5 Ways to Save on the Costs of PC Repairs

Saving on the Costs of PC Repair

I will be the first to admit that I am technologically challenged. Even though I lived through the birth of the internet, it took me a long time to embrace new tech. Since I never had much interest in it, I never took any IT classes in high school or college. Perhaps my lack of exposure made me averse to it. However, I soon learned that if I didn’t keep up, I’d be overlooked in the job market. Furthermore, my ignorance left me vulnerable to overspending when I needed new devices and repairs. Here’s how my online education is helping me stay relevant and save on the costs of PC repairs.

5 Ways to Save on the Costs of PC Repairs

Whenever I approach a new challenge, I begin by reading. I try to learn as much as I can, especially before making a big purchase. Knowledge really is powerful. And, it can be a useful tool in helping you to save on the cost of PC repairs.

 1. Know What You’re Buying

The most immediate financial benefit is that you become a more informed buyer. It is much harder for someone to take advantage of you if you’ve done your homework. Once you know more about the different components and which specs matter most in your PC, you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll need. Additionally, you’ll know which questions to ask. Furthermore, you also learn which manufacturers and models to avoid.

Your primary purpose for the computer will also determine how much you’ll need to spend. Shopping around and talking to people can help you determine which computer best suits your needs and budget. Sites like Laptop vs Laptop can give you a summary and side-by-side comparison of specs and price points as well.

2. Prevent Overspending

Another reason I do my research is to prevent myself from overspending. When I bought my first laptop, I completely relied on the advice of an acquaintance. Not only did he talk me into buying a higher-end gaming computer I didn’t need, but he also tried selling me expensive warranties. As a college student, I could barely afford to eat, let alone pay for costly add-ons.

Furthermore, when I asked for recommendations, he would send me to his friends or associates where he would earn a commission. Had I done an online search instead for more affordable repair shops, I could have saved tons of money.

3. Tutorials for Troubleshooting

The most significant way that I have saved on the costs of PC repairs was by learning to do my own troubleshooting. Sure, turning your computer off and then back on again will solve many issues. However, there are times when you will need a little more finesse and in-depth knowledge to find the fix.

Although I could spend $50 at a PC repair shop to run a diagnostic for me, I prefer to try it myself first. A Google search of the problem will usually direct you to sites that show you how to troubleshoot it. You can also find step-by-step tech tutorials and YouTube videos that can walk you through common issues. If I had to estimate, I have been able to solve my own issues about 75% of the time.

Unfortunately, if a virus corrupts your files or you experience a serious hardware malfunction, there’s no way to fix it yourself. In these cases, it’s best to seek expert advice.

4. Bring Dinosaurs Back to Life

Another way I’ve used this knowledge for my financial benefit was by salvaging computers deemed outdated or beyond repair. Learning how to run my own diagnostic scans and optimize the startup menu has helped me bring some tech dinosaurs out of the graveyard.

While it doesn’t work every time, it has saved us thousands of dollars over the years. For example, my husband invested in a really nice computer during college. However, it was riddled with viruses and malware. He set it aside and forgot about it for several years until we came across it while cleaning out the office. By running a few scans, cleanups, and installing a new antivirus, I was able to revive it and pass it on to my niece. Not only did we get more use out of the initial investment, but it also saved someone else from buying a new laptop.

5. Ask for Recommendations

Although I was ignorant in the beginning, I have learned a lot about basic PC maintenance and repair. While online tech libraries provided a wealth of information, I learned even more by talking to people and asking friends for help. I embraced the fact that I was a novice, and stopped worrying about asking stupid questions.

Most people were happy to answer them and talk shop. They directed me to the best resources, advised me on programs worth investing in, and offered second opinions on complex computer problems. Their recommendations have likely saved me thousands of dollars in unnecessary purchases and PC repair costs.

However, when I needed a professional, they also offered recommendations for PC repair shops in my area with a good reputation. On their suggestions, I have found competent techs who know what their doing, explain the process, and won’t rip you off. And really, you can’t put a price tag on finding a service provider you can trust.

Helpful Sites for Learning about PCs

For those who are starting out from the very beginning like I was, here are a few sites that helped me along the way.

  • YouTube – This was the first place I went for troubleshooting tutorials. If you type in your specific issue, you can usually find a video that will walk you through the process step by step. It’s a free resource, but you could spend hours watching videos to find what you need.
  • Bleeping Computer – I really like this site because it caters to users at any level. The layout is very organized and user-friendly, providing easy access to the glossary of terms, articles, tutorials, and forums. It also offers discounts for online courses through its site.
  • edX – I have used this site to take several college-level courses for free. they have offerings from universities around the world. You can choose general or specialized courses, and learn at your own pace. Best of all, it’s free unless you want to pay for the certification.

While it can be overwhelming to learn something new, it can also be liberating. You don’t have to become an expert, but a little information can go a long way towards saving you on the costs of PC repairs.

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10 Things to Know When Investing in a Gumball Machine

Things to Know Before Investing in a Gumball Machine

Nowadays, everyone is looking for new ways to earn passive income. For those looking for new opportunities, have you ever considered vending or gumball machines? With low overhead costs and maintenance, they can provide easy side income each month. However, before you jump in, here are a few things you should know when investing in a gumball machine.

The Financial Benefits of Investing in a Gumball Machine

While it may seem unconventional to some, there are several financial benefits to consider when investing in a gumball machine.

Passive Income

First and foremost, buying a gumball machine is an easy way to generate passive income to supplement your monthly earnings. Some owners report that they earn up to $350 a month for a single machine. However, Vending Times magazine gives a more reasonable expectation with the national average of about $1 a day.

Steady Demand

Another reason that a gumball machine is a good investment is due to the steady demand. According to this Statista survey, 173.4 Americans responded that they chew gum. And, 23 million indicated they were habitual chewers (more than 16 pieces a week).

You should also consider that people will always need food and snacks. Therefore, gumball machines offer a cheap option when you need something small.

Low Maintenance and Overhead Costs

Lastly, gumball machines have low maintenance and overhead costs. Once you purchase the machine and products, you only need to refill it. Depending on sales, it could be once a week or once a month. Be sure to track your quarters so you can set a consistent schedule.

The Initial Cost of Investing in a Gumball Machine

So, the big question…how much does it cost to get started? As with most things in life, the answer varies.

The initial cost largely depends on the machine you choose. While basic gumball machines start around $100, they can run well over $1,000. However, this should be the largest expense and a one-time fee since these machines are built to last.

Then, you have to factor in the cost to fill the machine. Candy is relatively cheap, especially when you can buy it in bulk. And, it has a long shelf life (about a year) which gives you more breathing room to sell your inventory.

The price for your inventory varies as well by size, brand, and supplier. But to give you an idea of these costs when investing in a gumball machine, let’s look at traditional gumballs.

One of the most common selections is Dubble Bubble one-inch gumballs. You can purchase 850 of them through Amazon for $40-$50. This gives you a profit of $0.17 per gumball, for a total of $212.50 per box sold. With this profit margin, the machine should pay for itself after selling approximately 600 gumballs.

Even if you don’t choose the most profitable location, you should at least cover the investment costs with enough time. And, the more machines you have, the more you can make.

10 Tips to Maximize Your Gumball Game

If you think that investing in a gumball machine is the right move for you, here are 10 tips to help you maximize your profits and success.

1. Don’t skimp on the machine.

When investing in a gumball machine, don’t be cheap. If you buy a cheaper model or second-hand machine, there’s no way to verify its maintenance history. If they are more prone to jam or break, you may have to invest more money to fix them.

2. The amount you can make all comes down to location.

Remember…location, location, location! If you want to make money, you need visibility. High-traffic locations can bring up to $350 a month while others may not even break $3. But, you are bound to have some level of success as long as it is well placed and people pass by it frequently.

3. Pick a location where people are likely to have change.

Besides location, you need to think like your customers. Which places give coins as change? They need coins to operate the machine, so think of locations where people are more likely to have change on them. Scope out local gas stations, arcades, laundromats, and retail stores for potential placement.

4. Choose the placement based on foot traffic.

Once you have a location, look for places people spend the most time. Try to place your machine near doors, lines, and other places people wait. On the other hand, your inventory is less likely to sell if you put it near restrooms or in a remote corner.

5. Keep the machine well-stocked.

You will also want to make sure your machine is well-stocked. A full machine is much more appealing than one that looks half-empty.

6. Use plastic capsules.

If you use plastic capsules, you can expand your offerings to sell candy as well as small toys. Did you know that some toys are cheaper per unit than gumballs or candy? Not only will it help you capture more profits, but it also gives customers more options and broader appeal.

7. Choose the right product.

You should also pick products people like. If the employees at the location use the machine, get their opinions too. You want to choose things that people want to buy. Don’t waste money ordering products that don’t sell.

8. Partner with a charity.

Partnering with a charity is a great way to garner greater support from location owners. In addition to attracting more business from people who want to support the cause, it could help cover overhead costs.

9. Put your profits back into the business.

If you have one gumball machine that is successful, why not purchase a second one? If you put your profits back into your business, you increase your earning potential. Buying more machines will increase revenue and allow you to scale your business.

10. Hire a locating service.

If all else fails and you are struggling to find a location, you can use a locating service. However, make sure it is a reputable provider. Go online and check customer reviews or ask other business owners for references.

Do you own a vending or gumball machine? What challenges have you come across? Share in the comments below!

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What Are the Downsides of Investing in Collectibles?

The Downsides of Investing in Collectibles

Fans of TV shows like Antiques Roadshow or American Pickers may talk about getting rich from their collectibles. But if we’re being honest, you’re probably not going to make a million bucks from the junk you have been holding onto in your attic. While there are a few people who have gotten lucky and made a small fortune, it isn’t the typical outcome. Investing in collectibles requires a considerable amount of time, knowledge, and money before you ever see returns. There are several downsides of investing in collectibles that people overlook. And as with all investments, you should be aware of the inherent risks of alternative assets before buying anything.

What Are Collectibles?

If you are thinking about investing in collectibles, it’s best to start with an understanding of what they are and are not. Collectibles are an alternative type of investment that does not include stocks, bonds, cash, or real estate. It refers to any item that is far more valuable than the initial sale price because of its popularity or rarity.

The word “antique” and “collectible” are often used interchangeably. However, there is a distinct difference. While antiques can be collectibles, not all collectibles are old. A collectible could include just about anything from antiques and coins to toys and comic books. Because of the detailed knowledge and wide variation, it makes it much more difficult to assess the value of these types of assets.

Why Are People Investing in Collectibles?

Many investors choose to put their money into collectibles because they already do it as a hobby. Ambitious collectors hope to turn their interests into income by investing in super-rare and valuable items. These items offer greater diversification in your portfolio and generational wealth that can be passed on.

There are also tons of people who hear news reports of yard sale treasures and thrift store finds that turn out to be worth a fortune. These stories cause people to flood the market and drive up prices. While this can be great if you are already collecting, it also makes it difficult to find items worth investing in. Those who are looking at saturated markets aren’t likely to find rare collectibles that will fetch a high price at auction. However, it doesn’t stop opportunists from trying.

What Are the Downsides of Investing in Collectibles?

Although many tout the benefits, there are several downsides of investing in collectibles you should consider before you do anything.

1. The Financial Investment

First, there is the initial cost to buy the collectibles. You will rarely find cheap deals. True collectors know you must spend money for quality items. Then, there are the costs of handling, storage, maintenance, restoration, insurance, shipping…the list goes on. You may actually lose money in the beginning.

And, let’s not forget you also have to pay 28% in capital gains tax for the sale of collectibles you have owned for more than a year. That alone could undercut any returns on your collectibles.

2. The Time Investment

From my experiences, the greatest deterrent is the time factor. Unlike other investments, there are no returns until you sell the item. And, you may have to wait several years for it to appreciate in value.

It also takes time to research and become an expert on your collectibles. You’ll need to learn how to recognize them, assess their rarity and condition, and locate buyers willing to pay top dollar. This adds up to a considerable amount of time. If you aren’t seeing high returns, it may not be worth your time.

3. The Learning Curve

In the same vein, there is also the learning curve to consider. Unfortunately. you’ll have to educate yourself. While there is a wealth of information for investors trading in stocks, bonds, and more common commodities, it’s harder to find similar resources for collectibles.

You can still find tons of information. But, you have to cultivate an intimate and detailed knowledge about your collectibles. And, you must also understand how their condition and rarity affect their value. For extremely scarce items, it is also difficult to find comps and make a fair assessment.

It takes longer for some to learn these things. However, experience is the best teacher. Many people who become successful collectors simply learn through trial and error.

4. Counterfeits

Another of the downsides of investing in collectibles is the risk of buying counterfeits. There will always be people out there trying to scam people out of their money. Unfortunately, collectibles are no exception. There are many convincing counterfeits that could cost you a lot of money.

5. No Guarantees

Although some become more valuable over time, there is no sure-fire guarantee with collectibles. Furthermore, many items are marketed as collectibles, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will appreciate in value. It’s possible that you may spend a lot of money for no return on your investment. Or, if the assets are damaged or destroyed, they become worthless.

The truth is that no one can guess what the next high-dollar collectible will be. And, collectibles are notoriously volatile since it is a highly specialized market. Demands change, causing some markets to crash as quickly as they rose. While some types are more stable than others, you never really know.

Tips for Investing in Collectibles

There are many downsides of investing in collectibles. But if it’s something you love, it can still bring you joy even if it doesn’t bring you profits.

  • Learn as much as you can. It will serve you well to know what’s worth buying and what’s not. And, it will also make it harder for people to take advantage of you.
  • Be cautious. There’s no regulating body for this type of asset and many sales are private. So, there’s no one to complain to or help you seek justice if you get the raw end of a bad deal.
  • Be patient. Collectibles are illiquid assets. It takes time to connect with someone who knows their value and is willing to pay it.
  • Take care of your collectibles. The condition is a huge factor in an item’s value. So, you’ll want to insure them against damage, properly store them, and do what you can to repair/restore them to their original condition.
  • Know your limits. Collecting can quickly turn into hoarding if you are trying to collect anything that might hold value someday. These items will overrun your home, so choose something to narrow your focus.

Do you invest in collectibles? Share your experiences with us!

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How To Lose Pounds While Gaining Cash

How To Lose Pounds While Gaining Cash

As someone who has struggled with my weight over the years, I know how hard it can be to stick to a strict health regimen. Finding the drive to exercise and the self-control to deny yourself guilty pleasures can be exhausting. However, the key is finding the right motivation. Some people are using monetary incentives to fuel their weight loss. Here are 3 ways to lose pounds while gaining cash.

3 Ways to Lose Pounds While Gaining Cash

1. Weight Loss Apps

With everything going digital, there are a ton of apps to help you on your weight loss journey. You can find mobile apps to help you track your diet, create an exercise routine, record your progress, and motivate you to reach your fitness goals. However, here are the three unique apps that use cash to motivate you.  Although the platforms slightly vary, the concept is the same: these apps put a price tag on your desire to get fit.

HealthyWage

HealthyWage is one of the most profitable and widely used apps to lose pounds while gaining cash. You can place bets on yourself to improve your overall health and help you reach your fitness goals.

When you sign up, you set your goal and the amount you want to wager. First, you’ll need to open an account. Then, you use the prize calculator to set the time limit for you to lose weight. From there, it will determine how much you can win.

HealthyWage will reward you with cash for your efforts. But like any bet, you should be ready to eat the loss if you fail. If you don’t meet your goal, it is possible to buy more time to extend the bet. However, once you place the bet, there is no going back.

Members can also do a team challenge to help motivate each other. There is a $25 submission fee, but you could win up to $10k. If you do this challenge, you must verify your weight loss with a video call or in-person weigh-ins at a local Weight Watchers. These challenges offer good payouts for winners with an average purse of $1,400. And, there’s no points or prize system to convert cash.

DietBet

DietBet is another excellent app to help you lose pounds while gaining cash. It won’t pay as much as HealthyWage. But, you can still rake in significant winnings. You can get started by becoming a member, then setting your fitness goals and choosing the program you want. There are three different challenges you can try:

  • Kickstarter – lose 4% body fat in 28 days
  • Transformer – lose 10% body fat in 6 months
  • Maintainer – maintain weight loss for 12 months

Like many other fitness apps, you have the option to do it on your own or join a team. Just be aware there is a fee to join which is based on the size of the team. Furthermore, the larger your team, the less you can win. And, there are also fees when you place a bet.

  • 25% for bets under $100
  • 20% for bets between $100-$249
  • 15% for bets between $250-$500
  • 10% for bets over $500

However, DietBet makes it easier to win your bets and reap the rewards since it focuses more on long-term goals. People lose weight more healthily by setting more realistic goals. While you won’t know exactly how much you can earn, you won’t need to convert or redeem points to claim your cash winnings.

Stickk

Unlike the other apps that use winning money as the incentive, Stickk uses negative reinforcement (losing money) as a means to help you reach your goals. And, there are no limits on how much you can bet.

Instead of getting paid, you bet against yourself to lose extra pounds or stick to a fitness routine. When you join, you will sign a “commitment contract” to acknowledge that you forfeit the money if you give up or don’t achieve your goal. Then, you’ll be assigned a referee to make sure you adhere to the bet. If you lose, the money goes to a designated charity, person, or the app itself.

Then, Stickk assigns a referee to verify your weight loss or progress. Any long-term goals require a weekly report. However, short-term goals only need a final report at the end of the bet.

This app is a little different than others. Rather than motivating you with financial rewards, the fear of losing money keeps you on track. You can also invite friends and family to cheer you on and increase your chances of success.

2. Workplace Challenges

Apps are the only way to lose pounds while gaining cash. There is a long history of successful office challenges to help people get fit and get paid.

These are great for small office settings and inter-departmental challenges. When you first set it up, everyone needs to decide if the challenge will be individual goals or team competitions. Then they must agree to the timeframe, terms, and stakes. After this, you pool money and set the prizes beforehand.

Weekly weigh-in and visual trackers can help motivate everyone to commit to the challenge. It will also help to be around people who are supporting your goals. And at the end, the winner can claim their cash prize.

3. Reimbursements from Your Health Insurance

Although this may not be as fun as placing bets or holding competitions, your health insurance also offers you incentives to lose weight and improve your health. They recognize that a healthy lifestyle benefits their company since they will have fewer expenses. So, they pass the savings on to you to promote better health.

Some insurance companies offer reimbursement for gym memberships. This may cover the entire cost, or at least offer a discount. And, people with better overall health will pay lower rates and premiums which saves you a ton of money in the long run.

Tips to Stay Motivated

If you are having trouble getting started, here are a few tips that can help you reach your fitness goals:

  1. Find a workout buddy. Studies show that having a regular workout partner increases success. Having someone there to encourage and push you helps keep you focused. And, you can keep each other accountable so you don’t slack off.
  2. Choose a fitness plan you can stick to. If you hate to exercise or have limited time, it will be difficult to stick with a new exercise regimen. Be realistic with your goals and time commitment. And, choose an activity you enjoy doing and will want to continue long-term.
  3. Share your wins. Even if you don’t meet every goal, you should celebrate your wins and important milestones. Sharing your success with family and friends is also a great way to gain more support if you are struggling and need extra encouragement.

Losing weight can seem like an overwhelming goal. However, placing a wager provides excellent motivation to push through. But, when you make a healthy lifestyle your long-term objective, you win the greatest prize of all.

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How the 1% Deals with Inflation

How the 1% Deals with Inflation

The word recession causes many investors to cringe. Others clutch their portfolios and review their strategy as we hear inflation used more frequently. While everyone knows that we are in the midst of it, we are finally starting to feel the full financial effects. For those in the lower income brackets, it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with the rising inflation rates and general cost of living. If you are concerned about protecting your wealth during these downturns, you need a solid investment strategy to offset these increases. As I watch my portfolio take a hit and doubt my decisions, I have often wondered how the 1% deals with inflation. You may be surprised to find that it isn’t much different than your own.

5 Ways the 1% Deals with Inflation

So, what are the wealthiest investors doing to insulate themselves against rising inflation? In a single piece of advice, the answer is to continue investing.

1. Make regular investments.

Even during economic downturns, you should continue investing. Although your returns may not be as high during a recession, making regular contributions to your investments accounts has proven to be one of the most successful ways to build wealth and maximize returns. In fact, choosing not to invest is probably the worst decision you could make.

Although stock prices are dropping and inflation continues to rise, there are still ways to make your portfolio profitable. You just need to change your approach and turn obstacles into opportunities. Periods of market instability mean you will have to make several adjustments. But, some asset types will protect you through these fluctuations.

Certain services and products will always be in high demand, even during times of economic recession. Many companies in the healthcare, utilities, telecommunications, consumer staples, and discount retail sectors will continue to perform well. And, if you purchase stocks when prices are on the dip, you could position yourself to make significant gains when the market rebounds.

However, there are risks with every type of investment. Not all stocks in these sectors will perform well. Therefore, you should also include assets that have a valuation that inversely correlates to the stock market. So even when stock prices take a dive, your other assets gains will offset the losses.

2. Diversify your assets with gold.

Any reputable financial advisor who is worth their salt knows that diversification is key. It is one of the most important ways to protect your portfolio against market volatility and huge losses. So, it makes sense that it is a commonly used strategy when the 1% deals with inflation.

In particular, some of the wealthiest investors diversify by purchasing gold. Since it isn’t correlated to other asset classes, it has long been a safe haven for investors. As stock prices plummet, the value of gold drastically increases. Therefore, many purchase gold as a means to protect their wealth.

Investing in gold provides more stability, especially as you get closer to your retirement years. And, you don’t have to purchase gold reserves to reap the benefits. You can also get in on the action by purchasing shares in mining companies, gold ETFs, or gold futures. This way you enjoy all the financial advantages of investing in gold without the hassle of dealing with jewelry, coins, and bullion.

3. Earn passive income through real estate.

One piece of investing advice that has always stuck with me is that property retains value. No matter how much the market fluctuates, real estate is a valuable asset in any political climate. Of course, the location and the specifications of the home will greatly impact its worth. But, even if the existing structure collapses, that land still holds value.

However, many people overlook investing in real estate because of the upfront costs. It’s hard to buy a property if you don’t have enough for a down payment or the capital to maintain it. But, innovative companies like Fundrise are making the real estate market more accessible to average investors. You can get started with as little as $10 and buy a percentage of a property. Then, you receive your share of the quarterly distributions.

It’s important to note that while some people can make money flipping houses, the real value lies in holding the asset and waiting for it to appreciate. If you aren’t an experienced contractor or know what you’re doing, you could end up with a money pit and a huge financial liability.

There will always be risks to consider before investing in real estate. But with the increasing demand for housing and real estate, it could offer a steady way to generate extra income.

4. Invest in art.

Historical prices have proven that art is one of the most successful investments. And, it continues to be one of the top performers, outperforming the S&P by more than 180% between 2000 and 2018. Not only is it one of the ways the 1% deals with inflation, but investing in priceless masterpieces is also how the ultra-wealthy make huge profits.

But, you don’t need to be a millionaire to own masterpieces. Nowadays, even the average Joe can invest in artwork. You can buy individual shares of well-known pieces as if you were buying stocks with sites like Masterworks. However, it requires a minimum of $5,000 and a waitlist of 25,000 people. So, you may have to get in line if you want a piece of this pie.

5. Invest in Yourself.

Some would argue that the best investment you will ever make is in yourself. Using your resources to improve your skills or increase your earning power is the best way to protect your future.

Although it may start with a degree or certification, it also includes staying relevant. You should also stay up-to-date with new systems and skills needed for future advancement in your field. Finding ways to stay competitive and use your experience to a financial advantage is the best way to protect yourself against rising inflation and an uncertain future.

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When Is The Cheapest Time To Visit Disney World?

The Cheapest Time to Visit Disney World

As the weather gets warmer and summer gets closer, many people look forward to vacation plans. If your summer vacation plans include Disney World, then you are not alone. Tickets went on sale in February 2021 for this year. However, you will need advance reservations since they often run out. Planning ahead and knowing the cheapest time to visit Disney World can make your trip much more affordable. But as with most things in life, it all comes down to timing.

Ticket Prices Vary

Date-Based Pricing

Beginning in 2016, Disney switched to date-based pricing for admission tickets. In an effort to prevent overcrowding, Disney World adjusts the price depending on how busy they are. When the demand for tickets goes up, so does the cost.

Prices fluctuate regularly. So, if you see a good price, you’ll have to book it then to lock in the rate. The cheapest one-day ticket starts at $109. However, the same ticket goes for $159 during the busiest days of the year.

If you go online, you can find great discounts for entrance and hotels if you travel in the off-season. You should check out ticket prices ahead of time and compare to find the best rate and beat the crowds.

Different Ticket Types

There are also different types of tickets that give you greater access to all the parks. Depending on what you want to do, the cheapest option may not offer the best value. If you are planning your trip around Disney World, different packages allow you to take advantage of multiple attractions. Some also give you the ability to enter multiple parks on the same day.

    • Park Per Day – entrance to one theme park for the day
    • Water Park and Sports Option (+$70) – admission to the water park or the ESPN center for one day
    • Park Hopper Option (+$65) – allows you to visit multiple parks each day
    • Park Hopper Plus Option (+$85) – visit multiple parks each day, including the water park

The Most Expensive Times to Visit Disney World

As you probably guessed, the most expensive tickets and busiest days correspond with holidays and times when kids are out of school. Generally speaking, this means summer ticket prices are usually higher. But, you can find days with cheaper rates even during the peak season.

However, budget-minded travelers will want to avoid these dates:

    • New Year’s Day: January 1
    • Spring Break: April 1 – 17
    • Memorial Day: May 28 – 30
    • Thanksgiving: November 24-27
    • Christmas/Winter Break: December 15 -31

The Cheapest Time to Visit Disney World

Now that you know which dates to avoid, it will be easier to home in on the best prices. You will typically find that weekdays are the cheapest time to visit Disney World since it receives more visitors on the weekends.

When comparing prices, there are several factors to consider. A single-day ticket starts at $109 without any discounts. However, you will spend less per day when you purchase multi-day tickets. The longer you stay, the cheaper the prices get.

The Cheapest Time to Visit Disney World

For those who are looking for the cheapest time to visit Disney World, these dates fall between holidays and school breaks. You can usually find multiple days with the lowest rates in these time frames:

    • mid-January through mid-February
    • mid-August through the end of September

The Cheapest Time to Visit Disney World

The Best Discounts for Disney World

After years of practice, I’ve learned that you never have to pay full price for tickets. If you know where to look, discounts are easy to locate. Here are a few tricks to find discount ticket prices that can save you a ton of money on your next Disney World vacation.

  1. Be flexible. You will have a better chance to find discounts if are less rigid about the actual day you visit. Being flexible can land you better deals.
  2. Compare prices and multi-day discounts. Disney World rarely offers discounts on one-day tickets. If you book through the official website, you can usually find better discounts for multi-day tickets. However, you should also compare prices from different sellers. Third-party ticket agencies like Undercover Tourist, Orlando Fun Tickets, and Parksavers can help you get tickets for 8-10% below face value. You may also get lucky if you take your chances to score cheap tickets through online auction sites like eBay.
  3. Know your discounts. The last tip seems obvious. But, you may qualify for an additional discount that you aren’t even aware of. The easiest method to get discounted tickets is to purchase them online which saves you $20 right off the bat. However, here are a few other significant discounts that could net you huge savings:
    • Disney Vacation Club gets you 10% off
    • Florida residents get a 30% discount with an ID
    • the Military discount gets you up to 50% off tickets
    • first responders can also claim a discount when they book tickets
    • memberships with discount buying clubs and car clubs usually get you 5-10% off
    • an annual pass can save you more in the long run if you plan to visit several times

General Tips to Help You Find the Cheapest Time to Visit Disney World

Keep in mind that your ticket is only valid for Disney parks in Florida (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios). So, if you plan to visit Universal as well, you’ll have to purchase additional tickets. Furthermore, date-based pricing only applies to the Florida parks and hasn’t been implemented yet for the California parks.

Any unused days on your ticket are non-refundable. But, if you find a cheaper ticket or choose a cheaper option before your arrival, they will usually refund the difference. If you are set on a specific date or special event, some people recommend booking your ticket prior to your arrival date since the ticket can be used after the start date. However, you’ll need to be aware of the window of time when you have to use them.

The best advice for finding cheap tickets is to plan ahead so you don’t pay more than you have to. Part of this includes knowing which dates to avoid, which passes you’ll need, and buying them online. Good luck and happy hunting!

What are the best deals you have found on Disney World tickets?

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Choosing to Live as a Digital Nomad

Choosing to Live as a Digital Nomad

Over the last two years, more people have chosen to work remotely. However, there are many people like me out there who have chosen to live as a digital nomad long before the pandemic started.  While it wasn’t the original career path I had set out to pursue after grad school, it has brought me more job satisfaction than I could have ever hoped for. In addition to a steady income, it allowed me to work and travel for the last decade. If you have ever considered this kind of lifestyle, here are a few things you should know before you take the leap.

What is a Digital Nomad?

The first humans were nomadic. So, it makes sense that we have adapted this trait as we evolved. Nowadays, technology allows us to work and move freely without being tied to a single location. Digital nomads can live in whatever location they choose, relying on telecommunications to perform their jobs.  Unlike remote employees, we don’t need to have a base camp or a corporate network to log into.

Although many careers can accommodate a nomadic lifestyle, I work as a freelance writer and copy editor. I can handle all my job responsibilities and communication as long as I have my laptop and a good wifi signal. For someone like me who embraces adventure, needs flexibility, and can quickly adapt to change, it is the perfect job.

During my years abroad, I set up shop in Belize, Mexico, Taiwan, and as I backpacked across Europe. I’ve held conference calls in cafes, interviews from hotels, and produced content from train stations and overnight buses. As long as I kept bringing in clients and meeting my deadlines, I was able to support myself as I explored the world.

The Daily Logistics of the Digital Workspace

As the pandemic continues, more people are getting used to a hybrid environment and working from home. What once seemed like a logistical nightmare has become more attainable with technological advancements. Email, chat, and videoconferencing have also facilitated faster communication. Although they will never replace the social value of face-to-face interactions, it allows for instant communication and quick resolutions.

Freelancer marketplaces such as Upwork and Fiverr have also made it easier to market your skills and connect with potential clients. Not only does this mean more opportunities for a digital nomad, but also better chances to secure regular income streams.

But, your bottom line comes down to the quality of your equipment. If you are unable to depend on your tech to complete your work, then you will never be able to maintain a steady workload.

  • First, you’ll need to invest in a reliable laptop. Mine definitely shows its battle scars after years of being crammed into bags and jostled through security checkpoints. Yet, it still runs like a champ.
  • Secondly, you need to have unlimited access to a strong internet connection. My phone usually works well as a mobile hotspot. However, it may be worth purchasing your own portable device if you want to live in more remote areas.
  • It’s also a good idea to carry your own external hard drive. I perform regular backups of all my documents just in case something happens.

While it may seem like a huge initial cost, I know my technology will withstand the test of time and the rigors of travel.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Nomadic Life

While the nomadic life can be very appealing, life as a digital nomad is not as easy or convenient as some would like to believe.

The Good

I have been fortunate enough to visit over 30 countries, earning an income to support myself along the way. I saw many incredible places and experienced many diverse cultures firsthand, immersing myself in them. As I gained professional and personal experiences, I also realized that the value of my skills had increased. After increasing my rates, I actually started to save and invest rather than making enough to survive. Achieving greater financial freedom gives you the power to decide when, where, and how you work.

The Bad

However, this life isn’t for everyone. And, it isn’t as simple as some make it seem. Starting your own business is challenging enough. But, it can be even more so if you are in a foreign location where you don’t have local contacts or speak the language. Then, you have to contend with visas and your legal status with immigration. The applications and runaround can be extremely frustrating and leave you with a mountain of red tape to cut through.

The Ugly

The total independence you have as a digital nomad is both a blessing and a curse. It’s true that you have complete autonomy to travel, work, and schedule your life as you please. However, after the novelty of it wears off and you settle into a daily routine, you eventually start to feel the weight of isolation and loneliness.

While I made friends that were more like family, many of them moved on to new locales within a few years. Even today we still keep in touch, but it leaves you with a relatively small support network. I grew increasingly homesick, especially during the lockdown. When my dad’s health took a turn or the worst, I decided it was time to return home. I wanted to be closer to my family and not miss out on any more important moment than I already had.

Starting Out as a Digital Nomad

Although I’m closer to home these days, I still maintain a career as a digital nomad. Looking back, I spent many years getting underpaid for my services. If you want to be successful, you have to know your skillset, the true value of what you can offer, and how to market yourself.

There are no guarantees that you’ll earn a sustainable income. But if you are self-motivated and ambitious, it is possible to turn it into a full-time job. Your success directly depends on the effort and time you put into building a career. Once you establish yourself, build a good reputation, and find your niche in a digital community, the world is at your fingertips.

If you are currently working as a digital nomad, what has helped you find success?

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50+ Items You Can Quickly Resell for Profit

Items You Can Quickly Resell for Profit

I spend a lot of time looking through items listed in local online marketplaces. There are some great deals out there. Sometimes I come across things that are practically being given away because they need repairs. I have often thought, “That’s an easy fix,” or “I could make money off that.” As it turns out, I’m not the only one. Reselling, or flipping, items for a profit has become a popular side hustle in the gig economy. If you know where to find items you can quickly resell, here’s how you could turn them into supplemental income.

Why Reselling Is Profitable

Anytime you find a low-cost supplier for high-demand goods, there is potential for a huge profit margin. Depending on the products you sell, it doesn’t necessarily require a ton of startup capital either. So, if you find your niche market, you could begin seeing profits right away.

However, not everyone is successful when choosing items you can quickly resell. You must be in tune with consumer trends to know what people are buying. Furthermore, you need to know which products offer the biggest return on your investment.

50+ Items You Can Quickly Resell for a Profit

The truth is that you can sell just about anything if you know how to market it. Believe it or not, people are literally turning trash into treasure by selling empty toilet paper rolls online.

So, if you are looking to get into the flipping game, here are 50+ items that are bringing resellers good returns.

Tech and Gadgets

Living in the digital age means that high-tech gadgets and products are in high demand. And, by association, so are the accessories that go with them. With a growing market, these are some of the easiest items you can quickly resell for a profit.

  • phone cases
  • phone tripods
  • wireless charging stations
  • screen protectors
  • wearable devices
  • microphones
  • Bluetooth earphones
  • TWS earphones
  • drones
  • watches (smart and vintage)
  • website domains
  • ink cartridges

Car Accessories

Since we spend so much time in transit, many people want to have comfort and convenience in their vehicles as well. Therefore, people buy accessories to equip them with the necessary functions and compatible tech. With the right supplier and quality merchandise, car accessories could be very good for your bank account.

  • LED lights
  • USB chargers
  • rear cameras
  • car phone holders
  • seat covers
  • interior organizers
  • air fresheners
  • wireless vacuums

Home Goods

Over the last two years, more people are working remotely and spending time at home. So, it makes sense that they want to improve the spaces around them. From home decor items to smart home appliances, finding a source for low-cost home goods to flip is a great way to supplement your income.

  • smart home items (plugs, temperature sensors, bulbs, wall switches, wireless chargers)
  • kitchen utensils and appliances
  • furniture
  • area rugs
  • vintage picture frames
  • vintage electronics
  • collectibles
  • vintage cabinet knobs
  • shower heads
  • hands-free soap dispensers
  • toothbrush holders
  • toilet brushes
  • candles
  • yard equipment
  • power tools

Health and Beauty Products

No matter how markets fluctuate, there will always be a steady demand for health and beauty products. And since many of these items are small and lightweight, it saves the reseller on shipping costs which is great for your bottom line.

  • reusable water bottles
  • yoga mats
  • resistance bands
  • bicycles
  • kerchiefs
  • hair pins and clips
  • high-end hair products
  • nail decor
  • makeup jewels
  • jewelry

Clothing

If you have an eye for fashion and a nose for sniffing out good deals, clothing could be the perfect product for you. Whether you are a new designer or a thrifter with a head for numbers, reselling clothing is currently one of the hottest online trends.

  • second-hand items from name brands
  • snow gear
  • vintage jerseys
  • sports caps and hats
  • vintage trucker hats
  • concert tees
  • fashion with puffy sleeves or classic blue items
  • strapless bras
  • baby items
  • vintage swimwear
  • vintage sewing patterns

Entertainment Items

Those who held on to their childhood toys or have accumulated lots of equipment from their hobbies could be in for a big payday. With fewer public entertainment options, people are looking for hobbies, games, and collectibles that bring back the nostalgia of simpler times. And, they are willing to pay good money for it.

  • baseball cards
  • video games and consoles
  • books
  • Legos
  • board games
  • plush toys
  • vintage toys
  • vinyl records
  • cameras and lenses
  • sporting goods

Where Do You Find Items You Can Quickly Resell?

Once you have an idea, the next step is to find items to sell. You can start with unwanted items around your house or hand-me-downs from your family and friends. If you still need more inventory, be sure to check out yard sales and estate sales for cheap merchandise. Thrift stores and flea markets can also produce quality items.

The other option is to find good deals online. You can scour clearance sales from retailers, wholesale venders, and online outlet stores for deep discounts.

How Much Can You Expect to Make Reselling?

When it comes to reselling for profit, your earning potential is only limited by your own ambition. Therefore, you need to determine how much time, effort, and capital you want to invest in the venture. And, you should also know what kind of returns you expect from it.

Although most people only see it as a side hustle, others have turned it into a primary source of income. In fact, some resellers claim to make six-figure salaries. However, you have to be realistic. If you are putting in part-time hours, you can probably expect to bring home between $500 and $2,000 each month. But, it’s not unreasonable to double this figure if you find the right product and audience.

What Are the Best Places for Reselling?

The first place people start posting items for resale is local marketplaces like Facebook and Craigslist. However, auction sites like eBay can help you reach a larger audience if you don’t mind shipping the products.

For those who want to earn more than just supplemental income, it’s a good idea to set up your own online shop. Depending on the products you sell, you could host a shop on Amazon, Etsy, Depop, Poshmark, or any other of the popular online marketplaces. Having your own dedicated store will attract more customers and get more eyes on your products.

Tips for Getting Started

As with any new business venture, do your research and know the value and profit margins for the items you are selling. Also, make sure you are up-to-date with the latest tax codes as well.

There is bound to be some trial and error. But, it could prove profitable with the right product and marketing strategy. You’ll need to set clear financial goals you hope to achieve with items that you can quickly resell for a profit. But, as any decent writer will tell you, stick to what you know. And when in doubt, seek expert advice to help you turn your ideas into cold, hard cash.

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What Russian Oil Really Means for Global Energy

The Effects of a Russian Oil Embargo

After more than two weeks, Russian troops continue their assault on Kyiv and the Ukrainian people. And, international leaders and organizations continue to lay sanctions against them. Some have gone as far as banning Russian ships from their ports and ostracizing them from the global community. However, many people fear this will send the economy into a tailspin. No one can be certain what lies ahead or how the markets will react to unforeseen political events. But, here are the facts on Russian oil and energy production, and what it really means for the entire sector.

Fear of War and Market Turmoil

A trip to the local gas station will paint a pretty clear picture of how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is affecting global markets. Crude oil prices are the highest they’ve been since 2008. On March 7, they reached almost $140 per barrel before closing at $123.70. As of today, it’s down slightly. But, the national average price for gas is $4.33 a gallon, and well above $5 in some areas of the country. And with no end in sight, the hike in energy prices will go even higher as the conflict continues.

Many conspiracy theorists say it’s just a ploy by the oil companies to drive up profits or to push the liberal agenda on climate change. While both may hold some truth, energy costs already were already elevated from Covid-19 shutdowns and disruptions in the supply chain. However, further sanctions and an embargo on Russian oil and gas imports could cause fuel prices to spike even higher. NATO has already revoked its trading status and international ports are refusing Russian ships entry. But, its members hope to avoid further escalation through an economic stranglehold.

However, if Putin is backed into a corner, he may cut the supply lines completely. This move would cause prices to skyrocket. A Russian economic blackout could wreak havoc on the global community, driving up the price of fuel, food, and other commodities. It also forces NATO members to reconsider their foreign policy with other oil-producing nations and lift sanctions to meet global energy demands.

European Dependence on Russian Oil

In recent years, many European countries have enacted plans to decrease dependence on Russian fossil fuels. But, many are still reliant on Russia for coal, oil, and natural gas. Once a major supplier, Europe now receives 41% of its natural gas from Russia. Due to their dependency, German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, confirmed that Europe had deliberately exempted Russian fuel from sanctions until now.

Simply stated, there isn’t enough supply to fill the void left by cutting off trade with Russia. As Scholz said, there isn’t “any other way” to secure the country’s energy needs right now. If Germany enacts a trade embargo, he assured the “lights will go out.”

Boycotting Russian oil and gas could be a crushing economic both for both Russia and Europe. While the EU is transitioning to more renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and hydro, it will take time. Renewables only account for less than a fifth of Europe’s energy demands. The EU unveiled its plan for complete energy independence, but it is still a long way from its goal.

Current U.S. Energy Production

The other factor to consider is what’s going on across the Atlantic. The U.S. is one of the world’s leading oil producers. But, it’s also the largest consumer. What’s more, is that our energy consumption outpaces domestic production. While the U.S. does import a significant amount of fossil fuels from other countries, only 3% comes from Russia.

To keep up with current demands, the U.S. either needs to produce more, turn to alternative energy resources, or rely more heavily on other oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Venezuela. However, each of these options causes issues:

  1.  While President Biden’s climate policies have limited oil production, so have the big energy companies’ reluctance to produce more because they are seeing record-breaking profits.
  2. Many politicians have resisted legislation to explore and utilize alternative energy options.
  3. Finding more trading partners means lifting sanctions against Venezuela and Iran, overlooking important foreign policy issues including human rights violations and nuclear deals. There are also strained relations with Saudi Arabia right now over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

While none of these are ideal, it will likely require a combination of all three solutions to help curb rising energy costs.

Global Demands for Energy

The world is more interconnected today than at any other time in human history. Therefore, the invasion of Ukraine has had rippling effects across the global economy and within the energy sector.

Although NATO and the western world hope it will stop Russian aggression, there is no doubt that an economic blackout will exacerbate supply shortages. Revenue from crude oil, natural gas, and petroleum products accounts for half of Russia’s federal budget. Blocking trade would cripple their economy, but also global supply.

The only way to completely eliminate foreign reliance is for each country to strive for energy independence. This is achieved when countries produce enough fuel to meet their own needs. Not only does it create a more sustainable economy, but also eliminates trade considerations with less-than-desirable partners during times of political upheaval. Having secure energy sources allows nations greater autonomy and a stronger bargaining position in global markets.

If we have learned nothing else over the last two years, it’s that crisis accelerates change. The pandemic unveiled deep flaws in our healthcare and economic systems. Now, we are seeing how tenuous our global supply chains are.

Although it will further delay any hopes for some return to normalcy, Russia’s military aggression has forced every government to assess its energy demands and policies. Some are deciding that energy independence is imperative to their national security and the highest priority. If more governments adopt this same stance, it will likely accelerate the energy revolution. Even with recent advancements, were are still years away from breaking our dependency on fossil fuels

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How to Prepare for Future Funeral Expenses

How to Prepare for Future Funeral Expenses

One of the things that keep me up some nights is worrying about what comes next. Beyond the metaphysical question of it all, I also worry about those I’m leaving behind. Having witnessed it firsthand, it can be a huge financial burden on your loved ones.  While death and funerals aren’t favorite topics of conversation, there is no avoiding it. Death is the great equalizer and comes for us all in the end. Therefore, I’m trying to arrange things ahead of time and prepare for future funeral expenses, leaving no questions or obligations behind.

Why You Should Prepare for Future Funeral Expenses

Coming from a large family, death is a fairly common thing. I attended my first funeral when I was about 5, and we have laid many grandparents, aunts, and uncles to rest over the years. We view it as a celebration of life, sharing stories and comforting each other through the loss. Unfortunately, complications with finances can taint the services and make the grieving process so much worse.

Although some relatives planned better than others for funeral expenses and burial costs, they all had one thing in common: they were expensive. Today, the average funeral cost is about $8,000. This figure continues to rise as you add to the services or if the deceased has specific requirements for the funeral.

The burden of carrying out your wishes will fall to the person you name as executor of your will. This can be a heavy burden and a huge financial burden if you haven’t taken any steps to prepare for it. Even if you allocate funds from your accounts or estate, it could take months or even years to access the funds.

So, making arrangements to prepare for future funeral costs is a final gift I’m going to leave them. I’ll rest at peace knowing they won’t have the added stress of worrying about how to pay for it all.

5 Ways You Can Prepare for Future Funeral Costs

1. Pay for your own funeral arrangement.

Ideally, I’d like to lift the burden from their shoulders completely by planning the funeral myself. My goal is to have everything paid in full.

Although some think it is macabre, it ensures that not only can I save for it now, but I can include all the details I’d like for my arrangements. From the casket and service to the outfit and music, you can plan every detail. And, your loved ones won’t have to guess about what you would have wanted since you can tell them. I know I’ll rest easier knowing that I’m not leaving a financial mess behind.

2. Prepay for funeral services.

Prepaid funeral plans are a popular option for those who still want to make arrangements ahead of time, but have trouble with the details. You can choose a local mortuary to work with, and they will step in to help your family attend to things when you pass.

And when you prepay, you can lock in the current rates. This protects you against rising costs of inflation and land shortages which will drive the price up. However, they don’t usually offer refunds if you change your plans or move out of state. And if they go out of business, there’s no recourse to get your money back.

If you are considering this route, compare plans to determine what’s best for you. Be clear on the terms and fine print, and ask about refunds and cancellation policy. When you spend this much, make sure you know exactly where your money is going.

3. Purchase funeral insurance.

Although life insurance in intended to support your family after death, you can purchase funeral insurance to prepare for your future burial and funeral costs. Funeral insurance functions like many other plans, but with one key difference: you need to estimate your final expenses to determine which policy to purchase.

The funeral expenses will be the largest cost. But, there are other bills to consider such as healthcare, legal fees, and any outstanding debts. The most common plans include burial insurance, funeral insurance, and final expense insurance which range from $25k to $40k.

4. Set up a dedicated funeral fund.

If you know that it will be difficult to pay for your final expenses, you can set up an account and start funding it now. There are traditional savings accounts, or a Totten trust which offers better interest rates and pay the designated beneficiary who the trust will pay on death (POD). Rather than having to wait to access your accounts once your affairs are settled, the beneficiary can receive the funds by presenting your death certificate.

This is a good option for low-income earners or people who have no other way to prepare for future funeral costs. Even if you don’t save enough to cover all your final expenses, everything helps. And, if you start planning while you’re still here, you can use the compounding interest to your advantage. The sooner you open the account, the more interest it will earn.

5. See if you qualify for burial benefits.

Finally, I would check membership benefits to see which accounts or affiliations may offer assistance with burial costs. For example, my credit union offers $1,000 towards my final expenses just for being a member.

Veterans are also entitled to certain arrangements as well. They can be buried in the national cemetery with no cost for the site or marker. However, you’ll need to find out if they are eligible since space is limited. But, the VA offers other benefits as well to lessen the financial impact.

When the Final Bell Tolls

The bills never seem to stop, even in death. However, before your final bell is rung, you can ease the pain for your loved ones and prepare for future funeral expenses. Death and debt are heavy enough burdens on their own. So, I plan to do what I can now to ensure it brings us all some peace in the end.

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