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Saturday, October 1, 2016

This Dashain, Sasto Deal Is Your Super Hero: Everything Is Not Just SASTO, But The SASTOest!

Dashain is here. Yay! Don’t we just love this festival? It’s all about delicious foods, new clothes, family gatherings and a lot of happiness. But there’s another side to it as well. It’s about expenses — quite a lot of expenses. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, either you’re still a kid or you’re rich.

Yogeshwar Amatya sings, “Dashain ho ki yo mero dasha!” That pretty much sums it up as well. But you know what, you don’t have to worry much this year because this festive season, Sasto Deal is your savior. The e-commerce giant is here with its ‘Great Dashain Genuine Sale’ that has upto 70% discount on over 20,000 products of 200+ genuine brands.

Just look at these offers!

sd-women sd-watches

sd-tv sd-phones
sd-beauty sd-footwear

There are thousands of other products to choose from and there’s something for everyone. The offer only lasts till Monday, October 3rd; so you better hurry up. Find out about all the offers on the website and you can download the smartphone app for even more convenience. If you’ve any questions, you can send your query on their Facebook page or even make a phone call to 01-4223839 or 01-4222951.

See, Sasto Deal is every shopper’s paradise. Happy Shopping!

And yes, Happy Dashain everyone!!

The post This Dashain, Sasto Deal Is Your Super Hero: Everything Is Not Just SASTO, But The SASTOest! appeared first on NeoStuffs.

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Inspiration from Andrew Sullivan, Dan Harris, Albert Camus, and More

Once a month (or so), I share a dozen things that have inspired me to greater personal, professional, and financial success in my life. I hope they bring similar success to your life.

1. Stephen Jay Gould on a great tragedy

“I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.” – Stephen Jay Gould

A few weeks ago, another website – I’m not sure which one, to tell the truth, and I couldn’t quickly find it with an email search – asked me for a quote that inspired me to think. I sent in a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of my favorite writers, because I happened to be thinking about it at that time. Emerson has many, many great quotes about self-reliance, something I strongly believe in.

After that, though, the question about what quote that has made me think more than any other kept coming back to me. That Emerson quote that I used was a good one, but was it really the true answer? Upon reflection, I think I’ve spent more of my life with this quote from Stephen Jay Gould running through my head.

I can’t help but wonder how many truly great minds have been lost to the circumstances of history. The greatest thinker who ever lived likely never shared a significant thought in his or her life, as that life was preoccupied with the daily efforts to merely stay alive. That, to me, is the greatest tragedy in all of humanity.

The great scientists, the great leaders, the great inventors, the great artists that we know are likely all overshadowed by the talents of those who never got the chance to develop their skills and their thoughts and their ideas. Instead, they were born into circumstances of great misfortune, spending their life as a slave or as a sharecropper or as a sweatshop worker.

Humankind will never be able to achieve its true greatness as long as the greatest among us never have the chance to flower, and that kind of flowering isn’t easy or obvious. Einstein was largely regarded as a failure in school, for example. It wasn’t until he found a place in society and a chance to flower that his mind flourished and his ideas were shared, ideas that today power inventions as disparate as atomic energy and GPS.

How do we make that happen? I honestly don’t know. It’s an incredible problem. But it’s that problem, both in the misfortune of lost opportunity that it brings to every one of us and in the difficulty of finding a way beyond it, that occupies a surprising amount of my thoughts.

2. I Used to Be a Human Being by Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan is a long-time current affairs blogger and writer who recently stepped away from all blogging. This article explains why he did it.

The real reason? Internet addiction, in essence. His constant need to be connected and to have an endless stream of information and news was robbing him of a great deal of his quality of life.

I think that anyone who has a job that involves online writing, podcasting, video creation, or other online creative work can feel some real echoes in what Sullivan is writing about here. I certainly can. Even though I intentionally put time aside for things away from the computer with my cell phone turned off and nothing to distract me, there are times where I feel almost trapped by the constant need to write fresh things and to have new things to write about.

I have posted at least one article a day somewhere online for the last ten years. I don’t believe I have missed a single day. Most of those articles are more than 1,000 words in length. Many are thousands of words in length. In order to do that, I have to have a very clear routine for what I’m doing and my “muse” – my cutesy name for my internal ability to write – basically never gets to really rest for very long.

It can wear at you. At times, it really wears at me. This article speaks to that experience amazingly well.

3. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the silence of friends

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are people in life who will always speak negatively about us. There are people who will treat us as stepping stones to whatever thing they want to march toward. That’s just life.

It’s our friends that are supposed to serve as a retreat from those things. They provide companionship, friendship, the window to explore new ideas and new things without being alone. They pick you up when you fall.

Yet, sometimes, those friends aren’t there. In those moments when you need them most, they vanish into the mists.

Are they really friends? Yes. Sometimes they don’t know that they’re needed.

Still, it doesn’t change the fact that a friend that isn’t there for you when you need them can often turn out to be a greater scar than a person who is cruel to you.

I try my best to be there for my truest friends. Sometimes, I’m sure I fail at it, but it’s something I never intend or want to do.

4. Sal Khan on teaching for mastery, not scores

From the description:

Would you choose to build a house on top of an unfinished foundation? Of course not. Why, then, do we rush students through education when they haven’t always grasped the basics? Yes, it’s complicated, but educator Sal Khan shares his plan to turn struggling students into scholars by helping them master concepts at their own pace.

When I watched this video, I couldn’t help but agree with Sal Khan’s argument that people master skills at different paces and that the best educational system is one that enables people to build mastery at their own pace.

The problem is that our current educational system essentially makes that impossible.

Having individual students work at their own pace works great in classrooms with small sizes. Let’s say you have a class that lasts for fifty minutes and you have ten students in the class. That means, each and every day, you can devote five minutes to each student. That’s long enough to provide some good individual direction to that student with 45 additional daily minutes for practice. Even better, imagine if the class had only five students in it – that’s ten minutes per student per day, with forty additional minutes for practice. If an individual student causes problems in this kind of setting, a teacher can handle it one-on-one without disrupting instruction of other students. Plus, teachers would have much more time for individual feedback on their work, and there would be less need for homework to demonstrate mastery.

The problem is that funding doesn’t exist to allow for class sizes that small. Instead, we have classes with 25 students in them. This means there’s only time for two minutes of individual instruction per student. That’s simply not enough time for students to have any real individual instruction. The teacher thus has to teach the class as a whole, meaning that some students are bored with the slow pace and others are lost with the fast pace. Even worse, disruptive students interrupt the learning for all 25 students, not just their own learning.

This video is more of a discussion of what education could be rather than what it is forced to be due to limited educational funding. It’s patently obvious to anyone that this model would serve students better, but it’s also much more expensive than our current models.

Videos like this make me think about what’s possible and what we could do better as a society, and to me that’s inspirational.

5. Madeleine L’Engle on vulnerability

“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable.” ― Madeleine L’Engle

It’s easy for an introvert like myself to simply choose not to talk in a challenging situation. If there are lots of new people or just one or two people that I’m not comfortable with, I can barely squeeze out small talk. I feel very vulnerable.

When I was younger, I felt that vulnerability and I believed that growing up would solve that vulnerability. As an adult, I realize that the only way to solve that kind of vulnerability is to pick and choose the areas I really want to fix in my own life and to work hard at fixing them.

Growing up isn’t a phase in life. You stop growing up when you choose to stop growing.

6. Meditation 101, narrated by Dan Harris

Here’s the full transcript of the video:

Despite what you may have heard, meditation does not involve joining a group, paying any fees, wearing any special outfits, sitting in a funny position or believing in anything in particular. It is simple, secular, scientifically validated exercise for your brain. You don’t have to do it yet, but just so you know here are the three steps.

One: Sit with your back straight and your eyes closed.

Two: Notice the feeling of your breath coming in and going out. Pick a spot where it’s most prominent. Usually that’s your nose or your chest or your belly, and just focus your full attention on the feeling of your breath going in and
coming out.

Now as soon as you try to do this, your mind’s going to go nuts. You’re going to start thinking about: what am I going to have for lunch, why’d I say that dumb thingto my boss, your brain’s gonna go nuts and that’s fine.

The whole game is to notice when you’ve gotten lost, and to start over. And to start over again. And again. And again. And every time you do that, it’s like a bicep curl for your brain, and it shows up on the brain scans. Scientists have found this in the lab. It’s also by the way, a radical act.

You’re breaking a lifetime’s habit of walking around in a fog of projection and rumination and you’re actually focusing on what’s happening right now. Meditation is unlike anything you do in the rest of your life. “Failure” is actually success! As I said the whole game is just trying, failing, starting again, failing, starting again.

Here’s my advice: You should be meditating every day, 5-10 minutes a day. That’s it. This doesn’t require some giant investment. I don’t care how busy you are, you have 5-10 minutes to give this a shot. I guarantee you it will make a big difference.

I often talk about meditation on The Simple Dollar and how it has changed my life. This is probably the best brief description of it that I’ve ever found. The video clocks in at exactly two minutes and it explains the idea in a nutshell, both the practice and benefits.

For me, meditation has made it possible for me to focus far better on tasks than I have in a very long time. During the mid ’00s, I had a very hard time focusing on tasks for very long. Even during the period when I was simultaneously holding down a full time job, launching The Simple Dollar in my spare time, and figuring out how to be a father and a good husband to boot, I still had a hard time focusing for more than a minute here or a minute there.

You can really tell this is true if you read some of the earliest posts on the site. They’re super brief and while they cover one point well, they often don’t include enough action or example to really do anything based on the article. That’s because I had a hard time focusing on one topic long enough to write anything with much depth at all. I’d lose focus, then snap back to attention, then lose focus, then snap back, over and over and over.

Focused, mindful meditation fixed that. It’s almost as if adopting this as a daily practice applied some kind of magic medicine to my brain. I can now write a rough draft of a 3,000 word article in a single sitting, then edit the whole thing in a second single sitting (it’s a bad idea to do them back to back, I’ve learned). I can put my cell phone down and just utterly ignore it for hours, something that was basically impossible for me just a few years ago.

The narrator of this video, Dan Harris, wrote an amazing book called 10% Happier that I strongly recommend. Harris’s book starts with a discussion of him having an on-air panic attack on live television when he was a news presenter at ABC News. He had that panic attack in large part because his inner voice that drove him to success (and a workaholic life) also made it very difficult for him to ever relax and live in the moment or to focus on a specific thing for very long. His solution? Basically, it’s the little meditation trick in this video, the same one I use.

7. Anand Giridharadas’s letter to all who have lost in this era

From the description:

How did we get a world of such disconnect, fracture and fear? Writer Anand Giridharadas tackles this question by reading a letter to his fellow citizens in which he confesses to his and others’ part in ignoring people’s pain until it turned to anger. There is another way, he says: “Dare to commit to the dream of each other.”

The greatest failure of the modern world is that we somehow stopped listening to the pain of others and started listening only to our own pain.

Here’s the reality. Right now, we live in a tumultuous world, with technological progress moving so fast that society simply hasn’t caught up to all of the changes of the last thirty or so years yet. In roughly a generation’s time, globalism, the internet, and cell phones have completely altered the way all of us are employed, how we buy almost everything, and how we communicate.

That radical shift is changing everyone’s lives. For some people, the changes are for the better. For some, it’s for the worse.

Often, the people whose lives are getting better can’t understand the upset of people whose lives appear to be worsening. At the same time, those whose lives are worsening can’t understand the optimism of those whose lives are getting better.

Rather than trying to listen and trying to build a better future for all of us, the solution has been to isolate ourselves with like-minded folks and to simply label everyone else as “wrong” in some fashion.

That doesn’t actually fix anything. It actually makes things worse.

8. Oscar Wilde on the lives of others

“Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” – Oscar Wilde

No matter what you’ve done, your life can be better than it is right now. At the same time, no matter how great the reputation you’ve built up, you can flush it down the tubes very quickly with just a few poor choices.

Take those two together and what do you get? You get a very, very meaningful today.

Today is the day when you get to define what your tomorrow is going to be like, for better or worse. Are you going to make it great? Or are you going to make it terrible? Are you going to spend your energy building something, whether it’s your primary path or a backup plan? Are you going to coast? Or are you going to do something foolish and tear it down?

The choice is yours, every single day. It matters not what your past was like.

9. Kio Stark on why you should talk to strangers

From the description:

“When you talk to strangers, you’re making beautiful interruptions into the expected narrative of your daily life — and theirs,” says Kio Stark. In this delightful talk, Stark explores the overlooked benefits of pushing past our default discomfort when it comes to strangers and embracing those fleeting but profoundly beautiful moments of genuine connection.

You’d be surprised how often my day is made by having a conversation with a stranger, whether I’m the person starting that conversation or they are.

I’ve been overwhelmed by a kind comment from a stranger. I’ve been amazed at the insights from someone that I started conversing with out of the blue. I’ve built new friendships just because I chose to open my mouth at a key moment.

Those things only happened because I chose to talk to strangers.

Here’s a simple challenge for you: the next time you see someone on the street who’s nicely dressed or who is doing a good deed for someone, tell them. Point it out and say you appreciate it. It often starts a conversation and, even if it doesn’t, it’ll probably make that person’s day.

10. Pena Chodron on inner peace

“Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.” – Pena Chodron

It’s up to you to decide what things in your life actually influence your happiness. You decide whether things get to you. You decide whether things bring you down. You decide – no one else.

You are the gatekeeper to your own emotional state. Never, ever, ever let someone else dictate how you feel. You can choose to let someone else lift you if you’d like, but never, ever let someone else drag you down.

It’s always your decision. It’s always up to you to decide how you’re going to emotionally respond to something.

11. Corinne Bailey Rae’s Tiny Desk Concert

There are times when certain creative works just jump out and strike me out of nowhere. The paintings of Vincent van Gogh do this, as do the books of Philip K. Dick. Something about them is electric and alive in a way that many similar things just aren’t, at least for me. They’re like neon lights in a gray landscape.

Corinne Bailey Rae’s voice is like that for me. I don’t know what it is. It’s not one of those things that can be described or quantified. There’s just something about her voice that stands out like a giant bright beacon whenever she’s performing. It’s like she’s willing me to smile and feel joyous when she’s singing something upbeat or she’s willing me to feel sad when she’s singing something downbeat.

The vast majority of music tends to work best for me when I’m in the same mood as the musician. There’s just something about her where she can just will me to the mood of the song she’s singing.

Some human beings have magical voices. Corinne Bailey Rae is one of them.

12. Albert Camus on friendship

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” – Albert Camus

It sounds so simple, but it’s actually quite hard.

The post Inspiration from Andrew Sullivan, Dan Harris, Albert Camus, and More appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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We Asked People Who They Think Are The Most Iconic Nepali Duos & This Is What We Got!

If you’re active on Twitter, you probably know about one of the hottest trends of this week – the ‘more iconic duo’ meme. The fun started when user @negansvoid tweeted this.

 

She posted a picture of Kylie and Kendall Jenner and challenged the internet to ‘name a more iconic duo’. The Jenner sisters who had launched their fashion line earlier this year are on a roll and the two definitely make one of the most successful duos. But are they really the most iconic duo ever? Well, it didn’t take too long to get the answer and it was ‘NO’ as thousands of Twitter users replied to her tweet with the pictures of the duos they think are way more iconic than these two models.

We recently thought of doing a Nepali version of the same and so, we asked people on Facebook about who they think are the most iconic Nepali duos and this is what we got.

MaHa Jodi

maha-nikhil-sapkota

Submitted by Nikhil Sapkota, Arjun Subedi, Ishi Rai, Sujan Rai & Kushal Acharya

When two words ‘iconic’ and ‘duo’ are part of the same sentence; the only word that comes to every Nepali’s mind and heart is ‘Ma-Ha’. Probably the most iconic duo Nepal will every have, Madan Krishna Shrestha and Hari Bansha Acharya have not only been entertaining but making people aware of various issues and topics; and helping them whenever they are in need, since decades. These two make an iconic duo in every sense. Legends!

A quick suggestion: Always keep a picture of them on your phone or even in your wallet. Whenever you are upset, just see the picture and you shall smile no matter what you are going through. Just try it.

Daya-Priyanka

daya-priyanka-anjali-regmi

Submitted by Pranjali Dahal, Priyanmbada Khadka, Niruta Gautam, Nishma Dhakal, Anjali Regmi, Shanti Limbu, Sangya Pant, Misha Kafle

The photos of Dayahang Rai – Priyanka Karki duo had the most number of submissions on the thread. The two who have been currently taking the film industry by storm have so far given us films like ‘Jholay’, ‘Woda No. 6’, ‘Fanko’ and ‘How Funny’ along with ‘Kabaddi Kabaddi’ and ‘Karkash’ in which Priyanka had cameo roles. The duo will be seen in upcoming films ‘Purano Dunga’, ‘Happy Days’, ‘Laltin’ and ‘Jholay 2’ as well. The two actors are soon to start their own production house as well. According to Priyanka, the banner might be named YA Films as both of their names have the letters YA in them.

This pair is definitely one of the most iconic duos Nepali cinema has ever witnessed and we are glad to have them.

Dhurmush-Suntali

dhurmush-soniya-shakya

Submitted by Soniya Shakya

Does anyone has any objections if this real-life couple of Sitaram Kattel ‘Dhurmus’ and Kunjana Ghimire ‘Suntali’ is declared as one of the most iconic duos? None, of course. We’ve loved them on television screens, we’ve loved them on stages and now we are loving them even more when this duo has been doing what even the government has failed to do. The two are currently working day and night in Giranchaur to build houses for the earthquake victims. They have rejected dozens of shows so that they can only concentrate on their Giranchaur project.

You, sir and madam, you two are two of the greatest human beings to have ever taken birth in this country. We are proud of you!

Saugat-Dayahang

daya-saugat-youman-maharjan

Submitted by Youman Maharjan

Undoubtedly two of the finest actors Nepali cinema has ever produced, Saugat Malla and Dayahang Rai have given us films likes ‘Loot’, ‘Dasdhunga’, ‘Highway’, ‘Kabaddi Kabaddi’, ‘Fanko’ and ‘Badhshala’ among others. Regardless of how the film does at the box office, if the two are together in a film, it will be a treat for any Nepali cine lover to watch the film. This list couldn’t have been complete without this powerful duo.

Deepa-Deepak

deepa-deepak-shreshan-shrestha

Submitted by Shreshan Shrestha

From television screens to the silver screens, the Deepak Raj Giri and Dipa Shree Niraula duo never fails to entertain us. Their latest blockbuster film ‘Chhakka Panja’ has recently entered its fourth week and still is doing wonders at the box office. The film has been breaking all the records and we’re excited to see how many more records it breaks in future.

This duo is unstoppable together!

Late King Birendra & Queen Aishwarya

birednra-ming-fun-lama

Submitted by Ming Fung Lama

When we lost late king Birendra and queen Aishwarya in 2001, it felt like we lost our own parents. That pretty much sums us what they meant to us. The love and respect we had for them will never fade. We miss you!

Naren-Sudip

aastha-parit-shreshta

Submitted by Parit Shrestha

Naren Limbu and Sudip Gurung had formed one of the most loved Nepali bands in 2000s. ‘Aastha’, a two-men band, had released its self-titled album in 2003 which quickly became everyone’s favorite album. We had a heartbreak when Sudip left for the UK for further studies and the two came up with their solo albums later. We had and we have always loved them as ‘Aastha’ and we would always have the desire to see them together coming up with beautiful music. They had their reunion gig recently in Australia and to be honest, we are jealous of every single person present there who witnessed the two performing together after over a decade.

We hope to see them coming up with a song, or may be even an entire album, really soon. Please make a comeback, Aastha!

GP

gp-conscious

Submitted by Concious

Girish Khatiwada and Pranil Timalsena make one of the most legendary duos in Nepali music scene. The two more popularly known as GP didn’t only give us few songs or albums to remember, but they gave us an entire genre of music. The two officially introduced Nepal to HipHop music and we will always remain grateful to them for the same. It’s been over a decade since we have not seen them performing together and we would be more than happy to see them come up with something soon.

GP, you will always have a special place in our hearts because you two are jasto sukai vaye pani daami!

Sarun-Payal

saun-payal-rashika-khadka

Submitted by Rashika Khadka

And how could someone not submit a picture of the most loved Nepali celebrity couple – the parents of Sahas Ratna Tamrakar. The Uglyz vocalist Sarun Tamrakar and Miss Nepal 2002 Payal Shakya have been giving us some serious relationship goals since years and they indeed make an iconic duo.

We love you!

Satya-Sworup

satya-raj-sonny-maharjan

Submitted by Sonny Maharjan

The sons of the legendary singer Bhakta Raj Acharya – Satya Raj Acharya and Sworup Acharya make an unmatchable musician duo. The two have given us some of the most beautiful songs that will always remain close to us.

Well, this duo is the most ‘melodious’ duo in Nepal!

The ‘Urban Girl’ Duo

nikita-acharya-kiran-timsina-nikita

Submitted by Nikita Acharya

Urban Girl Co-Founder Nikita Acharya posted a picture of her along with her partner Kiran Timsina and wrote, “May be not now, but definitely in next couple of years.” We loved her confidence and we have faith in these two young entrepreneurs who have been successfully running one of Nepal’s most popular e-commerce portal Urban Girl. The two have also started UG Cakes which has been making quite a good name for itself because of the delicious and beautiful looking customized cakes.

We loved Nikita’s spirit as nobody else had submitted their own pictures, may be because they were not not confident enough to call themselves ‘iconic’ but she did and she has our respect!

Do you think that’s it yet? Do you think that we already have all the iconic duos on this list? Well, think again and thing hard. You might be missing the MOST IMPORTANT duo that matters in ever single Nepali’s life. Did you give up already? Alright then, let us reveal the secret.

We also received the picture of this duo!

dal

Submitted by Sushanta Shrestha

The one and only…. Daal-Bhat! Best duo ever!!

And well, we also received this:

funny

Submitted by Anurag Man Shakya

(FYI The blogger’s name is Neeraj.)

This had us laughing continuously for at least 10 minutes!

Looks like that’s it for now. Comment below which duo would you like to add to this list. You can also view and even add pictures in the original Facebook thread where this whole thing took place.

The post We Asked People Who They Think Are The Most Iconic Nepali Duos & This Is What We Got! appeared first on NeoStuffs.

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Three Ways to Make Money From a Tired Old Car

By Richard Reina

Most car owners have been there before – you’ve got an outdated vehicle that has become a hassle to own and operate, and you aren’t sure what to do with it. While many drivers can’t wait to rid themselves of a dilapidated ride, don’t rush too quickly to free up garage space.

For one thing, every month you can keep your paid-off car running is one where you won’t have to take on a new car payment. But even if you’ve saved up for a new set of wheels, trading in your old car at the dealership may not be the best route. Whether you sell the car privately, dismantle it to sell off valuable parts, or buy an old car for a DIY overhaul, there are several ways to maximize an old car’s potential and to cash in before you trade in.

Sell Your Trusty Old Car Instead of Trading It In

You’ve run your car out to the bitter end and now it’s time to part ways. Trading it in at a dealership is an easy option, but selling the car yourself on the private market can earn you 15% to 25% more for it, according to Kelly Blue Book. If you want to try getting the most out of your car by selling it privately, you should be conscious of several factors.

The first question you need to ask yourself when thinking about selling your car is simple – is it an operating vehicle? If so, you can proceed forward by fixing only what is absolutely necessary and nothing more.

If you lived without an updated radio system, there’s no need to invest extra time and money in one now. Stay focused on parts that are essential to keeping the car safe and running. If you held on to service records over the years, be sure to make copies and show prospects that the car has been treated with care.

When it comes to the appearance of an old car, the details really do matter. A thorough cleaning goes a long way toward making your car presentable, so be sure to prioritize cleaning the paint, glass and upholstery. Once your car is camera-ready, take high-quality pictures that will make you stand out from unprofessional advertisements.

Finally, it’s extremely important to be forthcoming in your advertisement about the condition of your vehicle so you can be perceived as a credible, trustworthy seller. As long as it starts, runs and can pass a state safety inspection, you should be set to make the sale.

Dismantle Your Car to Sell the Parts

For cars that may not be attractive enough to sell whole, there’s still value in parts. An owner needs to have both the skill and storage space to successfully salvage parts from a broken-down car, so this option is not for the casual seller.

If you have the time and maintenance background, focus on removing valued parts such as the wheels, glass, sound system, axles, lights, trim pieces, and engine parts. If you lack experience but are determined to see some return on investment from your non-operating vehicle, it’s certainly an option to use resources online and teach yourself how to perform basic tasks.

Once you’re ready to sell, drivers can check websites like Craigslist or eBay that have sections dedicated to selling car parts. When the whole process is over, call your local salvage yard to haul away the stripped body – they may not charge you if they can sell it for scrap metal.

Buy an Old Car Cheap and Resell it for a Higher Price

Are you looking for a hobby that can make a profit? Look no further than preserving classic cars, an industry that has become increasingly popular. With some simple maintenance work and a dedication to clean everything and everywhere, an inexpensive find can be turned in to a desirable collector’s item.

To go above and beyond regular upkeep, focus on sprucing up under the hood, in the wheel wells, and in the door jambs. When your collector is ready to show, selling in-person to enthusiasts at a local car show could be the way to attract the right buyer.

Before saying goodbye to an old vehicle, be sure to consider the many different routes both buyers and sellers can pursue to make the most out of a once-prized possession.

Richard Reina is the product training director at CARiD.com and has been an auto enthusiast since the age of two, when his dad taught him the difference between a Chevy and a Ford. Since then, it’s been cars all the time. He enjoys restoring and driving old cars, with a special love for anything Italian – he currently owns a 1967 Alfa Romeo.

Related Articles:

The post Three Ways to Make Money From a Tired Old Car appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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This Bungee Jumper Is The Real Life ‘Hari Bahadur’ & We Can’t Stop Laughing!

Bungee jumping is an extreme sport and well, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. That too when it’s the world’s tallest ‘water touch’ bungee sight in Pokhara, Nepal. Imagine yourself falling from over 80 meters of height, damn, that sounds scary! A dude recently actually thought he has what it takes to take the ‘leap’ but it was too late when he realized that he made one of the most horrible decisions of his life. It’s quite obvious to be nervous for anyone and scream during the flight but the most interesting thing about this guy’s jump is that it brought out the ‘Hari Bahadur’ in him. Yes, THE Hari Bahadur, one of the most popular TV characters in Nepal, played by Hari Bansha Acharya.

bungee

This is basically me when I see the question paper!

Just watch the video and you will find out what we are talking about.

The post This Bungee Jumper Is The Real Life ‘Hari Bahadur’ & We Can’t Stop Laughing! appeared first on NeoStuffs.

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Best Pet Insurance for 2016

Owning a pet isn’t cheap. The average lifetime cost of raising a dog is about $23,410, according to the American Kennel Club. A cat costs just a little less. So it’s understandable that someone might initially balk at the idea of buying pet insurance and spending even more on their animal. It can save you money in the long run, though; or at least offer you a financial safety net if your pet gets sick or injured.

Learn More on PetFirst's secure website

I researched which providers offered the most comprehensive coverage options at the most reasonable price. Of course, premiums will differ for each pet, depending on their age, breed, and the provider you’re getting the quote from, so it’s important to get multiple quotes from different providers to find the best price on the coverage you want. My top pick, PetFirst, is a good place to start. It offers unlimited lifetime benefits along with every coverage option you could want, including some not covered by any other insurer.

The Simple Dollar’s Top Picks for Best Pet Insurance

Each of these pet insurance providers offers customizable comprehensive medical and wellness coverage options at competitive pricing, as well as lower-rate plans, depending on what amount of coverage you want to purchase for your pet. To find the best policy, decide what coverage options you want, and then request a quote from each of these companies to find the lowest rate.

How I Found the Best Pet Insurance

Pet insurance isn’t like human health insurance. It doesn’t cover everything — or even some of the things you might expect, like regularly scheduled vet checkups (unless you purchase additional wellness coverage), or “pre-existing conditions,” which can be anything noticed by you or your veterinarian before the end of your new policy’s waiting period (which can be anywhere from 14 days to 12 months). That’s why it’s important to read the fine print on your policy, and to know exactly what’s covered and what’s not — and then decide if that’s going to be a good fit for you and your pet.

To find the best pet insurance companies, I researched every nationally available provider and requested quotes for my family’s 5-year-old mutt, Rigby, and for our two cats. I then weighed the pros and cons that each company offered, including:

Medical and Wellness Coverage Options

I looked for providers that offered the widest range of possible coverage options, including medical and wellness (routine care) policies, since those insurers will be the most likely to have an insurance plan that will work for the largest number of pet owners. While wellness coverage, which typically covers things like vaccines and dental cleanings, is generally not covered by basic pet insurance policies, there are exceptions where insurers will let you pay more to get some routine care included on your policy. Each of my top picks offers this option, but you certainly don’t have to purchase it.

Pre-existing conditions, which can be anything that needs treatment before the end of your pet insurance policy’s waiting period (ranging from 14 days to one year), aren’t covered by any pet insurance provider — so don’t expect them to be. That alone is a good reason to get your pet insured as soon as possible, and while they’re young. The best providers will still cover hereditary, congenital, and chronic conditions, however, so long as they’re not considered pre-existing, and will allow you to visit any licensed veterinarian for treatment, as well as purchase extra wellness coverage if you want it.

The most important medical coverage options include:

  • Pets Covered — The species of pets eligible to receive coverage. (All major providers offer coverage for dogs and cats, but only Nationwide currently provides policies for other animals.)
  • Accidents — Covers medical expenses in the event your pet gets injured in an accident.
  • Cancer Treatments — Covers cancer treatments for your pet.
  • Choose Your Own Vet — Provider allows your pet to receive treatment from any licensed veterinarian.
  • Chronic Conditions — Covers treatments for chronic conditions, like diabetes.
  • Congenital Conditions — Covers treatments for birth defects.
  • Hereditary Conditions — Covers treatments for any genetic disorders.
  • Emergency Visits — Covers emergency visits to the vet.
  • Hospitalization — Covers extended veterinary stays due to medical conditions.
  • Illness — Covers treatments for a variety of pet illnesses.
  • Imaging — Covers MRIs, X-rays, CT scans, and other medical-related imaging services.
  • Lab Tests — Covers veterinary lab tests.
  • Medications — Covers necessary medications for your pet.
  • Rehabilitation — Covers rehabilitation services for your pet.
  • Surgery — Covers any necessary surgeries for your pet.

The most important wellness coverage options include:

  • Dental Cleaning
  • Fecal Screening
  • Heartworm Tests
  • Microchipping
  • Spay/Neuter Procedures
  • Vaccines

A Note on Pricing

After ensuring that all of my top picks offered the pre-requisite coverage options, I looked at pricing — because if you can get more for less, why wouldn’t you? Like health or car insurance pricing, though, everyone’s pet insurance quote will be unique. We all have different pets at very different life stages, and with distinct health risks that each insurer takes into account when issuing a new policy and determining your premium. That’s why pet insurance policy prices are based on an animal’s gender, age, and even its weight and specific breed. Insurance for a cat, for example, is almost always going to be cheaper than for a dog, since cats tend to get sick and injured less often, and typically cost less to treat when they do.

Pet insurance premiums are based on your animal’s gender, age, and even it’s weight and specific breed.

Like any insurance policy, however, your cheapest pet insurance option isn’t going to necessarily be the best choice. Odds are, you’ll end up paying more in the event of a claim than if you had footed the bill for a policy with better coverage. That’s why I assessed my top picks on coverage options first, and then looked at pricing.

Still, if you want to have some idea of what you might pay, $60-$70 a month was my most often quoted range for 5-year-old Rigby — and this would be if I purchased the higher-end plans. But if you want to go with less coverage and get insurance for, say, $10 a month to cover a catastrophe or perhaps only some basic wellness treatments, those options are available through each of my top picks, too. It all depends on what level of financial risk you’re willing to take in the event you might have to pay a significant veterinary bill. Just remember: The more coverage you pay for through your monthly premium, the less you’ll have to pay in the event of a claim.

The Best Pet Insurance

Any of the following pet insurance providers will be able to offer you customizable policy options that allow you to have as much or as little coverage for your pet as you want, and at a competitive price. I recommend getting a quote from PetFirst to start, and then request quotes from the other providers on this list to find your best rate for the coverage that’s most important to you.

Learn More on PetFirst's secure website

PetFirst Highlights


  • Pays up to 90% of your vet bill
  • Unlimited lifetime benefits with an annual deductible (no matter how much care your pet needs, your policy will help cover it)
  • Covers periodontal disease for dogs (no other provider does)


PetFirst offers the most comprehensive coverage of the pet insurance companies I looked at. What impressed me the most was that it does not have lifetime payout limits or per-incident limits like other insurers; only annual limits. This means that if you have a young pet that develops a chronic condition, or needs surgery plus rehabilitation treatment, you won’t max out on your benefits early on and be left without coverage for future treatments or incidents. PetFirst’s robust annual coverage limits (up to $20,000) reset every 12-months, however, so ongoing treatments are guaranteed to be covered for the life of the pet, provided you stay under you policy’s annual limit.

The other way PetFirst stands out is with periodontal disease coverage. Covering this is impressive. A lot of insurers stay away from diseases of the teeth. They’ll fix your dog’s jaw if he’s hit by a car, but if he has gum disease? Forget about it. Generally, that’s because few pet owners take their dog to a doggie dentist (yes, there is such a thing; you often find them at animal hospitals or sophisticated vet practices), and dog dental diseases are fairly common (the most common disease in dogs and cats, in fact, and it’s very preventable, according to the American Veterinary Dental College). So many insurers stay away from this, knowing they’ll likely have to pay out.

Other Pet Insurance Companies to Consider


Nationwide Highlights
Covers up to 90% of your vet bill

Currently the only provider in the U.S. to offer an avian and exotic pet plan

If you already have a Nationwide Insurance policy for your human needs, you'll save 5% on your pet insurance policy
ASPCA Highlights
Covers up to 90% of your vet bill

No maximum age of pet allowed to be insured

No maximum annual benefit (but there are per-incident benefit limits, ranging from $2,500 to $7,000)
Embrace Highlights
Covers up to 90% of your vet bill

5% discount for paying your premium in full annually

No deductible or copay for any routine care procedures with the wellness plan, and there's no waiting period before being able to use this benefit

How Do I Know What Pet Insurance is Right for Me?

If you’re comparing one insurer to another, and the prices are about the same, you’ll want to compare deductibles next. There’s a big difference in paying off a $200 deductible versus a $500 one when your pet gets unexpectedly sick. Of course, the lower the deductible, the higher your monthly payment is going to be. For example: If I got a PetFirst Lifetime 10,000 plan for Rigby, I could pay about $67 a month with a $100 deductible. Now, I could choose to only pay about $37 a month for the same plan, but I’d have a $500 deductible, which would mean I’d be paying $500 out of pocket for any claim. There’s no right or wrong answer here. You have to weigh your own tolerance for risk, and then choose the deductible option that you’re going to be the most comfortable with.

You’ll also want to pay attention to each policy’s annual and lifetime limits. When I was researching Pets Best, for example, it was going to give me a $100 deductible for Rigby, which is attractive, but the maximum it would pay is $5,000 per year (70% of that, actually). What if Rigby had a $10,000 health problem? If we forget about the deductible for now to make the math easy, 70% of $5,000 is $3,500, so I’d be left paying $6,500 to the vet. That’s still far better than having to pay $10,000, of course, but you’ll want to factor in these limits when deciding what you’re willing to spend in the event you need to file a claim. Because of this, I might decide that instead of paying $31.30 a month, I’d be better off paying $46.16 a month and getting a $10,000 limit — and hoping nothing worse than a $10,000 injury or illness occurs. Or I may want to find a different policy with a higher annual limit, or none at all, like the ones PetFirst offers.

Should I Still Insure My Pet if it’s Not a Dog or Cat?

Nationwide is the only pet insurance company in the US that will insure “exotic pets,” which in pet insurance industry lingo means anything that’s not a cat or dog. It’s certainly not a bad idea to give Nationwide a call to get a quote for your exotic pet if you’re interested in purchasing insurance coverage for them. Nationwide doesn’t offer online quotes for exotics, the way it and other insurers will for cats and dogs, so you’re going to have to give the company a call if you want a quote.

The Bottom Line

No one plans on their pet getting sick or injured, but it can happen all the same. That’s why pet insurance can be a smart option if you want to be financially prepared for unexpected veterinary bills. Just be sure to sign on to a policy that actually covers the things you want it to, and request quotes from multiple providers to get the best rate possible. Hopefully, you will never need to file a claim on your pet insurance policy, but you’ll be glad you have it if you do. At the very least, you’ll have purchased some peace of mind.

The post Best Pet Insurance for 2016 appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Eight Discount Grocery Strategies That Will Keep Your Food and Household Prices Low

This week, we’ve taken a serious look at making your food cheap. We’ve looked at using a $1-per-meal strategy and then some ideas for implementing that strategy with very cheap recipes for snacks and light meals.

However, these strategies mostly focus on the actions you need to take in the kitchen to save money. In reality, the place where we spend most of our money on food is actually at the grocery store, and for my dollar, there are few ways to beat the savings that one can get from simply choosing a discount grocery store and making that your main place for grocery shopping.

Confession time: I am an avid discount grocery shopper.

That means that the vast majority of the time, I do my grocery shopping at a place that is known primarily for low prices. I go to the grocery store to shop for groceries, not for ambiance or samples or concierges or pretty displays. I want good prices on the things that I buy, and I want to get out of there as soon as I can.

In addition, I spend as little of my time as possible in the grocery store. I don’t view it as a “destination” or as a place to wander and hang out. I view it as a place to get the food that I need and get it home with the least possible time and money cost.

All of this adds up to minimal time and minimal money spent on grocery shopping. I go to the store with a plan, I’m confident that my store of choice has low prices and that my list has items that are on sale already, and I just take care of business.

Here are some of the specific strategies I use to make this work and keep my grocery bill as low as possible by taking advantage of discount grocery shopping.

Use an actual discount grocer and/or warehouse club.

This really is a pretty obvious first step. If you’re not shopping at a discount grocer, you’re spending money for things like packaging, advertising, and ambiance instead of food. To me, that’s a waste of money. I want my dollars to go toward food when I’m at the grocery store.

How do you find a discount grocer, and how do you know if a particular store is one? Consumer Reports actually already has a great little guide to discount supermarkets. Their top five discount chains? Trader Joe’s, Fareway (that’s where I shop!!), Market Basket, Costco, and WinCo. If you have any of those stores near you, you’ve got access to a discount grocer. I would personally add three more chains to that list – ALDI, Sam’s Club, and BJs.

Choose your ‘primary’ store and learn its layout.

The key is to choose a supermarket that you’ll use every week that has consistently lower prices than the competition. Price should be your focus. Sure, other stores may have better ambiance and more esoteric product selection (like Whole Foods or your local co-op), but you can take advantage of those for individual ingredients. Your main store should be price-focused and it should be your default stop for grocery shopping.

Once you’ve decided on your store, get to know the layout. If you shop there regularly, you should start picking it up by default anyway, but be extra mindful at first as to where everything is in the store. Don’t be afraid to actually draw a diagram on a piece of paper while you’re shopping there, not only for future reference but to aid you in memorizing where things are.

Why is this important? The next two steps should make it clear.

Watch the store flyer every week.

Most discount grocers go even further than their low everyday prices and put many items on sale each week, which they share with shoppers via their store flyer. They also share these flyers via their website.

Whenever you’re thinking about grocery shopping, stop first and visit the website of your preferred store and download their flyer. Use those on-sale items as the basis for your meal planning. Speaking of which…

Make a meal plan and grocery list before you go, and organize the grocery list to match the store’s layout.

This kind of ties the last two pieces together into one convenient strategy. You’ve got your flyer, so pick out some interesting ingredients from that sale flyer and use it as the basis for your meals for the week. Simply list what meal you’re going to have each day and make sure each one relies on a sale-price ingredient or something you already have on hand.

From that meal plan, build your grocery list by simply writing down the ingredients you need to pull off those meals. That’s really all you need to buy, after all.

Since you know the store layout, organize your list based on the layout of the store. Put all of your “bread aisle” items together. Put all of your “refrigerated” items together. Put all of your “freezer” items together. Put those sections on your list in an order so that you’ll just walk right from section to section as you go through the store. This makes a grocery store visit even faster since you’re not backtracking, and that means even fewer impulse items in your cart.

Stock up big on sale-priced nonperishables.

If your grocery store flyer includes a great sale price on a nonperishable item that you know you’ll use in future meals – like pasta, for example – don’t be afraid to hit that sale hard.

We’ll usually buy as many as 10 boxes of pasta (since we eat pasta once a week) when it’s on sale at the store. We’ll buy many, many cans of diced tomatoes if they’re on sale. We fill the cupboard with things like these because we know we’ll use them in the next month or two.

We don’t use this strategy for perishable items. If an item has any risk of going bad, we don’t buy it in bulk. We buy merely the amount we think we’re going to use.

Listen to uptempo music while you shop.

Grocery stores intentionally play music with a slow beat in order to encourage shoppers to walk more slowly in the store, which gives them more time to look at the goods on the shelf and then make impulse buys. Uptempo music in your ears overrides this, meaning you’ll move much more quickly from item to item.

In addition, the faster music that you choose will gently distract you away from the items on the shelves when you’re shopping so that impulse buys are much less likely to grab you. It also helps you to avoid hearing the audio advertisements that stores often play when you’re shopping – no more getting distracted by a “big sale on potato chips!”

Figure out the price per unit when buying a specific nonperishable item.

If an item isn’t going to go bad in your cupboard, you should almost always be buying the version that’s cheapest per unit – per ounce or per individual item.

Many stores will list the cost-per-unit right on the price label on the shelf, but if you’re not sure, the easiest way to figure it out yourself is to simply figure out a numerical count of how much “stuff” you’re getting – the weight is a good number – and then open up the calculator app on your phone. Enter the price of the item you’re looking at, then divide that by the amount of “stuff” you’re getting. That’s the price per unit for that item. Do the same calculation for other ones you want to compare and then go for the one with the lowest price per unit.

If an item is in multiple locations, compare the prices.

Even the best discount grocery stores will offer similar items in different places in the store with different prices. Take advantage of this.

My favorite example of this is the difference in prices between cheese and deli meat at the deli counter versus in the refrigerator section. You’ll often find the exact same brand of cheese in the refrigerator section – or at least some very similar alternatives – and the price will vary substantially. Often, there will be sales at the deli counter that don’t appear in the refrigerator section and vice versa. Thus, if you have “sliced cheese” or “deli meat” on your list, check both areas.

If you use these strategies, you’ll milk the maximum value for your dollar from your grocery store visit. Doing so lowers your food bill for the month, which means you have money left over for other elements in your life – paying down debt, building an emergency fund, saving for the future, or whatever else your dreams and plans may hold.

Good luck!

Related Articles:

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Naren Limbu Releases ‘Vanna Aaudaina’ Sequel And Well, We’ve Something To Say!

Who remembers ‘Vanna Aaudaina’? Pfft! Such a stupid question that is. Of course, everyone does and everyone still loves the song dearly and that’s why it is one of the most popular Nepali songs on YouTube with over 3.7 million views.

vanna-aaudaina

The 2012 song has now a sequel and seems like it took Naren almost four years to have the courage to tell her what he feels about her. His latest song ‘Mero Man Maa’ has been labelled as ‘Vanna Aaudaina II’ and we’re not exactly sure about how to feel about it. The description of the song says, “Found a couple of words, wrote some of them and gathered the courage to tell her. And that’s why I call this song ‘Vanna Aaaudaina II’.” First things first, we really think that a song is complete in itself and it doesn’t actually need a sequel. Sometimes an incomplete story is special but if you complete it, it might become ordinary. Plus, happy endings are quite too mainstream. The thing is, a lot of people could relate to ‘Vanna Aaudaina’ as it told their own story. There are lots of people who can never express what they feel about someone and keep on loving them without even letting them know. And that was the beauty of the song.

‘Mero Man Maa’ is an equally beautiful song and Naren Limbu succeeds in winning our hearts once again. But we don’t think it was necessary to label it as ‘Vanna Aaudaina’ sequel. We’re pretty sure that there are quite a lot of people who would disagree to our opinion. Looks like we like incomplete stories more than the complete ones. Anyways, let’s not debate on that because the important thing is, we’ve a beautiful new song. The song written, composed and performed by Limbu is arranged by Bizu Karmacharya. The music video starring Sanna Tsering Gurung is shot by Bryan Rai, edited by Binay Kansakar and directed by Naren Limbu himself. Wait, we just realized something. Naren couldn’t tell his feelings to Mala Limbu and after four years, he proposed Sanna instead. Just kidding! The music video is beautiful and Sanna looks gorgeous.

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

The post Naren Limbu Releases ‘Vanna Aaudaina’ Sequel And Well, We’ve Something To Say! appeared first on NeoStuffs.

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Guaranteed Getaway: Credit Cards That Offer a Free Hotel Stay Each Year

While hotel points can go a long ways toward helping you achieve a heavily discounted trip, a free night’s stay can only sweeten the deal. Fortunately, a handful of hotel credit cards offer just that – a free night you can redeem every year, regardless of how many points you have.

Four Credit Cards that Offer a Free Hotel Stay Each Year

While some of these free nights are earned on your account anniversary, others are offered as a bonus for meeting a minimum spending requirement. If you’re interested in earning a free night or two, check out the following cards and details:

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card offers an array of free nights you can take advantage of. Not only do you earn two free weekend night certificates after spending $2,500 on your card within the first 90 days, but you score a free weekend night certificate on your account anniversary when you spend $10,000 on your card annually as well. A $75 annual fee does apply, but it is more than offset by the fact that two free nights can be worth up to $1,000.

The downside to this offer, however — at least for business travelers — is that your free nights are only good on weekends. After calling Citi, I confirmed that weekends include Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. So if you’re in the market for a Monday to Friday trip, you’ll be out of luck with this offer. But if you’re craving a weekend away, it might be perfect for your needs – and if you’re planning a week-long vacation, you can at least score two of the weekend nights for free.

Highlights:

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Just like the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers a signup bonus in addition to a free night on your cardmember anniversary. Currently, this offer doles out 80,000 Marriott points after you spend $3,000 on your card within the first 90 days. As a bonus, you’ll get 7,500 additional points when you add an authorized user and they also make a purchase, plus one free night stay at any Category 1-5 property after you carry the card for 12 months. An $85 annual fee does apply, and it is not waived the first year.

Highlights:

Club Carlson℠ Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card

The Club Carlson℠ Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card offers a pretty sweet deal for people who love free hotel stays. With this card, you’ll earn an amazing 85,000 points after you spend $2,500 on your card within the first 90 days. As an added bonus, you’ll also get another 40,000 points each year on your cardmember anniversary. Since Category 1 properties start at just 9,000 points per night, you can stretch both bonuses fairly far. Plus, you’ll earn 10 points for every dollar spent at Club Carlson properties and five points for every dollar spent elsewhere.

Highlights:

IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card

The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card offers one of the best “free night” promotions in the business. This is mostly because you can use the free night you earn each year on a hotel stay at any InterContinental Hotels Group property in the world. There are no limitations other than award availability, and you can easily stretch the value of this free night quite far by booking one of their high tier properties.

For example, an overnight at the InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora can easily cost $600 per night, yet it is free with your annual free night certificate. Since this card also comes with a hefty signup bonus, it is a no-brainer if you love to travel and don’t mind staying only at InterContinental Hotels Group properties. Plus, the $49 annual fee is waived the first year.

Highlights:

How to Get the Most Out of Your Free Nights

While earning a free night or two can help you save on travel, it pays to be strategic about it. These tips can help you find the right offer and extract the most value out of your free night benefit:

Weigh the pros and cons of annual fees.

Although you may not want to pay an annual fee, doing so can garner a ton of value. After paying the $49 annual fee on the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card, for example, you can easily score a hotel night worth $400 or more. If you’re fee-averse, you can also consider a no-fee rewards credit card instead.

Related:

Choose a hotel chain you’ll actually use.

A free night won’t do much good if you’ll never be able to use it. Before you sign up for a co-branded hotel credit card, make sure to browse available properties to make sure they’re in line with your expectations and travel habits. Also make sure your hotel brand actually has properties in countries and regions you plan to visit.

Book high-value properties with your free night.

When it comes to your free nights, you don’t want to use them at the cheap hotel or motel down the street if they’re valid at any of the hotel chain’s properties! To get the most value out of this benefit, stick to booking higher-end properties with your free night. Not only will this let you stay in nicer places than normal, but you’ll get more “bang for your buck” as well.

Consider pairing several travel or hotel credit cards for a longer trip.

If you can’t decide between hotel or travel credit cards, getting more than one might be your best bet. Consider getting a top-tier travel credit card with transferable points, plus a hotel credit card – or even two hotel credit cards that complement each other. The more points and free nights you earn, the easier it will be to piece together a longer trip out of your free nights.

Final Thoughts

Hotel points are great, but free nights are even better. And with any of these cards, you’ll get a little bit of both. If you pair one of these cards with an awesome travel or airline credit card, you might even be able to book the bulk of your upcoming vacation for just a fraction of the cost.

For the best travel deals, make sure to check out our comprehensive guides on the best travel and rewards cards on the market.

Related Articles:

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Roth IRA vs. Traditional IRA: Retirement Showdown

An IRA, or individual retirement account, offers a tax-advantaged way to sock away money for retirement. There are actually many types of IRAs, but for most people, the choice boils down to two main options: a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA.

If you’re trying to decide whether to contribute to a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA, the very short answer is that a Roth IRA makes sense if you expect to be in the same or higher tax bracket in retirement. If you’re earning a lot now and expect to have a lower tax rate in retirement, then a traditional IRA would probably make more sense.

However, that answer certainly doesn’t hold true for everyone in every situation. So below we’ll get into the crucial differences between Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs, and explain a few situations where it might make sense to choose one over the other.

Featured Offers


Roth IRA vs. Traditional IRA: Main Differences

Both Roth and traditional IRAs are excellent ways to save for your retirement, especially if you don’t have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. However, there are some important differences between these two accounts, and they boil down to four main areas: eligibility, contributions, tax implications, and withdrawal rules.

Difference #1: Eligibility

We’ll start with eligibility, since your ability to choose a Roth IRA vs. a traditional IRA will depend on whether you even qualify.

Most people will be allowed to contribute to a traditional IRA. The only requirements are that a) you have earned taxable income during the year, and b) you must not be older than 70½ by the end of the year.

You must also have earned taxable income during the year to contribute to a Roth IRA, but unlike with traditional IRAs, there is no age limit. However, to contribute to a Roth IRA, your income must fall under a certain threshold. Here are the income restrictions on Roth IRAs, based on your 2016 tax filing status:

  • Single: You can contribute the full amount to a Roth IRA if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is $117,000 or less. If your MAGI is $117,001 to $132,000, you can contribute a reduced amount; if it exceeds $132,000, you cannot contribute to a Roth IRA.
  • Married filing jointly: You can contribute the full amount if you make $184,000 or less. If your MAGI is between $184,001 and $194,000, you can contribute a reduced amount; if your MAGI exceeds $194,000, you cannot contribute to a Roth IRA.
  • Married filing separately: Your MAGI cannot be more than $10,000 to contribute to a Roth IRA. If your MAGI is less than $10,000, you can contribute a reduced amount. Note that if you did not live with your spouse during the year, you can use the limits for single filers.

As you’ll note above, you can never contribute the full amount to a Roth IRA if you’re married filing separately, and the limit to make even a reduced contribution is very low.

Difference #2: Tax Benefits

Traditional IRA: With a traditional IRA, your contributions are tax-deductible the year you make them. However, you’ll pay income taxes on any IRA withdrawals you make in retirement.

This has the potentially beneficial effect of lowering your adjusted gross income during your prime earning years, and delaying your tax obligation until retirement, when you’ll likely be in a lower tax bracket anyway. (Note that you may only be able to deduct part of your traditional IRA contributions — or none at all — if you or your spouse are also covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan such as a 401(k).)

Roth IRA: A Roth IRA works in almost the opposite way: You pay taxes upfront to avoid paying them in retirement. You contribute after-tax income, meaning your contributions are never tax deductible in the year you make them. However, in retirement, all of your withdrawals are tax-free — including your original contributions and any investment gains.

Difference #3: Contribution Limits

Annual contribution limits are the same for Roth and traditional IRAs — mostly.

If you’re under age 50, you can contribute up to $5,500 a year to your traditional IRA. If you’re 50 or older, you can contribute up to $6,500 a year (sometimes called “catch-up contributions”). Both numbers are regardless of income.

The limits are the same with a Roth IRA, but Roth contribution limits can depend on your income. If you’re under age 50 and are allowed to contribute the full amount (see the “Eligibility” section above), you can contribute up to $5,500 each year. If you’re 50 or older and are allowed to contribute the full amount, you can contribute up to $6,500 a year.

If your income limits what you’re allowed to contribute to a Roth IRA, you’ll need to do some math to figure out your reduced contribution limit.

Difference #4: Withdrawal Rules

There are several rules governing when you can start to withdraw money from your IRA. Here are the crucial differences:

  • Early withdrawals: If you’re younger than age 59½, you won’t be able to take money out of your traditional IRA without paying a stiff 10% penalty. With a Roth IRA, you can withdraw contributions penalty-free at any time; however, you cannot withdraw earnings penalty-free before age 59½. You must have also have contributed to your Roth IRA for five years to avoid the penalty, regardless of your age.
  • Required minimum distributions: With traditional IRAs, you will be forced to begin taking money out in required minimum distributions once you reach age 70½. That’s not the case with Roth IRAs, which never require withdrawals during your lifetime.

With both types of IRAs, there are several exceptions that allow you to tap the money for certain situations without paying an early-withdrawal penalty. One of the most popular is the ability to use up to $10,000 toward purchasing your first home (or any home, regardless of whether it’s your first, as long as you haven’t owned a principal residence in two years).

You can also take penalty-free withdrawals from either kind of IRA to pay for qualified educational expenses or medical expenses, or if you opt for substantially equal periodic payments (SEPP).

Roth vs. Traditional IRA: Which Should I Choose?

Take a look at the chart below for a quick summary of the differences between traditional IRAs vs. Roth IRAs. If you need more help making a decision, we’ll also offer a few common scenarios below to help you choose.

Traditional IRA

Roth IRA

Age limitations to contribute?

Yes; must be younger than 70½

No

Income limitations to contribute?

No

Yes, cannot make over a certain amount depending on tax-filing status (see “Eligibility” for current limits)

Yearly contribution limit

$5,500 ($6,500 for age 50 and older)

$5,500 ($6,500 for age 50 and older); less for some, depending on income

Contributions tax deductible?

Yes, but potential limitations if you or your spouse are covered by employee retirement plan

No

Withdrawals (including contributions and earnings) tax-free?

No

Yes

Withdraw contributions penalty-free any time?

No

Yes

Conditions to avoid early-withdrawal penalty

Must be 59½ before making withdrawals (contributions and earnings)

Can withdraw contributions anytime, but must be 59½ before withdrawing earnings; must have made contributions for at least five years

Required age when you must begin making withdrawals?

Yes, at 70½

No

Choosing Between a Roth IRA and a Traditional IRA: A Few Case Studies

Assuming you’re eligible to contribute to either a Roth or traditional IRA (you’re younger than 70½, which means you’re eligible for a traditional IRA, and your income is low enough to allow Roth contributions), below are a few situations where one type might make more sense than the other.

Case No. 1: I think my tax rate will be lower (or higher) in retirement.

Assuming you are eligible for both types of IRAs, it’s time to get out your crystal ball. Are you expecting a significant bump in income by the time you retire? Would that increase in income bump you into the next tax bracket? If so, a Roth IRA might be a better choice. While your contributions won’t be tax-deductible now, you’ll be able to make your withdrawals down the road without facing a tax bill that’s made even bigger by your higher tax bracket.

On the flip side, if you’re in a high-income tax bracket now but think you’ll be retiring in a lower tax bracket, a traditional IRA could make more sense. The tax deduction on your contributions might be more valuable to you now, and your tax bill may be more modest in retirement.

Let’s look at a couple of examples using this investment calculator from Scottrade. Assuming moderate growth, putting the maximum $5,500 a year into an IRA for 20 years — or $110,000 in total contributions — would yield $264,000 in retirement savings. How much you ultimately pay in taxes on that money depends on a few factors (not the least of which is whether current tax laws remain unchanged, which we’ve assumed here for simplicity’s sake):

  • Jim uses a Roth IRA, so he pays full income taxes on his $110,000 in contributions, but will owe no taxes on the $154,000 in investment earnings. Assuming a 20% effective tax rate during his contribution years, he’ll pay a total of $22,000 in taxes on that $264,000, or 8.3%. Even if the balance continues to grow throughout his retirement, he still won’t owe any more in taxes — lowering his overall tax rate further.
  • Jane uses a traditional IRA, thereby deferring any tax obligations until retirement. Let’s assume that when she hits retirement, her effective tax rate drops from 20% to 10%. That means she pays half the rate that Jim did on her contributions — however, she’ll owe that amount on her investment earnings as well. She’ll ultimately pay $26,400 in taxes on the $264,000, or 10%, and will continue to owe taxes on any further investment gains.

Case No. 2: I might need to tap my IRA before age 59½.

Let’s be abundantly clear: Tapping your IRA early, whether it’s a Roth or traditional IRA, is very rarely a good idea. After all, your money can’t grow unless you’re willing to keep your hands off of it.

However, if you fear that you might need to tap your money early, a Roth will probably be a better choice. That’s because you’re allowed to withdraw your contributions (but not your earnings) at any age without paying an early-withdrawal penalty — after all, you’ve already paid taxes on them.

If you’ve been contributing the $5,500 maximum every year for awhile, that means you’ll have access to a significant pile of penalty-free cash. That’s not the case with traditional IRAs until you’re 59½, and even then, you will have to pay taxes on your withdrawals, too.

Case No. 3: I want my money to grow for as long as possible.

Perhaps you’ve diversified your retirement savings enough to know that you won’t need to tap your IRA for a long time, even past the age of 70½. Maybe you have named a beneficiary for your IRA and want to leave behind as much money as possible when you die.

In both cases, a Roth IRA probably is a better choice than a traditional IRA. That’s because traditional IRAs force you to begin taking withdrawals, called required minimum distributions, once you hit age 70½. If you want your money to keep growing, whether for your own benefit or someone else’s, a Roth will allow that to happen.

Made Your Choice? Now It’s Time to Find a Home for Your Money

If you’ve decided whether a Roth or traditional IRA is best for you, the next step is figuring out where you want to open your account. The Simple Dollar offers a guide to the best IRA Accounts that outlines four popular options, as well as more advice on the Roth IRA vs. traditional IRA question.

If you already have an employer-sponsored retirement account such as a 401(k) and are wondering whether it makes sense to open up an IRA as well, see Roth IRA vs. 401k? You May Not Have to Choose. And if you need advice about 401(k)-to-IRA rollovers, check out our step-by-step primer, see How to Do a 401(k) Rollover.

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The post Roth IRA vs. Traditional IRA: Retirement Showdown appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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