crowdfunding and online alternative lenders might be the route you have to take because bank and SBA loans could be off the table initially.

You may have to pay more now, which is the case when using an alternative online lender with a high interest rate, but more affordable options may become available in the future.

Matt Reinstetle is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Adam Hardy contributed to this post.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Fed’s Charles Evans tells CNBC rates can stay unchanged into fall of 2020

Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans said on Monday that he'd be comfortable leaving interest rates alone until autumn 2020.
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4.15.19 Cars that stop you from speeding; Anonymously shop around for mortgage rates

The EU is working towards all new cars being able to obey speed limits regardless of the driver by 2022; A new website allows you to shop for mortgage rates without being inundated with phone calls from sales people. 

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Watch the video

The post 4.15.19 Cars that stop you from speeding; Anonymously shop around for mortgage rates appeared first on Clark Howard.

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White House snubs to Congress leaves Republicans as well as Democrats aghast

Republicans on Capitol Hill are raising alarms at the White House’s resistance to congressional demands, fearing President Donald Trump is bolstering the power of his office at the expense of Congress.


CNN.com – RSS Channel – Politics

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Democrats Keep Rejecting Corporate PAC Money. But Is It Just for Show?

From former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, who is making a bid for the U.S. Senate, to presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, the refrain du jour among 2020 Democratic presidential candidates seems to be a pledge to swear off donations from corporate political action committees (PACs). It’s a good sound bite to drop on the campaign trail: rejecting corporate and special interest money. But does it really matter on paper?

Steven Billet, who oversees a master’s program in legislative affairs at George Washington University, says candidates who refuse corporate PAC money are basically “giving the sleeves out of their vest.”

“They are giving up nothing because they wouldn’t have gotten much corporate PAC money,” Billet tells Fortune.

A corporate PAC, a type of PAC that raises money in the name of a company, can contribute up to $ 5,000 to a candidate’s campaign per election. To put this in perspective, an individual donor can donate up to $ 2,800 of personal money, and a couple can give up to $ 5,600. So, if a candidate refuses $ 5,000 from a corporate PAC, they could potentially get the same amount from a private donor.

“Corporate PAC contributions are not a big piece of the pie for major candidates,” says Andrew Mayersohn, a researcher at the Center for Responsive Politics. “There just aren’t enough corporate PACs out there to fund much of an eight-figure senate campaign, let alone a presidential campaign.”

And, according to Mayersohn, corporate PACs specifically “aren’t particularly ideological,” so they tend to give money to incumbents, rather than candidates in open primaries.

“Most corporate PACs don’t make direct contributions to presidential candidates,” he says, “especially when there’s a primary where you don’t know what the outcome will be.”

And even when corporate PACs do give money to a candidate, the sum pales in comparison to other contributions. In the 2016 presidential election, for example, Hillary Clinton raised around $ 250,000 from corporate PACs–constituting less than 0.5% of the total money she raised, data analyst Brendan Glavin told Marketplace. That number was even smaller for then-candidate Donald Trump: $ 26,000 or 0.01% of his total fundraising.

Finding the Loopholes

While corporate PACs might not donate money to a specific candidate who doesn’t want them, they can still donate to a political party. A candidate like Warren could reject the corporate and special interest money, but that doesn’t mean the Democratic Party as a whole will do the same. Money that comes through the party could end up being used to support an individual candidate or to sponsor political events.

But perhaps the easiest workaround is that people who work for corporations can donate on an individual basis, money that many candidates gladly continue to accept. In some cases, candidates may even seek out money from a company’s executives on an individual basis.

Michael Williams, founder of the public policy and communications consulting firm The Williams Group, calls it a “sick irony” that candidates will turn away lobbyist or corporate PAC money, while continuing to accept money from executives at the same companies.

“What’s the difference? If you won’t take a particular bank’s money, but you’ll take the bank executive’s money?” Williams tells Fortune. “Are you really materially changing anything?”

Williams says doing so only perpetuates the myth that money influences policy. If a candidate is completely opposed to an industry, he says, those corporations won’t give them money because they don’t expect money to change a candidate’s position.

“I don’t know anyone who was a ‘no’ on something until they got a contribution and then became a ‘yes,’” he says.

And these private donations tend to add up much more quickly than those from a corporate PAC. Unlike individual contribution limits, which have grown over time, corporate PACs continue to face the $ 5,000 per candidate donation limit–a figure that hasn’t changed since 1974. As such, the total contributions from individuals have skyrocketed as compared to those from PACs.

According to 2017-18 data from OpenSecrets, corporate PAC donations to Democrats totaled $ 149,426,431, while business donations from individuals to Democrats totaled $ 920,808,050–more than six times the total given by PACs.

FEC data for the 2016 presidential election shows that corporate PAC donations to Democratic presidential candidates totaled $ 942,116, and independent expenditures for non-political committees totaled $ 4,582,471.

But not everyone feels rejecting corporate PAC money is misguided. At the very least, the move could be an effective branding strategy.

Brad Smith, a former FEC commissioner and the current chairman of the Institute for Free Speech, a nonprofit that advocates for loosening campaign-finance regulations, calls swearing off corporate PAC money “not meaningless, but a calculation,” and says the advantage of doing so could outweigh the loss of PAC money.

“It might even get them a net increase in contributions if it persuades more individuals to give,” Smith tells Fortune.

What about super PACs?

While not all of the Democratic candidates are aligned in this respect, many of the expected frontrunners–including Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren–have disavowed super PACs. But this is tricky in practice.

Super PACs have only been around since 2010, but unlike other PACs, they can accept unlimited contributions from any non-foreign source and can spend unlimited amounts to influence an election–meaning that their potential power is also limitless.

Yet super PACs are intended to operate independently from a candidate: they are legally prohibited from contributing directly to a candidate or party, meaning that their funds are usually used to run ads for or against particular candidates and issues. As a result, a candidate can say that they don’t support a super PAC operating on their behalf, but in practice, there isn’t all that much they can do to stop it.

“Any candidate who swears he won’t accept super PAC money is either ignorant, or assumes the listener is ignorant,” says Smith. “A candidate cannot ‘refuse’ super PAC support. He can publicly ask a super PAC not to spend in his race, but the super PAC can choose to ignore the plea and spend whatever it wants.”

Such a claim, therefore, amounts to “grandstanding,” he says.

In addition to swearing off super PACs, some candidates–like Julian Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Beto O’Rourke, and Elizabeth Warren–have sworn off PAC money entirely, meaning they won’t accept money from labor or ideological PACs, either. Gabbard, O’Rourke, and Warren are also joined by Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar in a pledge to refuse money from lobbyists.

But the pledge that might matter more than the others, according to Mayersohn, is Warren’s. Going a step further than the rest of the crowd, Warren told supporters in a February email that she would not attend high-dollar fundraisers, dinners, or cocktail receptions with donors, in order to provide “equal access.”

Looks like 2020 might become the small dollar donation election, after all.

Fortune

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How I Make an Extra $800 a Month Reselling Thrift Store Clothes on eBay

Like any loyal reader of The Penny Hoarder, I know the value of thrift shops.

To cut expenses, I started shopping for clothes at places like Goodwill and Salvation Army. Thrifting is always hit or miss, but I’ve found many decent items.

One day, I found a pair of NYDJ jeans. I adore the brand for its fit and quality but hate the $ 120 price tag. I was so excited to see them at Goodwill — but they were about four sizes too small.

Dejected, I was about to put them back when it occurred to me that other people love the brand, too. I ended up buying the jeans for just $ 5.

I had an eBay account I’d used once before when I was moving and selling some silly knickknacks, so I listed the jeans there.

Pro Tip

If your thrift store find happens to have the original tags still attached, don’t remove them. Take photos of the clothing with the tags visible, as it gives the buyer a reason to trust your products.

I was utterly shocked when those jeans ended up selling for more than $ 50. That was my first introduction to the idea of reselling thrift store clothes for profit.

Now it’s how I supplement my income and build my savings.

How to Start Selling Clothes on eBay

I started very small.

I didn’t want to spend a lot on startup costs, so I set an initial budget of about $ 75.

I bought a cheap postal scale for $ 21 on Amazon and stocked up on three rolls of packaging tape from the dollar store. For shipping materials, I used USPS’s free flat rate envelopes.

I did some online research to find thrift stores in wealthier areas, where people were more likely to donate higher-end goods. I decided to focus solely on women’s clothing, since I’m more familiar with those brands.

Pro Tip

When selling your products on eBay, choose between auction-style listings — which can provide a faster sale — or “Buy It Now” price listings — which give you more control over the sale price.

I hit just one store and took home five pairs of jeans at $ 5 each, four cashmere sweaters for $ 3 each, two blazers for $ 6 each and one dress for $ 5, bringing my first batch of inventory’s total cost to $ 54.

I read online that a professional eBay listing template was essential, but I couldn’t find a free one to use. Instead, I started all my listings as auctions and offered free shipping. I set the starting price at the item’s purchase cost plus shipping and padded it by $ 2 to cover eBay’s seller fees.

Amazingly, each item went for $ 20-$ 30 over the minimums. I more than tripled my money.

Deciding What to Sell — and How to Sell It

When I realized this hobby could be profitable, I got ruthless in evaluating inventory.

I learned what brands sold well and which didn’t. J.Crew pieces sold instantly, while I could only sell Banana Republic sweaters and trousers; no one would bid on Banana Republic jeans.

If a sweater had even 1% of cashmere, it was a moneymaker — regardless of the brand name.

I started to learn about SEO to get my items in front of more people, and I taught myself some basic HTML using YouTube tutorials so I could build my own templates.

Pro Tip

Show up in searches by including as much description as you can in the title, including the brand, color, size, condition and unique features (or flaws).

I ordered business cards from VistaPrint and bought thank-you notes from the dollar store. Feedback is essential for any eBay seller — and I found mine went up when I included thank-yous.

As my profits grew, I began to get more elaborate. These investments took my business to the next level and increased my profits:

Mannequins

Possibly the best purchase I’ve made (and the most bizarre) is a leg form I bought off Amazon for $ 55.

With just legs and a butt, house guests seemed to think I was a crazy person, but it made pants and jeans look ten times better — and increased the bids on those items.

I also have an expandable dress form for tops and dresses, which was a godsend. It showed the shape and lines of pieces and made them look far nicer than they would have on a hanger.

Dry Cleaning

Some thrift store clothes have been hanging in musty places for some time — and they smell like it.

Rather than spending a fortune at a professional dry cleaner, I throw these items into the dryer with the Woolite DryCleaning system. For less than $ 10, the kit makes full loads of clothes smell fresh and new.

Fabric Shaver

Cashmere is a huge seller.

Many sweaters I find are gorgeous, but were donated because they have heavy pilling.

Five minutes with a $ 9 fabric shaver and those sweaters look brand new! They often sell for $ 50 and up.

Steamer

Rather than ironing, I use a steamer to get wrinkles out for pictures. For less than $ 50, it makes items lay nicely on the dress forms.

Clothespins

For items too big for my dress form, clothespins are essential to show the garment’s shape and details.

Backdrop

I bought a $ 2 white sheet from Goodwill and pinned it to a wall for a clean photo backdrop.

FotoFuze

I use Fotofuze, an online program that removes backgrounds from images, to give pictures of clothing a very professional look.

FotoFuze is free to use, but I pay $ 5 a month for a pro account so I can edit more photos.

What I Make Selling Clothes on eBay

Once I made upgrades with my photos and listings, my items started selling for much more.

After deducting expenses — inventory costs, plus shipping, eBay and Paypal fees — I regularly make between $ 500 and $ 800 a month in profit.

It’s a very part-time job. It usually only takes me about 10 to 15 hours a week to shop for items, take pictures, list items and ship them out.

The money has been excellent supplemental income and helped me significantly boost my savings. And with new clothing donations constantly coming in, I always have fresh inventory to sell.

Kat Tretina is a freelance writer located in Orlando specializing in personal finance. She is a long-time eBay seller and side gig enthusiast.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Trump campaign to report raising over $30 million in first quarter

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign raised more than $ 30 million in the first fundraising quarter of 2019, the campaign confirmed Sunday to CNN.


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http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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15 Websites to Help You Sell Stuff Online, Plus Tips on How to Do It

Selling your stuff online is a great way to make a quick $ 20 to tide you over until your next paycheck. It’s also a low-cost way to start a small business venture that brings in thousands of dollars in passive income.

And everything in between.

No matter your needs, we’ve got the right e-commerce websites for you. But first, you need to do some preparation to make sure your for-sale listing will be successful.

How to Sell Stuff Online

While you can find a website that will allow you to create a for-sale listing for just about anything, that doesn’t mean anyone will actually buy.

Think about it from the perspective of the buyers: What will they need to make the decision to purchase your item?

Here are a few easy steps to make your listing pop.

Take Good Photos

A man poses for a picture in a portable sauna

It doesn’t matter what you’re selling: People will want to see it. A well-lit photo (or five) is one of the easiest ways to set yourself apart. Good photos make your listing appear much more legitimate and trustworthy, too.

“It’s all about perception,” Etsy shop owner Lena Gosik-Wolf told The Penny Hoarder. “It’s about how people are seeing you because they can’t have that in-person experience.”

Include Useful Keywords

If you’re trying to sell a Samsung 32-inch flat screen LED TV, you will want to include those details. Don’t just say “TV for sale” and call it a day. Not only is a well written description going to help the buyer make a decision once they find your listing, but item descriptions also help them get to your listing in the first place.

Many e-commerce sites have algorithms that work like Google. So if someone is searching for a “Samsung LED,” your listing will have a much better choice of appearing in the results.

Study Successful Listings

A woman poses with a laptop while her husband prints t-shirts

See what top sellers are doing with their listings, especially ones in similar categories to what you plan to sell. And take note.

Each website works a little differently. A good listing on one site may not be a good listing on another, so be sure to tailor your listing to each site if you plan on selling your items in multiple places.  

When Coryn Enfinger co-founded her screenprinting business, Dark Cycle Clothing, she leaned on all of these tips to help ensure success. She researched for weeks on how to create the perfect listing to showcase their clothes, which her husband Adam designs and prints. She found that high-quality photos are essential for online sales.

When Dark Cycle Clothing’s online store launched, buyers came flooding in. And what started as a hobby flourished into a $ 350,000-a-year screen printing business. Since then, Dark Cycle Clothing has ranked as a top-five seller of handmade clothes on Etsy and sells in stores and markets around the country.

“People don’t realize how much work it takes,” Enfinger said. “They just see the product, and they see it selling.”

15 Websites to Sell Stuff Online

After you’ve practiced a bit with how to make a killer for-sale listing, it’s time to find your item a good home.

And depending on what you’re selling, you’ll want to choose the appropriate website. Some giant websites will accept listings for most products, and some niche websites accept only certain categories of items. In most cases, the more specific you get, the better.

Where to Sell Almost Everything Online

Depending on how you use the largest e-commerce websites, they can be a help or a hindrance.

A big website equals more users equals more profit, right? Not quite. In our guide to online marketplaces, Kaitlyn Blount writes that giant e-commerce sites might lead to a “small fish, monstrous pond scenario.”

If you’re a budding business, some sites will handle shipping for you. But if you’re a one-time seller, you may not think the associated fees and hassle of registering are worth just one listing. It’s likely that you’re somewhere in the middle.

Here are a few websites that need no introduction.

1. Amazon

Amazon is a far cry from its book-peddling past. According to an NPR study, 44% of online shoppers now start their search on Amazon.

To cash in on that action and make money as an Amazon seller, you must register for an Individual Seller Plan or a Professional Seller Plan.

  • Individual seller accounts are free. They have a selling limit of 40 items per month, and Amazon deducts a 99 cent fee per sale. That means no up-front costs to list your item.
  • Professional sellers must pay a $ 39.99 monthly subscription fee. Professional accounts have no selling limit and are exempt from the 99 cent fee.

Both types of accounts are subject to additional selling fees, which range from 3% to 45% of the sale price depending on the category of the item.

If you don’t feel like packaging, shipping or storing the items, Amazon also offers Fulfillment by Amazon, which handles all of that for you, plus customer service and returns — for additional costs, of course. Fees range by weight: $ 2.41 for items 10 ounces and lighter up to $ 137.32 for oversized items.

Schuyler Richardson took his online selling to the next level by creating an Amazon private label business, which includes buying generic products for cheap, rebranding and packaging them, then selling them on Amazon for a profit.

With this technique, Richardson is able to bring in between $ 1,000 and $ 2,000 of passive income each month.

“It’s important to understand this isn’t a get-rich-quick strategy,” Richardson writes in our step-by-step guide to creating a private label business. “It takes diligence, patience and a willingness to see an idea through from start to finish.”

2. EBay

Since 1995, eBay has earned a reputation as a one-stop shop for curated goods, collectibles, unique flea-market finds and more.

“You can seriously sell anything on eBay if you know the market,” Michelle Henry told The Penny Hoarder.

Henry is an eBay shopkeeper who flips items she finds at her local thrift shop and makes a few hundred dollars a week on the site. And she isn’t the only one.

Rob Stephenson, who calls himself the Flea Market Flipper, makes upwards of $ 80,000 a year selling his flea-market finds online, usually on eBay. And it only takes him around 15 to 20 hours a week.

To join their ranks, sign up for an eBay Stores account. These accounts are for more serious sellers who foresee making in excess of 50 sales a month.

There are several tiers available — starter, basic, premium, anchor and enterprise ― with subscription fees that range from as little as $ 4.95 a month all the way up to $ 2,999.95. Each tier comes with a slew of benefits and discounts, which are listed under eBay’s subscription and fees section.

If you would just like to pawn off items from your attic, you can create a free account and list up to 50 items a month.

What’s unique about eBay is the option to create an auction listing, where buyers bid on your item, or a fixed-price listing, where the seller specifies the exact price. Whenever the item sells, eBay charges the seller a final-value fee, which is a percentage of the selling price. This percentage varies between 2% and 12% depending on the category of the item.

Shipping is on you, though.

3. Etsy

An Etsy page showing t-shirts for sale are displayed

Etsy has carved out a niche for handmade and artistic goods. While the site accepts listings from a wide range of product categories, the items should cater to its craft-loving and thrifty user base.

For sellers, it’s not just about the listing, either. It takes a little love to cultivate an Etsy shop that will resonate with buyers.

“People pick up on that kind of thing,” Gosik-Wolfe told The Penny Hoarder. “They can tell if you don’t care about your shop.”

She said it’s all about your brand, backstory and making a connection with customers.

“If people are really interested in your story, they’ll be more likely to look at all your items.” Gosik-Wolfe said. “Even if they’re not a buyer right away, they’re going to look through things and say ‘I connect to this,’ and they might just [come back] later when they do need something.”

Creating an online Etsy shop may take five minutes, but you’ll want to spend much more time customizing your page. (Or, if you don’t want to do all the page designing yourself, Etsy offers a customization tool called Pattern. This tool is an additional $ 15 a month.)

Once your shop is set up, your sales are subject to several types of fees:

  • Listing fee: For each listing on Etsy’s website or the mobile app, you’ll be charged 20 cents. For multiple quantities of the same item, a 20 cent fee will be charged per sale.
  • Transaction fee: Etsy charges 5% of the listing price per sale, plus any additional costs for shipping or gift wrapping.

Where to Sell Your Stuff Online Locally

If you’d rather not ship your item across the nation, you can opt to sell it locally. There are several sites where you can create a listing to advertise your product and then conduct the sale in person once you’ve found a buyer.

It’s important to stay safe when selling in person. Trust your gut, always meet in a well-lit public place and never give strangers your address.

Other than your neighborhood Starbucks, several police departments have designated trading spaces that are always available and have 24/7 surveillance. Find the closest one to you on SafeTrade.

4. Craigslist

Want to feel old? Of course not. But here it is anyway: Craigslist has been around for more than 20 years.

The aptly named advertising website was founded by Craig Newmark in 1996, and it started as his email list of interesting events in the San Francisco area. Over the years, it has grown to be synonymous with classified ads (sorry, newspapers) and boasts more than a billion monthly online visitors.

You can list anything from a used toaster to a high-end job to a 10-bedroom mansion.

For job, retail and service listings, there’s a fee. But if you have items you want to sell, it’s free. So list away.

While the site operates in more than 70 countries, it’s best used locally. In fact, to avoid scams, the site recommends people list locally and meet face to face. To encourage this, the website actually reads your IP address and automatically funnels you to the local version of the site.

So let’s say you want to sell an antique armoire.

To create a listing, no registration is required. The site will prompt you to answer a few questions about what type of item you’re selling and will ask you to specify your county. After that, describe the armoire in detail (condition, price, dimensions, color, etc.), post a few photos and leave your contact information if you don’t want to correspond through anonymous emails.

Then the replies will start rolling in. Be prepared to haggle.

5. Facebook Marketplace

What doesn’t Facebook do these days?

In 2016, the social media giant launched an on-site feature called Marketplace. It works a lot like other local-listing websites, except there’s the added benefit of looking through the profile of the buyer or seller — a relief for online shoppers, surely.

Anyone can browse the marketplace anonymously, but to bid on or create a listing, you will need to sign in to your Facebook profile, which of course, is free. (You’re probably already logged in if you’re reading this.)

Sellers can create a free listing for homes, vehicles or items. The only stipulation is that all listings must comply with Facebook’s commerce policies and any local laws.

Facebook forbids creating listings about:

  • Animals.
  • Weapons or ammunition.
  • Irrelevant content, i.e. posting news, memes or humor that “has no intention to buy or sell products or services.”

The marketplace also aggregates relevant buying and selling groups in your area. Posting in these groups is a good way to advertise your item to a specific audience.

Pro tip: Big-town universities usually have very active marketplace groups due to the constant flux of students.

Facebook has a direct-payment system built into Messenger, which is also free to use. But payment does not have to be completed using this feature.

6. Nextdoor

Nextdoor is a relatively new, private social media platform with an interesting twist. It’s not for individuals, but neighborhoods.

To join Nextdoor, you’ll need to verify your street address and use your real, full name. This is one exception to the “never give strangers your address” rule. Because they shouldn’t be strangers. They’re your neighbors.

After your account is verified (either by phone call or postcard), you can join your neighbors on a private board not indexed by search engines and not available to people who have an address outside your area.

During registration, you’ll be prompted to join groups based on popular trending topics in your area, such as local sports teams, schools and much more.

Once your profile is complete, you can post free listings in the “For Sale & Free” section and filter items by more than a dozen categories.

All items that are shown on the website are by other Nextdoor users in your designated “neighborhood.”

The reason neighborhood is in quotation marks is because the areas are not geographically accurate neighborhoods per se. They are formed by founding members — people who first signed up in your community. Founding members define the limits of your online neighborhood and must recruit at least 10 addresses within that area to sign up on Nextdoor to establish the neighborhood.

Nextdoor staff can, at any time, change the neighborhood parameters, say, if someone combined two full cities into one neighborhood or intentionally left out certain areas based on income or race.

And while these members may indeed be your neighbors, it’s still a good idea to adhere to the safety best practices mentioned above when selling in person.

7. OfferUp

OfferUp is a mobile-based secondhand marketplace that launched in 2011. It’s focused on local sales, but there is a feature to search for items nationwide, too.

It’s one of the only online marketplaces that requires sellers to upload photos of the item via its mobile app. The app has built-in messaging and payment systems, though they aren’t mandatory for buyers. For sellers, the app is required because of the mandatory photo feature.

Creating an account is as fast as downloading the app or logging in with Facebook or Gmail if you don’t intend to sell.

OfferUp has an extensive list of prohibited items, including alcohol, guns, animals and vitamins. The site also has in-depth guides on the best practices for posting and marketing your item, which include using multiple photos, categorizing your item correctly and writing a good product description.

Creating listings and selling items in person are free.

However, there are a few paid features on OfferUp.

  • National listings: Most items are automatically listed for sale in your local area. For a fee (9.9% of the selling price), you can have the item listed nationally and shipped to the buyer.
  • Promoted listings: a feature that keeps your post within the top 50 search results for a specific category. Promotion fees run between $ 3.99 and $ 19.99 for three days to 14 days of promotion, respectively.
  • Bumping: This feature refreshes your item as if it were a new post, listing it higher in search results. Bumps cost between $ 1.99 and $ 3.99 per item.
  • Paying through OfferUp: Transactions are typically cash-based, but for national sales or situations where you don’t want to use cash, the website offers transactions through Stripe, which charges separate processing fees.

All paid features are optional. So to keep costs down, keep it local and use cash.

8. Letgo

Capitalizing on the minimalist movement, Letgo wants you to find a home for your gently used tchotchkes or space-takers that don’t spark joy. A quick listing could turn your old wooden-trunk-turned-coffee-table into someone else’s new wooden-trunk-turned-coffee-table.

Now your living room looks larger and you have $ 30 you can invest on a little self-care. Or your third round of Uber Eats this week. Whichever.

Letgo is free to buy and sell, and the only fees are for sellers who want to promote their listings. (Promotions start at $ 1.99, and a “Super Boost” subscription is available to Android users for $ 29.99 a month.)

The app-based marketplace caters to both one-time sellers and veteran peddlers alike. It takes less than a minute to create a listing, which is possible on both the Letgo website and the app. Your selling radius is automatically picked up by your phone’s location information or your IP address.

Upload a few photos, write a good description, list your price and post it for people in your area to see.

After you’ve made a few sales, like several other marketplace sites, your profile will accrue ratings from buyers. High ratings are a good way to set yourself apart if you plan to use the app frequently.

While listings are aggregated based on your ZIP code, it is possible to tap into other areas by entering a different ZIP code. However, there is no option to filter items nationally.

Letgo is a locals-only club.

Where to Sell Games and Electronics Online

While every website or app above accepts listings for electronics, it’s a good idea to list them on marketplaces that specialize in these types of products.

For example, someone on Facebook may indeed want a laptop, but your gaming laptop has 16GB of RAM, a terabyte of disk space and you just upgraded the graphics card. The Facebook buyer may only be looking for a computer that can run word processing programs. And a (lowball) offer is probably going to reflect that.

To get what it’s worth, you’ll want to list it on a marketplace where buyers will appreciate the specs of your gaming rig.

9. Decluttr

You know that collection of DVDs that you try to push to the furthest corners of your mind (and the farthest crannies of your closet) but inevitably rears its head every time you have to move? Yeah, that one.

Well, there’s a way to get paid for all those dusty discs, fast. And the best part is that you don’t have to find individual buyers. Decluttr will buy them from you and do the reselling for you.

Decluttr accepts much more than those DVDs that you’d rather forget about, too. It also buys:

  • Video games, Blu-ray Discs and music.
  • Cell phones, tablets and consoles.
  • Smart watches and laptops.
  • Even textbooks and Legos.

At this point, you’ve probably written more product descriptions than you’ve bargained for. Thankfully, no photos or listings are required to sell on Decluttr.

To get a cash quote for tech such as phones, devices and consoles, enter the model of the item you want to sell into the website or app search field and select what condition it’s in (good, poor or faulty). A cash quote will appear immediately.

For CDs, Blu-rays or other discs, scan the barcode with your smartphone for an instant quote.

In The Penny Hoarder guide to selling on Decluttr, Matt Wiley scored more than 50 bucks for some old movies and a few PS3 games. He got paid the day after his order was accepted via direct deposit, meaning no dealing with cash or checks or multiple buyers who want only two DVDs in the bundle.

Compared to other marketplaces, Decluttr’s shipping policy also stands out. The company handles shipping costs and sends you the shipping labels via email. All you have to do is pack the items in a box, tack on the label and mail it off. (For free boxes, Wiley recommends asking your local supermarket. Cost-saving and environmentally friendly!)

10. Gameflip

Selling video games and related content is one of the best ways to make money as a gamer.

At Gameflip, you can sell video games, gift cards, rare in-game items and movies all in one place.

Lifelong gamer and video game content creator Frederick Aldeco, aka DaddyGamer Fred, used Gameflip to sell almost all of his games (except the handheld Switch and PS Vita) to help fund his move from the U.S. to Switzerland.

But Gameflip is not just a marketplace for items and products. Gamers and designers can also sell services on the website, such as tutoring sessions; or graphic designs, such as logos and artwork.

To become a Gameflip seller, you must either register a credit or debit card (no prepaid cards allowed) or submit your ID for verification. You can choose to sign up using an email address, Facebook or Gmail account.

For each item sold, Gameflip charges a processing fee of 8% of the sale price, plus an additional 2% digital-item fee (if applicable). Frequent sellers can join the Gameflip Club to reduce or eliminate selling fees. Memberships cost between $ 1 a month and $ 15 a month.

All income from your sales is stored on your Gameflip profile and can be withdrawn through PayPal.

But perhaps the biggest payment of all is being able to say, “See, Mom, it does pay to play video games.”

11. Gazelle

Are you one to buy the latest model iPhone or Samsung as soon as it hits the market? Then get paid for your old model by selling it to Gazelle. No sifting through bids or haggling with buyers.

Gazelle will buy your used tech, primarily smartphones but also:

  • Tablets.
  • MP3 players.
  • Laptops and desktops.
  • Various Apple products.

To see if your product is eligible, find the make and model on the website, then answer a couple of questions about the specs and condition to get a quote.

Make sure your exact model is listed, otherwise the company won’t purchase it.

After you accept a quote, Gazelle will send you packing and shipping labels for free (for orders over $ 30). Load up your tech and ship it back for confirmation. Gazelle will pay only after it has received your shipment and checked the item.

For example, if you listed an item in “flawless” condition and the company finds scratches or dings, it will adjust the offer. You’ll have five days to accept the new offer before Gazelle will return it to you.

You can choose one of several payment options. Gazelle pays via Amazon gift cards, Paypal transfers or checks.

If you need cash fast, you can also deposit your tech at the nearest EcoATM kiosk and get paid immediately. The website notes that kiosk payments are typically lower than quotes made on the website.

Where to Sell Your Clothes Online

Of all the things we have too much of, it’s probably clothes. And we probably don’t realize it. We’ll tuck a bag or two in the hallway closet, put our unused sweaters under the bed and line our doors with hanging shoe racks.

But if we were to gather that garb into one pile, it would be enormous. Seeing it all in one place puts things into perspective.

Donating is a great start to chipping away at that fabric mountain on your living room floor. But if you want a little cash for your clothes, you have plenty of sites to choose from.

12. Poshmark

Dubbing itself a “social marketplace for fashion,” Poshmark is a platform for stylish men, women and kids’ clothes that is a little more involved that most buy-and-sell websites.

It’s not a list-it-and-leave-it kind of place, but the extra work that goes into creating a pleasing profile really pays off.

When fashion blogger Alison Gary decided to rent out her house and travel the country in an RV with her husband, she realized her wardrobe was weighing her down.

So she took a bunch of high-quality photos of her outfits, made them into a collage and posted them on Poshmark. Within a few months, her excess clothes earned her more than $ 1,000.

Gary laid out her best practices in The Penny Hoarder’s guide to selling on Poshmark. To name a few:

  • List multiple pictures.
  • Haggle for the best price, but know when to say no.
  • Give fashion advice along with your clothing. (Hello, upsell!)

To become a seller, you first must download the Poshmark app. Then you can create your own listing using Gary’s advice. For each sale, Poshmark takes a commission.

For sales $ 15 and under, there’s a flat $ 2.95 fee. For everything over $ 15, the commission jumps to 20% of the sale price.

The good news is Poshmark handles shipping for free. It will send you a pre-labeled package for you to load your clothes into and send to the buyer.

13. Swap.com

Admit it. There’s a bag of clothes in the back of your car that you’ve been meaning to take to one of the many used clothes stores, but you never got around to it. If that’s the case, Swap.com was meant for you.

It works similarly to clothing-exchange stores, where your clothes are appraised and you’re given an offer based on in-vogue fashion or seasonal trends. Except with Swap.com, it’s all done online and through the mail.

To start selling to Swap.com, it will take a little work. First, you will need to register an account and complete a “premier seller application.” You’ll provide:

  • How much you want to charge for each item.
  • What brands you plan to sell.
  • How frequently you plan to sell to Swap.com this year.
  • Your phone number.

If your application is accepted, you’ll be prompted to send in a test box, which must meet certain acceptance criteria for men, women and children’s clothing. After your box passes, then you’ll be invited to sell to Swap.com whenever you like.

For items with a list price of $ 8 and under, you will earn 15% in cash, plus 20% in Swap.com credit. All items over $ 8 will earn you 70% of the list price, plus 20% in Swap.com credit.

If some of your items are rejected, Swap.com charges $ 11.90 to ship the items back to you. Oversized boxes incur extra fees.

So make sure to follow the acceptance criteria to a T. Don’t include dirty, damaged or faded clothes because you might end up with more fees than earnings.

14. ThredUP

For the clothes that might have gone in the donation pile, ThredUP may be just as good a home, partly because the company will take those donations off your hands. For free.

This women-and-children-centric secondhand retailer makes closet cleaning easy. Select a “clean out kit;” there’s one for donations and or one for items you want to sell. If you select standard shipping, the kits are free. Expedited shipping costs $ 16.

If you’re donating, stuff your kit full, mail it out and call it a day.

If you want your items to sell, you may need to be a little more choosy. Be sure to include brands that sell well, such as Athleta, Kate Spade, Lululemon and Patagonia.

Accepted clothes will earn you between 5% and 80% of the listing price.

Listing Price Percentage of Earnings
Less than $ 15 5%
$ 15 to $ 19.99 10%
$ 20 to $ 34.99 15%
$ 35 to $ 49.99 25%
$ 50 to $ 74.99 50%
$ 100 to $ 199.99 60%
$ 200 to $ 299.99 70%
$ 300+ 80%

When loading up your kit, make sure you’re ready to part ways with whatever you send in. You will get a modest payout for the items that ThredUP accepts. The rejected clothes will be recycled.

15. Tradesy

Tradesy runs like most other marketplaces on this list, except it’s tailored toward high-end women’s fashion from designer brands like Balmain, Chanel, Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

Besides clothes, Tradesy also accepts accessories, purses, shoes and all things wedding-related (invitations, veils, decorations and more).

To create a listing, you know the drill: photos, description, price. If you need a little help setting it up, Tradesy will pitch in with automatic photo editing and pricing suggestions.

Where Tradesy distinguishes itself is in its shipping policy. Before you publish your listing on the site, you can choose from three shipping methods:

  • Tradesy-supplied shipping. Choose from an assortment of bags and packages that best fit your item. Prepaid labels included.
  • Printed, prepaid shipping label. A flat $ 10.50 shipping price, which the buyer pays at checkout.
  • Ship it yourself. The best option to keep your listing price down, but more work for you.

All shipping costs are added to your listing price. Your selection will increase the price for the buyer (and ultimately for you too, because seller fees are based on the total item cost, including shipping.)

Earnings accrue on your Tradesy account. For each sale, Tradesy takes a commision based on the listed price of the item. For all sales under $ 50, the fee is a flat $ 7.50. Listings above $ 50 incur a 19.8% fee.

Your earnings will be stored on your account for 21 days. You can use those funds to shop on Tradesy or withdraw them into a checking account, a debit card or a PayPal account.

Each withdrawal incurs a 2.9% cash transfer fee.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in unique ways to make money and work-from-home jobs. Read his full bio here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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9 unanswered questions for the Mueller report

The end is near.


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JP Morgan in ‘attack mode’: Mega bank is bigger than ever, and Jamie Dimon bullish on economy

Fears that a recession is on the horizon spiked last month when bond markets gave signals that confidence in the economy is dimming.
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These 7 Tips Will Help You Avoid Burning Out When You Have a Side Gig

When Ericka Eller, a certified health coach and nutritionist, works with clients facing stress from overloaded work schedules, she shares her personal experience of burning out.

Eller hit the wall in 2016. Back then, she was obtaining her health coach certification while juggling the responsibilities of a full-time job as a business development manager at a nutritional supplement company with being a mom.

“All of those things were great, but I was going full speed ahead with everything, always feeling like I wasn’t doing enough,” she says.

Eventually, all the responsibilities and travel from work, getting her business off the ground and not sleeping and eating well compounded to the point that she says she developed health problems. This led her to change the way she juggles jobs and her personal life.

Eller and other people running side hustles along with full-time jobs often feel overwhelmed. Luckily, there are ways they can avoid burnout.

Focus on Three Goals Per Week

After working a full day at your 9-to-5, coming home to start focusing on what needs to be done for your side hustle can feel like an insurmountable chore.

Eller’s clients often come to her burdened with never-ending to-do lists. They usually don’t know what to tackle first to meet the obligations of their day job, side gig and life outside work.

To shorten the list, Eller tells people to write down their three top goals for the week and then write down three tasks each day that will lead to achieving them.

“That way, they are moving forward in their three top goals, but it’s not overwhelming,” she says. “Three [goals] feels a lot better than 20.”

Block Out Your Schedule

One of the keys to success when working a full-time job with one or more side hustles is managing time wisely.

For Hope Bolinger, time management is a necessity to prevent fatigue as she juggles her work as a literary agent, editor and writer of her first novel. To keep all her deadlines in check, she maps out her week by blocking out time for each project.

Each day, Bolinger estimates how many hours she expects to work on an assignment and then budgets more time than it may take. For example, if she thinks a task will take three hours to complete, she blocks out four hours. That way she’ll still be on track if tasks take longer than planned or something unexpected pops up.

Don’t forget to budget break times. Bolinger says she includes a 15- to 20-minute break every four hours. “If you’re working longer than four-hour stretches, the screen is going to start getting blurry, and you’re not going to be as effective as you want to be,” she says.  

Bolinger uses a computer spreadsheet to keep track of her hourly schedule, but paper planners and journals work, too.

Tackle the Least Enjoyable Projects in Bits

One of the added benefits of blocking out your daily schedule is that you can split up your time working on different projects the way you see fit, Bolinger says. For example, if you’re not particularly thrilled to work on a tasks related to your side hustle, you can sprinkle in half-hour blocks of something you enjoy to break up the monotony.

But sometimes, you aren’t able to break up those less enjoyable tasks. In that case, work on the least exciting stuff first instead of putting it off until the end. “When you get to the projects you’re very excited to work on, it’s kind of a little treat for yourself,” Bolinger says.

Learn to Say ‘No’

An easy way to accelerate side-hustle burnout is not knowing your limits. One of the ways Chantay Bridges keeps up all her jobs as a Realtor, talent coordinator and event manager is knowing when to say no.

When she manages events such as weddings, clients will often ask her to provide additional chairs, tables and dishes or devote more time than what was agreed upon. She reminds her clients to stick to the contract because those extra requests add up and can make the difference between needing to hire more people and not.

If you’re prone to taking on too many tasks, it’s up to you to change your behavior to avoid burning out.

“If you don’t change your behavior and change the way you operate, then you’re teaching people to treat you that way,” she says.

Make Sleep a Priority

Sleep was always the first thing Eller sacrificed when managing an overloaded schedule. She says almost every woman she works with as a client either can’t get to sleep or chooses not to because she feels it’s unproductive.

But sleep is important because it can recharge your body and mind. That’s why Eller encourages people to get eight to nine hours of sleep per night.

To get the most out of your sleep, create a bedtime routine. It can consist of any number of things, such as disconnecting from electronic screens, dimming lights or turning on an essential-oil diffuser an hour before bed, Eller suggests.

Also, your bedroom should be a calming, inviting place that’s free of distractions. Having baskets of unfolded laundry on the floor or hanging tomorrow’s clothes from a treadmill in the corner of the room can make some people feel overwhelmed. So put your clothes in your closet or move them out of sight and out of mind.

Find Some Hobbies Outside of Work

Another way to recharge and refocus is by having something unrelated to workto look forward to. Bolinger is involved with community theater, sings in a choral group and plays tennis.

After playing tennis or coming home from the theater, Bolinger feels more creative. “I usually tend to be most productive when I’m returning home from one of those things versus going at a project for more than five hours.”

If community theater isn’t your jam, exercise is an excellent way to release some endorphins. She says to look for anything you enjoy doing outside the office or house that can be a change of pace.

Treat Yo’ Self

It’s easy to forget to celebrate your accomplishments, Bolinger says. So when you scratch an important or difficult task off your to-do list for your side hustle, take a moment to “treat yo’ self.”

“I’m a chocoholic, so you can take a wild guess at what my little prize is if I hit a goal,” Bolinger says, adding that dark chocolate truffles are her go-to reward.

If eating chocolate doesn’t get you excited, maybe a night of Netflix binge-watching will. Whatever you choose, note that it doesn’t have to be something that costs a lot of money, Bollinger says. Just make it something that you look forward to.

Matt Reinstetle is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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House committee sends new letter to IRS demanding Trump’s tax returns

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal is not backing down on his request for six years of the President Donald Trump’s personal and business tax returns, he writes In a new letter sent Saturday to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.


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Fisher-Price recalls sleeper after dozens of infant deaths over last decade

Fisher-Price is recalling some 5 million “Rock ‘n Play sleepers after more than 30 infant suffocation or strangulation deaths over the past decade have been linked to the product rolling over. The recall, announced Friday night, had been urged by child safety experts. “This product is deadly and should be recalled immediately,” Kyle Yasuda, president…
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Want to learn Salesforce? These cheap online courses may be all you need.

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If there’s one skill that can add an extra kick to your résumé, it’s Salesforce — the top Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform now ubiquitous at all sorts of enterprise companies. Its cloud-based apps power work productivity at every stage of the sales funnel, from lead generation to executing upon final sales. In fact, Salesforce claims that its Salesforce Economy is expected to create 3.3 million new jobs by 2022.

Tempted? If you’re looking to jumpstart a career that requires knowledge of Salesforce, you have options. On the non-technical side, look to be certified as a Salesforce Administrator — in which case you’ll want to take a certification exam like the Certified Administrator Exam, which tests your knowledge of Salesforce admin tasks such as building reports, maintaining clean data, and adding new fields to forms. On the flip side, technical-minded folks can look to nab certification as a Salesforce Developer, in which case you should aim to ace an exam such as the Platform App Builder. Salesforce Developers handle all the backend stuff involving building testing, implementing, and maintaining Salesforce apps to keep the platform running like a well-oiled machine. Read more…

More about Salesforce, Online Learning, Mashable Shopping, Shopping Stackcommerce, and Shopping Onlinelearning


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Who Gets to Decide Who Is an Authority on Food?

Over the last couple of years, with the releases of films such as Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and Wonder Woman–movies led by women and people of color–there has been an outcry in the entertainment industry to diversify not just the crew and leadership behind the camera, but the critics’ pool as well. There are a number of arguments for this, including that the people reviewing these movies should also be reflective of the audiences for whom they were intended.

Such a call for diversifying the critics’ circle is happening in the food industry as well. Historically, just like in entertainment, it’s impossible to deny that the majority of food critics have come from similar backgrounds–notably white, male, and upper middle class. That monoculture has had both indented and unintended consequences, but they usually result in the tokenism and exoticism of certain dishes, ingredients, and the communities these cuisines represent.

This topic–evaluating who is qualified to cook, write, and review food–was an overarching topic at last weekend’s Cherry Bombe Jubilee, a day-long summit hosted by the bi-annual magazine and weekly podcast of the same name. In its sixth year, Cherry Bombe Jubilee is the largest female-food conference nationwide.

On the cusp of publishing her first cookbook with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt later this month, New York Times and Bon Appetit contributor Priya Krishna outlined the circuitous route in finding her writing voice and specialty.

“In our field, the question of who gets to be an authority comes up a lot,” Krishna said. “I feel like it when I read about a tea company founded by a woman who claims to have invented chai.”

Krishna explained that when she was first starting out in food writing, she’d often pitch stories about “restaurant dishes, interesting people, and Indian food–because that’s what I knew.” Nevertheless, Krishna said she “didn’t want to just write about dosas.”

“I had much bigger ambitions. I felt tokenized,” Krishna said. “At times, I felt I wasn’t good enough to write about other things. But I was a freelancer and needed to pay rent, and this paid the bills.”

Padma Lakshmi, who wrote the forward for Krishna’s book and also appeared on the Cherry Bombe Jubilee stage later in the day, reiterated similar feelings she expressed in her 2016 memoir Love, Loss, and What We Ate.

“Often in my own career, I’ve felt like the odd duck because I didn’t see people around me who looked like me,” Lakshmi said, describing later how after moving to the United States at the age of four, she observed that most Indian cultures were (mistakenly) lumped together by U.S. critics into a singular “pan-Indian” diet, regardless of the sheer diversity across the subcontinent.

Krishna admitted she was originally uneasy about the title of her book, and that she was unwilling to have the word “Indian” in the title. She was concerned it would “end up in ethnic bookstores” and wouldn’t be placed next to a cookbook from the likes of Nigella Lawson. But her publishers at disagreed, and they settled upon a final title: Indian-ish. But, as Krishna notes this book has “both paneer and pizza,” the true heart of the book might reside in the subtitle: Recipes and Antics From a Modern American Family.

Krishna also observed how her culture has become popular–if not misappropriated–in the food world over the last few years, describing how hipster coffee shops are now churning out turmeric lattes as just one prime example of drinks and dishes that have been served in India for centuries, but frankly only received attention in the United States “when white people started talking about it.”

“Publications, mostly still run by white people, often feel like they can’t publish content without being attacked for appropriation,” Krishna posited. It’s not hard to see why there has been an endless amount of cover stories about roast chicken. Krishna suggested a fix, to wild applause from the Cherry Bombe audience: Hire people from all backgrounds.

“Mastheads can’t all be people from the same background, the same part of the country,” Krishna said. The more perspectives in the kitchen and in publications, the less tokenized the food will be, she argued, and thus the more inclusive restaurants and publications will feel to their respective audiences. And that doesn’t just go for the critics themselves, but also the way they perceive the people they are covering and, often, honoring: “There should never, ever, ever–be an award called best female chef.”

Krishna also argued that, “as people of color, we’re not off the hooked.” She explained that she was pigeon-holed in her specialty because she “knew Indian food,” but that her other pitches didn’t go deep enough. So she started putting more reporting into her pitches, resulting in a myriad of different reporting assignments, including writing about the opioid crisis in Kentucky.

“I criticize white dudes about miswriting about Indian food all the time, but that doesn’t mean we’re all not prone to mistakes. We all have to do the homework,” Krishna continued.

Nevertheless, there are still plenty of others who need to do the homework. In shopping her book, Krishna said she received comments from prospective publishers and editors such as “Where is the curry?”, that there were “too many ingredients,” and even publishers remarking that they were already producing “a lot of immigrant stories” while asking for something else. Even after a panel discussion just a few weeks ago, an audience member told Krishna to “stay in her own lane.”

“This shit still happens,” Krishna said flatly.

Regardless, Krishna says she still has hope that as more women and people of color take on more roles of authority and management in the food industry, that they will also lift up others in less privileged positions.

“I hope, as women we’ll go out of our ways to make respective work environments more inclusive at all levels,” Krishna said. “Some days, I feel like these goals are really far away. But today isn’t one of those days.”

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http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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UPDATE 3-Avianca Brasil cancels 179 flights as it loses appeal on planes

Avianca Brasil on Friday
canceled 179 flights scheduled for the next five days after a
judge denied an appeal by the carrier to hold on to nine
disputed planes, marking the unraveling of the airline four
months after it filed for bankruptcy protection.


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The best life insurance companies in 2019

term life insurance policy

Looking for the best life insurance? Simple is better when it comes to life insurance, and buying level term insurance from a trustworthy company is just about as simple as you can get.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what term life insurance is and who needs it. We’ll also cover which companies money expert Clark Howard recommends you buy it from and how to research and identify the best term life insurance companies on your own.

A look at the best term life insurance companies

Do you have a family or someone else who depends on you financially? Life insurance is meant to replace your income when you’re gone.

Too often, people overlook this important financial safety net. Don’t be one of them. We know life insurance can seem dry and hard to understand, but we’ll do our best to explain it in simple, actionable terms.

Fortunately, the cost of term life insurance has been dropping for a while.

“Life insurance has gotten much cheaper over the years, in part because people are living longer,” Clark says. “Add into the mix the Internet, which has made it ultra-easy to compare prices when shopping for life insurance. The result is that term life insurance costs have dropped by two-thirds in the last 15 years. That’s a great deal!”

Best life insurance companies: Table of contents

What is level term life insurance?

woman with question mark on head

Life insurance may seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be!

Let’s break down some terms in the phrase “level term life insurance,” which is the kind of life insurance Clark recommends.

The “term” part here means you buy insurance for a set number of years depending on your age and your family’s needs. Typically, that means for periods of 20 or 30 years to protect your young children as you raise them into adulthood.

The “level” part means the premium remains the same for that number of years.

Remember the only purpose for life insurance is to replace your income (or your spouse’s) for your family if you die.

Pretty simple, right?

Who needs life insurance?

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Let’s answer this question with a couple of illustrations.

Say, for example, you have young kids and you want to provide financial security for them until they are adults. In this case, you might want to buy a 20-year term policy.

Or, let’s say you’re 35 and it’s just you and your spouse. You may want to provide for the remainder of your spouse’s life in the event of your death. In that case, you’d probably want a 30-year term policy.

You may not need a life insurance policy at all if there aren’t children in the picture.

“If you have no dependents at all, you don’t need to buy any life insurance,” Clark says. “And don’t ever buy insurance on children. A three-year-old doesn’t earn a salary, so there’s no need to replace his or her income.”

Clark Howard’s picks for term life insurance

Now that you know how Clark feels about life insurance, you might wonder who he’d buy it from.

Clark has long sung the praises of two insurers in particular — USAA and Amica Mutual — when it comes to term life insurance.

1. USAA

USAA logo

USAA is a diversified financial services company with offerings that include banking, investing and insurance.

Here’s the key thing to know about USAA: The services it offers are only available to those in the military or who are affiliated with the military through direct family ties.

2. Amica Mutual

amica mutual logo

What can you do if you or anyone in your family never served in the military but you still want a great company for term life insurance? Clark recommends checking out Amica Mutual, which is open to anyone. Amica is often acknowledged in the industry as an equal to USAA.

In fact, Clark believes so strongly in USAA and Amica that he listed them both as top picks on his lists of the best auto insurance companies and best home insurance companies.

3. Haven Life

Haven Life logo

Haven Life is one of a handful of insurers that issues term life insurance policies with no medical exam.

When you go through Haven, select qualified applicants (up to age 45) can finalize coverage online without the need to have a physical exam or a blood test like you would with other insurers.

Certain candidates, however, may still need to pass medical underwriting, depending on a variety of factors.

Term life insurance companies ranked by stability

It goes without saying that you need to make smart choices when you’re buying insurance.

Clark recommends buying only from companies that are rated A++ or A+ by A.M. Best — the highest possible ratings from one of the top companies when it comes to measuring the long-term financial strength of different insurers.

“Anything less than an A+ — even an A — is unacceptable. Don’t be tempted by low premiums when you’re shopping around,” Clark says. “Stick with insurers of top strength, even if you have to pay more for it.”

You can visit AMBest.com to get started researching your insurance company of choice. Free registration is required to use the site.

We’ve pulled up some ratings of popular life insurers below:

Insurance company Coverage underwritten by A.M. Best rating
Amica Mutual (self) A+
USAA (self) A++
Haven Life Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company A++
State Farm (self) A++
Prudential (self) A+
Mutual of Omaha Group (self) A+
Globe Life (self) A+
John Hancock (self) A+

Understanding an insurance company’s financial strength is of the utmost importance. You want to make sure a company you’re buying a policy from today will be around for the long haul when your family needs them.

Once you’ve got the financial stability piece of the puzzle figured out, then you’re really just shopping for coverage based on cost. Clark says that you should aim to buy 6 to 10 times your annual income in coverage.

“All else being equal, buy life insurance by cost,” Consumer Reports notes. “Shop for the lowest rates using an online broker with ties to many insurers, not just a few.”

Fortunately, shopping for term life insurance is easy on the Internet. You can comparison shop for quotes at any of a number of sites like:

Final thought

A lot of people shy away from buying life insurance simply because they don’t understand it. But buying term life insurance can be simple and affordable.

Remember, if you’ve got children or other financial dependents, you need life insurance!

More insurance stories on Clark.com

The post The best life insurance companies in 2019 appeared first on Clark Howard.

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Dear Penny: I’m a Saver. My Wife Is a Spender. How Do We Manage Our Money?

Dear A.,

I’m sure some people reading this column will say, “Why didn’t you talk about this before you got married?” But you probably did — to some extent.

Once you settle into life as a married couple, though, you can more clearly see how intertwined finances become, and where the missing puzzle pieces are supposed to go.

When we talk about money with a partner, we have a tendency to get caught up in the nuts and bolts of budgeting without really understanding the values underneath. Naturally, your upbringing comes into play, but it’s only part of what influences your financial priorities.

Your childhood experiences can help you identify how you tend to manage your money, but they don’t always explain your motivation for sticking with those ideas instead of breaking away from them as an adult.

When you carry ideas from childhood into your adult life, you need to think about your motivation, and resist the urge to operate on autopilot. Saying, “This is the way I was raised, so it’s obviously the best way to go about it” rings a bit hollow, doesn’t it?

Going one layer deeper can take you from simply trying to get all the bills paid on time to understanding what principles and priorities truly drive your financial choices.

Neither of your approaches to money are necessarily wrong. The problem is that you don’t agree on which approach to take when it comes to balancing saving and spending. You’re on opposite sides of the spectrum right now, but can you identify any financial goals you agree on?

Try to find one or two goals to focus on together, rather than struggling to be a unified front across the board. And that may mean letting go of the rest — or deciding to uncouple some of your financial accounts. Not every couple combines every one of their accounts or splits all expenses down the middle.

It may be easier to achieve her desire for autonomy and your desire for control — if that’s actually what’s driving each of you — if you rethink how you’ve intertwined those ideals.

Have a tricky money question? Write to Dear Penny and you might see your question answered in an upcoming column.

Lisa Rowan is a personal finance expert and senior writer at The Penny Hoarder, and the voice behind Dear Penny.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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5 Simple Ways to Use a Bullet Journal to Manage Your Money

Instead of choosing from the dizzying array of online budgeting tools, here’s a novel thought: The best solution to keeping track of your money may be writing everything down with pen and paper.  

The bullet journal — or BuJo, for short — is an analog organizational system that can help you find the “calm in the chaos” (at least, according to the creator of the bullet journal, Ryder Carroll).

What sets the bullet journal apart from other lookalikes is it’s completely customizable. Each page has tiny bullets to use as a guide to track whatever you want. You can set goals, write down to-do lists and track your finances all in one place.

Unlike pre-designed planners, bullet journal budget trackers allow you to create spreads for your particular financial goals and tasks, including the visuals that will most inspire you to reach them.

So if you want to buy a house, for instance, you can color each brick of a house as you save for a down payment.

And if you’ve ever missed a reminder amid the constant pings from the calendar on your phone, you’ll appreciate that bullet journals offer a physical, visually pleasing alternative for tracking your bills.

And you don’t have to be creative to get started.

Alicia Geigel teaches bullet journaling workshops at Whim So Doodle in St. Petersburg, Florida. She typically shares layout ideas to get people comfortable with tracking their lives both personally and professionally on paper. Now she’s finding people are interested in using the bullet journals for their personal finances.

Currently, she is using her journal to save $ 2,500 for a trip to Italy.

“Since I do it every night and try to make it part of my routine, it just reminds me of the path I am trying to save on,” Geigel said.

If switching to a bullet journal system is too much for you to take on all at once, consider starting with just one or two of Geigel’s tips:

Tip #1: Create A Monthly Budget Tracker

Detail of a monthly budget

Unless you check your bank account every day, it’s difficult to know exactly what’s coming in and out of your budget at any given time. So write it down.

Just like a checkbook, write down your scheduled bills on the left and record expenses on the right. Every time you spend money, deduct it from your balance — this will hold you accountable. There should be no surprises when you look at your bank account.

Tip #2: Design a Visual Savings Goal

Detail of a picture of a piggy bank

Determine an object that motivates you to save money. Is it a jar? A piggy bank?

Design a savings goal you can track visually. Each time you put money in your savings account, shade in a portion of the object. It’s quite satisfying to see it come to life.

Tip #3: Draw a Line Graph to Show Debt Payoff

Detail of a line graph

Nothing is better than seeing your debt disappear. Draw a line graph to chart your debt payoff. Create a line for your credit cards, mortgage or car loan — as you pay them down, mark your progress on the graph.

Seeing the line go down can give you an extra push to pay it off faster.

Tip #4: Try a No-Spend Challenge

Detail of a calendar

Try a no-spend challenge by creating a calendar. Check off the days you didn’t spend money. Even if you have a setback, by seeing your successes on paper, you’ll want to do it more often!

Tip #5: Use a Habit Tracker

Detail of a habit tracker

Whether you want to break a bad habit or develop a new routine, a tracker can help you get there. Let’s say you want to pay bills on time. Acknowledge when you do it by filling in a box. The more boxes you see, the more it encourages the habit.

One of the great benefits of using a habit tracker in your bullet journal is that you can start to see patterns you might have missed before (like those budget-breaking lattes that sneak in around mid-week).

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to use a bullet journal. Figure out what works best for you. Before you know it, your finances will start to turn around.

Christie Post is a former supervising producer and host at The Penny Hoarder. You can see the videos she produces on YouTube. Subscribe and give her a shoutout @christiepost.

Staff writer Tiffany Wendln Connors contributed to this post.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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4 Budgeting Methods to Try if You Don’t Know How to Start Saving

It sucks to wonder where all your money went at the end of the month. Even worse is wondering how all your money is gone when you still have a week left until payday.

If you’ve added up some receipts, you might be flabbergasted by how much you spend on food, clothes or your kids’ activities.

A budget can help. Budgets are designed to keep you on top of the money that comes in and the money that goes out.

But there isn’t just one simple way to budget; budget styles vary considerably. What works for you will depend on your goals and how you prefer to track your finances.

So let’s break down some popular budgeting methods, and you can choose one that’s right for you.

Budgeting Method No. 1: The 50/30/20 Method

Have you ever asked yourself how much you should be spending on necessities as opposed to the stuff you want? Have you wondered what portion of your paycheck should be going to better your financial future? The 50/30/20 budget might be right for you.

How to Budget Using the 50/30/20 Method

Divvy up your money so that 50% of your income goes to covering the essentials, 30% goes to buying what you really enjoy and 20% goes to meeting financial goals.

Let’s say your take-home pay is $ 3,000 per month. That breaks down to $ 1,500 for the essentials, $ 900 for whatever you desire and $ 600 for financial goals.

Some of the necessities you’d spend $ 1,500 on could include:

  • Rent/mortgage
  • Insurance
  • Utilities
  • Internet
  • Phone bill
  • Minimum credit card payments
  • Student loan payments
  • Food
  • Car note
  • Gas

You should allocate $ 900 to spend on the fun stuff:

  • Hulu/Netflix.
  • Dining out
  • Vacations
  • Date nights
  • Movies
  • Clothing
  • Accessories
  • Makeup
  • Magazines
  • Sporting events
  • Concerts

That leaves you with $ 600 to put toward things like:

  • Emergency fund
  • Short-term savings
  • 401(k) or IRAs
  • 529 college savings plan
  • Extra payments on your credit cards

With the 50/30/20 method, you don’t have to lay out how much you’ll spend in individual categories. For instance, you don’t need to set a spending limit on groceries or a cap on how much you spend on date nights as long as your spending stays within the established percentage brackets.

If you like the idea of the 50/30/20 method but can’t stick to those exact percentages, you can also tweak the numbers a bit.

One Penny Hoarder shared with us how her financial adviser recommended she work from a 60/20/20 budget — where 60% is spent on essentials, 20% is saved and another 20% can be spent on fun stuff.

Is the 50/30/20 Method Right for You?

This method is a great fit for people who need guidance on balancing saving, investing and repaying debt.

If you tend to go overboard with your discretionary spending, this budget will keep you in line without making you feel like you have to sacrifice the things you want.

After all, 30% is a pretty generous allotment for fun spending.

Budgeting Method No. 2: The Zero-Based Budget

Type A folks, rejoice. The zero-based budget lays out a plan for every dollar you make, putting you in control of it all.

How to Budget Using the Zero-Based Budget

The goal is to make sure your monthly income minus your monthly expenses (including allocations like putting money in savings or investment accounts) equals zero. There should be no money left over at the end of the month — and no spending more than you bring in.

To get started, analyze your bank statements, credit card statements and receipts from the past few months to get a sense of how much you spend in the budget categories that apply to your life.

Next, assign a spending limit to each of those budget categories. You may need to play around with the numbers a bit until the amount of money you have going out equals the amount of money you have coming in.

Here’s an example of what your budget might look like:

Income:

  • Paycheck No. 1: $ 1,500
  • Paycheck No. 2: $ 1,500

Total income $ 3,000

Expenses:

  • Rent: $ 900
  • Utilities: $ 150
  • Phone bill: $ 80
  • Internet: $ 70
  • Student loan: $ 150
  • Credit card debt: $ 100
  • Car note: $ 300
  • Insurance: $ 150
  • Groceries: $ 300
  • Gas: $ 100
  • Dining out: $ 150
  • Entertainment: $ 100
  • Gifts: $ 50
  • Personal care items: $ 100
  • Gym membership: $ 50
  • Streaming services: $ 15
  • Cleaning supplies: $ 15
  • Clothing: $ 70
  • Savings: $ 150

Total expenses $ 3,000

Is a Zero-Based Budget Right For You?

The zero-based budget is perfect for budgeters who want to be intentional about every dollar. It’ll help you become hyperaware of your finances.

This budget may even tip you off to where your financial problems lie — whether you’re simply not making enough money or you’re spending too much in a certain budget category.

Budgeting Method No. 3: Bare-Bones Budgeting

Sometimes, you just gotta trim all the fat from your budget and focus on the basics. It’s not deprivation. It’s discipline.

How to Budget Using Bare-Bones Budgeting

This budgeting method is pretty self-explanatory. With a bare-bones budget, you cover only the expenses that are absolutely necessary. Whatever is left over, you save.

Your budget might look something like this:

Income:

  • Paycheck No. 1: $ 1,500
  • Paycheck No. 2: $ 1,500

Total income $ 3,000

Expenses:

  • Rent: $ 900
  • Utilities : $ 150
  • Phone bill: $ 80
  • Internet: $ 70
  • Student loan: $ 150
  • Credit card debt: $ 100
  • Car note: $ 300
  • Insurance: $ 150
  • Groceries: $ 300
  • Gas: $ 100
  • Savings: $ 700

Total expenses $ 3,000

Is Bare-Bones Budgeting Right for You?

The bare-bones method is helpful for budgeters who are really looking to bulk up their savings — or perhaps aggressively pay down debt, like this woman who paid off $ 68,000 of debt with a bare-bones budget.

The bare-bones method can help anyone needing a spending reset. It can also be helpful to those trying to manage their money on a low income or those with a ton of essential expenses to account for.

Budgeting Method No. 4: 60% Solution

Sure, it’s smart to prioritize the essentials. But what about those expenses that aren’t vital but that we consider very important to our lives? The 60% solution gives value to that type of spending.

How to Budget Using the 60% Solution

This budgeting method is similar to the 50/30/20 method, but the rules are a bit different. With the 60% solution, you’re budgeting 60% of your income on expenses you’re committed to. That includes essential spending plus those expenses that are most important to you, such as your kid’s activities, a personal trainer, dues to a professional organization or monthly road trips to visit loved ones.

As for the other 40% of your income? You can put that toward savings or use some of the money for discretionary spending. Richard Jenkins, the financial author who came up with the 60% solution, split his 40% into four 10% increments: retirement savings, long-term savings, short-term savings and fun money.

Here’s an example of a budget that uses the 60% solution:

Income:

  • Paycheck No. 1: $ 1,500
  • Paycheck No. 2: $ 1,500

Total income $ 3,000

Expenses:

Committed expenses (60%):

  • Rent: $ 775
  • Utilities : $ 120
  • Phone bill: $ 80
  • Internet: $ 70
  • Student loan: $ 125
  • Credit card debt: $ 50
  • Insurance: $ 75
  • Groceries: $ 250
  • Gas: $ 75
  • Personal trainer: $ 100
  • Cooking lessons: $ 80

Other expenses (40%):

  • Retirement savings: $ 300
  • Long-term savings: $ 300
  • Short-term savings: $ 300
  • Fun money: $ 300

Total expenses $ 3,000

Is the 60% Solution Right for You?

The 60% solution is great for those who want to prioritize nonessential expenses that they care about. It’s also good for budgeters who want guidance on where their money should be going but don’t want to be too strict about tracking every dollar.

Bonus Budgeting Hack: The Cash Envelope System

A hand writes financial-related labels on envelopes.

The cash envelope system isn’t technically a budgeting method; it’s a way to carry out a budgeting method. Still, it’s worth mentioning.

If you’ve ever struggled with sticking to a spending limit when you’re grocery shopping, updating your wardrobe or buying gifts for loved ones, then it could be time to transition to cash.

How to Use the Cash Envelope System

You commit to paying for variable expenses — such as groceries, clothing, entertainment and dining out — with cash.

First, you’ll need to determine how much you can spend in each category. Using a zero-based budget makes this part seamless, because you already know your spending limits in all budget categories.

Next, you’ll label envelopes with each spending category and fill them up with their allotted amount of cash.

One envelope might contain $ 300 for groceries and another might have $ 100 for entertainment. When you’re out food shopping, you’d spend money from your groceries envelope. If you go to the movies later, you’d pay for the tickets using cash from the entertainment envelope.

Once you’ve used up all the cash in a given envelope, you can’t spend in that category again until it’s time to refill your envelopes with money.

It’s important to note that you won’t use cash envelopes when it comes to fixed expenses. Even bills that tend to vary — like your utility bills — should be exempt. You can automate those bills via online banking or pay them as you normally would.

In addition, your savings allocations should go into the appropriate accounts — not cash envelopes.

Is the Cash Envelope System Right for You?

This system is for those who find themselves swiping their debit or credit cards past their budgeted spending limits. By limiting yourself to a finite amount of cash, it’s (almost) impossible to overspend.

Choosing the Best Budgeting Method

Now that you’ve been given an overview of several popular budgeting methods, you should have a good idea of which will work best for your financial life.

When choosing a budgeting method, you’ll want to consider how strict you want to be with your spending. Do you want to track every dollar or take a broad approach to monitoring where your money is going?

You also need to think about your financial priorities. Are you budgeting to increase your savings, or so you can still travel and go out for drinks without damaging your financial standing?

After you choose a budgeting method, think about how you’ll carry out that budget. Will you go old school and break out a pen and paper to write everything down? If you’d rather have your budget on your smartphone or computer, try creating an Excel budget spreadsheet, using free online budget templates or managing your budget with apps.

You may find that it takes some trial and error to get yourself accustomed to budgeting. You might try out a budgeting method, only to decide it’s not for you. And that’s OK. You might prefer another.

Don’t let the budgeting blunders get to you. Keep at it, and eventually, you’ll master this whole money management thing.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Amazon Go stores, designed for digital payments, to accept cash

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It’s Deadline Day for Trump’s Tax Returns and Mnuchin Isn’t Budging

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declined to meet congressional Democrats’ Wednesday deadline to provide President Donald Trump’s tax returns, asking for more time to study the legality of their request.

Trump has refused to release his returns since he ran for president, and the clash over their release became a key front in the battles between his administration and newly-empowered Democrats in the House of Representatives. The simmering political conflict may well end up in the federal courts and spill over into the 2020 election.

“The department respects congressional oversight, and we intend to review your request carefully,” Mnuchin wrote in a letter to Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal of Massachusetts.

Neal last Wednesday sent IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig a letter formally requesting six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns, as well as other documents associated with them, giving a week to respond. Neal on Wednesday said he received Mnuchin’s letter and “will consult with counsel and determine the appropriate response to the commissioner in the coming days.”

Although he did not take a position on whether the returns should be turned over, Mnuchin pointed out that the Ways and Means Committee, when it was under Republican control, had issued a report saying that such a request would be “an abuse of authority” and “set a dangerous precedent.”

Read More: Will We Ever See Trump’s Tax Returns–And Does It Matter?

“Given the seriousness of these issues, which bear no connection to ordinary tax administration,” Mnuchin wrote, “we have begun consultations with the Department of Justice to ensure that our response is fully consistent with the law and the Constitution.”

Trump almost immediately said he opposed the request, and one of his lawyers, William Consovoy, on Friday asked the Treasury Department and IRS to withhold the returns until the Justice Department issues an opinion on whether the request is legal.

Members of the Trump administration, including acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and their allies have called the request a political attack and a violation of Trump’s privacy.

Federal law gives the Ways and Means Committee, as well as the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation, the power to request the returns of any taxpayer, although some legal scholars believe the request needs a legitimate legislative purpose.

In his request, Neal wrote that his committee wants to ensure that the IRS is following its policy of auditing every sitting president and vice president. Democrats have long wanted the returns to examine, among other things, what financial dealings Trump might have.

Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said in a statement that Mnuchin was “right to consult with the Department of Justice before responding more fully. House Democrats’ unprecedented request has serious implications for all Americans and requires serious, careful analysis.”

Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said in a statement that “There is no excuse for Secretary Mnuchin to not meet Chairman Neal’s deadline.”

“The law is clear and consultation with the Justice Department is not required. It’s a sign of political interference that Secretary Mnuchin said he is handling this request when authority has been delegated to the IRS,” Wyden said.

Mnuchin told lawmakers on Tuesday that the department had been in touch with White House lawyers before Neal made his request but had not personally been fully briefed on those discussions. He said, “It is our intent to follow the law.” Mnuchin has said he is concerned about the precedent the demand could set for violating taxpayer privacy.

“The general public, when they elected President Trump, made the decision without his tax returns being released,” Mnuchin said.

Trump broke with 40 years of presidential campaign tradition by declining to release his personal returns before the 2016 election. He said that he was under audit and didn’t intend to turn anything over until that process had been completed. Under questioning at a House hearing on Tuesday, Rettig said that he was unaware of any prohibition against a taxpayer releasing his or her returns while being audited.

Speaking to reporters before departing for a trip to Texas on Wednesday, the president reiterated that he would not release the returns while under audit and asserted that Americans don’t care in any case.

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Mnuchin says Treasury unable to comply with deadline for Trump’s tax returns

House Democrats aren’t optimistic they’ll see Trump’s tax returns Wednesday.


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Get Your New Small Business Noticed With These 13 Marketing Tips

So you’re in the early stages of launching a small business. You’ve got a great product or service and obtained funding to get the company off the ground, but what about marketing? Do people know your business will be opening soon?

Getting noticed is one of the biggest challenges facing new small business owners. There are many different ways to market your business, such as using internet ads, social media pages, content marketing, in-person networking and more.

Some methods may be more effective than others, depending on your industry. But two areas all businesses need to excel in are internet-based marketing and in-person networking.

We’ve compiled a list of small business marketing tips, strategies and ideas that will help get your business noticed before, during and after opening.

13 Small Business Marketing Tips, Ideas and Strategies

Below is a breakdown of different tips, strategies and approaches on small business marketing. These tips and ideas are ranked based on when you should consider implementing them during pre-launch or in the early days of your business.

1. Create a Marketing Budget

For small businesses operating on a shoestring budget, it can be tempting to save money by not setting aside funds for marketing. But if your marketing strategy is to rely on word of mouth to promote your business, you’re in for a rude awakening.

Josh Rubin, CEO of Post Modern Marketing, tells small business owners they have to create a marketing budget, and the value of that budget can’t be an amount that will break the company if it doesn’t produce immediate results.

In the early days, you’re going to be spending time determining your company’s identity and figuring out what messaging connects with new customers. Be prepared for a lot of trial and error. “So set a budget that you’re willing to lose,” Rubin says.

2. Secure Your Company Name

You have an idea of what to name your small business and think it will connect with your target audience, but is that name available online?

“I see a lot of business owners that think of the name of their company but then don’t think about reserving a URL with [that name],” says Sherry Bonelli, owner of Early Bird Digital Marketing. She is also a small business mentor with Score, a volunteer group supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration that connects business owners with mentors from similar fields.

Having a website address that matches your company name is important, as people are doing more business online. It might be difficult for potential customers to find your website if they don’t match.

Once you have a business name in mind, go to a domain registrar, such as GoDaddy or Google Domains, to see if the web address is available. Prices start at $ 12 per year to reserve a domain name using Google Domains.

3. Create a Logo and Brand

If you want to be taken seriously as a business, you’re going to need to look the part. It might be tempting to create a generic logo and use a website template or stock photos when launching, but that isn’t necessarily good in the long run.

“I think many small business owners skimp on this step, and that’s a big mistake because if you don’t look like a real company, customers and clients are not going to trust you,” Bonelli says. Freelance websites such as Fiverr, Upwork and 99designs connect business owners with graphic designers who can create a custom logo, color palette, business cards and overall design for your business. This can cost anywhere between $ 300 and $ 500.

4. Build a User-Friendly Website

Once you have your logo ready, it’s time to build your website.

The way people search online has created many changes to website design. Having a site that looks good on smartphones and tablets is more vital than ever.

Website builders like WordPress.com, Squarespace and Wix, come with mobile-friendly features. They offer multiple templates, customization options and support for a monthly fee. Think like a potential consumer when building your site and make sure it has all the features and information you’d want to see.

5. Make Your Website SEO Friendly

Now that you’ve built your website, you should make it as easy as possible for people to find it when searching the web. Search engine optimization, more commonly known as SEO, is the process of getting web traffic from search engine results. SEO plays a crucial role in helping local and small businesses get discovered online.

Several factors determine a website’s search engine ranking. These include posting well-written blog pages that establish your topic credibility on a regular basis and using correct keywords associated with your business. To learn more about best SEO practices, check out free resources on sites such as Moz, Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal.

If you’re planning on opening a physical location such as a restaurant, store or office, don’t forget to create a business profile on Google My Business, a free business listing service, that provides your essential info,such as a street address, phone number, hours of operation and business description.

One of the primary benefits of Google My Business is that it drives the “Map Pack” on Google search results, which may increase your visibility, in-store visits or calls This service is only available for local businesses with a physical address, not internet-only companies.

6. Create Social Media Pages

A woman with curly hair and glasses types on a computer in her office.

Now it’s time to create social media pages on platforms your audience uses.  You can count on using the major platforms — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn — to promote business news and engage with your customer base.

At all stages of your company’s life, you should also keep an eye on what your competitors are doing with their social media platforms. “If a competitor is using Pinterest and it seems like they’re gaining a lot of engagement, then Pinterest might be a place you want to go,” says Kim Randall, owner of KiMedia Strategies, a small business marketing firm.

7. Find Free or Low-Cost Business Services

Money is going to be tight in the early days of starting your small business, so it helps to use free or low-cost services to help your marketing. Below is a list of programs that can help you save money running your business.

  • Buffer is a social media tool that allows users to schedule posts in advance or post the same content to different platforms at once. It has free and paid versions, starting at $ 15 per month.
  • Google Alerts are free and will help you keep up with what people are saying online about your business or keep up with specific keywords.
  • KeywordTool.io is a free service that allows business owners to do keyword research for their website and ads.
  • Apps such as Grammarly and the Hemingway Editor can be useful when writing blogs or content on your website. These will help you write more succinctly and catch grammatical errors. Grammarly has a free version and a premium version that includes features such as a plagiarism detector, vocabulary enhancement and genre-specific writing-style suggestions. The premium versions costs $ 29.95 per month (or a discounted rate of $ 139.95 when paid annually).

8. Buy Online Ads

Once your business has opened, it’s time to start advertising. Google Ads, which appear when you search on Google, is an obvious place to start because of the search engine’s popularity. According to Google, businesses generally make an average of $ 2 in revenue for every $ 1 they spend on Google Ads.

Bonelli says the problem with Google Ads for new small-business owners is that it can be expensive. To make it effective, she says to include your ad the information that users seek when they search on Google.

For example, if someone is searching for “wedding gown alterations,” the web page your ad sends users to must emphasize that your business specializes in wedding gown alterations.

9. Set Up Email Marketing

People who sign up to your email marketing program tend to be the most engaged members of your audience. These members generally read more articles after opening the email and are more likely to buy your products or services. That’s why it’s important to provide content and information your audience cares about in every email blast you send.

“If you’re mailing out to a random [email subscription] list you didn’t build, that’s where you’re not going to be effective. But if you mail out information that people are interested in, that’s where it’s really effective,” Bonelli says.

Include a button on your website that allows people to sign up for your email campaigns. A free version of MailChimp can help build your email list — it allows you to send up to 12,000 emails a month to up to 2,000 subscribers. The paid version allows you to send an unlimited number of emails to an unlimited number of subscribers. The cost of the membership increases based on the number of subscribers.

10. Craft an Elevator Pitch

Before you start meeting potential customers and attending networking events, do you have your elevator pitch ready? An elevator pitch is a speech lasing 30 to 45 seconds that tells the listener who you are, what you do and how your business will be better than the competition. With some practice, it may lead to a potential customer. Learn more on how to develop a great elevator pitch.

11. Become a ‘Thought Leader” in Your Field

A woman listens as a man asks a question.

When your business is off the ground, think about establishing yourself as a thought leader. A “thought leader” is a marketing term for a recognized authority in a field who is sought after as an expert.

Every business owner is a thought leader without knowing it yet; there is a reason you started your business, so let people know what you know. For example, if you’re a photographer, write blogs offering tips and tricks on how to take better iPhone photos or suggest “three things to look for in a wedding photographer.”

Randall used this strategy in the early days of social media marketing. “When I gave my thoughts, tips and everything else away and became a thought leader within the social media space, I gained a lot more clients,” she says.

Early on when people are not yet visiting your site, consider becoming a guest contributor on another established website in your field so you can promote your knowledge on the subject and point people in the direction of your website to learn more.

Another way to become a recognized expert is by meeting your target audience. Meetup.com is a great way to find local groups who are interested in topics related to your business. For example, if you run a knitting or sewing store, you might look to see whether any knitting or sewing events are happening in your area and offer to give a free demonstration.

12. Get Involved With Your Chamber of Commerce

Not all marketing is done online. Getting involved with your local Chamber of Commerce will enable you to meet fellow business owners during in-person networking events and other chamber functions. Over time, you’ll expand your professional network and be able to utilize their resources.

Rubin says his Chamber helped his company get featured on a local news segment. Once you start to support other businesses, they’ll do the same when you have a big event or project.

“All it takes is your time and your energy,” he says.

13. Find a Business Mentor and Continue Learning

As a new small business owner or entrepreneur, it’s never a bad thing to seek guidance from people who have been in your shoes. There are both local and national nonprofits devoted to helping business owners.

Score offers their mentoring service free of charge. Rubin, a Score volunteer, says if you want to know more about marketing, Score can connect you with retired marketing executives or other knowledgeable people who can help you grow your business.

“I’ll scream their praises from every rooftop because everyone always thinks that you have to pay for this kind of business support, and it’s out there for free,” he says.

As you progress and figure out what marketing material connects with your audience, don’t stop learning new things. Small business marketing is a topic that is difficult to master because strategies that work now will change and marketing fads come and go.

Luckily, there are a lot of free blog posts, courses and resources out there to teach business owners about SEO, social media marketing, internet advertising and more.

You can sign up for a massive open online course (MOOCs), keep up with the SEO sites listed above or follow marketing professionals you admire on LinkedIn or other social media.

“There’s so much information out there now that if business owners spend an hour a night just searching the web and teaching themselves how to do small business marketing, they’ll be successful at it,” Bonelli says.

Matt Reinstetle is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Fact-checking Trump’s claims that Obama separated families

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he’s not considering reimplementing his administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, dredging up his earlier claim that President Barack Obama’s administration separated migrant families.


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How to Budget for All the New Expenses That Will Come With Your Baby

Having a baby is exciting. And overwhelming. And expensive.

Your life will change, and so will your bank account.

But while your precious little one won’t come with an instruction manual, there’s plenty you can do to prepare yourself for managing all the new costs associated with raising an infant.

Your income may stay the same — or even decline a bit if you take time off or cut back your hours when the baby comes — but with some proactive financial planning, you can find ways to cover the additional expenses you’ll face.

If only it were so simple to find more time in the day for a decent nap.

Budgeting for a Baby: How to Get Started

Babies are tiny, but they come with a bunch of needs. If you don’t have a surplus in your budget before having your baby, you’ll likely have to make some sacrifices.

A good approach is to create a new budget based on the bare-bones expenses of your family. Focus on essentials — like housing, utilities, food, transportation and medical expenses — plus the baby-related necessities, like child care, diapers, clothing and formula.

If you have room left in your budget, that’s where you can allocate money for discretionary spending, saving, investing or paying down debt.

Using a zero-based budget to determine where every dollar is going can be super helpful for a new parent. A zero-based budget will lay out exactly how much you will spend in each of your budgeting categories until all of your income is accounted for.

Nora and Shane Martin, of Palm Harbor, Florida, used a zero-based budget to keep track of expenses and help save up before having their son, Turner. They cut back on dining out, entertainment and spending on their dogs.

Nora also created a spreadsheet to identify all the baby items she thought they’d need.

“My list was ridiculous,” she said. “Like any new, first-time mom, you buy all the stuff.”

Now that they’re expecting a second child, Nora said she has a better idea of what she really needs to budget for.

Saving Money Before Your Baby Arrives

A toddler grabs a lollypop out of his father's mouth.

If you or your partner plan to quit a job, work fewer hours or take unpaid time off after your baby is born, create your budget now based on what your income will be in the future.

By living off one income during the pregnancy, you can build up a significant amount of savings for all those one-time expenses your new baby will require. (More on that a little later.)

To make sure you don’t stray from your budget, you may want to automate your monthly bills and switch to cash for your variable expenses like groceries or entertainment. The cash envelope method helps budgeters avoid overspending, because once you’ve spent all the cash in your envelopes, that’s it until payday.

If you find yourself in the negative when you draft up your budget, you’ll need to find ways to lower your expenses or increase your income.

To increase your income, try negotiating for a raise or picking up a temporary side gig. Purge your home of any unwanted items and sell them for extra cash.

Trim your budget down by reducing unnecessary spending like the Martins did. Call your service providers to see if you can lower your phone, internet, cable or insurance bills. You can also consolidate your debt or transfer your credit card balance to a card with 0% interest to save money fast.

You may have to sacrifice some of your financial goals when you’re a new parent. It’s smart to save money for emergencies and retirement, but that’s assuming you have a handle on your day-to-day expenses.

If you’re working on a tight budget, you may only be able to afford to make minimum debt payments or contribute just enough to your 401(k) to meet your employer’s match.

These financial sacrifices don’t have to be permanent. The first few years of a child’s life are some of the most expensive. It won’t last forever.

After time, your kid will be out of diapers and graduating preschool, and your budget will feel some relief.

Recurring Baby Costs to Include in Your Budget

A pregnant woman laughs as her son gets his morning snack.

If you aren’t used to caring for an infant, you might be surprised by all the expenses you’ll be adding to your budget during your child’s first years of life.

BabyCenter has a baby costs calculator to help you estimate how much you’ll spend during your baby’s first year.

But here’s a rundown of the major things you’ll need to pay for on a regular basis — along with estimates of their costs.

Feeding

Formula: If you’re formula feeding, you might spend anywhere from $ 50 to well over $ 100 per month on formula, depending on how much your baby consumes, the type of formula and the brand.

Money-saving tips: Choose a generic brand, use powdered formula instead of liquid, ask your doctor for free samples, or reach out to the formula brand for coupons or samples.

Milk storage bags: If you’re pumping and storing breast milk, you might spend about $ 15 to $ 20 for a package of 100 bags.

Money-saving tip: Pump milk directly into bottles and store in the fridge. You can store breast milk in the fridge for three to five days. You could also freeze breast milk in freezer-safe containers.

Baby food: Expect to spend between $ 1 and $ 1.50 for each jar or pouch of baby food. Once your baby starts eating solid food (around 4 to 6 months old), you could spend from $ 60 to $ 135 per month on baby food.

Money-saving tip: Make your own baby food by pureeing some of the food you already have at home.

Clothing and Diapering

Clothing: Babies grow a significant amount in their first year. About every three months, they’ll move up in size. And babies tend to soil their clothing frequently, so it’s not uncommon for them to go through a couple outfits in one day.

If you’re buying new clothes, you might spend $ 10 to $ 15 per outfit, or you can buy bodysuits for under $ 10. You can buy packs of baby socks for about $ 1 per pair.

Money-saving tips: Ask family and friends for hand-me-downs, or shop at secondhand stores. Don’t buy a bunch of newborn-sized clothes; your baby will likely outgrow those quickly. Don’t bother buying infant shoes until your baby starts walking.

Diapers: The cost of disposable diapers varies by size and brand. It’s worth noting that smaller diapers cost less, but younger babies tend to go through diapers more frequently than older babies.

If you’re changing your newborn 10 times a day, you can expect to use $ 30 worth of diapers each month if you’re paying 10 cents per diaper, or about $ 90 a month if you’re paying 30 cents per diaper.

Money-saving tips: Buy generic diapers to save money. You also get more for your money by buying in bulk, although you may not want to stock up on newborn sizes that your baby will quickly outgrow.

Cloth diapers can also save parents money over the course of their babies’ lives, but they require a large upfront investment. Cloth diapers range from $ 5 to more than $ 10 per diaper. They’re best purchased in sets. You’d probably want at least two dozen diapers on hand if you don’t plan to do laundry every single day.

Baby wipes: You could spend about $ 1.50 on a single pack of wipes that will last you a week, or you could drop about $ 15 on a bulk package that could last a few months.

Money-saving tip: Use baby washcloths in lieu of disposable wipes.

A mother reads to her son while sitting in his play fort in his room.

Child Care

Child care is often the most expensive recurring cost new parents face. Last year, The Penny Hoarder surveyed over 1,200 parents about their child care costs, and 82% said they spent $ 500 or more each month. The amount parents spent varied by the age of their child, where they live and what type of child care setting they chose.

Infant child care is typically the most expensive type of care. Parents can easily spend over $ 1,000 every month for infant care.

An in-home child care provider (who watches several children at their house) typically charges less than a child care center. An even more expensive option is hiring a nanny to come to your home.

Money-saving tips: Eliminating the need for child care is the most obvious way to save money — either by becoming a stay-at-home parent, working opposite shifts from your partner, or having a grandparent or loved one provide free child care.

But you can also look into child care assistance programs through the government or your employer. Child Care Aware, a nonprofit child care advocacy organization, provides information on resources available in each state.

You could also reduce the cost of child care by bringing your baby to work, sharing a nanny with another family, or putting your child in the care of students training to become early childhood educators.

Other Expenses

Medical costs: Check with your employer to find out how much your health insurance premiums will increase by adding a child to your policy. Save room in your budget for doctor’s office copays every couple months as your baby fights illnesses or develops rashes. You can also expect to spend about $ 10 on vitamins every few months.

Money-saving tip: Take your baby to all scheduled well visit checkups so your doctor can assess the baby’s growth, make sure your infant is healthy and administer vaccinations.

Since these checkups are considered preventative care, you likely won’t have a copay.

Life insurance premiums: As a new parent, you should get a life insurance policy if you don’t have one already. You could pay as little as $ 30 per month for $ 1 million in coverage.

Money-saving tip: Get quotes from multiple insurance providers to compare costs.

Save Money for These One-Time Baby Purchases

A person shows the baby budget they created for their first child on their phone.

In addition to all the ongoing costs you’ll be dealing with as a new parent, there will be a slew of one-time purchases you’ll need to make.

One great way to save on baby gear is to throw a baby shower. Fill your baby registry with essential, practical items — plus all the goodies you think would be nice to have.

After the baby shower, take inventory of the things you still need. See what you can get secondhand from garage sales, thrift stores, online marketplaces, friends, family or neighbors. Determine what you need immediately, like a car seat, and what you can buy a few months down the line, like a high chair.

As you’re buying things to prepare for the new baby, try not to get swept up in the preciousness of all the little things. They might be so incredibly adorable, but going into debt from overspending isn’t cute.

Furniture

  • Cribs: You can expect to spend between $ 150 and $ 400 on a good crib. Many parents opt for buying a new crib, because used cribs may not adhere to the latest safety standards. But many cribs on the market today convert into toddler beds — with some also converting into day beds and full-size beds.

That allows you to get many years of use out of this piece of baby furniture.

  • Crib mattress: Those cribs need a tiny mattress for your little one to rest on. You can expect to spend about $ 50 to $ 100 on a decent crib mattress.
  • Crib sheets: You can find fitted crib sheets for less than $ 20. You can also find a crib mattress pad or mattress protector for about the same price.

It’s good to have a few spare sheets and mattress covers on hand. The amount you’ll need will depend on how frequently you plan to wash them — and how messy your baby will be.

  • Safety gear: You could spend $ 20 or more on safety gear, depending on how many cabinets you need to lock, how many plugs you need to cover, or how much furniture you need to anchor to keep your baby safe.

Cleaning and Grooming

  • Bath gear: You can snag an infant tub for around $ 20 to $ 30. Baby washcloths can be purchased in sets at less than $ 1 per washcloth. You can find baby towels for less than $ 10, or purchase them in sets for an even better deal.
  • Baby grooming kit: A kit with items such as a brush, comb, nail clipper, nasal aspirator and thermometer can cost between $ 10 and $ 20.
A mother, father and toddler boy walk on a dock.

Travel Gear

  • Car seat: You can expect to spend between $ 50 and $ 300 on a car seat. As with cribs, it is recommended that parents buy this new rather than used due to safety standards.

You could choose to buy an infant seat, which is easily portable, designed to be rear-facing and can often connect to a stroller system. These will be good for the baby’s first year or two.

Or, you could buy a convertible seat. These are larger and not easily portable but made to convert from rear-facing to forward-facing so that a child can get more years of use out of the seat. Some even convert to booster seats.

  • Stroller: Many strollers (or travel systems that include an infant car seat) range between $ 100 to $ 400, though you can purchase a lightweight umbrella stroller for under $ 20 for babies who can sit up independently.
  • Diaper bag: You can spend from $ 20 to $ 85 on a diaper bag. Some diaper bags are designed to be carried on the shoulder, while others have straps like a backpack.

Feeding

  • Bottles: A pack of three bottles will cost between $ 5 and $ 20. The amount of bottles you need will depend on how frequently you bottle-feed and how often you plan to wash your bottles. Newborns will need to be fed every couple of hours.
  • Breast pump: A manual breast pump could cost around $ 30, while an electric breast pump might cost between $ 100 and $ 200. However, your health insurance plan may cover the cost.
  • Bibs: Bibs can be purchased in packs for about $ 1 per bib. Babies can make a big mess when they eat, so it’s good to have several bibs on hand.

Extras

  • Bouncers, swings or rockers: These motion seats for babies can range from $ 30 to $ 200 each.
  • Portable play yard: You can spend between $ 50 and $ 250 on a portable play yard.
  • High chair: You could spend up to $ 100 or more on a high chair, or purchase a booster seat that attaches to your dining room chair for $ 20 to $ 30.
  • Baby monitor: A baby monitor can range from less than $ 40 for an audio monitor to over $ 200 for a high-tech video monitor.
  • Bassinet: You can buy a baby bassinet for $ 50 to $ 100..
  • Pacifiers: Pacifiers usually cost a couple dollars each.
  • Teethers: You can purchase teethers for $ 5 to $ 10.
  • Toys: Toys vary in style, age range and, of course, price.

You can purchase baby toys for under $ 10, while others cost over $ 50.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s a thrifty mom who embraced hand-me-downs, breastfeeding and a minimalist approach to baby gear. She also experimented with cloth diapering and homemade baby food.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Europe slams ‘exaggerated’ US tariff threat and prepares to retaliate

The EU has hit back at new U.S. proposals to target European goods with tariffs, following a WTO ruling over subsidies for Airbus.
Economy

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In paying CEO Jack Dorsey just $1.40, Twitter winks at old limits on messages

Many companies have given their CEOs a $ 1 payday — whether because they are wealthy founders or wanted to make a symbolic gesture during tough times — it’s unusual to see them “do something fun with it,” one expert said. But Dorsey appears to have done it before.
Business

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Berlin reveals contacts with Deutsche Bank amid merger talks

Deutsche Bank’s Chief Executive had a series of meetings with Germany’s deputy finance minister before and immediately after it announced merger talks with a state-backed rival, according to information revealed by the government.


Reuters: Business News

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Trump’s beef with Nadler is decades old and fairly nasty

Decades ago, a businessman and a state assemblyman had a public and personal feud over New York real estate. It’s 2019, and they’re still fighting, but now, one is President of the United States and the other is chairman of the House committee that has the power to unravel his presidency.


CNN.com – RSS Channel – Politics

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http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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Credit cards with the coolest perks: Wine tastings, museum admission, free hotels

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Your first credit card probably lured you in with a free beach towel and a promise of 1% cash back. Is that still the card you’re carrying in your pocket? If so, you’re missing out on one of the best parts of the modern economy: credit card perks.

Credit card perks and rewards can be worth literally thousands of dollars every year, and you don’t have to be a big spender to enjoy these big rewards. In some cases, simply being a cardholder is enough to give you valuable perks and discounts. 

Whether you’re looking to fund your retirement, pay off your debt, travel in style, or take advantage of freebies and discounts, we’ve got the credit card with the coolest perks and rewards for you. Read more…

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UPDATE 1-Sika quarterly sales beat estimates, to open more plants this year

Sika AG’s sales rose by a
better-than-expected 7.1 percent in local currencies during the
first quarter, the Swiss construction chemicals maker said on
Tuesday, boosted by an expansion of its factories and recent
acquisitions.


Reuters: Company News

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Here’s How to Manage Your Credit Like a Millionaire (Even If You Live on Ramen)

You dream big. In fact, you imagine dining on caviar while relaxing on a yacht.

Nevermind that you are actually chowing down on some ramen on your futon. It’s all a state of mind, right?

Yes and no. Take that state of mind just a bit further and start practicing what you dream. You know that if you want to make it big, you need to manage your credit score, so why not start do it like a millionaire?

Thinking like a millionaire when it comes to your credit score could help you get closer to living your caviar dreams. Here are a few tips:

1. Pay Your Credit Cards On Time and Get Paid Back

Paying your credit card bills in full each month is an absolute must if you want to boost your credit score. In a perfect world, you’ll pay off your balance every one or two weeks to keep your utilization low (more on that below).

So why even use them?

If you get the right credit card, it will pay you back. Look for credit cards that have no annual fee but offer rewards like cash back, travel points or some other perk.

If you’re not sure which credit card is right for you, Credit Sesame can help. Credit Sesame, a personal credit-score management service, can pair you up with the best credit cards to keep your credit score healthy.

Using credit cards helps you build a credit history. Paying them off boosts your payment history. By choosing the right card, you could also be flying first class or treating yourself to a bottle of bubbly with your rewards.

Now that’s living rich.

2. Have More Credit Than You Use

Can you imagine the credit limit on a millionaire’s card?

Now, do you think they use all of that? To keep your credit score in great shape, keep your credit utilization below 30%. That means, however much credit you have available through credit cards or lines of credit, only use 30% or less.

To find out what your credit utilization is, log into Credit Sesame. It breaks your credit score down into separate categories and grades them so you can see exactly what needs attention. If your credit utilization gets an “A,” great! If not, Credit Sesame will offer suggestions to better manage your credit.

Even if you’ve let your credit card debt accumulate, take a deep breath. Using Credit Sesame helped this mom pay off nine credit cards and climb out of debt.

If you’ve been good and have been paying your credit cards on time, consider asking the credit card company to increase your spending limit. Here’s the millionaire trick: When you get more credit, don’t use it.

True, you won’t be able to buy a new boat with your card and keep your credit utilization under the desired threshold, but you could probably buy a pretty nifty boat hat. You know, dress for success.

3. Let Your Credit Age Like a Fine Wine

Did you know credit age is a factor in your credit score? Credit Sesame says creditors and lenders like to see an average account age of more than five years.

So, if you are closing out those store cards you haven’t used in a while, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Let them be. In fact, it can be a good idea to charge something on them at least once or twice a year, just to keep the account active and in good standing.

So what happens if you need to get a new loan or credit card? It could bring your score down temporarily because it’s brand new, but don’t fret. Just keep a few older accounts open to keep that average age where you want it. Just one credit card that’s 15 years old can help offset the effect of new credit.

Credit age, while important, only accounts for 15% of your score, so be mindful of it, but don’t lose sleep over it.

4. Diversify Your Credit Like It’s a Millionaire’s Portfolio

You always hear how important it is for an investor to diversify their portfolio. Why? Because if you have millions of dollars in investments, you don’t want all of your eggs in one basket.

Another sneaky part of your credit score is your credit mix. This is based on the types of credit and debt you carry, like car loans, mortgage, credit cards and student loans. Having a diverse credit history shows lenders you have the ability to handle different types of accounts, and that helps boost your score.

Should you go buy a house on a whim like a movie star just to get a mortgage into the mix? Of course not.

But if you’re looking at a home remodel of some type or other expense, consider getting a loan rather than putting it on a credit card. For example, Jerry Morgan told us Credit Sesame helped him realize a car loan could improve his score.

Boom. You’re diversified and rocking your credit score like a big-wig.

5. Be Smart When Shopping Around

Do you think millionaires just buy whatever they want without looking at the cost? A few, maybe, but most of them didn’t get to be millionaires by being frivolous with their money.

And neither should you. If you’re thinking about buying a car or a home, shop around to see who will give you the best interest rate. A few percentage points can mean a lot of money over the course of a loan. Most online marketplaces can give you quotes without impacting your credit score.

To avoid applications and inquiries that could hurt your score, use Credit Sesame to check out your personalized buying power. This shows you what credit cards, loans or mortgage amounts you will likely qualify for before you apply.

Give Your Credit Score the Millionaire Treatment

You don’t have to rake in millions of dollars to have a credit score that shines like the hood ornament on a Mercedes. Just give it a little love and attention and it could actually help you get a little bit closer to that millionaire life.

By managing your credit and boosting your score from good to excellent, you can open opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have. You can get that great mortgage rate. You can get an auto loan rather than buying a beater off Craigslist.

To see where you credit score is right now and to learn how to manage it, sign up for Credit Sesame. It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s the coach you need to manage your credit like than a millionaire.

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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