How to Avoid Winding Up As Pets for A.I. Robots

A warning: Paul “Pablos” Holman’s vision of the future may alternately inspire or frighten.

Speaking at Fortune’s CEO Initiative conference on Tuesday, the futurist and inventor gave a condensed history of humankind that highlighted what he described as the essentially positive influences of technology. In the millions of years since hominids first arrived, we have been making tools and “inventing solutions to the hard technical problems that kept people from thriving,” he said.

“Some people think it’s government policy or religion or charity or some election, but in fact it’s new technology that’s the force multiplier that gives us the ability to solve these problems at scale,” Holman asserted, optimistically. “It’s the exponent in your equation.”

But technology, for all its promise of salvation, has a potentially dark side too, especially the acceleration of advances in artificial intelligence. “Something really important is about to happen, which is that a robot is coming to take your job,” Holman warned the audience of executives gathered in Manhattan.

“Robots probably should come take over every menial, dangerous, repetitive, boring job they can and do it better than a human,” Holman continued. “But that leaves you with the big question: Then what are the humans good for?”

Of course, Holman knows a thing or two about new technologies. He invented an early pocket-sized personal computer. He advised MakerBot, the startup that popularized of 3D printers for consumers. He even helped Jeff Bezos, the world’s wealthiest person, start Blue Origin, the Amazon founder’s private aerospace company.

More recently, since 2007, Holman has been working with Nathan Mhryvold, the former chief technology officer of Microsoft, at Intellectual Ventures, a firm that critics have called a notorious patent troll that makes money from suing others for patent violations. But Holman described the company in glowing terms as a sort of Edisonian research laboratory. Some of its inventions have included, according to Holman, a portable refrigerator for preserving medicines and vaccines in transport, an automatic microscope for testing blood samples, and a malarial mosquito-exterminating laser light show. (That’s to say nothing of the hurricane-suppressing machine.)

Holman’s view of the future puts the onus on people today to strive for more, for lack of a better term, humanity. “Right now we are terrible role models for robots,” Holman said, noting that the supposedly luckiest humans–the lottery winners, as he called them–are failing to ascend past the basest layer on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

“If all goes south and we become pets for robots or grey goo, you don’t get to blame the technology, you blame humans for not choosing what to do with it,” Holman admonished the crowd.

“These are human values problems,” Holman continued. “It’s up to us to decide what future we want to create. It’s up to us to use these tools to become better ancestors.”

In other words, we must apply ourselves and reach ever higher for self-fulfillment, or accept life confined by the machines of our creation, binge-watching Netflix into oblivion.



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USPS change of address scam: How to spot and avoid it

USPS change of address scam: How to spot it

If you’re relocating into a new apartment or home, you need to be aware of a relatively new version of an old scam that targets homeowners in transition.

The U.S. Postal Service change of address scam takes advantage of people trying to change their address online, something that can easily be done for free by filling out a form provided by your local post office.

Don’t fall for this USPS change of address scam

Here’s how the scam works: Fake websites use landing pages and other means to direct you to sites that look similar to the official post office site.

Because people don’t know how much it actually costs to do a USPS change of address (nothing or next to nothing), they’re easily scammed.

Here’s the thing: Some third-party sites do indeed provide change of address forms online, but they’re charging you ridiculous money, sometimes up to $ 80.

Googling how to change your address with the USPS won’t necessarily ensure your online safety. The first search result when we tried it has gotten a number of complaints from people feeling deceived due to being overcharged.

How much does the post office charge for a change of address form?

At most, the Postal Service charges $ 1.05 to change your address online. The reason we say “at most” is because you can even avoid that fee if you download form and complete it yourself or simply walk into a post office and fill one out. USPS only charges that $ 1.05 to verify that you actually are who you say you are when you request the change.

The official USPS webpage for customers who want to change their address online is

Bottom line: If you go online for a USPS change of address form and are asked for more than a buck and change, you’re being ripped off.

Check out these other stories on

The post USPS change of address scam: How to spot and avoid it appeared first on Clark Howard.


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Do You Avoid Office Housekeeping Tasks?

Here’s a question for today: do you get asked to do office housekeeping tasks — and do you associate being asked with being junior, or being female? Do you purposely avoid office housekeeping tasks — or have you found that they’re the kind of things that can move your career forward, either by making you more visible (planning the office party!), giving you access to VIPs (getting you in the room where it happens… even if you’re there to take notes), or general “team player” cred?

The Cut recently posted an advice column about pretending to be a bad assistant that outlined when women are asked to do extra work around the office:

Many women volunteer for office ‘housekeeping’ tasks — things like taking notes at meetings, straightening up the kitchen, planning team lunches, and so forth. They volunteer because they want to pitch in and be helpful — we’re supposed to be team players, after all, right? — and because they assume that others will also pitch in and do their fair share of work that benefits everyone. The problem, though, is that women tend to volunteer for this type of care-taking work at much higher rates than men do — which is no surprise, given the way we’re all socialized.

We’ve talked about this a bit before in discussions about being mistaken for a personal assistant as well as willfully becoming the office mom (the one who remembers Administrative Assistants’ Day! and gets the card! and flowers! and collects the money! and has the Advil and bandaids that everyone can steal!), but I thought this kind of office housekeeping tasks would be an interesting discussion for today. What have you been asked to do — what have you volunteered to do — and have you ever successfully moved your career forward with these tasks? On the flip side, do you avoid office housekeeping tasks — and if so, what scripts do you use? Do you re-delegate when work has been delegated to you, perhaps to someone more junior? Or just prove (as the writer into The Cut wondered) that you’re really, really lousy at these tasks? 

Further Reading:

  • Why Men Should Want To Share Office Housekeeping Tasks [Forbes
  • Women of Color Get Asked To Do More “Office Housework.” Here’s How They Can Say No. [Harvard Business Review]
  • Women, Stop Volunteering For Office Housework! [New York Times]


The post Do You Avoid Office Housekeeping Tasks? appeared first on


How to Avoid Discrimination During Hiring

When you are looking for a new job, your Cover Letter and
Resume act as a formal introduction to a potential employer. These documents advise
hiring managers of who you are, your past experience and education, and how
you, compared to all the other candidates, are the ideal person for the job.

With your Cover Letter and Resume, you want to showcase the
best possible version of yourself and provide any information that is necessary
for you to be considered. You also want to ensure the details you disclose
about yourself don’t give an unprofessional hiring manager an opportunity to
discriminate against you. 

In this post, we cover whether it is legal for an employer to discriminate against you when reviewing your application, and a few areas of your Cover Letter and Resume that you can modify to avoid discrimination in this stage of your job search.  

Is it Legal to Discriminate as an Employer?

It is not legal
for an employer to do or say anything that can be construed as discrimination
on the basis of skin color, sex, ethnicity, religion, disability, marital or
familial status, and more (called the “prohibited grounds for discrimination”).

Discrimination can occur as an obvious prejudicial statement (for instance, if someone were to say they don’t hire women for a particular role because they aren’t strong enough) or it can be camouflaged and may sometimes seem unintentional (such as when an employer asks when you graduated and then uses this information to determine your approximate age). In fact, there’s a number of questions that employers should avoid asking applicants as they could be considered discriminatory if certain information—information protected by discrimination laws—is revealed and used to make a hiring decision.

The problem is that it can sometimes be difficult to prove
that you’ve been denied employment based on discrimination, especially during
the hiring stage. This is why you should do your best to give prospective employers
only what they need to consider your job application and avoid providing
information that could open you up to discrimination.

How Your Cover Letter or Resume Could Lead to Discrimination

Your Cover Letter and Resume are used to show a potential employer why you are the best candidate for a particular position in their company. Though employers should never use information that falls within prohibited grounds to make a hiring decision, you may be unable to prevent it from happening and, if it does, you may have difficulty proving that it did.

What you can do is tailor your Cover Letter and Resume so
that it doesn’t include details that could be used to discriminate against you,
particularly with your past or current experience, your graduation year, and
your picture.

Your Past or Current Experience

Understandably, you want to include all your relevant
experience on your Resume; however, if your past or current experience involves
anything regarding prohibited grounds (such as volunteer work for your local
church), you may want to try rewording the job item to help prevent

For instance, let’s say you’ve volunteered at your heritage
center for the last three years and have done numerous tasks that are relevant
and transferable to a position you are applying for. Though this experience is
great and those skills should be included in your Resume, you want to be
cautious about including anything that could disclose your ethnicity to a
potential employer (like the name of your heritage center).

Instead, candidates can use generic terms to describe a past
or current position. For instance, instead of using the name of your heritage
center (e.g. the “Portuguese Cultural Center”), simply use “Cultural Center”.

It’s not always easy or possible to use generic names for
places you’ve worked, such as a church or mosque, but do what you can in order
to ensure your resume is reviewed objectively.

Your Graduation Date or Picture

Employers are not allowed to ask for an applicant’s age or for
any information that may reveal their age. Because of this, it may be in your
best interest to remove things that could reveal or imply your age, such as:

  • Your graduation year, especially the year you graduated high school (the year you graduated can often tell someone your approximate age)
  • Your picture (though this can be a common practice outside of the United States, you should avoid including a picture as it informs prospective employers of your age as well as your gender, ethnicity, and other details that may fall under the prohibited grounds)
  • Your unrelated hobbies or extracurricular activities (certain hobbies or activities can imply your age, such as involvement in a college improv group may suggest that the person is part of a younger age group)
  • Past courses or certificates (in some instances, the date you received a past course or certificate can also date you; consider removing ones that aren’t relevant or removing the year of completion to avoid this)

Keep in mind, there are instances when being asked your age
can be legal, if the question is worded properly. For example, if a position
involves the sale of alcohol, the person who is hired needs to be above the age
of majority and legally capable of selling those items to others. In this
instance, it is legal for a prospective employer to ask an applicant if they
are above the legal age for their state.

Sending in Your Resume

Whether or not you make changes to your Cover Letter and Resume is up to you (they’re your Cover Letter and Resume, after all), but being aware of how certain details can be used against you is important. Although employers are legally prohibited from discriminating against applicants under the protected grounds, it isn’t always easy to prove discrimination has occurred, especially during hiring.

Tailoring your resume so certain details (like your age,
ethnicity, religious beliefs, and more) are not included can help you avoid
potential discrimination in the workplace. Use your judgment, and, no matter
what you do, be sure your Cover Letter and Resume showcase your best skills and
abilities for prospective employers.

The post How to Avoid Discrimination During Hiring appeared first on LawDepot Blog.

LawDepot Blog


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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Why you should avoid eating out in touristy areas while traveling

If you have traveled to a foreign country, then chances are you want to soak in the culture and have new experiences. One of the most forgotten and overlooked ways to experience this is via the local cuisine; however, almost every major city in the world will cater for a westernized taste, even if it’s simply a McDonald’s on the corner. Many passionate travelers will plead with you to avoid these at all costs, just because there is most likely out-of-this-world amazing local, authentic food literally around the corner.

You will disappoint yourself

All those dishes you make at home have origins of their own, why not explore them? One popular destination is Thailand, so why not try a truly authentic Thai green curry at a Thai restaurant. Many eateries may try and fool you into believing they’re the real deal when, chances are, they’re built for mass production tailored to the western pallet. You’ve come to a new country to explore the differences, so don’t then find yourself eating the generic recipes you can find back home.


You will lose the opportunity of a lifetime

If you’re one of those incredibly ambitious traveling types, then you might not return for a long time, if ever again. Don’t waste this opportunity by gorging yourself on steak and chips before traversing around the Louvre in Paris, or choose chicken pie after exploring the eerie catacombs of Rome; it would probably be a considerable anticlimax? One of the best places to start is by asking the locals; they will be only too happy to point you in the direction of a fabulous restaurant or food stall that will represent their home town to new visitors. One of the most significant pieces of advice travelers will give when it comes to food is ‘eat where the locals eat’, that way you immerse yourself in the day-to-day of what it’s like to live in that area as much as you can, but that’s why it’s probably best to ask them first hand.

It’s all about the little quirks

Sure, you might find a busy foreign food chain that’s filled with the hustle and bustle of hungry tourists – but does that look like the true authentic experience you were looking for? It’s all about the quirks in life, for many it’s the tiny street cafe on the corner that’s filled with local historical memorabilia, or local artwork. Perhaps they sell unique dishes you can’t get anywhere else in the area? A large and basic restaurant chain will not likely end up in the amazing stories you tell your friends or family when you go back home. Find the niches, go to their farmers stalls, if they have them; most popular towns and cities do, because they’ll provide the produce straight from the source.


Wherever you go, always do your research first, and have an idea on how to go off the unbeaten track safely and well-informed. There are astonishing foods and dishes out there you’ll have likely never heard off, all it takes is a little courage to try something new, and you’ll probably discover your next favorite foods!

The post Why you should avoid eating out in touristy areas while traveling appeared first on Worldation.



Ways to avoid overweight bags while flying


We’ve all been there – it’s the night before the vacation and you’re picking up the suitcase to see how heavy it feels, believing your arm can somehow transform itself into a human weighing machine – or even balancing it on your dodgy bathroom scales hoping it’s not over the maximum.

When all is said and done, it is best just to be safe and take all the vital steps to ensure you don’t go over the limit. Ultimately, no one wants to be paying the extra hefty fees. Here’s how to avoid it!

Put the heavy items in your hand luggage

Usually, you don’t need to put too much stuff in your on-flight hand luggage – be it the essentials like your passport, wallet, etc. – so why not make the most of the extra space and put some of your heavier items in there. But beware of forbidden items like liquids…Always check the small print and legal regulations to be sure.

Buy souvenirs at the airport

Even though the cost of airport shopping does vary, often tax and duty-free shops can provide some fantastic deals on some great souvenirs. If you’re the type to go a bit overboard on buying loved ones vacation gifts – and then wonder “How has my suitcase doubled in weight in two weeks?” – then maybe give this one a try.

Buy essentials at location

Toiletries are the notorious culprit for adding on the unwanted weight to your luggage. Sure there are travel size bottles to squeeze your best conditioner into, but generally it’s hard to know what you really need. One way to get around this is to buy some of the essentials when you’ve arrived at at your location to free up some well-needed space in your luggage beforehand.

Choose the right suitcase

Having the right suitcase can make a massive difference. It may well be worth it to invest in a new one. The most cost-efficient ones to buy are hard shell material suitcases, usually made of a lightweight plastic that is easy and light to carry but does not compromise on impact protection. With the suitcase itself light, then you have the extra weight of more important stuff to add.

Wear the bulky sweater

Really think about what clothing items you can take. If you don’t need it, don’t take it. Basically, if you’re going on a week-long beach trip to the sweltering south pacific, then chances are you’re not going to need two weeks worth of socks…flip flops will do! And if you’re really struggling to compromise, you can always wear the biggest and heaviest items you plan to take (sweaters, cardigans)….airplanes are always cold anyway.

First class anyone?

Bit of a last option this one, and probably one very few of you may be able to choose, but going first class usually means having a minimum to no restriction on how much luggage can be taken on board. If it is a special occasion and you’re willing to pay for the privilege, why not upgrade yourself.

Flying should be an enjoyable experience and not a stressful one. If you are the type of person who tends to over-pack, take these few tips on board and hopefully next time you’re at the check-in, they may save you from having to reach into your wallet once again.


The post Ways to avoid overweight bags while flying appeared first on Worldation.



Avoid Hidden Costs During Your Air Conditioner Replacement

An air conditioner replacement is a smart way to drastically increase the value and energy efficiency of your home. However, installing a new AC unit can be a big expense for homeowners. How do you ensure that your air conditioning replacement stays in budget, and avoid hidden costs that could break the bank? Knowledge is key. Read on for Modernize’s advice to help you prepare for unexpected costs during your air conditioning project. 

Basic Costs of an Air Conditioning Replacement

Begin by determining your baseline air conditioning replacement budget. The average air conditioning replacement cost ranges between $ 3,500 to $ 7,525. This includes the unit and the installation.

The cost of your project will be impacted by considerations like:

Square Footage: Upon arriving at your property, the HVAC contractor will measure the square footage of your home. This will help determine the size unit needed to efficiently cool your home. A larger home will require a more powerful unit, which will cost more.

Repairs: The contractor recommendation may include upgrading attic or crawl space insulation, resealing of windows and doors, or repairing breaches in exterior walls where conditioned air might escape. These precautions may add to the total cost.

The Unit: An air conditioning unit with a higher energy efficiency ratio will cost more, but often yield a better return on investment over time. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER is a rating that notes the efficiency of the cooling system. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the system. The minimum standard SEER is 13 for air conditioners. Most modern air conditioners have a SEER that ranges from 13 to 21. The Energy Efficiency Ratio or EER is a rating that bases its energy efficiency rating on how the unit would react to an outside temperature of 95 degrees, an inside temperature of 80 degrees and humidity of 50 percent.

Labor: Labor costs will vary depending on the size of the crew, their experience, and the scope of your project. However, Modernize encourages homeowners to not select a contractor based on price alone. The quality of work is especially important when it comes to home repair projects. While some aspects of an air conditioning replacement can be DIY, the smartest choice for such an important project is to partner with a reputable contractor. The right contractor will be able to help you set (and stick) to your air conditioning replacement budget and have the experience to foresee any hidden costs.

Permitting: Depending on where you live, your contractor may also need to secure permits to complete an air conditioning replacement. Your contractor will manage the permitting process, but be prepared for the cost. Depending on your region, an air conditioning replacement permit may be a flat rate, or it could vary based on your home’s size or value.

The Most Common Hidden Air Conditioning Replacement Costs

No matter how well prepared and researched your air conditioning replacement budget may be, keep in mind that the installation may uncover additional costs that are beyond you or your contractor’s control. Especially if you live in an older house, it is wise to be prepared. With that in mind, some common unexpected costs to be prepared for include:

Replacing Damaged Ductwork: Your home’s air duct system delivers warm or cooled air to different rooms and areas. This duct system is essential for your home’s comfort and energy efficiency— and is very delicate. Ductwork can easily become damaged, ripped, or tangled. Discuss with your contractor if you notice any problems.

Rotten Wall Studs: Wall studs are susceptible to rot in moisture-heavy areas of your home (like in basements). This is not always easy to detect. Your contractor may find issues after the drywall has been removed.

Electrical Upgrades: Older homes might not have sufficient power available to handle the increased demand with a new unit. Similarly, if other appliances have recently been added, it may max out the electrical panels capacity. If you have an older home, discuss the impact of a new unit on your home.

Drywall Repairs: For air conditioning ducts that back up at a wall or ceiling, drywall is usually cut to fit the outer edges. If your new unit is a different shape or style, drywall cuts from the previous unit may need to be repaired.

Keeping Your Air Conditioning Replacement on Budget

Now that you have the knowledge of the costs —both planned and unplanned— to expect during your air conditioning replacement, all that’s left is to ensure you stick to your budget. To do that, you can:

  • If you can wait, have your new system installed in the fall or spring. Contractors are usually less busy during these seasons and are willing to offer off-season discounts to homeowners.
  • Leave 15-20 percent of wiggle room in your budget. This will allow you to take any hidden issues in stride without impacting the rest of your air conditioning replacement. This may seem like a large buffer, but it’s better to plan ahead and for the unexpected.
  • Be transparent with your contractor about your budget. Let them know about your budget constraints up front. This will help them determine the most realistic way to reach your desired end result and help them as they purchase supplies for the project.

All in all, having a reliable and honest air conditioning contractor is perhaps the easiest way to avoid hidden costs during an air conditioning replacement. Take advantage of Modernize’s tools to find a trusted local contractor.

The post Avoid Hidden Costs During Your Air Conditioner Replacement appeared first on Modernize.



Cricket: Bangladesh team narrowly avoid mosque shooting, test called off

The Bangladesh cricket team narrowly avoided being caught up in a shooting at a mosque in Christchurch on Friday that left 30 dead and forced the cancellation of a test match against hosts New Zealand.

Reuters: Sports News


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Companies were boxed off to avoid spies at this year’s Toy Fair

Espionage is taking all the fun out of the toy industry. Corporate spying and counterfeiting have become such problems among makers of dolls, cars and unicorn poop that this year’s Toy Fair on Manhattan’s West Side felt more like a fortress than a playground. The trade show, which ended Tuesday, was held in lots of…
Business | New York Post


Avoid Hidden Costs During a Roof Replacement

From curb appeal to increased energy efficiency, a roof replacement is a smart way to drastically increase the value of your home. However, roof repairs can also be some of the most expensive renovations for homeowners. So how do you ensure that your roof replacement stays in budget, and avoid hidden costs that could break the bank? Knowledge is key. Read on for Modernize’s advice to help you prepare for unexpected costs during your roofing project.

Basic Costs of a Roof Replacement

Begin by determining your baseline roof replacement budget. The average roof replacement cost is between $ 8,000 – $ 17,500 including installation, the cost of roofing shingles, removal of your old roof, disposal fees, permitting and labor.

Whether you are budgeting for a DIY replacement or accepting bids from roofing contractors, the cost of your project will be impacted by basic roofing considerations like:

Roof Dimensions

In short, the simpler the roof, the cheaper the replacement. The complexity, slope, and size of your roof will have a significant impact on the cost of your roof replacement.

Roofs (and roof repairs) are measured in squares, which are 10×10 foot areas. The more squares to be replaced, the higher the cost. Roofs with more slant have a larger surface area than roofs with less slant. And a roof with more level changes, hips, valleys and add-ons like dormers will be more expensive than a simple roof.

Roofing Materials

Roofing material prices range from very affordable options like asphalt ($ 150 to $ 550 per square) to options like slate (close to $ 385 to $ 800 per square). As such, the cost of raw materials will drive the price of the entire roofing project up or down.

In addition to shingles, building materials are another cost to consider. This includes, but is not limited to, boards and plywood, nails, drop cloths, calk, roof underlayment, flashing, and sheathing.


Labor costs will vary depending on the size of the crew, their experience, and the scope of your roofing project. However, Modernize encourages homeowners to not select a contractor based on price alone. The quality of work is especially important when it comes to roofing projects.

While some aspects of a roof replacement can be DIY, the smartest choice for such an important project is to partner with a reputable roofing contractor. The right roofing contractor will be able to help you set (and stick) to your roof replacement budget and have the experience to foresee any hidden costs.


While it is often possible to install new roofing over existing shingles, that can impact the quality of your roof and interfere with your roofing warranty. As such, your roof replacement will likely entail the disposal of your current roof. Shingles must be disposed of properly, so budget for a dumpster and additional disposal costs.

Inspection and Permitting

To determine the scope of your roof replacement, your roofing contractor will do an inspection of your current roof. Inspections are generally not free, but a roofing contractor may include the cost of their inspection in the price of a repair project after being hired. After an inspection, your contractor will be able to provide a more accurate quote and scope of work.

Depending on where you live, your contractor may also need to secure permits to complete a roof replacement. Your contractor will manage the permitting process, but be prepared for the cost. Depending on your region, a roof replacement permit may be a flat rate, or it could vary based on your home’s size or value.


The Most Common Hidden Roof Replacement Costs

No matter how well prepared and researched your roof replacement budget may be, keep in mind that construction may uncover additional costs that are beyond you or your contractor’s control. Especially if you live in an older house, it’s wise to be prepared. With that in mind, some common unexpected costs to be prepared for include:

Bringing Your Roof Up To Code

Your roof may have originally been built to meet decades-old building codes that will no longer apply to new construction. While this is great news for your home’s energy efficiency and sustainability, it is an added expense to keep in mind.

Pests and Mold

Especially in humid areas of the country, mold and termite damage can add hidden costs to your roof replacement. Whether it’s insects or decay, these problems will need to be addressed before new shingles can be installed.

Leaks And Rotten Plywood

Leaks in your roof can sometimes go unnoticed until the shingles are removed during a roofing repair. These leaks can cause damage to your home, like rot in rafters and other wood structures. If there is already extensive damage, the material and labor cost to replace that wood can quickly increase the roof replacement price by hundreds of dollars.

Poor Roof Design Causing Water Traps

Water traps are a common issue that homeowners are often unaware of until a roof replacement takes place. Water traps are areas that are prone to leaks due to runoff areas that direct too much water to one place. Water traps also lead to faster wear on your shingles and other materials like siding or brick. If your contractor uncovers this issue, you can expect to include the costs to mitigate the water traps in your roof replacement budget.


For many homeowners, a roof replacement is a smart choice to increase the value of their home. In that vein, you may find that upgrades to other elements of your roof are also in order during the roof replacement. Examples include upgrading to low-maintenance gutters, improving your roofing ventilation, or opting for a more durable type of roof underlayment. Discuss how these and other options can be worked into your roofing repair with your contractor. They can help you decide what makes sense to maximize the value of your home while staying within budget.

Tips To Keep Your Roof Replacement On Budget

Like any home renovation, there are ways you can prepare your home to minimize additional costs that can occur during the actual installation. Tips include:

  • Cut your grass short before roof installation begins. Shorter grass will make it easier for your roofers to use a magnetic nail finder to recover any nails or staples that go astray during a roof replacement.
  • Cover items in your attic with a tarp or plastic sheeting. Small gaps in your decking can allow shingles, nails and other debris to fall onto your insulation or valuables stored in your attic.
  • Where possible, move plants and lawn furniture far away from your home. This also applies to vehicles parked in your driveway. Relocating valuable items will minimize the chance of them being damaged while your roofing team hauls loads of debris over the side of your roof.

Now that you have the knowledge of the costs, both planned and unplanned, to expect during your roof replacement, all that’s left is to ensure you stick to your budget. To do that, you can:

  • Complete your roof replacement in the off-season. Demand for roof repairs is greatest in spring and summer, so the cost will typically be higher than when done in the cooler months when laborers’ time is in less demand. The price of new shingles can also be lower during the off-season.
  • Leave 15-20 percent of wiggle room in your budget. This will allow you to take any hidden issues in stride without impacting the rest of your roof replacement. This may seem like a large buffer, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Establish great communication with your contractor. Let them know about your budget constraints up front. This will help them determine the most realistic way to reach your desired end result, and help them as they purchase supplies for the project.

All in all, having a reliable and honest roofing contractor is perhaps the easiest way to avoid hidden costs during a roof replacement. Take advantage of Modernize’s tools to find a trusted local contractor that can make the roof of your dreams a reality.

The post Avoid Hidden Costs During a Roof Replacement appeared first on Modernize.



Drill stars avoid jail after breaching ban on performing their music

Two prominent drill artists have been given suspended jail sentences for breaching a gang injunction designed to stop them performing songs which police said incited violence against rivals.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News


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Carmaker Rolls-Royce urges UK’s May to avoid a hard Brexit

Carmaker Rolls-Royce called on the British government to avoid a disorderly Brexit and said it was building up some stock, expanding warehouse capacity and training suppliers for customs changes in case Britain leaves the EU without a deal.

Reuters: Arts


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States demand clarity on Obamacare ruling before Friday to avoid ‘chaos’

The ruling generated confusion about the near-term impact on the health-care law that affects millions of people and hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding.
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How to save time and avoid waiting in line for attractions


There’s nothing worse than traveling somewhere to see an attraction that you waste half the day queueing for. Whether its a museum, gallery, or monument, if it’s popular, it’s going to have a seemingly endless queue. However, if you don’t fancy wasting three hours of your day queueing in the rain just for an elevator up the Eiffel Tower, then there are some tips and tricks to get you past the excessive lines.

Pick your time of day

Tourists usually want to visit attractions from around 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and so you’re left standing in an enormous queue. However, one of the best times of day to visit any spot – unless it has specific opening hours – is sunrise. There’s no need to wait for sunset to get artistic photos, when dawn is just as beautiful, with the added bonus of being pretty empty. The vast majority of travelers will not be up and out that early, so you’ll have the area practically to yourself. Equally, with some attractions that are open late at night, those times are also likely to be less crowded. So, in general, go super early or late, and you’ll avoid most of the crowds and waiting in line.

Get active

Believe it or not, one of the best ways to avoid queues is to take the stairs rather than escalators or elevators. In places where the view is the main attraction, elevators become overly busy, with people waiting in line for several hours to get in one, while the stairs remain empty enough for you to bypass everyone who is still waiting to be taken up the building without exerting any energy.

Book in advance

By booking a slot in advance, you can dramatically reduce your waiting times. If you arrive just before your slot, you should only be waiting a matter of minutes, rather than hours. The only problem is that you have to be organized and stick to your plan, but, if this doesn’t bother you, then a pre-booked entry time or tour can save you masses of time.

Don’t go for the popular day

If you want to see a famous attraction, avoid doing it when you know its likely to be busy. If you’re in another country, research their holidays, because you don’t want to visit an attraction, only to find out that the entire country has the day off and wants to see it, too. Another way to minimize waiting times is to pick a day which doesn’t appeal to other people. Choose an overcast or rainy day to view an outdoor attraction, and you’ll have the place almost to yourself. You might even witness some views which are uniquely beautiful, like fog hanging over the city.

Just because you want to visit a famous attraction, doesn’t mean you should settle for excessive queueing. You’ll waste your day and be bored by the time you get to the front. Make some plans in advance and look for the least popular times and you can wait in line for a significantly shorter amount of time.


The post How to save time and avoid waiting in line for attractions appeared first on Worldation.



7 Mistakes to Avoid Now If You Ever Want to Retire (and What to Do Instead)

Picture this: You’ve finally retired, and now you are sailing in the Gulf of Mexico on your boat with your closest friends and loved ones. The water is blue, the breeze tickles your nose with salt and the cool drink in your hand is perfect.

Or maybe your retirement dream is built around a cabin in the mountains, travel to exotic places or just a whole lot of golf. But what if you lose your focus?

We spoke with Mike Windle, a retirement planning specialist at C. Curtis Financial in Plymouth, Michigan, about some common bad moves people make to derail their retirement savings plans.

And, because we don’t want to see you still punching the time clock in your 70s, we’ve added some solutions to help keep your retirement savings growing in a way that will support you after you’ve called it quits.

Bad Move No. 1: Having Too Much Debt

TPH photographer, Tina Russell, in various scenes showing credit card debt, consolidation and bankruptcy on August 14, 2018

It’s hard, if not impossible, to make great strides toward your retirement if you’re paying a small fortune in interest on old debt.

Have you ever considered consolidating that debt? It could substantially lower payments you’re already making and help you save more money each month.

A lot of us are being crushed by credit card interest rates north of 20%. If you’re in that boat, consolidation and refinancing might be worth a look.

A good resource is Fiona, a search engine for financial services, which can help match you with the right personal loan to meet your needs.

Fiona searches the top online lenders to match you with a personalized loan offer in less than 60 seconds. Its platform can help you borrow up to $ 100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 4.99% and terms from 24 to 84 months.

When you’re not shelling out so much money for high interest debt, you have a little more that you can put toward the future.

Bad Move No. 2: Not Starting While You’re Young

According to Windle, this is the No. 1 issue when it comes to bungling retirement plans. It’s best to start young, and it can be very difficult to make up the difference if you start later on.

“For every year sooner that you start, on average, you’re able to cut potentially two to three years off of how long you have to work,” he says.

However, when you’re young, it seems like you never have enough money left over after you pay bills. If you’re like most of us and wish your money would just take care of itself, consider starting an investment account through Acorns.

You can start small and stack up change over time with its “round-up” feature. That means if you spend $ 10.23 at the grocery store, 77 cents gets dropped into your Acorns account.

Then, the app does the whole investing thing for you. It doesn’t offer all the benefits of a retirement account, but if you need a little help, it can at least get you started.

The app is $ 1 a month for balances under $ 1 million, and you’ll get a $ 5 bonus when you sign up.  

When it comes to long-term investing, starting young is rule No. 1. Even if all you can do is a little, it can make a big difference down the road.

Bad Move No. 3: Ignoring High Fees on Your Retirement Accounts

If you’re saving for retirement with a 401(k), awesome.

But when’s the last time you truly checked in on your account, adjusted your allocations, addressed any fees and all that other fun stuff?

Try using a robo-adviser to make sure your 401(k) is on track with your retirement goals. Blooom is an SEC-registered investment advisory firm that’ll optimize and monitor your 401(k) for you.

Your initial account checkup is free, and you can do it online in less than five minutes. This will help you get to know your account a little more intimately. Find out if you’re paying too many investment fees or if you have the appropriate amount of money invested in stocks versus bonds.

If you’re satisfied with the outcome of your initial check up, great! If not, you can enroll in Blooom for $ 10 a month (Penny Hoarders get one month free with the code PNNYHRD). It’ll automatically adjust your 401(k) to best fit your needs all the way up to retirement.

Bad Move No. 4: Stashing Money in a Low-Interest Savings Account

Business Man Stock, shot in Atlanta, GA, on November 25, 2018.

OK, maybe you don’t want to risk everything on investments. That’s OK, but if you want a simple savings account for some of your retirement savings, at least make sure you’re earning better-than-average interest on that money.

An iOS app called Varo Money combines traditional banking tools with modern technology to help its customers become financially healthy.

Here’s the best part: Pair your Bank Account with a Varo Savings Account where you’ll earn 1.75% Annual Percentage Yield. That’s nearly 30 times — repeat, 30 times — the average savings account, based on a 0.06% average reported by CNN Money.

Varo goes easy on the fees, too. As long as you use one of its 55,000 ATMs across the world, you’ll never pay fees.

Additionally, you’ll pay no monthly service fees, no minimum balance fees, no foreign transaction fees and no cash replacement fees. You’ll just pay any fees charged by out-of-network ATMs and cash deposit fees if you deposit cash in-store through Green Dot.

Bad Move No. 5: Taking Money out of Your 401(k) Early

Just when your retirement savings are doing well, your car breaks down. Or you have medical bills that pile up. When things get tough and you need money, that stash you have sitting in your 401(k) can start to look pretty tempting.

There are better ways to fight through a tight spot than to sacrifice your future. Try getting a low-interest loan instead.

“Any low interest is better than draining money out of your 401(k),” says Windle. “If you take it out, you get a 10% penalty, most likely. For the vast majority of America, most of their retirement is in a 401(k), so if you start to deplete that and pull out $ 10,000, $ 20,000, $ 30,000, you could be taking two to three years [of savings] off and adding four to six years on the back end.”

If you need a personal loan quickly, look into the online lending platform Upstart, which can help you find a loan without relying on only your conventional credit score.

Unlike traditional underwriting models that use only the common FICO scoring model, Upstart’s technology looks at factors like your education and employment history to determine your creditworthiness.

It can help you borrow up to $ 50,000, potentially with better terms (e.g. lower interest or lower monthly payments) than traditional lenders. If managing many different bills and credit lines is a hassle, you can also use an Upstart loan to streamline all of your loans into one.

Windle says there’s another option, as well. “A lot of times, 401(k)s will offer loans. Technically your money is still in there, so it’s still growing, but you end up paying yourself back.”

Bad Move No. 6: Not Contributing the Right Amount to Your 401(k)

If you think you’re on top of your game because you’re tucking away 2% of every paycheck and you’re still young, think again.

If your employer offers a 401(k) program, there’s also a good chance it offers a match. Typically you’ll see companies match your 401(k) contributions up to about 3 or 4 % —  some are even higher. That doubles the money you’re saving. Then, when interest kicks in, you really get a boost.

So how much of your paycheck should go to your 401(k)? You might be surprised at the answer.

“The best strategy, this was against the grain, but really you only want to put in the match,” says Windle. “By putting more into your 401(k), all you are doing is creating taxable income down the road.”

If that’s the case, how do you save more than just what your employer matches?

“If your work offers a Roth option, that’s where you want to put the most you can,” he says. “Anything above the match, you definitely want to go into Roth.”

A Roth IRA or 401(k) account is an account that uses after-tax money. That means you’ll pay taxes now, but it’ll earn interest tax-free, and you won’t pay taxes when you withdraw it.

Then reconsider your contributions when you get a bump in pay.

“As you get raises, take a portion of that raise, and put it toward your retirement,” says Windle. “Typically what I recommend is at a minimum, take 10 to 20% of that raise and add to whatever you’re doing for retirement savings.”

It won’t be long before you’ll love checking in on your retirement accounts and seeing how much they have grown.

Bad Move No. 7: Not Budgeting

Budgeting with cash in envelopes.

Budgeting is like going to the dentist. No one really wants to do it, but if you do, it makes life much, much better.

You don’t have to go right for a root canal. Ease into it. To simplify the process, try using the 50/20/30 budget plan: 50% of your money goes toward essential living expenses; 20% goes toward hitting your financial goals (can you say retirement savings?); and 30% is designated for personal spending.

You’ll want to map out your current spending. Rather than combing through your monthly statements and inputting numbers into an Excel sheet, use the automated spend tracker in the Empower app, which helps you organize and track your financial goals.

Simply link your various accounts, and you can review your spending and make adjustments as needed to stay on the right track.

“Write down a budget that shows what you’re spending your money on,” says Windle. “It opens people’s eyes to where their money goes. Circle four to five things you can do without, and see how much you have.”

Don’t Panic, but Don’t Procrastinate

Saving for retirement shouldn’t be a tremendous burden on your life now. That being said, you can’t wait until that magical day when you have plenty of expendable income to shuffle toward retirement savings, either.

Why? Because that day never really comes for most of us.

“It’s human nature,” says Windle. “As you have more disposable income, you’ll get more bills and spend more money. It’s always good to take what excess you have and start saving.”

Set a plan, get started as early as you can and then follow these basic tips to keep from derailing your retirement. You want to make those golden years really shine.  

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.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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Avoid the ‘Flu-You’

There’s nothing like the flu to change you from your normal self into a sniffling, sneezy, mess. And no one is invincible — not even Stephen Curry.

A new public service announcement from Kaiser Permanente captures the flu’s impact using a fictional “Sick Steph.” The all-star guard for the Golden State Warriors has shown up mid-illness to lead kids in a basketball clinic. If only he got his flu shot…

This public service announcement is the latest effort in Kaiser Permanente’s campaign to prevent flu by increasing vaccination rates. Flu shots are available to members at no charge at Kaiser Permanente medical facilities. Visit for information.

Not a member? You can still get a flu shot. Use the Flu Vaccine Finder to locate a nearby flu-shot clinic.

Main RSS Feed – Kaiser Permanente


9 Ways to Avoid Early Withdrawal Penalties From Your Retirement Accounts

Have you ever been in dire need of some cash but your bills are due and your bank account is low?

Then you look at your 401(k) sitting over there and think, “I could just take out a loan, problem solved.”

Wait. Before you get crazy with a loan that may not be in your best interest, you should know there are ways to get money out of retirement accounts without a loan or being subject to the 10% withdrawal penalty.

How to Get Money Out of Your Retirement Accounts Before 59 ½  

According to a TPH analysis of microdata from the Federal Reserve Board’s latest financial wellness survey, one in 10 Americans under the age of 60 borrowed money or withdrew early from one of their retirement accounts in the last year.

Once you put money into your 401(k) or IRA, if you try to access it before the age of 59 1/2 it’s typically through a 401(k) loan or paying a 10% penalty on the withdrawal in addition to any applicable taxes.  

While we advise having an emergency fund over resorting to retirement savings, sometimes life comes at you fast and you need that money. And if you’re using it for the right reasons, we think you shouldn’t be penalized for using money that’s yours to begin with.

So here are some of the ways you can get money out of those accounts without fees, penalties, or restrictive loan terms.

Contribution Withdrawals From a Roth IRA

The Roth IRA is your most flexible account in retirement because you don’t have to pay taxes on withdrawals, no matter how large your growth, and it’s the only account without required minimum distributions.  

Your Roth IRA also offers you the most flexible options when you need to pull money from retirement. You can withdraw contributions you’ve made at any time tax-free and without penalty.

This applies only to the contributions, not the earnings of your Roth IRA.

Disability Exemption

The legs of a man using a blind walking can make their way down an asphlt path.

If you become physically or mentally disabled and are unable to work, you can take distributions from any retirement account penalty-free.

Once a physician certifies that the physical or mental impairment is continuous and of long or indefinite duration, all retirement accounts become available as they would at 59 1/2 — which means even though there’s no penalty, you’re still subject to federal and state taxes.

Home Purchase

You can withdraw up to the lifetime maximum of $ 10,000 — $ 20,000 for couples — from an IRA (Roth or traditional) to buy or build a home. To qualify, you cannot have owned a home in the two years preceding the home purchase.

But because you can withdraw contributions from your Roth IRA penalty-free, those limits apply only to earnings.  

The caveat is that if the account is less than five years old and you decide to withdraw earnings, you will have to pay income taxes on those.

If you prefer to withdraw from a traditional IRA, your maximum is a straight $ 10,000. You will have to pay applicable taxes on it. If you have both and think you’ll need to dip into earnings for the withdrawal, the traditional IRA is the account to go with because it’s easier to grow the balance through 401(k) rollovers.

Health Insurance Costs

If you lose your job and collect unemployment compensation for 12 consecutive weeks, you can use your IRA to pay for health insurance for you, your spouse and your dependents.

Since you can use Roth IRA contributions for any reason, this is more notable for a traditional IRA.

Big Medical Expenses

Medical expenses not reimbursed by insurance can qualify for a penalty waiver. Those expenses would need to exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income if you’re withdrawing from an IRA and 7.5% to withdraw from a 401(k). The distribution can be used for you, your spouse or your dependents.

The distribution has to be made in the same year that the medical expense is incurred, which could be difficult if you have an accident taking down the Christmas lights on Dec. 31 — another reason to leave them up until January.

If that all sounds intimidating and vague, that’s because it is. You’ll definitely need to consult a certified public accountant and your plan provider if you decide to go this route.

A better option is contributing to a health savings account (HSA) if you have one available to you. For medical expenses, an HSA is more flexible, easier to access and more tax advantaged than any other retirement account.

Military Service

Qualified reservists can take distributions from an IRA, 401(k) or 403(b) during an active duty of more than 179 days.

This includes all Reserve and National Guard members. While other distributions put you at a loss, qualified reservist distributions (QRDs) are allowed to be paid back in full for up to two years after your active duty ends, even if those extra contributions exceed the annual limit.

College Costs

A woman in a graduation robe counts money.

If you, your spouse, child or grandchild are pursuing higher education, it can be paid for from your IRA without penalty. Qualified expenses include tuition, fees, books, supplies and — if enrolled at least half time — room and board.

While this is only a benefit of an IRA, you can also rollover a 401(k) into a traditional IRA to pay for college. But understand that withdrawals for college costs can reduce your or your student’s eligibility for financial aid.

And if you’re thinking about using your retirement account to save for college, stop right there! 529 plans were designed for just that.

Change of Employment

If you leave your job in the year you turn 55 — or any time after — you can withdraw from your 401(k). If you anticipate retiring around this age and have any old 401(k)s lying around, this would be a good reason to roll it over to your current 401(k) instead of a traditional IRA.

Bonus: If you’re a government employee with a 457(b), you can access those retirement savings penalty-free whenever you leave your job, no matter your age.

Annual Distributions

If you’re trying to retire earlier than 55, you can agree to withdraw a specific amount every year called substantially equal periodic payments (SEPPs.) You’ll basically need to agree to take consistent withdrawals, based on IRS calculations, each year for the rest of your life.

The calculations are a bit confusing, so this is another one you’ll need to consult a financial adviser for. They can also tell you if SEPPs are your best option for early retirement or if there’s something more flexible that still gets you around the 10% penalty.

In conclusion, every time you take money out of a retirement account, you lose out on the compounding interest that money could have earned you. None of these should be go-to methods for getting extra money but they are available if you need them

Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She maxes out her Roth IRA and gives money-saving and debt-payoff tips on Instagram at @savingwithspunk.

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.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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U.S. asks allies to avoid Huawei’s equipment: WSJ

The U.S. government is trying to persuade wireless and internet providers in allied countries to avoid telecommunications equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL], the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Reuters: Business News


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Spending Rehab: 3 Steps To Avoid A Financial Hangover

In an economy like ours—driven by consumer spending and near-ubiquitous advertising designed to get you to spend, and then spend some more—even the most financially disciplined among us can fall prey to overspending. For example, most of us are especially vulnerable during the holiday shopping season, during which many of us spend more money in 30 days than we have in the previous six months combined. To avoid a financial hangover after a serious shopping binge, here’s a plan—let’s call it a spending rehab intervention—to sober up your finances and get your budget back under control.

Spending Rehab Step 1

You have to be woke—more conscious and aware—when it comes to how you are spending your money. Most of us spend money mindlessly, without really considering the impact on our financial health, or even whether we really need or want what we purchase. That’s the very definition of impulse spending.

So, to begin the spending rehab regimen, for one month you’re going to track your spending (which is a good idea to do two to three time a year even if you don’t overspend). Keep a record of every penny you spend, and what you spent it on. Also, note how you made each purchase—with cash, credit card, debit card, personal check, automated payment, whatever. You can track your spending using a pen and small notepad, or your mobile device or computer. Using an app like Spendr might also help. Do whatever works to have a complete record of your spending for one month.

Spending Rehab Step 2

This is where we test your commitment to getting your spending under control: Continue to track your spending for a second month, with one change—no using credit cards. That’s right; you have to go cash only for the entire month. Debit cards are OK, too, since you are just using plastic to spend cash. But no using credit cards or other tools to borrow money to finance expenditures for the entire month.

As with the previous month, keep a record of every penny you spend, and what you spent it on. Use a pen and pad, your mobile device, whatever works to have a complete record of your spending—without using credit cards.

—Be sure to catch Alfred Edmond Jr.’s personal finance podcast: “Your Money, Your Life” sponsored by Prudential. 

For those who have become accustomed to treating their available credit balance as if it were income, this might be the toughest part of spending rehab. Brace yourself for the withdrawal pains of giving up the plastic. If you literally can’t make it through one month without using credit cards, you need emergency intervention. Make an appointment with a qualified credit counselor immediately. You can find one in your area at

Spending Rehab Step 3

Sit down and look at your spending choices over the two months. How did your spending differ from one month to the next? Have you been too reliant on credit cards, or using them needlessly when you could have used cash and avoided wasting money on paying interest on credit card balances? Where in your budget can you eliminate spending (or at least avoid paying interest and fees), and where can you better apply that money to more beneficial, financially healthy uses—such as paying down debt faster, increasing contributions to your retirement savings, building a stronger cash emergency fund or financing a new money-making venture?

The point of this exercise is to make you more conscious of how you spend, what you buy, and most importantly, why—so you can challenge and change your thinking and adopt a healthier financial lifestyle. To get started, you want to identify and eliminate three kinds of spending—confused spending, compensatory spending, and conspicuous spending—if you are serious about improving and maintaining your financial wellness:

Confused Spending

This is when you make purchases without giving any real consideration to what you are getting for your money—or whether you even really want or need what you are buying. Confused spending almost always results in overspending.

Are you repeatedly surprised when you bounce a check, the ATM gives you a negative balance message or your credit card is declined at a store? That likely means that you are either operating without a spending plan—also known as a budget—or you have one, and are ignoring it, and instead, you are trying to keep track of it all in your head. The result: sloppiness, disorganization—and confused spending.

Compensatory Spending

This is when you spend as a form of self-medication in order to cope with emotional pain or discomfort, such as boredom, feelings of unworthiness, sadness, or repressed anger. The problem with this so-called “retail therapy” is that when you’re done, the bad feelings return, often more intensely, requiring more spending to cope—and leading to shopping addiction.

At its worst, compensatory spending leads to a vicious cycle: You feel bad, whether sad, angry, lonely or just plain bored. You go shopping to feel better—spending money you don’t have on things you have not budgeted for. When the high of getting so-called great deals wears off, you now have shopper’s remorse and guilt, on top of the original bad feelings. What do you do? Unless there is an intervention—more compensatory spending. If this is you, get help; a good place to start is the nonprofit self-help organization Debtors Anonymous.

Conspicuous Spending

This is when you spend in order to buy social status—to try to impress others, “keep up with the Joneses,” or maybe do a little frontin’ for the ‘Gram. If you rock nothing but luxury brands but have horrible credit, this is likely you.

Your friend or neighbor has the new custom kicks or latest smartphone, so you have to have it, too—whether you can afford it or not. This tendency can be exacerbated by engaging social media, where it is easier than ever to see the latest shiny new things that seemingly everyone but you has, including tons of approval in the form of likes, favorites, and shares.

Statistics show that you’re likely racing each other to the poor house. Unfortunately, too many of us spend money we don’t have to buy things we can’t afford, to impress people we don’t know and may not even like. Stay in your lane and live according to what you can afford, not by what others have.

How do you determine affordability? By continuing to monitor your spending, being more organized, sticking to a real spending plan, and otherwise staying woke when it comes to your money. The more diligent, consistent, and conscious you are, the lower the odds that you will relapse into overspending, and the less likely you’ll need another round of spending rehab.

—Be sure to catch Alfred Edmond Jr.’s personal finance podcast: “Your Money, Your Life” sponsored by Prudential. 


The post Spending Rehab: 3 Steps To Avoid A Financial Hangover appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Avoid Hidden Costs During A Window Replacement

Replacing multiple windows in your home is a worthwhile, but costly, investment. As you vet and select the best window contractor for your project, it is important to discuss your budget and potential factors that might affect the overall cost of your window replacement. To make sure your project is as affordable as possible, review these hidden costs ahead of your upcoming window replacement.

Old Window Disposal:

Ahead of your window installation, it is important to discuss how to best dispose of your old windows. While many window installers will clean up and discard the windows at no additional cost, some contractors do charge a fee for this service.

Check your estimate, and discuss disposal details as you vet contractors. The cost of transporting the leftover frames and dump fees for non-hazardous waste disposal can add an extra $ 40 or $ 50 to your budget.

Framing Changes:

Most new windows will easily slide into your existing window openings, making for a relatively simple replacement process. However, there are some situations —like uneven framing or rotting wood— that can cause pricey complications.

An existing frame will need to be rebuilt if:

  • There is uneven framing.
    • If your new windows won’t fit in the existing space, the frame may need to be rebuilt to accommodate the new windows.
  • There is rotting wood.
    • If you’ve had moisture damage from a recent storm, the water might leak into the wall. The original window will need to be removed in order the replace the damaged or rotted window.
    • This is more common in older homes. Homeowners may be unaware of this damage until after the window has been removed. In many cases with older homes, the wall structure may have broken seal damage, and not the window itself. This damage to the wall won’t be visible until the window is removed.
  • There is a fire code.
    • Homes older than 75 years old were likely not built to modern fire code standards. The International Residential Code dictates that windows must have a specific opening size (with a minimum of 24 inches height). If your home’s windows don’t adhere to these requirements, they will likely need to be enlarged to comply with these standards.

Rebuilding a window frame can cost an additional 50 percent on top of your current replacement costs. While rotted or severely damaged frames are usually a worst-case scenario, talk to your contractor about what damage they may encounter once the window installation is underway.

Window Delivery:

If you purchase your windows from a home improvement store and haul them home, you do not need to worry about a delivery charge. However, if you purchase your windows from a dealer or manufacturer, you may have a delivery fee.

Depending on your region and distance from the seller, the delivery fee can range anywhere from $ 50 to $ 400. If you are purchasing your windows through a dealer or contractor, discuss if your contractor will cover this fee. If not, discuss out how much it will cost, as it will be included in your estimate.


In most cases, a home window replacement is a process between the homeowner and contractor. In some instances, a project may require a building permit before you can begin your project. A permit is required when a window opening is enlarged horizontally or when the wall structure is altered, as both of these changes can have safety repercussions.

An application must be submitted and a permit approved before any construction begins. While homeowners are responsible for acquiring permits, many contractors will take on the task. It is important to discuss any permit needs with your contractor, as the average cost of a building permit can run anywhere from $ 400 to $ 1600.

Lead Paint Test:

If your home was built before 1978, your walls are likely coated in lead-based paint. Undisturbed, lead-based paint does not pose many risks. However, renovations and repairs can create toxic lead dust. Paint lead and lead-contaminated dust are some of the leading causes of lead poisoning.

Windows carry a higher lead exposure risk due to their exposure to outside elements and paint friction. If you have an older home, you or your contractor will need to inspect your paint.

Testing for toxic lead typically costs between $ 200 and $ 400. You may need multiple tests. While homeowners can conduct a home inspection for an affordable price— if the test is positive, a lead risk assessor may need to examine the home and send dust samples to a laboratory for analysis.

If you have an older home, talk with your contractor about testing for lead-based paint and how it could impact the cost of your window replacement project.

Ready to find a trusted contractor for your window replacement? The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your window repair or replacement project is in good hands. You can access the interactive checklist by visiting the Modernize Homeowner Portal or by downloading it here.

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