Great places to see wildlife in the UK: readers’ travel tips

Wildlife can thrive in city centres, as well as in reserves, wild moors and remote islands; you just need to know what to look out for, say our tipsters

Cuckoos, kingfishers, water voles, marsh harriers, seals and fantastic views from the coffee shop: inside the M25! Take a bow, Rainham RSPB reserve. A two-mile walk around the reserve (which is only a 20-minute stroll from Purfleet station) yields rich rewards, and even spectacular views of Eurostar trains. Spring is particularly noisy, with warblers of all sorts, and winter, with large flocks of lapwings and a gazillion ducks, is spectacular. There are also rare bearded tits, comfortable hides, simple walking, kids’ events and a great coffee shop with a small playground. The Thames views are wonderful: the sun filling the cafeteria, which has huge windows over the reserve and the river with basking seals, makes one forget the nearby big smoke.
rspb.org.uk
Dan

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Travel | The Guardian

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World Health Organization issues new tips for fighting dementia

fighting dementia

As our bodies age, we have to accept new limitations. We lose muscle, joints can become painful or need replacement, and our brains can experience similar declines. Dementia, a cognitive decline often associated with age, has been linked to certain genetic quirks, but a family history of dementia doesn’t mean there’s nothing a person can do to fight it off.

New guidance from the World Health Organization focuses on lifestyle changes that researchers believe can help delay the onset of dementia symptoms even in people who may be genetically prone. It also addresses some popular myths related to supplements that people may be using in an effort to combat the condition.

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World Health Organization issues new tips for fighting dementia originally appeared on BGR.com on Thu, 16 May 2019 at 00:07:43 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


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How to Budget When You Rely on Cash Tips: This Bartender’s Smart System

When you rely on tips for your income, it can be hard to save money.

For years, I’ve worked as a bartender, like about 611,000 other people in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When you go home with cash every day, it seems to burn a hole right through your pocket.

And from one day to the next, you have no idea how much you’re going to make. On my worst shift, I owed the restaurant $ 45 (gotta love those dine-and-dash folks). But on my best shift, I made more than $ 1,000 (a politician and his legal team hit the bar hard the night before he was sentenced).

I have a friend who absolutely relies on getting the occasional group that tips $ 700. His other four shifts barely pay for gas to work. With those fluctuations in pay, it can seem nearly impossible to set a budget.

Over the years, I’ve developed several strategies to get off the financial roller coaster and on to a life of greater security. Here’s how to save money as a server.

Look at the Bigger Picture

First, start keeping track of your income. You’ve got to know where you stand.

Track every dollar you actually make, after tipping out other staff (but before buying post-work shots). Write it down in a journal or spreadsheet after every shift, which you should do anyway in case of an audit.

Total up your income for 10 weeks, then find your average weekly income. This process helps smooth out the differences between individual shifts.

If you’re working at your job long enough, do another 10-week average. Compare it to the first 10 weeks to see how much your income varies. Now you can determine a margin of error for your budgeting.

Pick the lower of the averages, and base your budget on that figure, just to be safe.

At my most recent job, my 10-week average only differed from my average of the next 30 weeks by $ 3, which is exceptionally consistent. That might be a rare case, but I expect you’ll find your income to be more consistent than you’d think, as long as you take the longer view.

Pro Tip

If you change jobs, keep track of your weekly income, including the time you’re out of work. You want to know how you’re doing in the profession generally, not just at one job.

Save Creatively

While you’re gathering this data, it’s not too early to start saving and making a crude budget. Many in the service business do something like this:

Immediately Set Aside 10-15% of What You Make Each Shift

Doing this helps with taxes; set aside even more if you can.

Since most servers only make $ 2.13 per hour or so, with the rest as tips, they’re often stuck with a large tax bill every year. Start planning and saving for it now so you don’t have to sell your car (or live in it) later.

Deposit Larger Denominations in the Bank

Different people choose different bills. I deposit all $ 100, $ 50 and $ 20 bills and use them to pay rent and to buy groceries and other necessities.

This way, you’ll use most of your earnings to build up your checking account and cover fixed expenses.

Pay All Day-to-Day Expenses in Cash

You can feel the impact on your wallet more when you use cash than when you just swipe a card. I use $ 5 and $ 10 bills for most purchases.

When Paying in Cash, Never Use Change

Always pocket your change and throw it in a jar at home. This is the DIY version of those checking accounts that round up and transfer the difference to your savings.

Change adds up fast. For years, when I was living more hand-to-mouth, this stash was my rainy day fund, and it saved me several times.

Now I use it to fund travel. One jar  netted me $ 600 to use for a trip to Costa Rica.

Pro Tip

As you save change, keep your eye out for valuable coins.

If You Can Afford It, Put Away All Your Singles

Mike Zaunbrecker, a server and bartender in Austin, Texas, puts every dollr bill he gets into a big empty protein powder canister. This helps him save even more quickly than my change jar.

I like to use change to build up my fun/travel fund and singles to build up my savings account. Figure out which system works best for you.

Save for Something Specific Using a Wine Bottle

Alana Ramirez, a former hostess and server in Austin, Texas, saved for a trip to Hawaii by stuffing every $ 20 bill she earned into an empty wine bottle for months. When the time came to buy her ticket, she smashed it open.

A wine bottle helps keep your hands off your savings, since you really need to commit to breaking it to get access to your money.

But What About Paychecks?

Out of 12 or so restaurant gigs in my life, only two paid tips in the form of a paycheck cut every two weeks.

Even if you do get a paycheck, you likely don’t get a check consistent enough to base a budget on. After all, the paycheck is just your tips from a week or two, which can be quite variable.

Enter Even. The app analyzes your past paychecks and comes up with an average for you, which it reworks every month for accuracy.

If you get a bigger paycheck, the app takes the extra money and holds it in a separate account, and if you get a smaller check, it uses that account to cover the difference.

If you don’t have enough in your “savings,” Even fronts you the money and makes up for it with the next larger paycheck. It’s not a loan, and you don’t pay interest or have to pay the money back at a certain time.

With Even, you get the same amount of money every week or two, and you can budget without having to worry about big income swings.

Take Control

Once you have a good idea of what you’re making and have developed nearly automatic savings habits, structure your finances into whatever system works best for you.

Make a budget that takes into account what you can really expect to earn, and put your cash to work by building up savings and investments. That way, you don’t fritter away all your hard earned money on shots of Jameson. (Just some of it.)

Jeff Morrison is a bar manager and freelance writer from Austin, Texas.

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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Prince Harry shares his ultimate parenting tips days after the birth of royal baby Archie

Words by Maisie Bovingdon 

Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle welcomed their first child, Archie Harrison Mounbatten-Windsor, into the world earlier this week.

Just days after the Duchess of Sussex gave birth, Harry jetted to the Netherlands for an engagement at The Hague for the Invictus Games 2020.

During his visit Harry had a heart to heart with former soldier Dennis van der Stroon, who has his sights set on competing in the games, about fatherhood.

Dennis recalled his conversation with the 34-year-old royal to Hello! magazine: ‘We talked about how my wife, Mireille, is 20 weeks pregnant with our first child, a girl, and he told me how special it was that his son has just been born.

‘Above all he said he was just amazed by the miracles in the world, and how his child has made a lot of people happy.

‘But he also told me not to make too many plans and that there’s no way you can plan for when the baby arrives.’

Harry has revealed his four-year-old son is ‘very quiet’.

Dennis added: ‘He also told me he’s really happy that his son is so far very quiet.’

The pair continued to bond over fatherhood, and losing a parent.  During the heart to heart Harry admitted he doesn’t feel ‘so alone’ when he speaks to other people who have loved and lost a close one.

Dennis continued: ‘Harry said missing a mother is like missing some kind of security, how you need that as a son and it falls away when you lose your mother. He said he meets a lot of people in his work who have lost a mother, father, sister, brother or relatives and when he hears their story, as he heard my story, he said he doesn’t feel so alone.’

We can’t deal.

The post Prince Harry shares his ultimate parenting tips days after the birth of royal baby Archie appeared first on Marie Claire.

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Canal and river boat holidays in Europe: readers’ travel tips

From navigating quiet forest rivers in Germany to chugging along France’s canals fuelled by cheese and wine, our tipsters explore idyllic waterways

Winning tip: Burgundy Canal, France
This waterway winds past chateaux and vineyards that will tempt you to stop everywhere. Pick up a barge at Chagny and follow the canal south – stock up with cheese, bread and wine for lunch as many locks close from noon to 2pm. Waking to dawn sunlight on the water and sitting on deck with a glass of Chablis (but not necessarily at dawn!) are pleasures we quickly got used to.
Several companies rent boats at Chagny from about €1,300 a week and sleeping 10, including Locaboat and Happy Charter
Nigel

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Travel | The Guardian

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3 Beauty Tips From Cynthia Bailey [VIDEO]

Women's Empowerment 2019

Source: Alonzo Eubanks / Radio One Digital

Cynthia Bailey is keeping busy on an off the air. She’s opening a wine shop called The Bailey Wine Cellar and partnering with Seagrams Escapes for a signature Peach Bellini flavor.

“One thing I know is how to appreciate a good cocktail. I’m on a reality show. So trust and believe that drama will definitely make you appreciate a good drink.”

[ione_media_gallery src=”https://foxync.com” id=”3638566″ overlay=”true”]

The Real Housewives of Atlanta star  shares her top beauty tips that have preserved her beauty at age 51.

“Had my modeling career not worked out, I actually wanted to be a makeup artist,” she explained.


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Make Sure Variable Expenses Don’t Derail Your Budget With These 4 Tips

Every month when I go to pay my electric bill, I’m hit with a surprise.

Sometimes it’s a pleasant one, like this month when I only had to pay $ 57. But last August my bill was $ 127. That surprise was less welcomed.

Bills and other expenses that fluctuate from month to month can wreak havoc on anyone’s budget. How do you prepare for costs that don’t stay the same?

Getting caught off guard by the unexpected is a part of life, but there are ways to manage those variable expenses you regularly encounter.

Identifying Your Variable Expenses

Variable expenses are your regular expenditures that fluctuate in cost from month to month.

Examples of variable expenses include groceries, dining out, utilities, gas, personal care items, household supplies, medical/health expenses, entertainment, clothing, babysitting, ride sharing, gifts and donations.

Variable expenses can be essential, like in the case of groceries, utility bills and gas. Other variable expenses — dining out, entertainment and gifts, for example — should be considered  optional, or discretionary, spending.

Variable expenses differ from your fixed expenses, which stay the same over time. Fixed expenses could also be essential — such as your rent, car payment or student loan — or discretionary, like cable, Netflix or a gym membership.

Fixed costs are simple to budget for. You know exactly how much your rent or cable bill will be each month. Variable expenses, on the other hand, are trickier.

4 Ways to Budget for Variable Expenses

Budgeting for variable expenses is an inexact science, but there are ways to make it easier.

1. Use the Average of Your Expenses

Prepare for fluctuating costs by calculating what you spend on average in a given budget category and use that as a baseline in your budget.

To find your average spend, add up everything you spent on say, groceries, over the past year and divide by 12. You could also use the average of three or four months, but it won’t be as comprehensive.

There will be months when you spend more and months when you spend less. That’s why it’s important to set money aside to account for those fluctuations. Money experts refer to this practice as setting up a sinking fund.

During the months when you spend less than average, you’ll divert the extra money into your sinking fund. Then when a higher bill comes along — like my electric in the height of summer in Florida — you can pull from those savings to make up the difference.

2. Treat Variable Expenses Like Fixed Expenses

You have no control over whether gas prices will jump up or if your babysitter will suddenly want a buck more per hour. But you can do your best to stick to consistent spending limits for your variable expenses whenever possible.

Use the cash envelope system to adhere to the spending limits you set for your variable expenses. For example, you might stick $ 100 in an envelope for dining out. Once you’ve used all the cash in the envelope, no more spending on restaurants until it’s time to refill the envelope.

Pro Tip

Ask your utility companies if they offer a plan where you pay a flat amount each month based on average usage. Then you aren’t surprised with a major increase (or decrease) from month to month.

3. Inflate Estimated Costs for Your Variable Expenses

a woman looks at her receipt from Trader Joe's in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Another way to deal with fluctuating monthly expenses is to give yourself a spending cushion by budgeting for more than you think you’ll spend. For example, if you regularly spend between $ 250 to $ 300 a month on groceries, budget $ 325 or $ 350. That should be enough money to buy food for the month without breaking your budget (and without having to do any math).

This approach only works if you have enough wiggle room in your budget. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck or you have zero emergency savings, you’re better off sticking to a budget that’s more strict.

If you inflate your projected costs, it’s likely you’ll have some money left over at the end of the month. You could put that cash toward savings, paying off debt or maybe just pocket it for something fun — totally up to you.

4. Do Your Best to Plan in Advance

Of course, you don’t have a crystal ball to predict what your variable expenses will be to the last cent. But you can try to anticipate expenses in advance. Don’t let yourself be surprised by what you could have planned for.

When you sit down to create your budget for the month, take a moment to think about the things you’ll do during the next few weeks. Is there a movie coming out that you’ve been dying to see? Add the cost of movie tickets, popcorn and drinks to your entertainment budget. Is a friend’s birthday coming up? Budget some money to go out and celebrate.

Get as detailed as you can so your budget will be as accurate as possible.

Don’t Let Variable Expenses Throw You Off Budget

The unpredictable factor of variable expenses may drive you crazy, but there’s one good thing about those costs not being set in stone: You can usually find ways to lower them.

Use coupons when shopping and check rebate sites after you’ve made your purchases. Adjust the temperature on your thermostat and water heater to reduce your utility costs. Make your own cleaning supplies. Organize a potluck dinner during the next holiday, instead of cooking (and buying) everything yourself. The saving possibilities are wide.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Buying generic brands is one thing she does to lower the cost of her variable expenses.

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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A local’s guide to Palma de Mallorca: 10 top tips

The Spanish island’s seaside capital punches above its weight when it comes to restaurants, art and culture – perfect for a late-spring or early-summer getaway

I love the maze of Moorish-feeling little streets in the historic district between Plaça de Cort and the seafront. If you just wander towards La Seu, the cathedral, you always come across something surprising. A lot of the old mansions have been done up and are now hotels, cafes and restaurants, which is great to see. You only need to walk for 10 minutes or so to see all sorts of architectural styles and you get a sense of the history of Palma going back over 1,000 years. You emerge from this labyrinth of lanes and suddenly the bay opens up before you. I still find it magical.

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Travel | The Guardian

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20 great agriturismos and farm stays in Europe: readers’ tips

The agriturismo movement started in Italy but readers have had breaks on working farms from France to Iceland and Croatia to Crete

This country is dotted with amazing organic farm stays but we love Pri Plajerju in the Trenta valley. There’s something pure and timeless about Slovenia and this farm. It has self-catering apartments, but we sleep in the hayloft – it’s incredibly good value. The hay beds are warm and cosy and it’s magical after a day walking the Soča trail. The mountain scenery is mind-blowing; you can help feed the animals in the morning, and the home-cooked food is fresh, filling and always served with a smile. It almost makes me want to move to the country.
Apartments from €70, barn beds €15pp, eko-plajer.com
Jo

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Travel | The Guardian

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12 Tips on How to Stop Shopping

stock photo of a white woman holding 7 colorful shopping bags and sunglasses

Maybe you need to curb your spending because you’ve discovered you owe a big chunk of money on your taxes (surprise!), you’re facing credit card debt, or you’re trying to grow your savings account … and you’re wondering how to stop shopping. Or maybe you’re trying to stick to your New Year’s resolution to spend less. We haven’t talked about how to control your spending in quite a while, so we thought we’d share some tips today. If you’ve ever had to make a change like this, what were your strategies for how to stop shopping? What was your motivation — to pay down debt, put more money into savings (or investments, etc.), or redirect the money toward a goal, such as a down payment on a house? 

Here are 12 tips on how to stop shopping:

1. Use a paper chart to track your spending.

Budgeting programs such as Mint or YNAB can be useful (I use Mint), but I like this option because you can see the whole month at once and (ideally) watch those “zero” days accumulate. In the past, I’ve used this tracker from Frugal Mama. I randomly found it by googling “spending tracker” — and while I happen to be a mom, you can certainly find a similar non-parent chart if you don’t have kids!

2. Leave your credit cards at home when you go out

Leave your credit cards at home when you go out — and perhaps only use debit for a while. (The decision to do this rests on how dire your shopping/debt situation is). The age-old “cut up your cards!” advice doesn’t work for everyone; for example, you may want to keep earning rewards on your credit card (as long as you’re paying off the balance each month, that is!). Also, consider the envelope method for budgeting — with cash. 

{related: how to pick the best rewards card}

3. Make your money inaccessible

If you can, make more of your money inaccessible (or at least less accessible). If your financial situation allows it, increase your 401k payroll deductions at work and/or add a savings account to your direct deposit so that your paycheck isn’t solely going to checking. You can also set up regular automatic savings transfers or automatic investing.

{related: how to set up automatic investing}

4. Unsubscribe from store emails

Unsubscribe from store emails and emails from sale sites (e.g., Shopstyle). Either unsubscribe to each one as you receive their emails, or use a free tool such as Unroll.me

stock photo of woman pulling credit card out of wallet

5. Stop delivery of mail order catalogs.

DMAChoice.org charges $ 2 to remove you from mailing lists for certain categories, such as catalogs, or from individual catalogs. Catalogchoice.org is free but only allows you to unsubscribe from one catalog at a time. (I’ve had success with the latter.) 

6. Delete any store apps and shopping apps from your phone.

It’s even worse to have store apps and shopping apps on your phone than on your computer, because they make it so easy to shop from anywhere at any time — the doctor’s office waiting room, the coffeeshop, the long line at the grocery store, etc.

7. Delete your credit card information from store websites and from your browser’s autofill function.

Unfortunately, this isn’t quite as effective if you, like me, have your credit card number memorized. (One of my cards was hacked recently, which was pretty annoying but had the hidden benefit of getting a new card number that I don’t know by heart. Yet.) 

8. When you want to buy something online, only put it in your cart at first.

(Or your wishlist — you should see my Sephora “Loves” list…) Then wait 24 hours. If you don’t completely forget about the item, which is possible, you might at least find that you don’t want it as much anymore and be able to convince yourself to skip the purchase … or at least delay it some more.

stock photo of woman holding piggy bank

9. Clean out your closet.

You’re more likely to feel good about what’s in there (and therefore feel fewer “I need new clothes!” urges) if you ditch the pieces you don’t really like — the ones you always skip over when you’re deciding what to wear in the morning. You can also shop your closet to try new combinations you haven’t thought of before.

{related: decluttering your wardrobewhere to recycle, donate, and sell your work clothes

10. Try a capsule wardrobe.

You may gain new appreciation for the clothes you already have — and also distract yourself from shopping by having fun putting new outfits together. Also, consider trying our Work Outfit Challenge — sign up for the emails today!

{related: creating a capsule wardrobe for work}

11. Tailor your clothes to make what you already have work for you.

If you have clothes lying around that you’ve been meaning to get tailored, do that now. Sure, you’ll have to spend some money, but unless you’re asking for major alterations, it’ll still be cheaper than buying new clothes. (We’ve had lots of posts on getting your clothes tailored!) 

12. Organize a clothes swap with friends.

I’ve never tried this, but it sounds fun, and it’s a free way to get some new pieces — maybe some styles you never would have picked up at the store but discover that you really like. The Simple Dollar has some tips, and depending on where you live, you may have access to the events organized by ClothingSwap.com. I am kind of intrigued… (After their events, they donate unclaimed items to charity.)

What are your tips on how to stop shopping? If you’ve ever tried to cut down, what worked and what didn’t?

Stock photo (woman with bags) via Shutterstock/wavebreakmedia. Other images via Stencil.

The post 12 Tips on How to Stop Shopping appeared first on Corporette.com.

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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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5 Tips To Hire the Best Roofing Replacement Contractor

After a severe storm, filing an insurance claim to repair or replace your roof can be challenging. The goal is to repair or replace your roof as quickly as possible, but care should still be taken to find the most reliable and trustworthy roofing contractor for your project. This helps ensure that your home is restored to its original condition as quickly as possible.

At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 80 percent of homeowners found a contractor for the job through referrals. But it’s important to properly vet and research contractors before choosing your perfect fit, even if a friend or a family member personally vouched for them.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while you make the pick.

Understand Your Roofing Needs

A trusted contractor will be able to assess, identify, and explain potential improvements or upgrades to your home’s roofing. The type of roof you plan to have installed on your home makes a big difference in how it performs, what it looks like, and how long it will last. While you may want to repair or replace your roof with your existing shingle type, this is a good time to evaluate roof types.

Homeowners have multiple roofing materials available to them today with varying lifespans. Aside from their longevity, the different roofing materials each have their own characteristics—both positive and negative—that can have a significant impact on your investment.

Aim for the Most Reliable Roofing Contractor

To ensure a swift repair or replacement, a reliable contractor is key. There’s a lot to consider under the umbrella of reliability. In recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your roofing project.

Here are some things you can do to ensure you find the best roofing contractor.

Ask for Referrals

A strong majority of homeowners approach all home improvement projects by first gathering referrals. Some of the most common approaches are:

Vet Your Options

One of the most important parts of your search is vetting different contractors and comparing their work.

  • Request quotes from three to four contractors in your area.
  • Visit the website of each contractor.
    • Is it updated and professional looking?
  • Explore the customer reviews for each contractor.
    • Are they mostly positive? Consider negative reviews and responses.

Talk to Your Favorites

Once you have a short list of your top choices, get them on the phone. A trustworthy contractor will appreciate an opportunity to discuss your project further, and a conversation allows you to get to know them. While you know best what you want to learn in the conversation, here are some questions we recommend you ask:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How much experience do you have with roofing repair or installation?
  • What is your project estimate?
  • Can you provide a list of references?
  • Can you provide proof of insurance for personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage?

Meet the Finalists

Meet in-person with your top contractors to review project-specific details and expectations. You can use Modernize’s free worksheet for homeowners to compare contractors. Be sure to bring up the following with each contractor:

  • Ask to see proof of insurance, which should provide their insurance company name, policy number, and policy limits.
  • Discuss who will manage warranty details and responsibility.
  • Make sure to get a fixed price before signing a contract.

Don’t Wait Until Your Roof Needs To Be Replaced

You certainly don’t need to wait for an emergency before creating a meaningful relationship with your local roofing contractor.

If you have a trusted contractor who has perhaps offered you an assessment of your roof or helped you learn the needs of your home, you will have less work to do when an emergency does arrive. It is always preferable to meet professionals and discuss the advantages of shingle types on your own time instead of under the stress of an emergency.

The right time to find a reliable contractor is now.

Be Aware of Warning Signs and Avoid Hidden Costs

As with contractors for any home improvement, some are not honest professionals. Before choosing your contractor for a fast roofing repair or replacement, be sure you can trust them and that their estimate is transparent and complete.

The best way to avoid scams is to choose a local, trusted contractor—someone whose reputation and reliability are central to their success. You can confirm this by checking their physical business address and validating their licensing.

Here are additional warning signs that can protect your roof replacement budget:

  • Avoid contractors who request the entire project cost, or large cash deposit, up front.
  • Avoid anyone who pressures you to sign a contract immediately.
  • Be wary of any outliers in your quotes. All estimates should be relatively similar unless the material type is significantly different.

When it comes to a roof replacement project, there are some hidden costs homeowners could be surprised with down the line. The best way to avoid these is to ask the contractor about them. Here is Modernize’s full review of the possible hidden costs in roof replacements.

Evaluate Roofing Contractor Quotes the Right Way

The best contractor is not always the cheapest contractor. And the best roof replacement quote isn’t always the lowest.

A recent Modernize survey revealed 63 percent of homeowners compare three to four contractor estimates ahead of a home improvement project. Evaluating multiple quotes helps homeowners scope their budget and encourages contractors to be competitive with their pricing. It’s important to understand your roofing estimates and why quotes may vary from each other. Before comparing your own set of estimates, see our guide Evaluating Contractors’ Roofing Replacement Quotes.

Comparing contractors is easy and effective with our free worksheet to help homeowners find the best roof replacement contractor.

No matter what you use to determine who will replace or repair your roof, it’s important you keep in mind that saving money today could cost you much more money later if the repair isn’t completed correctly. Quality, especially when it comes to your home, is a lifelong investment.

The post 5 Tips To Hire the Best Roofing Replacement Contractor appeared first on Modernize.

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Four Tips on How to Give a Knockout Presentation

Giving a presentation in front of your peers, clients, or in front of a board is one of the more stress inducing tasks for most people. Getting up in front of a crowd to talk, explain, and bring forth an idea can be scary no matter the size of the group or who is in the room. However, as one who has presented in plenty of meetings, given a TEDx speech, and who has a stutter, I can tell you they are not as terrifying as you think.

Four Tips on Delivering a Great Presentation

Make eye contact

This was the first rule I learned when speaking publicly. Making eye contact engages people and makes them feel like they are being directly talked to, plus it invokes confidence. Your audience will believe that you know what you are talking about.

Have minimal info on slides 

When doing a presentation, sometimes you may want to use Microsoft Power Point or slides from a projector to show a picture, charts, quotes, etc. My advice is to keep the information as brief as you can. In my opinion, the visuals of a presentation are used to have you expound on a topic. The audience is there to hear you talk, not to read the slides.

Project your voice 

During a speech, talk, or presentation, one of the goals is to make sure everyone hears you. The room that you are speaking in may be small with a handful of people or packed with folks who cannot wait to hear what you have to say. No matter the size of the crowd, you want to speak at a volume level so everyone can hear you. The goal is for people in the back to hear what you have to say as well as those seated in the front.

Use your personality 

Some of the most boring, mundane meetings have been because the presenter was dry and spoke in a flat, almost robotic manner devoid of any personality. That will turn people off from what you have to say and possibly put folks to sleep. My suggestion is to inject who you are into the presentation. When I spoke at TEDxWilsonPark, one of the ways that I wanted to keep the audience interested is to show my goofy charm which gained laughs, and I was able to connect with the audience. This is your presentation; personalize it.


Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

The post Four Tips on How to Give a Knockout Presentation appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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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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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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Tips For Negotiating Cost with Window Contractors

Congratulations: You have done the research, the best windows for your home, and have chosen a window contractor after sifting through three or four estimates. Now it’s time to make your choice official and sign a contract with that window contractor, meaning it’s time to negotiate the cost of your final project price.

Replacement windows are an investment for homeowners. chosen a window contractor, depending on the type and brand. Homeowners can find the best budget for their project by negotiating the final contract price and terms with their window contractor. In the article below, learn helpful tips for negotiating cost.

Compare Multiple Window Quotes

Modernize recommends comparing three to four quotes ahead of your windows project. Be transparent about getting multiple bids as you meet contractors. Many businesses are willing to lower their bid or match competitor pricing. To ensure this is a fair process, provide each contractor with the same project details and chosen a window contractor to make sure you are making proper comparisons.

chosen a window contractor will ensure you find the most reliable window contractor for your project. Check their licensure and make sure they are accredited through the chosen a window contractor.

You may find a lower price with a less experienced contractor, but if something feels off about a contractor or business — go with your gut and be aware of scams. If a bid is too good to be true, it probably is.  

To help homeowners easily vet and find a trusted window contractor, Modernize has created a Contractor Checklist.

Purchase Your Own Window Supplies

Depending on the size of your window project, you may be able to save some money by researching and negotiating the cost of project supplies. Your quote should include the cost of all materials, and you can compare these prices to your own research.

Contractors usually use and leverage their supplier relationships to secure the best price on materials. While this has advantages for homeowners, if your preferred brand is outside of your contractor’s network you may want to shop around for the best pricing. If you find cheaper materials, purchase them yourself.

Get Clarity on the Warranty, and Ensure It’s Part of the Price

Warranties will also impact your quoted cost. Most installers offer manufacturer’s warranties that protect you from faulty equipment. Some might offer additional guarantees for the installation, as well, covering potential damage to your house.

Be sure the quoted warranty is clear in what it covers—and what it doesn’t. Additionally, use the warranty as a bargaining chip. A lower price should elicit a short length warranty and a higher price one that is longer. The particulars of your window type, brand, and your installation needs dictate these numbers more than anything else. Discuss them thoroughly with your contractor.

Take Advantage of the Off Season

Window replacements and repairs are highest in the spring and fall when the weather is nice. If your project is not urgent or an emergency, negotiate the timing to take advantage of “off-season” rates. Wait to have your windows installed in the summer chosen a window contractor when window contractors are typically less busy. Contractors may also offer additional discounts and savings during these slower seasons.

Your biggest friend in a window replacement negotiation could be a service like Modernize. chosen a window contractor to find out how we can help you.

The post Tips For Negotiating Cost with Window Contractors appeared first on Modernize.

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4 Tips for Having an Vegan-friendly Easter

 

Unfortunately, mainstream holidays tend not to cater to those with dietary or lifestyle restrictions, vegans being one of those marginalized groups that the holidays traditionally don’t consider. For vegan families celebrating the Easter holidays animal and animal by-product free, we’ve rounded up some alternative ideas. 

 

Opt for EggNots

Made especially for kids with food allergies, EggNots are ceramic, egg-imitations that can be dyed and decorating just the same as regular egg can. Also, they’re non-perishable, re-usable, and no animal products were used in the making of them. If you don’t want to splurge for this novelty egg replacement, plastic, wooden, or Styrofoam eggs could also work. 

 

Prepare a Vegan Menu 

Okay, so you won’t be having that notorious Easter ham but that doesn’t mean your meat-free meal won’t be delicious. Find some creative, animal and animal by-product free recipes here for your salads, sides, and entrees. If deserts are what you crave, find some scrumptious recipes here.

 

Shake Up Your Easter Egg Hunt 

Who says you have to use real eggs for your hunt – chances are, your little ones care less about what they find and more about the process of finding them. Thrill of the chase, right? Hide anything from toys, to non-dairy chocolates, to stickers or the above mentioned egg alternatives.  

 

Put Together Ethical Gift Baskets 

The PETA website is a great place to find animal-friendly ways to celebrate the Easter holidays, and there’s even a PETA Kids site that caters to your little ones. If you’re planning on throwing an Easter brunch or get together of some sort this April, send your guests home with a gift basket that has kind intentions towards animals. Some gift basket ideas include vegan lip balm, cruelty-free clothing, and accidentally vegan candy. Find more ideas here.

 

 

The post 4 Tips for Having an Vegan-friendly Easter appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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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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5 Tips to Hire the Best Siding Contractor

Adding new siding to your home can significantly increase your home’s curb appeal and resale value while protecting your home from the elements. Home siding comes in an array of materials that offer varying benefits, all at various price points.

At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 80 percent of homeowners found a contractor for the job through referrals. But it’s important to properly vet and research contractors before choosing your perfect fit, even if a friend or a family member personally vouched for them.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while you make the pick.

Understand Your Siding Needs

Like any home renovation project, the siding installation process will vary depending on your home’s unique attributes. A trusted contractor will be able to assess, identify, and explain potential improvements or upgrades to your home’s siding. The type of siding you plan to have installed on your home makes a big difference in how it performs, what it looks like, and how long it will last. While you may want to simply repair or replace your siding, this is a good time to evaluate all siding types.

Homeowners have multiple siding types available to them today with varying lifespans. Aside from their longevity, the different siding materials each have their own characteristics that can have a significant impact on your investment.

Aim for the Most Reliable Siding Contractor

To ensure a swift repair or replacement, a reliable contractor is key. There’s a lot to consider under the umbrella of reliability. In recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your siding project.

Here are some things you can do to ensure you find the best siding contractor.

Ask for Referrals

A strong majority of homeowners approach all home improvement projects by first gathering referrals. Some of the most common approaches are:

  • Asking trusted sources (friends, family, and neighbors).
  • Contacting your local Better Business Bureau.
  • Connecting with trusted siding contractors in your area with Modernize.

Vet Your Options

One of the most important parts of your search is vetting different contractors and comparing their work.

  • Request quotes from three to four contractors in your area.
  • Visit the website of each contractor.
    • Is it updated and professional looking?
  • Explore the customer reviews for each contractor.
    • Are they mostly positive? Consider negative reviews and responses.

Talk to Your Favorites

Once you have a short list of your top choices, get them on the phone. A trustworthy contractor will appreciate an opportunity to discuss your project further, and a conversation allows you to get to know them. While you know best what you want to learn in the conversation, here are some questions we recommend you ask:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How much experience do you have with siding repair or replacement?
  • What is your project estimate?
  • Can you provide a list of references?
  • Can you provide proof of insurance for personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage?

Meet the Finalists

Meet in-person with your top contractors to review project-specific details and expectations. You can use Modernize’s free worksheet for homeowners to compare contractors. Be sure to bring up the following with each contractor:

  • Ask to see proof of insurance, which should provide their insurance company name, policy number, and policy limits.
  • Discuss who will manage warranty details and responsibility.
  • Make sure to get a fixed price before signing a contract.

Don’t Wait Until Your Siding Needs To Be Replaced

You certainly don’t need to wait for an emergency before creating a meaningful relationship with your local siding contractor.

If you have a trusted contractor who has perhaps offered you an assessment of your siding or helped you learn the needs of your home, you will have less work to do when an emergency does arrive. It is always preferable to meet professionals and discuss the advantages of siding types on your own time instead of under the stress of an emergency.

The right time to find a reliable contractor is now.

Be Aware of Warning Signs and Avoid Hidden Costs

As with contractors for any home improvement, some are not honest professionals. Before choosing your contractor for a fast siding repair or replacement, be sure you can trust them and that their estimate is transparent and complete.

The best way to avoid scams is to choose a local, trusted contractor—someone whose reputation and reliability are central to their success. You can confirm this by checking their physical business address and validating their licensing.

Here are additional warning signs that can protect your siding replacement budget:

  • Avoid contractors who request the entire project cost, or large cash deposit, up front.
  • Avoid anyone who pressures you to sign a contract immediately.
  • Be wary of any outliers in your quotes. All estimates should be relatively similar unless the material type is significantly different.

Evaluate Siding Contractor Quotes the Right Way

The best contractor is not always the cheapest contractor. And the best siding replacement quote isn’t always the lowest.

A recent Modernize survey revealed 63 percent of homeowners compare three to four contractor estimates ahead of a home improvement project. Evaluating multiple quotes helps homeowners scope their budget and encourages contractors to be competitive with their pricing. It’s important to understand your siding estimates and why quotes may vary from each other. Before comparing your own set of estimates, see our guide Evaluating Contractors’ Siding Replacement Quotes.

Comparing contractors is easy and effective with our free worksheet to help homeowners find the best siding replacement contractor.

No matter what you use to determine who will replace or repair your siding it’s important you keep in mind that saving money today could cost you much more money later if the project isn’t completed correctly. Quality, especially when it comes to your home, is a lifelong investment.

The post 5 Tips to Hire the Best Siding Contractor appeared first on Modernize.

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Tax Season Tips: 6 Helpful Tax Resources

Tax season can be a stressful time for anyone, but going
through helpful resources can lessen any anxiety you might have about filing
your personal or business taxes.

To help you feel more confident this tax season, we’ve
compiled a list of our top tax posts on a variety of topics including whether
or not you should file your own taxes, ways to file taxes, tax myths, and more.

Filing Personal Taxes

Should You
File Your Own Taxes?

Filing your taxes yourself may seem daunting, but it could be
the most cost-effective way to get your taxes done this season. One of the ways
you can save some money is by filing your taxes yourself rather than hiring an
accountant or tax professional to do it for you.

Tax software is available online for free if you have a
simple tax return (such as a single person with a single income), but if your
finances are a bit more complex (like if you are a homeowner, freelancer, or
landlord) you might want to purchase software to help you through the process.
Even if you decide to purchase tax software, it’s usually less expensive than
hiring a tax professional.

If your financial situation is more complex (if you have
multiple streams of income, you own a business, or you earn more than $ 200,000
per year), you might be better off hiring a tax professional or an accountant
to ensure that your taxes are filed properly.

4 Ways to File
Your Taxes

Before you decide how you are going to file your taxes for
the year, you might want to take a closer look at all the different options
that are available to you.

For instance, if you want to file your taxes yourself, the
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides the forms you need on their website for
you to print, fill out, and mail in. However, since sending forms by mail is
typically a lengthy process, some individuals may prefer to do their taxes
online instead.

The IRS lists a variety of options that you can use to file your taxes online, and some websites offer step-by-step questionnaires to help you through the process.

Of course, you can always hire an accountant or tax
professional to help you out with filing your taxes if the other options seem
too complicated or you are worried about making a mistake.

4 Common Myths About Filing Personal Taxes

Many people prepare their tax documents without fully
understanding how personal taxes are filed or calculated. This leads to
misconceptions about how tax processes work and causes confusion about which
information is correct or incorrect. This post debunks four common tax myths so
you can come away with a better understanding of how taxes are processed.

Filing Taxes for a Married Couple

FAQ: 5 Tax Questions Newlyweds Ask

A newlywed couple is usually more concerned with starting
their life together than worrying about taxes, but when tax season does come,
you’ll want to explore the differences in how to file taxes now that you are
married as compared to when you were single.

This post answers five frequently asked tax questions that
newlyweds have, including:

  • Does getting married affect your taxes?
  • Should married people file their taxes jointly
    or separately?
  • What are some tax benefits to filing as a
    married couple?
  • Do we have to be married for a full year before
    we can file together?
  • Can my common law spouse and I file our taxes as
    married?

Filing Taxes for a Business

A Basic Guide to Payroll Taxes

Anyone with a business that has employees needs to handle
employment taxes. Understanding the correct way to withhold income and payroll
taxes from their paychecks will ensure that you don’t face penalties from the
government for improper tax deductions. Ensuring your taxes are correct also
means that your employees shouldn’t face problems when they file their own
taxes.

A Quick Tax Guide for Freelancers

Freelance work is becoming more and more popular among
Americans over time. When you are self-employed, you are required to file an
income tax return every year as well as pay self-employment tax. To organize
your finances, it’s important to keep accurate records of your expenses with a
bookkeeping system so you have all the documentation you need when tax season
comes around.

Preparing for Tax Season

Whether you work for a company or you own your own business,
you need to do your taxes each year. Deciding whether you should file your own
taxes or use a tax professional to help you is entirely your choice—one that
you should base on the complexity of your financial situation and your own
understanding of the tax system in the United States.

The post Tax Season Tips: 6 Helpful Tax Resources appeared first on LawDepot Blog.

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10 of the best city B&Bs in Europe: readers’ travel tips

After wolfing down breakfast at these comfy B&Bs, our tipsters were ready to explore the town – often with top recommendations from their hosts

Outside the city centre but only 20 minutes or so by bus, this B&B is beautifully furnished and great value. One of the best reasons to stay here is Yolande, the friendly owner, who couldn’t do enough for us. She recommended great restaurants and gave us tips on what to see in Bordeaux. Her incredible breakfast spread, complete with homemade jam, was the best breakfast I’ve had in France, and that’s saying something. Bordeaux is a fantastic city – a cleaner, friendlier and warmer version of Paris.
Doubles from €80, laferrade.com
Helena

Continue reading…
Travel | The Guardian

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These 31 Tips Will Give Your Resume an Edge in the 2019 Job Market

When you’re on the job hunt, you only have six seconds to hook a recruiter or future employer with your resume.

Six. Seconds.

And with the rise of applicant tracking systems (those doohickeys that scan your resume), figuring out what to include, what to trash, what to highlight and what to downplay on your resume is getting even more difficult.  

We already have an in-depth guide to writing a resume that should help you get started. And, we’ve covered some general guidelines for writing a resume for recent grads on writing a resume.

But with more than 7 million job openings in the U.S., we knew it was time to get serious — and give you a shotgun blast of tips that will help you stand out among the 6.5 million job seekers jostling through the labor market.

We chatted with several human resources and recruiting experts to find out the latest trends in resume writing and bring you inside knowledge about how to make yours stand out.

31 of the Best Resume Tips to You Get Noticed

Blasting your resume out likely won’t get you noticed, unfortunately.

That was the case for Austin Garcia-Cooper, a business development associate at Kobie Marketing in St. Petersburg, Florida, who found himself unemployed in 2018 when the startup he worked for went through layoffs.

“In pretty much all of my previous job hunts, I got lucky and was able to rely on various contacts to get me introductions to decision-makers at companies,” he said. “I hadn’t had to lean on a strong traditional resume, as I was able to almost go straight to the interview process in the past.”

This time, he knew he’d have to rely on a strong resume to hook recruiters.

These 31 tips should help you get started on your resume, and guarantee you get noticed.

Just Get Started on Writing Your Resume

Procrastination can be one of the biggest hurdles while writing your resume. It represents the whole of your working life and you want it to be absolutely perfect, right?

You’ll be constantly tweaking the document to tailor it to each job in which you apply, and to incorporate feedback from friends and even HR managers with whom you’ve interviewed. So it doesn’t have to start out perfect — it’s not a static document.

The key is to just sit down and get started on your resume right away, said Colin McIntosh, CEO of Sheets & Giggles, former recruiter, and author of the second most popular Reddit post of all time on the “jobs” subreddita resume guide.

“It’s like fishing without bait; make a resume on day one of a job hunt,” he said.

1. Ask yourself a set of questions before getting started

A woman poses for portraits outside of Treaty Oak, a tree where its limbs touch the ground, in Jacksonville, Fla.

To get in the right mindset for writing your resume, start by asking yourself — and answering — a set of questions. According to Jessica Hernandez, founder of North Florida-based Great Resumes Fast, these can include:

  • What are you most proud of in your professional career? You’ll want to focus on accomplishments rather than specific job duties while filling out your resume. Ask yourself this question about each previous job.
  • How did you add value — efficiency, cost saving or just happiness — to the company at which you last worked? Recruiters and HR managers want to see quantifiable results when they look at your previous positions. Did a process you implemented lead to a 10% growth in sales?
  • Can you explain what you actually did at your previous positions? For recruiters, clarity is king when it comes to describing your previous positions. Explain to a friend what you did at a previous job — do they understand your role? Avoid jargon and cliches.

2. Block out time to write your resume

Whip out that bullet journal, planner or even your Google calendar and carve out a specific time frame — an hour or two — and sit down and write. Just think: If you don’t have a resume, you can’t get a job and you won’t get paid.

“Don’t wait because you’re nervous about rejection or [have a] fear of failure. Decision paralysis can be a killer when you’re overly worried about bad outcomes.”

3. Spend time poring over the job description/listing

Grab a red pen or highlighter, print out the job description and start highlighting words or phrases you see repeatedly. Once you’ve done that, circle the ones you know you have in common with the description.

For example, if you see “analytical thinker” several times and you consider yourself one, circle that. These will likely be keywords recruiters are looking for on your resume.

4. Reach Out on LinkedIn

Don’t be shy: Make a connection with someone at the company over LinkedIn and ask what key skills or qualities they might be looking for in a candidate. This will help you bolster those keywords.

“I actually did this, but didn’t until after a month or two of searching,” said Garcia-Cooper. “It was super helpful to pick someone’s brain who hires people or got hired for a similar job that you would want; they obviously did something right.”

5. Tweak your resume based on the jobs you’re applying for

Your resume should not be static. That is, you should be customizing it for each job you are chasing.

Garcia-Cooper applied for jobs in a variety of industries, which means he had to tailor his resume for each position. This isn’t uncommon, and you should be prepared to tweak your resume based on the position and keywords in each job description.

6. Pay someone to write it

This may not seem like much of a tip, but if you want to get right to the job hunt, pay someone else to write your resume. Take it from us, writing is hard, and there are plenty of companies that have sprung up out there offering resume-writing services.

Loren Margolis, CEO of Training & Leadership Success, suggests reading reviews of these companies and asking for resume samples before paying for the service.

“One easy rule to follow: If an agency or individual doesn’t show you their templates up front and explain why — for free — they’d want to make certain decisions on your format, don’t work with them,” McIntosh said.

7. Shell out cash for the design

A man stands for a portrait in downtown St. Petersburg, Fla.

If you’re not the design-savvy person, it might be worth to pay for a custom template to get you started. Don’t just go with the first free template you find in Microsoft Word.

Garcia-Cooper used Visual CV to design his resume instead of going with a template that’s already out in the wild. This is especially helpful if you’re not the creative type and will incorporate many of the tips we highlight below.

Keep Formatting Simple

It might be tempting to add color, graphics or even a headshot to make your resume stand out. But according to resume experts, it’s best to keep it as simple as possible.

You can always add inline links to your LinkedIn profile or personal portfolio on your resume if you want to show off your creative side.

8. Don’t choose a fancy font

Err on the boring side with your font selection. Recruiters are looking for something easy to read that won’t be distracting — think Arial or Georgia, said Margolis.

9. Stick with a classic color scheme

We get it, you want to wow a recruiter or future employer with your creative spark. But you’re not Elle Woods, and as much as it may hurt, you want your accomplishments to speak for themselves. A fancy font can distract from that.

“I’ve seen a lot more color in resumes recently from applicants,” said McIntosh. “But I wouldn’t recommend that. Black and white is always the way to go.”

10. Use bulleted lists under each previous position

Short bullet points will highlight your accomplishments while making it easy for future employers to scan your work history. Also, it should (hopefully) make you mindful of rambling too much about your job history.

Recruiters will spend between six and 10 seconds reading your resume, so you want to make it as skimmable as possible, Margolis said. Short bullet points will highlight your accomplishments while making it easy for future employers to scan your work history.

11. Write in the software you want, but save it as a .pdf

Submitting a Word document of your resume could cause an applicant-tracking system to ignore it and also give recruiters without Microsoft Office a headache. Save your resume as a .pdf to avoid any problems with cross-compatibility.

12. Stick to 1 1/2 pages or less

There is still some disagreement about resume length among HR professionals.

Margolis said it’s OK to write your resume so it ends up longer than one page — but stop at 1 ½. Recruiters are more inclined to read past the first page than they have been in the past, but remember, they’ll still give you only six to 10 seconds.

McIntosh remains in the one-page-only camp.

13. Be aware of white space

Try to let your resume breathe. Add a few carriage returns between sections, or use a template that formats text so it isn’t crammed together.

Your resume is a single document aimed at summing up your entire professional life, so it’s not a surprise that you’ll want to jam as much information into 1 ½ pages as possible. Don’t do it.

“You don’t want a recruiter to get tired reading your resume because it’s filled with so much font,” Margolis said.

14. Consider a website

Since you only have 1 1/2 pages to sum up your career, you might want to consider making a website to expand on your experience — or include your professional portfolio. Make sure it is optimized for mobile devices, since a recruiter might open it on their phone.

“That is a terrific way to showcase not just your resume, but also your background,” Margolis said. “You can create a story about how well qualified you are for the jobs your targeting.”

The Nitty-Gritty: What to Include on Your Resume

15. Think about accomplishments rather than roles and responsibilities

A woman shows what a good resume should look like.

When you’re writing your resume, think more about what you have accomplished at each step of your career rather than what your responsibilities were. Did you edit a daily e-blast or have a hand in launching a first-of-its-kind online newsletter?

If you started with those questions from earlier in this post, you should have a good idea what you accomplished at each position.

16. Keywords are still king

Your resume will likely go through an applicant-tracking system, which will search for those keywords we discussed earlier. Recruiters will do the same as they skim your resume for those six seconds. So include the relevant phrases or words for the job description (those you highlighted and circled earlier) throughout your resume.

“However, while you want to incorporate keywords from the job posting in your resume, my advice is don’t get too crazy,” said Mikaila Turman, a vice president and expert in recruiting at Inflection, an Omaha, Nebraska-based company that uses big data to perform automated background checks.

17. Don’t include the dates in your education section

Regardless of how old you are, you can avoid any chance of age discrimination by excluding dates under the education section of your resume.

“Protect yourself and do not put graduation dates on your resume,” Hernandez said. “It’s pointless to do so.”

18. Consider omitting your first name

Don’t hide your name, but consider using your first initial to avoid any unconscious gender bias as well. McIntosh said this a positive trend he’s noticed in the world of resume-writing.

You should, however, still use your full name in the application and in your email.

19. Eliminate your address

Don’t put your exact address if you’re applying for jobs within the area. The street name and number will just add clutter.

But, what if you’re applying for a job in another state and don’t want to be at a disadvantage due to relocation? In that case, either exclude your location altogether, or add “Moving to:” in front of the city and state of the job to which you are applying.

20. Fill in the gaps

If you were truly unemployed, add a section in which you describe yourself as an independent consultant. Under the description, write that you needed some flexibility to take care of personal matters, McIntosh suggests.

When Garcia-Cooper was job hunting, he was working for his father’s landscaping businesses. But he didn’t include that on his resume because he didn’t think it was applicable experience.

He could have included it, one recruiter told him, because it shows that he was always working.

“I remedied this by realizing that there was relevant experience in almost all of my previous jobs,” he said. “It just came down to framing it correctly.”

21. Show some personality with an interests section

Including a section in which you list your hobbies and interests will help avoid being seen as a faceless resume and give something for recruiters to connect with.

“If you put “Seinfeld,” I promise someone will ask you what your favorite episode of Seinfeld is — (mine’s ‘The Soup Nazi’),” McIntosh said.

22. Don’t be afraid of life links

In the past, including links in your resume might trigger a spam filter through certain email clients, so human resources experts advised against including them. That’s changed, said Hernandez, and including links to your LinkedIn, personal website or portfolio can add depth to your resume without making it too long.

“I would say this very important — especially in 2019,” she said.

23. Get rid of the objective

Consider skipping the objective section at the top of your resume, which just takes up valuable space.

“The truth is, your objective is painfully obvious,” said Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, owner of Feather Communications, a resume-writing business in Wisconsin. “In fact, you wouldn’t be sending a resume if you didn’t want a new job.”

24. Be specific and avoid cliches

There’s nothing more grating for a recruiter than reading a mealy-mouthed jumble of cliches. And with the algorithms within applicant-tracking systems searching for specific words and phrases, it’s always best to be as specific and clear as possible in position titles, accomplishments and job responsibilities.

25. Avoid pronouns and use action verbs

Avoid using “I” or “me” while writing your resume. Use action verbs like “built” or “launched” at the beginning of bullet points.

“Resumes are like no other document you’ll ever write in that you’re supposed to sound like a caveman,” said Margolis.

26. Don’t try to quantify skills

Hernandez said you should avoid terms such as “proficient,” “experienced” and “skilled in” when describing software or skills. If you have some experience in Excel, just put “Excel” next to a bullet point in your skills section.

Make It Bulletproof: Proofread Your Resume

27. Print out your resume in a huge font size

You’ll probably read through your resume so many times on your computer screen that your eyes will cross. Printing it out will help you catch mistakes you might otherwise overlook.

Pro-tip: Use a much larger font to help yourself identify mistakes even more. There’s no quicker way for a resume to end up in the trash than being riddled with grammatical or spelling errors.

“Reading aloud is helpful, too,” said Margolis.

28. Have a friend read your resume

Ask one (or many) of your friends to read through your resume to try and catch any mistakes. You should also ask them to read it for clarity.

Does it convey exactly what you have accomplished? Is it clear what value you will bring to the company?

29. Pay a copy editor to read it

Go on Fiverr or Upwork and look for proofreaders or copy editors to take a look at your resume. Since it’s only one page, you’ll likely pay $ 5 or $ 10 — which could be worth it to catch a small mistake before a recruiter has a chance to notice it.

30. Use this naming convention for the file

Here’s how you should name your resume file: “[First name] [Last name] [Resume].pdf”. It will help recruiters identify whose resume they are looking at right away.

31. Ask for feedback if you get rejected

Most recruiters will be happy to provide feedback on your resume if you don’t happen to land that job you were chasing. In fact, that’s how Garcia-Cooper learned he should avoid leaving gaps in his work history.

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist 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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5 Tips To Hire The Best Air Conditioning Contractor

When your air conditioner breaks, it becomes an emergency that disrupts your entire household. The goal is to repair or replace the unit as quickly as possible, but care should still be taken to find the most reliable and trustworthy air conditioning contractor for your project. This helps ensure that your home is restored to its original condition as quickly as possible.

At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 80 percent of homeowners found a contractor for the job through referrals. But it’s important to properly vet and research contractors before choosing your perfect fit, even if a friend or a family member personally vouched for them.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while you make the pick.

Understand Your Air Conditioner Needs

A trusted contractor will be able to assess, identify, and explain potential improvements or upgrades to your home’s air conditioning. The average cost for a central AC unit will depend on the size of your home, the square footage of rooms needing to be cooled, the central AC system brand,  and the energy efficient level (SEER), amongst other factors.

Aim for the Most Reliable Air Conditioning Contractor

To ensure a swift repair or replacement, a reliable contractor is key. There’s a lot to consider under the umbrella of reliability. In recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your HVAC project.

Here are some things you can do to ensure you find the best possible air conditioning contractor.

Ask for Referrals

A strong majority of homeowners approach all home improvement projects by first gathering referrals. Some of the most common approaches are:

Vet Your Options

One of the most important parts of your search is vetting different contractors and comparing their work.

  • Request quotes from three to four contractors in your area.
  • Visit the website of each contractor.
    • Is it updated and professional looking?
  • Explore the customer reviews for each contractor.
    • Are they mostly positive? Consider negative reviews and responses.

Talk to Your Favorites

Once you have a short list of your top choices, get them on the phone. A trustworthy contractor will appreciate an opportunity to discuss your project further, and a conversation allows you to get to know them. While you know best what you want to learn in the conversation, here are some questions we recommend you ask:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How much experience do you have with air conditioning repair or installation?
  • What is your project estimate?
  • Can you provide a list of references?
  • Can you provide proof of insurance for personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage?

Meet the Finalists

Meet in-person with your top contractors to review project-specific details and expectations. You can use Modernize’s free worksheet for homeowners to compare contractors. Be sure to bring up the following with each contractor:

  • Ask to see proof of insurance, which should provide their insurance company name, policy number, and policy limits.
  • Discuss who will manage warranty details and responsibility.
  • Make sure to get a fixed price before signing a contract.

Don’t Wait Until Your AC Needs To Be Replaced

You certainly don’t need to wait for an emergency before creating a meaningful relationship with your local air conditioning contractor.

If you have a trusted contractor who has perhaps offered you an assessment of your AC unit, energy efficient upgrades or helped you learn the needs of your home, you will have less work to do when an emergency does arrive. It is always preferable to meet professionals and discuss the advantages of a new air conditioning unit on your own time instead of under the stress of an emergency.

The right time to find a reliable contractor is now.

Be Aware of Warning Signs and Avoid Hidden Costs

As with contractors for any home improvement, some are not honest professionals. Before choosing your contractor for a fast air conditioning repair or replacement, be sure you can trust them and that their estimate is transparent and complete.

The best way to avoid scams is to choose a local, trusted contractor—someone whose reputation and reliability are central to their success. You can confirm this by checking their physical business address and validating their licensing.

Here are additional warning signs that can protect your HVAC replacement budget:

  • Avoid contractors who request the entire project cost, or large cash deposit, up front.
  • Avoid anyone who pressures you to sign a contract immediately.
  • Be wary of any outliers in your quotes. All estimates should be relatively similar unless the material type is significantly different.

When it comes to an air conditioning replacement project, there are some hidden costs homeowners could be surprised with down the line. The best way to avoid these is to ask the contractor about them. Here is Modernize’s full review of the possible hidden costs in AC replacements.

Evaluate Air Conditioning Contractor Quotes the Right Way

The best contractor is not always the cheapest contractor. And the best air conditioning replacement quote isn’t always the lowest.

A recent Modernize survey revealed 63 percent of homeowners compare three to four contractor estimates ahead of a home improvement project. Evaluating multiple quotes helps homeowners scope their budget and encourages contractors to be competitive with their pricing. It’s important to understand your HVAC estimates and why quotes may vary from each other. Before comparing your own set of estimates, see our guide Evaluating Contractors’ Air Conditioning Replacement Quotes.

Comparing contractors is easy and effective with our free worksheet to help homeowners find the best air conditioning replacement contractor.

No matter what you use to determine who will replace your air conditioner, it’s important you keep in mind that saving money today could cost you much more money later if the repair isn’t completed correctly. Quality, especially when it comes to your home, is a lifelong investment.

The post 5 Tips To Hire The Best Air Conditioning Contractor appeared first on Modernize.

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5 Ways to ‘Boss Up’ Your Career with These Career-Coaching Tips

According to Forbes, career coaching is a $ 2 billion, global industry. It seems you can’t sling a hashtag without finding a career coach online. This is partially due to the internet enabling the growth and popularity of the profession within the last 15 years. It is clear that digital and social media are driving the services that coaches offer.

Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing a career coach on episode 14 of The Culture Soup Podcast. In speaking with Tristan Layfield, a recent BE Modern Man, I discovered that his role isn’t always about critiquing and improving résumés. He really has to be a social media expert with a strong grounding in what it means to manage one’s personal brand.

Layfield is a former recruiting manager at a Fortune 500 and currently a project manager at IBM. In his spare time, he was helping friends and family improve their résumés, and he noticed that they were actually snapping up the jobs they were after as a result. So, he decided to take his knack for résumé writing to another level by starting a business.

career coaching

Career Coach and Résumé Writer, Tristan Layfield. (Photo: Clyde Barnett III)

Layfield provided some very useful tips on improving your résumé, personal branding, and how to leverage LinkedIn and other social platforms so that a job hunter or even people who are happy in their current position but are looking to be more marketable can improve their searchability online.

 

5 Career Coaching Tips to ‘Boss Up’ Your Career

Focus: Understand what you really want to do.

The internet empowers us to research what we want to be when we grow up. Before we had robust search engines like Bing and Google, we were left to figure things like this out on our own, and mostly to no success. So, Layfield says, often people just remained stuck in whatever role they found themselves. The internet allows us to dream big, look into what it will take to achieve that dream, then execute against it. It’s a new day! Seize it.

Engage strategically on social media.

If you are one to shy away from being too vocal on social media, or perhaps you aren’t that great a writer, so content creation is something you’d rather stay away from, consider engaging with other people’s content instead. Layfield says that on platforms like LinkedIn, a simple “like” of someone’s content share or even a re-share can go a long way toward positioning yourself as a thought leader in any space. Just ensure the content always aligns with your personal brand.

 

Own your story.

Your uniqueness is your story, and it isn’t always pretty. People like authenticity, so sharing the learning experiences as well as the wins not only makes you more approachable, but it also makes you relatable. Layfield walks that talk by sharing about how he was fired from one job, which was a catalyst for him starting his own business. He says getting fired shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of because most people have experienced this in their careers at one time or the other.

 

Tailor your résumé to the job description.

This extremely smart and practical tip is one that many people overlook. Layfield says that before your résumé makes it to the recruiter, they use algorithms that search your document for certain keywords—words from the position description.  His suggestion is to ensure that your résumé has those words in it and often so that your résumé will not wind up in the “no” pile before it even sees human eyes.

 

Be your own best advocate.

In this highly-competitive, fast-moving, digital and cluttered world that we live in, it is no longer advised to wait for someone else to merchandise your work for you. Layfield advises his clients to be their own best advocates. That means it is OK to share your successes in a grounded and non-boastful way. He told the story of how he became a BE Modern Man.  When it came down to it, he nominated himself. He reasoned that he would either live up to the requirements or not; and why not practice what he preaches to his own clients. It resulted in a prestigious recognition. What if he hadn’t entered his name?

Listen to the entire episode on The Culture Soup Podcast.


Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

 

 

 

The post 5 Ways to ‘Boss Up’ Your Career with These Career-Coaching Tips appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise

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Cabin crews give their insider travel tips

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When you go traveling it is the perfect opportunity to cut loose, indulge yourself, and make the most of the opportunities you have. It’s not every day you get the chance to jet off to some far-flung location and spend a week or so forgetting about the stresses of regular life. If you want to enhance your travel experience, it is important that you use tips and hacks to improve your trip.

That’s why it is sometimes a good idea to think about what the experts suggest, and who better to offer travel tips and advice than airplane cabin crews?! Check out this list of some of the best and most revealing hacks that can help you to make your travel adventure the best it has ever been.

Try to make your luggage carry-on only

If you want to enjoy a stress-free trip, you can cut a lot of worry out by making sure you aren’t waiting for your luggage at the other end. Many cabin crews actually recommend that flyers do their best to back, so they are only bringing carry-on. Of course, for long-haul flights, this is practically impossible. However, for shorter trips, many planes will allow cases of a certain size to be stored in the overhead lockers.

Bring your own food

One of the big recommendations by a lot of cabin crew is that you bring your own food. Airline meals are not exactly the healthiest as they tend to be prepared well in advance. So, you can combat this issue by taking your own food and refusing the in-flight meal. This might seem less convenient, but it will be healthier, and you will be able to get a tastier meal out of it.

Dress smart

Think carefully about what you’re wearing when you get onto the plane, and consider your destination, and the time you will be landing. If it’s going to be sweltering, jeans and a sweater probably aren’t the best bet. Similarly, if it’s going to be freezing cold, shorts and a Hawaiian shirt would not be appropriate. Give a little more thought to what you are wearing, and be smart about how you dress.

Stay active where possible

Staying active is one of the biggest things people overlook when it comes to travel. Just because you have taken a break from day to day life, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be keeping fit. If you are on a long-haul flight, make sure you get up every couple of hours, stretch your legs, and walk around the plane for a bit. Once you arrive at your destination try to make sure you are staying active and keeping fit as much as possible.

These are just a few of the great tips you can use to have the most memorable travel experience possible. Your vacation adventure should begin the second you step onto the plane, and these are some of the best ways of making that happen. The next trip you take, make sure you follow some of these handy tips from the cabin crew members themselves!

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The post Cabin crews give their insider travel tips appeared first on Worldation.

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Tips for Reducing Stress While Renovating

The renovation process can be an emotional and stressful process and it is important to prepare in advance. Here are a few important steps you can take to ensure the renovation process is as stress free as possible for yourself and your family.

Work With a Licensed Contractor and Experienced Designer

From experience and expertise to warranties, working with a professional designer and a licensed contractor can go a long way to reducing the stress of a renovation.

When hiring a designer, it is important to choose someone who shares your vision, has a style you love and has completed similar projects in the past. They will be able to keep the project on course and work with your contractor to ensure the finished space has the look, feel and functionality you are aiming for.

Choosing a licensed, experienced contractor that offers a solid warranty, has a strong reputation for quality and dependability and is able to provide references from past clients is also important. Nothing is more stressful the spending money to repair a “cheap” renovation later on! Read this article for more information on how a licensed contractor can help reduce stress while renovating.

Plan Ahead

Extra costs and budget overages are a common source of renovation stress. It is important to work with your contractor and designer in advance to ensure the plan includes everything you desire so that last minute changes are kept to a minimum as these changes can effect your budget and the project timeline as well. Your contractor will likely recommend a 10-20% contingency fund built into your budget because when renovating, especially with older homes, you never know what you might find and planning for those surprises in advance makes them a little easier to handle when they do arise.

Protect Your Savings

Exhausting your savings on a renovation leaves you in a vulnerable position without funds on hand for emergencies or unexpected life events and nothing adds to the stress of renovating like being strapped for cash and having other things go wrong. A major car repair in the middle of a major renovation that has taken all your savings? No one needs that stress!

A home equity loan is a great alternative, allowing you to access the funds you need for your renovation without touching your savings in the process. With Tribecca, you can obtain a home equity loan approval in 24 hours and have funds available in a matter of days. You can even opt for a no-payment term which would allow you to access the funds and complete your renovations without any extra payments. Once the renovation is complete, you can then choose to allocate some of your savings to pay off the loan, remortgage to include the home equity loan or simply set up a monthly payment option and pay it off without leaving your savings account empty!To late? If you’ve already exhausted your savings and find yourself in a position where you need funds for emergency expenses, a home equity loan is still the answer! You can access the equity in your home with a Tribecca home equity loan and use it to cover anything from unexpected renovation costs to car repairs, emergency medical bills and more!

Leave or Stay?

Will you leave or will you stay? Living in a home mid-renovations brings it’s own set of stresses but moving out may not be the best option for everyone. If you have the finances or resources to be able to stay elsewhere during the renovation process, that is a great option for most people but there are emotional and financial reasons why this might not be a great idea for everyone. If you decide to stay at home during the renovation, make a plan with your contractor that includes things like daily clean-up, notification if facilities will be unavailable, agreements on when work can be done and what areas the employees will have access to, dust control, and the like.

No matter whether you stay or leave, consider storage options for valuables. Things like collectible items, artwork, family heirlooms and other valuable or irreplaceable items should be put in storage either in another are of the home or off-site to ensure they are not accidentally damaged by tools, dust or debris during the renovation.

Take Time For Yourself

The reality is, no matter what you do, you can not completely avoid the stress of renovating so make a plan to ensure you take time for yourself to relax and rejuvenate. Take the family out for dinner and a movie, plan an evening with friends, spend an afternoon at the spa or retreat to your favorite cafe with a book for a quite cup of coffee away from the noise. Find what things work for you and make a point to schedule them into your week so that your renovation doesn’t become the only thing you focus on. You will come back to the project with a level head, a fresh perspective and a much happier outlook.

The post Tips for Reducing Stress While Renovating appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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A local’s guide to Munich: 10 top tips

The Bavarian capital is famous for its parks, history and beer halls, but its underground music and neighbourhood restaurants are worth checking out, too

Nomiya offers an elegant blend of Japanese food and Bavarian gemütlichkeit (a feeling of warmth, friendliness and good cheer – the German version of hygge). The rustic Japanese tavern and restaurant has been run by Ferdinand “Ferdi” Schuster for over 20 years, and has become an institution in the Haidhausen district, on the eastern bank of the Isar. Occasionally, guests are regaled with impromptu performances by local musicians. Yakitori and sushi go well with cold beer in traditional half-litre steins. And be sure to ask for a Tilmans, a fine local lager made by young independent brewer Tilman Ludwig.
Small plates from €2, mixed sushi plate €17.50, Wörthstrasse 7, nomiya.de

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Travel | The Guardian

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5 Tips For Negotiating Cost with Siding Contractors

Other than an all-out catastrophe in your region like a fire or major storm, there are various reasons it’s important to check your siding on a regular basis to avoid the need a homegrown emergency requiring siding work. While it’s normal to upgrade siding after an emergency, homeowners should prioritize being prepared for an emergency in the first place or simply increasing the value of their houses with proper and functional siding.

Either way, on your time or when speed is of the essence, follow these tips to best negotiate your final project price with your preferred siding contractor.

Siding and Your Home

Your contractor is well versed in how your specific project is going to impact your house. They’ve visited your house and assessed its potential, its needs, and its challenges. On this front, it’s in their interest to ensure the highest possible siding installation. The initial, ongoing, and continued success of their installation is paramount to their near and future prospects.

It’s okay to ask about guarantees. Along with your roof, your siding is critical to protecting your home from the elements and protecting the integrity of your home. Be sure your siding contractor has explained to you specifically how your upgraded siding will both stand up and protect against:

  • Rotting
  • Warping
  • Cracking
  • Holes from insects or birds
  • Unexpectedly high energy bills
  • Interior moisture

While it’s hard for a contractor to make exact promises, they can certainly help you understand what to expect in the future. The less deep that future is and the more susceptible to damage your siding is, the less your installation should cost.

Your Siding Contractor Should Assess Your Siding Plans

Be sure to ask precisely what siding material your contractor recommends and why.

It’s okay to expect the contractor to handle the bulk of the work in research—after all, one of their value propositions is expertise in the field and local knowledge about the best siding material to increase your home’s curb appeal and resale value while protecting your home from the elements.

While the size of your home plays an important role in any home improvement project, it is a paramount factor in your siding project. The size of your home, number of stories, and terrain will impact your installation timeline. Your contractor should address all of these variables with you ahead of your final quote. You may have your own notions of what should occur, but check them against what the contractor recommends.

Get an idea of what’s out there so you’re better prepared to ask about different materials during your negotiation. If you want, you can ask about material costs and even consider buying them yourself if there are cost savings involved. Options to explore include:

  • Vinyl
  • Fiber cement
  • Wood
  • Clapboard
  • Cedar
  • Cedar shake
  • Hardie board
  • Aluminum
  • Stone
  • Brick
  • Faux stone
  • Engineered wood

Whether you’re installing a new choice of siding or upgrading your existing siding, you should have a solid understanding of what it is and how it affects your home, now and in the future.

Labor Is Expensive — If You Do Some, You Might Save Some

Before your siding installation, a lot of preparation needs to take place. While some contractors might offer to do so for a price or as part of the package, consider doing some of the work or preparation yourself in an effort to negotiate the final price of your home improvement project.

Work you should at least consider doing:

  • Trimming, or tying back, trees and shrubbery near your home.
  • Cutting your grass short. Shorter grass will make it easier for your contractors to use a magnetic nail finder to recover any nails or staples that go astray during your siding replacement.
  • Clearing all items away from your home’s exterior, including potted plants, patio furniture, and gardening equipment.
  • During your siding removal and installation, the interior walls of your home may shake. Consider Removing pictures, shelves, and valuables that may risk falling.

Get Clarity on the Warranty, and Ensure It’s Part of the Price

You can always negotiate with your contractor on the price of a successful project before signing a contract. Discuss your budget with your siding contractor. Agree that any unexpected project expenses will be presented in writing to help you remain within your budget. Surprises, in other words, shouldn’t surprise you or your contractor, and they should definitely not surprise your investment.

Warranties will also impact your quoted cost. Most installers offer manufacturer’s warranties that protect you from faulty equipment. Some might offer additional guarantees for the installation, as well, covering potential damage to your house. Be sure the quoted warranty is clear in what it covers—and in what it doesn’t. Additionally, use the warranty as a bargaining chip.

A lower price should elicit a short length warranty and a higher price one that is longer. A 50-year warranty might be too long and a two-year warranty might be too short. The particulars of your system and your siding installation needs dictate these numbers more than anything else. Discuss them thoroughly with your contractor.

Reputation is Everything: Does Your Siding Installer Pass Muster?

Your business is their business—and while this siding installation could stay with you (or at least your house) for decades, it will also build, or continue to build, their reputation into a prosperous business.

A veteran siding contractor might be well endowed with repeat business and a booked schedule. Younger companies and contractors might be more willing to reduce their price and elongate their warranties for a solid project like yours.

Get to know local and trusted contractors through services like Modernize. The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your siding installation project is in good hands. You can access the interactive checklist by visiting the Modernize Homeowner Portal or by downloading it here.

Siding Contractors Get Second Opinions—You Should, Too

The entire process of a siding installation is detail-heavy and involves a myriad of moving parts, from the fine print of your contract to the machinations of the installation itself—remember what we said about surprises?

Since your contractor has (literally) been around the block and has experience you might lack, be sure to consult close friends and family about the major steps of your journey. While we condone this type of support, homeowners have repeatedly told us through surveys and interviews that deciphering some of the deeper and more complex elements of their project left them seeking more professional support—which our homeowners found with Modernize.

Your biggest friend in a siding contract negotiation could be a service like Modernize. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you.

The post 5 Tips For Negotiating Cost with Siding Contractors appeared first on Modernize.

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Tips For Negotiating Cost with Air Conditioning Contractors

Installing a new air conditioning unit is a large investment for homeowners. Projects typically range from $ 3,500 to $ 7,525, but homeowners can reduce air conditioning replacement costs by negotiating the contract price and terms with their contractor. If you’re looking for ways to save on your air conditioner replacement cost, consider the following tips to negotiate the best price without compromising the quality of the work.

Compare Multiple Contractor Quotes

Modernize recommends comparing three to four quotes for your air conditioning project. Competition tends to drive down air conditioner replacement costs, and many contractors are willing to lower their price or negotiate contract terms if they’re competing for the work. It is important to provide each contractor with as many project details as possible, and thoroughly read each estimate to make sure you are making proper comparisons.

Always verify a contractor’s experience and credentials before making a hiring decision. Vetting your contractors will ensure you find the most reliable air conditioning contractor for your project. Check their licensure and make sure they are accredited through the Better Business Bureau.

If you are comfortable working with a less experienced contractor with less time in the trade, you may be able to secure a lower price. But if something feels off about a contractor or business — go with your gut and be aware of scams. If a bid is too good to be true, it probably is.  

To help homeowners easily vet and find a trusted air conditioning contractors, Modernize has created a free contractor checklist.

Discuss Your Budget with Your Contractors

Simply asking your preferred contractor to lower their price to win your business is a difficult request, but you can seek their advice on how to rein in the cost. If their bid is higher than your air conditioning replacement budget, be honest and transparent. Ask your contractor if they can recommend any changes that could bring the cost in line. This creates an open conversation and shows you value their expertise. This also reinforces that your budget is tight, possibly leading them to make other money-saving suggestions elsewhere.

During this time, agree that any unexpected project expenses will be presented in writing to help you remain within your budget. Surprises, in other words, shouldn’t surprise you or your contractor, and they should definitely not surprise your investment.

Get Clarity on the Warranty, and Ensure It’s Part of the Price

Warranties will also impact your quoted cost. Most installers offer manufacturer’s warranties that protect you from faulty equipment. Some might offer additional guarantees for the installation, as well, covering potential damage to your house.

Be sure the quoted warranty is clear in what it covers—and what it doesn’t. Additionally, use the warranty as a bargaining chip. A lower price should elicit a short length warranty and a higher. The particulars of your AC unit and your installation needs dictate these numbers more than anything else. Discuss them thoroughly with your contractor.

Take Advantage of the Off Season

The cost of your home improvement project will depend partially on the season in which the project is executed. If your project is not urgent or an emergency, negotiate the timing to take advantage of “off-season” rates. Wait to have your new system installed in the fall or spring when AC contractors are typically less busy. Contractors may also offer additional discounts and savings during these slower seasons.

Roofing Contractors Get Second Opinions—You Should, Too

Since your contractor has (literally) been around the block and has the experience you might lack, be sure to consult close friends and family about the major steps of your home improvement journey. While we condone this type of support, homeowners have repeatedly told us through surveys and interviews that deciphering some of the deeper and more complex elements of their project left them seeking more professional support—which our homeowners found with Modernize.

Your biggest friend in an air conditioning replacement negotiation could be a service like Modernize. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you.

The post Tips For Negotiating Cost with Air Conditioning Contractors appeared first on Modernize.

Modernize

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20 of the best pubs in Ireland: readers’ tips

To celebrate St Patrick’s Day, readers salute the idyllic locations, great music, bonhomie and creamy stout of the island’s brilliant pubs

On a good night, the Tin Pub on the Sheep’s Head peninsula is a dangerous place. The name comes from the sheets of corrugated iron holding it together around a concrete floor and a small wooden bar that serves Murphy’s and a cocktail called Cormac on the Beach, named after the red-headed barman. The garden runs down to the sea and a view to the hills of the Mizen. That good night can be a few men playing guitars and then some singing starts, and suddenly it is an early morning walk home.
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Travel | The Guardian

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These 10 Tips Can Give You a Leg Up in Your Next Job Interview

Just the words “job interview” can strike fear into the hearts of the average job seeker.

What should you wear? How can you research the company? What should you say — and avoid saying?

But if you know how to prepare for a job interview, you’ll have the confidence you need to ace the process, and you’ll be more likely to hear the words, “You’re hired.”

How to Prepare for a Job Interview

It all starts with first impressions. You can make a good one before you ever walk in the door by researching the company you’re applying to.

1. Seek Information on the Company

A wealth of information is available online. Start with the business’s website and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn pages.

You can also sign up for company newsletters and emails, and follow any influencers at the organization who can keep you up to date.

You should be ready with stories from your professional life that demonstrate the company’s core values, such as collaboration, leadership, teamwork and integrity, says Jill MacFadyen, a career coach and former recruiter who works with clients nationwide.

“You’re demonstrating that you care enough to have done the research,” she says. “You’re setting yourself apart from the other people who are interviewing.”

Search newspapers, magazines and specialty journals to see whether the company or the industry have been in the news recently. You’ll be a step above the competition if you know the latest trends and developments.

“In my opinion, you can never overprepare,” says Carlota Zimmerman, a New York City career coach with more than a decade of experience. “I cannot stress how much passion and preparation you should bring.”

2. Do Your Homework on the Interviewers

A woman looks at her laptop while relaxing at home in the dark.

Prior to your job interview, ask for the names of the people who will interview you, and search online to see whether you have any mutual friends or connections. You may also be able to get information about those who work in the department from the company’s website or LinkedIn.

Did you or one of your colleagues or friends previously work at the same organization? Go to the same school? Belong to any mutual clubs or groups? Check alumni networks, LinkedIn and community pages. You’re likely to score points if a current employee can recommend you.

“There’s a notion that this person has been vetted in some way,” says Mike Gellman, CEO and founder of High Five Career Coaching in Irvine, California. “There’s a level of trust there.”

Once you’ve done your research, study the job description and think about how your skills, knowledge and personality mesh with the duties the position requires. Have examples ready from your education and work experience that show you have what it takes to succeed.

Have you won any awards in the field? Did you attend seminars or read books that could help you stand out as well-informed and committed to the brand or industry?

It’s particularly important to explain how you helped your previous employers and clients turn a profit and attract new customers. Stress your achievements in concrete, measurable terms, such as, “I signed on 50 clients last year and brought in $ 250,000.”

Consider doing a mock interview with a friend to sharpen your responses.

3. Clean Up Your Social Media Profile

Most recruiters look at your LinkedIn profile, and some also comb Facebook and other social media. So make sure your pages reflect the image you want to convey.

“It’s about judgment,” Gellman says. “It’s about character for the company. Could this person be a good ambassador for us?”

More than two dozen states have laws prohibiting employers from asking for applicants’ social media usernames and passwords, while federal law prohibits employers from making hiring decisions based on factors such as religion, disability and pregnancy. Accordingly, some companies have stopped monitoring candidates’ social-media accounts to avoid potential discrimination lawsuits.

But many companies still do check. You can protect yourself by avoiding posting photos of anything you’d be embarrassed to have a recruiter discover — or at least adjusting your social media settings to private. And remember: Nothing is absolutely private on the internet.

4. Dress Professionally

A professionally dressed young woman looks in a mirror.

Even if you’re interviewing at a startup where the employees dress in flip-flops and shorts, you need to dress like, well, you’re on a job interview. That means professional and conservative relative to the industry. If you wear a jacket and find you’re overdressed, you can always remove it after you arrive.

“You have to convey a message that you’re serious about the job,” Gellman says. “And if you go in casually, you’re not going to convey that message.”

A good rule of thumb is to dress a level or two above the position you’re seeking, he says.  Make sure your clothes fit and are clean and wrinkle-free — no stains, rips or pet hair — and that your shoes are in good shape.

“Err on the side that your grandmother would look at your outfit and say, ‘You look so professional,’” Zimmerman says.

5. Turn Off Your Cell Phone

To prepare for a job interview adequately, you must turn off your cell phone — or, better yet, leave it in your car. It’s too easy to reflexively reach for a phone that pings or vibrates. When Gellman was interviewing applicants in his role at a previous employer, the ones who texted during the interview — yes, it really happened — were immediately disqualified.

If you have to wait before you’re called in, bring a magazine or a book to read that’s relevant to the industry.

“These kinds of things may seem kind of corny and stuck up,” Zimmerman says. “Well, that’s corporate America. That’s what they want.”

6. Treat Everyone With Respect

Two men at an office shake hands.

Smile and greet everyone you meet politely, from the receptionist to the CEO; your behavior very well may be reported to the hiring manager, especially if it’s disrespectful.

Never use profanity, even if your interviewer cusses a blue streak. Sit up straight and don’t fidget. If your interviewer takes or makes a phone call that interrupts the process, just wait patiently. If you complain or get angry, it will be game over.

“They’re trying to get a feel for how you’d be every day in [the] office,” Zimmerman says.

7. Show You’re Serious

Write down key points you want to get across so you don’t forget them, and store that piece of paper or notebook in a business-appropriate binder or folder so you can access it easily. Remove any extraneous items from your (clean) pocketbook or (polished) briefcase so you’re not rummaging around to find the essentials.

Bring at least half a dozen copies of your resume on quality paper (even if you sent it electronically) and, if applicable, a portfolio of your work. Not everyone may have had time to review your credentials. You’ll also want a functioning pen so you can jot down any questions you have for the interviewer.

Basic black-on-white business cards with a simple email address containing your name — and no cutesy monikers such as “iheartkittens” — are a nice touch.

“It’s a great way to symbolize, ‘I’m serious. I’m here to get this job. I’m ready to do business. I’m so excited for this opportunity,’” Zimmerman says.

8. Arrive Early

It’s a good idea to do a dry run of your trip to the interview site up to a week in advance, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area or exact location. You’ll flub your chances if you’re late, so make sure you anticipate how much traffic you’ll encounter, where you’ll park and how long the door-to-door process will take.

Gellman says he made the mistake once of arriving only two minutes before the start of an interview on a windy day and didn’t notice that his hair was sticking up. It stayed that way for the entire interview, and nobody gave him a (drumroll) heads-up.

Allow enough time for unexpected glitches and for a stop in the restroom, where you should give your hair, face and clothes a final once-over. Be ready for show time 10 minutes before your appointment.

9. Write Thank-You Notes

Thank everyone who interviews you for their time. Then after the interview, hand write (or type) thank-you notes and send them out within 24 to 48 hours. Email is acceptable, but an old-fashioned mailed card will distinguish you.

Concentrate on the person who will be making the hiring decision, but if you interviewed with a panel or series of employees and want to send notes to more than one person, say something unique to each one, Gellman advises.

“It starts to build a relationship, demonstrates you’re making the extra effort, and you’re really interested,” he says. “It’s classy.”

Finally, line up references if you haven’t already provided them. You want to be ready if you’re asked for names.

10. Picture Yourself Succeeding

It’s the night before your moment of truth. You’ve done your research on how to prepare for a job interview. You’ve picked out the clothes you’ll wear. Your briefcase is packed. Now it’s time to relax.

Stand up straight and take some deep breaths. Envision yourself greeting your interviewer with confidence, warmth, good eye contact, a clear voice and a pleasantly firm handshake (no spraining the interviewer’s hand, please). Visualize yourself nailing the interview.

Then do something you enjoy to wind down. That may mean watching a fun movie, doing some light reading or taking a warm bath or shower.

Then, get to sleep early enough to feel rested in the morning.

“The fact that you got an interview means you’ve done something right,” Zimmerman says. “Relax. Eat a good breakfast and believe in yourself. And then it’s up to the universe.”

Susan Jacobson is an editor at The Penny Hoarder. Find her on Twitter @SusanJacobson44.

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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Carson Kressley’s Two Major Tips For Redecorating Your Home | PeopleTV

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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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Mid-Level Job Application Tips: Share Your Best Advice for Mid-Levels!

Ladies, what are your best mid-level job application tips — for when you’re not quite fresh out of school but you’re not so senior that they’re knocking on your door? Do you have different tips if you’re applying online for mid-level jobs vs. applying more directly for a mid-level position? What are the best things you’ve learned from mid-level recruiters?

Something that’s always interesting to me is how in college and grad school, there is this huge emphasis on job application skills — writing cover letters or requests for informational interviews, tweaking your resume to be elegantly phrased, impressive, yet concise — and a lot of guidance around following up for job applications, like when to check in, what to say in follow-up messages, and so forth. Then, the education kind of stops, unless you seek it out by working with your alumni career office, a career coach, or an executive recruiter. But that’s where the trouble is, I think — I don’t think mid-levels can necessarily use the same job application tips that they learned in college or grad school. 

So let’s talk, ladies — how do you think applying for a job changes as you rise in seniority? What tips and habits do you still use after the initial college/grad school career fair — and what have you adapted and changed as you’ve gotten older? Readers who are really senior and have seen it all, how do you think basic job application advice changes as you climb the corporate ladder? (Another interesting question — how many stages of your career/job application process do you expect to go through? If you’re 5 years out of school are you “mid-level” or would you call it something else? A lot of the “further reading” posts below seem to define “mid-level professional” as someone 45-50 or older, whereas I think the phrase “mid-career” might apply better there…)

Further Reading:

  • Here’s What a Mid-Level Professional’s Resume Should Look Like [The Ladders]
  • How to Job Search as a Mid Level Career Candidate [The Balance]
  • How to Make a Great Resume for a Mid-Level Professional [Top Resume]
  • 15 Tips For Finding a Job At Every Stage Of Your Career [Glassdoor]
  • 6 Tips for Midcareer Job Seekers [Bankrate]
  • Correcting the 5 Most Common Mistakes Mid-Level Job Seekers Make [Forbes]

We asked the readers: what are your best job application tips for mid-levels? After all there is a TON of advice out there with job application tips when you're graduating college, grad school or law school, and a ton of support services -- but once you've been out of school for 5-10 years that same advice doesn't totally apply. Fun discussion among the readers about when to move your education to the bottom of your resume, how many pages a mid-level's resume should have, and more.

The post Mid-Level Job Application Tips: Share Your Best Advice for Mid-Levels! appeared first on Corporette.com.

Corporette.com

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The Penny Hoarder Insider Will Deliver Tips and Deals Straight to Your Phone

Last year, we launched our exclusive text message alert program, The Penny Hoarder Insider.

Since then, thousands of people have signed up to receive timely updates and tips on the latest and greatest ways to make, save and manage their money.

Each week, we send out 1-3 texts letting you know about money-making opportunities, work-from-home job openings, actionable tips that can help you fix your financial situation and timely information on topics like budgeting, banking or managing your 401(k).

To subscribe, simply click here or text PENNY to 98582.

We know life is busy and your phone is your private space, so we won’t inundate you with useless information; we find value in everything we share, and we think you will, too.

Thanks for signing up, Insider!

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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Scaramucci gives Trump tips for higher approval rating

CNN

SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN:

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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A local’s guide to Seville, Spain: 10 top tips

Cobbled alleys, ancient bars, flamenco and the world’s biggest gothic cathedral are just a few of the Andalucían capital’s attractions

Some of the best places in Seville are found by taking a wrong turn. Like when you stumble into a time-worn taverna peddling crisp local sherry or come across the rickety home of Seville-born painter Diego Velázquez. Which makes it all the more of a shame that many visitors to Spain’s fourth biggest city don’t venture much beyond the world’s largest Gothic cathedral. Although the cobbled streets and alleyways that surround it are worthy of close inspection, this enchanting city has much more to offer a little further afield.

Continue reading…
Travel | The Guardian

TRAVEL DEAL UPDATE:

5 Tips For Negotiating Cost with Roofing Contractors

When it comes to home improvement projects, a roof replacement tends to feel like one of the most overwhelming. Even if there are no major issues and it’s just time for a roof replacement, your roof is your first line of defense against the elements—and it’s also one of the more costly updates you can make to your home. To ensure you are paying the best price for your project, follow these tips to negotiate your final roof replacement cost with your preferred roofing contractor.

Roofing and Your Home

Your contractor is well versed in how your specific project is going to impact your house. They have visited your home and assessed the project’s potential, needs, and challenges. On this front, it is in the contractor’s interest to ensure the highest possible roofing installation. The initial, ongoing, and continued success of their installation is paramount to their near and future prospects.

Your contractor should be able to tell you whether you need to replace, repair, or remove insulation before the project begins. Likewise, they should be able to advise you on whether to tear off the old asphalt roofing and replace it or add new asphalt roofing over the existing material. Their recommendations should be tied to their predictions about your roof—so it’s okay to ask about guarantees. Your roofing is critical to protecting your home from the elements and protecting the integrity of your home. Be sure your roofing contractor has explained to you specifically how your upgraded roofing will protect your house now and into the future.

While it’s hard for a contractor to make exact promises, they can certainly help you understand what to expect in the future. The less deep that future is and the more susceptible to damage your roofing is, the less your installation should cost.

Your Roofing Contractor Should Assess Your Roofing Plans

Be sure to ask precisely what roofing material your contractor recommends and why.

It’s okay to expect the contractor to handle the bulk of the work in research— after all, one of their value propositions is expertise in the field and local knowledge about the best roofing material to increase your home’s home value and longevity.

The type of roof you plan to have installed on your home makes a big difference in how it performs, what it looks like, and how long it will last. That’s why you should have a basic understanding of the different roof types and what you can expect from each of them. Your contractor should address all of these variables with you ahead of your final quote. You may have your own notions of what should occur, but check them against what the contractor recommends.

You want to be as best prepared as possible to ask about different materials during your negotiation. If you want, you can ask about material costs and even consider buying them yourself if there are cost savings involved. Options to explore include:

  • Asphalt shingles
  • Clay Tile
  • Architectural
  • Wood shingles
  • Concrete Tile
  • Slate
  • Copper
  • Metal
  • Tin
  • Corrugated
  • Standing seam
  • Steel roofing
  • Foam
  • Tar and gravel
  • Rubber Roofing

Whether you’re installing a new choice of roofing or upgrading your existing roofing, you should have a solid understanding of what it is and how it affects your home, now and in the future.

Get Clarity on the Warranty, and Ensure It’s Part of the Price

You can always negotiate with your contractor on the price of a successful project before signing a contract. Discuss your budget with your roofing contractor. Agree that any unexpected project expenses will be presented in writing to help you remain within your budget. Surprises, in other words, shouldn’t surprise you or your contractor, and they should definitely not surprise your investment.

For example, after beginning the work, there’s a chance your roofing contractor might find damaged underlayment, like one of the following conditions:

  • Rotten decking. The number one issue roofers uncover during a tear-off is rotten or soft roof decking.
  • Inadequate decking. If the roofer starts walking on your roof and finds that the decking is springy or bouncy, they’ll also recommend new sheathing.

Warranties will also impact your quoted cost. Most installers offer manufacturer’s warranties that protect you from faulty equipment. Some might offer additional guarantees for the installation, as well, covering potential damage to your house. Be sure the quoted warranty is clear in what it covers—and in what it doesn’t. Additionally, use the warranty as a bargaining chip.

A lower price should elicit a short length warranty and a higher price one that is longer. A 50-year warranty might be too long and a two-year warranty might be too short. The particulars of your system and your roofing installation needs dictate these numbers more than anything else. Discuss them thoroughly with your contractor.

Reputation is Everything: Does Your Roofing Installer Pass Muster?

Your business is their business—and while this roofing upgrade or replacement could stay with you (or at least your house) for decades, it will also build, or continue to build, their reputation into a prosperous business.

A veteran roofing contractor might be well endowed with repeat business and a booked schedule. Younger companies and contractors might be more willing to reduce their price and elongate their warranties for a solid project like yours.

Get to know local and trusted contractors through services like Modernize. The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your roofing installation project is in good hands. You can access the interactive checklist by visiting the Modernize Homeowner Portal or by downloading it here.

Roofing Contractors Get Second Opinions—You Should, Too

The entire process of a roofing installation is detail-heavy and involves a myriad of moving parts, from the fine print of your contract to the machinations of the installation itself—remember what we said about surprises?

Since your contractor has (literally) been around the block and has the experience you might lack, be sure to consult close friends and family about the major steps of your journey. While we condone this type of support, homeowners have repeatedly told us through surveys and interviews that deciphering some of the deeper and more complex elements of their project left them seeking more professional support—which our homeowners found with Modernize.

Your biggest friend in a roofing contract negotiation could be a service like Modernize. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you.

The post 5 Tips For Negotiating Cost with Roofing Contractors appeared first on Modernize.

Modernize

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

5 Tips For Negotiating Cost with Siding Contractors

Other than an all-out catastrophe in your region like a fire or major storm, there are various reasons it’s important to check your siding on a regular basis to avoid the need a homegrown emergency requiring siding work. While it’s normal to upgrade siding after an emergency, homeowners should prioritize being prepared for an emergency in the first place or simply increasing the value of their houses with proper and functional siding.

Either way, on your time or when speed is of the essence, follow these tips to best negotiate your final project price with your preferred siding contractor.

Siding and Your House

Your contractor is well versed in how your specific project is going to impact your house. They’ve visited your house and assessed its potential, its needs, and its challenges. On this front, it’s in their interest to ensure the highest possible siding installation. The initial, ongoing, and continued success of their installation is paramount to their near and future prospects.

It’s okay to ask about guarantees. Along with your roof, your siding is critical to protecting your home from the elements and protecting the integrity of your home. Be sure your siding contractor has explained to you specifically how your upgraded siding will both stand up and protect against:

  • Rotting
  • Warping
  • Cracking
  • Holes from insects or birds
  • Unexpectedly high energy bills
  • Interior moisture

While it’s hard for a contractor to make exact promises, they can certainly help you understand what to expect in the future. The less deep that future is and the more susceptible to damage your siding is, the less your installation should cost.

Your Siding Contractor Should Assess Your Siding Plans

Be sure to ask precisely what siding material your contractor recommends and why.

It’s okay to expect the contractor to handle the bulk of the work in research—after all, one of their value propositions is expertise in the field and local knowledge about the best siding material to increase your home’s curb appeal and resale value while protecting your home from the elements.

While the size of your home plays an important role in any home improvement project, it is a paramount factor in your siding project. The size of your home, number of stories, and terrain will impact your installation timeline. Your contractor should address all of these variables with you ahead of your final quote. You may have your own notions of what should occur, but check them against what the contractor recommends.

Get an idea of what’s out there so you’re better prepared to ask about different materials during your negotiation. If you want, you can ask about material costs and even consider buying them yourself if there are cost savings involved. Options to explore include:

  • Vinyl
  • Fiber cement
  • Wood
  • Clapboard
  • Cedar
  • Cedar shake
  • Hardie board
  • Aluminum
  • Stone
  • Brick
  • Faux stone
  • Engineered wood

Whether you’re installing a new choice of siding or upgrading your existing siding, you should have a solid understanding of what it is and how it affects your home, now and in the future.

Labor Is Expensive — If You Do Some, You Might Save Some

Before your siding installation, a lot of preparation needs to take place. While some contractors might offer to do so for a price or as part of the package, consider doing some of the work or preparation yourself in an effort to negotiate the final price of your home improvement project.

Work you should at least consider doing:

  • Trimming, or tying back, trees and shrubbery near your home.
  • Cutting your grass short. Shorter grass will make it easier for your contractors to use a magnetic nail finder to recover any nails or staples that go astray during your siding replacement.
  • Clearing all items away from your home’s exterior, including potted plants, patio furniture, and gardening equipment.
  • During your siding removal and installation, the interior walls of your home may shake. Consider Removing pictures, shelves, and valuables that may risk falling.

Get Clarity on the Warranty, and Ensure It’s Part of the Price

You can always negotiate with your contractor on the price of a successful project before signing a contract. Discuss your budget with your siding contractor. Agree that any unexpected project expenses will be presented in writing to help you remain within your budget. Surprises, in other words, shouldn’t surprise you or your contractor, and they should definitely not surprise your investment.

Warranties will also impact your quoted cost. Most installers offer manufacturer’s warranties that protect you from faulty equipment. Some might offer additional guarantees for the installation, as well, covering potential damage to your house. Be sure the quoted warranty is clear in what it covers—and in what it doesn’t. Additionally, use the warranty as a bargaining chip.

A lower price should elicit a short length warranty and a higher price one that is longer. A 50-year warranty might be too long and a two-year warranty might be too short. The particulars of your system and your siding installation needs dictate these numbers more than anything else. Discuss them thoroughly with your contractor.

Reputation is Everything: Does Your Siding Installer Pass Muster?

Your business is their business—and while this siding installation could stay with you (or at least your house) for decades, it will also build, or continue to build, their reputation into a prosperous business.

A veteran siding contractor might be well endowed with repeat business and a booked schedule. Younger companies and contractors might be more willing to reduce their price and elongate their warranties for a solid project like yours.

Get to know local and trusted contractors through services like Modernize. The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your siding installation project is in good hands. You can access the interactive checklist by visiting the Modernize Homeowner Portal or by downloading it here.

Siding Contractors Get Second Opinions—You Should, Too

The entire process of a siding installation is detail-heavy and involves a myriad of moving parts, from the fine print of your contract to the machinations of the installation itself—remember what we said about surprises?

Since your contractor has (literally) been around the block and has experience you might lack, be sure to consult close friends and family about the major steps of your journey. While we condone this type of support, homeowners have repeatedly told us through surveys and interviews that deciphering some of the deeper and more complex elements of their project left them seeking more professional support—which our homeowners found with Modernize.

Your biggest friend in a siding contract negotiation could be a service like Modernize. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you.

The post 5 Tips For Negotiating Cost with Siding Contractors appeared first on Modernize.

Modernize

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Don Cheadle Has Some Top Notch Tips on Shooting Hoops with Barack Obama

Just in case your next visit to the court puts you up against Barack Obama, Don Cheadle has some inside intel on how to shoot some hoops with the former president. Hint: “He’s a leftie, so it’s tricky to get the timing right on the shot,” the actor shared with comedy pair Desus Nice and The Kid Mero in a segment from their evening talk show, Desus & Mero.

Cheadle recalled playing a game of basketball against Obama — and being underwhelmed by the weak defense one of his teammates was putting up, because apparently there was some hesitation to truly press the president. “I was like, listen: foul him. Foul him!” Cheadle insisted. Because even when you’re playing against the leader of the free world, all bets are off when you’re on the court in heated competition.

Cheadle, who’s been promoting his latest show on Showtime, Black Monday, has been making subtle political statements on his publicity circuit of late. While hosting Saturday Night Live in February, he made his feelings about President Donald Trump known by wearing a Soviet Union hockey jersey with Trump’s name on it.

Looks like his loyalty still lies with Obama, even if the former president was not the easiest basketball opponent to beat.

Sports – TIME

ENTERTAINMENT DEAL UPDATE:

These 17 Tips Will Help Turn Your Job Interview Into a Job Offer

The job hunt can be a long and arduous process.

Sometimes it takes hundreds of applications before you hear back from any employers. And when you do, your work isn’t over. That was stage one. Now, you have to prepare for the (sometimes) dreaded job interview.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We’re here to help. With the right preparation, you can turn that interview anxiety into excitement.

17 Essential Job Interview Tips

We’ve compiled the top tips from industry experts. We’ll walk you through exactly what to do before, during and after the interview. It doesn’t matter if this is your first job interview or your 40th, following these steps help you leave a positive impression on your soon-to-be employer.

What to Do Before an Interview

Businessman Reading Resume On Office Desk

Great, your interview is set for Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Congratulations!

Use the time before then wisely. Unfortunately, you can’t just cruise in and claim your job. You’ll have to do some legwork to distinguish yourself from other applicants. Here’s what you need to do before your big day.

1. Research the Company

Having a solid understanding of the company is crucial. You don’t want to be caught fumbling basic information during the job interview.

You should spend some time on the company’s website to acquaint yourself with its mission statement, top clients, leadership and history.

Adequate preparation can help you feel better, too, according to Michelle Armer, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder.

“To help curb pre-interview jitters, interviewees should give themselves time in advance to prepare and build their confidence,” she says.

And if you’re still feeling anxious, Armer recommends giving yourself a pep talk, rehearsing your answers and listening to energetic music to keep your spirits high.

2. Reach Out to Alumni

To form a well-rounded opinion about an organization, it’s important to hear what its employees are saying. Yes, the company website is a good start, but that’s only one perspective.

Vipula Gandhi, managing partner at Gallup, says feedback from alumni is crucial to understanding a company’s culture before an interview. (Gandhi says her tips are based on more than a decade of experience interviewing candidates and not on Gallup’s research.)

One way to get unfiltered employee opinion is by checking the company’s Glassdoor reviews. Glassdoor is a job-search engine that aggregates anonymous employee opinions and rates companies from one to five stars based on the employees’ ratings. But don’t stop there.

Gandhi recommended using LinkedIn to get in direct contact with current and former employees. That way, you’ll have a clear understanding of the employee experience.

3. Clean Up Your Social Media

What you put on your LinkedIn profile is obviously fair game for HR.

But what about your Facebook and Instagram? Well, if you didn’t submit the social media accounts voluntarily, that could be a legal gray area. But some employers and recruiting agencies use them anyway to screen applicants.

Ben Brooks, CEO of Pilot, a career-coaching startup, says to make sure there aren’t any embarrassing photos of you that are publicly searchable.

“What does your social media say about you?” Brooks asks. “If someone looked at your profile for 10 seconds, what’s the interpretation? What are the three words they’re gonna say?”

Hopefully: You are hired.

4. Conduct a Dry Run and Mock Interview

Doing a complete dry run will make everything easier when the day of the interview comes.

And by dry run I mean driving to the site of the interview to figure out logistics like parking and traffic (or testing your webcam if it’s a virtual job interview) and enlisting a friend to do a mock interview with you.

Dana Sitar, an editor at The Penny Hoarder, compiled a list of the 20 most common interview questions, from the infamous “What are your weaknesses?” to softballs like “What are your hobbies?”

Having articulate responses to common questions will allow you to focus on being in the moment instead of feeling put on the spot.

5. Prepare Your Documents

Depending on your industry and the instructions of the application, documents you may need to prepare could include your resume, portfolio samples or any pre-tests the company may have assigned you.

Regardless of industry, you should bring a few extra resumes with you, just in case. You never know if all the people included in the interview had time to review your application thoroughly. Even if they did, having extra resumes on hand helps you look prepared.

It’s best to have these documents printed out and ready to go the night before. If you don’t have a printer or are having technical problems, stores like UPS, Office Depot and FedEx will allow you to print copies cheaply. There’s always your trusty local library, too.

6. Plan What to Wear

How you look in the interview is almost as important as your qualifications. Planning an outfit can be a delicate balancing act and yet another source of stress for some people.

You want to look sharp — but not pretentious or underdressed.

Richard South, corporate partnership program manager at Georgia Tech, coaches thousands of university students on best interview practices. He says to consider industry trends when choosing your outfit.

Interviewing at a business firm?

“Put on a suit,” South advises, noting that suits may be overkill for other industries.

Computer science or advertising fields might be more casual. The important part is not to guess.

Ideally, you’ve already reached out to alumni and talked about company culture. Asking them about attire is a great way to ensure your outfit is appropriate.

Once you’ve decided what to wear, set it out before you go to bed — pressed and wrinkle-free. It will save you the hassle in the morning.

7. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Research? Check. Documents? Check. Outfit? Check.

Ticking all those boxes the night before will ease your mind and help you sleep. Try to get at least seven to nine hours of shut-eye to be on your A-game the next day.

And make sure that time frame is actual sleep time, not just time you spend lying in bed. It’s likely that you’ll be a little nervous, so give yourself an extra hour to fall asleep.

What to Do During an Interview

Close up of shaking hands after successful agreement.

Now is the time all that preparation and good sleep pays off. Try to stay mindful and relaxed. Don’t worry about rehearsing your answers. You’ve done that already. Be in the moment and you’ll come across more genuine and likeable.

8. Arrive Early — and Alone

General rule of thumb: 10 minutes early is considered on time, and on time is considered late.

Ten minutes is the sweet spot because you want to be early but not so early that they’re not yet expecting you.

And please, don’t bring your parent.

In a somewhat recent phenomenon, helicopter parents have started intervening in their kids’ job hunt.  

A recent survey from Robert Half showed that 69% of hiring managers either would not recommend or are annoyed at parental involvement during job interviews — from explicative phone calls that urge companies to hire their kid, to baked goods used to coax hiring managers.

9. Treat All Staff Respectfully

It doesn’t matter if you took the wrong exit off the interstate and then spilled coffee on your freshly pressed oxford that morning.

Do not get snarky or rude with anyone in or around the company — whether that’s the security guard in the lobby or someone you passed in the street.

For all you know, that could be Jen in accounting.

She doesn’t realize your stomach has possible second-degree burns; she just knows that you bumped into her and scoffed on your way into the office.

And guess who she’s going to tell after you leave? Your hiring manager.

10. Turn Your Job Experience into a Story

When the interviewer asks something along the lines of “So, tell me about yourself,” that’s your time to shine.

Nailing an interview isn’t about regurgitating your resume.

“It’s all about the stories and narrative you have,” Brooks says.

This is also a good opportunity to incorporate experience that wasn’t directly relevant to the job application but could pertain to your soft skills or personality.

Maybe you did an au pair program or studied abroad during college. If so, talk about your international experience.

Dr. Christine Farrugia was the deputy head of research for the Institute of International Education, where she led a study that examined the employability of alumni who studied abroad. She’s now the director of research initiatives at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies.

According to Farrugia, the key is having an anecdote ready.

“The person interviewing you may not ask about it directly,” she says.

11. Ask the Right Questions

Interviews are two-way conversations, says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at Spins, a retail-industry consulting firm.

“You also want to learn from the company if it will be a good fit for you,” she says. “Come prepared with questions that help you determine if you will get all that you need to be successful, not just a paycheck.”

This guide walks you through exactly what questions to ask during a job interview and why they’re useful.

Pro-tip: Ask, “Beyond the core job duties, what are the things you really want to accomplish and achieve with this role?”

Questions like that will not only impress the hiring manager, but will also give you a better understanding of how you’ll have an impact at the company.

There are plenty of areas to avoid asking about, too — like vacation time or basic information about the company.

“How smart your question is would define how the interviewer sees you,” Gandhi says.

12. Mind Your Body Language

Hiring managers pay keen attention to body language.

According to research from Robert Half, unspoken signals, such as eye contact, facial expressions, posture, handshake and fidgeting play an extremely important role into how you’re perceived during an interview.

Many of these cues aren’t intentional. They’re physical responses to how you’re feeling. So internally obsessing about your posture and facial expressions isn’t going to help much, either.

The point is, you should feel confident and relaxed — and those things stem from adequate preparation.

13. Vet Your Potential Manager

When you go into your interview, treat it like a date.

See if you are clicking with your manager. Think to yourself, “If I get this job, I’m going to spend much of my waking life with this person.”

Are they funny? Laid back? Knowledgeable? It’s crucial to understand what makes a good manager because a bad one can ruin a great job, and vice versa.

So don’t let the deciding factor be the salary or the prestige of the company.

“It’s all about the manager,” Gandhi says.

14. Don’t Speak Negatively About Past Employers

Inevitably, you will get a question along the lines of, “Why did you leave your past job?”

Your mind might flash back to all the times you were wronged, and you might be tempted to air some of those grievances. Just don’t.

It comes across as unprofessional. And the new company might think that if they hire you, it will someday be in one of your negative stories.

Instead, focus on talking about the challenges and opportunities of a new job — not the time your old boss took credit for the data you pulled at 2 a.m. to make deadline.

What to Do After an Interview

Graphic designer in the office

Before you bust out of the office to celebrate for a job well done, there are a few other things you should do to increase your chances of getting hired.

15. Ask to Tour the Office

Touring the office works in your favor for a couple of reasons.

First, it increases face time with your hiring manager and allows for some less formal banter as you make your rounds and introduce yourself to potential colleagues.

Beyond that, it allows you to see what’s really happening on the ground floor. As you walk through different pods or workspaces, take note of the office morale. Does everyone look stressed or excited?

If it’s around lunchtime, see if a lot of employees are eating at their desks. That could be a sign of being overworked.

If they say no to the tour, it’s not a deal-breaker. It’s possible that there isn’t enough time built into the interview to accommodate an office tour, but it never hurts to ask.

16. Establish Next Steps

Before you say your goodbyes, make sure to have a clear time frame of when you will hear back.

Nothing can be more frustrating than completing an interview and then feeling everything goes silent,” Haefner says.  “Ask the company where they are in the recruiting process… and who is best for you to follow up with for status updates.”

Asking about this outright saves you some guesswork, and you won’t be left pacing back and forth in your living room thinking, “It’s been one day. Why haven’t I heard anything? Shouldn’t they have sent an email? I’m going to call them. They probably hired someone else!”

When in reality, they likely have internal processes that you’re unaware of.

17. Send a Thank-You Note

Thank-you notes are a surefire way to distinguish yourself from other candidates. Hiring managers love them, and applicants often forget to send them.

In our Jobs Hunting 101 ecourse, we recommend sending them regardless of how the interview goes.

An email should suffice. Try to send it out within 24 hours of your interview, and make sure to separately thank everyone who interviewed you.

In your messages you should include:

  • A recap of the value you bring to the role.
  • Any small clarifications or points you didn’t mention during the interview.
  • Sincere gratitude and enthusiasm.

Avoid the temptation to copy and paste the same scripted message to everyone. That could backfire. Where possible, personalize it as best you can. Give it a little flair.

And if you really want brownie points, don’t send an email. Send a handwritten thank-you note.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer on the Make Money team at The Penny Hoarder. He lives off a diet of stale puns and iced coffee. 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.

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

The Penny Hoarder

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Sam's Club Membership Offer

15 Tips for Buying a Home Out of State

Successfully buying a home in a different state is doable—it happens all the time—but because you must take care of many details from afar, it’s a bit trickier than buying a home in your current town. Choosing a house, making an offer, and then closing, all while you’re living in another state, requires care and savvy. The following tips will help ensure that the deal goes smoothly and that you end up with a home you’re proud to own.
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Beyoncé’s make-up artist gave me SUCH brilliant tips, I’m basically now a pro

Luckily, I wrote them all down for you…

Sir John, Beyoncé’s make-up artist and L’Oréal Paris ambassador, started work at 18 on the make-up counter with Mac. Later he was on Pat McGrath’s team working backstage at various fashion weeks, before assisting Charlotte Tilbury, who then introduced him to Queen B. From there it’s all gone a bit crazy. One of his career highlights was when Beyoncé was performing at Coachella and the crowd oogled at the fact that when she wiped her face on a white towel, not a speck of make-up transferred: ‘I call that Teflon make-up’ he says.
When I met him recently, he gave me such amazing tips that I barely had time to breathe, because I was ferociously taking notes. So here they are – Sir John’s tips on how to nail your base, choose the right shades and basically smash your make-up routine…

Base – skin is aspirational

‘For truly beautiful skin increase your heart rate for at least 30 mins a day as it helps with skin turnover. Put your moisturiser on just before you start your base, because you want to put foundation on damp skin. Only apply primer to your t-zone, because that’s the area your foundation lifts from. Always have two foundations – a darker one for summer and a lighter shade for the winter. Take a look at where you do your makeup. Natural light is always better, so if you do it in a bathroom with no light, it’s going to look so different in the real world. Step into the light to see exactly how much coverage you need. You really don’t need to lacquer and conceal everything; embrace you dark circles and veins. And definitely don’t cover freckles – they are hot. You also need two concealers – one for spots, one for dark circles. When you’re doing you’re concealer, beware of the deep V that YouTubers tell you to create under your eyes. It’s way too much product. Don’t use powder. Normal skin is not matte. If you have healthy skin, you don’t need powder. However, if you want to use a bit of powder under your eyes, never use pressed powder. It’s too heavy and dry and will age you. Always go with loose.’

Cheeks – highlighter should stay on your cheekbones

‘Always go for a cool tone bronzer; it’ll stop you looking orange. Highlighters should only be applied to the side of your face. Tap it into your cheekbones, but stop when you get to the eye. You don’t want to see your highlighter from the front – you want that to be a matte blush. Use your lipstick as blusher. Dab a bit on the back of your hand and use a fluffy brush to apply. We don’t contour, we sculpt.’

Eyes & Lips – add a Pritt stick to your make-up bag

‘No matter what your skin tone is, you can wear any colour on your eyes. Don’t use a tinted eyeshadow primer, use a sheer, invisible one so that you can see your natural eyelid colour. The best brow gel in the world is Pritt stick and a toothbrush. It lasts all day and you can still draw on top. A perfectly modern look is to just pop a bit of foundation on and then a red lip. A blue based red lipstick makes your teeth look whiter.’

Tools – don’t hold your brush like a pencil

‘Don’t use foundation brushes, they don’t create a seamless look. Use a Beauty Blender. If you make mistakes with your bronzer or blush, your Beauty Blender that you used to apply your foundation is like your magic eraser. Use a fluffy eye shadow brush to buff in your concealer. A stiff brush won’t blend properly. Fluffier and bigger brushes are more diffused natural look. The tighter the brush the fuller the application. Don’t hold your brush like a pencil hold it at the base for a lighter touch.’

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5 Tips For Negotiating Cost with Solar Contractors

Congratulations: You have done the research, determined that solar paneling is a good choice for your home, and have chosen a solar contractor after sifting through three or four estimates. Now it’s time to make your choice official and sign a contract with that solar installer, meaning it’s time to negotiate for a price.

If you walk away with only one thing after reading this, let it be this: This is your project and the contractor is working for you to install solar panels for your house. If at any moment during the negotiation or ensuing conversations, you feel unappreciated, disrespected, or otherwise neglected, it’s okay to walk away. A solar paneling installation is a worthy, and costly, investment—nothing and no one should push you to do anything you’re not completely comfortable with.

Knowing that, your goal now is achieving the best quality solar panel installation for your home and subsequently increasing its value in the long term. The first step is getting a good deal, both on the money you’re putting into the project and the quality you’re going to get out of it. Follow our tips to negotiate with your solar contractor and ensure the highest return on your investment.

Push for Details About Solar Energy and Your Utility Bill

Your contractor is well versed in how your specific project is going to impact your electric bill, even if only in broad strokes. They’ve visited your house and assessed its potential, its needs, and its challenges. On this front, it’s in their interest to increase your solar energy output and maximize your home’s value in the process. The initial, ongoing, and continued success of their installation is paramount to their near and future prospects.

Why? The cost of solar installation has dropped more than 70 percent since 2010, according to data from Solar Energy Industries Association. In response, therefore, contractors have stepped up their game to compete in an increasingly saturated arena. It’s okay to ask about guarantees.

While it’s hard for a contractor to make exact promises, they can certainly settle on ranges and they can certainly explain the minimum outputs you can expect from your solar panel systems. If they can’t, remember the one thing we emphasized in the beginning—a solar installer unsure of their work should not be the contractor you choose for the job.

Ask Your Solar Contractor to Handle the Bureaucracy

Paperwork is a drag—your contractor might attempt to offload some of that labor onto you to keep their overhead low.

Be sure to ask precisely what forms, permits, and other filings are required and who is expected to handle them during your home improvement project. It’s okay to expect the contractor to handle the bulk of the work—after all, one of their value propositions is expertise in the field and local knowledge about getting the most out of local, state, and federal rebates and incentives.

When it comes to powering your home with solar energy, there’s a lot to keep track of. The Department of Energy’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (or DSIRE), for instance, lists hundreds and hundreds of policies and incentives across the country, numbering anywhere from West Virginia’s 14 to Oregon’s 147. While we recommend you research and get acquainted with local policies, you are not the one who’s a professional, nor are such responsibilities yours. You’re paying good and hard earned money to a company to handle the solar installation—so ensure they do so.

Get Clarity on the Warranty, and Ensure It’s Part of the Price

You can always negotiate with your contractor on the price of a successful project before signing a contract. Discuss your budget with your solar contractor. Agree that any unexpected project expenses will be presented in writing to help you remain within your budget. Surprises, in other words, shouldn’t surprise you or your contractor, and they should definitely not surprise your investment.

Warranties will also impact your quoted cost. Most installers offer manufacturer’s warranties that protect you from faulty equipment. Some might offer additional guarantees for the installation, as well, covering potential damage to your house. Be sure the quoted warranty is clear in what it covers—and in what it doesn’t. Additionally, use the warranty as a bargaining chip.

A lower price should elicit a short length warranty and a higher price one that is longer. A 50-year warranty might be too long and a two-year warranty might be too short. The particulars of your system and your solar energy needs dictate these numbers more than anything else. Discuss them thoroughly with your contractor.

Reputation is Everything: Does Your Solar Installer Pass Muster?

Your business is their business—and while this solar installation could stay with you (or at least your house) for decades, it will also build, or continue to build, their reputation into a prosperous business.

A veteran solar panel contractor might be well endowed with repeat business and a booked schedule. Younger companies and contractors might be more willing to reduce their price and elongate their warranties for a solid project like yours.

Get to know local and trusted contractors through services like Modernize. The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your solar panel project is in good hands. You can access the interactive checklist by visiting the Modernize Homeowner Portal or by downloading it here.

Solar Panel Contractors Get Second Opinions—You Should, Too

The entire process of a solar panel installation is detail-heavy and involves a myriad of moving parts, from the fine print of your contract to the machinations of the installation itself—remember what we said about surprises?

Since your contractor has (literally) been around the block and has experience you might lack, be sure to consult close friends and family about the major steps of your journey. While we condone this type of support, homeowners have repeatedly told us through surveys and interviews that deciphering some of the deeper and more complex elements of their project left them seeking more professional support—which our homeowners found with Modernize.

If you walk away from reading this with just one more thing, let it be this: Your biggest friend in a solar contract negotiation could be a service like Modernize. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you.

The post 5 Tips For Negotiating Cost with Solar Contractors appeared first on Modernize.

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Going bare-faced is scary, unless you follow these tips and tricks

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Pictured above: Beauty vlogger Estée Lalonde is the face of Oral-B’s #nofiltersmile campaign

In a world of FaceTune, Snapchat filters and over-contoured complexions, it’s time to start celebrating the au naturel. Let’s put barefaced beauty back in the spotlight and encourage more people to #nofiltersmile their selfies.

We know that showing the world a completely bare face can be daunting to some people; perhaps you’re struggling with blemishes, you wouldn’t be caught dead without concealer over your dark circles or maybe you just wish your teeth were a little bit whiter. We totally get it. However, there are some simple tricks that you can follow to help make you feel more confident in front of the camera.

1. GET THE FULL EIGHT

We know you’ve heard it before. But getting a good night’s sleep allows your body, mind and skin to rest, recuperate and repair. Avoid looking at your phone for an hour before bed, spritz your pillows and duvet with a lavender pillow mist and pop on an eye mask. You’ll wake up feeling a lot fresher, more revitalised and it will show on your face.

2. NAIL YOUR ROUTINE

If you want healthy looking skin you need to look after it properly. What does properly mean? It means cleansing every single day, then using a toner that’s suited to your skin type. If you don’t use a serum – introduce one now, it’ll supercharge your routine and help make your skin look lit from within. Once that’s done, follow with an SPF moisturiser for daytime protection. Repeat in the evening, but switch to a night cream that boosts the skin’s repair mode, like retinol.

3. DRINK, THEN DRINK SOME MORE

Another obvious step, but one that so often gets overlooked despite the benefits to your skin and health: drinking water. The NHS EatWell Guide recommends drinking between six and eight glasses a day, which is easy when it becomes a habit. Here’s a little tip: aim to drink two glasses when you’re having your breakfast, keep a glass on your desk and try to get through around four during the working day, then when you sit down to dinner try and drink two more, before finally ending with one before bed. Easy peasy. Your skin will thank you.

4. BE PICKY ABOUT WHAT YOU PUT IN YOUR MOUTH

Don’t just use any old toothpaste, use one that you’re actually going to benefit from. Oral-B’s 3D White Whitening Therapy Enamel Care Toothpaste is designed to remove surface stains and strengthen and nourish your enamel. The loss and weakening of enamel is what causes yellowing and stops you having a brighter, whiter smile.

5. WORK WITH WHAT YOU’VE GOT

They say the eyes are the window to the soul, so treat them with kindness and care and accentuate them. Get your eyebrows shaped at a brow bar and you’ll notice that your face is instantly framed. Curling your lashes opens up your eyes and makes them pop. Take down any puffiness with a cool flannel over your eyes for 15 minutes.

The post Going bare-faced is scary, unless you follow these tips and tricks appeared first on Marie Claire.

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Business Travel Survival Guide: Do more and stress less with these tips from a successful millennial CEO

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“Behind every great woman, are great women.” As founder and CEO of the wildly popular networking platform Create & Cultivate, Jacyln Johnson practices what she preaches. With two successful businesses and recognition from Adweek, Forbes, Fast Company and Entrepreneur under her belt by the age of 30, Johnson doesn’t just have a career—she creates them

Recognizing a missing resource for accomplished millennial women, Johnson launched Create & Cultivate to empower women to achieve their career goals and become their own bosses. She started small, with a gathering of 50 entrepreneurs in Palm Springs. In response, Johnson received hundreds of emails from women eager for the next conference.“That’s when I realized there was real momentum around this idea,” said Johnson. “It feels like a dream job.” Read more…

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10 of the best activity holidays worldwide: readers’ travel tips

Kayaking, cycling, running and hiking from the Andes to Iran … Our tipsters aren’t content with a book and deckchair

For climbing and scrambling with a twist head to Le Bourg-d’Oisans in the French Alps south-east of Grenoble. Stay in one of the many campsites (Le Château de Rochetaillée is excellent) before finding La Montagne Sports shop in town who will kit you out for €10 per day with everything you need for the area’s seven spectacular via ferrata routes. On another day, head an hour’s drive west to Alpes du Grand Serre and experience the thrill of scrambling, climbing and traversing along rock, over a raging river and coming out at the top into a beautiful alpine meadow with rosy cheeks and a spring in your tired step. If you enjoyed this, head next to Cascade de la Fare in Vaujany, just half an hour north of Le Bourg. This is a step up and includes two long bridges over a ravine and an ascent to a waterfall with sensational views.
Karen Abell

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12 Essential Tips to Get the Best Shoe Fit

As the old adage goes, if the shoe fits, wear it. Even though that idiom isn’t really about footwear, it begs the question: is shoe fit really that straightforward?

When buying items for your wardrobe, it’s not usually the case that your purchase will cause you physical pain; nor is it likely that you wouldn’t know how well your item fits until weeks or months after you start wearing it. However, both of these things can happen when you buy a pair of dress shoes. You’ll know if a shirt is too tight or if a suit jacket is too short almost immediately. But you may not be sure that you’ll be able to wear your shoes comfortably until they break in, after which you can no longer return them. To avoid mishaps and wasted money, it’s best to do things right at the beginning of the process by learning how to get the best shoe fit.

Crockett & Jones shoe fitting
Professional sizing at Crockett & Jones in London

1. Get Professionally Sized

The first recommendation to get properly fitting dress shoes is to go to a shoe store and have your feet professionally measured. Some online stores will enable you to print out a paper template to measure your feet at home, but the accuracy can be iffy depending on whether you’ve printed it right, and sometimes you need to tape two sheets of paper together.

Brannock Device
A Brannock device for measuring foot length and width as well as arch length

Better to go to a reliable men’s shoe seller and get sized there with the equivalent of a Brannock device, named for Charles Brannock of Syracuse, NY, who invented it during the early 20th century. It measures foot length and width as well as arch length, which is the distance between the heel and the ball of your foot.  Even if you know your size, your feet actually can change shape and size over time, with feet generally getting bigger as you age. So, it never hurts to verify your size once in a while. Even more important is verifying that your arch length is appropriate to your shoe size.

Shadow Stripe Ribbed Socks Dark Navy Blue & Royal Blue with Burgundy Derby Dress Shoe
Shoes flex at the ball of your foot, making the arch length an important measurement to know for comfort

Since shoes flex at the ball of your foot, this dimension is critical for comfort. It’s possible for two different people to have feet with the same total length but different distances between their heels and the balls of their feet, depending on whether their toes are longer.  Professional sizing will determine this.

2. Listen to Expert Advice

Guys can be stubborn. It’s why we don’t ask for directions even when we’re lost and why we obstinately insist we know what size we wear even when measurements say otherwise. In reality, the number stamped on the shoe means less than how it actually fits on your foot. If the expert staff at a shoe store tell you that you’re a size 9 rather than a 9.5 like you thought there’s no reason not to heed their wisdom, right?

Business casual with shirt tie, brown shoes and leather canvas bag
Get measured or try new shoes on at the end of your workday

3. Try Shoes on in the Afternoon

Feet not only change over the long term but also fluctuate in size each day. After you’ve stood and walked on them for hours, they’re at their biggest, so it’s best to get measured and try shoes on in the late afternoon. If the shoe fits then when your feet are at their maximum size, they’ll definitely fit when your feet are at their smallest in the morning. 

Your feet might not be the same size

4. Size for Your Bigger Foot

One of the revelations of an interest in menswear is that your body is not totally symmetrical. Your right shoulder may be slightly lower than your left or your left arm slightly longer than your right, something you accommodate when you get your shirts made or your jacket sleeves adjusted. Similarly, 60% of people have one foot larger than the other, usually the left one. If this is up to a half size difference, you’re better served by buying a larger size rather than cramping your bigger foot. If the difference is larger, you may be forced to buy two pairs of shoes or go bespoke.

Striped shirt with wrinkly sleeve because they were not rotated - collar tips do not touch the body of the shirt
Just as your shoulders may not be exactly even, your feet will also be different sizes

5. Learn What Sort of Last Fits You Best

Round-toed Shoes
Round-toed loafers can make your feet look smaller and accommodate a wide toe box more comfortably than a long last

As explained in our article on toe, the last is the form that determines the overall shape of a shoe when it is made, from the toe to the entire upper. Some lasts can be long with a narrow fit and pointed toe. Others can be rounder and more spacious.

refined lasts
Various shoe lasts with different shapes

Based on knowing the shape of your own feet, choose those lasts that are most accommodating. If you know you have broad feet, for example, avoid choosing shoe styles based on narrow lasts. Even if you like the way they look. you’ll pay for it in terms of discomfort.

6. Pay Attention to the Width Alphabet

There are a number of width sizes, each denoted by a letter A-E

Take note of which brands have shoes in various widths if your feet are wider or narrower than average. In men’s dress shoes, the letter D indicates an average width. Wider feet are indicated by E, EE or EEE lettering. Conversely, C, B, and A indicate narrow to extra narrow sizing. If you’re new to buying dress shoes, you may just buy based on your size number and ignore the width options, but once you get your width (again, by being professionally measured), you should use your width letter too. Unfortunately, many brands will stock shoes in only a limited range, perhaps C, D and E, if you are lucky since they need to target the majority of buyers. If you fall outside the range look for another brand.

7. Realize that Sizing isn’t Consistent Among Brands.

As Sven Raphael Schneider has previously pointed out,  the width alphabet offered by brands may or may not be standardized; this is true of shoe sizing in general. Men’s dress shoes are subject to the same inconsistency even though shoe sizes are supposed to match particular measurements. For example, if your foot measures 10 inches, it’s supposed to fit well into a size 8. However, you probably have had the experience where a 10 from SuitSupply isn’t the same length as a 10 from Meermin or another company. While they’re not dress shoes, L.L. Bean’s waterproof gum boots are notorious for difficult sizing that runs up to several sizes bigger than one would normally wear.

Hand burnished captoe half brogue Oxford by Ace Marks
Hand burnished captoe half brogue Oxford by Ace Marks

So what do you do? The solution is to try the sizing from companies you are interested in and determine how they fit you in a way that avoids unnecessary expense. Either do this in person if they have a physical location or make use of a good exchange or return policy. This can be particularly tricky if you are ordering overseas, as you will lose a decent amount of money mailing shoes back internationally: shoes weigh a lot, which means higher postage. Ace Marks is a high-quality, afforable Italian brand that offers free shipping and returns to the United States, so they’re a great option. The good thing is that once you determine sizing for a brand, you should be good to go with future orders.

Ace Marks size conversion chart
Ace Marks size conversion chart

International orders pose another issue with getting a proper fit because of the conversion from one country’s sizing system to another’s. A European or Italian 43 could convert to a US 10, or it could be a half size different. For instance, the usual conversion between British and North American shoe sizes is to add one size, so a British 9.5 is an American 10.5, but this can also vary by a half size. As an example, a Crockett & Jones size 10 is not equal to a US 11 but to a 10.5.  Rather than relying on pure trial and error (and wasted shipping), you can either try the shoes on directly or contact the shoemaker to ask them for the correct conversion. Of course, this may also be provided on the company’s own website, so read carefully before ordering. The ideal approach is an in-person sizing, perhaps as part of a sartorial vacation. That way, you will be completely sure and get the full sizing experience of tip #1.

8. Buy the Best Quality You Can Afford

tan derby shoes with Mid Brown Socks with Green and Cream Clocks by fort belvedere with glen plaid trousers
This pair of tan derby shoes was one of Sven Raphael Schneider’s first high-quality shoe purchases; he bought them as new old stock at a secondhand shop. He’s still wearing them 15 years later

As a rule, more expensive shoes will fit better due to the higher quality materials and designs. Those that are mass produced or cheaper will experience manufacturing variations even within the same size. More expensive brands will have better quality control and therefore more consistent sizing. One example is the Spanish brand Meermin, which though inexpensive ($ 195+), is notorious for being made of a stiff leather that takes a long time to break in. Its sister brand, Carmina, is more expensive ($ 450+) and more immediately comfortable, sometimes from the first wear. So, if you’re on a budget, the fact is that you may have to sacrifice some comfort and consistency. That’s why it’s wise to skimp and save for better shoes. In the long-term, you will get a shoe to wear for decades with proper care and replacement of the sole.

Meermin boots
Though offering good quality at a low cost, Meermin leather tends to be quite thick and stiff

9. Consider the Type of Shoe

Ace Marks Penny Loafer Cognac Antique
Loafers will fit differently than laced shoes

As a general rule, you’ll need to size down when wearing loafers as opposed to oxfords and derby shoes because loafers are thinner and fit more closely to your foot. The absence of laces also means that you are dependent on a close fit to keep them from falling off.  An additional factor is the material they’re made of. Calf leather is a bit thicker and firmer than suede, so your suede loafer may be the smallest size footwear you own, a half size lower than a lace-up. On the other hand, with dress boots, like balmorals, half a size larger usually isn’t a problem because the leather around your ankle keeps your foot from slipping out (and you may want to wear thicker socks).

Lastly, if you have wide feet or a high arch, derby shoes may be a better option for you than oxfords because derbies have an open lacing system. The closed lacing of oxfords means the top of your foot is more constricted. A sure sign that a derby may be a better shoe for you is if the leather at the top of your oxfords spreads open even when they’re laced up.

10. Make Sure New Shoes “Hug” Your Feet

More leather fringes - note the shoe sock combination
A unique take on the Monk Strap that hugs the wearer’s foot

Staff at Crockett & Jones inform me that men frequently buy shoes that are too loose for them because they initially feel spacious and comfortable when they first put them on while a properly fitting shoe will be snug (but not tight). When you try them on in the store, they can feel like they’re too small in comparison to shoes you own that have already been well broken in, but this is a mistaken impression. The fact is that new shoes will stretch: they’ll get softer and more supple, as well as slightly larger, with use. If they’re already big to begin with, they will get too loose in a month when you’ve worn them for a while. Professionals refer to the proper fit of a new shoe as feeling like your foot is being hugged; it shouldn’t pinch or hurt, especially at the toes, but it should not feel roomy either. Again, it’s worth listening to the advice of staff.

11. Don’t Rely on Shoe Stretching

Mechanical shoe stretcher
A DIY shoe stretcher is not a cure for undersized shoes

On the other hand, avoid the opposite mistake of buying shoes that are too tight just because you like them or they’re a steal, with the expectation that you’ll be able to stretch them out. The fact is if they hurt at the start, it’s not likely they’ll ever be truly comfortable when you break them in. Sure, you can get a shoe stretching contraption on Amazon that looks like a medieval torture device, with a large adjustable screw mechanism and various attachments. You can also bring tight shoes to a cobbler for stretching, and they will use a similar machine and put them on it for a week. Another DIY trick is walking around in the shoes while wearing two pairs (or a thick pair) of socks. All of these have limited results–they may help to speed up the breaking-in period of a shoe that already fits, but they’re just desperate measures for a pair that is too tight. There is a very small gain in size possible with stretching, and it’ll ultimately be a waste of time, money and effort. There really is no substitute for proper fit from the start.

12. Try Shoes on for a Decent Length of Time

Andrew Lock Goodyear Welted Shoes
A broken in pair of Andrew Lock Goodyear Welted Shoes will feel much different than when they are new

A lot of times people will try shoes on for just a few minutes before purchasing them. It’s hard to get a true sense of fit in such a short time, so keep them on for as long as you can manage in the store. A brand with good customer service will allow and even encourage you to do so whereas a big brand in a mall will likely want you to take the shoes off and get out. So, you need to schedule the proper time and find an appropriate boutique to do this. Granted, you’ll still be walking on soft carpets and not running for the subway on hard pavement, but this is usually enough to feel the fit. If you order online, do the same in your house, but be careful not to scuff the bottoms. Stick to carpets or slip a gym sock or overshoe on the outside while you’re walking around.

Conclusion

Our feet spend most of every day in shoes, and many of us walk around for hours in them, so it’s paramount to get the best fit you can. Life is too short to suffer unnecessarily for something that can be solved by applying any of these twelve tips. The advice here addresses men’s dress shoes, but most are relevant to casual shoes and women’s shoes as well. Each foot is different, but these tips will help you find the most comfort you can while wearing leather footwear. What other tips do you have for getting a good fit? Share them in the comments below.

If the shoe fits, wear it.


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Lady Gaga’s Colorist Patti Song Shares Platinum Hair Care Tips

If you’re considering going platinum blonde sometime soon, it’s crucial that you know what you’re getting into and go in armed with the right knowledge, like how to properly use purple shampoos. In a recent interview, Lady Gaga’s longtime colorist Patti Song revealed about how she keeps the singer’s strands healthy and vibrant, despite dyeing it so often. Check out her advice and more platinum hair-care tips, here.
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13 Pro Budgeting Tips for People Who Wonder Where Every Paycheck Goes

A monthly budget is like Google Maps for your finances: You follow it because you don’t know where you’re going without it.

If you’re new to budgeting, don’t be discouraged by a few — or many —  wrong turns and closed roads along the way. The longer you stick with it, the better you get.

And with a few simple tips, you can be well on your way before you know it.

13 Budgeting Tips Anyone Can Follow

Whether you’re trying to pay off credit card debt or just boost your savings, here are some budgeting tips that will help you make (and stick to) your budget.

1. Set Your Goals Before You Make Your Budget

Without a goal, a budget is just a spreadsheet that tells you to have less fun.

Think about what you want in the next five to 10 years, and figure out what financial situation you need to get there. Whatever your goals are, know that any sound financial foundation starts with an emergency fund.

You might then want to pay off debt, save for a down payment on a home, or increase your savings.

Decide where you want to be financially next year and the year after. Knowing what you want to do with your money will guide you as you make your budget, and it will greatly increase the likelihood that you’ll stick to it.

2. There’s No One Size-Fits-All Budget. Find a Plan That Works for You

There are so many budgeting methods out there, and every guru says theirs is the best. But ultimately you have to chose the one that works for you.

If you’ve got an ambitious goal, we recommend trying a zero-based budget first.

To make a zero-based budget, start by prioritizing your expenses from essential to nonessential. Then, assign every dollar in your paycheck a “job” on the list until you run out.

The most important things — housing, food, minimum debt payments — get taken care of first, and you can disburse the remaining money for your goals and fun in their order of importance to you.

Zero-based budgeting is great for Type A planners. If you prefer to be a little more loosey-goosey, a 50/20/30 budget is a great option. With this approach, you don’t have to think too much about your expenses. You just allocate 50% of your income to your needs, 20% to savings and 30% to wants.

3. Use a Budgeting App or the Envelope System to Track Your Spending on the Go

A woman creates three different envelopes to control her spending. The envelopes say expenses, savings and fun.

It’s hard to lug around your laptop or binder to keep up with each budget category, so a budgeting app is a great tool for updating your budget on the go. There are many out there, whether you like to enter each transaction manually or see everything updated automatically.

If your goal is to take an intense look at your spending, manually tracking your transactions is going to work best. Once you’ve been budgeting for a while and you’ve got a grasp on your spending, syncing transactions automatically works fine.

If you still can’t stick to your budget, the envelope system can help you succeed without so much emphasis on constant tracking.

After you decide how much money goes toward each of your expenses, put the money you’ll spend for each expense in a given week into separate envelopes and carry them with you. Once an envelope is empty, you’re done spending in that category. You can keep receipts in the envelope and examine your purchases later.

Envelopes are best for categories you’re prone to overspending on. You probably don’t need envelopes for things like gas and utilities, because you’re not likely to go on a gas-buying spree.

Popular categories for envelopes are restaurants, groceries, clothes and entertainment.

4. Use the Past to Predict Your Future Income and Expenses

Whether you choose a zero-based budget, 50/20/30 budget or some other method, you’re going to have to calculate your income and the amount of money you want to put toward every category or individual expense.

Salaried employees will get off easy when they calculate their incomes. If you have a variable income or side hustles, you’ll need to do some digging.

Look back at your income from the past six months, or as far back as you can if you’ve been at your current job for less time. Then find your average monthly income and the average amount of each paycheck.

Expenses like utilities can also be unpredictable. Check your online statements to see which months were higher versus which were lower so you can make future budgets. You may not be able to take that impromptu weekend getaway the month your electric bill will be $ 300, but it might be totally feasible during a month it’s going to be $ 75.

5. Make a Monthly Budget AND a Budget for Each Paycheck

A woman draws a budget in a bullet journal.

Since most bills are monthly, it’s important to make a budget for the entire month to get a clear picture of everything due. But by breaking that down further into paycheck-by-paycheck budgets, you can pace your spending so you don’t end up penniless by the 20th.

You can make categories as vague or as specific as you want, but put as many barriers in place to prevent yourself from overspending in the first half of the month.

This is another time when the envelope system helps you, but you could do the same thing with reloadable gift cards for specific stores.

6. Don’t Confuse Infrequent Expenses With Emergencies

These aren’t the unexpected expenses that you’d cover with your miscellaneous or emergency categories. Infrequent expenses are the charges that come up once or twice a year — but we always seem to forget will happen.

Like when it’s Dec. 23 and you’re still not done with your holiday shopping. Who could’ve predicted Christmas would be on Dec. 25 AGAIN?!

Examples include things like auto insurance, car registration, license renewal, vet visits, car repairs and membership fees.

Keep a chart that includes your semiannual and annual expenses to determine what you need to save every month to cover them. Open a separate checking account or savings account where you put money every month to cover these expenses.

7. Remember the Obvious: You Need to Spend Less

Once the planning is done, it’s time for the hardest part: sticking to your plan.

If you’re in the habit of spending more than you make, your first priority is to find ways to save money.

We don’t mean you need to find better sales and clip more coupons. As much as we love a good coupon stack, the most important thing you can do is buy and spend less.

Some of our favorite tips to cut spending are:

  • Make a meal plan, and stick to your grocery list.
  • Prep meals on Sundays so you’re less likely to eat out during the week.
  • Opt for free events in your area instead of pricy activities or bars.
  • Try running and body-weight workouts instead of paying for a gym membership.

There are countless ways to save money. Our best tip: Start by slashing expenses that are making a big dent in your budget instead of shaving pennies off already manageable ones.

Do everything you can to resist the temptation to make impulse purchases or spend beyond your budget. An easy way to do this: Leave your credit card at home, and use cash envelopes or a debit card.

8. Use the 30-Day Rule to Stop Impulse Buys

If you still need to curb impulse buying, follow the 30-day rule: When you want to buy something that’s not in your budget, make note of the item in question for next month’s budget and revisit it in 30 days. If you still want it, you can consider buying it if you can afford it.

Online shoppers can use the Icebox Chrome extension that allows you to choose a 30-day “cool off” period before you can buy something.

9. Negotiate Your Bills to Save Money

People often take for granted that what they’re paying for their phone, internet and insurance is what they have to pay. By contacting your providers to negotiate your bills, you could lower your bills once or twice every year.

You can do this yourself by calling all your companies or using a negotiation app like Trim or Empower.

If you’re trying it yourself, be friendly, ask for more than you want, and back down from there. Stop when you feel you’ve reached a good deal. Oh, and be prepared to be on the phone for a while.

10. Remember That Things Will Go Wrong

Student loans and credit cards aren’t paid off overnight. And the perfect budget isn’t made in a day.

Things will change and go wrong. Impulse purchases will be made, and budgets will get obliterated by life’s little surprises. The most important tip for budgeting is to not give up.

When things go wrong, alter your budget to compensate. Move money from one category to another, put less in savings, or try a side hustle to add some wiggle room. And know that sometimes you’ll find yourself ripping up the entire budget and starting again from scratch in the middle of the month.

If budgeting continues to be difficult, try adding a small miscellaneous category somewhere to cover surprise expenses. These expenses come up often and derail the best budgeters. Make a category to cover them, and figure out where to put them later.

Eventually, you’ll get this whole budgeting thing down. But it’s going to start with a lot of bumps in the road.

How to Budget on an Inconsistent Income

A man places money in a tip jar.

Living off tips, sales commissions or freelance work can make for a flexible lifestyle, but it also makes it hard to budget.

When you have an inconsistent income, you can follow all the budgeting tips above. But there’s one thing you should add to your budget to make it easier for yourself during low-income months.

11. Have an Income-Sinking Fund for When Your Income Is Less

When you calculate your income and get your monthly average, compare it with your income each month throughout the year. In months you expect to make more than average, take the difference and transfer it to your income-sinking fund. It’s a separate account where you put money you plan to take out in the near future for a specific purpose, such as supplementing your income on low-earning months.

During months when you expect to make less, you can withdraw up to your monthly average to help with expenses.

Tips for Budgeting With a Partner

Another challenge is budgeting with a partner. It can feel like too many cooks in the kitchen are ruining the budget soup, but when there are two incomes, lives and futures at stake, everyone involved needs to have a stake in the budget.

12. Hold a Monthly Budget Meeting

The first tip is to have a monthly budget meeting that both of you are required to attend.

Whoever enjoys budgeting more can make the budget, but the other partner still has to contribute something. Whether they change one line or many, we repeat: They must contribute.

The budget can still be flexible and change as needed during the month, but both partners should be consulted about big changes. Feeling included is important to working as a team on your finances.

13. ‘Subtle’ Hints Can Help if Your Partner Hates to Budget

If your partner isn’t on board with budgets, they’ll need a little convincing.

Ashley Patrick of Budgets Made Easy tried having budget meetings with her husband, but he wasn’t interested.

Patrick desperately wanted her husband to be part of their financial planning, but he wanted her to handle everything. So she turned to money-saving guru Dave Ramsey’s podcast.

“The biggest thing that fully got him on board was playing Dave Ramsey podcasts in the car, especially when I did it on a long road trip,” she said. “Hours of Dave Ramsey helped change his mindset.”

Both people need to be flexible with the other’s priorities and supportive of their goals.

Budgeting together won’t be easy at first — but it’ll lead to a lifetime of financial strength and happiness.

Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She and her husband paid off $ 78,000 of debt in less than two years on two less-than-average salaries. She gives money-saving and debt-payoff tips on Instagram at @modernfrugality.

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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Sam's Club Membership Offer

Career Tips for the Shutdown: How To Make the Most of a Furlough

shutdown career tips

I’ve seen a few reader threads about the government shutdown that keeps dragging on… and on… and on… and I thought we might have a little thread with career tips for the shutdown, as well as a general open thread for everyone dealing with the shutdown in general.

I’m obviously not a government worker, so take these with a grain of salt — but here are some quick career tips to help you make the most of the shutdown: 

  • Update your resume.
  • Network! Grab breakfast, lunch, or coffee with former and current coworkers. Now might be a great time to throw a party at your home (potluck/BYOB?) and invite a LOT of former coworkers since everyone might have a lot of time. 
  • Committee it up. If you’re on any professional committees that are “extracurriculars” for you, see what you can get done — plan a conference or speech, write a speaker’s bio, update the committee/organization website, interview a thought leader for your committee newsletter, or more. Here’s our last post with tips for finding and joining professional organizations.
  • Write an article or read an industry-specific book or magazine you’ve been meaning to read but haven’t had a chance to. 
  • Get those CLEs in. If you’re a lawyer or in another profession with continuing education requirements, get those CLEs in. (There are a ton of free ones on PLI’s website, and the ABA just started offering free CLEs during the shutdown.)
  • Resistbot the @#$ @#$ out of your representatives.

For those of us who are not government employees, how is the shutdown affecting you? Are you avoiding travel because of TSA agent absences, or avoiding salad purchases because food inspectors aren’t working? Are you doing anything to help workers directly affected by the shutdown, like working with any of the excellent nonprofits mentioned in this CNN article?

The post Career Tips for the Shutdown: How To Make the Most of a Furlough appeared first on Corporette.com.

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Furniture Staging Tips

When staging your home, your goal is to appeal to a wide range of buyers to ensure you receive numerous offers, sell your home at top value and sell quickly. Your first step should be to engage the services of a professional home stager to ensure nothing is missed but here are a few more tips you can use:

Photo Source: Lux Furniture Rentals

AVOID USING PERSONALIZED STYLES I have heard many stories of homeowners disagreeing with their home stager because they “don’t like it.” Remember, you’re trying to sell your home. It’s not about what you like but what will appeal to the widest range of potential buyers so keep an open mind! As a general rule, stick with neutral colors and add pops of color here and there that work with your current space.

FIND THE RIGHT AUDIENCE Trying to nail the right look can be difficult. Think about the neighborhood, demographics and the features and limitations of the space you’re trying to stage. Is it mostly families living and/or moving into the area? Young professionals? Upscale area? Condo vs. detached home? Knowing the type of buyer interested in your neighborhood can help you create a style that matches that audience.

BRING IN FRESH PIECES Most of the time you’ll need to bring in rental furniture to freshen up and update the look of your home. A reputable furniture rental company offers you the chance to replace or supplement your existing furniture with pieces that will appeal to your target buyer. At Luxe, we offer a variety of vignettes showcasing different colors, trends and sizes to fit any space and we constantly update our inventory to ensure we have plenty of options available. Home stagers and homeowners can choose to use an entire vignette or you can mix and match pieces in order to tie together the overall look and give your home that WOW! factor that buyers are looking for! – Andre Janveaux, Lux Furniture Rentals, www.luxfurniturerentals.com

The post Furniture Staging Tips appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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