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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Why You Should Invest In Your Landscaping This Spring

Spring is a time of rebirth and growth. It’s the perfect season to invest in your landscaping and make your home look beautiful again. Here are six reasons why you should invest in your landscaping this spring.

1. It Enhances Curb Appeal

When it comes to improving your home’s curb appeal, landscaping is one of the most effective tools at your disposal. By carefully selecting plants, trees, and shrubs that complement your home’s architecture, you can create a coordinated look that will impress. In addition, strategic landscaping can help to disguise problem areas and highlight your home’s best features.

Moreover, well-chosen plants can also provide valuable benefits, such as reducing noise pollution, providing shade, and attracting wildlife. In other words, landscaping is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it can also improve your quality of life. So if you’re looking to boost your home’s curb appeal, landscaping is a great place to start.

2. It Adds Value to Your Home

According to The Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association, landscaping can add up to 14% to the value of your home. This is because a well-maintained landscape is seen as a sign of quality and care, both by potential buyers and appraisers. In fact, many buyers are willing to pay a premium for a home with well-manicured landscaping.

Consider investing in your landscaping if you’re looking to sell your home soon or simply want to get the most out of your investment. A beautiful landscape will not only increase the value of your home, but it will also help you close the sale and make you money faster.

3. It Keeps Your Home Cool in the Summer

One of the best ways to keep your home cool during the summer is by installing a well-maintained landscape. By strategically placing trees, shrubs, and plants near your home, you can create natural shade and insulation. In addition, well-maintained landscaping can help prevent wind damage and reduce the amount of moisture entering your home.

All of these factors can help keep your home cooler in the summer, which can lead to lower energy bills. So if you’re looking for a way to save money on your energy costs, landscaping is a great option.

4. It Is Therapeutic

According to a recent survey, 42% of those who garden at home report feeling healthy and happy. This is because gardening is a therapeutic activity that can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation. In fact, many people find that gardening is so therapeutic that they do it for recreational purposes.

If you’re looking for a way to relax and de-stress, consider investing in your landscaping this spring. A beautiful garden can be a great source of relaxation and peace of mind.

5. It Can Help Control Soil Erosion

One of the biggest problems facing homeowners today is soil erosion. This is when the top layer of soil is washed away, leaving behind a barren and damaged landscape. Soil erosion can be caused by various factors, such as wind, rain, and flooding.

Fortunately, landscaping can help to control soil erosion by stabilizing the soil and preventing it from being washed away. By planting trees, shrubs, and plants in strategic locations, you can create a natural barrier that will help to keep the soil in place. In addition, well-maintained landscaping can also promote healthy plant growth, which will help stabilize the soil further. If you’re concerned about soil erosion, consider investing in your landscaping this spring.

6. It Gives an Opportunity to Try New Things and Save Money

Spring landscaping allows for a great opportunity to try new things. If you’ve been considering adding a raised garden using wooden pallets, this is the time to do it. However, remember to be careful when working with them; an average wood pallet has approximately 100 nails.

The money you invest in your landscaping this spring will pay off in the long run. Not only will a well-maintained yard increase the curb appeal of your home, but it will also help to keep your property values high. A beautiful landscape can also provide a place for you and your family to relax and enjoy nature.

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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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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How to Turn Trash Into Easy Cash

How to Turn Trash into Easy Cash

The holidays can take a heavy toll on your bank accounts and credit limits. Come January, many of us who splurged need to either tighten the purse strings or find a new source of income. So, if you are thinking of new ways to bring in some extra money after the holidays, here are a few ideas to turn your trash into easy cash.

Upcycling Your Trash into Cash

Upcycling has become a popular trend among those who can spot a diamond in the rough. Perhaps you have read new stories about professional dumpster divers who make a killing from what they find. Maybe you know someone who has built a business by upcycling other people’s trash by restoring it or repurposing it into something new. With a little creativity and a shrewd eye for a deal, you can easily turn someone else’s trash into a real treasure.

Recycling Trash into Easy Cash

If you don’t have the time or skill to get into upcycling, you can always find ways to make money by recycling various materials.

Scrap Metal

Right now, scrap metal prices are at an all-time high. You can get a fair price for metals when you sell your scrap for cash. However, copper, brass, and aluminum bring the best prices. When you take a load to the scrapyard, they will pay the current going rate. Although prices have remained fairly stable, they can fluctuate daily. If you prefer to have someone else do the heavy lifting, you can also find people online who will pay for your scrap and haul it away for you.

Aluminum Cans

At some point, every kid tries to make a fortune by collecting aluminum cans. Although you probably aren’t going to be able to retire on your earnings, recycling can earn your money while you help the environment. On average, most centers pay $0.50 per pound. And to give you an idea of the earning potential, there are about 34 cans in each pound. If you have a steady source, it could pay off some of your smaller bills.

Glass Bottles

People have been recycling glass bottles for cash since companies first introduced them. Today, only 10 states in the U.S. (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Vermont) pay for glass bottles. However, prices range from $0.05 to $0.15 each. If you aren’t a resident of one of these states, there are other options. Do a local search to sell glass bottles in your area. Local recycling centers, breweries, vineyards, and homebrew supply stores may be willing to purchase them as well.

Cardboard Boxes

If you have a ton of cardboard boxes from your holiday purchases, you can turn your trash into easy cash. After you join the online marketplace, you can list them for free on Boxcycle. People who are looking for cardboard boxes can connect with you and arrange a time to pick up your boxes. Then, you will receive payment via PayPal. It’s simple, convenient, and an easy way to make money from stuff laying around the house.

Reclaimed Wood

Anyone who has done remodels or flipped a house knows that these projects can produce reusable lumber. And with wood in high demand, you can get a great price for reclaimed wood. For those in rural areas, old barns are also a great source of materials. Local dealers and sites like Antique Beams and Boards pay well for a high-quality wood. You can call companies in your area or go online to get a quote. But, be sure to include the length, size, type of wood, and photos for an accurate estimate.

Car Batteries

Most places will give you a discount on car batteries when you trade in your old car battery for a new one. But, if you have several batteries that are taking up space, you could try to sell them to junkyards, auto parts stores, or online marketplaces. While they aren’t the most valuable thing in your garage, they usually bring between $5 and $12 each. Selling them is a good way to squeeze a little more life out of your old batteries.

Ink Cartridges

Have you been holding onto your old ink cartridges? If so, you can turn your trash into easy cash. After you sign-up with the eCycle Group through their website, they will provide a prepaid envelope for your items. You can view the set price list so you know exactly how much money you will be receiving. One thing to note is that you must send a minimum of 20 at a time. If you don’t have that many, you can also turn your ink cartridges in at local retailers. Staples, Office Depot/Office Max, and Best Buy offer in-store rewards and discounts for each one you bring in.

Wine Corks

If you are an oenophile and enjoy fine wines, chances are you have plenty of corks leftover. Although you probably never had reason to save them, selling wine corks is another way to turn your trash into easy cash. Many people want them for art projects and various uses around the house. Currently, you can find them on eBay for about $0.10 a pop. But, keep in mind you’ll have to pay their seller and shipping fees if you use their site.

Selling after an Upgrade

Selling Old Appliances

When you are upgrading your large appliance, you can resell your old ones to recoup some of the cost. Try to list them in local marketplaces to connect with potential buyers. Although, if they are out-of-service, you can contact local repair shops to see if they will buy them for spare parts. Otherwise, you can always sell them to the local scrap yard as well.

Selling Used Electronics

If you just got a new device for the holidays, you can sell your old smartphones, laptops, and tablets for cash. Gazelle lists its prices online. So, once you find your specific make and model and answer a few questions, you can send it off in one of their prepaid envelopes. Plus, you can choose payment by check, PayPal, or Amazon gift cards, giving you even more options.

With limited supply chains and delayed deliveries, people are hunting for cheap materials and good deals. These ideas are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ways to turn your trash into cash.

Have you found an innovative way to turn your junk into a paycheck? Tell us how in the comments below!

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How to Earn Money from Competitive Eating

How to Earn Money from Competitive Eating

You have probably heard of food challenges at local restaurants and eating contests at the county fair. Perhaps you have even taken one on for a free meal or your picture on the wall. But, did you know people earn money from competitive eating? Although it’s not the most conventional sport, some contests attract the most serious competitors from every corner of the globe. When you see the grand prizes and cash rewards, it’s no wonder why some people become professional eaters. However, there is much more to the sport than simply having a big appetite.

The Sport of Competitive Eating

It may seem like an obvious question, but what exactly is competitive eating? The sport, also called speed eating, requires contestants to compete against one another, eating massive amounts of food in a very short time. Most competitions only last 8-10 minutes, although some of the longer ones may give people up to 30 minutes to finish the food. When the time is up, they count their tallies and declare a winner. Judges count them down, manage the time, and watch the competitors for anything that could get them disqualified.

Although many smaller competitions only offer free swag or comp your meal, the larger contests often have huge cash prizes. And, the food used in the contest can vary greatly. So, if you are thinking about trying to earn money from competitive eating, you should consider your food choice carefully. Soon enough, you are sure to have a belly full of it!

Training for Competitions

Competitive eating isn’t something you can just walk off the street and win. It requires months of preparation and physical training.

Physical Preparation

Competitors train for months prior to the event, stretching their stomach capacity to its limits. The top eaters know that stomach elasticity could be the difference between a huge payday and a defeat.

Most usually begin with drinking huge amounts of fluids to stretch the stomach and throat, which will allow them to consume more food in a shorter amount of time. Others focus on building jaw strength. Chewing gum builds these muscles to help them devour their food faster.

Choose Your Strategy

No matter what kind of food challenge you undertake, you need a strategy going into it. The professionals first look at the meal they are about to eat and break down the components. Based on the types of food, you must decide the best approach for you.

Ordering your food correctly helps to ensure you have enough room for it all. You may choose to start with the things you like least to get them out of the way. However, every competitive eater tells you to start with the required liquids. Then, you move onto the proteins and cheeses which become harder to eat as they cool. Generally, professional eaters agree that you should save bread, starches, and other carbohydrates until the end. Keep in mind there is no single best strategy. Each person has their own rituals and routines to maximize how much they can consume.

Do Practice Runs

Just like any sport, you need to practice before the main event. You can look for local challenges to build your confidence and get some wins under your belt. Another option is to time yourself at home and analyze your performance.

You don’t want to do a trial run immediately before an eating competition. But, you should attempt it at least once before the event, especially if it’s your first time. This gives you a chance to adapt and change your strategy as well.

Earn Money from Competitive Eating

There are over 3,500 competitions across the U.S. every year with an estimated $400k – $500k in prize money for the taking. However, purses are usually between $1,000 and $8,500. The smaller competitions won’t provide a salary that you can live on. But, the largest contests have given away cars, motorcycles, and thousands of dollars in cash prizes.

Arguably the most famous competitive eating contest, Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest gives out $10,000 for first place every year. Second place takes home $5,000 and third $2,500. Other events like the Wing Bowl have awarded winners up to $20,000.

Champions like Joey Chestnut have netted enough wins to build impressive net worth. After his 14th win in 15 years, he is now worth around $2 million. Tekeru Kobayashi ate his way to fame and a fortune of $3 million. Matt Stonie also earns a comfortable salary from his YouTube Channel which has 14.9 million subscribers.

While the elite eaters earn plenty of money from competitive eating, they also receive sponsorships which generate even more income. Chestnut does endorsements for Hostess, Hooters, Coney Island IPA, and Pepto Bismal. And, he also created his own brand of condiments. Some professional eaters are hired by local restaurants to participate in their competitive eating contests as well. So, they get paid win or lose.

Finding Competitive Eating Competitions

But, if you want to earn some real money from competitive eating, you will need to compete year-round. Start by familiarizing yourself with the Major League Eating events sponsored by major organizations like the International Federation of Competitive Eating. Not only can you keep up-to-date with the latest events, but also check the current rankings of all the competitive eaters.

However, if you have your eyes on a bigger prize, you can also follow EatFeats for challenges worldwide. This site is a virtual encyclopedia of all competitive eating contests. It breaks events down by types of food, dates, and locations.

Most of the champions give the same advice though to those just starting their career. They suggest beginning with some of the smaller, local competitions to earn your eating credits. It’s a good way to prepare for competitive eating contests with larger purses.

Competitive Eating Records to Beat

So, for all those looking to break into competitive eating, here are some of the current records to beat.

  • Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest – Joey Chestnut (76 hot dogs in 10 minutes)
  • Chicken Wings – Joey Chestnut (7.61 lbs of buffalo chicken wings in 12 minutes)
  • Hamburgers – Sonya Thomas (7 3/4 lb. “thick burgers” in 10 minutes)
  • 24″ Pizza – Richard “the Locust” LeFevre (7.5 Bacci Pizza slices in 15 minutes)
  • Ice Cream – Cookie Jarvis (1 gallon 9oz of vanilla ice cream in 10 minutes)
  • Burritos – Eric “Badlands” Booker (15 BurritoVille burritos in 8 minutes)
  • Glazed Donuts – Joey Chestnut (55 donuts in 8 minutes)
  • Watermelon – “Buffalo” Jim Reeves (13.22 lbs in 15 minutes)
  • Pancakes – Patrick Bertoletti (50 3.5oz Wild Eggs pancakes in 10 minutes)
  • Peeps – Matt Stonie (255 in 5 minutes)
  • Ramen Noodles – Tim “Eater X” Janus (10.5 lbs in 8 minutes)
  • French Fries – Cookie Jarvis (4.46 lbs of Nathan’s Famous Crinkle Cut Fries in 6 minutes)

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How to Sell and Recycle Old Electronics

How to Sell and Recycle Old Electronics

My family loves tech and gadgets. While my dad is the original collector with stereo equipment and early green-screen computers dating back to the late 1970s and early 1980s, we have built quite the collection of antiquated electronics. Although some of it is valuable, most of it is junk which is difficult to dispose of. And as I’ve come to find out, throwing them away is basically tossing money out the window. While the operating systems are completely obsolete, they are still in good shape. After doing a little research, I have discovered seven ways you can sell and recycle old electronics so they don’t end up at the local landfill.

7 Ways to Sell and Recycle Old Electronics

1. Trade-in Programs

One of the most convenient ways to get compensation for your old electronics is through trade-in programs. A quick online search will pull up several retailers who will give you cash, credit, or gift cards. While there may be a few local options, there are several national companies that offer to pay you for them.

  • Target offers gift cards when you turn in old laptops, phones, video games, and other electronics.
  • Best Buy allows you to trade them in for in-store credit. Or, if you want to trade up or use the credit for future purchases, you can mail them in for gift cards.
  • Amazon will pay you for your outdated devices.
  • Apple’s Recycling Program also offers gift cards. However, it is limited to Apple products only.

2. Sell Them Online

Another way to earn cash for your electronics is to sell them yourself. If your devices are still functioning well, you could try to advertise them online or through local marketplaces. You are more likely to get the maximum value if you sell it yourself, but it could take a while to find a buyer.

The best sites and marketplaces to post your items are Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or Amazon. Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are more local, so they require face-to-face transactions. These are usually cash only and won’t have shipping fees unless you offer the option. On the other hand, eBay and Amazon help you reach a wider market and improve the chances of finding a buyer. But, they also take a percentage for using their platform.

If you decide to go this route, you should cross-list items in several places to cast the widest net possible.

3. Use a Direct-Buy Used Electronic Sites

Unfortunately, most people don’t have the time or patience to deal with private sales. So, if you don’t want the hassle of advertising and meeting with potential buyers in person, you should check out direct-buy sites for used electronics.

Amazon, Gazelle, and Decluttr give you access to trusted buy-back programs for your electronics. All you have to do is send them your old electronics. Once they receive them, then they will evaluate the value and send you compensation.

4, Check with Local Repair Shops

Sometimes local repair shops will buy used laptops and phones for parts, or repair them and sell them for a profit. So, even if your devices are old and well-worn, they still hold value.

Check with repair shops in your area to see if they can scavenge parts that are still valuable and compatible with other devices. They may offer you cash or trade-in credit, depending on what components they can get from your old electronics. Even if they don’t, repair shops are usually willing to dispose of them for free.

5. Pass Them on to a Friend or Family Member

Perhaps you know someone who needs a laptop or phone upgrade. Accidents happen all the time, and electronics are expensive to replace. Try asking around to see if anyone is looking for a temporary fix until they can afford something else.

Many people insist on giving you something, but you may have the opportunity to help someone you care about who is facing a tough financial situation. This is a good option if it is the first cell phone or laptop for a student as well. If they have a used or older device, there is less fear of damaging or losing it since it isn’t the latest and most expensive one available.

6. Donate Them to a Good Cause

In some instances, helping the less fortunate is more important than getting a good price. If you want to donate your outdated electronics to a good cause, you can look into local chapters of these organizations.

Many shelters and programs that assist veterans and victims of domestic violence gladly accepted older phones. There are also non-profits and charitable organizations that always need electronic upgrades. You can also call around to schools, shelters, churches, and other charities that may have a use for them. Donating them is a great way to give back to your community, instead of trying to sell or recycle your old electronics.

7. Safe Disposal and Recycling

However, if the devices are too far gone, it may be best to just scrap them. You can save yourself time and trouble by finding a place to safely dispose of them.

Many electronic retailers and recycling services will accept old electronics and get rid of them for you, free of charge. All you have to do is find designated kiosks inside stores like Best Buy where you can drop them in. Or, you can usually drop them off at the customer service desk, and they will make sure the devices are properly handled.

Before You Sell and Recycle Old Electronics…

Before you hand over any of your personal devices, make sure you wipe or destroy the hard drive. Many recycling centers do this for you, but it’s always safer to do it yourself. You don’t want your personal information floating around, or give anyone access to important documents that could leave you vulnerable to fraud or identity theft. So, if the hard drive has nothing on it or has been destroyed, you know your information is secure when you sell or recycle your old electronics.

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How to Protect Your Portfolio Before a Recession

How to Protect Your Portfolio Before a Recession

 

Every type of investment comes with risks. However, there are many steps you can take to insulate your investments against market volatility. Here are seven ways you can protect your retirement savings and portfolio before a recession.

7 Things You Can Do To Protect Your Portfolio Before a Recession

1. Accept the fact that recessions happen.

No matter how well you plan, you can never escape risk. Market volatility is an inherent part of investing. So, periodic crashes are just the nature of the beast. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, there has been a market recession every ten years (sometimes more frequently) since 1858.

It can be tough to ride out the highs and the lows of the stock market. However, you have to accept that every few years, the market will inevitably dive. These are natural, self-correcting mechanisms that counteract long periods of market gains. But, the ebb and flow of the market mean it will stabilize eventually. Although you can’t predict when it will happen, you can monitor signs and prepare for it.

2. Know your risk tolerance.

Before you even make your first investment, you must know what level your risk tolerance is. This varies for every investor based on their financial goals, job security, timeline, and general attitude towards money. Therefore, every brokerage and financial advisor will ask you to complete a questionnaire to help you determine what type of strategy works best for you.

The type of investments you choose depends on your risk tolerance. People tend to become more conservative as they near retirement age since they have less time to recover from losses. However, if you already have a conservative approach or find it difficult to stomach drastic market fluctuations, it may be better to go with investments like bonds, real estate, and large-cap stocks that are less volatile.

3. Keep an eye on the bigger picture.

One of the most common mistakes amateur investors make is trying to time the market. Don’t waste your energy or capital trying to time different sectors. Instead, keep an eye on the bigger picture and stay with your long-term strategy. It can be hard to ignore the daily rises and falls, but don’t get distracted by the latest trends. Remind yourself why you chose your specific investments.

When you see large fluctuations, you must regulate your emotions. The last thing you should do is panic and make impulsive decisions about your portfolio. The more practical solution is to create a strategy to scale back your risk. If you try to micromanage your portfolio, it could cost you even more.

Most financial advisors will tell you to ride it out so you don’t lock in the losses. Then you will have the chance to recover. History has shown that people who hold their investments through a recession have portfolios that almost always recuperate their losses. Trying to outrun a bear market usually results in people selling their shares and then rebuying them later at much higher prices

4. Diversification is key to surviving a recession.

Although diversification is a common strategy, it shouldn’t be overlooked or undervalued. It is one of the most important methods to protect your investments on the brink of a recession. When you put your eggs in many different baskets, the gains in thriving markets will offset any losses other industries are experiencing.

When you diversify your portfolio, not only should you maintain different kinds of investments, but also investments in various industries, companies of different sizes, and multiple geographic locations. Time and again, it has proven to be a good way to ensure your portfolio stays balanced and profitable, even during a recession. You may need to do this yourself, or you can choose funds that automatically diversify your investments for you.

5. Evaluate and rebalance your portfolio.

While it is wise to evaluate and rebalance your portfolio regularly, it is even more important before an economic downturn. Look at the composition of your portfolio and decide if you need to reallocate funds to protect your portfolio before a recession.

The traditional model of 70/30 where 70% is invested in stocks, 30% in bonds works for most investors. However, other investors opt for a different strategy of 50/20/30 where they invest 50% in stocks, 20% in bonds, and the remaining 30% in real estate. It offers greater diversification and security when the market dips.

You can also limit your exposure by selling riskier assets. At the first signs of a recession, herd instincts are to get out of the equities market completely. But, if you do this, you will miss some valuable opportunities. Therefore, fixed-income investments are usually a better option for more risk-averse investors. U.S. treasury bonds, utilities, consumer staples, commodities, and companies with a long, established history are more likely to weather a recession. Dividend-paying stocks will also guarantee steady cash flow and offer more stability through economic downturns.

6. Invest your money in uncorrelated markets.

Another way to protect your portfolio before a recession is to invest in uncorrelated markets. Look for commodities or assets that don’t fluctuate in tandem with the stock market. This is a great way to hedge your bets and help your portfolio remain profitable even during a recession. Uncorrelated markets, such as real estate, hold their value over time. So, you will be able to maintain consistent returns even when several sectors are suffering losses.

7. Be open to new opportunities.

Although your instincts may tell you not to invest during a recession, making regular contributions will help you continue to build towards your retirement goals. Just because your portfolio is less profitable doesn’t mean you should stop investing.

The silver lining of a bear market is that market crashes can also bring new investment opportunities. Even if share prices drop, they will likely recover over time. If you are in a stable position, buying on the dip could turn you a huge profit. If you choose the right stock options, you are setting yourself up for success when the market rebounds.

There is no way to time it perfectly, and prices could continue to drop. Therefore, you should set an investing threshold so you know your limits and how much capital you are willing to gamble with.

Sticking with Your Strategy

Ultimately, nothing is recession-proof. Even when people claim to have the market beat, ignore the hype and do your research. Most importantly, resist the urge to try to time your investments to beat the market. There is no magic, crystal ball. Focus on the long-term and stick to your investment strategy. If you have any questions about how to limit your exposure to minimize risks, discuss your options with your financial advisor.

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5 Financial Benefits of Deleting Social Media Apps

5 Financial Benefits of Deleting Social Media Apps

Without question, social media has changed how humans communicate. While we now have access to a global network of people and information, constant communication also subjects us to a constant bombardment of advertisements, notifications, and promotional offers as well. For these reasons and more, many people announce that they are taking social media cleanses to detox from its negative side effects. Even if you don’t feel the need to declare it to the world, taking a break from social media for even 24 hours could be good for you. In addition to its mental health benefits, people are discovering that there are many financial benefits of deleting your social media apps as well.

What Are Some of the Financial Benefits of Deleting Social Media Apps?

1. It Removes the Temptation to Spend.

When I began clearing my home screen of social media apps, I didn’t realize how it would affect my spending habits. With so many embedded advertisements, I was frequently diverted to sites I never intended to visit. And, although I hate to admit it, also spend money I never intended to part with. My increased monthly savings was the most unexpected financial benefit of deleting my social media apps.

Deleting these and other mobile shopping apps I frequently use took away the temptation to spend. It’s as simple as the press of the button to have things delivered to your front door. When I saw the apps every time I opened my phone, it was harder to resist impulse buying.

Once I became aware of this bad habit, I also realized I was making unnecessary in-game purchases with some of my mobile gaming apps as well. Removing all of these has saved me a significant amount of money each month.

2. You Have Less Exposure to Targeted Advertising.

Speaking of embedded advertisements, social media apps are littered with them. The banner and pop-up ads are hard to ignore. And, if you spend hours each day scrolling, they become ingrained into your subconscious when you see them over and over again. This marketing strategy has proven so successful that 76% of people say they have bought something they saw in a social media post. Furthermore, many of the respondents said they didn’t even intend to buy anything before they made the purchase.

It has become even more effective since social media uses your search history to target items you have shown an interest in. If you have looked it up multiple times, they will continue to show you more ads. The more you see something, the more likely it becomes that you will buy it. So, reducing your exposure to marketing and advertisements can help you avoid spending money. This is good news for your wallet and your monthly budget.

3. It Makes You More Productive at Work.

Facts are facts. Most of us spend hours every day scrolling through social media. If you don’t believe me, check your screen time tracker. Not only will it show you have much time you spend on your phone every day, but it will also tell you which ones are your biggest time-suckers.

If you are constantly getting notifications or checking your phone at work, it can become a huge distraction. And, it could be affecting your overall job performance. By deleting the apps from your phone, you can greatly improve your productivity. Who knows…maybe if you aren’t so distracted, you’ll finally feel motivated to go after a raise or a promotion.

4. The Extra Time Can Help You Increase Your Income.

I can’t speak for others, but I was shocked to see that I was spending upwards of 4-5 hours every day on social media. Although I always complained that I never had enough hours in the day, now I had evidence why. The time we spend looking at the latest posts could be put towards more productive pursuits.

Instead of wasting this time on social media, I wanted to use it to improve my financial situation. I started by taking advantage of new opportunities and became more serious about investing. As I looked at ways to earn passive income, I finally found the courage to start my own business. Although this is how I chose to use my reclaimed time, you could use it to learn a new skill or earn a specialized degree that will increase your income.

5. It Becomes Easier to Focus on Your Goals.

Possibly the most impactful financial benefit of deleting social media apps was that it become easier to focus on my goals. Sure, there were times I felt I was missing out as my friends posted updates of their vacations and new purchases. However, reducing my exposure to other people’s irresponsible spending habits also reduced comparisons and envy.

Not having those incessant reminders allows you to reset your priorities and focus on what and who is most important. For me, removing the temptations to use social media made it is easier to achieve my financial goals.

Don’t Forget About the Health Benefits of Deleting Your Social Media Apps Either!

In addition to all the financial benefits, we can’t forget to mention the mental health benefits as well. Once I deleted the worst offenders from my phone, my sleeping habits immediately improved. I felt more energized when I woke up and less drained at the end of the day.

Psychologists have also noted that it can reduce your anxiety levels. By removing the obligation you feel to stay in constant communication, you eliminate the stress it creates. This allows you to relax and truly live in the moment. And, when we spend less time looking at our phones, we are able to focus on other, more personal modes of communication.

Although it may not be necessary to do a social media detox, taking a step back from our daily routines can give you a new perspective and appreciation. Going forward, I know that I can take a step back and then ease back into whenever I feel the need. However, once you begin noticing the financial benefits of deleting your social media apps, you may decide to take a permanent hiatus.

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