Why Rich People Stay Rich and Poor People Stay Poor

Why Rich People Stay Rich and Poor People Stay Poor

The American dream has been exported across the globe and passed down from one generation to the next. It is the belief that anyone who works hard enough, stays dedicated to achieving their goals, and has the right mindset can have it all. However, many people continue to work themselves to the bone with little to show for it. Year after year, it seems that rich people stay rich and poor people stay poor. So, what are the keys to success and economic mobility? Is it simply changing the way you think, or is it more complicated than that?

Best-Selling Books Suggest It Is Your Financial Outlook

In an attempt to answer this very question, many best-selling books offer psychological reasons and personal testimony as to why rich people stay rich and poor people stay poor. The common thread through all these publications boils down to your attitude towards money and your outlook on personal prosperity.

Simply stated, rich people think and act differently with their finances. According to several authors, changing the way you view money and realigning your goals according to your new mindset can help you gain wealth. So, what are some of the differences between a rich mindset and a poor one?

1. Rich people control their money instead of letting it control them.

Rather than let things happen to them, rich people identify the behaviors that contribute to their circumstances and take control of them. They take an active role instead of passively watching and accepting things because “that’s the way it is.”

2. Rich people are more willing to risks.

Rich people understand that risk is an inherent part of investing, and sometimes you have to ride out the lows before you see gains. So, rich people are more willing to take risks rather than playing it safe. In other words, when it comes to investing, they play to win rather than playing with the hopes of not losing.

3. Rich people commit to the goal of being rich.

Although most people imagine what it would be like to be rich, those who are wealthy commit to the goal. While some only dream about it, rich people commit and work towards building and maintaining wealth.

4. Rich people think big.

Some people impair themselves by limiting the scope of their thinking. When you move beyond the small mindset and start thinking bigger, new opportunities present themselves.

5. Rich people look at the big picture.

In the same line of thinking, rich people also look at the big picture. They focus on long-term goals instead of the setbacks along the way. Rich people realize they are bigger than any of their problems and have the confidence to overcome them.

Economic Research Shows Increased Income Equality

Although your personal drive and motivation play crucial roles in economic mobility, research suggests the problem is much more complicated than changing the way you think. There are institutional factors that help rich people stay rich and poor people stay poor.

Reduced Employee Benefits

One of the most significant reasons that economic mobility has become more limited is due to the huge reductions in employee benefits. People have a diminished savings capacity since they are now paying for benefits that previous generations enjoyed as a perk of their employment.

Although workers once relied on pensions and retirement benefits in return for company loyalty, expectations are changing. Where workers used to be automatically enrolled in companies’ pension plans, they must now participate and contribute to receive benefits. Unfortunately, the rise of employee-sponsored 401(k) plans has led to unequal participation across income levels. Those who earn less are at a greater disadvantage for several reasons. First, they have less disposable income and may not be able to afford to contribute. Therefore, they receive lower matching contributions, if any, from their employer.

Another drastic change has been in employee-sponsored health insurance plans. While many companies once offered comprehensive plans for medical, dental, and vision, you will be hard-pressed to find comparable benefits packages today. Many employers are now opting for watered-down plans to save money. However, this always means workers are forced to pay more out-of-pocket expenses which undermines their ability to build wealth.

Increased Costs of Living

Speaking of increased expenses, we cannot overlook the government’s failure to keep up with the rate of inflation.  Although the federal minimum wage has not increased since 2009, inflation has increased drastically.

In fact, it has risen by 23.94%. To put this in context, if you had $100 in 2009, you would now need $123.94 to purchase the same items or products. This undermines people’s savings goals and deteriorates their purchasing power. Unless people receive matching wage increases, it will be impossible to keep up with the rising cost of living and cause the wealth gap to widen.

Burdened by Debt

Finally, we cannot overlook how increasing debt is negatively impacting people’s ability to build wealth. In 2021, the U.S. set a new record when we reached $14.6 trillion in household debt. According to CNBC, the average American carries $90,460 of debt. Even if some of this is considered “good debt” that will increase your net worth or generate income over time, it is still a staggering figure.

Whether you are trying to pay down student loans, credit cards, a mortgage, car loans, medical bills, or other personal loans, it is difficult to build wealth or get ahead when you are starting in the negative. If the majority of your income goes towards your debt, that leaves very little for other financial pursuits.

Find Ways to Facilitate Economic Mobility

Despite all the outside factors affecting wealth, the environment you are raised in has the greatest impact. The family and social class you are born into determine how easy it will be for you to become rich. If you are born into a wealthy family, you already have a huge advantage. Not only do you have greater access to education and opportunities, but you also have more security with the passing of generational wealth.

However, if you were not fortunate to have these advantages in life, you must create opportunities for yourself. Even if the system is stacked against you, adopting a rich mindset can help you rise above it and achieve your financial goals.

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Grow Your Coin Collection: How To Determine Valuable Coins

Coins represent history and the exceptional ones increase value over time. That’s why many people want to collect old coins, which are treasures if you know how to determine their value. If you have a couple of inherited coins or you want to grow your coin collection, then it’s crucial to know how to determine coins that are worth adding to your collection or investing in. Being able to do so can bring you great future monetary value and self-fulfillment.

In this post, you’ll learn the best ways to determine valuable coins. Read on to know more.

  • Seek Professional Coin Appraisal Services

Get your coins appraised by real experts in grading. If you’re planning to sell your coin collection, it’s important to have all coins appraised. By doing so, you’ll know the best value of all the coins in your collection. In addition, you’ll be more confident in buying and selling them.

But how do you choose a professional coin appraiser? Here are some tips:

  • Great Experience: Find a coin appraiser with experience collecting and grading the best rare coins. The best coin appraisers have handled ancient coins, certified coins, gold coins, and even low-value coins such as old nickels, dimes, and cent pieces.
  • Reputable Coin Shop: You can find the best appraisers in coin shops; where coin testing and appraising are part of their everyday tasks. Choose a well-respected appraisal expert in the industry by visiting the likes of https://www.infinitycoins.com/coins.
  • Determine The Demand Or Popularity Of Coins

The law of supply and demand also applies in coin collection. In demand coins are often rare old coins with great historical significance and intrinsic value. Of course, if many people are searching for a particular coin, the higher the demand will be.

If there are only a few pieces of a certain old coin that are circulating in the market, then it is considered a rare one. The rarer a coin is, the more popular it gets, and such factors will significantly increase its value. In other words, the market value of a coin reflects its availability and popularity.

The popularity and demand for coins are also in the hands of coin numismatists, who are essentially coin dealers and collectors. Most coin dealers have their own website, wherein they share their insights, expertise, and opinions about any coin-related topic, including the rarity and pricing of rare old coins.

  • Check The Coin Quality 

If you want to grow your collection, then buy good quality coins. A major impact on the coin’s quality is the degree of its circulation and care. Therefore, the mint condition is a major determinant of a coin’s highest value. For example, if you have an old coin that looks worn and altered, then the coin’s worth is lesser than another coin of the same kind that still looks good as new. However, if the coin is very rare; it can be valuable even if it is in poor condition.

That’s why it’s crucial to understand the best ways to preserve your coin collection. In the same way, when you’re buying old coins, you need to know how the seller takes care and preserves their coins. The quality of coins can be determined through grading, such as the Sheldon coin grading scale, a system made by Dr. William Herbert Sheldon, a renowned numismatist.

Here are the following criteria appraisers use in coin grading:

  • Strike: Coins are created by pressing an image (such as a face of a hero, eagle, or symbol) into a blank metal disc. Before the onset of advanced technology, coins were stuck to deform the metal. Many collectors believe that first strike coins, or coins made from new dies, are higher in value because they have sharper details.
  • Preservation: As mentioned earlier, coin collectors and dealers need to preserve coins to preserve their value. That’s why it’s important to use coin flips, coin holders, precision handling tools, and other materials to ensure the longevity of coins.
  • Luster: Coins with desirable aesthetics are higher in value than old, worn-out coins. Hence, it’s vital to consider their luster. Luster refers to how shiny the surface of the coin is, which is also called the cartwheel effect, mint bloom, frost, or mint luster. Does the coin reflect light well or does it look sheen? If you want to buy valuable coins to grow your collection, you should check if the coin looks shiny or flashy.
  • Color: Grading coins also includes determining the color. A coin’s color may change due to weather conditions, rusting, or corrosion due to water exposure and stains caused by chemicals. Grading coins involves determining if the coin still retains its original color or if the color changed.
  • Attractiveness: One crucial aspect in buying or selling coins is their general attractiveness. The more attractive the coin, the more well-preserved it is. Hence, the value of the coin is higher.
  • Learn More About Coin Mintage 

Minting is the process of making coins. On the other hand, mintage refers to the number of copies made of a specific coin when it was introduced and used in circulation. The fewer the copies, the higher the price of the coin will be. But of course, this isn’t always the case.

The main factor when determining the rarity of a coin isn’t the numbers, but collectors’ interest. For instance, some rare ancient coins aren’t as valuable as U.S. pieces, which sometimes have more pieces available.

  • Determine The Intrinsic Value Of Coins 

The intrinsic value of a coin is also called melt value, which is the value of the coin’s precious metal. For instance, if the gold market price is US$1,806.59 per troy ounce, then the intrinsic value of a minted coin is US$1,806.59.

If the intrinsic value of a coin becomes higher than its face value, then more people will keep the coins. The face value of a coin refers to its value relative to other currencies. For instance, in the 1970s, the price of copper increased significantly, which eventually forced the US to change the metal composition of their one-cent coins. 

  • Learn The History Of The Coin

It is fun and inspiring to learn about the history of coins, especially because each coin has a story to tell. Coins were born in various eras, and each represents rich information, such as the legacy of the person behind the face, or the story and reason behind the symbol used in the coin.

A coin with remarkable historical significance tends to have higher market and face value. US coins tend to have greater value than unknown ancient coins because of their history and popularity.

In the United States, the Philadelphia Mint was established by the government in 1792 based on legislation passed by Congress, which is known as the Coinage Act. Half and large cents were produced in 1793. Silver half dimes, silver dollars, and half dollars were made in 1794. A year later, Gold US$5- and US$10-coin pieces came out in the market. In 1986, Silver Eagle Dollars appeared but weren’t intended for circulation.

But of course, there are also ancient coins with good stories to tell. For instance, the Athenian coin which was made of bronze from 120 to 140 A.D., show the great victory of Themistocles, a Greek naval strategist and politician over the Persians in 480 B.C. at the battle of Salamis.

  • Know The Most Valuable Coins Worldwide 

It’s important to know the most valuable coins so that if you’ll see one posted on social media, you can make an offer and might get a good deal. In return, you can sell those valuable coins at a tremendously higher price.

Below are some of the most valuable coins worldwide:

  • The 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar

Many experts believe that this coin was the first silver dollar produced by the US Mint. One of the coins was sold for over US$10 million at an auction in 2013.

  • The 1787 Brasher Doubloon

Ephraim Brasher made this coin. He was a silversmith and goldsmith in New York. The coin displays a steel seal and the American eagle. In 2011, this coin was sold for nearly US$7.4 million and US$5 million in 2018.

  • The 1787 Fugio Cent

This coin is also known as the Franklin cent, coined after Benjamin Franklin. Furio cents in good condition range from a few thousand dollars up to US$10,000.

  •  The 723 Umayyad Gold Dinar

This coin is a highly prized Islamic coin struck from a gold mine owned by the caliph. This is the first Islamic coin that mentioned a place in Saudi Arabia. An Umayyad Gold Dinar was sold for US$6 million in 2011 and US$4.8 million in 2019.

  • $1 Million Canadian Gold Maple Leaf

This novelty coin weighs 100 kilograms (220 pounds), which was sold for US$4 million in 2010.

  • Morgan Silver Dollars 

These coins aren’t rare. However, rarer vintages have higher prices. This coin has a solid feel and is made of 90% silver. In mint condition, Morgan Silver Dollars can range from US$100,000 to US$500,000.

Conclusion

If you want to keep and grow a coin collection, you know how to determine valuable coins. Keeping yourself abreast with relevant information will make you more confident as a coin collector or dealer because you know what you’re talking about when it comes to coinage, including their pricing, history, and best ways of preservation.

Healthy Costco Foods on a Budget

healthy costco food

Many people questioned renewing their Costco membership when they announced that they were raising their membership fees.  Although it was only a 9% hike, Executive members now pay $120 a year, while Gold Star members pay $60 a year.  Despite the minimal increase in the annual fee,  Costco shoppers reap huge savings when they buy items in bulk.  It is great for large families and those looking to stretch their grocery budget.  While the savings are attractive, quality produce and products provide another significant benefit. Healthy Costco foods are good for both your well-being and your wallet.

Buying Costco Foods in Bulk

Getting  healthy Costco foods in bulk can help stretch your grocery budget when things get tight.  For example, I usually set aside $350 per month to spend on food.  This includes eating out in addition to weekly groceries from Costco and other supermarkets.  A family of four will likely have a monthly food budget closer to $1000.  The great part about buying food in bulk is that you get a better price than when you buy the same item individually.

Products with Long Shelf Lives

Many who purchase items in bulk from Costco stock up on paper products and food items with a long shelf life.  For example, paper products, dry goods, and condiments are a few items where you can receive huge savings by buying in bulk.  Even if you don’t use these items right away, they can always be used down the road when you need them.

Healthy Foods that Can Be Stored

Shopping for lean healthy meats at Costco can provide huge savings to a family of four as well.  Purchasing healthy Costco foods such as lean chicken breasts, ground beef, beans, and brown rice in bulk can provide healthy nutrition and savings.

Purchasing many pounds of meat at once can net you huge savings. Although they come in large packages, you can divide the meat into smaller Ziploc bags, and simply freeze them until a later date.  Even when shopping at grocery stores, one of the tricks I do is purchase items when they are on sale.  One week, chicken might be on sale for $1.99/lb while the next week it is $2.99/lb.  Organizing purchases so you take advantage of them during sales is the best way to optimize your monthly grocery budget.

Costco’s Reputation with Its Customers

Costco has a good reputation among shoppers. This is partly because of the quality of their products, but it is also due to their excellent customer service and robust returns policy.  So, if you’re shopping for organic food at Costco, there aren’t many downsides. Even if you come across a bad apple, chances are good they’ll accept returns.

While I’m raving about Costco, they also have good prices on tires and are open on most major holidays, so you can get your car serviced while you’re picking up your groceries.

Buying healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive, and buying healthy Costco foods doesn’t have to cost a lot either.  When shopping for groceries, the keys are to buy in bulk when available and stock up during sales.  Finally, by planning your purchases ahead of time with a list, you can avoid unneeded items.  Eating healthy and sticking to your budget doesn’t have to be hard.

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Should You Quit Your Job after an Inheritance?

Should You Resign after an Inheritance?

Let’s imagine you just have just come into a lot of money. No matter the circumstances, you have a rare financial opportunity. So, what do you do first? Do you pay off your debts? Invest it? Or do you finally splurge on something you have always wanted? Perhaps you want to quit your job or make a career change? Many people have the urge to resign after an inheritance, especially if they are unsatisfied with their current employer. However, there are a few very important things to consider before you tell your boss off and quit your job.

Reasons Not to Resign after an Inheritance

1. You Will Still Have Bills to Pay.

Even if your net worth suddenly and drastically increases, you will still have bills to pay. Keeping your current job ensures that will continue to have money coming in. Therefore, you do not have to use any of your inheritance to cover these expenses. Not only will you have your current cost of living to maintain, but there are several other major life expenses to consider. Mortgage payments, property taxes, and education costs would greatly reduce your wealth if you do not have another source of income.

Your company’s health insurance plan could be reason enough not to resign after an inheritance. Healthcare costs will be a huge financial responsibility at any stage of life, so it is important to think about unforeseen medical expenses and conditions that could affect you later on.

2. Inheritance and Estate Taxes

Speaking of taxes, you should not forget about the inheritance and estate taxes. Although most inheritances are too small to qualify for federal taxation (more than $11.7 million), there are some states that collect taxes at lower thresholds.

Reasons Not to Resign after an Inheritance

While it is possible that you will not be responsible to pay these taxes, you should check the local laws or consult a financial advisor before you go spending your inheritance. State laws vary and some determine taxes at much lower amounts than the federal government. If you are unfortunate enough to live in one of the states that levy inheritance or estate taxes, or worse yet both, it could cost you a huge chunk of the total sum.

3. Inflation

A million dollars is a lot of money. But, it is not as much as you would think. Furthermore, it only depreciates in value thanks to inflation. Most people often overlook how much inflation will affect their dividends, retirement accounts, and savings over time. However, the rate of inflation will greatly impact your buying power and the real value of your retirement dollars. Therefore, it benefits you more to continue working and contributing to your retirement accounts, especially if your employer matches your annual contributions.

4. Social Security Benefits

Lastly, if you quit your job after an inheritance, it could affect how much you receive in Social Security benefits. When you stop working, you no longer make contributions into the system. Since your benefits are calculated based on how much you contribute during your lifetime, it would greatly reduce the amount you receive. So, if you leave your job during your peak earning years, you are minimizing this safety net should your financial plans fail.

Ways to Maximize Your Inheritance without Resigning

You do not want to a cautionary tale of someone who lost a fortune due to irresponsible spending. Instead, most people who have inherited large amounts of money choose to view it as a way to grow their wealth and financial security. With a well-thought out plan and proper management, you can maximize your inheritance instead of wasting it. Most people do not know how to utilize or manage large amounts of money. So, find someone who can offer sound advice and help you plan ahead.

First, you must protect your principle amount and preserve capital to last you for years to come. That means living below your means and not blowing your money on extravagant purchases. Once you cover your monthly expenses, you will need to make a plan for the money you do not need to survive. Then, you can determine the best investment strategy which allows you to live off interest and dividends.

Lastly, set some aside for yourself. After a huge windfall, financial experts actually advise you to spend some on yourself. This does not mean you should go crazy, but psychology suggests that small indulgences prevent you from making foolish financial decisions. If you want to pursue personal ambitions, go back to school, or travel, you can pay yourself a salary while you do it. As long as you create a budget, there is no reason why you can’t live a little and enjoy your inheritance.

Deciding to Resign after an Inheritance

Receiving a large inheritance can change your life. If you are considering to resign from your job, take time to evaluate the full financial impact. There is no need to rush the decision, so seek professional advice to assess your circumstances. You can park your money in high-yield accounts and let it accrue more interest as you weigh your options.

However, if you really hate your job or want to consider another career, look at less extreme alternatives before making decisions you can’t undo. You could work fewer hours as you explore other pursuits. Or, perhaps take personal leave before completely walking away. Sometimes you just need to remove yourself from a stressful situation to gain perspective. Ask yourself how you could use this money to bring more joy and fulfillment to your life.

Deciding to never work again is a huge lifestyle change. Keep in mind that it may not be the best decision for you. Some people discover they really do not want to fully retire and need something to keep them active. Instead of making a rash decision and leaving your job, fully examine all the ways you could use it to build greater financial freedom.

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How To Politely Request Payment for Money Owed

How to Politely Request Payment for Money Owed

Money is an uncomfortable topic for many people, especially when it comes to asking for payment. However, you have no reason to feel guilty or uneasy, especially if terms were already discussed. Every business expects payment upon completion or delivery of services. Therefore, it is not rude to request payment since you are merely asking for what you deserve. But, there is something to be said about how to politely request payment for money owed.

Politely Requesting Payment for Money Owed

When it comes to politely requesting payment for money owed, written communication is often best. It allows you to gather your thoughts, carefully choose your words, and review it to be certain you clearly convey your message. However, it can be difficult to find the right words to express yourself at times, especially when emotions are running high.

That’s why a well-drafted template can help you get what is owed sooner. These scripts follow communication etiquette to help you maintain a high level of professionalism, even when clients don’t observe the rules themselves. Here are a few ways to politely request payment while still being direct and precise with your message.

Email Timeline to Politely Request Payment for Money Owed

People who work with several clients, such as contractors and freelancers, schedule reminders at regular intervals to request payment. Automated responses allow you to remain professional and demonstrate that your request is strictly business, not personal. It also establishes a clear timeline and record of each attempt you make to politely request payment for money owed.

One Week before the Deadline

This message is a courteous reminder to the client that payment is coming due. Not only does it provide advance notice, but it also gives them time to gather any documents or funds.  Your tone should be friendly but reiterate the terms that both parties agreed to. Keep it brief and include a copy of the official invoice as well. This shows that you diligently track your expenses while gently letting them know you expect payment.

Due Date

This email should still be friendly since payment is not overdue. However, it should also have a clear call to action. You want to be informative, but also concise with your message. It’s your official notice that you expect payment. So, attach another copy of the invoice, just in case the client had difficulty accessing it from previous emails.

One Week after the Deadline

Once the deadline has passed, your correspondence requires a firmer tone. However, you can still remain polite and give clients the benefit of the doubt. In most cases, late payments are usually just an oversight. People make mistakes, so frame your message as if you are doing the client a favor by trying to help them avoid penalties for late payment. Include the invoice once again in case documents were lost or deleted. You can be firm while still politely requesting payment for money owed.

Two Weeks after the Deadline

By this point, it is clear there is a breakdown in the chain of communication. Either they have not seen your emails, or they are intentionally ignoring them. If the client has not responded, ask for confirmation that they have received previous notices. Requesting a reply greatly improves the chances they will respond. The message should be direct and emphasize that payment is overdue, but still allows some deniability. Since it is the second reminder, the tone should become more serious as your look for a solution.

One Month after the Deadline

After a month of waiting for payment, you will need to take a tougher approach. This final notice must be more direct and clearly show that you will not tolerate non-payment. You can also include that failure to pay could have other repercussions, like late fees or pausing future work.

Even if you are growing impatient, stay polite and professional. However, they need to know that you will not forget about payment or let it go. Be certain to avoid threats and accusations though, because they make defensive and less cooperative. Maintaining politeness gives you a better chance of collecting payment.

Verbal Contact for Money Owed

If you have made several attempts to collect payment via email, it is time to directly contact the client. In general, most issues can be resolved with a short conversation. Furthermore, it is more difficult to avoid the topic when you call or speak to them in person. It means they can no longer hide in anonymity and must give an immediate response.

For those who feel anxious about confronting a client about payment, prepare a short script to politely bring up the topic. Speak clearly and straight to the point, but don’t let your emotions overpower what you say. You also want to give them a chance to explain and make things right. You may discover that they never received your emails, invoices, or were too embarrassed to tell you they couldn’t pay. Either way, you are more likely to get an answer and work out a payment plan if that is the issue. Lastly, be sure to follow up with email summarizing your conversation for your records.

Requesting Payment for Money Owed after a Refusal

If a client refuses or ignores your requests, it is time for more drastic measures. However, you need to keep your cool at all times. Don’t resort to threats or give into anger. Instead, try becoming annoyingly persistent. If you make it impossible to ignore you with daily reminders, they will soon realize you are not going to give up on collecting payment. Your persistence will often pay off in the end.

Unfortunately, there comes a point when you exhaust all polite means to request payment and must cut ties. If you still want to receive payment, you may need to turn it over to a collection agency. This is usually reserved for more serious situations involving large sums of money. If you go this route, they will also ask for any documentation you have, including the written agreement and all requests for payment. Be advised they will take a percentage, but receiving even a portion of the money owed is better than nothing.

In most cases, late payment is usually due to poor time management. It is not usually malicious or intentional. Some people are just terrible at keeping schedules and need reminders. However, polite correspondence speaks volumes to your professionalism and builds a better reputation in both your personal and professional life.

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How Long Can You Dispute Credit Card Charges?

How Long Can You Dispute Credit Card Charges?

No one looks forward to reviewing their monthly credit card statements. But, what should you do if you find an unauthorized charge? Although frustrating, the good news is that these kinds of mistakes are reversible. If you disagree with a charge on your credit card, or believe it was an error, you will have to dispute credit card charges with your card issuer.

What is the Timeframe to Dispute Credit Card Charges?

Disputing a Charge

When it comes to errors on your credit card statement, the sooner you act the better. You typically have 60 days to dispute credit card charges. The deadline applies to both fraudulent charges and contesting purchases that did not meet expectations. However, you should check the information included in your card member agreement or look it up online in case your credit card company has a different policy.

Keep in mind that the clock starts from the day your credit card company postmarked your statement or made it available to you online. Therefore, waiting for a hard copy of your statement could cost you valuable time. If you wait too long, you will be on the hook for the charges.

Appealing the Results of an Investigation

If you have already submitted your dispute, the credit card company must also adhere to strict deadlines. Once they receive your claim, the company has one month to respond or acknowledge it. They have an additional two billing cycles to conduct an investigation into the matter. Once the company completes their investigation, they must notify you in writing with the results and final decision. If the company chooses not to remove the charge, you have 10 days to respond. Otherwise, the law views it as a closed case with no further recourse.

When Should You Dispute a Credit Card Charge?

Although there are several situations in which you should dispute credit card charges, they usually fall under one of these categories.

Unauthorized Charges

An unauthorized charge is any purchase made without your permission. While this is usually the result of someone stealing your card, it also happens if a friend or family member uses your card without your express permission. In the most serious cases, unauthorized charges may indicate that you have become a victim of fraud or identity theft.

Billing or Clerical Errors

You should also dispute any charges due to billing or clerical errors. This covers a wide range of mistakes including mathematical errors in the amount charged, repeat transactions or double charging, and failure to post credits or payments to your account.

A Merchant Provides Unsatisfactory Services or Products

Lastly, you also can dispute charges if your purchase did not meet your expectations. As long as you have already contacted the merchant and attempted to resolve the problem about the transaction, your credit card company can help you dispute these charges. Furthermore, they can assist you with refunds on items that were damaged or never arrived. Unfortunately, this service is limited only for purchases of more than $50.

How Do You Dispute Credit Card Charges?

When you find unauthorized charges, you will need to contact your credit card company to remove it. Oftentimes, it’s a simple process since most companies have a zero-liability policy. This means you are not responsible for any unauthorized charges. However, there may be different processes for handling disputes depending on the credit card company.

Call the credit card company directly.

The easiest way to dispute a charge is by calling the number on the back of your card. You can speak directly with a customer service agent and report the charge. In most instances, they will remove it and file the dispute on your behalf. If necessary, they can follow up with you by email. However, if it requires more action, this is also a good chance to find out what the company needs from you to proceed.

Submit your dispute in writing.

Many experts advise that you also write a letter including details about the charge. You have to be careful when using the issuer’s website or app to file a dispute. Sometimes there are arbitration clauses that limit your rights to dispute a credit card charge in the fine print. Submitting your dispute in writing is a good way to follow up any phone conversations and establish a paper trail.  Furthermore, a letter preserves rights to dispute charges that online options might eliminate.

Additionally, the credit card may also request more documentation from you. This would be a good opportunity to include copies of your statement, receipts, police reports, and any other relevant information. Make sure to keep the original documents for yourself, but send copies of everything to Billing Inquiries. It is also wise to use certified mail and ask for a return receipt in case you need proof later on.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

The best thing you can do for yourself is to know your rights. The Fair Credit Billing Act outlines all of the consumers’ rights when disputing a charge. There is a standardized procedure everyone must follow, including creditors. Any deviation from the process could result in a dismissal of the claim.

Another way to avoid unauthorized is by making it a regular habit to check your statements regularly and monitor your accounts using online banking. When you see a discrepancy, you can take immediate action on charges you do not recognize or did not make. You can also set notifications and alerts. If you respond to an issuer’s alert, it makes a much stronger case for removing disputed charges.

Finally, keep records of everything. Take detailed notes of every interaction with the credit card company and merchants. Be sure to write down names, ID numbers, dates, times, and a summary of your conversations. If it ends up in legal action, you will have everything prepared to support your claim. In all likelihood, you won’t need it. But, it is better to be prepared for anything, just in case.

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How to Get Over Buyer’s Remorse

How to Get Over Buyer's Remorse

The truth is that we all make unwise purchases and financial decisions at some point in our lives. Nobody is perfect. Even with the best of intentions, we occasionally make mistakes that lead to buyer’s remorse. However, it can be difficult to pick yourself up and move on afterwards. Here are some tips and pieces of advice to help you deal with and get over buyer’s remorse.

What is Buyer’s Remorse?

In the simplest terms, buyer’s remorse is the feeling of regret after making a big purchase or investment. The regret is often accompanied by stress, anxiety, or panic as well.

For most people, these feelings usually happen after making expensive purchases, such as a house or vehicle. However, we also experience them after buying smaller things that we believe we paid too much for. In some cases, you may even consider returning the item or pretending the purchase never happened.

Most psychologists attribute buyer’s remorse to the concept of cognitive dissonance. The reason it happens is because the action of buying something expensive contradicts the perception you have of yourself as frugal or having responsible spending habits. Buyer’s remorse is a result of your internal battle between the need to avoid risks and consequences versus the desire to get what makes you happy.

How Do You Deal With and Get Over Buyer’s Remorse?

For many people, these emotions are so deeply ingrained that they never fully get over buyer’s remorse. However, there are always ways to cope with it. Like most problems, the first step is to find the cause and understand where the regret is coming from. Once you know the source of your feelings, it becomes easier to accept that you made a mistake and move on from it.

If you are experiences feelings of regret over a recent purchase, here are some methods to help you get over and move past your buyer’s remorse.

1. Remind yourself of all the reason for making the purchase.

Unless you made an impulse buy, you probably had several reasons for spending the money. Take a few moments to remind yourself of the reasons why you made the purchase. Reflect on the circumstances the led to your decision to help you determine whether your feelings are valid or misplaced.

2. Determine whether you actually regret the purchase, or just the amount you spent.

Sometimes buyer’s remorse is confused with the guilt about spending money in general. If you are experiencing these emotions solely based on the sticker price, you can get over buyer’s remorse by reminding yourself of the value of quality over quantity. Investing in better quality homes, vehicles, and items will require more money up front. However, they will also last much longer, saving you more money over time.

3. Practice self-forgiveness.

If you truly have made a mistake, you have to remember you are only human. We all stumble at times, but you cannot continue to beat yourself up for past mistakes. Practice a little self-forgiveness and cut yourself some slack. You cannot always undo a mistake once it has been done. So, it is better to take the lesson from the situation, but leave the regret behind. Holding on to guilt is a waste of valuable time and energy.

4. Try to recoup some of the financial losses.

In some instances, you may be able to recover a portion of the money you lost. Reselling unwanted items can at least help lessen the sting of large financial mistakes. Don’t force yourself to keep something you don’t like just because it cost a lot of money.

Even if you are unable to sell the unwanted item, you can always give it to someone who really needs it or would appreciate it more than you. Furthermore, you can adjust your budget and tighten the purse strings in other areas to save a little extra to compensate for your buying indiscretions.

How Do You Avoid Buyer’s Remorse in the Future?

Once you realize where you went wrong, the best way to get over buyer’s remorse is to make a plan of how you can avoid it in the future.

1. Research and compare before you buy.

Before making any big purchase, spend some time comparing your options and researching what features you actually need. The more you know about the item you are buying, the more difficult it will be for salesmen to talk you into buying more than you need. Doing your homework also means you are less likely to regret your decision later on.

2. Make a pros and cons list.

Whenever I am struggling with a decision, I use the old Ben Franklin approach. I list out the pros and cons of the purchase so I can better evaluate my decision. More often than not, I have an answer by the time I complete the list. Sometimes things become clearer when they are plainly printed out for you in black and white.

3. Stick to the list of budget you have created for yourself.

Once you have decided that the purchase is necessary, the next step is to set a clear budget and list of required features. When you know exactly what you are looking for, it is easier to resist the temptation to buy upgrades or add-ons you don’t really need.

4.Take a day and sleep on your decision.

This is one of the easiest and best techniques to help you avoid buyer’s remorse. First, it removes any pressure you feel to make a decision on the spot. Second, it also allows the excitement dissipate so reason can prevail.

Sleeping on your decision gives you more time to revisit your pros and cons list, compare options, and gather information. Taking an extra day to decide can help you make more practical decisions. When you remove your emotions from the equation, it is easier to see whether you are acting on impulse or making a good decision.

Feeling buyer’s remorse after a large purchase is perfectly natural. However, understanding where your feelings come from and recognizing your mistakes can prevent you from making them again and help you get over buyer’s remorse.

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How to Reduce Pet Expenses and Care Costs

 

How to Reduce Pet Expenses

Owning a pet can be a very rewarding experience. Not only do they provide companionship, but studies also demonstrate how pets can benefit our mental health. However, caring for an animal is a serious responsibility. If you are worried about the additional costs, here are seven ways you can ease the burden and reduce pet expenses.

7 Ways to Reduce Pet Expenses

1. Choose a Pet to Suit Your Budget.

I know…it can be hard to resist those big, puppy-dog eyes. However, before you bring home a new pet, you must ask yourself if you are financially able to take care of one. Caring for an animal is a huge responsibility. Therefore, you should be aware just how much the annual costs can be.

If you are getting a pet, choose an animal that suits your budget. Since larger animals eat more, it may be better to consider a smaller animal with lower pet care costs. According to the ASPCA, the expenses for a large dog are about $875 every year. Opting for a smaller pet could be a smart way to reduce pet expenses. Annual costs are approximately $670 for cats, $200 for birds, and $35 for freshwater fish. Even looking at smaller breeds of dogs could save you a considerable amount of money on pet food and supplies.

2. Adopt Your Pets from a Shelter.

Adoption is another way to greatly reduce the initial costs of getting a pet. You save a ton in adoption and veterinary fees if you adopt through a local shelter. When you take your pet home, it has already received a check-up, vaccinations, and been micro-chipped. The small adoption fee is a bargain when compared to these savings alone. Not only are you supporting their rescue efforts, but adoption also eliminates breeder’s exorbitant prices.

You can also ask around or check local classified ads for animals in need of a good home. Often times, those placing the ads are giving the animals away, free of charge. Why pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for pure-bred pets when there are so many that you can choose from for free?

3. Compare Food and Pet Supply Brands.

There is no doubt that food will be your biggest expense as a pet owner. But, as with any purchase, it makes sense to look for the most economical brands and best deals. Avoid brand names with words like “premium,” which usually only mean a higher retail price. Store brands that say things like “total nutrition” or “balanced diet” will still provide your pet with proper nutrition.

Buying pet supplies in bulk from discount clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club is very cost effective. There are also many online stores like Chewy.com that regularly offer discounts and promotional codes to their customers. Any smart budgeter will tell you that every little bit counts, especially when trying to reduce pet expenses.

4. Get Vaccines from Low-Cost Clinics.

In order to protect the pet population, state and local governments require vaccinations for domesticated animals. Although these are required by law, you don’t need to spend crazy amounts of money for private consultations. Many shelters and local universities work with low-cost clinics to provide affordable treatments. Since vet students and interns administer the injections, they usually cost next to nothing.

If you have any questions about city ordinances concerning pet vaccinations, check with the local humane society. Not only can they give you the most current information, but they can also tell you more about these types of programs in your area.

5. Maintain Your Pet’s Health.

The best way to reduce your pet’s long term medical expenses is by maintaining good health and hygiene. Just as it is with humans, it requires time and effort to keep your pets healthy. You can ensure your pet maintains a healthy body weight with regular exercise and feeding schedules. Over-feeding your pet hurts both your pet’s well-being and your wallet.

Annual check-ups and regular visits to the vet are another costly responsibility of caring for animals. However, it is extremely important for preventative care.  This includes regular dental cleaning, booster shots, and treatments for common ailments like heartworm, fleas, tick, and other diseases. When you do need medication, you can save a bundle through websites like PetCareRX and 1-800-PetMeds as well.

Finally, do not forget your pet’s reproductive health as well. Although puppies and kittens are adorable, their upkeep costs are astronomical. As a responsible pet owner and financial planner, have your pets spayed and neutered. The initial investment in the procedure is well worth the long term savings.

6. Reduce Grooming Costs.

When choosing what kind of pet is right for you, grooming is another important consideration. Larger animals or breeds with long hair require a lot of maintenance. Some pet owners have professional groomers tend to their animals, but these services come at a high price. While these visits are necessary at times, regular combing, brushing, bathing and clipping at home prolong visits to the groomer.

If you do not feel confident to trim your pet’s fur or nails, there are many tutorial videos online to help you. You can purchase the tools online, and follow along with their instruction to reduce your pet care expenses. Furthermore, shaving pets during summer months will also save you time and energy cleaning. That alone is a huge value in and of itself.

7. Try Making Your Own Pet Toys.

One of the most frivolous ways we spoil our pets is with toys and treats. Although my pets enjoy them immensely, toys from the pet store are not cheap. While it is okay to splurge occasionally, don’t stuff your online shopping cart with things they don’t really need.

Instead, look for things around your house that many pets are perfectly content to play with. Every dog I have owned happily chased after tennis balls or dragged around their favorite stuffed toy to chew on. Cats often prefer the boxes their pet supplies and toys come in. Additionally, ribbons and strings can be just as entertaining as there are plenty of items around your home that your pets will find perfectly acceptable.

If you are the creative type, you can find endless ideas for homemade pet toys on Pinterest boards and other DIY websites. You can also consider growing your own herbs like catnap to further reduce pet expenses. When it comes to finding ways to keep your pet entertained, you are truly only limited by what keeps your and your pet’s interest.

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The Third Stimulus Check

The Third Stimulus Check

Just before his inauguration, President Biden released his contingency plan to ease the country through the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic.  The far-reaching American Rescue Plan seeks to “provide critical support to struggling communities.” This includes direct funding to every eligible citizen. On the heels of receiving the second one, there is already talk of a third stimulus check. As part of the relief plan, every eligible person would receive another check to help counteract the economic impact from Covid-19. However, eligibility requirements may be changing. While there is strong support for a relief package on both sides of the aisle, it has yet to be approved.

What is Included in the Third Stimulus Plan?

The extensive (and expensive) $1.9 trillion relief package intends to direct funding to those most impacted by the pandemic. First and foremost, each eligible person would receive another relief payment of up to $1,400. However, the third stimulus check is just one part of the larger relief plan. It expands tax credits, paid leave, unemployment benefits, and provides financial assistance to renters and landlords. In addition, Biden’s plan also extends the moratorium on eviction and the freeze on federal student loans through September.

Other funding is earmarked for measures to contain the spread of Covid-19. Biden’s major objective is to expedite testing and the national rollout for the vaccine. Since we are far behind the initial goal to vaccinate 100 million people by the end of 2020, his aim is 100 million jabs in his first 100 days in office. Furthermore, the plan allocates more state and local funding to reopen schools safely and subsidize health coverage.

Although his plan is ambitious, you can expect pushback from lawmakers over the budget. The opposition wants a more targeted proposal to reduce costs. Some politicians want lower income thresholds so less people receive a stimulus check. Others say it is not enough and are still fighting for the original amount of $2000 which was discussed before Trump left office. While everyone can agree that immediate action must be taken, the application and allocation of resources remains a controversial topic.

Who is Eligible for the Third Stimulus Check?

Chances are that if Congress approves the plan, you will receive a third check if you already got the first two. However, there may be some changes in the eligibility requirements. Some politicians are proposing to change the upper income limit of $75,000 to reduce government spending. Unfortunately, this means less people would qualify the third time around.

On the other hand, Biden’s plan seeks to expand the definition of dependent eligibility to include anyone over 17. This would add an additional $600 for adult dependents such as college students, elderly, and those with disabilities. Families who have mixed citizenship status in their household may also become eligible. If there are delays in approving the proposal, this will likely be one of the deciding factors.

When Will We Be Getting the Third Stimulus Check?

Although it is likely that eligible Americans will receive a third stimulus check, don’t go spending the money just yet. There are still a lot of unanswered questions and negotiations ahead. The first two stimulus checks have helped a lot of people keep food on the table, but never count your chickens before they hatch.

It will be a difficult road to getting the approval needed to pass the relief package. Congress will be hesitant to spend an additional $1.9 trillion after passing the $900 billion last month. It could be several weeks or months before we see any additional relief payments. Therefore, it is better to focus on what is going on in your own house rather than the White House. Instead, if the third check comes along, view it as supplemental income to help you catch up on bills and stay out of debt.

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How to Sell Your Blood for Cash

For those who struggle to make ends meet, selling blood and plasma is one way to stretch your budget through the end of the month. However, due to national shortages, blood banks are desperately reaching out for new donors. If you want to support our health care workers or simply need extra money, here is how you can sell your blood for cash.

How to Sell Your Blood for Cash

How Can You Sell Your Blood for Cash?

Most places will not compensate you for donating blood. However, there are private centers that will pay you for blood plasma. There is a high demand for it, so you can sell your blood plasma for cash. Plasma is rich in enzymes, antibodies, and proteins, and it is used in many medical treatments. Transplant patients, burn victims, and those with clotting disorders all benefit from blood plasma. The private centers earn a profit by selling it, so they are willing to pay you for each session. There are usually incentives and bonuses for first time donors as well.

How much you earn varies from one person to the next. However, you can usually expect between $20 and $50 per donation. The amount depends on the quantity of plasma you provide. The bigger you are, the more they can extract. The donor guidelines separate people into categories according to weight: 110-149 lbs., 150-174 lbs., and 175-400 lbs. Cash payments are set according to these guidelines.

Who is Eligible?

If you want to sell your blood plasma, the eligibility requirements are usually the same as those that regulate blood donations. Any adult who is between the ages of 18-69, over 110 pounds, and in good health can donate. However, there are certain risk factors and conditions that could exclude you as a candidate.

To ensure that you are healthy and eligible, you must complete a donor questionnaire. Certain lifestyles and pre-existing conditions may prevent you from selling your blood. For example, if you have traveled internationally to places endemic for malaria in the past year, you cannot donate. Furthermore, if you have a condition like HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, iron deficiencies, or certain types of cancer, you are also an ineligible candidate.

Before wasting time and gas money, call around or look online for the requirements at clinics in your area. If you have any questions about your eligibility, call ahead to ensure you would make it through the screening process.

What are the Risks?

Donating blood and plasma is a well-regulated process. However, there are always risks to consider. Most commonly, people report tenderness and bruising around the needle injection site. Others feel dizzy and faint after donating due to the blood loss. Since your body loses so much fluid, you want to be well hydrated before your appointment. It is also a good idea to avoid caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and fatty foods as well.

Severe reactions are uncommon, but can occur, especially if you are not healthy. Donors have reported shivering, changes in their pulse rate, shortness of breath, and twitching after donation. There is an increased risk for these side effects if you are not feeling well or have donated too recently.

Covid-19 has also increased the risks to sell your blood. In addition to meeting all the health standards, some clinics also require a negative test or a positive recovery test if you had the virus. While there is an urgent need for blood and plasma donors, we still have the important responsibility to ensure everyone’s safety.

What are the Ethical Concerns of Selling Blood?

In addition to the physical risks, there are also some ethical concerns about selling blood. Some national and local governments have banned paying donors. In Ontario, victims of tainted blood have called for public administration and voluntary donations only after serious breaches in the screening process. Approximately 33,000 people contracted hepatitis C and an additional 1,000 others contracted HIV because of improper screening. They argue that federal regulation would make it safer to donate and less likely others will become victims.

Another reason people want standardized regulations is to ensure that donors are not exploited. There are no concerns when donors are well-informed and willing to sell their blood for cash. However, issues arise when private clinics and organizations do not properly compensate donors. This has been particularly troublesome in developing countries where private companies take advantage of the poor. Another dilemma is when people are not advised of the health risks. In some instances, people may have refused to donate had they been aware. Therefore, donors must give full consent to ensure each individual’s rights are protected.

Others have argued that it is our ethical responsibility to give blood for the greater good. In particular, the position states we should voluntarily donate during times of crisis and natural disasters. Unfortunately, it is impossible to rely solely upon voluntary donors. For example, only 30% of Canada’s supply comes from volunteers. U.S. companies that pay for donations provide the rest.

Like these countries that rely on volunteer donations only, some urban areas are already experiencing shortages. Blood banks are having difficulty meeting demands because less people want to sell blood for cash during the pandemic. Under these circumstances, paying donors may be the only way to ensure there is ample supply to support the health care system.

Where Can You Sell Blood Plasma?

A quick internet search will provide you with a list of private clinics and blood banks in your area. This site can help you find a donation center convenient for you. If you are still having trouble, you can also ask your physician or health care provider for a referral. In addition to volunteer donations, many also pay cash for blood plasma.

The unfortunate truth is that U.S. blood supplies are alarmingly low. In fact, we could be facing widespread shortages soon. There is no way to decrease demand, so we must find ways to increase the blood supply. Paying donors for contributions is one way to bridge this gap. If you have ever wanted to sell your blood for cash, now is the perfect time. Not only are you supporting our health care system, but you can also earn some extra cash.

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