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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Check Your Antiques With These Valuable Pottery Marks

Pottery Marks

Pottery is one of the oldest forms of art, and it has been around for centuries. Many people enjoy collecting pottery pieces because they are so beautiful and unique.

If you have a few pottery pieces in your collection, it is important to know what the marks on them mean. That way, you can determine their value and whether or not they are worth keeping.

In this blog post, we will discuss some valuable pottery marks and what they mean!

What Pottery Marks Should You Look for When Appraising Your Antiques?

There are a few different things that you should look for when appraising your pottery. First, you will want to check for the maker’s mark. This is usually a symbol or initials that indicate who made the piece. It is important to note that not all pieces of pottery will have a maker’s mark. However, if your piece does have one, it will likely be located at the bottom of the piece.

Next, you will want to check for the country of origin. This is usually indicated by a symbol or initials that tell you where the piece was made. For example, many pieces of English pottery will have a mark that says “England.” Finally, you will want to check for the date. This is usually indicated by a symbol or initials that tell you when the piece was made. For example, a mark that says “1890” would indicate that the piece was made in that year.

How Do These Marks Help Date and Value Your Pieces of Pottery?

The marks on your pottery can help you date and value your pieces. The maker’s mark can help you identify the artist or company that made the piece. The country of origin can help you determine where the piece was made. And the date can help you determine when the piece was made. All of this information can be helpful when appraising your pottery.

How Can You Tell if a Piece of Pottery Is Worth More Than Its Asking Price?

There are a few different ways that you can tell if a piece of pottery is worth more than its asking price. One way is to check the marks on the piece. If the piece has a maker’s mark, country of origin mark, or date mark, it may be worth more than its asking price.

Another way to tell if a piece is worth more than its asking price is to look at its condition. If the piece is in good condition, it may be worth more than its asking price.

Finally, you can also ask an expert to appraise the piece for you.

What Should You Do if You Think an Antique Is Fake or Has Been Tampered With?

If you think an antique is fake or has been tampered with, you should take it to an expert for appraisal. An expert will be able to tell if the piece is real or if it has been altered in any way.

How Can You Learn More About Pottery Marks and Their Meanings?

Aside from asking experts, if you really want to learn more about the marks and their meanings, you can books about pottery. You can also search for information online.

Remember to look for the maker’s mark, country of origin mark, and date mark. Also, be sure to check the condition of the piece. If you have any questions, be sure to ask an expert for help.

Do you have any valuable pottery? What marks did you find on your pieces? Please let us know in the comments below.

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3 Efficient Ways To Keep Track of Your Side Gig Income

3 Efficient Ways To Keep Track of Your Side Gig Income

Many people are taking on second jobs and side gigs to earn extra cash, especially around the holidays. However, it’s important to keep track of your earnings and expenses, whether you are doing it part-time or have turned it into a full-time career. If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry; there are simple solutions that can help. Here are 3 efficient ways to keep track of your side gig income and prepare for tax season.

Why Do You Need to Track Your Side Gig Income?

No matter where you live or the source of your income, American taxpayers are required to report all their earned income, unless it is explicitly exempt under the U.S. tax code.

Unfortunately, it becomes harder to track your income in a gig economy since many people get paid in cash. But, if you don’t keep track of your side gig income, you will never have an accurate picture of your financial situation. And, you need to avoid this type of uncertainty when you have variable income.

It’s important to know where you stand so you can make better, more-informed financial decisions. When you record your profits, you have a tangible metric to measure your success over time. It is also easier to see profit margins, calculate losses, and report taxed earnings when you have meticulous bookkeeping. And, all this information will help you determine whether the effort is worth the profit in the long run.

Most importantly, monitoring your expenses will save you a ton of time when preparing your taxes. When you work a side gig, no one deducts your state or federal taxes from your pay; the responsibility falls on you. If you don’t make payments to the IRS, your bill will come due when you file your return. So, tracking your income allows you to know how much to deduct to mitigate your tax liability come April 15th.

3 Ways to Keep Track of Your Side Gig Income

You don’t need an accounting degree to efficiently track your income. There are tried-and-true methods to balance your books for free as well as software that can automate all your recordkeeping. Here are 3 efficient ways to keep track of your side gig income.

1. Free Options

When I started my own business, I looked for ways to save money anywhere I could. Since I’m fairly good with numbers, I decided to do my own bookkeeping. Although some people still prefer a paper ledger of their transactions, I thought it would be better to create a spreadsheet to track my expenses and income.

You can quickly set up an Excel or Google spreadsheet to help you track all your income, expenses, and deductions. While it may be lower tech than some of the other options, it is free. A spreadsheet was the perfect solution for my small businesses since I had little overhead costs and few expenses.

But, a spreadsheet is more labor-intensive than accounting software. You will have to manually enter data. But then you can use formulas to calculate your totals and get a snapshot of your finances. If you become more adept with the program, you can even create cash flow statements and visual graphics of your earnings.

2. Personal Finance Software

When my finances became more complicated, I decided to invest in the Quicken personal finance software. It was so simple to use and took the time and effort out of accounting.

When you link the software to your accounts, it will automatically pull information from your bank, credit cards, and loans. Then, it categorizes your purchases to help you sort through expenses. This saved me hours of looking through receipts and financial statements.

The software also offers additional features, such as budgeting, invoicing, and cash flow tools. These were valuable resources, especially for someone just starting out on their own. However, there are also free apps you can download that can help you as well.

3. Accounting Software

If your side gig has turned into a full-time job, then it deserves the time and attention a new business requires. As your income increases and your finances become more complicated, your recordkeeping will be even more important.

Therefore, business accounting software is an excellent long-term investment for your venture and your finances. When you purchase this software, you no longer have to spend time on time-consuming accounting tasks. Instead, you can focus on other things that will have a higher impact on profits.

Business accounting software will streamline your accounting, assess your finances, and forecast for the future. Not to mention, it will save you hours in tax preparation. Although there are several options for business accounting software, the most popular choices are QuickBooks and Xero. While there may be cheaper options, the convenience is well worth the expense.

Considerations for Multiple Side Gigs

You may not think it’s difficult to track income from your second job. But, if you have multiple side gigs or sources of income, it gets complicated. So, I maintain separate spreadsheets/books for each one. I also separate all the expenses for each one and have dedicated accounts for both my business and personal finances. Getting a business credit card can help you track, separate, and categorize your expenses as well.

When you are working multiple side jobs, you have to stay on top of your accounting and update your spreadsheets every few weeks. It makes it easier to compare profits from month to month and saves you time when tax season is here. And if you automate as much of your accounting as possible, it will save you valuable time that you can put toward more profitable tasks.

Final Thoughts

Tracking your expenses will make life simpler. Plus, it may encourage you to go after more business when you see your profits growing. However, it’s also an effective way to make sure that your expenses aren’t undercutting your profits and that the extra money is actually worth the effort.

It may be stressful to think about money management, but it’s much worse to receive a huge tax bill from the IRS. Rember that your accounting system doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to work for you.

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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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12 Things To Know Before Investing in Rare Books

12 Things to Know Before Investing in Rare Books

Lately, it seems that every time the market takes a dip, there are tons of articles and blogs talking about investing in alternative assets. It makes sense that people would want something tangible when everything else is uncertain. While gold, silver, and collectibles usually top this list, bibliophiles know the value of a rare book. So, why not turn your passion into a way to earn income? Although most people won’t make enough to retire, serious investors know the value of investing in rare books and have been doing so for years.

Why Are People Investing in Rare Books?

When people decide to invest in rare books, it usually stems from a love of the written word. Like most types of alternative assets, people look for tangible assets that can bring both pleasure and financial gain. Whether it’s fine wines, classic cars, art, antiques, or even toys, many investors find ways to incorporate their passion into their portfolios. And with the right pieces, these investments offer high returns when they appreciate.

However, you don’t need to be a bibliophile to start investing in rare books. One thing that makes them an attractive investment is that their value doesn’t depend on the performance of the stock market. Furthermore, the appreciating value tends to be more linear than other types of assets. Based on the returns from well-established collections, a rare book’s value typically doubles in value after 7 years, with normal inflation rates. And as long as it’s well cared for, it will retain its value for years to come

Where Can You Find Rare Books?

Unfortunately, you are not likely to find rare books at your local bookstore. You will have to start searching in more specialized markets such as auctions, estate sales, book fairs, and private dealers.


Auction houses have brokered the sales of some of the most valuable books ever sold. The greatest benefits of buying from reputable auction houses are that they often have access to extremely rare items, and their experts are able to authenticate the books. Plus, auctions will usually ensure that the rarest and most valuable books fetch top dollar for the seller.


Like art, book dealers can help you locate rare books. Therefore, it’s crucial to find someone you can trust to look out for items suitable to your taste and collection. Paying a dealer may also allow you to jump on opportunities before they become public knowledge.

Online Platforms

Anytime you purchase something online, you should use caution. So to help you find better vendors, search for platforms dedicated to investing in rare books. These are credible platforms that carefully review each book and verify its authenticity. Not only is it convenient, but it also gives you greater access to books from around the world. And if you can’t afford to purchase it outright, you can also buy shares in valuable books.

12 Things to Know Before Investing in Rare Books

Based on the advice from expert collectors, here are 12 things you should know before you start investing in rare books.

1. Know what you are paying for.

With any investment, research everything before you buy. It may take a while to uncover the true origins of a book, which is why the majority of a dealer’s price is for their time to do this for you. However, you must do your research and know what you are paying for. This will help determine if a book is the real deal or prevent you from making an expensive mistake.

2. Only buy from reputable dealers.

The internet has changed many things about investing in books. If you buy online, it is much more difficult to authenticate and judge the quality of items. But generally speaking, a detailed description of the book and its condition are good indications that what they are selling is authentic. And if need be, you can always ask for additional photos of markings for further verification.

3. Condition is key.

Like all collectible items, books never can improve their condition. At best, they stay the same. At worst, they deteriorate with time. Even if you have a rare book, any damage and wear will affect its value.

4. There is no price guide or catalog to track their value.

One of the greatest drawbacks of these investments is the subjectivity of their value. Unfortunately, there is no price guide or catalog to tell you the exact value of the book you have. There is huge variability, even for books within the same edition.

Several factors besides quality also can add value such as age, rarity, desirability, inscriptions from the author, first editions, limited editions, or the inclusion of the dust cover. But ultimately, a book’s value is whatever the buyer is willing to pay.

5. Buy the best books you can afford.

Serious collectors will tell you not to waste time on low-quality books. Instead, buy the best ones that you can afford. Look for the best examples of an edition or title that you are interested in since they are worth significantly more.

6. Invest in books that you have an interest in.

Tracking down titles and research can become tedious. So, invest in books that interest you. If it is a labor of love and not only profit, it makes the task more enjoyable. And, it makes the successes that much sweeter.

7. You need to develop a personal network of people you can trust.

Collecting books can become highly competitive, especially for the most desirable titles and authors. Therefore, you should build a network of people you can trust to help you build your collection. This could include other collectors with different interests or specialized dealers. And, don’t forget to use the digital tools at your disposal to help you expand your network.

8. Don’t buy a valuable book if you aren’t prepared to care for it properly.

If you buy a rare book, it must be stored safely to protect it from fire and water damage. Unfortunately, if it isn’t properly cared for, the value will deteriorate with the condition. So, if you aren’t prepared to store it, don’t waste your money.

9. There are lower transaction costs if you go through a dealer.

Although auction houses handle the rarest and most valuable books, there are lower transaction fees when you use a private dealer. On average, auction houses take a commission of 35-45% which is shared between the buyer and the seller. However, a dealer’s commission is usually 15-30% so you will get a better return on your investment.

10. Like any valuable asset, consider getting insurance.

Any time you purchase an expensive asset, you should insure it. Sometimes, you can include coverage for rare books under your homeowners’ insurance. However, you can also obtain specialist insurance through reputable brokers. And, it’s not as expensive as you might think.

11. You can purchase fractional shares of valuable books.

Even if you don’t have enough funds to purchase a book, you can still purchase fractional shares. Although you won’t be able to display it in your home, this way of investing has less risk, lower costs, and eliminates the expense of storing it. This may be the best option if you are more interested in the financial gains than the asset.

12. Have a strategy before you start buying.

Lastly, have a strategy before you start investing. Don’t just buy books that look old or have a familiar title. There should be some sense of cohesion in your collection. Decide whether you want to focus on the most valuable books you can find, or if you would like to specialize by genre, author, classics, or generational favorites. This will help limit your search and help you find the titles you truly want.

Diversifying Your Portfolio

A good collection that is carefully curated by a knowledgeable collector has value in itself. However, rare books provide a low-risk investment that retains its value over time. Since their value is not correlated to the performance of the stock market, it offers greater diversification for your portfolio.

As Ernest Hemingway said, “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” And now, you can turn that loyalty into a valuable asset.

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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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10 Ways to Find Affordable Prescription Medications

Ways to Find Affordable Prescription Medications

Every American knows that healthcare costs are expensive. Even if you have health insurance or Medicare, it isn’t always easy to find affordable prescription medications. Once you reach your annual spending limit, there is a coverage gap. This leaves patients to pay out of pocket for the medicine they need. And every year, the prices for these medications continue to rise, with nearly 30% of all prescriptions remaining unfilled due to the cost. However, your health shouldn’t suffer because of your insurance plan or finances. So, here are a few tips to help make your healthcare expenses more manageable.

10 Ways to Find Affordable Prescription Medications

Pharmaceuticals can be expensive, but you shouldn’t have to choose between paying your bills and getting the care you need. Here are 10 ways you can find affordable prescription medications to reduce your healthcare costs.

1. Generic Brands

The easiest way to immediately reduce your total bill at the pharmacy is to ask about generic brands. Name-brand pharmaceuticals can come with a steep price tag. However, there is usually a more affordable, generic substitute that is just as safe and effective. Next time you need a refill, ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is a lower-cost option for you. Just be aware they may need to write a new prescription. But, it could save you serious cash.

2. Alternative Prescriptions

If there isn’t a generic version of your medication, there may be an alternative that is just as effective. Doctors don’t always know the cost of prescription drugs or which ones are covered by your insurance. But, there may be similar medications that would be covered by your insurance plan. Explain your situation to your doctor, and see if there is an alternative medication they could prescribe instead.

3. Comparison Shop

Despite what people may think, the prices of medication aren’t fixed. Sites like GoodRx are a great starting point. You can check prices at local chain stores like Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Target, and RiteAid to get an idea of the savings.

Prices can vary between pharmacies as well. And believe it or not, sometimes the over-the-counter cost is even lower than your copay. Therefore, it’s a good idea to shop around and compare the prices of different pharmacies near you. Don’t forget to check smaller, local ones as well. And if you are willing to put in the time, you could save even more by refilling different prescriptions at various pharmacies. It may be time-consuming but could be worth the savings.

4. Online Pharmacies

Shopping online for your medications could net you significant savings. However, if you decide to purchase online, make sure you are using a reputable vendor. Look for sellers that are accredited by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and only deal with drugs that have received FDA approval. Another good sign that it is a legitimate business is when it is connected to a physical pharmacy in the US. But if the prices seem too good to be true, they probably are.

5. Change Your Insurance Plan

Just because you have had the same insurance coverage for years does not mean that you have the best plan for you. Sometimes there are gaps.

Even Medicare offers different levels of coverage, including some that help bridge those gaps in coverage. These plans will help you pay for monthly prescriptions, but they may come with a higher premium. Before you make any changes, check with your provider to see if the medication would be included under a different plan.

6. Help from Your Doctor

If you are struggling to pay even discounted costs, ask your doctor for help. Many pharmaceutical reps visit practices and provide free samples of their medications. Your doctor may be able to provide a few free samples to help you get by. However, this can’t be your prescription plan.

Your doctor may also be able to request additional discounts that you won’t have access to. Or, they may also be willing to write prescriptions in bulk. Some pharmacies offer discounts for larger purchases, so this is one more way you could find affordable prescription medications.

7. Prescription Assistance Programs

Prescription Assistance programs are another option for low-income earners. Some drug manufacturers provide name-brand prescriptions for little or no cost to those who qualify. There are also federal and state assistance programs that help with medication costs for those on Medicare.

The enrollment process can be time-consuming and challenging to navigate. Many people have reported that a single mistake has resulted in the denial of their application. However, you could always hire a medical advocate to act as a liaison through the process. Their fees are usually reasonable and include assistance with pre-qualification, preparing the application, submission, managing refills, and re-enrollment.

8. Retailers with Prescription Assistance

There are also many retailers that offer free or low-cost pharmaceuticals for members who pay annual membership fees. They build brand loyalty by reducing the price of high-volume meds like antibiotics, prenatal vitamins, diabetic medications, and other common prescriptions.

Since you are dealing with national retailers with pharmacies that handle high volumes, they can afford to reduce prices below copay. The slight cost for these medications can be recaptured in profits through other prescriptions you fill through their pharmacy. However, be aware that eligibility and tier-pricing frequently change. So, be certain to check prices from month to month.

9. Apply for Extra Help

The federal government also has a program offered through Medicare and Social Security to offer Extra Help to the lowest income earners. This program helps people with limited incomes get access to resources so they can get the care they need. Namely, it lowers prescription costs. As of 2022, it reduced the cost of generic medications to $3.95 However, this will rise to $4.15 in 2023. And for name-brand, it is $9.85 now but will increase to $10.35 next year.

10. Prioritize Your Health

Although many people find creative ways to make their prescriptions last longer or find cheaper suppliers, you should follow your doctor’s orders and take your medication as recommended. Changing dosage or using unapproved medications could have serious repercussions on your long-term health. And, it could lead to even more healthcare costs. So if your doctor feels that you require certain medications to lead a healthy lifestyle, you need to factor this into your budget.

Although healthcare costs can become overwhelming, especially if you are dealing with a chronic disease or injury, your health shouldn’t suffer because of the expense. There is help out there, so don’t be afraid to explore your options.

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Are These 7 Bad Behaviors Affecting Your Work Productivity?

Are These Bad Behaviors Affecting Your Work Productivity?

I enjoy all the conveniences of working from home: a flexible schedule, no commute, and the ability to allocate my time based on my needs. However, it can be difficult to keep my personal and professional lives separate. Although I was traveling less, it seemed like I was losing time and working later every night. After evaluating my habits, I decided to make some changes and become more efficient with my time. As I learned, I had many bad behaviors that were affecting my work productivity.

7 Bad Behaviors Affecting Your Work Productivity

Many factors can make you less productive at work. Here are my 7 deadly sins for work productivity.

1. Using Electronics Mobile Devices at Work

My devices are an integral part of my job. However, they are also some of my worst distractions for several reasons.

Surfing the Web

Although I only intend to take a short break, it can quickly turn into hours if I start surfing the web. While it can give my mind a break from the daily grind, it is easy for me to lose track of time browsing new articles, online stores, and clickbait. What was supposed to be a 5-10 minute break soon becomes 30-45 minutes of wasted time.

Scrolling Social Media

I tend to have the same issues on social media that I do when I surf the web. Therefore, it’s best to keep my phone outside my work area. It’s easier to focus on the work I have to do without the temptation of scrolling through updates.

Watching TV

Unfortunately, I can’t work in silence. So, I like having noise when I’m working from home alone. The TV provides great background noise, but if there is something that catches my interest, I quickly lose concentration. Instead, I listen to instrumental music to match my mood.

Although I always complained about them before, I now follow the same restrictions for the use of personal devices that corporations put on their employees. And if I do check my devices during breaks, I set timers so I don’t go down a digital rabbit hole.

2. Having Personal Conversations on the Clock

When I am working, I do my best to minimize personal calls. I have vastly improved this bad behavior, but I’ve also noticed similar things in my professional relationships that steal time.

I enjoy getting to know the people I work with, but there is a lot of wasted time with personal conversations on the clock. Don’t get me wrong, I still spend a few minutes catching up at the beginning of a call. But, we don’t let it dominate the conversation.

To help curb this habit, I have found ways to designate time for personal conversations outside business hours. I also make sure to turn off alerts, put the phone on silent, and set an auto-response when I’m working on an assignment. And although life will still throw surprises at you, my friends and family only contact me during the day for urgent matters.

3. Multitasking

I have always been a skilled multitasker with mundane things like household chores and exercise. But unfortunately, I was never as successful when doing it with work tasks.

If I try to do too many things at once, it can quickly become overwhelming. And, the quality of my work will suffer from it. Therefore, I prioritize tasks and give my full attention to work projects to ensure I’m producing better-quality content, free from distraction.

4. Doing Household Chores During Business Hours

When you work from home, it is very tempting to tackle the household chores between tasks or during breaks. Even today, I threw in a few loads of laundry and cleaned the kitchen between calls. While it took me less than an hour, the problem is the domino effect it creates. Once I complete one chore, I realize how many others I still have to do.

If I try to do more, I tend to switch modes from professional tasks to household activities. Then, it takes longer to remember where I left off. So, I designate time before work and during breaks to get small things done. I’ve also discovered that dispersing them throughout the week provides a better balance of responsibilities.

5. Not Taking Breaks

When I’m absorbed in a project, I easily lose track of time. Without realizing it, several hours may pass before I look at the clock.

Many people think this “workaholic” mentality is good for productivity. However, studies indicate that this is one of the bad behaviors affecting your work productivity. Sometimes, it even causes me to miss meals. So, I find it best to take breaks every 60-90 minutes to avoid fatigue and help me stay sharp throughout the day.

6. Procrastinating

After years of practice, I have become a master procrastinator. In the past, I’ve tried to justify it by saying that I work well under pressure. But in reality, I’m just adding more stress to my life.

Deadlines don’t change, but my approach has. Rather than trying to get everything done at once, I tackle large projects in stages to avoid racing to finish on time. Better planning has helped me to more efficiently manage my time and workload.

7. Not Keeping an Organized Workspace

Life gets messy, and unfortunately, so do I. When I get home, I often drop things as soon as I walk through the door. As you might expect, I do the same with my workspaces.

It can be time-consuming to clean up after myself. But, I’ve also learned that it costs me even more time when I’m not organized. It’s easy to lose important information, and then you have to spend more time looking for it.

In an attempt to break the bad habits affecting my work productivity, I spend Friday afternoons cleaning up my space. Sometimes this means going through old notes and to-do lists. And others, it is cleaning up my inbox and organizing my files. The weekly review also ensures I don’t miss anything important throughout the week.

Final Thoughts

Self-reflection can be difficult, especially when dealing with negative behaviors. However, it also offers new opportunities for growth. By identifying the bad behaviors affecting my work productivity, I have found ways to become better at my job and more efficient with my time.

What bad behaviors are wasting your time or holding you back? Share with us in the comment below.

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5 Reasons You Should Barter Instead of Buying Goods

Reasons to Barter Instead of Buying Goods

Although many economists claim the barter system is outdated, other people are finding new reasons to barter. So, what has people losing faith in paper and coin currency and turning to exchange instead?

The Origins of Bartering

Dating back to 6000 B.C.E. with the Mesopotamian tribes, humans have used the barter system to exchange goods and services. To support themselves and their community, people would trade with other members to get what they need.

The system worked well in small, local communities. However, the barter system has limitations, particularly when there is an imbalance in supply and demand. And, the model became less sustainable as society grew. So, humans adopted currency to allow a medium for trade. When you rely on currency, even if there are mismatched demands and needs, trades can still take place.

Now that trade is being done on a global scale and digital currency is becoming more widely accepted, it has some people rethinking the value and reasons to barter within new online and small business communities that are forming.

The Evolving Barter System

As society became more complex, humans had less need for the barter system. And while paper and coin currency have supported human trade for millennia, they may soon face a similar fate to the traditional barter system.

The advent of cryptocurrency and digital wallets has completely revolutionized how businesses think of trade and ways to generate profit. It has gained more traction in recent years, with some supporters even claiming that digital currencies may soon replace coin and paper currencies.

Although it seems a bit farfetched, the idea does have its merits. First, traditional currencies are vulnerable to devaluation from inflation and theft. Digital currencies are more secure due to encryption and decentralization. Plus, they offer lower transaction fees and greater accessibility for faster payment and transfers.

And if you stop to think about it, you likely already have a digital wallet if you use digital payment apps like PayPal, Venmo, or Cash App. As people become more familiar with them, digital payments may become the standard.

Since we have already digitized the valuation of money, why not do the same for our goods and services?

5 Reasons to Barter Instead of Buying Goods

With the wider acceptance of digital currency and access to global networks, it makes it more worthwhile to barter for what you need, especially for new ventures and small businesses. For those who are interested in alternative business models, here are 5 reasons why you should consider a barter instead of buying goods.

1. It generates more business.

The most fundament rule of business is that you must bring in new customers and sales to survive. One of the advantages of this approach is that it finds new ways to attract buyers through a barter exchange.

There are several exchanges you could join to build your networks and help you reach a larger client base that also understands the benefits of the barter system. And you never know, there may already be a demand for your product and services.

However, the greatest benefit is that these exchanges provide new opportunities to trade with other businesses outside your normal markets. A larger pool offers more potential customers. And depending on the goods or services you provide, it could allow you to trade on a national or global scale.

2. Bartering reduces the cost of doing business.

Another one of the best reasons to barter is that it reduces the cost of doing business and helps move inventory. Items that remain on your shelves unsold equate to lost money. You may even have to slash prices to get rid of it if your inventory sits idle for too long or loses value over time.

But, the barter trade exchange provides another avenue to sell your inventory at the full retail price. Opening the door to new ways of doing business ensures that you don’t have missed opportunities to generate revenue. And even if you do wind up liquidating your inventory, bartering may allow you to get something of value for it.

3. It will help you conserve your cash.

Cash is a valuable resource in the business world. The more cash and purchasing power you have, the longer you can sustain and grow your operations.

But no matter what business you are in, you need to have some liquidity and cash on hand. One way that bartering helps support new businesses is by helping them conserve cash. Trading for goods or services allows you to get what you need by using what you already own or possess. Reciprocal arrangements like these are mutually beneficial for both parties and allow them to use cash resources for other expenses.

4. It’s easy.

Beyond the most obvious reasons to barter, you can’t deny that it has become much easier than it used to be. If you decide tomorrow that you want to barter your goods and services, there are hundreds of online networks you could join. Since they host thousands of businesses that barter, you can immediately start looking for partners.

Your membership grants you access to active and exclusive markets. However, you can make it even simpler by hiring a broker to represent you on these online platforms and facilitate the exchanges for you. Many will reach out to potential customers on your behalf so you can avoid cold calling. Furthermore, a broker will also help you build your e-commerce presence to attract even more business. And with access to their marketing team and resources, you won’t have to handle the advertising by yourself.

5. It provides businesses with one more way to support themselves through the startup phase.

The sad reality is that 18% of new businesses don’t make it through their first year. This number increases to over 30% after two years. One of the common factors among failed ventures is that many businesses remain cash poor.

Every business will experience limited cash flow at some point. However, bartering provides businesses with one more way to support themselves through this startup phase. Since you don’t have to solely rely on cash revenue, bartering allows you to continue doing business until the cash flow improves.

Most importantly, it connects you with other service providers and vendors across different industries. Not only will you be dealing with people who understand the challenges you face, but they also believe in the benefits of bartering. Building a network of people who share your ideas and values makes doing business easier.

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Signs from America’s Biggest Companies about the Future Economy

Signs from America's Biggest Companies about the Future Economy

Since the pandemic began, financial analysts and economists alike have been discussing the poorly performing markets and an impending recession. Although people are still debating the semantics of it, the economic signs don’t look good. We are feeling the impacts of decreased production and trade. The war in Ukraine and other global factors have also contributed to disruptions in the supply chain and the current inflation rates. And now, companies are cutting job production and enacting layoffs. In uncertain times like these, many people look to the largest and most successful corporations to gauge the markets. So if you are searching for them, here are signs from America’s biggest companies about the future economy.

Signs about the Future Economy from 7 of America’s Biggest Companies

First of all, let’s be clear that it is impossible to predict the future or know how the markets will respond. However, some trends and indications offer insights into what lies ahead. In times of turmoil, many investors look to the most successful companies to help decipher the financial status of the economy. Although they aren’t all headline news, here are a few signs about the future economy from 7 of America’s biggest companies.


AAPL has long been one of the hottest stocks and a safe investment option. And with the latest iPhone release, Apple is stronger than ever. In fact, it reported record-breaking profits for Q2, netting more than $83 billion in revenue. While many fear a recession, Apple’s CFO assures that they will effectively manage their business, even in a challenging operating environment.

Beyond a doubt, Apple is a company that has weathered many economic booms and downturns. But the fact that the CFO even refers to a challenging environment is worrisome. And although they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down, Apple is still planning to cut costs and slow hiring for 2023.


Based on their reported earnings, the multinational technology conglomerate and parent company of Google hasn’t felt any of the financial impacts of current market conditions. When you look at a side-by-side comparison, the revenue for Q2 is up 13% from the same time last year. And, these gains are in addition to the 62% growth it experienced last year as well.

Those in the tech industry can breathe a little knowing that Alphabet and the Google CEO have not announced any plans for staff layoffs. However, there is still cause for concern since they have established an “efficiency program” to ensure employees increase their productivity. Some employees fear this is paving the way for future layoffs and that their jobs could be eliminated if these goals are not met.


Mark Zuckerberg has taken a very public and cynical stance on the global economy. He has even gone as far as to say this could be “one of the worst downturns that we’ve seen in recent history” during a town hall meeting in July.

So, it should come as no surprise that Meta is preparing for the worst. They are currently looking for ways to trim the budget (reducing costs and staff) to hedge against an uncertain future. Instead of hiring 10,000 additional engineers as planned, they’ve cut these roles by 30%. Furthermore, they are raising productivity goals and laying off anyone who fails to meet them. Although it may be an effective way to control the budget, this strategy could cause other corporations to enact the same measures and start a domino effect across industries.

J.P. Morgan

Amid all the financial chaos of the pandemic, J.P. Morgan still reported over $48 billion in revenue in 2021. However, 2022 is turning out to be a different story. When it failed to meet its profit goals last quarter, it temporarily suspended its buyback shares. Although it isn’t a telltale sign, decisions like this often precede a recession.

But, it is crucial to note that people are not defaulting on their debts. Since people are still able to work and earn income, it’s a good indication that the job market will hold steady. As long as people can continue repaying their debts, it offers some hope that we can still avoid a full-blown recession.


With fewer people going to brick-and-mortar locations and shopping online, Amazon has seen exponential growth during the pandemic. It became the default supplier for nearly everything from groceries and clothing to electronics and household appliances. By the middle of 2021, its profits rose more than 200%. Furthermore, inflation didn’t balloon as much as expected, leaving Amazon with a 7% sales increase by the end of Q2 in 2022.

However, demands are slowing and many large retailers, including Amazon, have experienced setbacks this fiscal year. Amazon got ahead of its losses, reducing its workforce by 6% and cutting 100,000 jobs globally. This has been the largest quarterly cut in the company’s history. While its corporate practices and policies have been highly criticized, these cuts indicate that it is taking a more conservative stance on future performance.


Issues with the supply chain have left many retailers like Walmart in a predicament. During the early days of the pandemic, they had issues keeping items on the shelves. But now that inflation has risen and consumers have stopped purchasing non-essential items, they are overstocked. Due to the backlog, Walmart lowered its expected profits which in turn caused its stock price to drop back in July. It has also laid off 200 corporate positions.

But, it’s important to note that the layoffs didn’t affect employees in non-corporate positions. And, recent statements show that sales started to pick up as children went back to school and will build momentum as we enter the holiday sales season. It seems that even though Walmart’s revenue growth slowed during the last few quarters, Walmart will remain relatively unscathed through these market fluctuations.

Best Buy

Despite the consumer slowdown, Best Buy’s sales are higher than they were before the pandemic started. You would think these are good signs about the future economy. However, they still reported significant losses for the second quarter. And, its stock has fallen by 30% this year.

The company is blaming it on inflation and less consumer confidence. To curb the impact, it implemented nationwide layoffs in August to recover some of the financial loss. But, Best Buy is looking for ways to re-energize growth and create more jobs as the holidays approach.

Outlook for the Future

For many people, the outlook is bleak since there are many negative signs about the future economy. Companies missing revenue goals, reducing costs, and slowing/stopping hiring all indicate that we are heading toward a recession. However, there are more factors at play that are affecting the markets.

Moreover, there are also several positive indications that the markets could rebound. For example, many companies are still showing growth. Although inflation has been high, it didn’t balloon as much as expected. And despite all the negative financial news, the U.S. job market has remained relatively stable. Even in uncertain times, we are still finding ways to make money that will help businesses and individuals survive, even if we enter a recession.

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