Are Porch Pirates Affecting Your Holiday Plans?

Are Porch Pirates Affecting Your Holiday Plans?

While wooden ships and hidden treasures may be a thing of the past, piracy is still alive and well. However, it looks a little different today. People have adapted to modern trade and e-commerce. Instead of waiting in ambush, now porch pirates will take things right from your front steps. Here’s what you need to know to make sure their crimes won’t interfere with your holiday plans.

What Is Causing the Rise of Porch Pirates?

Porch pirates are not a new phenomenon. There have always been people who seize packages from homes while the owners are away. It’s only recently that they have been dubbed “porch pirates.”

And sadly, it seems like it is becoming a more common practice. Part of the reason is that so many more people shop online. So, it’s relatively easy and most people get away with it. Some rationalize their actions because they see it as a victimless crime since most shippers or retailers replace stolen goods.

In most instances, porch piracy is a crime of opportunity. Walking off with an unknown package could result in a big payoff if it contains expensive electronics or other items they can resell. Unfortunately, it is occurring more frequently and will probably only get worse.

How Much Financial Damage Do They Cause?

When asked, nearly 64% of Americans reported that they had stolen packages last year. And although the holiday season has just started, a recent survey found that an estimated 260 million packages have already “gone missing” this year.

The sheer number is staggering. But when you consider that the average value of these packages ranges from $50 to $200, the financial impact becomes clearer. According to UPS, 1.7 million packages go missing every day, totaling $25 million in lost or stolen goods.

How Can You Protect Yourself from Porch Pirates?

Although you may be tempted to take things into your own hands, it’s wiser to take preventative measures against future theft. You don’t want to end up in a legal situation because you were trying to protect your personal property or teach someone a lesson.

1. Install a security system.

Even those who work from home can’t be there all the time. But, you can install a quality security system. Adding a doorbell camera, motion detector lights, and a security system will help you keep an eye on things while you are away.

Video surveillance allows you to monitor activity and confirm deliveries, and possibly provide evidence if someone does steal your packages. As an added bonus, you can speak directly to people through the doorbell camera to scare them off. Something as simple as posting a sign and making cameras clearly visible could also act as a deterrent.

2. Track your package and verify delivery.

Merchants usually send you the tracking number with your purchase. If the package is taking longer than expected, check the status online. You can also set alerts and updates, and many carriers will send photos of the delivery. However, you can add an extra layer of security by requiring a signature so packages are not left outside.

3. Become familiar with your delivery people.

One thing people don’t often think about is discussing mail issues with their carriers and delivery people. Sometimes they make mistakes and send things to the wrong house. Other times, there are errors on the shipping labels.

But if you are dealing with porch pirates, you can make them aware of the problem. And, you could also ask them to place your packages somewhere out of sight so porch pirates don’t target your home.

4. Add delivery instructions for your packages.

Another idea is to include delivery instructions at the time you order. Many sites provide space to include special instructions. If you are afraid the package will go missing, specify where you want it left so it isn’t in plain view. Then, there is less chance someone will see it and be tempted to steal it.

5. Talk to your neighbors.

Our neighbors frequently end up with our packages. So before I make any claims, I check around to see if it was delivered to the wrong house. However, if other people have had packages go missing as well, it could turn everyone on to a bigger problem.

Networking in your neighborhood is always a good idea. You can watch for suspicious activity and keep an eye on each other’s homes when you are away. Creating a neighborhood watch could prevent more thefts and major holiday headaches.

6. Contact the seller and shipping service.

If you are certain your item was stolen, contact the seller or shipping service. They may already have theft insurance. Furthermore, many carriers offer reimbursement or compensation through their claims process. So even if something goes missing, you will likely receive a replacement once you file a claim.

7. Purchase homeowners or renters insurance.

There are several good reasons to purchase homeowners’ or renters’ insurance.  Porch pirates are one more you can add to the list. Your policy should protect against financial losses caused by package theft under personal property coverage. Just be aware of the policy limits, because it may not cover the full expense of electronics, fine art, jewelry, or cash.

8. Send your packages to the office.

You can avoid the issue altogether by having packages sent to your office or place of business. It’s a convenient option for smaller packages, but may be impractical for larger ones. Just remember to make sure that your boss is aware and okay with the arrangement before you flood the mail room with your holiday purchases.

9. Pay for receiving services.

If you receive multiple packages each week, it may be worth paying for receiving services. Many large delivery services rent lockers for a monthly fee. It could be a secure and practical solution for you if they have locations near your home or office.

10. Pick up your packages in person.

While it may be more inconvenient, sending your packages to the post office or distribution center is 100% secure. The only person they will release your package to is you. Picking up your items in person will ensure that you get every delivery on time and that nothing goes missing.

What Do You Do If You Are a Victim?

If you are a victim, follow the same steps to document everything as if you were making a claim for a car accident.

The first step is to contact the police and file an official report. The insurance companies may require it later during the claims process. You should also include all additional documents or photos you have. For example, you can provide any video footage you have of the theft. And, include any notifications and documentation of the delivery.

When you have everything in order, contact your insurance company to file the claim. But, you don’t want to delay too long since claims have to be promptly submitted. If you wait too long, it could cause them to deny your claim.

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10 Low Paying Jobs in Need of a Salary Increase

10 Low Paying Jobs in Need of a Salary Increase

Many of us are feeling the impacts of the economic downturn and rising inflation rates. But as the cost of living continues to rise as well, minimum wage workers fear that they will no longer be able to afford the bare essentials. And with 125 million or 61% of Americans already living paycheck to paycheck, there is cause for concern. However, some positions have been notoriously underpaid for decades, hardly providing a living wage. Here are 10 low paying jobs that desperately need a salary increase to keep up with the rising inflation.

10 Low Paying Jobs in Need of a Salary Increase

Based on the reported earnings to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics from 2021, the following list includes low paying jobs in need of a salary increase. Keep in mind that this list doesn’t look at each position, but rather groups several low paying positions by industry. If you would like to see the breakdown by each job, you can view the full report here.

1. Fast Food Workers

The fast-food industry has been one of the hardest hit by labor shortages. But after learning how much they earn, it leaves little doubt as to why.

Fast-food service remains among the lowest-paying industries. Most positions are below the poverty threshold to support a 4-person household. Cooks are the lowest earners with an annual average salary of $25,490. Counter Workers come next at $26,060, and dining room staff earns slightly more with $27,690 per year.

2. Restaurant Staff

The restaurant industry in general has been struggling since the pandemic began. Although more people have returned to eating in restaurants, some never recovered and were forced to close their doors.

When the restaurant isn’t earning much money, then it can’t afford to pay its staff. Unfortunately, employees who relied on tips were not even earning minimum wage at times. When you see how much restaurant positions take home before taxes, some salaries are barely enough to live on, let alone build savings.

    • Host/Hostess $26,000
    • Dishwashers $27,350
    • Servers $27,520
    • Bussers and Barbacks $27,690
    • Food Prep and Service $28,810
    • Bartenders $30,340

3. Entertainment and Recreation Attendants

People need entertainment as an outlet from the demands of their job and the stresses of daily life. Attending events, going to amusement parks, and catching a movie can help you slow down and enjoy life.

However, those who provide these services may be experiencing their own financial stresses. This category includes different types of positions from ticket-takers to ushers and attendants. Any way you look at it though, they only earn an average annual salary between $26,110 and $27,170, depending on the position.

4. Cashiers

Any business that sells products or services will need cashiers to handle the transactions. While it is an entry-level position, they plan an important role in the corporate structure. But a position as a cashier usually means working long hours for little compensation. Most companies hire people for an average salary of $26,770 a year.

5. Child Care Workers

You would think that the people we trust to care for our children would be higher up the pay scale. Sadly, child care positions are low paying jobs in need of a salary increase. Child care workers have a very busy and demanding job. Furthermore, the well-being of many children directly depends on them. However, they only earn an average salary of $27,680.

6. Hospitality Staff

When you are traveling, it is easy to overlook how important each position within the hotel is. From check-in and food service to special requests, hospitality staff make it their job to take care of you when you’re away from home.

Unfortunately, they don’t earn much for their efforts. A desk clerk earns about $28,040, while maids and housekeeping cleaners make a little more at$29,580. Baggage carriers and porters can expect about $30,040 per year.

7. Healthcare Aides

Medical professionals have been tried and tested over the last few years. The strenuous conditions have caused many people to retire or leave the field. The resulting staffing shortages have made healthcare all the more difficult.

Hospitals and healthcare facilities are trying to promote and train doctors, nurses, and new medical staff to meet the demand. Many employers are even offering more financial incentives to fill these positions.

But, there has been little financial gain for healthcare aides who have an important function in day-to-day care. Orderlies take home about $33,440 while personal care and home health and personal care aides earn slightly less at $29,260 a year.

8. Agricultural Workers

Farmers across the country are responsible for growing the food that feeds our country. However, agricultural workers have a very thankless job. It includes long hours, hard work, and minimal pay. Although agricultural workers can earn more depending on their skills and training, the average agricultural worker brings home about $32,450 a year.

9. Security Guards

Security guards play an important role in assisting the local police. They often provide manpower to patrol buildings, monitor commercial areas, and investigate suspicious activity. Many even carry a weapon. However, they are not well compensated for the level of danger the job entails. A security guard earns an average salary of $35,830 per year.

10. Teachers

In other cultures, teachers hold revered positions. But, that isn’t the case in the U.S.

It’s no secret that teachers don’t get into it for the money. A preschool teacher is the lowest paid position requiring a degree. They earn an annual salary of $36,460 while other teachers earn anywhere from $10-$20k more. But even this salary bump is very low when you consider how important they are in shaping young minds.

Final Thoughts

While gaining new skills, certifications, or degrees can help you increase your income, it doesn’t change the fact that some jobs are severely underpaid. Having held many of these position on this list over the years, I understand why people get burnt out working long hours for little pay. However, the nation could be facing a serious labor crisis if people decide they are burnt out and no longer willing to perform these jobs at the same pay level.

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Is the Housing Boom Over?

Is the Housing Boom Over?

For the last two years, the housing market has been booming. But after going on a tear, there are signs that changes are ahead. Many hopeful people are wondering, is the housing market finally cooling off? This would come as welcome news for prospective buyers who have been priced out of homes or stuck in bidding wars. Based on market analysis and recent trends, there are several indications that the housing boom may be over.

The Housing Market Since Covid-19

There have been drastic fluctuations within the real estate and housing markets over the last few years. Namely, everything has gotten more expensive. The national average price of homes has increased by 30% since the pandemic began. In 2020, the national average was $329,000, but prices peaked in May 2022 at $430,000.While people expect the normal increase between 3-5% each year, prices rose by 12% in 2020, and 15% in 2021.

These figures represent the national average, but home prices vary greatly between states. California, Hawaii, and Washington D.C. have seen the greatest increases with the most expensive average home prices. However, the median cost for a home in Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia is well below the national average.

As the economy rebounded from the impacts of Covid-19, it became a seller’s market. There were growing demands for homes, but only a 1.7% increase in the number of available units. Since the supply couldn’t keep up with the demand, home prices skyrocketed across the country. But now that prices are stagnating, economists believe that there are changes ahead.

8 Signs the Housing Boom is Over

Due to recent trends, some analysts believe that the spike in the housing marketing may be leveling off, with hopeful anticipation that it may even be in decline. Based on recent sales data, there may be some indications that the housing boom is over.

1. Major markets are cooling down.

Cities like Phoenix, San Diego, and Denver saw some of the steepest increases in the real estate market. However, prices have started receding in the last few months.

In August 2021, prices increased by 30.9% in Phoenix. However, a year later there was only a 17.8% increase. In San Diego, prices were up 23.2% in 2021, but only 13.7% for 2022. Additionally, Denver residents saw an 11.4% increase in 2022, down from 19.5% in the previous year. If these trends continue for the next few months, it’s safe to say that some of the hottest markets look to be cooling down.

2. Inventory is increasing.

Of course, available inventory will vary between markets. But generally speaking, there are more homes available on the market today than in the last two years. Based on data compiled by Redfin, there were 1.8 million homes for sale in August while only 1.1 million were listed in January of 2022. And if there is more competition, that usually means lower prices.

3. Prices are falling.

The national average for the price of homes peaked in Q2 of 2022 at nearly $430,000. Since then, median home prices have fallen, now settling around $389,500.

Although this is s positive sign, it should be taken in stride. Sales data can change from month to month, with slight increases in some cases. However, the general trend shows that prices are falling. This comes as a huge relief to potential buyers who have been priced out of purchasing a home or forced into bidding wars. If prices continue to fall, more people may finally be able to afford their own homes, providing further relief in the rental market as well.

4. Houses are selling below the asking price.

During the height of the boom, realtors expected nearly every home to sell above the asking price. In many instances, interested buyers had to incentivize owners to sell to them by waiving inspection fees, writing personal letters, or paying extra to convince them to sell. Now, more homes are selling at or below the original asking price.

5. Homes are staying on the market longer.

Looking back, it was also common for a home to sell the first day it listed, sometimes within hours. People rushed to snatch up listings before the competition had a chance to act. Because of this, homes rarely stayed available for more than a few days and brought dozens of interested buyers.

However, houses have been staying on the market longer. In August 2021, the average number of days on the market was 17; in 2022 it was 26 days. This number is likely to continue growing as the holidays approach and the year comes to a close.

6. Sellers are reducing the asking price.

Sometimes people make mistakes and misprice their homes. This can scare people off, so the seller may reduce the asking price to attract more attention. But, more and more people have had to lower their initial asking price in recent months.

The same figures from August show that 21.7% of listings had to reduce their price, a drop of 9.2% from the year before. If the tide is turning to a buyer’s market, homeowners will have to become more conservative when they set their price point.

7. Mortgage rates are increasing.

The rise in the housing markets hasn’t gone unnoticed by the federal government either. One way national policy can influence the housing market and slow price increases is by increasing interest rates. Since it affects mortgage rates, it often discourages people from buying homes. As a result, buyers become more hesitant to purchase a home, and prices tend to drop.

According to Freddie Mac,  the average 30-year fixed-mortgage rate was at 3.22% at the beginning of 2022. However, it soared to 7.08% by the end of October.  Although experts hope rates won’t continue to increase, the trend is likely to continue until inflation has been curbed.

8. Home construction is also increasing.

The lack of available homes put an enormous amount of pressure on the housing market. Since the cost of construction materials was high, it severely limitd the number of new builds. But, more people are breaking ground and building new homes. THis should help supply issues and help stabilize prices over the next few years.

Getting Down to the Brass Tacks

No one can deny that the market has been on a tear since the pandemic. However, national sales data shows that these drastic increases may be slowing. It could be a sign that the housing boom is over and turning from a seller’s to a buyer’s market. Or, it could just be a slight stagnation as inflation continues to affect prices. We can make educated guesses, but no one can predict what the markets will do.

While it’s wise to try and buy when prices are low, you shouldn’t put off a home if you need to buy now. If these trends continue, it may be a good idea to start looking at prospective properties or shop around for mortgage lenders. That way, you’ll be ready and pre-approved for a loan when the right opportunity comes along.

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Can Your Credit Score Affect Your Apartment Rental Application?

Rental properties are an extremely popular housing solution for many people. Around 35% of households don’t own a home, and instead choose to rent from landlords. If you’re one of the many people that choose to rent instead of own a home, it’s important to save money, get your finances in order, and improve your credit score. Below are some of the many reasons your credit score will impact your rental application, and what you can do to fix them.

Bad Credit Might Indicate You Can’t Pay Bills

Around 35% of your credit score depends on how promptly and reliably you pay your bills. Prospective landlords will want to see that you will be able to make rent on time every month. If your credit score is low because of late or unpaid bills, it might send a red flag that you won’t be able to afford your monthly rent or don’t have the ability to spend your money appropriately.

There are a few things you can do to improve this part of your credit score. Start by ensuring all your bills are paid on time every month. You might also want to set up automatic payments so you never have to worry about forgetting a bill again. If you have any outstanding debt, make sure to pay it off as soon as possible. The sooner you can show landlords that you’re responsible with your money, the better chance you have of getting an apartment rented in your name.

Bad Credit Might Mean Higher Interest Rates

If your credit score is low and you’re approved for a rental, you might be asked to shell out more money each month. Landlords could require a higher deposit or ask for last month’s rent upfront. In some cases, they might even ask for a co-signer on the lease to help mitigate any risk they perceive in renting to you.

A good credit score can save you a lot of money in the long run, so it’s important to take the time to improve your credit before applying for an apartment. You can improve your credit score by reducing your debt. If you have any outstanding debt, make sure to speak to a debt consolidation company about getting rid of your debt by allowing you to pay it off over time with a lower interest rate.

Bad Credit Might Keep You from Getting Approved

If your credit score is really low, some landlords might deny your application outright. In this case, you’ll need to take the time to improve your credit before applying for another apartment. Fortunately, for those with severe debt, filing for bankruptcy might be a good option. Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, debts like credit card balances, medical bills, personal loans, and overpayments can be discharged, giving you greater freedom as you move forward. While it will stay on your credit report for 7-10 years, it can give you a chance to rebuild your credit and improve your financial standing.

Bad Credit Can Make You Suspicious to Landlords

When landlords are looking at rental applications, they’re not just looking at your credit score. They’re also looking at your rental history, employment history, and criminal background. If you don’t have a strong rental history or if you’ve been fired from jobs in the past, that can alarm prospective landlords. In some cases, a shady past combined with a low credit score can be enough to keep you from getting approved for an apartment.

If you’re looking to improve your chances of getting approved for an apartment, start by working on your rental history. If you don’t have much of a rental history, get a roommate or try to sublet an apartment for a few months. This will show landlords that you’re responsible with money and capable of paying rent on time. If you have any arrests or convictions on your record, make sure to disclose them upfront so there are no surprises later on.

No matter what your financial situation is, it’s important to remember that your credit score matters. If you’re looking to rent an apartment, make sure to take the time to improve your credit score

Legal Advice to Save You Money

Money is always a concern, especially when it comes to legal matters. You want to ensure that you are getting the best advice to save money and time. Here are some tips that can help you save money in case of a legal emergency or if you are concerned about upcoming legal battles.

Get Multiple Quotes From Lawyers

Don’t just go with the first lawyer you speak with. Get several quotes so that you can compare prices. This way, you’ll be able to get a sense of the going rate for the services you need. Many lawyers will offer to take a case on for free and only get paid when they win in court. Try and find an experienced lawyer who will take a lower percentage from your total settlement. It’s also a good idea to shop for lawyers in different areas but within the same state in which your case is tried. Lawyers must be familiar with state laws as well.

Look for Experienced Legal Advisors

An experienced lawyer will likely be more expensive, but they will also better understand the law and how to get you the best results. It’s better to spend money ahead of time on a trained lawyer than to save money and find a lawyer who is not well-equipped to handle your case. If you can, try to negotiate with the lawyer. Many lawyers are willing to work out a payment plan or reduced rate if they know you are truly struggling. If you have a lawyer friend, ask for a referral or consider getting help from family.

Settle Out of Court

If possible, try to settle your case out of court. Setting out of court can save you a lot of money in legal fees. While many movies show personal injury cases made before a judge and jury, only 4% to 5% of personal injury cases go to trial. At least 95% of personal injury claims are settled out of court to help save on legal and court fees.

You might also receive your money sooner if you settle outside of court. If you find yourself the victim of a personal injury case, try your best to negotiate with insurance companies to give you the settlement money you deserve out of court.

Always Have Insurance

No one likes to pay for insurance, but it is always worth it in the long run. If you are ever faced with a legal emergency, your insurance will help cover the costs. People often think they don’t need insurance because they have never been in an accident before. However, accidents can happen to anyone at any time.

In addition, health insurance, auto insurance, and worker’s compensation insurance are legal in most states. It’s always better to be prepared and have insurance than to be caught off guard without it. With more than 35 million people staying in a hospital in 2016 alone, chances are you might one day need health insurance. Don’t skimp on your monthly claim; get health insurance as soon as possible to save yourself from medical bills and debt.

Consider Getting a Settlement for Physical Therapy

Many people might only consider settlement money for their emotional damages or current physical injuries. However, it’s also best to seek settlement money for physical therapy. Physical therapy can save you money by lowering treatment costs by 72%. Ask your lawyer for help determining your future costs for physical therapy, and incorporate this into your asking settlement price.

While there are many ways to save money regarding legal matters, these are just a few of the most important tips. Always shop around for different lawyers, get multiple quotes, and try to settle out of court if possible. Following these tips can save you a lot of money in the long run.

10 Steps to Take to Retire in 10 Years

10 Steps to Take to Retire in 10 Years

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

10 Steps to Take to Retire in 10 Years

1. Assess your budget.

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

2. Determine your retirement budget.

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

3. Calculate your cost of living.

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

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

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

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

4. Review your income streams.

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

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

5. Figure out your Social Security income.

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

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

6. Optimize your retirement contributions.

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

7. Adjust your investing strategy.

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

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

8. Pay off your debts.

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

9. Plan for long-term medical expenses.

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

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

10. Set clear goals.

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

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

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

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5 Money Saving Tips for Your Next Dental Procedure

Dental care is essential to your health. However, it can also be very expensive. If you need dental care, you’re not alone. 69% of adults between the ages of 35 and 59 have lost a tooth to an accident, gum disease, or decay. Meanwhile, more than a quarter of adults over the age of 75 have lost all of their teeth. Many times, this is because of a lack of dental care, often due to the cost. If you want to save money on your next dental procedure, here are some tips to help.

Get Dental Insurance

Dental insurance, like all other forms of insurance, is something you buy to prepare yourself for the future. 40% to 50% of Americans rely on their employer for health insurance, but dental might not be included. You’ll likely need to find dental coverage on your own. If you need expensive dental treatments, your dental insurance can save you a lot of money. Look for different policies and compare the costs, as well as what they cover. You might find that you can save a lot of money by researching different dental policies and buying the one that fits your needs.

Get a Second Opinion

While your regular dentist is likely very skilled, they aren’t infallible. If they recommend a dental procedure that would cost you too much money, you are within your rights to get a second opinion. Go to another dentist and ask their opinion. They might have a less expensive solution for you. If they agree with the first dentist, they’ll confirm that this is a price worth paying. Make sure you’re getting the best value for your dollar.

Shop Around

Many times, dental offices will provide specials to get new patients into their practice. Take advantage of these specials; shop around and find a good dentist for your needs. Different offices charge different amounts for the same procedures. If you don’t look at all of your options, you might end up getting overcharged at your current dental office. While shopping around can take time and effort, it will save you money and potentially find you the ideal dentist for your needs. You should also shop around when your dentist refers you somewhere else. About 3.9 million children in the United States are orthodontic patients. Look for an affordable orthodontic clinic when it comes time for you or your child to get braces.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

The best way to save money on dental procedures is through prevention. Make sure you brush and floss your teeth every day. If you take care of your teeth in between dental appointments, it will reduce your risk for a lot of different problems. If you avoid these problems from the start, then you won’t need to spend any money to fix them. While you can’t guarantee that good hygiene will prevent the need for dental procedures, it can certainly help prevent unnecessary ones.

Go to a Dental School

Dentists in training need people to practice with. You can save a lot of money on dental procedures by having them done by dental students under the supervision of a professional trainer. Look for dental schools in your area and see what kinds of programs they do for free student clinics. This option can get you professional treatment for a fraction of the usual price. This is beneficial to both you and the dentist in training, so why not get your teeth cleaned at a reasonable price while helping out a student?

Dental procedures are expensive, but most are very necessary for your health. If you don’t get them done, you increase your risk for more damage and bigger bills in the future. Keep these tips in mind as you plan for your next dental procedure. They can save you a lot of money and grief.

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.