Tag Archives: Video

5 Great Ways to Increase Remote Working Productivity

When the COVID lockdowns started, most business owners probably didn't think much about the efficiency of their remote working solutions as long as they were able to keep the lights on. As we head into 2021, we can see that remote working is going to become a permanent feature of our business lives. With more than half of employees reporting frustrations with their remote work solutions, now is a good time to think about getting the best software and apps in to help your team stay productive.

Remember, too, that many of your people will find working at home a very lonely experience and so things like video conferencing can help alleviate the mental health impact of a lockdown.

Let's look at some of the products that are available to help you stay in touch and remain effective no matter what 2021 throws at you!

Workflow boards

One of the things that many people have reported is difficulty in keeping motivated and understanding what needs to happen and when.

When you're in an office, it's easy to simply lean across the desk and ask what is going on. But what happens when your team is all working remotely?

Using Kanban boards like Trello and Asana allows you to posts jobs, tasks, and subtasks and then allocate them to individual staff members or team so that everyone knows where they are and what still needs doing.

Remote access software

Remote access software can have some real benefits for users across the organisation and doesn’t need to be confined to your IT helpdesk.

Modern remote working can give users a virtual desktop, which is the same wherever they log on. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can also increase security.

Remote access software can also include functionality that enables video conferencing, chat functions, shared word processing, and file sharing, along with resources for troubleshooting in a pinch.

If you’d like to find out more about what it can do for you, check the best options in this excellent remote access software review by Neil Patel.

Remote shared storage

Many companies rely upon having drives readily available to all staff, and when you're all working in the same office, this is a simple matter. But when your team is spread out, then you need to think about organizing remote storage.

Google Drive and Dropbox are probably the most well-known offerings, but there are many more. They all provide you with the ability to have shared drives that are accessible based on your own organization’s security protocol.

Remote storage is a very competitive area, so prices have dropped over the last few years. So in many cases, you are better off subscribing to a best-in-class cloud storage solution (especially if it includes remote access desktops as above) rather than upgrading your on-premise servers.

Business-class video conferencing

For many businesses, this is one area where they just had to get a solution in place quickly so everyone could carry on working. But it really is worth choosing a business-class video conferencing system.

Having a better system makes life easier for your staff, but it also portrays a professional image to your customers and suppliers.

Free systems are great, but they will always come with limitations. Zoom, for instance, limits calls to 45 minutes on its free version. Other free solutions reduce video quality.

With paid solutions, the cost for a group subscription is often very reasonable when compared to the cost of losing even one customer.

Collaboration and sharing tools

When you can just pass files and papers across a desk, life is easy. But if you're miles away from your co-workers, contractors, and customers, how can you possibly collaborate effectively?

Many of the really good systems bundle in storage, video conferencing, Kanban boards and collaboration tools that help your teams act like teams rather than a collection of dispersed individuals.

Obviously, the big player here is Microsoft. But you can get excellent results with apps like Zoho Connect, Winio, and Wire. If you only really want chat capability, then look at Slack.

Take advantage of trials

What works for some people may not work for you and your company. But the good news is that pretty much every system mentioned here has some form of free trial.

The best advice is to take the developers up on their offer and test these solutions out. Get feedback from your employees and take into account how easy the apps are to use, the support available, and of course, the annual cost.

Don’t be swayed by attractive-sounding initial reductions. If the system is good, you’ll be using it for a long time. It is much more important to get the right features for you rather than buying something that isn't well-suited to the task because the developer was offering a half-price sale.
 

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

We Bought a House Sight Unseen—and It Turned Out To Be a Total Nightmare

buying sight unseenKatsumi Murouchi; ablokhin; Anna Peisl/Getty Images

I thought I was up to the challenge of a long-distance home purchase during a pandemic. After all, I was moving back to my hometown after only three years away. I knew the area. Family members could fill in the rest. I had a trusted real estate agent from my last house purchase. Plus, I look at real estate listings as a hobby even when I’m not in the market for new property. What could go wrong?

But after purchasing a midcentury modern ranch sight unseen and trekking 1,800 miles across the country to finally get an in-person look at it, my husband and I couldn’t be more shocked.

The front of the house.

Wendy Schuchart

There were so many shoddy details that hadn’t translated through video and photos. The ceilings were lower and the rooms were narrower than they seemed in photos. The countertops that had looked like granite in photos were actually laminate. Every single counter and bathroom fixture was customized for a short person. After seeing broken fixtures and a layer of grime over everything, it was clear that I would have to cure decades of bad maintenance.

Grime discovered in the kitchen on move-in day.

Wendy Schuchart

And then there was the constant noise pollution from the nearby interstate. Our ground team thought the sound was minimal, but a month after we moved in, the surrounding trees dropped their leaves and the dull murmur grew to a roar heard through closed windows.

So what were our mistakes?

Don’t depend on listing photos

In general, experts agree that buying a home without setting foot in it can be a dicey proposition at best and a nightmare at worst. And online listing photos, while helpful in narrowing down your property search, won’t give you the full picture of a house’s condition.

“I’ve visited homes only to discover that the yard is steeper than it looked online, the rooms are smaller, and you couldn’t tell there were power lines right behind the house,” says Steve Heard, a Realtor® with The Heard Group in the Sacramento, CA, area.

There were so many deal breakers that I would have noticed had I been able to set foot inside the home instead of relying so heavily on listing photos and videos. Case in point: Visitors at the front door of my new home have a direct sightline to the main bathroom’s toilet.

“Much like anything you buy online, a home’s listing is created to sell, not inform. They’re marketing,” says Shana O’Brien, owner of Cascadia NW Real Estate in Washington and Oregon.

Go beyond standard due diligence

A home inspection is standard operating procedure for anyone buying a home, but a long-distance purchase should always go through rigorous vetting to make sure you’re not buying a money pit.

Typically, the buyer pays for the home inspection during the escrow period. This can cost around $300 to $500, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. But to cover your bases and make sure there aren’t any major system failures before you sign a purchase agreement, experts advise bringing in an additional pair of eyes.

Go to the American Society of Home Inspectors, where you can search by your home’s address for a local inspector who can examine the house on your behalf.

Barton L. Slavin, a senior litigation and transaction attorney on Long Island, NY, advises hiring an experienced licensed and insured engineer to inspect the premises before the purchase.

That would have been great in my own long-distance home purchase. After the home inspection, the seller had “fixed” some conditional electrical work that my home inspector found, but those fixes broke other things, which resulted in an electrician visit on my dime. And on the first cold day, when I turned on the furnace, it failed to heat, which was another big repair bill that would have been covered by a warranty.

In my first two months in this house, I’ve also found faulty plumbing hacks and a massive rodent infestation.

How to beat the odds

“The key to success is extreme buyer due diligence,” O’Brien says. “That means having a team of trusted ‘boots on the ground’ to physically visit and inspect the home.”

In retrospect, my live-video walk-through was fairly quick, less than 15 minutes. At the time, it felt like it was enough, but now I realize it wasn’t nearly long enough.

Our experts advise an extensive live-video walk-through with a long-distance home purchase.

“FaceTime works great,” O’Brien says. If buyers see something they have questions about during the walk-through, the real estate agent can zoom in. They can even take still photos and close-ups, which have better detail than streaming video.

Pay attention off-property, too.

“Walk around the block, video camera on, and capture the neighborhood, the condition of the sidewalks, the level of pride of ownership in the surrounding homes,” says O’Brien. “Is the narrow street jammed with parked cars? Are the sounds from the elementary school super loud at recess? What’s the street traffic and street noise like? The buyer will not know unless their agent does the investigation.”

Be realistic

Despite all of your best efforts, though, there’s still a chance your long-distance home purchase will not be all you bargained for. When that happens, O’Brien suggests taking it all in stride.

“Real estate is almost always a good investment,” she says.

As for me, I’m already planning out my investment strategy and making the best of my midcentury modern surprise fixer-upper.

The post We Bought a House Sight Unseen—and It Turned Out To Be a Total Nightmare appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

What To Do This Weekend

activities-to-try-this-weekend

What to Do This Weekend

Weekend plans look a lot different nowadays, eh?  I’m sure you are as sick of reading stories that begin with,  “In these unprecedented times” or “Our new reality.”  So I’m going to skip the intro and the explanation …You are being a hero by staying home and protecting the health of your family and that of your neighbors.  Thank you!  Let me reward that good behavior with a list of a few things to keep you entertained this weekend.

Absurd Planet

It’s a ridiculous tongue in cheek nature show on Netflix.  There are plenty of adult jokes disguised as nature facts.  It’s child safe and adult approved.  The whole family enjoyed it!  If you are looking for a program the whole family can enjoy, add Absurd Planet to your watch list.

Watch Party

Speaking of Netflix, did you know you can watch a movie with friends long distance?  Check out  Netflix Party. It synchronizes everyone’s video playback and adds a chat feature.  If you and your significant other aren’t quarantining together, this is certainly a fun date night option, too!

Date Night Dinner & Dessert

If you are homebound with your significant other, you’re probably ready to spice things up.   Tasty did a great feature of creating a three-course meal from the pantry.  I was impressed….especially when one of the courses was peanut butter cookies!  Follow along and cook a great meal or just get inspired to create your own pantry date night!

Stretch

We are sitting still so much more than usual.  You need to give your joints and bones and muscles some love! Stretch them out!  There are plenty of free stretching videos on YouTube and the like, but my number one recommendation is the Peloton App.  They are offering a 90-day free trial right now, after that it’s $13/month.  The full body stretches are 5-15 minutes long giving you plenty of options.  Additionally, they have meditation, boot camp, running, and walking programs.  (and no, I’m not an affiliate…I just think it’s a great app)

Try A New Summer Recipe

Yeah, cooking isn’t a groundbreaking suggestion.  Approach it a little differently today.  Think of it as a meditation.  Take your time cleaning and cutting the fresh veggies or fruit.  Maybe watch a Youtube video first and learn a new technique.  Then when you are ready, take on one of these yummy summer recipes.

Dance 

Last week I took a dance lesson to learn the moves to the Tik Tok ‘Savage’ dance. The instructor was amazing…I was a *mess*!  But I haven’t laughed that hard in a while…and it used up a lot of energy!  You can find plenty of lessons on YouTube or you can try a virtual class with Diva Dance DC.  You can literally dance like nobody is watching! And who knows…maybe you will find some hidden talent!

Phone a Friend

….not for your sake, but for theirs.  People are getting cabin fever.  They need each other.  Scroll through your phone and find the friend that you know lives alone or the friend you know wishes they were living alone, and give them shout.  It doesn’t have to be a Zoom happy hour and it doesn’t have to be an hour long.  You can simply share a happy memory you have with them.  Small interactions and gestures go a long way right now.  

That’s it for this week.  As I find specific events or awesomeness, I will share a new post weekly!  If you have ideas or events to include next week feel free to send them my hollib@apartminty.com or @Apartmentalist on Instagram.

Be Well!

Read What To Do This Weekend on Apartminty.

Source: blog.apartminty.com

10 Home Updates That Are Worth the Money

Homeownership is one of the most time-tested ways to build wealth in the U.S. It can help you build wealth thanks to home appreciation — but this isn’t always guaranteed (just ask anyone who bought a home right before 2008). 

Another way to build wealth through homeownership is by upgrading your home, thereby increasing its value. The idea is that when you eventually sell your home (or pass it on to your heirs) it’ll be worth even more than simply keeping up with basic home maintenance alone. 

And since you spend around 90% of your time indoors, you might as well enjoy your home a bit more while growing its value.

10 Impactful Ways to Raise Your Home’s Value

The opportunities for upgrading your home are endless. But if you’re aiming to boost your home’s value, some upgrades are better than others. You’ll also need to consider whether you feel comfortable with certain DIY projects, or if you prefer to hire a professional. 

You could rig-up a picket fence made of the leg lamps from A Christmas Story if you really wanted to, after all, but chances are it’d decrease your property value (if it didn’t burn down your house in the process, that is). 

Instead, try one of these investment-friendly upgrades, according to the 2020 Cost vs. Value Report from Remodeling Magazine:

  1. Stone Veneer
  2. Garage Door Replacement
  3. Minor Kitchen Remodel
  4. Replace Siding
  5. Replace Windows
  6. Deck Addition
  7. Replace Entry Door
  8. Replace Roof
  9. Remodel Bathroom
  10. Major Kitchen Remodel

1. Stone Veneer

Estimated cost: $9,357

It’s no secret that finding ways to add curb appeal is one of the quickest remodeling wins to increase your home’s value. Right now, one of the hottest trends is adding manufactured stone veneers to the exterior of your home, generally around the base or as accent walls. 

You can DIY this, but it might be better to hire a professional because the materials are expensive. Plus, if you do it wrong, you could waste a lot of money and end up with a wonky result. 

2. Garage Door Replacement

Estimated cost: $3,695

If you’re not keen on spending tens of thousands of dollars, a relatively quick win you can go for is simply replacing your garage door with a better model that includes a lifetime warranty. Again, this is one that’s better left to the pros because it’s an especially dangerous job for newbie DIYers. Besides, installing it yourself is likely to void the warranty anyway.

3. Minor Kitchen Remodel

Estimated cost: $23,452

If you don’t mind sitting around in some construction dust for a little while, doing your own minor kitchen remodel is definitely within the scope of DIYers. It’s also a common home remodel on HGTV and other media. 

To reach the value-add touted by the survey, you’ll need to replace your oven or cooktop, refrigerator, cabinet doors, countertops, drawer fronts, flooring, and add new paint and trim. It requires a lot of changes, but if you have time to watch a few YouTube tutorials, you can do it yourself fairly easily. 

4. Replace Siding

Estimated cost: $14,359 to $17,008

Another big curb-appeal booster is simply replacing your home’s siding. But not all siding is created equal. Fiber-cement siding costs slightly more and recoups slightly more of the cost. The difference, however, isn’t huge and might vary for your individual case. 

Vinyl siding is easier to maintain and install, but isn’t as fire-resistant as fiber-cement — an increasingly important consideration if you live in the arid West. No matter which type you choose, you might need to rent specialized equipment, like scaffolding, unless you’re an NBA athlete working on a single-story house.

5. Replace Windows

Estimated cost: $17,641 to $21,495

Old, leaky, rackety windows aren’t great for curb appeal or energy-efficiency. That’s why replacing them can also be a good idea. If you’re nervous about smashing them (and we wouldn’t blame you), you can hire a professional. Otherwise, it’s a job that’s possible for most DIYers. 

If you have standard-sized windows, you can get ready-made windows from a home supply store. But you’ll likely need to custom-order them to fit your own home. 

6. Deck Addition

Estimated cost: $14,360 to $19,856

Decks are one of the easiest home additions to DIY, as long as you have basic carpentry and tool safety skills. You can take your time with decks since they’re outside of your home and not directly in your everyday living space. Composite decks are slightly more expensive than wooden decks but have the advantage of longevity and less maintenance necessary over the years.

7. Replace Entry Door

Estimated cost: $1,881

Another easy and low-cost project, replacing the front door gives you an instant boost to your curb appeal. Just about anyone can do it with the help of YouTube video tutorials and a good, strong arm. 

8. Replace Roof

Estimated cost: $24,700 to $40,318

Your roof is literally the cap to your home. Replacing the roof is a big job, and although hammering in shingles seems easy (and it is), it’s generally best left to the professionals. A professionally-installed roof comes with a warranty, and takes a day or two to complete.

If you DIY this home improvement project, you’ll lose the warranty, and it could take you longer to complete the job. And the longer your roofing project lingers, the longer your home is vulnerable to damage. 

Another point to remember — metal roofs are far more expensive than asphalt shingle roofs, but they also tend to last longer and require less maintenance.

9. Remodel Bathroom

Estimated cost: $21,377 to $34,643

As long as you’re not making major changes to the plumbing and electrical systems underlying the fixtures, a bathroom remodel is possible on your own. This is an especially common remodel for many DIYers, because along with the kitchen and the bedroom, it’s a daily-use room. 

10. Major Kitchen Remodel

Estimated cost: $68,490 to $135,547

If you’re looking to bring a 1950s-style kitchen into the 21st century, it’ll take a bit more than some extra spit and glue. You’ll need to make big changes, like adding in a vented range hood for those blackened-fish tacos, new recessed and under-cabinet lighting, new cabinets, and even adding in an island for better cooking options. For that reason, it’s usually better to hire a professional team who can make sure everything’s wired up right. 

Your Mileage May Vary

Here’s something to consider: on average, you’ll only recoup a portion of your cost if you complete the upgrade and then sell your home in the same year. That might seem a bit disappointing — shouldn’t you be able to recoup all of the cost, and then some?

Remember, your specific case might be very different depending on a lot of factors, like what area of your home could use work. For example, if your exterior looks tired and the siding is falling off, upgrading that rather than adding a new deck might give you a better payoff. 

Another factor affecting your return on investment is how long you let your home’s value appreciate, before selling it. Adding a stone veneer can help you recoup 96% of your cost in the first year. However, in the second year, consider whether you can boost the value of your home by more than you paid for the upgrade. 

If you plan on selling your home in the future, asking a local realtor or real estate investor which upgrades are best for your particular home can be worthwhile. After all, market conditions vary dramatically cross the country and no two homes are exactly the same. 

The post 10 Home Updates That Are Worth the Money appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

Source: goodfinancialcents.com

7 Myths About Work From Home Jobs & What It’s Really Like

I have been working from home or while traveling full-time since around 2013, and since then I have heard so many myths about work from home jobs.I have been working from home or while traveling full-time since around 2013, and since then I have heard so many myths about work from home jobs.

Some of the things that I’ve heard over the years include:

“Working from home must be boring.”

“You must have so much free time to get chores done!”

“Aren’t all work from home jobs scams?”

“Working from home isn’t a real job”

Whether you work for yourself and your office is in your home, or if you telecommute and work for someone else, I’m sure you’ve heard some of these myths about work from home jobs as well.

Truth is, so many people think that working from home is something different, until they get to experience it.

And, this is something that many people are learning in 2020 due to current events!

Now, I want to say that I absolutely love and enjoy working from home.

I would not change a single thing about working from home.

However, some people have said certain things to me that really make me laugh. I think part of that is because they’ve never worked from home before, and the reality is that working from home is still work.

Working from home can be different for everyone because we all have different jobs. Also, what your work from home situation is like makes a big difference too. 

Working from home with kids can make things more challenging. Some jobs keep you tied to your laptop, some require extreme concentration, some are more flexible, etc.

Still, it’s all work!

Today, I want to talk about some of the most common work from home facts and myths. I’m going to explain the misconceptions of working remotely and what’s really happening when people work from home.

Now, I hope today’s article doesn’t come across as a big complaint. Instead, I simply want to shed some light on the topic and explain the truth about working from home.

Content related to myths about work from home jobs:

  • 12 Work From Home Jobs That Can Earn You $1,000+ Each Month
  • Ways To Make An Extra $1,000 A Month
  • 9 Work From Home and Travel Careers
  • 15 Outdoor Jobs For People Who Love Being Outside

Here are common 7 myths about work from home jobs.

 

Myth: You can run errands for everyone during the day

“You must have so much free time to get chores done!”

When I first started working from home, I received so many phone calls from people asking me to do favors, and almost every single time it started with “since you have nothing else to do during the day…”

While I don’t mind helping others around me, I know I’m not alone – this is something that many, many people who work from home have an issue with.

It can be so hard saying no.

Many people think that if you work from home, you don’t actually do anything all day. This sometimes leads to friends and family members asking for favors from those who work from home.

I know friends who work from home who have been asked to babysit, pick things up from the store, grab dry cleaning, bring a pet to the groomer, and more. 

If you have the time and you want to, by all means say yes to every favor. It does feel good to help others.

But, don’t feel like you have to jump on every request just because you work from home.

 

Truth: People who work from home still have to stick to a schedule

One of the reasons people believe that last myth is because working from home is so flexible, and they’ve probably heard that before.

The truth is, while it’s flexible, many people who work from home still try and stick to a normal-ish schedule. 

That’s because if you have other people in your life that keep regular 9-5 hours or have kids in school, working during “normal” hours makes the most sense. It’s probably the only time you have to get any work accomplished. 

Be honest with the people around you and explain the situation. More importantly, be realistic with yourself. It feels nice to help other people out, but running errands all day for others can prevent you from completing work, force you to work late in the evening or weekends, and it can also cost you money.

It also helps to set some boundaries with those around you. Tell the people in your life if there are certain times they shouldn’t bother you, that you might not pick up the phone right away, etc.

Not everyone will understand, some people will get it, and some people probably aren’t sure what working from home means.

But, most people will happily respect your boundaries once you tell them what they are.

 

Myth: Working from home is boring

“I could never work from home, I would be too bored.”

I hear this all the time, ever since I first started working from home.

This is one of the myths about work from home jobs that people believe because they think they would miss working with other people. I understand that – I remember having lots of fun with some of the people I used to work with.

Many people believe this myth because it might sound boring to stay in your house all of the time. It can be, that’s not always the case.

 

Truth: Working from home can be both exciting and boring

Some people would probably think that blogging is boring whether they did it in an office or from home. That’s probably true for lots of jobs.

Your job can be exciting, boring, stressful, calm, easy, difficult, etc. And, it can feel like all of those things over the course of the day. 

Another thing is that while working from home might sound boring to some people, I look at what it allows me to do. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, and I don’t find it boring, at all. 

But, I also love that working from home allows me to travel full time. I have gotten to visit so many amazing places. And, I can choose when I work.

Still, there are some days when I’d rather be doing something other than working, but that doesn’t make working from home boring.

If you’re struggling with this, think about what your situation allows you to do. Focus on the positives.

Some people love what they do, and others love what their job allows them to do.

 

Myth: All work from home jobs are scams

When I tell people what I do, they usually don’t believe it. Many people think that home businesses are scams.

While this myth has eased a little bit over the years, a LOT of people thought working from home was a scam just about a decade ago.

Things have changed a lot in the last several years!

According to Stanford, 42% of the U.S. labor force currently works from home full-time in 2020.

Not all work at home jobs are scams. I have a legitimate business! Just like anyone else who has a business, mine is a business as well.

There are many, many work from home jobs that exist and are legitimate.

 

Truth: There are work from home scams

Unfortunately, there are still some scams out there. 

There are scams that say a company will pay you $10 for every envelope you stuff. There are some scams where a person says they’ll send you a big check up front, but you have to forward part of that check back to the business.

Work from home scams do exist, but that’s not at all the case with the majority of them.

Please head to How To Spot Work From Home Job Scams And Avoid Them At All Costs to learn more.

 

Myth: It’s easy to separate work and life

When you work from home or have your own business, it can be very difficult to completely stop working.

Whenever we go on a trip, I almost always continue working the same amount that I do when I am at home. When you are a business owner, especially in the beginning, you want to bust your butt off to make your business successful. 

It can go the other way too. If you are working from home and see dirty dishes in the sink or unfolded laundry, you can easily get distracted from what you’re doing and stop working. 

It’s also easy to get distracted by personal emails, phone calls, social media, etc. 

This is something I still struggle with.

 

Truth: You can make a better work from home environment

One of the things that may help you separate work from the rest of your life is making sure you set boundaries and create a good physical and mental space to work.

I recommend setting work hours for yourself, making time for vacations, taking breaks throughout the workday, and so on.

Even though you are working from home and you probably don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder to see what you are doing all day long, I still recommend having clear work hours. This will help you manage your time, complete your work, and “leave” work for the day.

If you get distracted by what else is happening in your house, try to make some space that is only for working. You don’t need an office – it can be as simple as a clean dining room table. Or, do the dishes and fold the laundry before you start working.

 

Myth: You’re not actually working when you’re at home

Working from home is still working!

You still have a job and tasks still need to be completed.

This is one of the myths about work from home jobs that gets me the most.

For some reason, many people associate working from home with not doing any work at all. Boy, are they wrong!

I have even had people not believe me and then ask for a full schedule of what I do each day to prove myself.

If me and the millions of other people weren’t actually working when they were home, how would we be holding jobs and getting paid?

 

Truth: People successfully work from home every day

The reality is that the only real thing that changes when you work from home is that the location is different.

People run multi-million dollar businesses from their home. Some hold side hustles, freelance, run Etsy shops, dog sit in their home, work jobs in the corporate world, and much more.

Sure, there are distractions and you may find more time to spend on non-work tasks, but working from home is still working.

 

Myth: You will be lonely when working from home

I’m often asked if I get lonely working from home, and this is one of the most common myths about work from home jobs.

People think that when you work from home that you have absolutely no contact with anyone else. But when I worked in an office, I hardly ever had human contact, except during meetings. That honestly felt more lonely than working from home.

Now, I talk to people all day long. I talk with other bloggers, I answer emails from my readers, and I interact with people on social media. I probably talk with more people now than I did when I worked in an office.

 

Truth: It can be lonely to work from home, but there are ways to make it less lonely

If you do start feeling lonely when you work from home, I have a couple of suggestions to beat the lonely feeling.

You can start a Slack chat with those that you work with or hop on a video call. There are also meetups you can attend that relate to work or your hobbies. There are also lots of online groups, like Facebook groups or subreddits, where you can network with others in your field.

Working from home doesn’t have to feel lonely all of the time.

 

Myth: You will spend all of your time in pajamas

When I first started working from home, I spent a lot of time in my pajamas.

However, that’s not the case anymore.

Now that we live on a boat and have to walk the dogs regularly, I have to go outside often and I’d prefer if everyone around me didn’t have to see me in my pajamas all the time, haha.

 

Truth: It’s okay to work in your pajamas

Some people get completely dressed up for work every day, even though they work from home full-time. It helps get them in the mood for work, and I completely get that.

Some put on a nice top, but still wear athletic shorts or pajama pants.

You will have to find what works best for you.

But, if you want to work in your pajamas, do it. That’s one of the perks of working from home. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about wearing pajamas if that’s what you want.

 

What are the pros and cons of working from home?

I am a big fan of working from home. You can probably tell that now, haha!

The reasons these myths about work from home jobs bother me is because I love what I do and I love helping other people realize that they can work from home too.

Being able to work from home is one of the best things I’ve been able to do. Some of the pros are:

  • It allows me to spend more time with my family
  • I can travel full-time
  • My schedule is flexible
  • I can make a great income from home, and more

Now, what are the negatives of working from home?

Some of the cons are:

  • It can be hard to separate your work and life
  • Some people may find it lonely
  • Some people in your life may struggle with the boundaries you set
  • It can be a big adjustment if you’ve never done it before

The reality is that there are pros and cons about any kind of job. The negatives don’t just apply to work from home jobs. It’s about finding what works for you.

 

Is working from home right for you?

After reading all of the above, you may be wondering how you can make working from home work for you.

Here are some of my tips:

  • Set working hours for yourself
  • Create a dedicated work area
  • Hire help if you need it
  • Cut out distractions
  • Socialize with others
  • Don’t run errands for others all day long
  • Take time off work when you are sick

I recommend reading My Best Working From Home Tips So You Can Succeed to learn more about how you can work from home most efficiently.

Even with talking about all of the myths above, there are still many benefits to working from home.

Being able to work from home is one of the best things I’ve been able to do, and I know many people who feel the same way.  I know it can be hard at times, but it’s all just the reality of working from home.

What common myths about work from home jobs have you heard?

The post 7 Myths About Work From Home Jobs & What It’s Really Like appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

Ways to Earn Extra Money for Paying Off Debt

Debt traps you in a seemingly endless cycle. More debt means more interest and less disposable income, which means you’re constantly fighting against the tide and are always one issue away from complete financial disaster. 

Once you start making repayments on this debt, there will be less interest to compound, which means the grip will loosen, you’ll have more breathing space, and you can look forward to a debt-free future.

In this guide, we’ll look at some of the ways you can earn extra cash to start clearing your debt, from acquiring additional work and responsibilities to making money-saving sacrifices.

Stop Wasting Money

The average American household wastes over $10,000 a year on unnecessary purchases. These purchases all fuel the economy and keep you and your family happy. But if you’re losing sleep because you have so much debt, it’s worth making these sacrifices to give you some peace of mind and build towards a better future.

Save on Grocery Bills

The average family spends between $300 and $500 a month on groceries and as much as 40% of this food goes to waste. The majority is fresh food past its expiration date but we also have a tendency to cook monster-sized meals that end up being thrown away.

To save money on your grocery bill, try the following:

  • Plan your shop carefully. Only buy fresh when you’re confident that the food will be eaten in the next day or two.
  • Reduce your portion sizes when cooking. It’s okay to err on the side of caution and make more than needed, but to cook double or triple what will be eaten is just wasteful.
  • Don’t worry too much about best-before dates. It doesn’t mean the food should be thrown away, just that it’s not at its best. The same applies to lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. In this case, you can rely more on the squeeze and sniff test.
  • Cook food that is about to expire and would otherwise be thrown out. You can freeze the meals for later. You can also try picking, preserving or juicing to reduce waste.

Eating Out

On average, American families spend close to $3,000 a year eating out. It’s a great way to spend time with the family or have a date night with your partner. However, if you have a lot of debt then $3,000 worth of restaurant visits is a little excessive. 

Stop spending so much money eating out and focus on some cheaper alternatives. A picnic is a great alternative. You can use some of that uneaten food and spend time with the family without paying a small fortune for the pleasure.

Stop the Vacations

Big families take one vacation a year on average and this costs them between $4,000 and $5,000. The more children you have, the more expensive it becomes. What’s more, around a third of these families will take as many as three additional, smaller vacations every year, potentially spending over $7,000.

Don’t sacrifice spending some time with your family but look for cheaper options instead. Choose a small cabin instead of a plush hotel. You can go for walks, play games, swim, hike—all free activities that could bring you even closer and cost even less.

Hold the Vices

Thousands are spent on cigarettes and gambling, and much more is spent on shopping sprees. If you have any of these habits, it’s time to put a stop to them. We don’t need to tell you about the benefits of stopping smoking or giving up those shopping sprees, but if you’re still not convinced about the gambling, then spend a few months recording every single dollar that you bet.

Most gamblers think they are breaking even or only losing a little, but when they monitor their activity, they discover they are actually losing a lot.

Check Your Subscriptions

According to a recent survey, most Americans underestimate how much money they spend on subscriptions. We’ve turned into a nation of subscribers, spending hundreds of dollars a month on dozens of services we barely use.

We pay for cable, streaming services, gyms—we convince ourselves that it won’t matter as it’s only a few dollars, but those costs can add up to a lot of wasted cash at the end of the year.

Sell Your Stuff

Many sites can help you offload your unwanted items. There’s a home for all the things you no longer need, from electronics and video games sold on eBay or Amazon, to clothes and furniture sold through sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Swappa. 

It’s time to let go, stop hoarding, and earn some cash from the things you don’t need. Be honest with yourself and get rid before the value of those items depreciates more and you end up with worthless, dust-covered junk that just takes up space.

As an example, let’s imagine that you have a dozen old video games worth just $5 each on average, 10 old school textbooks worth just $2 each, a couple of furniture pieces worth $10, an unwanted guitar worth $50, and a couple of handbags worth $25 each.

Individually, those items aren’t worth much and you might think they’re not even worth your time trying to sell them, But combined, you’ll get $200 and if you put that towards a high-interest credit card debt, it could save you twice that in interest over the term. You will also free up some space in the process.

Get Another Job

You know you can make more money by asking for a pay rise. It goes without saying. The problem is, life isn’t quite that easy and, in most cases, asking for a pay rise will elicit little more than a short, sharp laugh from your employer. 

However, there are many ways you can earn money from a side hustle, taking advantage of the gig economy and swapping a little talent, a little time, and a lot of hard work for some cash.

Get a Part-Time Job

There is a multitude of ways you can earn some extra cash these days. The pay isn’t always great, but if you’re working towards clearing your debts and have some free time, every dollar helps.

Uber and Lyft are always looking for new drivers; retailers need shelf-stackers and greeters, and there is no shortage of delivery jobs. Review your free time, calculate when you can work, and see what’s available. 

Teach a Skill

Can you play a musical instrument or speak a second language? Do you have some other teachable skill? It has never been easier to make money as a part-time teacher, as sites like Preply.com, Udemy.com, Tutor.com, Noodle.com, TakeLessons.com, and many more bring all of these opportunities to you. 

You can visit the student’s house, invite them to yours or simply conduct the lessons via Skype or the site’s built-in conferencing software.

Freelance

Upwork.com, Guru.com, Fiverr.com—these sites and more have created a world of possibilities for skilled writers, designers, coders, and other experts. But they offer so much more than that. 

You don’t need to be particularly skilled to work on these sites as the pay is scaled based on ability and experience. If you have a little free time and some competent language skills, you can hire yourself as a virtual assistant to do basic admin work.

There are countless entrepreneurs seeking individuals to complete basic tasks such as transferring data, reviewing images, and answering emails. The pay isn’t great if your skills are limited, but you get to work from home on your own time. 

Cover the Basics

Freelancing and teaching may be out of the question if you don’t have any skills and are not computer literate. But there are still a few other options, including dog walker, lawn mower, babysitter, and general handyman. 

Ask your neighbors, friends, and family if they need any work; check Craigslist and local classifieds. Everyone can do something and there are always odd jobs available if you’re willing to work.

Try Some Other Methods

When the ordinary fails, it’s time for the extraordinary. There are some weird and wonderful ways you can make extra cash when needed.

Sell Your Hair

If your hair is long and untreated, you could make a tidy sum by selling it. Good quality human hair is used to make premium wigs and some companies are willing to pay thousands for the right locks. However, there are some strict conditions, such as the fact that it must be untreated and very well looked after.

House Sit

Sites like Thumbtack can connect you to homeowners looking for skilled workers, as well as people willing to look after their homes and belongings. They will pay you to stay in their homes and perform some basic chores while they’re away, such as watering plants, feeding pets, and mowing the lawn.

Make Something

If your skills are practical and not creative, turn your hand to making things and sell them through sites like Etsy, Facebook or your own online store. The world has been obsessed with single-use plastics for many years and it’s now waking up to the damage that has been done. Many consumers are willing to pay extra for something that has been handmade and is unique, especially if the money supports an independent creator.

Grow Your Own

If you have a yard and some free time, start growing some produce. Crops like potatoes, carrots, greens, and even some fruits are easy to grow and can give you a bumper crop every year. You’ll pay a few cents for the seeds and simply need to devote some time to digging, watering, and harvesting.

Think about how much money you’ll save if you have your own supply of vegetables and fruits and can just pick fresh from the yard whenever you’re cooking. If your family eats a lot of cheese or drinks a lot of wine or beer, you can also start producing your own supply. 

Cheese can be made with a lot of milk, a little rennet, and a few simple steps. Beer can be made using some do-it-yourself kits. 

As for wine, it’s one of the easiest things you can make yourself. You don’t even need grape juice as wine can be made from a multitude of fruit juices, vegetable juices, and more. You can even make a strong, fragrant white wine with a handful of fruit teabags. The only expense is the sugar, which means you can make several dozen bottles worth of wine for less than $10.

Join a Clinical Trial

Although it’s not a method we would recommend, it’s one that’s worth including. If you join a clinical trial, you’ll be paid to act as a guinea pig. The good news is that the majority of these trials run without incident and most subjects are as healthy at the end as they were at the beginning. The bad news is that there is always a risk and there’s no telling what will happen.

You can search for available trials on the Clinical Trials website run by the US National Library of Medicine. 

Summary: Paying Off Your Debt with Extra Money

Your first priority is to meet your minimum payment obligations and avoid any missed payments. Once you meet this obligation every month, you can put any extra cash you have towards clearing those debts. Every little helps, even if it’s just $50 or $100 here and there.

As an example, if you have a credit card debt of $10,000 with an APR of 25% and a minimum payment of $300, you’ll repay $17,251 in total over 58 months. Add just $100 a month and you’ll reduce the term by a whole 12 months and the balance by a massive $3,000. Take a look at our guides to the Debt Snowball Method and the Debt Avalanche Method to find the right payoff strategy for you. Both methods rely on you earning some extra cash and now that you’ve made it to the end of this article, you’ll know just how to do that!

Ways to Earn Extra Money for Paying Off Debt is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS)

What is the AAMS certification?New financial advisors need something to help them stand out. Consequently, the AAMS does just that. Designed for newcomers to the financial advice business, the AAMS trains advisors to identify investment opportunities as well as help clients with other financial goals. It also gives more experienced advisors a fast and simple way to learn more about asset management and improve their credentials. Here’s how it works.

AAMS Defined

An Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS) can advise clients on college savings, taxes, and retirement savings. The course and tests for this certification are designed to ensure advisors can assist clients with their complete financial needs. It emphasizes evaluating the client’s assets and making appropriate recommendations.

The AAMS certification is granted by the College for Financial Planning, a unit of the Kaplan Company. The college oversees a large number of financial certification programs, including the Certified Financial Planner designation, one of the most valued certifications in the field.

AAMS Certification Requirements

What is the AAMS certification?

To receive an AAMS, students first have to complete a 10-module education program provided by the College for Financial Planning. Then they have to pass an examination. Finally, they must agree to abide by a code of ethics and promise to continue their education.

The courses are online and can be delivered in self-study or instructor-led formats. Courses are open-enrollment, therefore students can begin at any time without waiting for the next session.  The 10 modules cover the following material:

1.:The Asset Management Process

2. Risk, Return & Investment Performance

3. Asset Allocation & Selection

4. Investment Strategies

5. Taxation of Investments

6. Investing for Retirement

7. Deferred Compensation and Other Benefit Plans

8. Insurance Products for Investment Clients

9. Estate Planning for Investment Clients

10. Fiduciary, Ethical, and Regulatory Issues for Advisors

The College of Financial Planning provides everything necessary to study for and complete the modules and take the test. Students have access to the study materials and tests through an online portal.

Streaming video lectures, audio files, and interactive quizzes also can be found through the college’s site. Meanwhile, students can access live classes online and contact professors with questions and issues.

The AAMS Test

To get the AAMS certification, students have to pass just one test. However, they have to make their first attempt at the test within six months of enrollment and pass it within a year.

The fee for the first attempt at taking the test is included in the course tuition. There are no prerequisites for signing up to take the AAMS course.

Time and Money Requirement

Tuition for the AAMS courses is $1,300. This includes the fee for the first attempt at passing the certification exam. It also includes all needed course materials. Each additional attempt costs $100.

Students employed with certain financial services firms may be able to get tuition discounts. The college may also provide scholarships.

The College for Financial Planning recommends students plan to spend 80 hours to 100 hours on the course. Since the course is self-study, this amount of time is flexible.

To maintain AAMS certification students have to commit to completing 16 continuing education credits every two years. Also, continuing education has to cover one or more of the topics covered in the AAMS coursework.

AAMS certificate holders also have to agree to follow a professional standard of conduct. As a result, they have to maintain integrity, objectivity, competency, confidentiality and professionalism in providing financial services.

AAMS Certificate Holder Jobs

AAMS certificates are generally earned by entry-level workers in the financial advice business. Consequently, AAMS holders are typically trainees. In some cases, they may provide support services to more experienced and highly credentialed advisors.

The AAMS designation does not confer any special powers or privileges. Instead, it’s an optional credential that students may obtain to advance their careers and enhance their knowledge of financial advice.

Comparable Certifications

What is the AAMS certification?

In addition to the AAMS, the College for Financial Planning offers an Accredited Wealth Manager Advisor (AWMA) certificate. This is a somewhat more advanced designation. As a result, it requires a course equivalent to three graduate level college credits and requires 90 hours to 135 hours to complete.

Chartered Mutual Fund Counselor (CMFC) is sponsored by the Investment Company Institute along with the College of Financial Planning. It is similar to the AAMS certificate except it focuses on mutual fund assets.

Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) is a general personal finance advice certificate from the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. First, it requires 1,000 hours of financial counseling experience. Secondly, it demands three letters of reference. Finally, applicants must both complete coursework and pass an exam.

Bottom Line

The AAMS designation is usually for newly minted financial advisors, but even experienced pros can use it to bulk up their credentials. The courses and tests associated with the AAMS teach advisors how to evaluate assets and make recommendations.

While this certification doesn’t give an advisor any real powers, it’s a sign that they can identify investment opportunities specific to their clients. Above all else, it can be a great relief to a client who has a child going to college or a retirement house on their wish list. As a result of obtaining an AAMS, and advisor can point them toward the right investments for their goals.

Investing Tips

  • If you’re looking to identify investment opportunities, consider using an AAMS as your advisor. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • An AAMS can help you with college savings, taxes, and retirement savings if you know what your goals are. However, if you are unsure how much you want to invest, what your risk tolerance is, or how inflation and capital gains tax will affect your investment, SmartAsset’s investing guide can help you take the first steps.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/SARINYAPINNGAM, ©iStock.com/fizkes, ©iStock.com/Suwanmanee99

The post Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS) appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Source: smartasset.com

Watch Your Wallet: 7 Hidden Costs of Self-Isolating at Home During Coronavirus

Coronavirus Is Costing You Cash at Home: 7 Hidden Expenses of Self-IsolatingYuttachai Saechan/Getty Images; realtor.com

Those who are fortunate enough to still be collecting a paycheck while quarantined or sheltering in place might expect to build up some serious savings. While you work from home, you’re avoiding your usual commuting expenses, and you’re probably saving money by not going to bars, restaurants, and movies, or skipping that vacation to Fiji.

But as spending decreases in some areas during self-isolation, it can creep up in others. To brace yourself and your budget, keep an eye on these expenses while you’re self-isolating at home.

1. Utilities

If you’ve gone from office life to Zoom life, you’re spending more time at home than usual, which could ramp up your household expenses.

“Your utility spending might be considerably higher if you’re spending more time at home cooking, charging devices, using lights and appliances,” says Ted Rossman, industry analyst at CreditCards.com.

To keep your utility bills down, turn off lights when you leave the room, open windows during the day to let in cool air, unplug devices that you’re not using, and consider turning down your water heater by a few degrees.

2. Groceries

Grocery delivery

m-gucci/Getty Images

Even if you’re not hoarding (and you shouldn’t be), you might find yourself spending more on groceries while you shelter in place.

For some people, an uptick in grocery spending will be offset by the money saved from not dining at restaurants. But if your local store is picked over—or if you pay fees for grocery delivery—you could spend more on groceries than usual.

“I’ve been to a local grocery store, and the only thing that was available was organic, so I couldn’t buy the generic. I actually had to spend more money,” says Steve Repak, author of the “6 Week Money Challenge for Your Personal Finances.”

If your grocery spending feels out of hand, be flexible and creative with your menu. Cook the food you already have at home before you head back to the store. Sites such as Eater have compiled resources for home cooks, including Pantry Cooking 101 and How to Stock a Pantry.

If you’re using a delivery service, place infrequent, larger orders instead of several small orders. Or consider curbside service; many stores are allowing free pickups where they bring your groceries right to your car, so you can save on delivery fees and tips.

3. Meal delivery and takeout

You may not be able to enjoy a nice meal at a restaurant, but you can order takeout and delivery—and those indulgences can add up quickly. After all, it’s not just the meal you’re paying for.

“There’s probably still a service fee, and on top of that you have to leave a gratuity,” Repak says. (It’s also a good idea to generously tip the workers who are delivering your food in these times.)

If you’re on a budget, reserve takeout and delivery for special occasions or those days when you just can’t muster the motivation to cook.

4. Alcohol and other sources of comfort

Curl up with a good bottle…

Moyo Studio/Getty Images

If you find yourself decompressing with a glass or two (or three) of wine every night, your drinking habit could do a number on your budget. And you wouldn’t be alone—alcohol consumption has shot up nationwide, and in states where recreational marijuana is legal, dispensaries are reporting booming business.

“Social isolation is really strongly linked to physical and mental health problems, and the way we cope with a lot of them is by drinking more,” Repak says. “People are going to smoke more and drink more … and we need to find other healthier coping mechanisms to offset that additional spending.”

You may not want to totally forfeit your evening glass of pinot, but you can make your supply last longer by sipping a mug of (far more affordable) chamomile tea on occasion, or opting for a calming yoga video or breathing exercise.

__________

Watch: Our Chief Economist’s View on the Pandemic, Mortgage Rates, and What’s Ahead

__________

5. Subscriptions

You’ve rewatched all your favorite shows on Netflix and Hulu—so, now’s the time to add a Disney+ subscription, right?

Not so fast, Repak says.

“Save a little bit of money by just picking one of the streaming services,” he suggests, or at least don’t pile on new subscriptions to the ones you already have.

To free up your budget, take inventory of your other monthly subscriptions, services, and other recurring expenses, and see if there’s anything that can be eliminated.

“Ten dollars a month may not sound like a lot, but if you have five of those, that’s $600 annually,” Rossman adds.

6. Online shopping

Online shopping knows no quarantine

Poike/Getty Images

If you turn to retail therapy to soothe your soul, your budget could take a hit. True, many retailers are offering deep discounts in order to move merchandise, but even discount purchases add up.

“Impulse buying is a potential trap,” Rossman says. “Some people fall victim to it more than others.”

Instead of clicking “add to cart” as a coping mechanism, Repak suggests cleaning out your closet instead.

“This is a great time that we can offset our budget by decluttering our house or apartment,” he says.

Use sites like Poshmark to sell your clothes, or Mercari for your household items. Many donation centers such as Goodwill are still accepting donations, too—just call ahead to make sure your local store or donation drop-off location will take your items.

7. New hobbies you’re trying in quarantine

Our spending habits are highly personal, and you might find yourself throwing money at a new habit or hobby to fight cabin fever.

“It’s a worthwhile exercise to track your spending, especially now that so much is different,” Rossman says. “Look through your credit card and bank statements from the past month. Do you see anything surprising? Are there areas where you spent extra but didn’t feel it was worth it? These could be good ways to cut back.”

And remember: Even if quarantine has eliminated some of your old day-to-day expenses, it’s easy to overestimate how much you’re saving.

“Most people don’t have a great handle on their budget and spending habits anyway, and so much has changed of late,” Rossman says. “It’s easy to overlook things.”

The post Watch Your Wallet: 7 Hidden Costs of Self-Isolating at Home During Coronavirus appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com