Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Packet Drawer – and Fifteen Other Little Frugal Strategies from My Social Circle

I was visiting an old friend of mine who wanted me to sample a jar of pickled cucumbers. While he was opening the jar, he asked me to grab a couple of forks out of one of the drawers in his kitchen.

I opened the wrong one.

That drawer was stuffed with condiment packets. Salt. Ketchup. Pepper. Mustard. Hot sauce. Tons of them.

His explanation was simple. When he eats out anywhere, he asks for condiment packets and then pockets the ones they give him. He tosses them into that drawer when he gets home, then when he’s dining alone, he just uses those condiments. When he has guests, he’ll serve them condiments from the fridge… but he can’t see any reason to use those himself. Why not just use the free packets instead of paying?

It was a little quirky… but it also made a lot of sense. He didn’t advocate for grabbing packets by the fistful, but for simply pocketing whatever packets were given and using them at home.

This inspired me to tap some of my other friends for some of their little frugal strategies. These were among my favorites – some of them are quite smart, a few are pretty quirky, and some manage to be both at the same time.

Strategy #1 – Poach Eggs in the Microwave for a Very Quick and Tasty Breakfast

One of my friends does this literally every morning before he leaves for work. He pops a piece of toast (or an English muffin) in the toaster, pulls out a coffee mug, and fills it about halfway with water. He cracks an egg right into the water, covers it with a saucer, and microwaves it on high for about a minute and fifteen seconds (the exact time might vary a bit depending on the microwave – for his microwave, this is the point at which the yolk just gets hard). When the microwave dings, he pulls out the cup, pours off the water, then the toast pops up out of the toaster. He puts the poached egg on the toast and is out the door. The whole process takes less than two minutes from beginning to end.

It’s a breakfast that requires no silverware, one he can eat in the car on the way to work, and doesn’t leave behind any mess at all other than a toast crumb or two. It provides a big boost of protein in the morning, but doesn’t add up to too many calories. The best part? It costs him maybe a quarter in terms of ingredients. He’ll often take a banana or an apple with him to eat when the “sandwich” is finished, which costs perhaps another quarter.

It’s so efficient, so inexpensive, and gets his day started off right.

Strategy #2 – Don’t Turn Left

Another friend of mine basically avoids turning right whenever possible, even if it means going around the block. This saves her both time and money.

How does this work? Whenever you’re turning left onto a roadway, you have to wait for two lanes of traffic; turning light means you only have to worry about one lane, which means you get out on the road much quicker. Whenever you turn left at a stoplight, you’re usually stuck in the turn lane idling for quite a while before you turn, whereas when you turn right, you can usually turn very quickly, even on a red light in most jurisdictions.

In other words, turning left means that you spend a lot of time and a not-insignificant amount of fuel just idling and waiting to turn, while you spend far less fuel and time when you turn right.

Thus, my friend simply plans her travel so that she turns right as often as possible. She’ll think ahead about her route and plan things so that she turns right instead of left. She’ll even drive around an additional distance to avoid left turns on a busy street or intersection.

Strategy #3 – Use Gift Bags and Save Them

A couple that we’ve been friends with for many years always gives gifts in nice gift bags. If someone decides to use the bag to transport a gift, it’s not a problem, but if the bag is left behind or thrown away, they’ll keep it. They also keep every single gift bag that they’re given.

Why? They hold onto those bags. In one of their closets, they have an enormous pile of gift bags in great shape, ready to be reused. They use an end roll of blank newspaper (picked up for just a dollar or two from the local newspaper office) or newspaper comic pages as tissue paper for the gifts.

This almost entirely eliminates their expenses for wrapping gifts. Occasionally, they have to pick up a gift bag or two to replenish their supply, but that’s apparently a pretty rare occasion.

Strategy #4 – Dumpster Dive at Apartment Move-Out Times

One of our friends lives near a college campus that has many, many apartment buildings in the surrounding blocks. The landlords in that area usually offer annual leases that all expire on July 31st of each year.

Thus, from about July 29 to August 1 of each year, she’s on the hunt. She drives from complex to complex, watching the curbs and dumpster areas, to find what items the students are throwing away.

Sure, most of it is junk, but you’d be shocked at the high quality items some students just toss in the dumpster, particularly students that are about to leave the country and have no way to take items with them. She has collected huge amounts of new and nearly-new clothing and shoes, completely functional Bluray and DVD players, and many other items. Her favorite find? An in-shrink iPad Mini. Yes, some college student just tossed it.

Strategy #5 – Change Your Own Oil

I do this myself sometimes, but one of my best friends is absolutely adamant about changing his own oil. Not only is it far less expensive than using an oil change service, he’s convinced that they do a relatively poor job.

Why? What’s wrong with an oil change service? For one, they don’t let the oil drain for a long period of time. The best way to get all of the junk oil out of your car is to simply slide an oil pan under the car, open up the oil gasket, and let it drain for a long time – an hour at least. After the first minute or so, the flow of oil slows drastically, but what comes out at that point is the worst oil – the sludgy stuff that doesn’t flow well. Letting it drain for a long time lets a lot of that bad oil escape, which doesn’t happen with a quick oil change. This extends the life of the car.

For another, they’re almost always overcharging you on the oil compared to the price you can get on oil from an auto parts store. He usually buys oil in five quart containers, which is perfect for filling up his car, and changes his oil filter each time (which is also very easy if you have an oil filter wrench). A car’s manual explains each step and all of the oil and the filter can be bought for less than $20, which is a lot cheaper than an oil change place. Plus, you can go do something else at home while the oil drains.

Strategy #6 – Negotiate Hotel Room Rates on the Fly

If you’re willing to add a little bit of flexibility to your travel, you can skip reserving hotel rooms in advance and instead reserve them on the fly on your travel date.

Simply find several hotels near your destination and call each of them while you’re traveling to that destination (this is a good task for a passenger in the car, for example). Simply state that you’re staying in the area and that you’re calling several hotels for the best rate.

One good tactic to use here is to call the hotel that you suspect will offer you the lowest rate first, then use their quoted rate as a bargaining chip with the other hotels. For example, if you’re calling up a local Best Western, you might want to say that the local Super 8 offered you a room for $45 a night and you’ll stay at the Best Western instead if they can match that rate.

This might not be the best strategy if you have specific needs when traveling, but if you’re flexible about the hotel you use and don’t have any special needs, it can save you a bundle on the road.

Strategy #7 – Hone Your Disposable Razors to Get More Uses

Quite often, people toss disposable razors and disposable razor blades not because the blade isn’t sharp any more, but just because the blade is no longer honed. Imagine that the blade itself is just bent or curled a little but it still has a sharp edge that’s just curled out of the way. If you can simply un-curl it, you can get a lot more use out of the blade, right?

Well, a friend of mine showed me a great way to hone a disposable razor. Just get your forearm wet and soapy and then run the blade slowly backwards on your forearm, in the opposite direction of how you would shave.

This helps hone the sharp edge of the blade and can get you a lot more shaving before you have to toss the blade. I now do this as a matter of course after each shave, as it costs nothing, requires no extra equipment, and definitely has a strong positive impact on the life of the blade.

Strategy #8 – Make Your Own “Cold Press” Coffee

Rather than worrying about the expense and hassle of a coffee pot and a coffee filter each morning, one close friend of mine uses a somewhat different tactic. He buys whole bean or coarsely ground coffee, then puts a cup of the ground coffee into a Nalgene quart water bottle. He fills the bottle with water, shakes it up, then sticks it in his refrigerator where it sits for a couple of days.

When he wants the coffee, he simply pulls out a fine mesh metal strainer and pours the coffee through it, collecting the strained coffee on the other side in a cup. If there’s coffee left in the Nalgene bottle, he puts it back in the fridge; otherwise, everything goes in the sink or dishwasher. If he wants hot coffee, he just microwaves the strained coffee for a minute or two.

This saves a lot of expense from the coffee pot and makes mornings more convenient to boot. You can easily adjust the strength by either adding more coffee beans or by letting it sit for longer.

Strategy #9 – Use Old Toothbrushes as Household Cleaners

This is a great strategy that I’ve used faithfully for years, so I’m glad to hear that others use it, too.

Whenever you wear out a toothbrush – to me, that means whenever you go in for a new dental visit – just take the old one, clean it well, and put it in a junk drawer instead of throwing it away. It becomes a great little cleaning tool.

You can use such a toothbrush for all kinds of household tasks, from cleaning grout and other tight spaces to applying wood glue to tricky corners. When the toothbrush becomes too beat up for those tasks, you can just toss it, knowing you got plenty of use out of it. It also keeps you from buying brushes or other little tools for uses that an old toothbrush can easily fulfill.

Strategy #10 – Clean the Back of the Fridge Once a Year

A refrigerator works by taking advantage of some basic chemistry to use the relatively cool air in your kitchen to cool down some relatively warm coils, then reducing the pressure in those coils to make it even cooler, which cools down your fridge. It’s a neat trick, but it only works efficiently if the coils on the back of your fridge are exposed to air and not insulated.

Guess what? Over time, dust builds up back there and effectively insulates the coils. That means that your refrigerator has to run for a lot longer since the gas isn’t cooling down as fast on each cycle. That “dust insulation” makes your refrigerator run longer, which gobbles up a lot of electricity.

The solution is easy: every once in a while – say, once a year – pull out your fridge and dust off the coils on the back of it. Most refrigerators can slide out relatively easily and a thorough cleaning back there can not only make your refrigerator run more efficiently (saving you money on electricity), it also means less wear and tear on your refrigerator parts, saving you money on replacements since your fridge will last longer.

Strategy #11 – Check the Schedule of the Nearest University

Two or three times a week, a couple I’ve been friends with for a long while heads over to the campus of the local university. There, they go to speeches by well known authors or to free concerts by talented musicians. These types of events are going on constantly at the university and they’re virtually always open to the public.

There’s no harm in checking out the university calendar to see what kinds of speeches and presentations and art performances are coming up in the near future. Many are completely free and even if just one out of ten are of interest to you, that still means something interesting and free is probably happening two or three times a week or so.

During my post-graduation but pre-children years, I used to enjoy many such events at our local university. These days, I don’t quite get the same opportunities that I once did, but I still recognize the value of the local university.

Strategy #12 – Start a Podcast

One of my closest friends recognized how much loved sitting around with his buddies talking about sports, so he started a podcast that ran for almost four years. It actually built a pretty nice audience for a while and it gave my friends a chance to talk to each other about the sports they loved, tell jokes, and share it all with like-minded people.

What did it cost them? Nothing. What did it give them? It gave a lot of laughs, helped sustain friendships, and built a few new ones, too.

A podcast is a really great way to turn the joy of sitting around with friends talking about a passion you enjoy into something that can build new friendships, sustain your current friendships, and even possibly make a few bucks. All you really need to do is record those conversations and share them. My friends just recorded themselves chatting around a laptop, added some images of what they were talking about using a free movie making tool, and put the results on Youtube. It’s fun, it’s free, it can build friendships, and it can make you some ad revenue, too.

Strategy #13 – Have a Weekly Meal Menu

One of our busiest friends handles meal preparation for her family by having a rather strict meal plan that she just follows over and over. They have a certain meal each Monday, a different one on Tuesday, and so on.

Her meal plan does include a bit of variance in the meals – her “casserole” night has a fair amount of variation to it, as does her “soup” night and “grill” night – but each of those things follows the same general structure for the meal. Her soup recipe is the same with just substituted ingredients.

This saves her money in a number of ways. First, she can shop insanely quickly without distractions because she knows exactly what’s needed for the week. She can bulk buy ingredients if she discovers they’re on sale without skipping a beat. She can also prepare the meals incredibly quickly because they’re so familiar for her and her family.

Strategy #14 – Invert the Pantry

Another strategy for inexpensive meals from another friend is to spend an hour or two “inverting the pantry.” Basically, he just pulls everything out of his pantry and puts everything back in in reverse order. All of the stuff near the front goes to the back and vice versa.

This process usually gives him a ton of ideas for meals using what he has on hand. It also ensures that he uses ingredients that he has on hand before they go bad, converting something that might have become trash into something useful. It also usually cuts directly into his grocery shopping for the week.

If you find that your pantry or cupboards build up over time, just invert the whole thing. You might be surprised at the useful stuff hanging out in the back.

Strategy #15 – Buy Large Jugs of Store Brand Handsoap

Rather than just buying a new small soap dispenser each time you run out of hand soap in the bathroom, stick with one that works and just buy a large jug of handsoap to store under the sink. Better yet, make it store brand handsoap.

By cutting out the purchase of small soap dispensers or containers by simply reusing one of them (or using a long-lasting permanent one that matches your bathroom decor), you save money regularly on your bills. By buying the soap in a large jug and using that jug to fill a smaller container you already have, you save more by buying the soap in bulk instead of in smaller batches. By buying a store brand soap, you save even more due to the “store brand” discount.

Just keep the dispenser you like and start refilling it with store brand handsoap. Your hands will be clean, your dispenser will work like a champ, and you save money, too.

Final Thoughts

These techniques involve simple little life changes that take very little time or effort to pull off but can easily save you a few bucks. Choose the ones that work for you and toss the rest.

Remember, if you can make an effortless change that doesn’t degrade your life in any way, it’s pure savings. It’s money that stays right in your pocket, right where it belongs. That’s definitely a frugal win.

The post The Packet Drawer – and Fifteen Other Little Frugal Strategies from My Social Circle appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Australian Photographer Travels Around Nepal And Asks People To Smile! See The Difference.

Jay Weinstein is a Mumbai based Australian photographer who has started a beautiful photo project called ‘So I Asked Them To Smile’. For this project, he travels around different cities meeting strangers and takes two photos of each of them – one with their regular expression and one after he asks them to smile. Needless to say, the results are beautiful and it’s quite amazing see how a simple smile can change the entire appearance of a person and makes them look more approachable, friendly and relatable.


Jay Weinstein. Photo By: Lorin Fogel

It was in December 2013 when Weisntein was on a photography trip to Rajasthan in India where he saw a man he wanted to photograph. But he hesitated taking his photograph and instead, started taking pictures of other subjects around him when he heard the man say, “Take my picture too”, and gave him a beautiful smile. That was the very moment when the photographer came to know what he really wanted to do and hence, ‘So I asked them to smile’ was born.

Apart from Australia and India, he has traveled to various parts of Nepal doing what he does the best — making people smile. Here are some of his photographs from Nepal with the captions he wrote.

“He was kind enough to let me into his courtyard in the scenic village of Marpha, in the district of Mustang, Nepal…so I asked him to smile.”


“He was selling herbs and ointments, sitting on the steps in front of a shuttered shop in the back lanes of Boudha, Kathmandu, Nepal…so I asked him to smile.” smile-2

“He was on his way to school, between the mighty Dhaulagiri and Annapurna peaks, in the village of Lete, Mustang District, Nepal…so I asked him to smile.”

“She was playing among the Nepali New Year butter-lamp sellers in Boudha, Kathmandu, Nepal…so I asked her to smile.”


“He was walking around the base of the Swayambhunath Stupa hill in Kathmandu, Nepal…so I asked him to smile.”


“He was walking, with his family, through the ancient maze like alleys and doorways of Panauti, in the Kavre District of Nepal…so I asked him to smile.”


Such a beautiful work this photographer is doing. We wish there were more people like him who made people smile.

See more photographs from the project on Facebook and Instagram.



The post Australian Photographer Travels Around Nepal And Asks People To Smile! See The Difference. appeared first on NeoStuffs.

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Fresh Tunes: Deepak Gurung Releases Debut Album, Here’s The First Song

British Gurkha soldier Deepak Gurung has recently released his debut music album. The 25-year-old who started serving in the UK army in 2012 has named his album ‘Turning 12’. Originally from Syangja, he had won a popular singing competition titled Voice of Syangja in 2007 when he was just 16.

The very first music video of a song from the album has been released online. ‘Ma Haraye’ is written and composed by Kamal Khatri and performed by Deepak Gurung. “It’s a tragic song that expresses the feelings and pain of a lover who has recently lost the love of his life”, Gurung told NeoStuffs.

The music video starring ‘Junge’ actor Suraj Singh Thakuri and ‘Chapali Height 2’ actress Mariska Pokhrel is pretty sensuous and emotional at the same time. The video shot by Dhiraj Jung Shah is directed and edited by Jeevan Thapa.

Watch the music video her and let us know what you think of it.

The post Fresh Tunes: Deepak Gurung Releases Debut Album, Here’s The First Song appeared first on NeoStuffs.

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How Much Does it Cost to Sell a House?

How much does it cost to sell a house? The truth is, how much you’ll pay to sell your home depends on a number of factors. For example, using a realtor to market and manage your home sale can be rather expensive — real estate agent commissions can total 5% to 6% of the sale price, all of which is generally paid for by the seller, not the buyer. But if you sell it on your own? Do things the right way, and your costs may be minimal.

Other factors that can affect the cost of selling a home include property taxes, neighborhood fees, repairs you need to make, and even the time of year. If you plan on selling any time soon, it’s crucial to factor these and other costs into the equation.

Common Costs Associated with Selling a Home

While every home sale is different, and laws and customs vary by state, most real estate transactions incur the same types of costs and fees just about everywhere. Generally speaking, pricier homes simply incur proportionally higher expenses across the board in each of these categories. Here are the most common expenses to plan for when selling your home:

Real Estate Agent Commissions

This is the biggie when it comes to selling your home. A seller can expect to fork over up to 6% of their home’s sale price in real estate commissions, according to Realtor.com. That percentage is typically split between the buyer’s and seller’s agents, then divvied up between their respective brokers.

That means that on the sale of a $300,000 home, real estate commissions alone can eat up as much as $18,000 of the sale.

Obviously, this is a fee you’ll want to negotiate down if you can — and more and more sellers are able to do just that. A recent study by online real estate brokerage Redfin found that 60% of people who sold a home in the past year received some kind of discount on their commissions, while 37% of buyers received a discount or other rebate of at least $500 on their agent’s portion of the commission.

There are a few possible reasons real estate agents are more likely to take a lower commission these days. For starters, available housing inventory is low across the country, and agents must compete fiercely for that dwindling business. Meanwhile, online brokerages such as Redfin and Owners.com, which offer high-powered web tools and the services of local agents at a discount to traditional realtors, have grown more popular.

With Redfin, sellers pay a lower 1.5% commission, while buyers also receive a rebate. With Owners.com, sellers can choose between a few different packages based on the level of service they want — there’s even a bare-bones free option — to save on the 2.5% to 3% they would typically owe a seller’s agent.

“In the traditional real estate model, a seller’s agent typically charges 5% to 6% commission on the asking price of a home, with half of the commission paid to the buyer’s agent,” says Steve Udelson, president of Owners.com. “Considering the average price of an existing home, according to the National Association of Realtors, is $244,100, a seller using Owners.com would keep more than $6,000 in their pocket,” Udelson says.

Alternatively, you can skip using an agent altogether and market your home on your own. In a popular area with lots of traffic, an old-fashioned yard sign may do the trick, and you can advertise your home on free sites such as Craigslist. Just remember, you’ll need to take on the responsibilities of a realtor when you sell your home by yourself, including some heavyweight tasks like hiring a lawyer to draw up the contract, negotiating with buyers or their agents, and arranging the title paperwork and transfer.

Home Repairs

If your home is in perfect shape and move-in ready, you may not need to complete any repairs before you sell. Chances are, however, you may need to take care of some basic updates to boost the home’s curb appeal and secure the best price. That might mean a fresh coat of paint throughout, repairing a crack in the ceiling, or finally fixing that loose railing on the stairs.

In addition to any repairs you make to improve the resale value of your home, you might be liable for even more repairs once a sale is underway. Your buyer will likely have a home inspection, and they can ask you to repair any major faults as a condition of the sale. While you can’t always predict these repairs or their costs, you should keep your mind – and your wallet – open to the possibility of some additional outlay.

Mortgage Payoff

When you sell your home, you’ll use the profits of the sale to pay off your old home loan first. While the concept is fairly cut and dry, the amount you’ll pay may not be the amount listed on your last mortgage statement. Because interest accrues daily, you’ll owe the principal of your loan plus the amount of prorated interest you’ve accrued until the day of your closing. If your mortgage has a prepayment penalty (it probably doesn’t, but always check), you’ll need factor it into the equation as well.

Neighborhood Fees and Additional Taxes

If your neighborhood has a homeowner’s association, expect to pay a prorated share of your annual or monthly HOA fees. On the flip side, if you have already prepaid your HOA fees for the year, you may be returned a portion of your payment at closing, or choose to allow that amount to carry over into the new buyer’s term.

Other fees can vary. In some states, you may also be charged a local transfer tax of 0.01% to 2% of your sales price to transfer your home’s title.

If you earn a considerable income on the sale of your home, you can also expect to pay capital gains taxes as well. If the profit from your home exceeds $250,000 for singles of $500,000 for married couples filing jointly, you’ll owe capital gains taxes on any amount over those caps per the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). But if your home sale nets a profit less than those amounts, you can keep those profits tax-free provided you lived in your home for two out of the previous five years before selling.

Property Taxes

This is where the time of year comes into play, and where things get tricky. First of all, the fact that property taxes are sometimes payed in arrears means you may need to pay extra to bring your property taxes up-to-date for your buyer.

In addition to that, you usually need to pay a prorated amount of property taxes until the day your home sale closes. If you just paid your taxes, you might owe next to nothing. If your next tax bill is far away, however, it could easily be thousands of dollars.

Title Insurance

Title insurance, which protects the buyer in case there are problems with the home’s title or ownership history, is often the buyer’s responsibility, but in some cases the seller may offer or be required to pay for it. Title insurance usually runs between $500 and $1,000. If a lien is discovered on your home before the closing date, you’ll also need to pay that off before you can sell.

Home Warranty

While a home warranty is usually optional, buying one for potential buyers can help you sell your home. While the terms of these warranties vary, they tend to cover the major components of your home and promise repair or replacement for new buyers. Most of the time, home warranties last one year but may be renewed for an additional cost.

The price of a home warranty can depend on the sales price of your home, but you should generally expect to pay about $300 to $500 for this benefit.

Buyer’s Closing Costs

In a buyer’s market, a seller could be asked to cover part or all of the buyer’s closing costs to sweeten the deal. Usually, these costs add up to around 2% to 5% of the cost of the home and can include mortgage fees, appraisal costs, and additional professional services.

The Bottom Line

Before you sell your home, you should know which fees to expect. By arming yourself with information, you can emerge from your home’s closing with an eye on the future – and hopefully, more money in your pocket.

Related Articles:

Have you ever sold a home before? Were you surprised by the costs of selling?

The post How Much Does it Cost to Sell a House? appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Some Thoughts on Conspicuous Consumption – and Less Expensive Ways to Show Your Status

A few days ago, I commented on a friend’s wristwatch. I happened to notice it because the face of the watch was black, which actually stood out on his wrist.

It turned out that this watch was a Rolex Submariner, something that often sells in the five figures. He was quite proud of it.

I mentioned to him that I had noticed he usually wore two other watches, one with a blue face and one with a white face, and he laughed. “I actually have about 10 watches that I rotate, mostly with white faces.”

Were they all similarly expensive? It turned out that this Submariner watch was actually in the middle of the road compared to the rest in his collection. His most expensive watch was a Patek Philippe, which was pretty high into the five figures.

Why? I couldn’t help but ask him that. He told me that he honestly didn’t know, aside from the fact that they looked good on his wrist. “I suppose that people who like nice watches will appreciate it.”

(At the end of this conversation, my friend, with a laugh, said, “You’re probably going to want to write about this on The Simple Dollar, aren’t you?” I nodded and he told me to go for it, because even he recognized that a six-figure watch collection was perhaps not the smartest financial choice.)

I completely understand where my friend is coming from. The watch he wears on his wrist is aesthetically pleasing. It stands out a little, enough that I even noticed it, and I’m usually oblivious to such things. My guess is that the watch makes him feel very good about his appearance and that boosts his personal confidence, although we didn’t directly dig into that issue.

But why do those things happen? In the end, what real advantage does a five-figure watch have over a three-figure watch (or even a two-figure one)?

Other than some extremely minor aesthetics, the biggest advantage that the expensive watch has is that it gives an appearance of wealth. For those that notice it and realize what it is, it’s an indication that this person has the resources to pay five figures for a watch.

In other words, it’s conspicuous consumption. From the Wikipedia definition:

Conspicuous consumption is the spending of money on and the acquiring of luxury goods and services to publicly display economic power — of the income or of the accumulated wealth of the buyer. To the conspicuous consumer, such a public display of discretionary economic power is a means either of attaining or of maintaining a given social status.

The purpose behind wearing such a watch isn’t the functionality of the watch. The functionality can be obtained at a much lower price. It’s about attaining or maintaining social status through a public display of spending power. It is a public display that says that the person wearing this watch is valued or valuable enough to be able to afford a five figure item on his or her wrist.

It’s similar to the reason that people wear expensive clothing or expensive jewelry. On a lesser scale, it’s why people tend to use high end electronics. None of those things provide any sort of meaningful functionality that surpasses less expensive versions (in fact, I’d argue that they’re less functional because there’s a financial reason to be much more protective of a five figure watch).

It’s not about what the item actually does in terms of functionality. It’s about status. It’s about appearance. It’s about self-confidence, in other words.

In other words, would you pay five figures for an item that made you feel substantially more self-confident in any situation? There are a lot of people who would do this… in fact, there are quite a few people who do this.

There’s a problem with that tradeoff, though.

For starters, such items often don’t lead to sustained improvements in self-confidence. They might help with your self-confidence over the short term, but something else will need to sustain it long term. Because of that, many people who buy items to improve their self-confidence often end up buying a string of them over time. When the self-confidence boost from a watch fades away, you’re either left accepting a reduced sense of self-confidence or you buy another item to artificially boost it again. (I should know; I have been caught in this cycle myself in the past.)

Of course, there is a third option.

The most powerful type of self-confidence booster isn’t conspicuous consumption. It’s self-improvement. It’s about genuinely improving aspects of yourself that bother you so that they no longer detract from your self-image.

There are many, many ways to improve your self-image and thus your self-confidence without conspicuous consumption.

You can try hard to always do the right thing and build a positive reputation. Few things feel better than knowing that you’ve done the right thing in a lot of situations in life. Doing so can build a strong sense within that you are a good and worthwhile person, plus it can help build a positive reputation for you which makes self-confidence much easier.

You can improve your grooming habits. Simply adopt a more thorough personal hygiene and grooming routine at the start of your day.

You can nip negative thoughts in the bud. Whenever you notice yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself or about others, consciously shut down those thoughts and consciously look for positives. You’ll find that the whole world begins to look better.

You can lose weight. Not only does this provide health benefits, it can provide a powerful boost to self-confidence.

You can consciously work on your social and networking skills. Being able to put aside personal nervousness and actually talk to people in a social setting can completely change one’s worldview and one’s self-image.

You can engage in an interesting hobby. This often gives a person something to talk about and to share with others. It gives you a starting point for conversation, if nothing else. I can’t tell you the number of great conversations I’ve had about hiking or even about tabletop gaming.

You can actively practice self-appreciation. Simply list three things you appreciate about yourself every single day.

You can accept imperfections. No one is perfect – not you and not anyone else. That’s okay. Accepting that can do wonders for a person’s self-confidence once they realize that they don’t have to be perfect.

All of those steps add up to one key thing: self-confidence. In the end, that’s the real purpose of conspicuous consumption: it’s a substitution for self-confidence in order to gain the respect and admiration of others. A status symbol isn’t true status – it’s merely a substitute for it. True status comes from the person behind the status symbols, and if you have self-confidence and good character traits, you have everything you need.

At that point, status symbols become nothing more than overpriced trinkets; their value for increasing self-confidence basically vanishes because you already have that confidence. Their value for displaying status basically disappears because you already have that status.

The best investment you can make in your future isn’t to buy a status symbol. The best investment you can make in your future is to improve yourself. That turns out to usually be an investment of time rather than money.

Instead of buying that status symbol, use that money elsewhere to eliminate debts, build an emergency fund, and begin paving the life you want to live.

If you already have all of that, sure, buy yourself a five figure watch if you want one, but at that point, you can see it for what it is: a very expensive trinket on your wrist. It’s not self-confidence. It’s not status. It’s just a watch.

Self-confidence comes from within. Status comes from sustained self-confidence and other positive character traits. You can’t buy those things permanently; a status symbol is just a temporary boost at an extremely stiff price.

Good luck.

Related Articles:

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The Soulmatez Crew To Represent Nepal At Battle Of The Year 2016 In Thailand

It hasn’t been long and most probably, only after the rise in popularity of YouTube; we’ve started realizing that how talented Nepal’s dancers are. Of course we did know that they are good but knowing that they are so good that they can not only compete with the aces of dancing but also have fair chances of winning. While The Wild Ripperz Crew and Sushant Khatri are making Nepal proud at the grand stage of Star Plus TV reality dancing show Dance+ Season 2 in India; another Nepalese crew are all set to fly abroad to represent Nepal at a prestigious international dance competition.

The national competition of Battle of the Year 2016 took place in Kathmandu on August 27th which was judged by the popular Thai B-boy G1. The Soulmatez Crew from Pokhara had succeeded in winning the national title in the event organized by MN Entertainment and Fem Nepal. The crew that consists of Prince Tulachan (19), Kalin Bhansakarya (20), Nima Dawa Sherpa (20), Manoj Tamang (24), Kiran Pemi Magar (20), Kritagya Bikram Rana (16), Sanjay Gurung (17) , Roshan Pariyar (16) Sahil Pathan (19) and Bishal Gurung (22) will now be competing with the crews from China, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Indonesia and Vietnam at the continental qualifiers. The winning crew will then qualify to the world finals to be held in Germany where they will not only represent their country but the entire continent.

The crew formed in 2013 have left for Thailand today on September 9th where they will be competing at the South East Asia qualifiers on coming Sunday. A crew member talked to NeoStuffs before leaving for Thailand, “As Nepal is still behind in the international breaking scene, we are looking forward to change that status. Our target is to open the golden gates of HipHop dancing for Nepal by showing at such a prestigious platform that Nepali dancers are no less than any international breakers,” Prince Tulachan said over the phone. “We know that it’s going to be a tough competition as the contenders are some of the finest dancers from around the world, but we are going to give it our best shot and try our best to make Nepal proud”, he further added.

The full videos from the country qualifiers in Kathmandu are yet to be released but in the meantime, here’s a short teaser of the event.

You can find the crew of Facebook.

Go guys, and make us proud. All the best!

The post The Soulmatez Crew To Represent Nepal At Battle Of The Year 2016 In Thailand appeared first on NeoStuffs.

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Watch: Sanjay & Nurja Romance In This Beautiful New Song From ‘Safar’

s the release date of ‘Safar’, an upcoming Nepali road-film entirely filmed in various parts of the United States, is coming near, various promotional videos such as songs and dialogue promos are being released online. The latest one being a beautiful new video song featuring the lead pair of Sanjay Gupta and Nurja Shrestha along with the evergreen singer Sugam Pokharel himself. The song titled ‘Timi Mero Jiwan’ is written and composed by Ujwal Meghi Gurung and performed by Sugam Pokharel along with Suman Gurung.

The video captures various scenes of the couple filmed in some beautiful locations in the US with some shots of Sugam Pokharel in between. The film that also stars Shibir Pokharel and Manan Sapkota in the lead is directed by Ashish Shrestha; and is scheduled for its release in Nepal on September 30th.

We’re pretty sure that you’re looking forward to watch the film when it releases. For now, watch this video song.

Well, we also have this dialogue promo that has Sanjay, Manan and Shibir talking about things we all can relate to. Watch it here.

The post Watch: Sanjay & Nurja Romance In This Beautiful New Song From ‘Safar’ appeared first on NeoStuffs.

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Dayum! Astha Drops New Single & It’s Fire!!

Astha Tamang Maskey has just dropped her brand new single and it’s nothing but perfection. The song titled ‘Ride’ that features Manny Rite has been written by the two artistes themselves. The music produced by Rohit Shakya aka The Author has been mixed by Adam Royce and mastered by Phil Demetro. The music video starring Alexandria, Eric Isadas along with Astha is directed by Saint and edited by Andrew Lau.

Now this is what we call an ‘international stuff’. This song is sure to go a long way. Watch the music video below and let us know what you think of it.

The post Dayum! Astha Drops New Single & It’s Fire!! appeared first on NeoStuffs.

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How to Qualify for a Small Business Loan

Applying for a loan under any circumstances is rarely fun. With all the paperwork and loan requirements, it probably ranks somewhere between visiting the dentist and filing your taxes.

For small business owners in need of cash to keep the doors open and the lights on, the process of qualifying for a loan can be even more nerve wracking. But there are ways to make obtaining funding for your business a little less painful, and to perhaps increase your odds of success as well, according to small business experts.

“The most important piece of advice is to apply for a loan before you need it,” says Lou Leyes, a business coach and financial planner with Susquehanna SCORE, which provides free and confidential business mentoring. “People often wait until the last minute to get a loan, and that’s the worst time to do it. Do it as soon as possible.”

While it may sound somewhat counterintuitive to ask for money before you actually need it, doing so will make the process much less stressful – and can improve your odds of meeting all the small business loan requirements.

That’s just one of the many pieces of advice Leyes and other financial advisors have to offer. Here’s a look at some of the other tips they say will make the process a little bit less fraught with stress and pitfalls.

1. Familiarize yourself with ‘The Five Cs.’

This is perhaps the most basic first step in applying for a small business loan. The five Cs are essentially what the bank is looking at when reviewing any loan request — what it considers the most critical small business loan requirements.

More specifically, the five Cs are: character, credit score, capacity, capital, and collateral.

When it comes to credit score, for instance, lenders have a certain threshold they’re not willing to go below. And they will view your business credit score (your personal credit score is often taken into consideration, too) as a measure of your willingness and commitment to meet financial obligations.

Capacity, meanwhile, refers to a company’s monthly or annual revenues, and capital pertains to cash-on-hand. The bottom line is, you should familiarize yourself with all the criteria banks will use to evaluate your application, and do what you can to put your best foot forward in each category.

“It’s important for a borrower to understand how they size up, where any weaknesses are, and if there’s anything that needs to be taken care of, corrected, or fixed before speaking with a lender,” says Robert Mineo, financing assistance program director for the Small Business Development Center at Lehigh University’s College of Business & Economics.

2. Develop a solid business plan.

Your business plan is like your road map, but with even more detail. It’s a formal document that lays out your business goals, why they’re attainable, and you plans for reaching those goals. Banks will want to see this document as part of the lending application. So make sure you’ve got a solid, professional, well thought-out plan to present.

“If you’re a brand-new business owner with a solid business plan, lenders will often lend money based on that business plan,” says Leyes.

3. Obtain guidance from a Small Business Development Center.

A service of the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) located throughout the United States. The mission of these centers is to help entrepreneurs realize the dream of business ownership and to help existing small businesses remain competitive.

For no cost, SBDCs will help small business owners with such things as identifying the right type of funding for a project, explaining the best strategies for navigating the financing process, and presenting a solid loan proposal, says Mineo.

4. Approach your meeting with a potential lender as if it’s a job interview or a first date.

What does this mean exactly? Once again, it boils down to putting your best foot forward.

When you apply for a business loan, wear what you would to a job interview, says Leyes. You want to appear professional.

To this, Mineo adds the dating analogy. “The goal is to see if both parties are interested. If the project — whether it’s a start-up or expansion — appears to be a good fit, the lender will provide information on next steps and what they require for the final application,” Mineo explains. “The borrower should then organize information and complete the required documentation.”

5. Be prepared to provide collateral.

As mentioned earlier, collateral is a key issue. Depending on the size of the loan, your credit history, and other variables, a lender may seek some collateral to back your loan — meaning an asset they can repossess if you default on the loan. (Auto loans and mortgages are two common examples of loans secured by collateral — namely, your car and your home.)

As for what kind of collateral people should have exactly – there’s not really a great answer for that question, according to Mineo. It all depends on the lender, the type of financing being sought, and other factors. But in general, collateral is typically a valuable asset such as a home, a car, or commercial property.

More importantly, know this fact: “It’s extremely difficult to obtain financing without any personal or business assets available,” Mineo says.

A Few Final Bits of Advice

If you’re considering opening a business, begin saving money immediately, socking away as much as you can. Not only will the cash help extend your start-up runway or come in handy during an emergency — it will also improve your chances of obtaining a loan when the time comes, says Leyes.

“Start improving your personal cash flow right away, and cut every expense you can in your personal life, so that you’re sitting on a ton of cash,” advises Leyes.

Also consider applying for a loan from local banks first to increase your odds of success, Leyes adds. “I work with the local banks in my area, and the relationships are easier to develop and maintain,” he explains. “And those relationships will take you a long way when things aren’t going well.”

Finally, don’t be discouraged by rejection. Rather, use the experience as an opportunity to find out what exactly the lender found objectionable, so that you can fix the problem and make your application stronger next time around.

“Ask questions as to why you’re getting rejected, understand what their criteria was and why they didn’t think the loan was a good risk for them,” concludes Leyes.

Related Articles

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

31 Days to Financial Independence (Day 4): Figuring Out Your True Hourly Wage – and What It Means

“31 Days to Financial Independence” is an ongoing series that appears every Thursday on The Simple Dollar. You might want to start this series from the beginning!

The first three entries in this series started off in something of an unexpected place for people looking for solutions to their financial problems. Rather than digging right into the dollars and cents of the situation, we started off this journey by “zooming out” a little bit and looking at our lives as a whole. What do we want to do with our life? Why do we feel as though we’re spread so thin? What can we do about that?

The truth of the matter is that it’s very difficult to make any lasting change in your financial life if you’re spread too thin in the other areas of your life. Thus, the first step is to simply fix that state.

From there, now we can move onto the next steps, the foundational pieces of getting your financial life in order on top of a firm foundation.

It starts with your true hourly wage.

* * *

So, what exactly is a “true” hourly wage? Most of us know what our hourly wage is for the work that we do, but what isn’t “true” about it?

While your hourly wage is how much you are paid for each hour you work, your true hourly wage is how much money you keep for each hour you devote to your work. That turns out to be a drastically different thing.

I first learned about this concept from the wonderful personal finance book Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, but over the years I’ve seen this idea pop up in my life in countless different ways.

The easiest way to demonstrate a “true” hourly wage is by example, so let’s dig into one.

Our friend John works 40 hours per week for 50 weeks a year. For that, he earns a salary of $40,000. So, if we do the math here, we’ll see that John works 2,000 hours per year (40 hours/week times 50 weeks/year), and thus earns $20 per hour at work ($40,000/year divided by 2,000 hours/year). That’s straightforward enough.

However, that doesn’t include the many other hours that John devotes to his job.

He has a half an hour commute to work and another half an hour commute from work, which adds five hours per week or 250 hours per year.

Once or twice a week, he spends two hours in the evening doing work-related tasks, which adds three hours per week or 150 hours per year.

Twice a year, he has to work an extra full day on a weekend, which adds 16 hours per year.

It’s basically mandated that he goes out to lunch with coworkers at least three times a week, which eats another hour out of his day, which adds three more hours per week or 150 hours per year.

We could add more things, but let’s just stop there. The truth is that instead of just working 2,000 hours per year, John actually devotes 2,566 hours per year to his job.

Now, what about that income? He makes $40,000 a year, right?

Well, he loses $4,000 of that immediately to federal income taxes and another $1,000 to state income taxes.

He spends $10 more on lunch three times a week than he otherwise would, which adds up to $1,500 per year ($10 times 3 lunches per week times 50 weeks per year).

He spends about $0.50 per mile during his commute for fuel, maintenance, registration, insurance, and depreciation. His commute is 15 miles each way, so he drives 30 miles a day for his commute, which means it costs him $15 per day. Multiply that by 5 days per week and 50 weeks per year and you wind up with $3,750 in annual expense.

He has to maintain a decent work wardrobe, which adds up to $250 a year.

Again, we could add more things to this scenario, but you get the idea. These extra job-related expenses are taking money out of his pocket – $10,500, to be exact.

Suddenly, rather than making $40,000 from working 2,000 hours, he’s actually making $29,500 from devoting 2,566 hours to his job.

His hourly wage on paper might be $20/hour, but his true hourly wage is $11.50/hour.

That’s painful to think about, and most people don’t want to think about it that way. The truth is that John is repeatedly trading away an hour of his life – his time, his energy, his focus – for $11.50. He does it over and over and over and over again.

(The truth is that the exchange rate is probably worse than that – we didn’t include nearly all of the factors that add “work time” nor did we include all of the factors that reduce the money that you actually keep.)

Knowing your true hourly wage is important for a bunch of reasons, but two really stand out.

First of all, it gives you a strong baseline as to whether something is worth your time. If John can spend an hour doing something that will save him $20, then it’s worth it to him. It’s far better than the true hourly rate he gets from the time devoted to his job. If he went just by his stated hourly wage, then such a task might not seem as good, but $20 an hour in his pocket is way better than the $11.50 an hour in his pocket that his real job gives him.

What I’ve found over the years is that knowing my true hourly wage really makes frugal tasks look quite good in terms of dollars and cents. There are tasks that, at first glance, I wouldn’t imagine would be worth the time, but when I actually thought about them and then considered my true hourly wage in comparison, they actually seemed pretty good.

Second, your true hourly wage lets you see how many hours of your life you’re exchanging for various goods. If John buys a $1,000 television, he previously thought that was just a little more than a week’s wages – $20 an hour times 50 hours equals $1,000. Not bad. However, the truth is that he’s only getting $11.50 per hour of his time and energy, which means he’s trading 87 hours of his life away for that television.

Those kinds of comparisons are even worse for small things. If your “true” hourly wage is just $8, for example, buying a $2 slice of pizza and a $2 beverage means you’re literally trading away half an hour of your life for that stuff.

For me, at least, those kinds of comparisons are downright agonizing. I do not want to be in the business of trading away chunks of my life for small, forgettable things. If I’m going to work for a large number of hours to be able to pocket the money to pay for something, I want that purchase to be a meaningful one. I don’t want to trade my life away for an endless string of forgotten little “treats” and relatively meaningless splurges.

Let’s step back now and take a look at your true hourly wage.

Exercise 4 – Calculating Your “True” Hourly Wage and Putting It to Work

To begin with, figure out how much money you made in the past year. You can do this by looking at last year’s tax returns or paychecks. You’ll also need to estimate, to the best of your ability, how many hours you worked last year. Don’t worry about adding in extra work – just focus on the hours spent in the office working on tasks.

Got that? Now, if you take that annual income and divide it by the number of hours worked, you have your approximate hourly wage… but that’s not your true hourly wage.

To get your true hourly wage, you’re going to have to walk through your life a little bit in order to figure out where you’ve spent extra time and spent money on things directly related to your job. The time you spent increases the hours you’ve devoted to work, while the money spent decreases the actual amount that makes it into your pocket.

I’m going to break these things down into a few categories. I suggest taking out a piece of paper and tabulating all of the time and money spent on these things throughout the year.

First of all, how much did you pay in state and federal income taxes? That’s money taken straight out of your pocket, so you need to include it.

Next, let’s look at the general area of commuting, something that most employees have to do.

How much time do you spend commuting each day? This includes things like walking or riding a bike or even riding mass transit.

How many miles do you drive? Once you know the daily mileage to and from work, you’ll want to multiply that by $0.58, which is the AAA estimate of the per-mile cost of operating a vehicle (gas, maintenance, oil, insurance, registration, depreciation, and so on).

How much do you pay for tollways?

How much do you pay for parking each day (or each month or year, depending on how you pay for it)?

If you have to use mass transit to get to and from work, what’s the daily cost for that?

Multiply those things by the number of workdays in a week, then the number of weeks that you work in a year. You’ll quickly see how much those factors add up.

What about taking work home or weekend work? Make sure you’re including that when you include your total number of work hours.

What about work clothes? You should include the cost things like makeup and briefcases and extra grooming and other such items here, as well as the time spent shopping for them and the time spent actually using them.

What about meals? How often do you go out to lunch or dinner with coworkers or with professional guests? What about entertaining for work, like hosting dinner parties? How often does your job force you to eat convenience foods, and what do they cost (think of a vending machine or a fast food stop)?

What about hired help? If you have to have child care in order to be able to work, then you absolutely need to include that expense. Maybe you also hire people to help with other household tasks like cleaning or laundry.

What about decompression and entertainment? How much “down time” do you need to unwind when you get home? What do you spend on entertainment during that “down time”? Do you use entertainment or other things to “escape” from your everyday life – and if you do, how much does that stuff cost and how much time does it eat up?

What about extra lifestyle expenses – things that you buy because you think you should because of your salary or status? Do you go on excessively expensive vacations because you can “afford” it or need to “escape”? Do you have to use a gym to keep in shape because your job is sedentary (I’d probably count the cost here, but I’ll leave the time involved at your discretion)? What about owning a “summer house” that you “escape” to every once in a while – what does that cost? Think about the extra lifestyle expenses you have in your life that are far beyond what you’d need to do for basic enjoyment.

What about other work expenses? Do you buy any books related to your career? Do you subscribe to any magazines or trade journals? How much time do you spend with these things because you think it’ll help your career (don’t count the time if it’s truly personal enrichment)?

As you can see, these expenses – both in terms of time and in terms of money – really add up. I strongly encourage you to go through each of these questions and think about whether those time and money expenses really exist in your life and, if they do, how much they add up to over the course of a year. If it’s a daily expense, multiply it by 5 (days per week) and then by 50 (weeks per year). If it’s a weekly expense, just multiply it by 50 (weeks per year).

Then, when you’ve calculated all of those numbers, add up the annual hours and annual expenses. Add the annual hours to the initial number that you estimated – the amount of hours actually spent at work – and then subtract the annual expenses from your annual income.

Then divide the two – take your adjusted annual income and divide it by your adjusted hours devoted to work.

That’s your true hourly wage. And it’s probably painful.

Most people don’t realize how little they’re willing to exchange an hour of their life for, yet over and over again you’re making that trade. You’re trading an hour of your life for that true hourly wage and you’re likely doing it 60-70 times a week (or even more).

That alone can be enough to make you strongly think about your career choices. Driving across town to make $10.50 an hour might be a worse move than working for $8 an hour at the gas station across the street, for example. It’s very possible that the gas station job across the street will leave more money in your pocket for each hour you work – in fact, I’d say it’s quite likely.

However, you might find an even bigger impact when using that true hourly wage to evaluate your purchases. This one can be a real life changer.

If you previously didn’t think about your true hourly wage at all, you might just see a $1,000 television as being a very expensive item, but one you’ll enjoy a lot. It’s bigger than that $500 television and would look great in your living room.

What if your true hourly wage is just $8 an hour, though?

That $1,000 television means you are devoting 125 hours of your life just to put that television in your living room. That doesn’t include the hours you’ll spend each month just to afford the programming on it – if you have a $100 cable bill, for instance, that’s 12.5 hours of your life gone just to have that cable package. Over the course of just one year, that’s 275 hours of your life that vanishes just to have this television.

On the other hand, maybe you stick with just that $500 television and, instead of cable, you just subscribe to Netflix for $9 a month. The television now costs you only 62.5 hours of your life, while Netflix is costing you only 1.125 hours of your life each month. This option is only costing you 76 hours of your life for a year of television.

The Big Follow-Up Question

The obvious question that people have from these calculations is what happens to the hours that I “save” by making better spending choices? In the example above, buying that less expensive television “saves” 200 hours out of my life this year, but in reality, we don’t directly see those hours. We don’t suddenly have 4 more hours of free time in a week if we make that choice.

So how does that pay off? It pays off in several ways that you don’t expect, actually.

First of all, it pays off in the form of reduced stress. Take that savings and put it aside for an emergency, like a car breakdown or a sudden job loss. Suddenly, you feel more secure about your day to day life – a little bit of the stress of walking the high wire is gone.

It pays off in the form of lower debts, which is the very first inkling you’ll get of the power of money over time. If you instead apply the hours you would have spent to get that big television and cable bill and instead apply them to paying down your debts, you’ll see that your debt payment gets smaller and the amount of interest you owe each month goes down, too. Your bills start to shrink, meaning you can devote fewer of your hours each month just to earning the money needed to keep afloat and you can spend more of your hours each month earning money for building the life you actually want.

In fact, that’s exactly how I like to look at my time spent working. I have to spend a certain amount of work time each week doing things to simply pay the bills and keep things going – my life expenses, in other words. The rest of my work time is spent earning the money I need to build the life I want. I want to spend less of my work time on merely paying the bills and covering basic life expenses and more time building the meaningful life I want – and I’m guessing you feel the exact same way. The easiest way to do that is to be conscious of what my purchases are actually costing me in terms of my working time.

Next time, we’re going to tie this “true hourly wage” concept directly to the life changes we talked about in the first few days of this journey. What are you really working for? We’re about to figure that out, and it will provide you with a rocket ship full of meaning and motivation for getting your financial life straight.

The post 31 Days to Financial Independence (Day 4): Figuring Out Your True Hourly Wage – and What It Means appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Zeenus Lama To Represent Nepal At Miss Grand International 2016 In Las Vegas

Miss Grand International is one of the most prestigious international beauty pageants that takes place every year. With the campaign ‘Stop the War and Violence’, the main motto of the pageant headquartered in Thailand is to help people avoid conflict and violence that may lead to war in any form. Nepal will be taking part in the pageant for the third time this year as Asmita Sitaula in 2013 and Srijana Regmi in 2014 had represented the Himalayan nation so far. Zeenus Lama who had succeeded in bagging the title of Miss Grand Nepal 2016 on August 23rd at Hyatt Regency in Kathmandu will be Nepal’s delegate this year and will be competing with over 80 delegates from around the world in Las Vegas on October 25th.

Zeenus had left nine other tough contenders behind to grab the title this year and was crowned by the reigning Miss Grand International Claire Parker in the event organized by Looks International. Along with the main title, she had also won the Miss Personality award.

Originally from Chitwan, the 24-year-old Mass Communication student, lives in Kathmandu and works as the Marketing Manager at Organic World & Fair Future. When she is not working or studying, she loves to spend time with children and elderly people. She is currently busy preparing for the international pageant that will have its coronation night on October 25th in Las Vegas, USA.

“I feel extremely proud that I will have the privilege to represent Nepal at such a prestigious platform and I will try my best to make my nation and my people proud of me”, Lama told NeoStuffs.


The moment!

zeenus 1

Lama with reigning Miss Grand International Claire Parker


Lama with her trophy

We wish her the best. You go, Zeenus!

The post Zeenus Lama To Represent Nepal At Miss Grand International 2016 In Las Vegas appeared first on NeoStuffs.

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Abhaya & The Steam Injuns Drop First Music Video From The Latest Album: Watch

One of the most loved Rock n’ Roll bands in Nepal, Abhaya & The Steam Injuns, released their fourth studio album ‘Looking For Love’ in August this year. The band that has been rocking since over a decade now, toured and performed around eight cities all over the nation in a month. The very first music video from the album has now been released online. The song titled ‘Maajhi Dai’ is an absolute treat for the music lovers. It’s written by Abhaya Subba along with Viplob Pratik. The music video starring Isha GC, Yugjung Gurung, Yubinjung Gurung, Rozyna Gurung, Soosmee Pun, Sabina Gurung, Govinda Pahari and Shankar Dev Shrestha is able to perfectly capture the essence of the song. Directed by Vibhushan Srijong Subba, the video is edited by Abhisek Yonzon.

We instantly fell in love with the song. Watch the music video below and let us know what you think of it.

The post Abhaya & The Steam Injuns Drop First Music Video From The Latest Album: Watch appeared first on NeoStuffs.

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Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Pick Your Career Off a ‘Hot Jobs’ List

Media outlets love to issue “hot jobs” lists (we’re as guilty as anyone), telling you which careers to target based on considerations like occupational outlook and earning power. But while expected salary and job opportunities are perfectly valid factors to include in your decision, they’re far from the only reasons to pick a career path.

Here are three reasons why you should take such rankings with a grain of salt.

1. Today’s hot job is tomorrow’s law degree.

Years ago, career counselors (and well-meaning relatives) advised humanities majors to take their LSATs before graduating with their bachelor’s degree — “just in case.”

“After all,” the conversation generally went, “You can do anything with a law degree.”

Then, due to a variety of factors (the recession, for example, and websites like LegalZoom that offer basic legal services on the cheap), the bottom dropped out and law blogs started running pieces like “The 20 Law Schools With The Most Unemployed Graduates.”

The point is, you have no way of knowing whether today’s promising occupation will still be in demand tomorrow. If you choose a field based on your interests, aptitudes, and passions, you’ll at least be willing to fight for it when tough times hit.

Pick something off a list, and you may be stuck chasing a career that was never really going to lead to your dream job.

2. Fit is everything when it comes to careers.

“When looking for a job, you want to take into consideration your own unique personality, values, interests, and skills,” says Penny Loretto, associate director of the Career Development Center at Skidmore College.

“’Hot jobs’ that are continually advertised all over the media may be good for some individuals as long as it’s a career that matches your own personal attributes and expectations,” Loretto says. “Selecting a job based on current trends or salary alone could be a big mistake, since it’s just a list of jobs or career fields and doesn’t take personal attributes into consideration.”

If you long to write the Great American Novel, and can’t concentrate in math and science classes, you’re probably never going to be a success as a software engineer, no matter how hot a career it is. And if you can’t stand the sight of blood, you’ll never be happy as a registered nurse. There’s no point trying to shoehorn yourself into a job that will always be a bad fit.

As a career counselor once told me during my own years of carving out a career path, “Trying to make yourself happy in the wrong job is like trying to write with your non-dominant hand. You might learn to do it passably, but it will take longer and never feel natural.”

3. ‘Picking’ a career is a process, not a one-time choice.

Another popular trope of the career advice world is the old, “You’ll have X different careers in your lifetime.” It might interest you to know that no one really keeps tally of that.

It’s true: the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is where most people would look for such data, doesn’t track that information, in part probably because figuring out where one career ends and another begins is increasingly hard.

Unless you go back to school and retrain for something drastically different than what you have been doing, your career will likely evolve gradually as you figure out your strengths, weaknesses, and interests. That’s all to the good, since there’s no real way to know how you’ll fit into a career until you’re in the middle of it.

Regardless of where you start out or hope to end up, the rules of building a successful career are the same:

  • Listen to your heart, but don’t confuse fear with disinterest. Sometimes, you need to take a class that’s a stretch or volunteer for a project that will require you to try something new. That’s not the same as doing a job that feels like writing with your non-dominant hand.
  • Do whatever you can to build your network, including doing internships and being socially active in your field.
  • Look for ways to build your practical skills while you follow your dreams. That might mean taking STEM classes to balance out your humanities courses or finding ways to get a valuable certification before graduation, to set yourself apart from the field of prospective hires. Being pragmatic doesn’t mean walking away from what you love; it just means taking deliberate steps to get yourself where you want to go.

Related Articles:

The post Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Pick Your Career Off a ‘Hot Jobs’ List appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Nepali Film ‘White Sun’ Receives Standing Ovation At Venice Film Festival

Nepali film ‘White Sun’ (‘Seto Surya’ in Nepali) premiered at Venice Film Festival on Tuesday where the film was not only loved by the audience that consisted of over 1400 people but also received a standing ovation from them.

Directed by ‘Highway’ fame Deepak Rauniyar, the film was second Nepali film ever to be premiered at the world-famous festival, the first one being ‘Kalo Pothi’ that premiered last year. The film starring Dayahang Rai, Asha Magrati, Rabindra Singh Baniya, Sumi Malla and Amrit Pariyar centres on the story of two brothers who were on the opposing sides during the Nepali civil war.

white deepak

Deepak Rauniyar & Asha Magarati

Apart from being loved by the audience, the film produced by Deepak Rauniyar, Joslyn Barnes, Tsering Rhitar Sherp and Michel Merkt has also been getting rave reviews from critics. In a review, Hollywood Reporter states, “A standout when premiering in Venice’s Horizons sidebar, it’s a delicately-observed, multi-generational story which will prove awards-bait at festival across the world over the coming months (Toronto is next) and could plausibly go a fair distance in the Oscar Foreign Language category (if submitted).”

The review further reads, “Skilfully manipulating romantic and social frictions melodramatic, Rauniyar and Barker construct a parable-like tale whose allegorical aspects are there for those who wish to find them. But their priority is the creation of believable characters in a pungently atmospheric setting, which then takes shape into a satisfyingly organic narrative patter as White Sun – stark title a reference to an emblem on Nepal’s uniquely non-quadrilateral flag – unfurls.”

Talking from Venice, “We had a great premiere yesterday, full house. As the film ended, people gave a standing ovation. They stayed in the hall, clapping, until we were asked to clear up for the next screening. It felt amazing, more than anything I had ever expected.” Rauniyar told NeoStuffs. “Even after the show when I met people and journalists, they kept on telling me how much they loved the film.”

white sun

Dayahang Rai & Asha Magarati

Apart from Rauniyar, the premiere was attended by actors Dayahang Rai and Asha Magarati along with producers Tsering Rhitar Sherpa and Joslyn Barnes. Rai will be leaving for Nepal on Thursday whereas rest of the team will be flying for New York. The film is scheduled for its screening at Toronto International Film Festival in Canada on 9th of this month. According to Rauniyar, the film can be expected to be released in Nepal by the end of this year.

Here’s a scene from the film.

Photos: Zimbio

The post Nepali Film ‘White Sun’ Receives Standing Ovation At Venice Film Festival appeared first on NeoStuffs.

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OX Markets Review: 5 Key Features of a Powerful Binary Options Broker

OX Markets review

OX Markets is a binary options broker that was founded and have been operated by experienced professionals from the world of binary options trading. Their platform is technologically proficient, way ahead of many others in the competition, and provides its clients with a variety of excellent binary option trading conditions and products. In our OX Markets review, we will discuss 5 key features of the platform that give you as a binary options trader excellent opportunities to earn more profits.

1. OX Markets provides lucrative benefits for traders

OX Markets benefits

  • They operate in more than twenty world markets with two hundred financial instruments at your disposal.
  • OX Markets is CySEC-regulated, which means you will be working in a safe, no-nonsense environment.
  • User-friendly interface combined with the latest trading technology makes this trading platform easy-to-understand and use.
  • The trading products available can cover all your needs and expectations.

Register an account with OX Markets and start trading today!

2. Trading binary options on the OX Markets platform is easy

OX Markets accounts

Besides having the most advanced technical tools and characteristics in the market today, OX Markets also gives you the choice to start trading on a demo account, or if you want, you can go live and start trading for real immediately.

Their deposit-withdrawal system is totally secure and easy-to-use. Their system has been proved to be efficient, foolproof, and very fast too. You can withdraw and deposit money in several currencies via credit and debit cards and bank wire transfers.

3. OX Markets offers several account types 

OX Markets experts

OX Markets has an account type for everyone, whether you want to trade big money or simply try binary options out. The minimum deposit required to open the regular account is $250.00, and then you are ready to start making money immediately.

Each account has a different minimum deposit amount depending on which one you choose: Bronze, Silver, Gold (VIP), or Micro account.

Start earning with OX Markets today!

4. OX Markets educates you on how to trade binary options efficiently

OX Markets support

OX Markets believes in providing permanent technical and trade support to their clients. They have the best traders and technicians available for you to consult live with, and they will answer your questions immediately and cordially, with all due respect and attention.

There is also a vast library of written and video information for OX Markets clients to use whenever they want. Traders can start with the basics of binary options trading and move on through a series of topics that will help them understand the market and trade successfully all the time.

If you are already a veteran trader, go ahead and browse the library anyway, we are sure that you will find information and tips that will be helpful to you too.

5. Trading with OX Markets is simple and profitable

OX Markets has risk-free trades

OX Markets’ aim is to help you make money, and their advanced platform is designed with exactly this purpose in mind. It is easy to start trading right away: there are the best trading professionals available to consult you, and a complete video and documentation library that will help you along the way.

OX Markets review: Final thoughts

OX Markets is one of the most trustworthy and profitable binary options brokers out there. In this review, we covered only 5 key features why OX Markets is popular among binary options traders. Of course, there are many more. We encourage you to go ahead and check their website for yourself:

Open OX Markets account and start earning today!

Let us know what you think about OX Markets platform and read more reviews of binary options brokers.

The post OX Markets Review: 5 Key Features of a Powerful Binary Options Broker appeared first on Fin.Tips – How to Save Money & Multiply Income.

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