10 Steps to Take to Retire in 10 Years

10 Steps to Take to Retire in 10 Years

Everyone dreams of retiring early. However, it usually stops there. If you are serious about early retirement, you need to consider what steps to take to make it happen. So, if you plan to stop working in the next decade, here are 10 steps to take to retire in the next 10 years.

10 Steps to Take to Retire in 10 Years

1. Assess your budget.

The first step is to evaluate your budget. You can figure out your current budget by calculating your monthly take-home and expenses. Once you know where you stand, then you can take measures to ensure you are living below your means. Find ways to trim your budget and increase the amount you save every month to retire early. The more you save, the more money you can contribute toward your retirement goals.

2. Determine your retirement budget.

After you know your current budget, the next step is to determine your monthly budget after retirement. You’ll need this figure to help you set a goal for how much you will need to last you through your golden years. Once you calculate what you expect your retirement budget to be, you can plan accordingly.

3. Calculate your cost of living.

To help you figure out what your retirement budget should be, you need to decide where you want to live and what kind of lifestyle you want to lead.

Do you want to stay in your own home, or would you prefer to move somewhere smaller? Would a retirement community offer more benefits? Or, could you afford a better quality of life somewhere else? Once you answer this question, you can easily estimate the fixed expenses for housing, property taxes, utilities, and inflation.

However, don’t forget to account for variable expenses like food, transportation, health care, repairs, and entertainment. These will also be important factors that affect your cost of living and quality of life.

If you aren’t on track to retire in 10 years, you may need to consider ways to cut your cost of living.  This could mean finding ways to downsize, moving to a tax-friendly state, or even moving to another country to maximize your retirement income. And don’t forget, the earlier you retire, the more you will need to save.

4. Review your income streams.

Even though you are retired, you will need to have money coming in to pay your bills. Therefore, you should review your income streams during retirement and adjust your budget accordingly.

To do this, you can start by tallying up all your sources of income. This should include your Social Security benefits and all your savings from retirement accounts and pension plans. Don’t forget to include any additional cash flow you will receive when you sell off valuable assets like your home. And, you will need to include any passive income streams as well.

5. Figure out your Social Security income.

Although it won’t be enough to fund your entire retirement, your Social Security benefits will be an important source of income. The amount you receive largely depends on how much you contributed over the years and when you start taking your benefits. If you don’t know how much you have contributed or expect to receive, you can calculate your estimated benefits here

While you are eligible to start taking them at 62, you will receive more if you put it off. However, the benefits max out at 70. And keep in mind that spouses can take their benefits at different ages as well.

6. Optimize your retirement contributions.

Before you retire, squirrel away as much as you to give your savings plan a boost. Be sure to max out your retirement contributions, especially if your employer offers matching contributions. And those over 50 can contribute even more with “catch up” contributions. Optimizing these investment vehicles will afford you a more comfortable lifestyle post-retirement.

7. Adjust your investing strategy.

Not everyone wants to pay someone to manage their portfolio. But if you take a more hands-on approach to investing, you need to regularly check your portfolio’s performance and make adjustments when necessary.

One of the most critical times to do this is when you are preparing to retire. Many people become more risk averse as they near retirement. It makes sense though since you have less time to recover your money if you experience losses. So, they often adopt a more conservative strategy to preserve the nest egg. Sometimes, investors choose to sell off high-risk investments. Others decide to buy into funds that offer more diversification and distribute the potential risk. Both methods help mitigate the risk and protect your funds.

8. Pay off your debts.

Getting out of debt is hard enough when you have a salary. However, it becomes even more difficult if you are living on a fixed income. If your retirement expenses exceed your income, you could wind up outliving your savings. Therefore, don’t take on any new loans and work to pay off existing debt before you retire. It will be much easier to manage your finances if don’t have these liabilities.

9. Plan for long-term medical expenses.

For many workers, retirement benefits and pensions are becoming a thing of the past. Many jobs only offer water-downed health insurance, especially after you retire. So, it may be a good idea to look into long-term care insurance to assist with medical expenses.

This will be especially important for those with chronic illnesses and conditions that require regular treatment. Long-term care insurance will help cover assisted living and in-home care, if necessary. You could also use an HSA to help offset your healthcare expenses. Planning now could save you and your loved ones from medical debt.

10. Set clear goals.

No matter what you are trying to achieve in life, you need to have clear goals. They will help you focus on what matters most and motivate you to continue working toward it.

The same is true when you are planning for retirement. Start small and make saving money a habit with regular contributions to your savings, retirement, or brokerage accounts. The sooner you take action, the more time you have on your side.

It’s possible to retire in the next 10 years if you start saving now, but it will take a lot of effort and discipline. Talk to your financial planner to determine your most promising path forward.

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5 Places to Find Budget Suites

5 Places to Find Budget Suites

If you never had the chance for your summer vacation this year, it’s not too late to plan a relaxing getaway. Now that the high season has passed, you may be able to find even better travel deals. Since the tourists are gone and the kids are back in school, now is the perfect time to plan a budget vacation. Not only are the prices more reasonable, but you may be surprised to see what else you can afford, such as upgraded amenities or suites. For those who are looking for a little more luxury or a weekend staycation, here are 5 places you can find budget suites.

5 Places to Find Budget Suites

1. Booking.com

When I start looking for accommodations, booking.com is one of the first stops along my buyer’s journey. It has a wide array of properties around the world, with more than 28 million listings in 228 countries. When you start searching, the site shows the cheapest rates available, including discounted rates for last-minute deals. You can browse through hundreds of hotels, homes, condos, apartments, and unique accommodations for popular destinations. So, you can see why it would be one of the best places to find budget suites.

I also appreciate that it offers greater flexibility to change and cancel reservations. Many listings don’t require a credit card to confirm the booking and have reasonable cancellation policies if plans change. And, they have filters to help you find accommodations and suites that fit your criteria and budget.

However, the top reason I visit their site is for the discount. I’m a member of their loyalty program. So, I save an additional 10% with my Genius discount which you qualify for if you have two stays in two years. You can save 15% off the total booking if you move up to level two with five stays in two years.

Priceline Express Deals

When I’m looking for budget suites, price and location are my top priorities. Therefore, Priceline makes it easy to find what I need. I often prefer to use Priceline for their map and search features alone. When you type in a destination, you can use the map to compare hotels near the attractions and neighborhoods you want. And, it provides pop-up information about the prices, star ratings, and customer ratings. I can get all the information I need at a glance.

But, the real savings are for those who have flexibility with their travel plans. The Priceline Express Deals make it one of the cheapest sites for spontaneous travelers. If you have some room with your dates, you can save big on last-minute travel accommodations. Many people confirm that they regularly get 60% discounts on their stays, including 5-star resorts and hotels. Furthermore, many properties often apply the same discount to all room types, including suites.


This site has been around for a while and has become a trusted place to find accommodations in over 19,000 locations. The search engine is easy to navigate and has listings at hotels, B&Bs, apartments, vacation homes, condos…even castles if you want. And, they have a vast list of filters so you can find the specific amenities and room types you are looking for.

The reason I come to Hotels.com though is for their industry discounts. Since the company has been around since 1991, they have a good relationship with most hotel chains. Therefore, they often have better rates than other travel sites. And, they often extend the discount beyond their standard rooms. It will also flag hotels with significant discounts as well to help you get the most for your money.


Although I was hesitant to use a site that doesn’t reveal the location until you confirm your booking, HotelTonight has proven to be a reliable site for discounts on high-quality hotels. As the name suggests, it is one of the best places to find same-day deals on accommodations.

HotelTonight offers discount rates for hotels that haven’t reached capacity. The site advertises the rooms at deep discounts, sometimes up to 50%, to help hotels improve occupancy rates. But, they will only provide the general location and ratings before booking. Each time I used it, I have been pleasantly surprised to find that we landed a 3-4 star hotel for 2-star prices.

The Daily Drop gives you the best deal of the day. But, there’s a catch; you only have 15 minutes to claim it. If you are lucky enough to snag this deal, you could pay pennies on the dollar for budget suites.

Google Hotels

Google Hotels is a one-stop shop for destination information. And, it is specifically tailored for anyone who already uses Google. You can easily navigate straight from the search engine. You can just type “hotels” in the search bar to get started. From there, you can filter by price and location. Plus, it often has more current information on hotel availability than other websites.

It is also integrated into Google maps which makes it easy to compare prices in specific locations. Furthermore, it will also tell you about local attractions and give you an idea of which times will be the busiest. Although the site isn’t designated as a discount search option, it is one of the most reliable metasearch options for hotels and last-minute deals.

Tips to Find the Best Deals

These sites are 5 great places to shop for budget suites. However, here are a few tips to help you find the best deals out there.

  • A travel agent once told me that most companies in the travel industry start looking at dates and adjusting prices based on availability about 45 days in advance. Start your search early and check back regularly.
  • Set alerts and notifications for dates you potentially want to book.
  • Compare websites since they may have different rates.
  • Be flexible.
  • Look for dates in the off-season or on weekdays.
  • Refine your search filters to get exactly what you want.
  • Ask for corporate or membership discounts.
  • Read the fine print. Some accommodations may have restrictions or strict cancellation policies. Make sure you know what you’re booking before you pay.
  • Check the final total. Sometimes, an offer seems like a good deal until you include all the taxes and fees. Make sure you have a final tally before you give them your information.

Do you have any more suggestions on how to find budget suites? Share them in the comments below!

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What Are the Benefits of a Simple IRA for Small Business Owners?

The Benefits of a SIMPLE IRA for Your Small Business

As someone who is self-employed, my retirement plan looks a little different than most. Employee-sponsored 401(k)s and pensions plans are not in the cards for me, and there are a few more tax considerations as well. So, I need something easy to implement, that will offer substantial tax breaks, and allow me to maximize my contributions. Now that I’m looking for a new retirement vehicle to add to my portfolio, a SIMPLE IRA may be the answer to my problem.


A SIMPLE IRA, or Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees, is an Individual Retirement Account that is specifically designed for sole proprietors and small business owners. It works well for smaller employers who want to offer retirement benefits since it is easy to set up and maintain. Like other retirement plans, both the employer and employee can make contributions and receive tax benefits.

What are the Benefits of a SIMPLE IRA?

This type of retirement plan offers many benefits to both the employer and the employee.

1. It is to set up and maintain.

The first benefit is the convenience and easy process to set it up. There are fewer reporting requirements with a SIMPLE IRA than with other types of retirement accounts such as a 401(k). So, there is less paperwork involved to set up and maintain it.

2. There are fewer fees.

In that same line of thought, there are also fewer administrative fees to set them up. In general, the overall costs are lower when compared to the other alternatives. This makes it easier for small businesses to offer retirement benefits and attract more skilled employees.

3. It offers significant tax breaks.

Although you can’t claim your contributions as a deduction, you can defer part of your salary into these accounts. Since they would qualify as pre-tax income, any contributions you make to a SIMPLE IRA will lower your overall taxable income. And, your balance will continue growing, tax-deferred. The compounding interest will help you to maximize your earnings.

Additionally, it allows you to avoid the capital gains tax when you buy and sell within the account. The account is tax-deferred, so you won’t have to worry about this until you start receiving distributions.

And if your gross income is below a certain threshold, you may also qualify for the saver’s credit if you made contributions to your employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Employers also receive tax benefits as well. They can claim a 50% tax credit for up to $500 to offset the start-up costs for the first three years. The incentives make it more enticing for small business owners to set up these plans as well.

4. It has instant vesting.

With some employee-sponsored plans, sometimes there is a vesting period. This requires the employee to stay with the company for a set number of years to receive the matching contributions. However, with a SIMPLE IRA, any money deposited into the account is immediately yours, no waiting.

5. It increases the amount I can contribute.

As a sole proprietor, I can maximize my contributions as both employer and employee. In theory, it allows me to contribute double the amount that is allowed with a traditional IRA. As an employer, the contribution threshold for 2022 is $14,000. However, the maximum total is $20,500. If I can max out my contributions, it allows me a greater capacity to save for my retirement.  

Are There Restrictions on a SIMPLE IRA?

No retirement plan is perfect. So, it is important to be aware of the restrictions and requirements that are associated with a SIMPLE IRA.

Eligibility Requirements

As an employer, you must have 100 employees or less. And, you must make annual contributions to the account. You can do this in two ways: by electing to match their contributions with a limit of 3% or with a non-elective contribution of 2%. You can switch between matching or non-elective with notice.

To be eligible as an employee, you must have received at least $5,000 in compensation for the calendar year. Furthermore, you must have received at least the same minimum during two previous years as well.


First off, a SIMPLE IRA is not available as a Roth account. It also has different thresholds for maximum yearly contributions. For 2022, you can make a maximum contribution of $14,000, or $17,000 for those over 50. The total contribution is $20,500, or $27,000 for 50 and older. You also can’t max out this account if you have already reached the limit on another employer-sponsored retirement account.

The other feature of this tax-advantaged account is that you won’t pay any taxes until you start taking withdrawals. At that point, it will be taxed like normal income. There is also a 10% penalty if you withdraw before age 59 1/2 and a 25% penalty if you withdraw within 2 years of the first contribution. However, there are some qualified exemptions for early withdrawal.

Account Setup

If you choose a SIMPLE IRA, it is fairly simple to get started. You can partner with a financial institution to offer employers an individual account. Or, you can create the infrastructure and allow employees to set up their own accounts with their chosen institution. Employees who choose to participate will fill out the SIMPLE IRA adoption agreement, and then they can open the account with the designated custodian.

Is a SIMPLE IRA Right for You?

Any time an employer offers a retirement plan, it’s a good idea to participate. Otherwise, you are leaving free money on the table. It is also a great benefit for small businesses if they want to offer retirement benefits because it’s easy to set up and manage.

However, each situation is different. For me, a SIMPLE IRA gives me another investment vehicle and increases the amount I can contribute as both employer and employee. Therefore, it’s a no-brainer when compared to a 401(k) or traditional IRA. But what works for me may not be the best solution for everyone. So, you should review your options with your financial advisor to determine which is most beneficial for your specific circumstances.

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What Would Warren Buffett Do in a Bear Market?

What Would Warren Buffett Do In a Bear Market?

Whenever the markets take a dive, many investors look to the Oracle of Omaha for investing advice and to determine their next moves. Here’s what Warren Buffett has been doing since we officially entered a bear market.

What Is a Bear Market?

Every investor should understand the difference between a bull market and a bear market. Currently, we are entering a bear market which occurs when the stock market shows a long period of decline. It officially crossed that threshold in June when the U.S. stock market experienced more than a 20% decline in prices. After reaching all-time highs in January, it dropped 21% by June.

Unfortunately, this downturn is due to more than just market volatility. It was caused by a variety of factors including the far-reaching economic effects of the pandemic, inflation rates, a dip in the housing market, and investors allocating their assets away from securities. And, no one can be certain how long it will last.

What Would Warren Buffett Do in a Bear Market?

When people’s portfolios are taking a hit, many look to the ultra-wealthy and savviest investors to take their investing cues. Warren Buffett has been investing since he was 11 years old. Over the next 80 years, he has since become one of the most successful investors of all time and one of the wealthiest people in the world. He has weathered every market which is why many look to him for reassurance. So, what is Warren Buffet doing in this bear market?

The truth is that he is giving the same advice he always does. Here are six of the key principles of Warren Buffett’s investing philosophy.

1. Cash is not a good investment.

Contrary to what many people believe, Buffett does not believe that cash is king. Although we need it to survive, it is not the best place to invest your cash surplus. The value of cash depreciates over time with regular inflation rates. And, its value is further eroded by the current inflation spikes we are experiencing now. If you have a cash surplus, it is better to invest in more productive assets.

2. Invest in productive assets.

While it seems obvious, you want to invest in productive assets that build your net worth. In order for it to be productive, an asset must meet expectations of what kind of yield it will deliver. Therefore, you should first evaluate what you expect in returns and then utilize capital to acquire more productive assets. If an asset is not generating more wealth, it may be time to cash it in.

3. Stay in your circle of competence.

Warren Buffett is a smart man. However, he openly admits he does not understand every industry. He has found success because he has stayed within his circle of competence. For example, he never invested in the tech industry because it was beyond his scope. Because of this aspect of his philosophy, he avoided huge losses when the dotcom bubble burst. While you don’t have to understand everything, gravitating toward what he knows has helped make him one of the richest men alive.

4. Evaluate companies first.

Another habit that has served him well is performing due diligence before he buys into a company. He will evaluate a company and look at how much is it selling for vs. how much they think it is worth. Doing research on potential opportunities is an important step in preventing you from making a bad investment.

5. Play big and don’t waste an opportunity.

While losing money is never a good thing, a bear market may also present new opportunities. And if you want to make money, you have to seize them when they come. Warren Buffett has created a strategy that also considers the potential a bear market provides to acquire valuable stocks at a good price. But, he also warns that if you want to bring in profit, you can’t do it on a small scale when the opportunities come along.

6. Invest in yourself.

Finally, Buffett firmly believes that you are your most valuable asset. No one can take away your knowledge, talent, and experience. So, educate yourself and build your own talent. Find ways to increase your value by learning new skills and never underestimate your own value. It will be a valuable tool as you decide how to manage your investments.

Does a Bear Market Mean We Are Heading Towards a Recession?

Although we are firmly in the midst of a bear market, the looming question still remains. Are we heading towards a recession? Some fear that it may be even worst than the one we experience in 2008. However, other investors choose to view it as a normal market correction and a positive sign that a bull market is coming.

Without a doubt, a bear market is often among the first indications that we are entering a recession. But, that isn’t always the case. It’s important not to panic and start selling off your investments simply because we are seeing stock prices drop. Sometimes it really is the result of a market fluctuation, especially after so many years of living in a bull market. However, if we continue to see market losses in the months to come and inflation continues to rise, we very well could find ourselves facing a recession.

The simple truth is that no one knows, so it is impossible to answer this question with any amount of certainty. While there is no crystal ball to tell us what lies ahead, the philosophy created by the Oracle of Omaha may help you protect your investments.

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Terrible Investing Advice You Should Ignore

Terrible Investing Advice You Should Ignore

Taking bad advice usually has negative consequences. However, taking terrible investing advice could cost you your future. If you receive any of the following tips, it may be a red flag that it’s time to start thinking about where you get your financial advice.

10 Pieces of Terrible Investing Advice You Should Ignore

1. You should use the same financial advisor as your family and friends.

Even if the suggestion comes from someone you trust, it doesn’t mean their financial advisor will have the best advice for you. We each have personalized goals, different levels of risk tolerance, and unique financial situations. So, you need to find someone who understands what you need.

You should look for someone who aligns with your goals and explains things in a way you understand. Therefore, you need to do your due diligence and research any new potential candidates. Gather as much information as possible before you make this important decision. Read other client reviews, set up a consultation, and ask how they make a profit.  No matter which route you choose, it’s wise to find out who you are working with before you give them access to your financials.

2. Traditional investment vehicles like IRAs and 401(k)s are outdated.

For some reason, there is a current attitude that long-established strategies for generating wealth, such as traditional retirement accounts, are outdated. To put it bluntly, this is terrible investing advice that you should ignore.

There are reasons why most investors utilize IRAs and 401(k)s. While they may be boring and more lackluster than other, newer investing options, funding these retirement accounts is a tried-and-true strategy to build wealth.

3. Buying a home is always a good investment.

Generally speaking, real estate appreciates over time. This leads many people to believe that buying a home is always a smart investment. While this may be true for many people, there are times it may prove to be bad advice.

For example, if you don’t plan to live there long, the costs for the transaction, maintenance, repairs, taxes, and insurance could undermine your investment. It also doesn’t provide much security through retirement if the value of the home isn’t liquid and you can’t access the equity. I’m not saying that buying a home is a bad decision, but it may not be the best financial move for every situation.

4. When stock prices fall, sell everything to cut your losses.

Markets are constantly in flux, so you shouldn’t get swept away by every rise and fall of the ticker. Watching the market moves can become gut-wrenching, especially when prices are volatile.

If you see the value of your portfolio diving, don’t panic. Many people’s first instinct is to sell everything before they lose more money. However, making impulsive decisions like this are the worst thing you could do. It’s better to trust your strategy, knowing that the markets will eventually stabilize. You should adopt a more long-term view, or you could miss out on the gains when the market rebounds.

5. Investing is too risky; stick to cash.

Investing comes with inherent risks. But, not investing at all is the greatest threat to your long-term goals.

Of course, it’s smart to have some cash stores, but saving and investing serve two different goals. You need to invest so your money earns enough interest to grow your wealth and outpace inflation. Letting money sit idle in a low-yield savings account or under your mattress will reduce your purchasing power. It’s better to mitigate the risk and put your money to work for you.

6. Thousands of people can’t be wrong.

Many amateur investors chase trends because they fear they will miss out on an opportunity. They hear their friends talking or read news articles trying to predict the latest hot stock tip. In their minds, if thousands of people are doing it, then it can’t be wrong.

Unfortunately, many lose money when they follow fleeting trends. You must do your research and evaluate the investment before throwing money at it. Although there may be power in numbers, don’t fall victim to the mob mentality.

7. Create an investment strategy from advice on social media.

There are many financially-savvy influencers on social media that have good advice and strong backgrounds. However, there is also a ton of misinformation and terrible investing advice too. A glance at the loss porn and strategies shared on r/wallstreetbets will make the most experienced investors cringe. While you may be able to find some sound advice on social media, it’s usually not a good idea to take advice from someone who doesn’t know you or your situation.

8. Invest in the latest hot stock if people you know are making a profit.

Another problem with jumping on the latest hot stock bandwagon is that if share prices are up, it’s probably too late to make a profit. Most investors who make a killing during trends held stock prior to the frenzy. Buying it after it becomes buzzworthy won’t bring you big profits.

More conservative investors buy index funds with steady gains rather than trying to get lucky and strike it rich. Picking stocks is a gamble, and there are very few winners.

9. Increase your profits by timing the market.

Even novice investors know to buy low and sell high. However, no one can tell you exactly when that is. There is no crystal ball, and predictions are an educated guess, at best.

Trying to time the market rarely works out in your favor. If you buy too soon, you might pay more than you should. But if you sell too early, you miss out on the gains. It’s enough to drive you crazy. So, it’s probably wiser to invest in assets that provide greater diversity and insulation against market fluctuations.

10. You need to hire a professional to manage your portfolio.

Despite what people say, you don’t need to be an expert to start investing or managing your portfolio. While many feel more comfortable turning it over to a professional, DIY investors prefer to do it themselves to avoid the management fees.

If you aren’t quite ready to go it alone, there are free robo-advisors that can assess your situation and help you create an investment strategy. Once you determine your risk tolerance, it will select investments to match and make suggestions based on your goals.

Where to Get Good Advice

A financial advisor is there to guide you through important financial decisions. However, even experts make mistakes that could cost you money. Some investors find that they do better on their own.

The reality of investing is that many decisions must be made in uncertainty. But make no mistake; there is a distinct difference between losing money from a decision based on sound judgment vs poor counsel.

When choosing a financial advisor, you want someone who isn’t putting their self-interest before the client. Furthermore, you need someone who is knowledgeable and performs their due diligence before making a suggestion. If you disagree with their advice, get a second opinion. And never be afraid to ask questions. You want to be sure you have the right person for the job since you will be entrusting them with your future financial security.

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The Euro and U.S. Dollar Have Reached Parity: Now What?

The Euro and U.S. Dollar Have Reached Parity: Now What?

For the first time in twenty years, the euro and U.S. dollar have an equal exchange rate. The last time they reached parity was December 2002 when the currency was first introduced. Since then, it has been consistently stronger than the U.S. dollar. At least, until now. On July 13th, the euro and dollar reached parity. But what does this mean? Is it a result of fluctuations in the global economy? Or, it is a sign that the currency which was once intended as a symbol of unity is now tracking Europe’s economic downturn?

What’s Going On with the Euro and the U.S. Dollar?

The War in Ukraine

Since February, the war in Ukraine has sent shock waves through the global economy. Supply chains have been disrupted and the prices of imports continue to rise. Furthermore, inflation is skyrocketing and everyone is concerned over increased energy costs. It could become even more dire if import-dependent countries are entirely cut off from Russian oil, natural gas, wheat, and other staple commodities, especially with winter just around the corner.

As the violence persists, the impact continues to devastate Europe and threaten the euro’s stability. This year alone, its value has sharply declined by 11%. Although banks are raising interest rates to counteract inflation and stabilize the euro, financial and economic experts fear it is too little, too late. Some say that parity with the U.S. dollar hints that global trade is simply slowing down. However, some analysts fear that the euro will likely continue to depreciate and that a recession is looming in Europe.

Searching for a Safe Haven

From the outset, the U.S. government has taken an offensive strategy and aggressively increased interest rates to bolster the value of the dollar. Not only has this helped to counteract the effects of inflation, but it has caused the value of the U.S. dollar to increase by 10% since the start of the year. 

Although the entire world is feeling the effects of the conflict, the U.S. has remained relatively insulated from the worst of it. This fact has drawn attention to U.S. companies and caused some foreign investors to view the U.S. as a safe haven in a volatile market. The parity between the euro and the U.S. dollar has made it more attractive to international investors, further affecting the value of the euro.

USD remains the dominant reserve currency and shows more stability through market fluctuations. However, no one can predict how long these conditions will last. And, will the situation stabilize? Or, are things going to get much, much worse for the euro?

What Does This Mean for the Global Economy?

No one can say for certain what the long-term repercussions will be. However, there are a few immediate ways that parity between the euro and the U.S. dollar will impact the global economy.

1. It will cost more to do business in Europe.

Unfortunately, the depreciation of the euro will make it more expensive to do business in Europe. Companies that rely on materials from Europe will have to pay higher production costs. Furthermore, European consumers will no longer be able to purchase as much as they have in the past.

2. It will be cheaper to buy exported European goods.

Those who are trading in U.S. dollars now have more buying power, making it cheaper to buy European exports. Not only does this ease the effects of inflation for buyers in the U.S., but it’s also good for European exporters whose products are now more competitive with domestic brands.

3. It presents new investment opportunities.

While a volatile market is terrifying to most investors, it also creates new opportunities. When stock market prices are down, it presents a good opportunity to buy on the dip. If you make the right moves or choose the right stocks, it could reward you handsomely when the markets rebound.

4. It’s a great time to visit Europe.

In the past, I’ve always avoided traveling to Europe because I knew my money would go further in other countries. However, that has changed now that there is a 1:1 exchange rate between the euro and the U.S. dollar. American travelers win big with the currency exchange since they now need fewer dollars to buy euros.

This has made it much more affordable for travelers to visit Europe with reduced airfare. However, the increased purchasing power is where you can use the parity between currencies to your benefit. Luxury and import items have become much cheaper and offer huge shopping discounts. And, you no longer have to worry about converting the exchange rate in your head since they are now equal.

The Significance of the Psychological Barrier

While this may not seem like a big deal, the euro and U.S. dollar reaching parity has much deeper implications for the entire world.

Although the two currencies have been close at various points, this is the first time in two decades that the U.S. dollar has surpassed the euro. There is a good probability that the market will stabilize in time, but it signifies the threshold of an important psychological barrier. The euro has been a stabilizing force in the global economy for a long time, and now its position has come into question.

The steady decline of the euro also accentuates the underlying concerns of the countries across the EU. It signifies that their currency is getting weaker and their economic prospects may be fading. While the banks and national leaders are taking steps to counteract inflation and bolster the value of their currency, it may not be enough.

Many Europeans are feeling a greater sense of dread as inflation increases and questions arise over possible rationing through the winter. Unfortunately, the farther the euro drops, the longer these conditions will persist. It greatly reduces the chances of a quick rebound and seems to make the prediction of a European recession more of an inevitability.

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Is It Worth Paying for Digital Security?

Is It Worth Paying for Digital Security?

My work relies on digital security. Therefore, I make sure that I always have an antivirus on all my devices. Most of my laptops came with a free subscription. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. In the past, I have always relied on free antivirus software rather than paying for the upgrade. However, things are a little different now since I am running a business. Now that I am getting pop-up reminders to renew, I’m wondering if it’s worth paying for digital security. Are the free options enough, or do I need more to protect myself and my business?

What Do You Get With Basic Digital Security Options?

Over the years, I’ve had dozens of computers and used several antivirus programs. Since most of my PCs use Windows operating system, they usually came with a free trial for Avast, Norton, or McAfee antivirus software. However, once the trial ended, I would switch to the free version.

I currently own two laptops that I use for work and when I travel. My older laptop has the free Avast antivirus while the other uses TOTALAV. They both run regular scans and have kept my computers at optimal performance. However, I seem to receive more security threat warnings lately. So, I wasn’t sure if I should pay for one of their upgraded packages.

In order to protect my clients and information, I wanted to know if it was worth the cost of the extra precautions. After looking at the online reviews of the most popular antivirus programs, it seemed like Avast is one of the best free options out there.

Not only is Avast Essential One free to download, but it also has excellent scores from labs and hands-on testing. And, it’s compatible with PC and mobile devices that use Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS. Furthermore, it offers many privacy and performance features with the free option in addition to generous VPN bandwidth limits. However, it’s missing many advanced firewall features. If you want access to the advanced features, it requires an upgrade with a paid annual subscription.

How Much Do You Gain by Paying for Digital Security?

Now that I am conducting business and dealing with client information, I’ve decided it’s time to make a change. Therefore, I want to increase my protection by paying for digital security. But which one do you choose?

While I could have upgraded with Avast, a side-by-side comparison of subscription plans convinced me otherwise. The upgraded options provide sufficient protection. But, there are much better antivirus software that offer more value for your money.

Industry experts across the board have touted the merits of Bitdefender. After further review, I can see why. It outscored the competitions in all the areas that matter. And, it adds enhanced ransomware protection, banking protection, and a VPN as well as other bonus features.

Best of all, they are currently offering a 60% discount on all their products. The basic protection gives you antivirus protection for Windows PC on up to three devices states at $23.99 for a year. However, complete protection will cost you a little more. For $36 for the year though, you can extend your subscription to five devices and it’s compatible with Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS. Unfortunately, you’ll still need to pay if you want their VPN Premium package.

What Other Measures Can You Take for Cyber Security?

Adding antivirus software to your computer will protect you from malware and other threats. Unfortunately, paying for digital security won’t solve all your problems. While it takes many measures to protect your online presence and information, you can do more to enhance your cyber security (infrastructure, networks, systems, digital components, etc.) And, most of them don’t cost a dime.

As cybercrime becomes more commonplace, here are a few things you can do for added cyber security.

1. Choose strong passwords and change them regularly.

Although it’s easier to use the same password for everything, it isn’t great for security purposes. Therefore, you should choose a unique password that uses combinations of characters, casing, and symbols. It’s also important to change them regularly. I usually change mine every 3-6 months. If it’s hard for you to keep track of them all, you can also store them in a password manager to keep them safe and organized.

2. Use two-factor authentication.

Adding this feature for banking, email, social media, and other accounts that require a log-in will deter most cybercriminals. Having the extra step that sends passcodes, asks security questions, or requires a key adds an extra layer of security.

3. Avoid using public wi-fi networks.

Although this seems like common sense, it’s better to avoid public wi-fi. You have less exposure to hackers when you use a VPN.

4. Be aware of potential risks.

Awareness of your browsing habits and potential threats is the best way to prevent yourself from becoming a victim. Learn about phishing practices and popular scams so you know what not to do.

5. Schedule regular scans and updates.

Outdated software leaves you vulnerable. So, automatically schedule scans and updates to stay protected.

6. Encrypt storage on your devices.

If you need to keep sensitive data private, adding encryption will ensure others can’t view or copy it if it’s stolen.

7. Don’t share your information.

Although it seems obvious, people become careless online. Don’t share personal information, because you never know who is paying attention and how they could use it.

8. Enable security monitoring through your credit cards and bank accounts.

Most credit card companies and banks offer fraud protection. For a small fee, they will monitor your accounts and notify you of any suspicious activity.

9. Find a practical balance.

Security is important, but so is convenience.  Adding too many security measures could be counterproductive. So, you need to figure out what is most important and necessary for you.

10. Have a plan.

With so much information online, it’s more than likely that your information will be compromised at some point. The best thing you can do is limit your risk and be prepared. Have a plan and know what you have to do if you face a cyber security threat.

Have you ever been a victim of cybercrime? What digital protection has served you best? 

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How Can You Secure Your Job in Uncertain Times?

How Can You Secure Your Job in Uncertain Times?

If you’ve checked your portfolio or the stock markets lately, you know just how volatile the market is right now. Especially if you have heard the debates that many financial advisors and analysts are engaged in about an impending recession. However, as we see more businesses restrict their hours or close, you may start to worry that an economic downturn could affect your job security. And you’re not alone. If you are worried about your employment status, here are a few ways you can secure your job in uncertain times.

5 Ways to Secure Your Job in Uncertain Times

For those who are questioning their job security, there are actions they can take to help secure their station within the company. Rather than waiting around for the leadership teams to make decisions, you can take control of your performance. Here are 5 ways you can help secure your job in uncertain times and prove that you are a valuable asset to the company.

1.  Make things happen.

People can talk a good game and come up with grand ideas which is often why there are hired for their positions. Unfortunately, the conversation often stops there. Ideas need action to make things happen. Sadly, many people never follow through. Therefore, one way to set yourself apart from the other employees is to be the person who is willing to take on more challenges and show the higher-ups that you can get things done.

Even if you feel your job may be in jeopardy, don’t let your insecurities cause you to fall behind on your workload. Instead, look for ways to make yourself indispensable and position yourself as your boss’ go-to person. If your employer sees your value, you can worry less about job security and sleep more soundly at night.

2. Find ways to generate revenue.

Companies are very unlikely to get rid of their employees who are bringing in revenue. But depending on your position and what industry you’re in, this can take many forms.

Perhaps you have creative solutions to cut costs and improve the profit margins. Or, maybe you take the initiative to go after new leads and accounts. Another way to do this is to help identify employees with skill sets that the company is underutilizing. Those who demonstrate that they can maximize resources or bring in new business won’t have to worry about their future with the company.

3. Cultivate New Skills.

More candidates mean there will be more competition for the most coveted jobs. So, you should look at your resume and add new skills to your credentials. The most successful people constantly seek ways to improve and advance.

Despite what they say, old dogs can still learn new tricks. Adding new skills to your repertoire provides more options and makes you more valuable to your employer. Plus, prioritizing personal growth will pay off later. Remember that the more you bring to the table, the more secure your job will be in uncertain times.

4. Get actively involved.

Perhaps it’s time to go above and beyond your job description and take a more active role in the company. You can show that you want to be part of things by attending informal meetings, volunteering to help at events, or offering support to other departments.

This also gives you the chance to emphasize your skills, expertise, and commitment. And, going to social events and extracurriculars is a good way to demonstrate that you want to be involved with the company and your coworkers. The best part is that it will make you feel more secure and show your boss that you are invested in the company’s success.

5. Look for solutions, not problems.

For the last few years, many teams have been suffering from low morale under the current working conditions. However, dwelling on the negative things will get you nowhere. Moreover, it prevents you from finding solutions if you only see the problems.

Instead of looking at what you can’t do, change your perspective and start asking what you can do to make improvements. When you have an idea, offer suggestions to tackle complex problems. Having a positive attitude inspires others to contribute as well. And, managers will see you as a problem-solver which is a valuable skill in the professional world.

Keep Your Options Open

The harsh truth is that we are experiencing a downturn and no one can predict the future. There’s no crystal ball that can guarantee your employment status. While some things are within your sphere of influence, there may be circumstances beyond your control that affect your job security.

If you start seeing clear signs that you could be out of the job soon, then you need to take steps to protect your future. Having a plan in place if you are facing possible unemployment will provide a path forward. Having a financial safety net can also ease your anxieties about your situation and offer support through lean times.

For those who are concerned about their job or their future with the company, here are a few steps you should be taking right now:

    • Take an honest assessment of your job performance and areas of improvement.
    • Ask for feedback and suggestions from your leadership team on what they would like to see from you.
    • Address any issues you are having.
    • Work on personal growth and development.
    • Talk to your coworkers to see if they share your concerns.
    • Maintain an emergency fund with enough money to cover six months’ worth of expenses.
    • Keep your resume up to date.
    • Search out potential opportunities.
    • Take an interview to keep those skills sharp.
    • Always have a backup plan in place.

When facing uncertain times, you need to do what’s best for your future. Taking steps to secure your job can offer more peace of mind. But it never hurts to assess your value as an employee and keep your options open.

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Can You Buy and Sell Air Rights?

Can You Buy and Sell Air Rights?

When people purchase real estate, most buyers are only interested in the land and buildings. However, many never consider the value of empty space. In large cities where space is limited, the air space above the property may be just as valuable as the lot itself. If you are looking to pull money from thin air, there are potential opportunities for huge profits to buy and sell air rights.

What Are Air Rights?

Since air rights may add value to your property, it’s beneficial to know what they are and how they work. The term “air rights” refers to the legal right to use or develop the space over or near a property. These rights apply to both vacant lots and those with existing structures. The definition is a vague guideline that varies by location, but it can incorporate upper stories of tall buildings, power lines, or coveted views.

Most cities severely restricted air rights, especially in residential zoning areas. However, in places where ground space is limited, the ability to build up becomes more important. Companies and real estate developers pay big bucks for the unused and transferrable development rights for air space.

Unfortunately, calculating air space can be complicated and often requires professional input to “true-up” the numbers. But to give you a basic idea, you have to find the floor area ratio (FAR). To get this number, you take the maximum floor area permitted for the zoning lot and subtract the floor space of the existing structure (if there is one). The remainder is your total amount of air space for a given lot. Once you have a quantifiable amount of space, you can put a value on it to buy and sell.

What Laws Regulate Air Rights?

Like all valuable assets, there are laws that establish and regulate air rights. Generally speaking, you can utilize the air space on your property however you see fit. That is, as long as new development complies with height restrictions, zoning laws, and the city’s building codes. For those who are just learning about them, here are a few of the most important regulations you should be aware of when you buy and sell air rights.

Elevation Restrictions

In most cases, when you buy real estate, you are also purchasing the air rights, unless otherwise specified. However, your air rights aren’t endless. For example, they don’t extend into navigable space. Your air rights include a maximum of 1,000 ft above the highest obstacle. Beyond that, you enter into FAA federally regulated space.

Municipal Zoning Laws

Additionally, air rights depend on the local zoning laws. Cities strictly regulate land use and development. Therefore, all buildings must comply with municipal codes and regulations which determine the reasonable amount of vertical space suitable for development on a given lot. Zoning laws vary by location and district within a municipality as well. 

Furthermore, different zoning laws exist for commercial, industrial, and residential spaces within the same city. Ignorance of the laws could lead to expensive complications. Therefore, it’s best to do your research and seek legal counsel before making any purchases.


Lastly, the boundaries of all structures and new development must remain within the specified property lines. While lots can be strung together to increase the amount of usable air space, it cannot encroach upon the space of properties you do not own.

If any new construction extends into the air space of a neighboring property, you may have to remove it at your own expense.

Can You Buy and Sell Air Rights?

The Cost

While the legalities are important, the most pressing question is “How much will it cost?” Unfortunately, there are no standardized answers. The pricing for air space depends on where you are looking.

Like real estate pricing, air space is more expensive in densely populated urban areas. And people will pay even more for desirable locations with great views or highly sought-after zip codes. So, it’s going to be much more expensive to buy air space in larger cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Furthermore, you may face additional challenges and fees if you are looking at historical buildings or cities with high taxes. However, you can expect anywhere from $200-$400 per sq. ft. for available air space.

The Gains

Once you understand what they are, you may be asking yourself why people buy and sell air rights. The simple answer is that it can be lucrative for both parties. Property owners who need an influx of cash for repairs, maintenance, or other development get the capital they need. And if they had no plans for the air space, it is pure profit.

On the other hand, the buyer gains more options when they buy air rights. Obviously, they get more space which they can use to build larger structures. However, many developers purchase air rights of surrounding lots to protect views from their building or increase the property value.

The Fine Print

Air rights can get complicated, especially when there are several interested parties. Obtaining them often involves negotiations, legal fees, and an official contract.

In most cases, air rights transfer with a sale agreement. However, you can also gain more air rights through a zoning lot merger as well. Either way, you must purchase the space and secure the Transferable Development Rights from the current owner.

Although it is possible to buy and sell air rights, there are strict limitations. Local zoning laws dictate many of them. However, you should also be aware of any light and air easement provisions that prevent future development as well.

Before you make a financial commitment, you can hire a consultant to review the development rights and city zoning codes. Having an expert on hand can help you identify good investment opportunities and avoid paying more than you should. Not only can you avoid costly mistakes, but you can also ensure you are getting the best value for your money.

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Oddest Collectibles to Invest in 2022

The Oddest Collectibles to Invest in 2021

When it comes to investment strategies, there is no single prescribed way to maximize your returns. While most investors choose to put their money into stocks, bonds, or real estate, they are not the only options out there. Some people seek out more unconventional assets such as collectibles. Although many of us are still holding on to childhood memorabilia in the hopes that someday it may be worth a fortune, chances are slim that you will see five-figure returns. However, some of these may net you better returns than traditional portfolio assets. Here are some of the oddest collectibles to invest in 2022.

The Best Collectibles to Invest in 2022

1. Stamps

As the king of all hobbies, most people know that rare stamps are worth a small fortune. With a quick Google search, you will find dozens of news stories of stamps that sold for millions of dollars. Although experts estimate that only 1% of stamps worldwide will appreciate over time, it is one of the safer options on the list of oddest collectibles to invest in 2021.

If you are lucky enough to have one of these in your collection, it could earn a yield between 5% and 20%. However, they also advise that you will need to hold these assets for up to 15 years before you see significant returns.

2. Coins

Collecting coins is a popular pastime that has huge rewards to the most persistent collectors. In fact, rare coins can bring in thousands or even millions of dollars at auction. While your wheat pennies will only sell for a few bucks, coins made from precious metals or featuring mistakes are the most valuable ones. Unfortunately, investing in coins doesn’t earn you any dividends. Therefore, the value depends entirely upon how much someone is willing to pay.

However, gold coins provide a more tangible return for investors. Even after nearly 600% growth in the last two decades, gold prices continue to rise. So, even if these coins hold no value among coin collectors, they will always be worth their weight in gold.

3. Comic Books

In recent years, Hollywood has brought our favorite childhood superheroes back to life. But, it has also made many super-fans rich. With the recent surge in popularity, original comics in mint condition now fetch top dollar at auctions. For example, a 1938 comic featuring Superman’s first appearance sold for over $2.1 million.

If your comic books have been well-loved and show their age, they won’t be worth nearly this much. However, it is possible to find rare issues at conventions that you can sell or trade for a profit. Comic-Con events are a great place to build your comic book collection as well as find some of the oddest collectibles to invest in 2021.

PFadvice.com has a very good series of which comic books are the most valuable, by decade.  The site also provides a useful discussion about what makes comics valuable. Hint: when the comic’s characters get adopted by popular culture, the value of the comic book increases.  Here are the lists of the most valuable comic books of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 199os.

4. Trading Cards

While this is a broad category, trading cards are a solid choice if you want to invest in collectibles. The most attractive thing about trading cards is that you can personalize them to your own passions or interests. Whether you are into baseball, Pokémon, Yugioh, or Magic the Gathering, rare cards are worth millions.

If you had any trading cards as a child, dust off your collection and check their value. Even if you don’t have a Topps 1952 Mickey Mantle card, your trading cards could still be worth money.

5. Toys

Vintage toys are another good option for collectors. As with comics, vintage toys from the 80s and 90s have seen a huge resurgence in popularity. If you held onto your favorite toys after the various toy crazes subsided, they could fetch a good price, given they are in good condition. Action figures, Beanie Babies, Legos, Barbie dolls, and Hot Wheels are all hot-ticket items right now.

When you are ransacking your home for valuable collectibles, look for items still in the original packaging. However, if you don’t have any toys from your own childhood, you can always begin a new collection.

The Oddest Collectibles to Invest in 2022

Now that we’ve covered the most common and valuable ones, here are some of the oddest trends and collectibles that people are investing in.

1. Sneakers

Any vintage item in good condition will generally bring a good price. However, sneakers are quickly becoming one of the most valuable vintage items on the market. There is a huge demand for first and limited-edition sneakers. In particular, Nike and Adidas sneakers in mint condition regularly sell for thousands of dollars on eBay.

A recent article from the Huffington Post uncovered that vintage sneakers provided better returns than gold. However, be warned that prices and demand are unpredictable. So, it’s a bit of a gamble knowing which shoes to invest in.

2. Electronics

It’s not surprising to learn that vintage electronics fetch high prices at auction. Original Apple products and first-generation devices not only make great conversation pieces, but also sell for millions online.

While you probably don’t have an original Macintosh computer lying around, early generation iPods, Alexas, and Nintendo DS gaming systems are likely to appreciate in value over time. Since most of this technology is still relevant, early editions are relatively easy to find. So, if you have any vintage electronics still in the box, it would be worth your while to hold on to them to see if they increase in value over the next few years.

3. Anthropomorphic Taxidermy

This is by far the oddest collectible to make the list. For those who don’t know what it is, anthropomorphic taxidermy is the art of preserving dead animals and displaying them in human situations. For example, specimens are usually dressed in human clothing or posed into human roles and settings. Although it may seem odd to many people, this type of art is extremely valuable to the right collector.

Investing in Collectibles

If you are looking to invest in less traditional assets, collectibles are a fun and interesting way to diversify your portfolio. However, it always includes greater risk than more traditional options like stocks and bonds. While there are no guarantees that your collectibles will bring high returns, patience is a virtue. Although most collectibles won’t earn a fortune in your lifetime, you never know…your favorite collectibles could bring you more than enjoyment in the years to come.

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