5 Tips To Help You Ask For A Raise

5 Tips To Help You Ask For A Raise

Do you believe that you’re entitled to more money for the work you do? Here are 5 tips to ask for a raise from your boss and get the money you deserve.

In 2017, only 48% of U.S. workers received their expected annual pay raise. This is disconcerting, as wages are stagnating while the cost of living is skyrocketing around the globe.

As an employee, no one will fight for you, but yourself, so sometimes you have to work extra hard to receive your raise. Sometimes that means being assertive. If you want to ask for a raise check out these 5 tips.

1. Take On More Responsibility First

It’s a common refrain among job interview experts to “dress for the job you want.” When it comes to asking for a raise, you need to make work for the job, or pay increase, you want.

This means taking on more responsibility, becoming more invaluable to the company. If your bosses see that you’re carrying a heavy load for them, they’ll be more likely to give you a raise because they don’t want to risk having you leave for greener pastures.

2. Share Your Successes

As always, you’re your own best hype man. And unfortunately, though we like to think the positives we bring to our workplaces are self-evident, this is not always the case.

If you’re toiling away in silence, and your bosses aren’t noticing your achievements, they’re not going to feel compelled to give you a raise. So when you accomplish something great, tell your boss or bring it to his attention in a more covert way.

You have to brand yourself as a successful employee. If they know what you bring to the company, it’ll be more likely that you see a pay bump on your boss’ free paycheck stub template.

3. Do Your Research

Before you request a meeting with your boss, make sure that your pay isn’t already well above the average for your position. Do some Googling and find the median income for your position and at your level experience.

If the average for your position is $40,000 and you’re making $60,000, you’ll come off as ungrateful if you ask for a pay increase. Of course, if you’re making under the average, bring that to your boss’ attention when you request a raise.

4. Don’t Complain

Complaining never really gets you anywhere, especially not at work. When asking for a pay raise, make sure to keep it as positive as possible.

Don’t speak negatively about the company for not paying you enough, don’t attack your bosses character, and don’t talk about how unappreciated you feel. Instead, focus on what the company can get from giving you a raise and express your gratitude for what they’ve given you thus far.

You attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.

5. Talk About the Future

When asking for a raise, it’s important to connect yourself to the future of the company. Your boss won’t want to give a raise to someone who’s just going to cut and run, so express your loyalty to the company and talk about how excited you are to be growing with them.

If the company sees that you’re invested in them, they’ll invest in you.

Ready to Ask for a Raise?

With these tips, you’ll be able to ask for a raise with a clear purpose and assertiveness.

If you need any more help with your workplace issues, check out the business section of our site. We’ve got tons of helpful workplace tips and tricks.

5 Tips for Going Green and Making a Difference in the World

5 Tips for Going Green and Making a Difference in the World

If you want to make a difference in the world by going green, then this article is for you. Click here to discover 5 important tips for going green.

Recent studies show that 50 percent of the trash Americans throw out is recyclable.

Most people have the misconception that going green is difficult and cumbersome. The fact is that being more eco-conscious is an easy process that will not take up a lot of time.

The first place you need to start when trying to go green is your home. There are tons of products on the market geared towards making homes green environment spaces.

The following are some of the things you can do to make our living space more eco-friendly.

1. Go Green By Investing in Efficient Appliances

Homeowners spend thousands of dollars each year to power their living spaces.

If you are looking for ways to go green, you can start by investing in more energy-efficient appliances. When shopping for appliances, be sure to look for the EnergyStar logo.

Appliances with this logo on them have been tested and certified as energy-efficient. While these new appliances may cost more, they will pay for themselves in the long run due to the energy they can help you save.

2. Get a Programmable Thermostat

One of the biggest sources of energy waste in a home is the HVAC unit.

When a unit is allowed to run all day and night, it can cause energy bills to skyrocket. The best way to avoid this problem is by getting a programmable thermostat.

These thermostats allow you to decide what temperature you want your home while you are away. Some of the programmable thermostats on the market allow you to change the temperature settings from a mobile device.

Keeping the HVAC unit off while you are away can save you money and reduce the strain you put on the environment.

3. Embrace the Power of Solar Energy

Using the power of the sun to provide electricity to your home is also a good way to go green.

There are tons of government rebates and tax credits you can take advantage of when installing a solar system on your home. Due to the complexity of this work, you should hire professionals to perform the solar panel installation process.

These professionals will have no problem getting the system in place quickly and correctly.

4. Don’t Forget About Recycling

Recycling more is a great way to keep the Earth green.

If you make a habit of saving your food waste, you can use it as compost in your garden. This natural compost will provide your plants with the vitamins and nutrients they need.

Most cities offer recycling pick-up, which makes it easy to go green.

5. Go Paperless When Possible

Most companies allow their customers to pay their bills online.

Going paperless and receiving your bills online is a great way to reduce strain on the environment.

Once you get used to paperless billing, you will wonder how you ever lived without it.

Need More Advice on How to Going Green?

The work you put into going green will pay off in the long run. If everyone does their part to help the environment, it will be easy to keep Mother Nature happy and healthy.

Are you looking more advice about how to be more eco-conscious?

Be sure to take a look at the great articles we’ve got on this subject and many more.

6 Tips for Boosting Your Financial Literacy

6 Tips for Boosting Your Financial Literacy

Source

Making more money than you spend is not enough to guarantee a healthy financial life in today’s increasingly complex and interconnected world. Nor is making a sizeable income. It’s more important that consumers gain a solid understanding of what to do with their money—which can be daunting when there are so many options available.

How much should you be saving? Should you invest? Where is your disposable income going? Is your debt under control? Which debts should you focus on paying off first? These are just a sampling of the questions that can keep people up at night wondering how to best approach their finances.

Financial literacy is basically the knowledge that is necessary to make responsible financial decisions. As Investopedia writes, “Financial literacy includes understanding how a checking account works, what using a credit card really means, and how to avoid debt.” It includes understanding everything from day-to-day expenditures to investing and debt management.

Are you interested in boosting your financial literacy? Consider these six tips for doing so.

Find Media That Works for You

Some people are visual learners. Others prefer the written word. The key here is to find a form of media that captures your attention, whether it’s a video series on YouTube or a book from the library. There’s no one-size-fits-all way to study up on the concepts that make up overall financial literacy. If one method isn’t engaging you, switch it up until you find a learning style that clicks.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

One of the most daunting hurdles to financial literacy is a fear of asking questions. But nobody is born knowing everything there is to know about finances. There’s a wealth of knowledge out there for consumers willing to ask questions. For example, customer service representatives at financial institutions like investment firms and banks can often offer digestible and helpful explanations regarding their services. 

Take Advice from Industry Leaders

Thought leaders have earned their status for good reason. Keeping an eye on industry leaders within the financial world is a great way to glean tips, tricks and all-around applicable advice. For example, Andrew Housser, the co-CEO of Freedom Debt Relief, provided eight simple tips for saving last holiday season—a challenging period of time for many consumers hoping to save and buy gifts or travel.

Long story short: There’s savvy, free financial advice all around. Keeping tabs on industry leaders is the best way to make sure you don’t miss a thing. 

Practice Tracking Your Own Spending

Sometimes the best way to get good at something is simply by jumping in and doing it. So, use your own budget as a practice ground for improving your financial literacy. Chances are, some expenditures or habits have been slipping through the cracks. By taking note of your patterns, you can work to bring them more in line with your overarching savings goals. 

Pay Attention to Fine Print

Failure to read the fine print, especially on credit card applications, can result in serious consequences. For example, 0 percent APR credit cards rarely stay that way; at some point, the interest rate will jump, likely above 15 percent. Before agreeing to any terms or signing on the dotted line, take ample time to actually read the fine print. This will help improve your financial literacy by letting you know what to expect and save you from unexpected complications. 

Read At Least One Article Per Day

We’re all busy. Financial literacy won’t happen overnight. It’s much better—and less stressful—to set a realistic goal like reading one article per day. Carve out 15 minutes in your day to sit down and learn about a single financial topic. Committing to this ritual will help in the long-term without derailing your day-to-day plans.

These six tips aim to help you boost your overall financial literacy.

Show You Care With the Best Customized Gifts

Show You Care With the Best Customized Gifts

Don’t settle for the same old gift this year! Instead, show that you care with one of these awesome options from our list of the best customized gifts.

Imagine this scenario: It’s your significant other’s birthday or maybe Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

You hand your loved one over an envelope. They smile graciously, peel open the seal, and take out a generic, store-bought greeting card.

A gift card for a coffee chain falls in their lap.

It’s $20. Who knows, maybe you splurged for $30 or $50.

They look at you, smile, and say, “Thank you,” but it’s that strained kind of smile. The kind of smile that secretly says, “Well . . . I guess this was a nice gesture.”

Come on! You can do better than that!

Personalized gifts mean a lot more than gift cards and store-bought items. They’re the best way to show you care and avoid that begrudging smile.

Let’s take a look at some of the best customized gifts and how they can wow your loved ones.

How the Best Personalized Gifts Show You Care

Studies show that (at least in the United States) many people love to give gifts. Personalized gifts are just the next step up.

So why would you consider a personalized gift in the first place?

I mean, you work hard for your money. Even if you just give them a gift card or anything bought in a mall, isn’t it the thought that counts?

Sure, but gift giving shouldn’t be a chore. It shouldn’t be one more checkmark on a to-do list. Simple, non-personalized gifts give off that vibe.

Things like customized birthday gifts may take a little more time and thought, but they definitely show that you care.

We’ll look a little closer at some more reasons how they show you care.

They’re Universally Appreciated

Something like a gift card or a store-bought item can be hit-or-miss with your loved ones.

Maybe they don’t like the coffee chain you bought that gift card from. Maybe your boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t need that new knife block or won’t watch that new movie you bought them.

No matter what, though, if you get them a personalized gift, it will almost always be appreciated. Even if it’s still something they don’t need or necessarily want, the thought and care that went into choosing and personalizing that gift or coming up with that idea is worth the appreciation alone.

It’s not to say that even the best customized gifts will not be a “miss” sometimes, but at the very least the thought really does count.

They’re Perfect For Any Event

Personalized gifts can suit any occasion or event.

These days, there’s a perfectly customizable gift lying in wait for whatever you can think of.

Doesn’t matter if it’s a wedding, a baby shower, or a birthday, someone out there is providing customization for any event.

They Build Stronger Relationships

Whether you’re buying a gift for your spouse of 20 years, a family member, or someone who’s a relatively new friend, the best personalized gifts can only strengthen that relationship.

No matter where your relationship is at, a personalized gift really shows that you care and have put thought and time into who that loved one is to you.

Those are the key questions: who is this person? What do they mean to you? What do they like and dislike? Can you guess what might pique their interest in the future?

The best customized gifts will show that special person that you’re not giving them a gift out of obligation. You’re taking the time to understand them and find out more about what they like and who they are.

In some cases, you’re making a statement that maybe you know them even better than they know themselves.

You’re making an effort to build your relationship up rather than making a lateral move.

Ideas For the Best Customized Gifts

Now that we’ve established how special a customized or personalized gift can be, we want to talk about specific ideas.

There are a lot of companies and individuals out there who make a some of the best personalized gifts. Websites, such as Etsy, are your friend.

In some cases, though, you may want to take matters into your own hands with a little DIY magic.

Here are a few useful tips about personalized gifts from DIY to unique companies:

1. Print and Frame a Photo

In this day and age, it’s a little more uncommon to have a physical printed photo.

Most people’s photos are locked away in the cloud on social media like Facebook or devices like digital cameras and smartphones.

So consider taking a photo that you know is very precious to your loved one from the digital stratosphere, and then have it printed and frame it yourself. It may be a photo they already have, but that physical version of it adds an extra personal touch.

You can get even more DIY with the frame by adding a personal touch with arts and crafts as well.

2. Create a Personalized Gift With Photo

So you can print and frame a photo yourself, or you could take a photo you own and have someone make it into a pop art centerpiece.

This website makes it simple with only a few steps. You provide the photo with any comments or suggestions, they morph it into a pop art-styled version, you approve, and they affix it to whatever you want.

You could have a pop art-style shower curtain of you and your family at Disney World, or you could get a tote bag of your loved one’s precious chihuahua in all of its Andy Warhol-like glory.

3. Custom Children’s Books

Some companies create children’s books that are customized to the child themselves. Reading books is scientifically proven to help a child’s development and growth, and what child wouldn’t want to see himself or herself in the story they’re reading?

Certain companies, such as Wonderbly, do just that. Their flagship book The Little Boy Who Lost His Name or The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name takes the name of the child it’s meant for and uses each letter of their name to tell a personalized story.

This idea may not exactly have been written and illustrated by yourself, but if you’re looking for a personalized gift for your own child or your niece or nephew, it’s a really caring gesture for the child and parent.

4. Homemade Massage Coupons

Here’s another DIY option.

Especially if you’re talking about a significant other, why not give them coupons for a full-body massage?

Whether you were willing to give them a massage or not, make it more fun by creating your own coupons with your own specific design.

Turn down the lights, break out the lavender candles, crank your favorite Enya tunes, and show your loved one you care.

5. Fancy Homemade Dinner

We’re on a roll with the DIY, so let’s just keep it going.

This is going to be especially impressive if you’re not much of a cook.

Consider making a homemade dinner for your loved one.

If you’re going to go this route, though, you need to go all out. Think Lumiere’s “Be Our Guest.” Tall candles, your best bone china dinnerware, and a gourmet recipe that you follow to an absolute perfect ten.

6. Personalized Engraved Gifts

Engraving is a good way to show you’re going the extra mile.

There are plenty of people and companies out there who offer engraving services. Some allow you to send in your own item for engraving, others sell items that you can buy and have engraved, and some offer both.

You’d have to be stealthy if you want to have an item that your loved one already owns engraved, but that stealthiness can go a long way.

7. Plan a Vacation

Pretty much everyone in the world needs a vacation at one point or another.

Rather than buying a simple store-bought gift for your loved one, you could plan a vacation for them.

Again, though, you need to go as far with this idea as you can.

This gift needs to be more than just, “Hey, babe, maybe we should go on a vacation later this year.”

Sure, the suggestion sounds nice, but what are you really giving them?

Take time to figure out where your loved one would like to vacation. Plan ahead by asking them where some of their favorite places in the world are.

If you can afford it, go all out and buy the tickets yourself. Make the itinerary, plan it from start to finish, and go! Unless, of course, your loved one is the planning sort who actually enjoys that aspect of a vacation.

If you can’t afford the tickets, consider other aspects of a vacation. A travel journal is a nice idea, and if the destination is international, consider getting your loved one started on acquiring their passport if they don’t already have it.

Even just the idea of getting a vacation started can be so thoughtful as a personalized gift.

More Tips on Improving Your Life

Finding the best customized gifts is not only a good way to improve your loved one’s life but even your own. Hopefully, this guide gave you some good ideas.

If you want to see more of what we’re about at NonSociety and to see what other tips we can offer about helping to make you the best version of you, check us out and feel free to chat!

15 Tips for Winning at Doing Your Own Taxes

15 Tips for Winning at Doing Your Own Taxes

Doing your own taxes can seem overwhelming but it’s a good opportunity to maximise your refund. Here are some top tips for preparing your tax return like a pro.

Did you know that 65% of American taxpayers receive a federal refund?

A federal refund can mean a fat check in the mail once you file your taxes, especially if you file them correctly.

For many taxpayers, refunds can take care of lingering bills or lead to a much-deserved vacation.

A lot of people dread doing their taxes, but preparing your tax return in a smart way can actually mean a larger federal refund than you’ve been expecting.

In this post, we’ll look closely at tips you can keep in mind when doing your own taxes. These strategies can be your secret to making the most of your next tax return!

1. Avoid Paper Tax Returns

A lot of people choose to file their taxes manually.

Paper tax returns can often mean saving money on tax software. But it can also mean more headaches for you, especially if you find tax language to be daunting.

What’s more, it can be incredibly easy to make a mistake on a paper tax return. In fact, paper returns have as much as a 20% error rate in comparison to electronically filed returns!

Errors in your tax return can mean that they are ultimately rejected by the IRS. Errors can also mean a lower total refund and higher taxes paid.

The best way to do taxes yourself often involves e-filing. A lot of companies like TurboTax make filing your taxes yourself easy and affordable. Check out https://www.ultimatetax.com/ to learn more about tax preparation software.

E-filing also means that you will always have electronic copies of your tax returns for consecutive years. This can be helpful if your filing requires numbers from prior tax returns.

2. Gather All Documents Before Filing

Doing your own taxes often means weeding through thick stacks of paper. Before you start puzzling through those documents for filing purposes, get the right ones in order.

The most important documents you need for doing taxes yourself are ones that indicate the past year’s income.

These include W-2s, 1099s, evidence of cash transactions, investment income information, state tax refunds, and any other income you may have received through unemployment, rental properties, or business operations.

Most employers and contractors will send out your tax documents by February so that you can have them in order for filing season.

3. Decide Whether to Itemize Or Not

A standard deduction is what the IRS offers to individuals or families who won’t benefit from itemizing — i.e., writing out–other deductions.

The best way to file taxes may be to simply claim the standard deduction. However, when doing your own taxes, make sure you can totally rule out itemizing before you claim the standard.

How do you know if you need to itemize or not? Itemizing basically means gathering up all of your receipts from the previous year that could earn you a deduction.

These include non-reimbursed business or work expenses, job search expenses, charitable contributions, and even medical bills.

Itemizing does require having a solid grasp of the prior year’s deductible expenses. For this reason, we recommend itemizing if you have proof of these deductions (i.e., paper or digital receipts) and if itemizing can grant you a higher return than a standard deduction.

4. Stay Organized for Next Year

It’s possible to file your own taxes like a boss if you prioritize organization. Having your receipts, proof of income and other essential documents in order can make your life so much easier once tax season rolls around.

If you’ve already filed your taxes for this year, get a headstart on next year’s filing by establishing an organization system.

This may mean investing in finance tracking software, for example, to keep a digital record of your expenses and income.

It may mean creating digital or literal files for storing receipts and tax documents. Whatever the case, make sure you have an easy and effective system in place for keeping all of your documents together for next year’s tax return.

5. Seek Assistance

Doing taxes yourself can be overwhelming, especially if you are new to it. It is possible to seek out assistance when filing your own taxes so that you can maximize your refunds.

A lot of people resort to a personal accountant when it comes to filing taxes themselves. This may be especially smart if you are a business owner. Many accountants do not charge an egregious amount for their filing services.

Others may be able to qualify for free tax filing assistance if finances are an issue. In fact, a hefty portion of standard taxpayers may qualify for free filing assistance.

Visit the IRS’s website to learn more about assistance and filing counseling for low-income or elderly taxpayers.

6. Educate Yourself

Doing your own taxes doesn’t have to feel like signing up for a foreign language class. The best way to maximize your refunds this tax season is to educate yourself.

This may mean a lot of things to different taxpayers. If you are a self-employed individual, for example, your tax filing will likely be a lot different from an employed individual.

The same goes for business owners, those receiving social security, homeowners, and families.

It’s possible to learn about how the tax system works in the U.S. simply by researching online. You can also learn about deductions you may qualify for via the IRS’s website itself.

A lot of e-filing companies such as TurboTax enable users to consult certified accountants while filing taxes. Others have community forums that often answer a lot of taxpayer questions.

7. Understand What “Dependent” Means

If you are doing your own taxes, you may be tempted to instantly gloss over the component that asks about dependents. This is particularly the case if you are a single individual without children.

However, if you do support a friend or family member for various reasons, you could qualify for a tax deduction.

Let’s say that you have enabled a friend to live with you for a year to help her get back on her feet. Or perhaps you’re caring for your aunt who is navigating a difficult illness.

These situations may enable you to deduct a little over $4,000 when filing your taxes.

8. Explore Above-Line Deductions

Above-the-line deductions are adjustments to your income that enable you to pay fewer taxes for the prior year.

The good news about these deductions is the fact that you don’t have to worry about itemizing in order to claim them. Some examples of above-line deductions include expenses for moving or paid self-employment tax.

These deductions are called “above-the-line” because they physically reside above the line on your tax forms where you have to report your gross income.

9. File On Time

One of the biggest secrets to filing your taxes yourself is knowing the filing deadline. Filing deadlines are typically in mid-April in the U.S.

What’s more, make sure you do file your taxes on time. Missing this deadline can mean paying interest on your tax balance. You may even be liable for certain fees if you don’t file for a legal extension and miss the deadline.

10. Seek Out Refundable Tax Credits

Refundable tax credits are exactly what they sound like: a matched reduction in the taxes you owe to the IRS.

An example of a refundable tax credit is the earned income tax credit, one that benefits working individuals with low to middle income. Refundable credits essentially give taxpayers a refund, as they are credits that surpass an individual’s total tax liability.

Other refundable tax credits include the American Opportunity Credit, Premium Assistance Tax Credit, and Additional Child Tax Credit.

11. Consider an IRA

If you set aside money for retirement in the previous tax year, you may be eligible for a deduction.

What’s more, if you contribute significantly to an IRA this coming year, you could claim up to $6500 in deductions, depending on your age. If you are already looking ahead to next tax season, consider contributing to an IRA now for tax and retirement benefits.

12. Deduct Your Home Office

If you are self-employed, you may be eligible for a home office deduction. This is particularly the case if you work from home or rent out an office solely for business purposes.

A home office in this sense is technically a business expense. However, there are some exceptions. Learn more about the home office deduction here before you go about filing your own taxes.

13. Don’t Neglect State Taxes

It’s easy to get caught up in federal tax stipulations alone. But don’t forget about your state obligations when doing your own taxes.

Depending on the state you live in, you may be obligated to a state income tax. Learn more about state taxes here via the IRS’s list of government websites.

Don’t let this aspect of doing your own taxes alarm you. In most cases, taxpayers are eligible for state tax refunds.

14. Keep Your Tax Documents for the Future

Once you start filing your own taxes, it’s important to hold on to every year’s tax documents for future reference. This is important if you choose to re-file taxes for a certain year, in case of an error.

You may also need to refer to past years’ refunds when filing future taxes. Most e-filing companies keep all of your tax return data on file for this reason.

Store income documents electronically as well in case they come in handy down the road.

15. Use Tax Refunds Wisely

Doing your own taxes doesn’t have to be stressful! Often it results in a hefty refund.

When your refunds do arrive, use them wisely. Many people use their refunds for investment purposes, while others set them aside for future tax payments.

We recommend having a plan for your refund before you file, particularly one that fits well within the scope of your financial future.

How to Win At Doing Your Own Taxes

Handling your own taxes this tax season does not have to be difficult. Stay organized, educate yourself, and seek out assistance if need be.

Avoid filing a paper tax return to minimize errors. Explore all applicable deductions and decide whether or not itemizing is right for you. Always file on time to avoid any penalties.

NonSociety is your ultimate resource for navigating all of life’s challenges on your own terms. Learn more about what we do here!

Bodybuilding On a Budget: The Best Affordable Supplements

Bodybuilding On a Budget: The Best Affordable Supplements

If you’re a body builder on a budget, then we’re here to help! Check out this awesome list of the best affordable supplements out there.

What are your fitness goals?

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, build muscle or improve your performance, supplements can help you along the way.

Nutritional supplements have several health benefits. Unfortunately, they can also be very expensive. You don’t have to shell out on endless amounts of pills and powders to get results.

In this post, we’ll tell you how to supplement the right way. Read on to find out which affordable supplements you should be taking.

5 Affordable Supplements You Need to Try

Don’t waste money on useless, ineffective supplements. These 5 products are all you need.

1. Whey Protein

For many fitness enthusiasts, whey protein is a staple of their nutrition and training program.

The amount of protein you need will depend on your bodyweight as well as how often you exercise. No matter what the figure is, it can be difficult to achieve through your standard three meals a day. This is especially the case for those with busy lifestyles.

If you struggle to consume enough protein through your usual food intake, whey protein is perfect for filling the deficit. It’s a fast, convenient and effective protein source, which you can carry with you to the gym and take immediately after your workout.

It’s also a great way to get the right amount of protein without any added calories or fat. Most protein powders have around 20 grams of protein per serving, with very few added ingredients.

If you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, you can still enjoy the benefits of protein powder. There are plenty of plant-based versions available, including pea protein, soy protein, quinoa protein, and more.

Lots of powders contain extra amino acids, too. There are thousands of different products on the market for you to try. Read more about the different types of whey protein available and find the best one for you.

2. Creatine

If there’s one supplement you can’t do without, it should be creatine.

Unlike many other affordable supplements elsewhere, it’s backed by solid science. Creatine is scientifically proven to increase muscle mass and improve performance.

It helps your body to produce more ATP so that you can workout at a higher intensity. If you use it correctly, you may find that you’re able to sprint faster, jump higher, or complete more reps in the long run.

Creatine is also one of the most affordable supplements because you don’t need to take the same amount every day.

When you first begin supplementing with it, you start with a loading phase. This usually involves taking up to 25 grams of creatine a day for five days in order to saturate your muscle cells.

After those five days, you can reduce your intake. From there, you only need to take 3-5 grams a day in order to maintain your creatine levels.

You don’t need to consume scoop after scoop of creatine to feel the benefits. Just a small amount every day is enough to keep you going and produce results.

3. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

You need more than just protein in order to build muscle.

Your body needs other ingredients, too. That’s where branched chain amino acids come in.

BCAAs are the building blocks of protein. They stimulate muscle synthesis, which helps your body make the gains you’re working for.

They also help with your recovery, too. If you take BCAAs during your workout, you’ll have less muscle soreness than usual. You’ll also become less fatigued, as your body won’t use up so much glycogen.

Taking BCAAs is easy. Simply mix one or two scoops of powder into your water, then drink it while you’re working out.

You don’t have to worry about the taste. Most supplement manufacturers add flavorings to make their BCAAs taste great. There are hundreds of different products available, with different fruity and refreshing tastes.

The recommended dose is 5-10 grams per day. For most products, this amounts to no more than $1 per serving.

4. Glutamine

You can’t build muscle without glutamine.

It’s one of the most important products for athletes and bodybuilders. It’s also one of the most affordable supplements out there.

This valuable amino acid draws water and glycogen into the muscle cells, making it more readily available to use.

As well as providing energy for muscles, it also does the same for the immune system. Frequent, rigorous training can take a toll on your body, and if you don’t take the right supplements, you could leave yourself more susceptible to illness.

Glutamine keeps your body in tip-top condition, so you can feel your best for every workout.

This essential supplement doesn’t break the bank at all. A bottle of glutamine capsules should only cost you around $10. If used correctly, that will last for a whole month.

5. Fish Oil

Fish oil isn’t just for old people. Every athlete and fitness enthusiast should be taking it, too.

This is because the Omega-3 fatty acids it contains are vital to the body. The body can’t make these fatty acids on its own, and it’s difficult to get enough in your diet.

Even if you eat a lot of fish, nuts, and avocados, you still may not get all of the Omega-3 fatty acids you need.

These acids decrease muscle breakdown and increase protein synthesis, making it easier to build muscle mass. They also improve your heart health, so you can be a better athlete overall.

Be Healthier and Happier

Exercising regularly is a great way to live a healthy and balanced life.

As well as working out, you need to keep your diet in check, too. This doesn’t just mean cutting treats out of your diet and counting calories. It also means eating the right foods in the right amounts at the right times.

Supplements can help you do that.

As well as these affordable supplements, there are other products you can use to help you get in shape. Find out more about how natural weight loss supplements can help you.

What to Look for in an Investment Property: A Beginner’s Guide

What to Look for in an Investment Property: A Beginner’s Guide

Investing in real estate isn’t just about finding the best deal, there’s many other factors to consider. Read on to learn what to look for in an investment property so you don’t waste your money.

If you’re considering buying an investment property, it can be incredibly confusing to figure out where you should start.

From setting a budget to finding a real estate agent and trying to figure out how to finance remodeling projects, it’s easy to get overwhelmed before you even begin!

However, it’s no secret that investing in real estate can become lucrative fairly quickly. Especially if you’re interested in mastering the fine art of passive income, buying a rental property is an incredible opportunity.

Of course, if you don’t make smart, measured choices, buying investment property is also an excellent way to lose a large portion of your savings seemingly overnight.

In this post, we’ll tell you what to look for in an investment property.

Read on to feel confident about the decision you’re making when it comes to your first ever real estate investment.

1. Take a Hard Look at your Finances

Before you figure out what to look for in an investment property, the first thing you need to do is examine your personal finances.

In today’s world, the average American household is over $137,000 in debt.

If this describes you, then you need to think long and hard about whether or not now is truly the right time for you to buy a rental or investment property.

Take a look at your financial future, as well. Even if your debt levels are under control, what sort of upcoming expenses do you have coming up?

Are you nearing retirement? Do you have children you’ll soon need to put through college? Are you in over your head when it comes to your student loans? What about your medical expenses?

Make sure all of these things are manageable to avoid a financial disaster.

Further, you need to understand that the cost of a down payment on your investment property will likely be a bit more expensive than a traditional home buying experience.

In most cases, buying a rental property will require you to pay about a 20% down payment up front. Ensure this is a sum you’re comfortable with before you make any final decisions.

2. Don’t Forget your Expenses

When you’re buying an investment property, it’s also essential that you take the time to figure out what your operating expenses will be.

This can help you to have a more accurate understanding of how large your profit margin will really be — and help you to determine a good rental price.

You’ll need to consider:

  • Property taxes
  • Heating/electric bills
  • Water bill
  • Unexpected repairs
  • Garbage collection
  • Insurance
  • Maid/cleaning service
  • Any property management fees

Another important thing to think about when you’re calculating your operating expenses?

How much interest you’ll need to pay each month on any money you borrowed in order to finance the purchase of your investment property.

This is why it’s always a smart idea to shop around with several different lenders before you make a final decision.

Remember, it’s always better to go for the option with the lower interest rate. Yes, even if those with high interest rates off you more money.

3. Resist the Fixer-Upper

We know that, when you’re trying to understand what to look for in an investment property, it can be tempting to go for the fixer-upper.

After all, you’re getting the home at a great price, you’re able to start work on it sooner, and it has an easier closing process than most. Not to mention, you’ll also have a fun and exciting project to work on over the next few months.

Here’s the reality check that you need: home renovation costs are skyrocketing.

In fact, they can quickly run to over $50,000 depending on the size of your home and the kind of renovations you need done.

Don’t be fooled by the seemingly “cheap” cost of run-down fixer-uppers. Especially if you’re new to the world of real estate investing, it’s simply not the place you want to start.

Plus, keep in mind that the overall timeline of the renovation projects will make it difficult for you to turn a profit quickly. You won’t be able to start renting out your property until all of your renovations are complete.

And even if you’re able to set a firm deadline with contractors, things like poor weather, a lack of the required materials, and even worker injuries can slow down the process — and end up costing you even more money.

4. Consider the Neighborhood

When you’re buying a rental property, one of the most important things to take into consideration is the neighborhood that the apartment or home is situated within!

After all, no one wants to live in an area where they feel unsafe, or where they can’t get the things that they need.

Look for a space that’s located somewhere near the center of town. Walkability and access to central transportation hubs is especially crucial if you’re more in the market for short-term or vacation renters that don’t really know the area.

Of course, you should also make sure that there are plenty of things for your renters to actually do in the area where your property is located.

Be aware that your neighborhood will also be a huge influencing factor on the type of people that are most likely to rent out your property.

So, if you’re concerned about a bunch of college kids renting out your property and causing thousands of dollars in damage Then you might not want to buy a property that’s close to a university.

You should also look into the rules surrounding rental properties in the areas that you’re interested in. Remember that you may need to pay additional fees in order to rent out your space, or meet with community board members to ensure that you’re on the same page.

5. Consider the Long-Term Investment

When you’re trying to learn how to buy investment property that will appreciate over time, it’s important to consider how you think the area will develop in the future.

You don’t want to end up in a neighborhood that’s trendy right now, but might become too overcrowded in the future.

Take a look at your city’s development plans and try to determine how they might impact the overall value of your property in the future.

For example, if a large factory is slated to go up in the area you’re considering buying within? You can expect to lose some money when you try to sell it.

Also take a look at things like parks, nearby school, malls, and other kinds of amenities. These are all things that could certainly have a positive impact on the overall value of your rental property in the future.

6. Work with a Professional

In some cases, buying an investment property just isn’t something you can — or even should — attempt to do on your own.

From finding the perfect location to managing your property when you’re away or preparing it for a future sale, getting help is always a smart idea.

High Return Real Estate’s process is explained on this website.

Essentially, this company and others like it work to help you find the perfect property for the best possible price. Then, they take care of the renovations in order to ensure you can start renting or selling your home as soon as possible.

They even offer property management options, so that it’s easier than ever for you and your family to collect a passive income — without having to worry about the hassle of maintenance.

Then, they mail a check to you every month. Talk about taking the guesswork out of real estate investment properties in your area!

You Know What to Look for in an Investment Property

We hope that this post has done an excellent job of laying the foundation of what to look for in an investment property.

Remember to first make sure that now is truly the best time for you to invest in real estate. Pay down your debt, consider your operating expenses and interest rates, and make sure you can actually afford the down payment on your property.

Also, when buying a rental property, consider the neighborhood, the long-term growth potential, and whether or not you could benefit from professional help.

Looking for advice on how to upgrade your property? Need design and maintenance help? Want to pay down your debt so you can buy?

Check out our website and blog for tips on how to make all of this — and more — happen for you.

How to Rebuild Bad Credit: A Guide

How to Rebuild Bad Credit: A Guide

Having bad credit can keep you from owning a house, a car, and more. Read on to learn how to rebuild bad credit and get your life back on track.

Struggling with debts or a poor credit rating? You’re not alone.

With the average household debt in the United States now standing at an unbelievable $137,000 on average, millions of us are living under the burden of their credit commitments.

And with that much existing debt, the idea of rebuilding our credit lines and repaying what we owe can seem impossible. But it doesn’t have to be.

We’ll talk you through how to rebuild bad credit and secure your financial health for the future.

Know Your Financial Health

If you’re looking at how to rebuild bad credit, the first thing you need to do is understand your financial health in its entirety. That means knowing your ingoing and outgoings, and getting a copy of your credit report.

Your credit report is the financial story you’re telling your creditors. It lists payment histories, existing and previous debts, where you live, and whether you’ve previously been bankrupt. You can learn more about it here.

By understanding your financial health, and having a full copy of your credit report, you can understand what problems may exist that stop you from accessing new forms of credit.

If your income is the problem, why not take on a side hustle or two? This list of side hustles for 2018 has some ideas you could run with, starting today!

Form a Sensible Budget

With a clear financial picture in mind, the next step is forming a budget that is affordable with your existing commitments and income.

Put simply, it’s time to cut out the lattes. Any unnecessary expenditure you have should be cut back as much as possible to allow you to repay any debts quicker. If you’re spending more than you bring in as income every month, cutting back your expenditure can help plug this deficit.

Be realistic with yourself, too. Leave yourself a little bit of cash for fun things to give you an incentive, or you may find the temptation to ignore your budget too great.

These strategies to organizing your finances could have a massive impact on your budget. By fully understanding your spending, you can begin to target any areas that could be having a negative impact on your credit rating.

Organize Your Debt Repayment Dates

After establishing a new, more refined budget for your household, it’s time to start identifying any existing debts.

Make a list of your current debts, and identify how often you repay. It might be a good idea to organize your payments, where possible, at the same time you get paid, so you don’t have any excuse to miss your payments.

Lost track of your debts? Your credit report should help. If you’re a sucker for bad credit already, it’s likely to be filled with large debt balances or payments in arrears.

If you’re behind on any payments, it’s time to reach out. These 10 tips for negotiating with your creditors should help you arrange repayment schedules you can afford.

Don’t Miss Any Payments – Ever!

If you’re looking at how to rebuild bad credit, one of the most important lessons you can learn is to never, ever miss a debt or bill payment. Not once.

Just one late payment can cause your credit score to drop 100 points. The longer it goes unpaid, the more damage it causes, and this will stay on your credit history for several years.

No matter what, pay your bills on time. Showing you’re reliable and consistent with your payments can help your credit history and get you access to better forms of credit, like a mortgage, in the future.

Lower Your Outstanding Debt Balances

You’re not likely to get any kind of credit – even bad credit – with a large debt balance already on file. With your budget in order, it’s time to start tackling your outstanding debt balances.

Funnel as much money towards your debt as you can possibly afford to lower your balances as quickly as possible. Target debts with the highest interest rates first, so that you’re not wasting your money on unnecessary interest payments.

Of course, the ‘snowball method’ of debt repayments could have a better psychological impact. This is where you repay debt from the lowest balance up, to see you reduce the number of outstanding debts faster.

Whatever your approach, if you’re reducing your debt balances, you’re making yourself seem a far more stable financial option to future creditors.

Get a Credit Card for Bad Credit

Opening new lines of credit may seem counterproductive if you’re already in debt, but it’s actually a good choice to make if you’re looking to help prove you’re more responsible, financially.

If you don’t have any existing credit you can use, you can demonstrate your commitment to regular repayments, which will be recorded on your credit report. This is a good final step on the road to demonstrating longer-term financial stability.

A credit card for bad credit is one source of credit, even if your credit score is currently poor.

Why not take a look at this article from Bonsai Finance to see what a credit card with bad credit could do for you?

Once you’ve demonstrated your commitment to rebuilding your finances with a credit card for bad credit, your credit score will improve, and you’ll soon be able to access better forms of credit in the future.

Knowing How to Rebuild Bad Credit Is Only the First Step

While an achievable budget is a respectable aim for anyone looking into how to rebuild bad credit, it’s only the first step in a long road towards better financial health overall.

It also takes commitment. There’s no point creating a budget, arranging repayment schedules and taking out new credit lines if you’re just going to ignore it and spend far beyond your means.

Keep your goals in mind, and keep your spending commitments affordable. If you’ve got your own financial tips to share, why not leave them in a comment below?

How to Choose The Right Investment Fund For You

How to Choose The Right Investment Fund For You

Choosing the right investment fund doesn’t have to be overwhelming and confusing. Click here to learn how to find the right one for you and your family.

Are you thinking of investing in a mutual fund? Not sure where to start or which investment fund is best for your needs?

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about investment funds and finances, so you can pick the right one for you and your family.

Let’s take a look!

How to Choose the Right Investment Fund

Selecting an investment fund seems stressful, but it’s pretty easy if you go about it the right way. Here are our top tips that will help you pick the right investment fund for you.

Identify Your Goals and Risk Tolerance

The first step in picking an investment fund is knowing what you’d like to accomplish. Do you care more about current income or do you have long-term capital gains in mind?

There are many mutual funds available to investors, so identifying your goals is key to cutting back on your options.

Beyond identifying goals, you need to figure out your own personal risk tolerance. Are you okay with dramatic swings in your portfolio’s value or are you a business owner who needs the comfort of more conservative investments?

Risk and return are related to investments, so you need to balance your desire for returns with the risk you’re willing to tolerate.

Think About Your Timeline

How long do you plan on holding onto your investment? Do you think you’ll need to liquidate your investment in the near future? If so, you should know that many mutual funds have sales charges that can cut into your return.

To avoid these charges, you should aim for an investment horizon of five years or more.

Consider Charges & Fees

Most investments come with associated fees that you should know about before picking one.

Some funds will charge a load fee, which you either pay at the time you buy the fund or when you try to sale your investment.

The front-end load fee is what you pay out of the initial investment, and the back-end fee is what you’re charged when you sell your shares.

These charges can range anywhere from 3% to 8.5%. No, load funds don’t charge either of these fees, but they do have other fees that can be very high.

When reviewing an investment, always make sure to review the management expense ratio, as this will help you determine what your return would be at the end of the year.

Evaluate Any Portfolio Manager Options

When picking a fund, it’s important to research both the fund and the portfolio manager. Here are some questions you should make sure you ask when reviewing a fund’s previous performance:

  • Were the fund’s results consistent with general market returns?
  • Did the returns vary dramatically throughout the year?
  • Was there high turnover or larger tax liabilities?
  • What do I need to know about personal capital vs betterment?

The answers to these questions will give you insight into how this portfolio manager performs, and tell you more about turnover and return with this fund.

Final Thoughts on Choosing a Fund

Knowing how to pick an investment option is an important part of building your portfolio.

By following the tips in this article, you can pick the right fund for you, and start making money!

Is this your first time choosing a fund?

Have any other questions? Let us know in the comments!

4 Tips To Help You Land Your Dream Job

4 Tips To Help You Land Your Dream Job

Everyone has their ideal job they’ve wanted forever. Don’t wait too work towards your dream! Here’s 4 tips to help you land your dream job in 2018.

Think of this: you’re no longer living paycheck to paycheck like 55% of Americans are. You’re able to travel, take a vacation, and even spend days at home, doing absolutely nothing.

But here’s the thing, you work. And while you do work, you still have all that freedom. That not only makes you happy but your family as well.

Sounds nice, right? This is what you can achieve when you get your dream job.

That’s why we’ll dish out the best tips for landing it so you can enjoy the freedom of not having a job that’s a dead end.

Ready to find out what they are?

Let’s get into it!

Sharpen Your Skills and Education

Your dream job will most likely require a unique set of skills and/or advance education. And sadly, being able to binge watch multiple seasons of a Netflix show and recall important details doesn’t count.

Realistically, strengthening your skills and education is the way to go. We’re not saying you have to have a doctorate but sometimes that is what wins over future employers.

If you don’t have time to educate yourself then focus on the skill set required. That may be the thing that sets you apart from someone with a degree.

Don’t Focus on Your Resume Too Much

While your resume might be the cream of the crop, employers want to know you more personally. Solely relying on a piece of paper won’t get you far.

Instead, tell them what you do outside of work.

Do you volunteer at animal shelters? How about feeding the homeless at a soup kitchen? Or are you a part-time web designer?

And don’t forget about what you post on social media. Employers will look for that too so make sure you show the best side of yourself on it.

Find a Way to Stand Out

If the industry you want to break into is oversaturated, you need to find ways to stand out. We’re not saying to do anything crazy but make sure you do your research on the company.

Sometimes the simplest things can get you further than other candidates.

Consider sending a handwritten note along with your resume. Or, know that the president of said company doesn’t like to be called “sir” or “madam”.

For a conversation starter, include your own business card. You can easily make one for free as said in this Adobe Spark post.

Don’t Wait for a Job Posting to Appear

Did you find a company you’re literally dreaming about working for? You looked through their website and then clicked on their job listings.

Unfortunately, they don’t have any openings. You exit the page and dwell in disappointment.

Don’t do that!

Instead of hoping and praying the next time you log on that there’s a listing, contact them. Inquire about any opportunities they might have. Let them know about your experience, what you do, and how you can contribute to the company.

It doesn’t hurt to make the first move. And the worst thing that could happen is for them to say there are no opportunities available.

Get Your Dream Job Today

Why sit around and wait for opportunities? Get out there and put your best foot forward. You never know what may come of it.

If you’re struggling with low self-esteem, check out our post on how to overcome it!