The Aftermath of the GameStop Saga

Analyzing the Aftermath of the GameStop Saga

Recently, the video game retailer where we used to sell our games became the center of the most recent stock market frenzy. The GameStop saga began when its stock value surged in late January, spurred on by one very determined group of Redditors. Using new technology and trading apps like Robinhood, individual traders disrupted the market, nearly bringing major hedge funds to their knees. However, there are plenty of rumors and questions remaining in the aftermath.

What Caused the GameStop Saga and the Stock Market Surge?

When Redditors got into a sparring match with Wall Street over floundering stock prices, certain share values soared to record heights. While GameStop is at the forefront of this market fluctuation, it has also affected AMC and a few other stocks as well. However, GME captured headlines on January 27.  It closed at an all-time high $483.00 per share, more than 800% of its current valuation.

The institutional investors betting against the company had to back out. In a move known as a “short squeeze,” short sellers had to repurchase stock for a higher price. Although this is not an unusual investing move, the GameStop saga did introduce new factors.  New technology and trading platforms are changing the way people invest. It is democratizing trading by making it accessible to everyone. However, you can be certain it has also caught the attention of both investors and regulators worldwide.

Why Was Everyone Up in Arms?

The problem began when Robinhood began limiting trades on their platform. The app founded its mission on bringing investing to more people. So, some individual traders interpreted the restrictions placed on GME, AMC and other stocks as a personal attack. This group became indignant when they discovered their access had been limited. They were unable to buy stock while the hedge funds still had access to them.

In truth, Robinhood simply did not have the capital on hand to cover the flood of trades. Clearinghouse trades can take a few days to settle. The amount of money moved around during the trading frenzy was more than Robinhood could handle.  So, they put the restrictions in place to cover any potential losses and slow trading until it could raise more capital.

However, there are plenty of rumors floating around and some speculation of illegal activity. Questions of conflicting interests and collusion are popping up across the web. For example, some claim that professional traders encouraged the classic pump-and-dump scheme. They say they promoted the price pumping within the Reddit crowd, intending to get out before stock prices stabilized again. Other accusations say traders ignored the rules. There is some evidence of illegally shorting stocks without ownership or control of the borrowed shares. We all anxiously await to see what new information will come to light about these allegations.

Will the Sheriff of Wall Street Shut Down Robinhood?

One thing is abundantly clear as financial experts analyze this event: lawmakers and regulators are not happy with Robinhood. Furthermore, the individual traders using the app feel slighted since Robinhood impaired their ability to purchase stock. While it was a vital resource for individuals to purchase stock, many users are now cashing out and moving their funds. The future of the trading platform could be in jeopardy.

The fate of Robinhood depends on the outcome of several investigations and lawsuits. The first class action suit was filed on January 28 in the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit claims that Robinhood “purposefully, willfully, and knowingly removing the stock ‘GME’ from its trading platform in the midst of an unprecedented stock rise… (it) deprived retail investors of the ability to invest in the open-market.”

This is likely just the beginning of legal action taken against Robinhood. Tens of thousands have already joined the first class action lawsuit. However, the investing app could be facing more than 30 more in the days ahead. In addition to investigations by both the state of New York and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, members of Congress have also come forward in support of a Congressional hearing on the matter.

Despite all the legal actions already filed, Robinhood’s CEO Vlad Tenev is standing firm in their decision to implement restrictions. He said they “had to conform to our regulatory capital requirements” and only allow limited buys. Many of these limits remain in place. Individual traders have maximum number of shares they can buy, no trading options, no buying on the margin, no fractional shares, and no recurring investments. However, the maximum number of shares available to purchase has been raised.

What Did We Learn from the GameStop Saga?

There are a few important takeaways looking back on the GameStop saga. If nothing else, it is a harsh reminder that there are just as many losers as winners in stock market buying frenzies. Many Redditors who bought too late during the highs have now suffered significant losses. This has further alienated individual investors from trading apps like Robinhood. However, shorting is a risky gamble for professional and amateur investors alike.

It is also important to point out the inaccurate comparisons being used to describe the event. The biblical analogy of David vs Goliath is powerful, but not entirely accurate in this situation. In this instance, individual investors pumped up these stock’s valuation. Some did so in an effort to defend the underdog. Others were attempting to stick it to the arrogant hedge fund managers who have often been accused of stock market manipulation. However, these sharp declines affect their clients more than their management.

At the end of the day, the GameStop saga upended some long held conventions about trading and the influence of individual investors. Whenever you play the stock market, investors take a huge risk by joining these trading frenzies. Everyone wants to bet on the long shot, but only those who bought shares early on saw significant gains. It has become a cautionary tale to many green investors who bought in late when shares reach their highest value now left with nothing.

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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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How to Cut Your Electric Bill in Half

With more people working from home than ever before, it is even more important to find ways to reduce energy costs. If your children are also attending classes online, that means even more household energy consumption. Spending more time at home also means higher utility bills, especially during the extreme summer and winter months. However, there are several things you can do to cut your electric bill in half.

How to Cut Your Electric Bill in Half

Energy Audit to Save Time and Money

The first thing you should do is contact your energy supplier and request an energy audit. They provide this service to their customers for a small fee, averaging around $100. In addition, you may receive coupons and discounts for large ticket items or recommended upgrades.

During the energy audit, a technician will do a walk-through to spot issues. It takes about an hour depending on the condition of the house. At the end, the technician will hand you a checklist of items you can address to cut your electric bill in half.

Although there is a small fee, an energy audit can save you time and money in the long run. Rather than guessing at the problems or wasting time to find them, the technician pinpoints the issues. They can also offer professional advice about things that need to be immediately attended to and guide your towards the best solution.

Free Things You Can Do to Cut Your Electric Bill in Half

Even if you do not have the finances to replace and upgrade your home, there are still things you can do to reduce your energy bills.

Shop Around for Deals

As with any purchase, you should always shop around for the best deals. The same is true if your state allows deregulated electricity. You can use dedicated sites to shop around and compare prices between electric suppliers. You receive the same service, but at more competitive rates. A little research can save you a bundle on your utilities costs.

Reduce Your Energy Consumption

Another easy way to reduce energy consumption is to identify which appliances pull the most electricity, and use them less. These usually include your heating and cooling units, dryer, water heater, refrigerator, and electric stove. However, you can also use a Kill a Watt device to see what other electronics and appliances are the worst culprits.

Once you know what is causing the energy spikes, you can find ways to use these appliances less. Here are a few ideas that can reduce your monthly bills.

Heating and Cooling Costs

    • Use your windows to regulate the temperature in your home. Open them during the day to warm your home in the cold months. On the other hand, close them to block out the summer sun to stay cool.
    • Set the thermostat to a cooler temperature during winter months. You can wear more clothing or use blankets while your body acclimates. After a few days, your body will adjust and your savings will increase.
    • There is no need to heat rooms you don’t use, so close doors and vents to conserve heat.
    • Be sure to seal up your home to make sure air does not escape. Use caulk or weather stripping around doors and windows to stop drafts.
    • Insulate your windows with plastic wrap or a plastic insulator kit to keep air from seeping out.

Cutting Costs with Laundry

    • Use cold water to wash clothes, especially if your home has an electric water heater.
    • Add dryer balls instead of sheets to help your laundry dry faster. They help separate the clothes resulting in less dryer time.
    • On sunny days, line dry clothing outside. During inclimate weather, you can hang items inside or get a clothing rack to avoid the dryer completely.

Turning Off and Unplugging Appliances

  •  Turn off the lights when you leave a room. This also includes outdoor lights that are often left on overnight.
  • Use a power strip to help you remember to unplug electronics when not in use. Many devices still pull energy even when turned off.

Cutting Costs in the Kitchen

  • Try to use your electric oven less, especially during the summer months. Instead, grill or cook with other lower energy appliances.
  • Hand wash your dishes and save electricity by not running the dishwasher. Even a few loads less per week can save you money.

Energy Efficient Products to Reduce Your Electric Bill

If you are ready to invest in upgrading your home, there are many energy efficient products that will help you reduce your energy consumption.  Cleaning and regularly maintaining your home greatly impact the long term energy costs. However, there are also smaller improvements you can make that will also help reduce your electric bill.

  • Change incandescent lighting to LED bulbs. Not only are they more energy efficient, but they also last longer so you will not have to replace them as often.
  • Using a smart power strip will ensure you completely turn off all electronics. A smart device will automatically cut power so they are not left in standby or power-saving mode. Even if they appear turn off, they may still be using electricity.
  • Install an energy smart thermostat. You can program it around your schedule so you are not running the heating or cooling system when the house is empty. It automatically adjusts to set temperatures and makes it easier to control. Some even have apps you can use from your phone.
  • Install ceiling fans to circulate air. They are especially useful to cut air conditioning costs on hot summer days.

For those considering more expensive home upgrades, you may qualify for government tax credits and rebates. Although there are significant upfront costs to purchase energy efficient appliances, these can make it more affordable. Furthermore, it increases the resale value of your home. Whatever your reasons for wanting to reduce energy costs, there are many options to get you there.

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New Year’s Traditions to Improve Your Finances

New Year's Traditions to Improve Your Personal Finances

The New Year is nearly upon us. For many of us that means closing out the books and wrapping up our affairs for the fiscal year. If you are like me, then you may be creating New Year’s Resolutions to help you set financial goals for the coming year. However, this holiday is also steeped in rich cultural traditions and superstitions. Many of the customs are thought to bring luck and good fortune. This year, why not give into a little whimsy and observe some of the New Year’s traditions to improve your finances?

New Year’s Traditions and Superstitions to Improve Your Finances

1. Start the New Year with money in your wallet.

If you have made a New Year’s Resolution to save more money next year, this tradition can help get you started on the right foot. According to tradition, you should greet the New Year with cash in your wallet. This signifies that you will receive a steady flow of income over the next 12 months. Some go so far as to see that every wallet in the house has money in it to bring prosperity to the entire household.

Even if you do not give credence to the superstitions, paying for things with cash makes it easier to stick to a budget. It helps you track your spending with each visit to the ATM to withdraw money. Furthermore, it helps you avoid using credit cards and accruing more debt. This tradition sets a great precedent for the year ahead in helping you reach your savings goal.

2. Clear your debts before the New Year.

Although this custom is more closely associated with the Lunar New Year, it is still an excellent example of New Year’s traditions to improve your finances. In many Asian countries, people prioritize paying debts among family and friends. The tradition holds that if debts are not paid before the arrival of the New Year, then the debt will continue for life.

Becoming debt-free is one of the most common New Year’s Resolutions. However, paying off all your outstanding debts will likely require a longer time line. So, do not let these New Year’s traditions bring additional stress if you are unable to pay off all your debt right away. Simply making debt repayment one of your primary financial goals can help you improve your finances.

3. Eating certain foods will bring you good luck and fortune during the New Year.

Several cultures around the world believe that have traditions and superstitions relating to food. For example, eating particular foods or dishes on New Year’s Eve will bring you good fortune and wealth in the coming year.

One widely known tradition comes from Spain and other Latin America countries. When the clock strikes 12:00, you must eat 12 grapes, one with each stroke of the hour. This is to ensure good luck and prosperity during the year ahead. In many Baltic and Scandinavian countries, pickled herring is the dish of choice. In Greece, they have added excitement to see who will receive additional blessings and find the coin baked into a loaf of bread. During Lunar New Year feasts, it is more important to leave meat on the bone and food on your plate to ensure abundance for the next year. Another tradition that is a little closer to home comes from the American South. They eat collard greens and black eyed peas simply because they resemble money and symbolize good fortune.

While many people consider such practices to be silly or superstitious, there is no harm to indulge during some of the fun and unusual customs to bring you good luck and wealth. And honestly, who couldn’t use a little extra luck?

4. Offer gifts to give blessings of wealth and good fortune.

Many people offer gifts and blessings during important festivals and gatherings. So, it makes sense that the custom also extends to the New Year’s celebrations. For example, the Scottish New Year, known as Hogmanay to the locals, it is the highlight of the holiday season.

In a ritual known as “first footing,” the first visitor to cross the threshold your home after midnight should be a dark-haired man bearing gifts. The gifts usually include symbolic items like coal, salt, shortbread, black bun, or a dram of whisky. They represent essential household items needed to sustain you in addition to bringing luck and prosperity in the New Year.

Although many Scots are still enthusiastic participants in these celebrations, most people view it as an amusing superstition. However, the tradition is a humble reminder of our reliance upon our neighbors. Even during the lean times, we can offer advice and support to those in the community to help each other prosper.

5. Give yourself a fresh start and forget the troubles and concerns of the past year.

We have all made mistakes and poor decisions in the past. This also holds true when it comes to matters of personal finance. However, the Japanese tradition of Bonenkai is held at the end of the year to forget your financial woes. The word Bonenkai literally translates to “forget the year party.” So, why not give yourself a break and a clean slate for the coming year?

Bonenkai parties are usually sponsored by companies for their employees. Coworkers come together to eat, drink, and revel in the opportunities the New Year may bring. As the alcohol flows and inhibitions disappear, people tend to let their guard down and speak more freely. While Japanese are generally more reserved about sharing their opinions, the casual atmosphere enables people to discuss their concerns and try to improve issues.

We could all take a lesson from the New Year’s tradition and learn to let go of the past. It is better to use these mistakes as learning opportunities rather than dwelling on things that cannot be undone. Instead, apply the knowledge you have gained to making better financial decisions in the future.

New Year’s Traditions and Resolutions

New Year’s a good time to reflect upon the past 12 months and set new goals for ourselves. Even if you do not achieve everything you set out to do, making a resolution gives you something to work toward. Observing some of the New Year’s traditions and customs is a fun and festive way to start you on your path to improving your finances.

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How to Find an Angel Investor

Obtaining funding for your business venture is one of the first and most challenging obstacles you will face. It often determines the make-or-break point for most new entrepreneurs. In order to support your fledgling enterprise, you will need enough capital to support your startup through the beginning phases. Angel investors are an important part of the “startup ecosystem,” especially to those going through it for the first time. If you are interested in connecting with possible backers, here are some resources to help find an angel investor.

How to Find an Angel Investor

What Is an Angel Investor?

An angel investor is a wealthy individual who uses their own money to fund a new project or idea. This is a person who has a high net worth and can help startups gain the capital they need for their ventures. Unlike venture capitalists who require immediate returns, angel investors may accept equity in the company until the startup posts a profit.

Angel investors come from a variety of backgrounds with varying expertise and interests. Since they are investing their own money, many take a personal interest in causes closely aligned with their own. Look for investors who share the same ideals or support the same ethos that you do. An angel investor maybe more willing to take a chance on riskier ventures they believe in. New startup companies often seek an angel investor to provide the funding they need to get off the ground.

Where Can I Find an Angel Investor?

Finding an angel investor is now easier than ever before. You no longer need to rely solely upon word of mouth. There are thousands of online forums, blogs, and websites out there to connect angels with entrepreneurs. Many angels have also formed groups and organizations seeking out new proposals and ideas to invest in. With a little online research, you may find someone who shares a specific interest in your company or cause.

Online Groups and Syndicates to Find an Angel Investor

Angels tend to create their own communities and network within them. In the digital age, there are several online forums where you can directly connect. AngelList is a valuable resource that links entrepreneurs with angel groups and syndicates. If you can find an investor with similar views, you may be able to sell them on your idea.

Although it is not technically an angel investor, the Small Business Association has a wealth of knowledge for new businesses. It was founded to give assistance and offer advice to people navigating their roles and responsibilities. Local offices provide one-on-one counseling and assistance writing applications for loans as well. Their entire mission is to help you grow and expand your business.

The Angel Capital Association will also offer industry insights from an entire network of angel investors. Hosting over 14,000 angels who actively invest and discuss trends, you have a unique view into their world. You can also access the profiles and articles written by leading investors and company executives. Although it is not a funding source, it can give you a view into their world.

Angel investor Websites to Follow

You should also follow their websites to learn more about the investors themselves. Understanding what appeals to a potential backer improves your chances of receiving the startup capital you need. Here is a list of the top 25 sites and blogs from 2020. However, these two sites seemed especially helpful to new entrepreneurs and business ventures still in their infancy.

On Startups

Many websites like On Startups center around new ideas in the tech industry. What makes this site so helpful is that it collects posts from several blogs. It discusses various angel investors and the startups they invest in. On Startups is particularly great for young entrepreneurs since they can learn from the experience of others in the industry.

Hyde Park Angel Network

Another excellent place to start looking is the Hyde Park Angel Network.  This network specifically focuses on helping early stage startups to grow their business. They are currently most active in the Midwest, work primarily with health services, financial services,  information technology, and industrial technology. It also provides advice about fundraising and guidelines to support growth. This community offers extensive support in the most crucial stages of establishing your business.

Sponsored Events and Annual Conventions

Lastly, do not underestimate the power of face to face interactions. In the business world, networking is just as important as having a great idea. Meeting potential angel investors in person gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself and your project. Sometimes angel investors buy into a venture because they believe in the person behind it.

While many sponsored events and conventions have been delayed due to social distancing measures, you can be certain they will return in the future. Annual conventions like Funding Post bring entrepreneurs, angels, and investors together.  In the meantime, work on your elevator pitch and look for announcements of sponsored events near you.

Reasons to Find an Angel Investor

If you are struggling to bring your project to life, an angel investor may be the answer to your prayers. Not only do they provide financial relief, but also breathing room to expand your business or make a project viable. When you have already exhausted all your personal resources as well as those of family and friends, it may be time to consider finding an angel investor.

Making the right connections, you may find a backer who can give you a significant lump sum to cover overhead costs of your business without expecting immediate returns. Often times, they will take equity in the company as payment until the company succeeds. Since they have a vested interested in your success, they may also offer advice and guidance along the way. With the supportive backer, it is possible to take your idea and make it a reality.

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How Working from Home Increases Productivity

How Working from Home Increases Productivity

Now that many people are working remotely, businesses are questioning whether working from home increases productivity or reduces it. If it increases productivity, this could help transition more people out of the office to work from home. Although employees have more freedom in how they manage their time, studies suggest this has a positive effect on overall productivity. Contrary to what you may have thought, people actually waste less time at home. While this may not be true for all of us, it may have an impact on how companies structure their workforce.

What the Research Says About Working from Home

Prodoscore, a California-based software company, conducted research to examine the workforce trends as more people work remotely. Their analysts compared data from 30,000 of its users from March/April 2020 to the same time frame in 2019. According to the statistics, they found a 47% increase in workers’ productivity. There were several data points they compared to draw these conclusions. For example, the number of phone calls went up 230%, email activity increased 57%, and messaging chats on internal platforms rose 9%.

However, it is important to remember that several variables impact the numbers to determine if working from home increases productivity. For instance, time of day and the day of the week greatly affect performance. On average, people’s average start time was 8:32 a.m. and end time 5:38 p.m. However Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are most productive for workers, in that order. Productivity decreases drastically on Fridays and Mondays. The window of time between 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. is when workers are the most active.

Another Airtasker survey from 2019 interviewed 1,004 full-time workers, approximately half of whom were remote workers. They discovered that people worked 1.4 more days each month from home, largely due to no commute. Over the course of time, it adds up to 16.8 more days a year. Workers felt they had more free time without the daily commute. Many also said they would be willing to make concessions to continue working from home in the future.

How Working from Home Has Affected My Productivity

Like any major change, it took time to adjust. Although I have been working from home for years, the transition was not a smooth one. In the beginning, my productivity severely decreased because I was easily distracted. I had become used to supervisors or managers checking in on my progress. Working from home, no one was there to keep me on task. So, I could easily flit from one household chore to the next, or lose time scrolling through social media.

Once the decreased productivity affected my income, I took measures to improve. My greatest challenge was focusing on my work. It was hard to focus without dedicated office space and constant foot traffic. To fix this major obstacle, I set up desk space and began working late into the evenings when everyone was sleeping. Although I miss workplace collaboration and socializing with coworkers, I would likely also make concessions to continue working from home. With a few minor tweaks in my work environment and my schedule, I also found that working from home increases my productivity.

How to Increase Productivity Working from Home

One of the hardest parts of working from home is maintaining separation between your work and home life. Trying to do too much at once means your attention is divided. Therefore, the overall quality of the work is compromised. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to focus and prove that working from home increases productivity.

Maintain a Separate Work Space

The first thing you must do is find a quiet spot to set up your home office. You need to create boundaries to manage your time at work and at home. Maintaining a separate workspace is vital for a professional environment. Get into a routine and condition yourself to do certain tasks in designated areas. While you want to be comfortable during the workday, you should avoid working from the bed or the couch.   Scientists have long warned us of the negative effects of working from bed. So, it is better to create good habits at the beginning that promote productivity.

Keep to a Regular Schedule

Keeping a regular schedule also assists in the transition out of the office. It also lets your family know when you are available to take care of things at home. Furthermore, it defines the time when you need to focus on work responsibilities. Plan your day strategically, utilizing the hours you are most productive to take on more difficult tasks. Some people, like me, find it is easier to do the boring, more mundane tasks during busier times of the day. Following a schedule also makes it easier to confine work stress to hours you are on the clock, and make the most of your personal time when you are not.

Take Breaks to Increase Productivity

You should also schedule and actually take your breaks during the workday. Your mind and body need time to recharge and decompress. Since you have more flexibility when working from home, step away from your desk. Break up the day and get outside for some fresh air. Short breaks boost overall productivity by preventing burnout. A simple change of environment can reduce tension when problems arise and help you approach them with a new perspective.

Stay Connected to Your Coworkers

Human resources are an under-valued asset in many companies. The way people communicate and cooperate in a professional atmosphere builds cohesion. The bonds we create with our coworkers have boosted both efficiency and productivity.

However, one aspect that we have lost while working from home is social interactions with our coworkers. We are no longer able to catch up around the water cooler or vent to your workplace bestie over coffee. But, it is still important to engage face to face interactions as often as possible. It’s easy to use technology to recreate these social interactions and make us feel less isolated from one another. Although you may not be able to meet in the conference room, you can schedule Zoom calls with your team. Another option is to reach out through in-house messaging, schedule a daily phone call, or Facetime during one of your breaks. One reason working from home increases productivity is the convenience of digital connections.

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Time Over Money: Reasons Why Time Is More Valuable Than Money

Time Over Money Reasons Why Time Is More Valuable Than Money

Time or Money: Which is more valuable? This has been a hotly debated topic throughout human history, yet the question still remains. Although, it seems pretty clear that the answer should be time over money. I would even argue that time is the most valuable resource. If you are money-poor but time rich, you may feel otherwise. However, people find many reasons why time is more valuable than money.

Why You Should Choose Time Over Money

7 Reasons to Choose Time Over Money

1. You can’t buy more time.

You can use the time to make money, but money can’t buy you more time. It is impossible to create additional hours in the day, no matter who you are. Time is the great equalizer. Everyone receives 24 hours in a day, no more, no less.

However, the difference lies in how you spend it. Someone who accomplished a great deal in their lifetime likely spent it learning and mastering new skills. One thing is for certain, though. Success requires time and hard work in order to achieve your ambitions. These things simply cannot be bought.

2. In the end, people ask for more time, not money.

When people enter their final days, you rarely hear them ask for more money. Most wish they had more time with the ones they love or doing things they never got to do. While money can greatly improve your quality of life, it cannot extend it.

Many people even keep a ‘bucket list’ of things they want to do before they die. The entire concept builds upon the idea that you have a limited time to complete them. If you are among this group, you already understand why sometimes you must choose time over money. You cannot put a price on memories and time spent with loved ones.

3. You need time to spend money.

You could have all the money in the world, but you would still need time if you wanted to spend it. While some may want to accrue money just for the sake of having it, most would prefer to splurge a little. The world’s elite has fortunes to support lavish lifestyles to last a hundred lifetimes over. However, it would still require more time than you think to spend $1 billion.

Money holds no value to you after you are gone. Certainly, it can benefit those you leave behind, but it has no use to you personally. Since you can’t take money with you when you die, it further proves that time is more valuable than money.

4. There is more potential with a day off than with a day’s pay.

The hours you spend at work are rigidly defined in financial terms. Your time has a set value when you are on the clock. Although, how you spend your free time is completely up to you. And what you do with that time is only limited by your own desires. Greater things have been achieved in a single day than with what you would take home after an eight-hour shift.

Furthermore, who you spend your time with is equally valuable. Being present and enjoying the company of friends and family is priceless. On the other hand, it is just as vital to ensure that you take time for yourself. Your mental health can also greatly benefit from some time alone and self-care. However, time is the essential factor.

5. Only time can heal certain wounds.

Just as time is the great equalizer, it is also the great healer. Some hurts run deeper than any scan can read. Modern medicine and technology are ineffective to treat these wounds. Even time cannot completely erase the scars. However, time does help the pain fade from memory.

Time also grants us the gift of perspective. It also grants us more objectivity as time passes. We can look back through new eyes to analyze and reflect. This distance can make it easier to identify our strengths and weaknesses, allowing us to grow as people. These kinds of lessons can only be gained through life experience.

6. You can’t regain lost time.

Losing money is a terrible thing. However, given enough time and wise financial planning, you can earn it back. Once time slips past you, there is no way to regain lost moments. No amount of money can recreate missed holidays, birthdays, and other important milestones. When you view time from this perspective, time becomes an invaluable resource.

Time is certainly not a resource I want to waste either. This point should also make you evaluate how you spend your time. Wasting time in front of a TV or with toxic people may not be the best use of it. Consider what you really want from life and who you want to spend it with. After re-evaluating, you may have a new set of priorities.

7. Choosing time over money promotes greater long-term happiness.

A recent study investigated the correlation between time and happiness. Specifically in relation to the survey question in which 80 percent of working adults wish they had more time with their families. Many participants responded that they constantly felt rushed due to the demands of their professional and personal lives. The term “time famine” describes the overwhelming feeling of these pressures.

Those who said they felt time scarcity were less happy and also more prone to depression and anxiety. Focusing on time over money can relieve this stress and promote greater long-term happiness. The key is time management. While these obligations will always be there, finding ways to save time can help us spend more of it with those we love.

Prioritizing Time Over Money

These are just seven reasons why time is more valuable than money. In truth, you likely already have more money than the time remaining. Perhaps you will feel the same once you realize that when the sands of time slip through your fingers, it’s gone. It may have you reprioritizing so you can maximize the sand still left in your own hourglass.

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