Saturday, July 14, 2018

Ant-Man and The Wasp movie review: Wasp overshadows Ant-Man in new Marvel movie

Apart from some big banner Hindi films, superhero movies are the ones which attract a lot of moviegoers in Nepal. After the success of Avengers: Infinity War, the Marvel Comic Universe (MCU) has come up with another movie which has been based on incidents before Thanos killed everyone.

The movie begins with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) grappling with the consequences of his choices as both a superhero and a father. He’s under house arrest after his shenanigans in Germany (Captain America: Civil War), Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), cut ties with him because Lang didn’t inform them before going rogue with Captain America. But Lang is soon approached by Hope van Dyne and Dr Hank Pym, as he once again dons the Ant-Man suit to fight alongside them. The urgent mission soon leads to secret revelations from the past as the dynamic duo finds itself in an epic battle against a powerful new enemy, Ghost.

The first part of the movie gives a recap of what had happened in the first Ant-Man movie and Captain America: Civil War. Slowly the story starts building up as Ant-Man and The Wasp go on a little adventure together. The second half is more intense as it involves one of the most epic car chases in recent times.

While most sequels fail to live up to the hype that the first movie creates, this one, however, is far better than the first one. It is funnier; it is much more charming and is more memorable than its first part. This movie is as funny as Deadpool as it makes you giggle throughout the film like in that scene where Ant-Man has to retrieve an object but can’t due to his malfunctioning shifting abilities.

Reed in this movie is just as good as he was in the first. He hasn’t changed much from his natural performance in the hit TV show FRIENDS. He is mature and funny and knows what to say and when as the script has given him the liberty to flex his comedic muscles like when he uses a lorry as a skateboard.

Evangeline is really great in the action scenes which are better than Reed as she has pulled off some really good stunts like her first fight scene with the bad guys. She has taken centre stage in the film where she does all of Reed’s dirty works.

Douglas as her dad is as funny as Reed as he cracks some really funny jokes time and again. His acting is just as good especially his emotional moment with his wife is intense. Another actor that stands out is Michael Pena who has done a really good job as Reed’s accomplice. Hannah John-Kamen is good as the antagonist as she has done justice in her role.

The cinematography is quite good but it’s nothing compared to the other MCU movies. There are a few scenes which are quite good like the car chase where the cars shift shapes like a video game which makes for an intense watch.

What is most likable in the film is the script which goes with a gradual flow connecting one movie to another. Its explained why Ant-Man was missing during the chaos happening in Infinity Wars.

This movie is an enjoyable watch which is set up really nicely leading up to the next Avengers film where we will get to see how Ant-Man is going to face Thanos and help the Avengers beat him.

Run Time: 120 minutes

Director: Peyton Reed

Genre: Action/Comedy

Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Walton Goggins, Michael Douglas

Available in 3-D

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The Advice of “Don’t Go to Starbucks Every Day” and What It Really Means

It’s almost a running joke that personal finance writers like to bring up the idea of cutting out that ol’ daily trip to Starbucks as a way to save money. I do it sometimes myself.

“If you cut out a daily visit to Starbucks on your way to work, where you’d spend $5 a visit, you’d save $1,250 a year!”

So, why does that strategy come up all the time?

First of all, it’s a true statement with really easy math behind it. If a person goes to Starbucks every workday and spends $5 there, that’s $5 per visit times 5 visits per week, or $25 per week. If that person works 50 weeks a year, that’s $25 per week times 50 weeks per year, or $1,250 per year. If you’re spending $1,250 per year at Starbucks right now and you stop doing that, that’s $1,250 in your pocket. It’s absolutely true and the math is really easy and obvious.

Second, the Starbucks example is really tangible. It’s easy to relate that whole experience of going to Starbucks and getting yourself a venti whatever. It’s an experience that hits a lot of senses (visual, touch, taste) that lots of people are very familiar with. Translating something that tangible to a financial principle is a good way of explaining it.

Finally, a lot of people are actually doing this very thing. Starbucks rakes in over $10 billion a year in revenue. If you start adding in all of the other coffee chains, like Caribou, and all of the other stores that sell coffee along with other things, like Dunkin’ Donuts, and all of the other local coffee shops…. that’s a lot of people getting their morning coffee at a coffee shop in the morning. The best estimate is that dedicated coffee shops alone sell about 10 million cups of coffee in the US each day, and that doesn’t include all of those other businesses like Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds and other places that also sell a ton of coffee. This “daily cup of coffee at some shop” routine is a pretty common one in America today.

It’s pretty obvious why this tip shows up so often on frugality sites, but that’s not the end of the story. The value of the “Starbucks strategy” runs much more deeply than that.

Digging Below the Surface

If you look at this tip on the surface as advice to cut back on your trips to Starbucks (or your preferred coffee vendor), it’s a good tip for a lot of people, but it’s not nearly a good tip for everyone.

According to USA Today, about 83% of American adults drink coffee each day, so right off the bat, that Starbucks tip is useless to 17% of American adults. Furthermore, a lot of coffee-drinking adults drink their coffee straight from their own coffee pots (or the one at work) and don’t necessarily go to a coffee shop of any kind with any regularity.

In short, that coffee shop strategy completely misses the spot for a lot of Americans who simply don’t go to the coffee shop at all, or only go as a rare treat (that’s the camp I’m in).

If that was the end of the story, then it would simply be a mediocre frugality tip.

But that’s not the end of the story.

The “skip the coffee shop stop” tip is actually just a specific and very tangible example of a broader frugality strategy, one that applies to virtually every American.

Here it is: if you can find some unnecessary expense that you repeat with any frequency, finding some way to cut back on that expense will save you significant money.

The “skip the coffee shop stop” frugal tip fits right in that framework. It’s an unnecessary expense that’s repeated with some regularity, and cutting back on it saves significant money. The coffee is the “unnecessary expense” part. Going to the coffee shop with any regularity is the “repeat with any frequency” part. Dropping that coffee shop visit is the “cut back on that expense” part. The $1250 a year is the “save you significant money” part. It’s the same exact tip, just written in a more general way.

The key thing to remember, always, is that when you see that tip about saving money by trimming your coffee stops, step back and look at the broader picture.

A Bigger Look at the “Starbucks Tip”

So, let’s look at that broader tip again:

If you can find some unnecessary expense that you repeat with any frequency, finding some way to cut back on that expense will save you significant money.

Whenever you make that tip into a more specific case, like the “cutting back on coffee shop visits” tip that started this article, what you’re doing is turning it into a more obvious and more exclusive tip that people can more directly apply to their lives but only if they have that unnecessary regular expense in their lives.

If you do go to a coffee shop on a regular basis, the more specific strategy of simply not going there as often is one that applies directly to your life that you can take action on immediately. On the other hand, if you don’t drink coffee, that tip is useless.

The general version of the tip is the middle ground – it’s indirectly useful to pretty much everyone, but it requires some work to make it directly useful. You have to think about unnecessary regular expenses in your life in order to turn it into any sort of action that you can actually use.

Here are ten examples of this. Each one of these examples is a specific frugality tip that will have a direct positive impact on your finances if and only if you actually partake regularly in the expensive and unnecessary routine being described. Some of these will apply to you and be useful – others will not.

1. If you buy name brand laundry detergent like Tide, try the store brand which can save you as much as $0.20 per laundry load, which can add up to $73 per year if you do laundry daily!

2. If you go to the bookstore once a week and buy a $15 book there, replace that bookstore visit with a library visit and pick up the same book for free. Over the course of a year, that will save you $780!

3. If you eat out more than once a week, cut it back to once a week. As the average meal at a restaurant costs $12 and it’s easy to eat at home for $2, you’ll be saving $10 per meal you cut. Cut out two meals eaten out per week and you’ll save $1,040 a year!

4. If you drink soda more than once a week, cut back to a single soda a week. The average cost of a soda is $0.50, so if you cut it back from a daily soda to a weekly soda, you’ll save $3 a week, which adds up to $156 a year!

5. If you buy name brand dishwashing detergent like Cascade, try the store brand version which can save you as much as $0.20 per dishwasher load, which can add up to $73 per year if you do dishes daily!

6. If you commute to work every day, find someone to ride share with one day a week. Cutting just one day of commuting a week out of your life, assuming a 20 mile round trip and a typical rate of $0.50 per mile in total costs, will save you $500 a year.

7. If you have a typical cable subscription that runs $100 a month, try eliminating the channels you watch less than once a week and downsize the package. For most people, this will cut an average $100 bill per month down to $60 per month, saving $480 per year!

8. If you eat out for lunch at work more than once a week, cut back to once a week and join the brown bag club. Take your own lunch to work (cost around $2) instead of eating out (cost around $12) and save $10 while networking with those who don’t eat out. If you normally eat out three times a week and cut it back to once a week, that’s $20 saved per week, which adds up to $1,000 a year!

9. If you buy name brand garbage bags like Glad, try the store brand version which can save you as much as $0.08 per bag, which can add up to $30 per year if you use one daily!

10. If you pay for auto insurance, shop around for better rates once a year. If you can trim even 5% off of the average annual insurance rate of $1,000 per year, that’s $50 per year you’ll save!

So, how many of those ten tips applied to you? Just go through the “if” statements and see how many of them describe something you actually do. I’m guessing that at least one or two of them apply to everyone reading the list, with quite a few readers finding that a lot apply to them. At the same time, a lot of them probably whiffed for you because they just don’t apply to your life.

This is the problem with big lists of frugality tips: almost all frugality tips come with an “if” statement like that, either directly stated or implied. That “if” statement means that the tip is directly useful for some and not useful at all for others. Here’s the catch: when you start using a lot of frugality strategies, you start finding that fewer and fewer “ifs” apply to you on long lists of frugality tips. This doesn’t mean that tip lists are useful – sometimes you’ll find a few great ideas and there’s always one or two that apply. It just means that the more frugal you are, the fewer “ifs” apply to you, and thus the less useful a big list of frugality tips becomes.

So, what can you do when you want to keep seeking out the most bang for the buck in your life? You find your own “ifs.”

Find Your Own “Ifs”

Again, let’s look at that general frugality strategy:

If you can find some unnecessary expense that you repeat with any frequency, finding some way to cut back on that expense will save you significant money.

The key to turning this general and not very directly useful tip into something that’s directly useful to you is to figure out what those repeated unnecessary and reducible expenses are. Once you’ve identified those, then frugality becomes about walking through each of those expenses and figuring out how to get the most bang for the buck out of them. You now have very specific things you can search for online and can find very specific frugality tips and articles that directly work for you.

So, the challenge really comes down to identifying what your repeated unnecessary and reducible expenses are.

You can start by simply going through your credit card statements and your bank statements and figuring out all of the places where you spend money regularly. Get several months of statements and look for each and every repeated expense.

Some of those items, like grocery store visits, might also include lots of individual purchases that you can cut back on, so if you can, look through your grocery receipts.

What you’re looking for are patterns in your spending. What things are you spending money on over and over again? Gas? The electric bill? Insurance? Groceries? A store related to your hobbies? Amazon? Are you buying dish soap regularly? What about freezer foods?

Start totaling up the amounts you’re spending on each of those individual things.

Then, when you have some totals, look at the ones that you think are too high, as well as all of your regular monthly bills.

Every single one of those things is a source for frugality that’s geared toward your life.

Next, ask yourself how you can cut spending on each and every one of those things. What you’re doing is turning that general frugality tip…

If you can find some unnecessary expense that you repeat with any frequency, finding some way to cut back on that expense will save you significant money

… into a bunch of partially completed frugality tips:

I spend too much on paper towels; how can I cut back?

I spend too much on homeowners insurance; how can I cut back?

… and so on.

At this point, Google becomes your friend. Just type in “save money on paper towels” or “best bang for buck paper towels” and see what you find. You’ll immediately be pointed at a frugal strategy that works specifically for you on something that you’ve just realized is a spending problem.

Then, do that for each thing you’ve discovered. Type in “save money on homeowners insurance” or “best bang for buck homeowners insurance.” Type in “save money on cell bill” or “best bang for buck cell phone plans.”

This takes time, but this is an extremely effective way to find a whole bunch of frugality tips that work specifically for your situation.

In Defense of the “Starbucks Tip”

So, let’s back up to those big lists of frugal tips that include things like “don’t go to Starbucks every day.” You might think those lists are mostly full of tips that aren’t useful, but the reality is that almost all frugality tips follow this general formula. They identify something specific that you might be doing and offer a way to cut that cost.

The problem is that the list doesn’t know your life. It doesn’t know which of those “ifs” apply to you, and it doesn’t know which strategies you may have already employed. All that the list can do is provide a lot of tips and hope that a healthy number apply to you and your situation.

It’s up to you to make that list as valuable to you as possible by knowing your “ifs”. Know what tips you’re looking for and which ones really apply best to you.

Knowing that makes frugality articles much more useful. You can quickly scan them for only the tips that match what’s relevant to you.

Remember, the “Starbucks tip” isn’t a bad tip, it’s just a specific form of a very generally useful strategy. Take that general strategy and bend it to what you need and you’ll have more relevant frugal ideas than you know what to do with.

The post The Advice of “Don’t Go to Starbucks Every Day” and What It Really Means appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Friday, July 13, 2018

The More List and the Less List

A long time reader named Janice recently suggested an exercise to me that I tried out at the beginning of the month and have found to be really insightful and useful. I’m not sure where Janice came across this tactic originally, but here it is, in her words.

Sit down with two sheets of paper. Write “do more” at the top of one sheet and “do less” at the top of another sheet. On the “do more” sheet, list things you want to be doing more of in your life. It can be fun stuff or self improvement stuff – whatever. This list will probably be easy. On the “do less” sheet, do the opposite and list things you want to be doing less of in your life. This one is harder and it is sometimes filled with things that you can’t really change, but try to think of things. Try to list ten things at least on each list. Then go back through them and mark two or three on each list that really resonate with you that seem to be in the realm of things that are possible. Your goal for the next few months should be to do more of the highlighted things on the “do more” list and do less of the highlighted things on the “do less” list. Your life will feel way better! I do this every three months on the first of each quarter and those 5 or so things are the focus of that quarter.

I received this note from Janice in June and decided to give this a try for myself at the start of July, as it is the start of the third quarter of the year, and see how it went. I actually made my list at the end of June so I would know what I wanted to work on right at the start, and I was intending to lean more on things I wanted to do “less” of than things I wanted to do “more” of.

So, I made those big lists. I came up with about fifteen things on my first “do more” list (which was way easier, as Janice predicted) and about ten things on my first “do less” list (which took about three times as long to come up with as the longer “do more” list).

Here were five of the items on my “do more” list:
– Spend more time meditating and doing spiritual/religious study and reflection
– Read more challenging books
– Spend more one-on-one time with my wife, which is tricky to do with three kids
– Make more meals for the freezer to stock up for fall because we’re running pretty low
– Exercise more, particularly with a focus on improving my kicking height (for taekwondo), core strength, and balance

… and here were five of the items on my “do less” list:
– Spend less time using my phone
– Buy fewer Kindle books
– Spend less time playing Fortnite (and find other non-electronic ways to spend time with my children)
– Eat less unhealthy food (and fewer calories in general)
– Spend less time web browsing without real purpose

Once I had those lists, I went through and marked three or four on each list that really resonated with me. I just read through each list a few times, went on a walk while thinking about them, and when I came back, it was pretty obvious which ones I should mark.

I then took those seven things I had marked and tried to create three SMARTER goals for the next three months that incorporated as many of those things as possible.

So, a quick refresher on SMARTER goals. SMARTER is an acronym to describe goals that live up to the following standards.

“S” means specific. A specific goal is one that establishes exactly what actions you are going to take to make this successful. What is it you want to accomplish? What exactly are you going to do to make it happen?

“M” means measurable. A measurable goal is one where you can tell very clearly whether you’ve achieved success or not. For example, “I’m going to get fit” is not measurable at all, while, on the other hand, “I’m going to run a 5K in 20 minutes” is very measurable. It is extremely clear whether or not you can run a 5K in 20 minutes or not.

“A” means attainable. Is this something you can really do? The best way to ensure attainability is to take on something that is mostly under your control and is a natural outcome of your effort but is something that will really challenge you to make it happen. Don’t make a goal reliant on the choices and actions of others.

“R” means relevant. Does this goal, when you achieve it, bring about specific things you want in your life? Is this a worthwhile goal? Is it in line with what you want in your broader life?

“T” means time-specific. This just means you’re committing to completing it within a certain timeframe. By simply adding a timeframe to a goal, you make it time specific.

“E” means evaluate. This means you step back regularly and consider how your progress toward your goal is going and whether or not you need to alter your plans. A good goal has a regular evaluation as a part of it.

“R” means review. If your evaluation isn’t good, what can you change about your goal and your plan to get there to make it better? That’s what review is all about.

I wanted to define three goals for the next three months that incorporated as much of the really meaningful “more” and really meaningful “less” items that I could, and so here’s what I came up with.

I’m leaving my smartphone on my bedside table most days unless I need it for a specific errand outside the house. This nails a lot of my “less” list all in one swoop. If I need to check for messages or something like that when I’m not working, I go upstairs to check them and then leave the phone on the bedside table. My phone only goes in my pocket if I’m leaving the house, and when I’m out and about, unless I need the phone for a specific purpose, I leave it in the vehicle when I’m doing whatever it is that I need to be doing.

I’m adopting a morning routine of meditation/prayer and exercise. I’m doing a 20 minute exercise routine each day (or trying to, anyway) that focuses on stretching, core strength, and flexibility above all else. I’m also committing to a 15 minute morning meditation and a 10 minute meditation in the evening.

I adopted a “summer” reading list of 20 challenging books I already have on hand and have set aside an hour a day for reading these hard books. This is all about both reading more challenging things and avoiding the urge to buy books on the Kindle because my upcoming reading list is set in stone and already on hand.

Where is the time coming from for the exercise, meditation, and reading? It’s coming from the time I’m not spending in front of screens. By simply not having my phone around everywhere, I’ve found that I have a lot more time in my life than I thought I did. I’ve been moving back to relying on my pocket notebook more and more, whereas I have been using my smartphone directly for many of the things I used to jot down in my notebook. I’ve also found that I’m much more present in the moment all of the time, due to (I think) a mix of the lack of smartphone use and the increase in mindful meditation.

It’s probably obvious by now how one could use this strategy to come up with really great personal goals, but how does it tie to improving one’s finances? It’s simple. As long as at least one of your “more” or “less” items is about financial improvement in some fashion (such as spending less or more frugal projects or more professional development time), you can define a goal for yourself that incorporates that element into your life.

For example, for me, one of the goals was to buy fewer Kindle books, as I feel like I’ve been spending too much of my hobby budget on things to read on the Kindle lately. I found a goal that incorporated that desire directly – developing a reading list of books I already have and setting aside time to actually read them – and another goal that incorporated that desire indirectly – spending less time on my phone, where I would sometimes buy Kindle books serendipitously.

Although I didn’t have a goal of directly reducing my buying of Kindle books, I’ve found that my Kindle book buying has taken a tremendous nosedive. I’ve spent less than 10% on Kindle books through the first third of July as I spent in the first third of June. Why? I’m focused on what I already have to read rather than stumbling on new things to read, and the tool I often used to buy books spontaneously now mostly resides in another room rather than constantly in my pocket.

Try this for yourself. Make up a “more” list and a “less” list, figure out a few on each list that really resonate with you, and define three goals for yourself over the next three months that scoop in as many of those resonating items as possible. Try to include as much “less” as possible in those goals so that you have enough room in your life for the “more” elements. Then, stick to those goals. You’ll find that they naturally have meaning and you naturally want to achieve them.

Good luck!

The post The More List and the Less List appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Five DIGs of Nepal Police retire

Kathmandu, July 13

Five Deputy Inspectors General of Police contesting for the post of Additional Inspector General of Police have retired from their post on Friday.

They had been competing for three vacant posts for Additional Inspector General of Police.

Uttam Kumar Karki, Pawan Prasad Kharel, Chhavi Lal Joshi, Gyan Bikram Shah and Sharad Chand retired due to the 30-year service rule. The DIGs joined the service as police inspectors on July 13, 1988.

However, the retired DIGs have expressed dissatisfaction over the government’s failure to carry out their appraisal process on time as they had to retire without promotion. The DIGs also complained that the government’s behaviour unfair towards them was unfair.

Meanwhile, a farewell programme was organised for the DIGs.

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Prime Minister visits hospitalised former state minister

Kathmandu, July 13

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli visited former state minister and Nepal Communist Party member Mohammad Mustak Alam at the Bansbari-based Shahid Gangalal National Heart Center to learn about his condition on Friday.

Alam was admitted to the Gangalal Hospital after suffering a heart attack on Thursday.

Similarly, the Prime Minister also directed doctors involved in the treatment to leave no stones unturned for the treatment. The Prime Minister wished for his speedy recovery.

Alam was the CPN-UML party candidate for the in Rautahat-2 federal Parliament seat during the federal elections last year.

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Vehicular movement resumes along Hetaunda-Kathmandu road

Hetaunda, July 13

Vehicular movement has resumed along the Hetaunda-Kathmandu road since Friday afternoon.

A landslide due to heavy rainfall at Mahalaxmi Khola and Sukaura Dam had obstructed the road since Friday morning.

Stranded passengers are heading towards their respective destination after the debris was removed. Delay in the arrival of excavator led to delay in resuming the traffic, informed Assistant Sub Inspector of Police Devakilal Chaudhary, Chief at the Phakhel Police Office in the district.

The debris along Kulekhani-Phakel road along the Hetaunda-Kulekhani-Phakhel route was also removed.

Passengers travelling from eastern Nepal including Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara and Parsa have been stranded after landslides obstructed the Hetaunda-Phakhel road section in Hetaunda.

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Kathmandu-bound passengers stranded as landslides obstruct Hetaunda-Phakhel road

Hetaunda, July 13

The shortest route linking Hetaunda to Kathmandu has been obstructed following landslides due to heavy rainfall since last night.

Passengers travelling from eastern Nepal including Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara and Parsa have been stranded after landslides obstructed the Hetaunda-Phakhel road section in Hetaunda.

According to police station in Phakhel, the landslips in Mahalaxmi Khola and Sukyaula dam along the road left the passengers stranded.

Police have said that removing the debris will take a lot of time due to the lack of equipment.

Likewise, travelling through Hetaunda-Kulekhani-Sisneri-Dakshinkali route is also not possible immediately due to its pathetic condition, according to police.

More than 100 vehicles used to pass through the route while it was functioning.






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Birgunj industrialists say new minimum wage is too high to pay

Birgunj, July 13

Industrialists in Birgunj city of Parsa district say the new minimum wage recently fixed by the government to implement from the beginning of new fiscal year next week is too high and they cannot pay it.

Few days after the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security decided that a worker should be paid at least Rs 13,450 a month, the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry protested the decision, urging the government to correct it.

The Chamber has also accused the government of fixing the remuneration without conducting a detailed study and without holding proper consultations with stakeholders concerned including the industrialists.

It says the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, whom the government claims to have consulted, does not represent all entrepreneurs in the country. Instead, some other big chambers should also have been asked for suggestions.

The industrialists have warned that the decision may obstruct the smooth functioning of factories, ultimately delaying the economic growth of the country.

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Five killed in Sindhupalchok jeep fall

Chautara, July 13

Five persons were killed in a jeep accident in Panchpokhari Thangpal Rural Municipality of Sindhupalchok district on late Thursday evening.

The four-wheeler (Lu 1 Cha 999) was heading towards Bhotang from Melamchi when it fell off around 400 metres down the road from Phyaphulla Danda, near the border between Thangpalkot and Thangpaldhap, yesterday.

Three persons died on the spot whereas two breathed their last on the way to a health facility in Melamchi, according to police.

The victims have been identified as Bhim Bahadur Tamang (75), Jayarami Tamang (55), Nani Tamang (53), Bodhom Tamang (56) and Sunmaya Tamang (25), all locals of Bhotang.

Meanwhile, those who sustained injuries in the accident have been referred to Kathmandu for further treatment from the Melamchi health facility, according to Police Inspector Parashu Ram Malla.

Of them, the driver is said to be critical as he was not taken to the hospital on time owing to bad weather and nighttime. A helicopter was sent for the rescue, but it had returned due to weather problems.

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The Wisdom of Frugality: Why the Philosophy of Frugality Is a Hard Sell

wisdom of frugalityThis is the fourth entry in an eight part weekly series that provides a detailed look at the book The Wisdom of Frugality by Emrys Westacott. If you’re new to the series, feel free to hop back to the first entry.

In this chapter, Westacott turns his vision to one of the most difficult questions when it comes to frugality: If the benefits of frugality are so obvious and so widely supported by philosophers, why isn’t it widely adopted in the general populace? In America, 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and even among those who don’t, many households don’t have a whole lot of financial breathing room. How can the benefits of frugality be so obviously positive, yet the vast majority of people don’t practice frugality?

One plausible explanation, offered by Nietzsche, is that philosophers – and other people invested in avenues of life that involve a great deal of self-reflection – tend to value frugality more than the mainstream. Philosophy and self-reflection tend to nudge people toward frugality over time, in other words. Think about career paths that are oriented toward self-reflection and philosophical thinking – careers like social work and education and the humanities. They tend to have a tradition of frugal living embedded in them.

Still, that doesn’t answer the question related to those who don’t dedicate large portions of their life to self-reflection. Why doesn’t frugality appeal to most people beyond merely an ideal that they don’t actually follow? Why do most lifestyles in the West run contrary to frugal ideals?

Westacott breaks the reasons for why frugality isn’t widely practiced into three main groups: frugality itself is challenging and dangerous, wealth and affluence have a great deal of appeal, and there are benefits to being acquisitive.

The Challenges and Dangers of Frugality

Frugality may have incredible benefits, but it is not without its dangers and flaws, many of which are exposed when people commit to intense levels of frugality. Westacott focuses on four dangers of frugality that are always present, but are particularly exposed when people commit to intense frugal living. These four points offer an explanation, to an extent, of why “cheapness” is considered a bad thing and many people in the West who adopt intense frugality eventually dial it back.

First, a mercenary-like attitude centered around an obsessive focus on saving can unbalance one’s life. A miserly attitude can cause one to miss out on many of life’s joys because it absorbs all of the focus in one’s life. This can create damage to one’s personal relationships and social life and lead to a sense that life is all about minimizing spending and maximizing one’s savings rate, which can squeeze the joy out of many areas of life.

Second, an overconcern with avoiding loss leads to poor decisions. This is otherwise known as the “sunk cost fallacy,” when a person believes that they must utilize something that they’ve invested money in regardless of the other options on the table. For example, let’s say you bought tickets to a baseball game but then an old friend comes to town, but you turn down spending time with that friend because you can’t stand the thought of losing the money you put into those tickets. The thing to remember here is that the tickets are a sunk cost – regardless of what you might choose to do, that money is gone. Those tickets merely represent another option you can choose from within that timeframe – the money is gone regardless of what you choose, so you should always choose the best option available in that moment regardless of what you might have invested prior to that point.

Third, frugality can lead to ungenerosity, because a focus on “bang for the buck” argues against charity because there is no real tangible return on charitable giving. If you’re focused intensely on minimizing your spending, it’s hard to make a case for charitable giving and generosity because the return on that giving isn’t obviously apparent and giving reduces one’s financial state. Thus, a strong focus on frugality nudges a person gradually toward being less generous and less helpful toward others.

Finally, a strong frugal mindset can led to stagnation and a lack of motivation to improve. A big part of a successful frugal mindset is pushing back the idea of “more” in terms of one’s possessions and, to an extent, personal experiences. However, personal progress in social, artistic, physical, mental, and intellectual goals are often centered around “more” – more relationships, more knowledge, more skills, and so on. Frugality often argues against trying new experiences and encourages stagnation in many aspects of life, which can hinder self-improvement.

A frugal person owes it to themselves to be aware of these dangers and to work around them. Miserliness, loss avoidance, ungenerosity, and general life stagnation are all things that can be avoided, but are easy traps to fall into if you subscribe too intensely to a frugal perspective on life.

The Appeal of Wealth and Affluence

Another reason that frugality is a hard sell is the persistent view in American life that wealth and affluence is the key to a happy life. This notion has a strange tension with the idea of frugality, primarily because one of the most efficient ways to have some semblance of an affluent life is to not be frugal at all and spend every dime that you make. This is the route that many Americans follow – they perceive a more affluent life with marginally better items and marginally better experiences as a “better” life and thus are willing to spend every dime they make to achieve it.

Some people take this notion to the next logical step and realize that accumulation of wealth is a great way to ensure a sustainably affluent life or a higher degree of affluence and thus chase wealth as a life goal. Frugality can be a tool in this ambition, but the more common tool used is simply earning more money and accumulating that money.

It’s worth pointing out here that wealth in and of itself isn’t a bad thing to have; in fact, if paired with a strong vision of the life you wish to have, it can be an extremely good thing. Wealth can provide life security and offers the opportunity for leisure, freedom, pleasure, and generosity, all of which are things associated with happiness. Wealth also increases one’s power and (often) one’s social status, and it can also theoretically alleviate the temptation of wrongdoing (most petty crimes lose their appeal if you’re wealthy).

However, that doesn’t mean that wealth accumulation is unquestionably a net positive in life. An intense focus on wealth accumulation comes with many of the dangers of frugality mentioned above: miserliness, loss avoidance, ungenerosity, and general life stagnation are all risks that come with a strong focus on wealth accumulation, among other risks, of which there are many.

First, wealth provides more choices in life, but more choices aren’t necessarily a net positive. This is referred to as the paradox of choice, in which more options tend to result in far more decision stress. I like to think of it in terms of my childhood – when there were only three channels on television, there was always something to watch, but now when there are infinite options, there’s nothing worth watching. That’s true in many aspects of life – the more options you have, the more challenging and stressful it can become to actually make a decision and stick with it.

Second, wealth inequality can cause social and familial problems. This is why many people are loathe to let their family members or even some of their friends know about their financial success, because they know they’ll be asked for money and be expected to shoulder more of the financial burden of shared costs. Many social and familial relationships fall apart if one person finds a much higher level of financial success than the other.

Third, there exists a surprisingly low saturation point above which additional money does not bring additional happiness. Different estimates of this exist, but in general, incomes above somewhere in the $70,000 to $100,000 a year range (depending on your location in America) does not bring any increase in personal happiness. The perks above that income level are counterbalanced by the paradox of choice, the social stress, and other complications.

Finally, additional wealth is often used to fuel a “collector” mindset, which often produces overkill. Once you have a certain amount of anything, having more doesn’t produce a net additional happiness and often produces unhappiness as you’re trying to figure out how to even deal with more. Owning five books is fine – owning 500 can be a problem of inventory. Going on a trip once a year is fine – going on a trip once a week disrupts all kinds of life patterns and makes planning very difficult.

Perhaps, in the end, Aristotle’s recommendation of what to do with money is the right road to follow. He suggests treating money solely as a means to an end, and that end is building a good life. What is the good life, in Aristotle’s eyes? Well, that’s an entirely different subject, one best suited for an article on its own, but the principle still holds true: money and wealth can be treated solely as a means to an end when that end is building a good life for which you have a clear vision.

Part of the difficulty with capturing that sense of the “good life” is that popular culture often portrays the “good life” as being one with exorbitant wealth and lots of consumer goods, which is out of alignment with most philosophical visions of what the “good life” is. If nothing else, The Wisdom of Frugality makes a powerful case as to why there is incredible value in figuring out what your own personal sense of the “good life” really is outside of the messaging in popular culture.

The Benefits of Consumption and Acquisitiveness

The reality is that most people are naturally acquisitive about at least some things in their life. Most of us want more of something than what we currently have – and, again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, though it flies in the face of general advice on frugality.

Since money can be used to buy most things, it’s not surprising that acquisitiveness can easily be transferred over to money. If money can buy something that you want, then the desire to have that thing is easily translated into the desire to have more money. Thus, it makes inherent sense within human nature for people to want more money than they have, because money can buy most of the things that people want.

It’s natural for people to want money, in other words, and when that level of desire is reasonable and held in check by other values, it can drive us to incredible achievements and a wonderful life.

As with many things in life, however, acquisitiveness and consumption, when taken to excess, becomes problematic.

For some, it becomes a game. How much money can I accumulate? When you treat it as a “game” in which you keep “score,” how exactly do you “win”? You don’t. You just keep accumulating, and if you let the game become too all encompassing, you begin to sacrifice other values to it.

What is excessive, though? Who decides when the acquisition of wealth and possessions has gone from reasonable to excessive? There is no standard – it’s in the eye of the beholder.

Having said that, wealth is often used in positive ways, and even greed can be a powerful tool for good.

For example, greed and acquisitiveness drive economic activity, and economic activity raises the overall level of prosperity in a nation.

Many people who simply wish to accumulate wealth invest that wealth into new enterprises, which in some cases develop new products that benefit people and also employ people to develop and manufacture those products.

Many people use their accumulated wealth to do good. The examples of Andrew Carnegie (who founded countless libraries with his wealth) and Bill Gates (whose Gates Foundation has done tremendous good in the world) are shining examples of how wealth accumulation can be turned around to provide great things for the world’s people.

In the end, it’s not so much wealth itself that leaves a bad taste in people’s mouth, it’s the unethical behavior that sometimes comes along with excessive focus on acquisitiveness and accumulation of wealth. Most people find robber barons and unethical traders to be awful people; the Gordon Gekkos of the world are not well loved.

Final Thoughts

When you consider these factors all together – the acquisitiveness of human nature, the appeal of wealth itself, the challenges of frugality, and the nature of our current culture in highlighting wealth – it’s not surprising that frugality is a very hard sell for most people. While frugality may be one of the keys to a good life, the pathway to that good life isn’t as clear as the appeal of a life of luxury.

What happens if you take mere wealth accumulation and acquisitiveness a step further and it becomes extravagance? That’s what we’ll look at in the next entry in this series, which covers the pros and cons of extravagance.

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Free Resources and Financial Help for Cancer Patients

I will forever remember the phone call.

The stranger on the other end of the telephone line saying, “I have some bad news.”

The news was that I had invasive ductile cancer. Whatever that meant, I thought to myself, as I sat listening, numb and in a daze.

Two tumors. One quite large. Soon I would be hearing from a surgeon to discuss my options, which would most likely include some combination of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation, she said. The woman mentioned some statistics. I tried to write things down. It was a lot to digest, particularly as a single mom with a new baby.

As I hung up the phone, I suddenly felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. How would I raise my son, pay my bills, keep food on the table and fight for my life – all on my own?

The good news is that it’s been four years (and counting) since that day and that phone call. And the reality is that few people make it through any sort of battle with cancer entirely on their own, as I would learn over and over again during my treatment.

A fiercely independent person, receiving assistance of any kind from strangers was something I had always rejected in life — and the same held true when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer.

However, there were several turning points during my journey with the disease, and one that opened my mind tremendously involved a telephone conversation with the executive director of a national nonprofit developed specifically to assist women fighting cancer.

As I expressed my reservations, the executive director stopped me in my tracks and said bluntly, but compassionately: “Mia, letting others help you is a blessing for them. And when you are better, you will pass on the favor and help others and you will understand what I mean.”

Were it not for the assistance I received all along the way, from friends, family members, and yes, from strangers, I likely would not be here today.

I was shocked as I grew to learn just how many organizations exist to help individuals who have cancer. It can almost be overwhelming to sort through them all.

There are organizations that provide assistance buying food, paying bills, purchasing wigs when chemotherapy robs you of your hair, and some of the same groups even make sure there are presents under the Christmas tree when the battle against cancer not only strips you of every last ounce of energy, but drains your financial resources as well. Christmas came every year for three years at my house for my son and me while I made my way through nearly a dozen surgical procedures, eight weeks of radiation, and an emergency trip to the Intensive Care Unit with a life-threatening case of sepsis and a staff infection.

On some days now, it can almost seem like a distant nightmare, one I often wish I could forget entirely. But the reality is that once you’ve experienced cancer, it’s never far from your mind, not even for a moment. It forever changes you, profoundly impacting how you view life, your loved ones, and your priorities. For the remainder of your life, it is part of the new you, the person who faced a life ending disease and survived and is here to pass on the lessons learned.

So as that executive director said years ago, it’s time to pass on the favor and share what I learned. Here are some of the organizations around the country that provide assistance to cancer patients and their families. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a starting point for those in search of help and more information.

Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer, only about 3,000 Americans are diagnosed each year. As a result, specialists are few and finding effective treatment typically means traveling far from home and lengthy stays to recover from surgical procedures, chemo and radiation.

To help with expenses, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation offers travel grants to those who qualify. The foundation also has extensive knowledge and relationships with the top mesothelioma doctors and centers throughout the U.S. and internationally and can help connect you with clinical trials that may be beneficial.

The Gift of Hope

The Gift of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to providing financial support to low-income women with breast cancer during their course of treatment.

Many women often take a leave of absence from work while undergoing treatment, and some have little or no other income during that time. The Gift of Hope believes that no woman should have to worry about how her bills are going to be paid and should be free to concentrate on getting well. With that in mind, the organization helps cancer patients pay monthly bills such as electric, gas, phone, and even groceries.

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Pancreatic cancer surpassed breast cancer in 2016 becoming the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. And it is expected to become the second (surpassing colorectal cancer) by 2020.

Though its Patient Central program, PanCAN offers free, personalized resources to patients fighting the disease – including specialist information, clinical trials, financial assistance programs, personalized medicine, and information regarding diet and nutrition.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The world’s largest voluntary agency dedicated to fighting blood cancers, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society provides a variety of support to those dealing with leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and myeloma. LLS will connect patients with clinical trials, and provide financial support including co-pay assistance for prescription drugs and health insurance premiums and funding for travel-related expenses such as airfare and lodging.

LLS also operates a peer-to-peer support program to help patients and caregivers cope with the disease by matching them with volunteers who have also been impacted by a blood cancer.

Ann’s Place

A nonprofit serving Connecticut and New York’s Hudson Valley, Ann’s Place offers professional counseling, support groups and even wellness activities, all at no charge. Among the wellness programs available are yoga, Tai Chi, nutrition programs, horticulture therapy, Reiki, and creative arts such as writing, dance and music.

Dandelion Foundation

Created by a cervical cancer survivor, the Dandelion Foundation supports women who are dealing with gynecologic cancer by “leveraging the power of two,” says founder Dawnia Bell.

After being diagnosed in 2017, Bell found few resources and non-profits dedicated to gynecologic cancer. The Dandelion Foundation matches newly diagnosed women with a survivor mentor who can walk with them from the time a diagnosis is suspected through treatment, and into survivorship.

The organization also provides vouchers and Target gift cards for qualified participants to help cover prescription costs or help meet insurance deductibles, as well as post operative, chemotherapy and radiation treatment-related expenses.

The Red Devils

More than 4,000 families in Maryland deal with cancer each year, according to The Red Devils, a Baltimore-based non-profit whose mission is to fund services that improve the quality of life for breast cancer patients and their families.

Since 2002, The Red Devils has invested nearly $3 million in that effort, supporting more than than 5,500 breast cancer families. The Red Devils assists with treatment transportation including taxi vouchers, gasoline cards, bridge tolls, metro passes and sedan and van services.

It also provides support with meals, groceries, house cleaning, utilities, rent and mortgage expenses, and even childcare and respite care. There is also assistance available for such things as medical co-payments and insurance premiums and medical equipment and prostheses.


A leading national organization, CancerCare provides free, professional support services and information to help people manage the emotional, practical and financial challenges of cancer.

CancerCare services include counseling and support groups (over the phone, online and in-person), educational workshops, publications, and financial and co-payment assistance.

The American Cancer Society

Likely one of the most well-known names in the world of cancer, the American Cancer Society provides a wealth of assistance and resources, including information about treatment options, advice regarding coping with side effects, or guidance with health insurance.

In addition, the organization provides assistance with transportation to and from treatment for those who do not have a ride or are unable to drive themselves. And because treatment can also often involve traveling away from home, which is an additional financial burden on patients and their caregivers, the American Cancer Society offers a lodging program as well.

United Cancer Support Foundation

A non-profit dedicated to the prevention and eradication of all types of cancer, the United Cancer Support Foundation also offers “Just 4 U” support packages for cancer patients and free recliners for those in East Tennessee.

Support packages are designed to reduce patient stress both physically and emotionally with gifts that provide relaxation and distraction. The recliner program, meanwhile, is available to patients who are located in the same region as the organization’s Knoxville, Tenn., offices.


An organization famously started by cyclist Lance Armstrong, LIVESTRONG provides assistance to cancer patients through its Navigation program, which offers help with managing medical expenses and insurance challenges, fertility preservation, and understanding treatment programs, as well as accessing emotional support.

Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition

As the name implies, this is a group of organizations that have joined forces to help cancer patients by limiting the financial challenges they face during treatment. The website however, does not respond to individual requests for financial assistance, but rather provides a database where patients can find out if assistance is available for their specific need.

This Is Living With Cancer

Knowing when and how to help a cancer patient can be one of the most significant challenges for friends or loved ones of those fighting the disease. This Is Living With Cancer was designed to address that very issue. A free app, This Is Living With Cancer was designed to help patients to connect with loved ones and friends and to allow patients to ask for help when needed, as well as improve communication with doctors.

App features such as My Circle allow for creating group communication with the people who matter most. Through the Requests feature, patients can ask for support with such things as food, transportation, childcare, housework, and more.

Related Articles:

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Dr Govinda KC strike: Activists to gift PM one kg marsi rice in protest of govt apathy

Kathmandu, July 12

Professionals and activists, accompanied by cadres of the main opposition Nepali Congress and Bibeksheel Sajha Party, on Thursday are handing over a kilogram of ‘marsi’ rice to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli in a symbolic protest of the government’s apathy of demands raised by medical education reform activist Dr Govinda KC.

The organiser, Alliance for Dr Govinda KC, has accused the government of ignoring Dr KC’s demands under the influence of the businesspersons and traders.

As the ‘marsi’ variety is consumed by the rich though it is cultivated in Jumla, it has now been a symbol of the rich. Therefore, the activists want to show that the PM is being guided by the aristocrats and ignoring concerns of the poor.

Earlier, a meeting held on Wednesday had decided to organise a protest with professionals and activists.

Talking to Onlinekhabar, Bibeksheel Sajha leader Prakash Chandra Pariyar said, “Along with gifting marsi rice to the Prime Minister, we will also be staging a street drama.”

Congress leader Gagan Thapa, Bibeksheel Sajha leader Ujjwal Thapa and representatives from Nepal Bar Association, Nepal Medical Association, Nepal Teachers Association, and Nursing Union among others had attended the meet.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Three killed as Bhaktapur landslide buries quake survivors’ makeshift residence

Bhaktapur, July 12

A landslide in Bhaktapur district buried a makeshift house killing three members of the same family, on Thursday morning.

According to Chief District Officer Narayan Prasad Bhatta, Hira Lama (69), his wife Paan Maya (62) and three-year-old granddaughter Sampada lost their life when the landslide buried their house in Majhuwa Tole of Changunarayan Municipality in the district.

It has been learned that they were sleeping when the incident took place. They had lost their house to the 2015 earthquake and living in the makeshift house since then.

A team along with CDO Bhatta has reached the incident site.

Meanwhile, locals of Bhaktapur have been affected by inundation due to a flood in the Hanumante River triggered by continuous rainfall since last night.


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Flooded Hanumante wreaks havoc in Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur, July 12

Incessant rainfall since Wednesday night triggered a flood in Hanumante River of Bhaktapur district, which later entered into various human settlements wreaking havoc.

Various places including Radheradhe, Jagati, Madhyapur Thimi, Sallaghari, Sirjananagar and Hanumanghat have been inundated due to the flood.

Likewise, floodwater entered houses in Duwakot, Nikosera, Liwali, Changunarayan, Brahmayani, Nayabato among other places. The road connecting Kamalbinayak and Jagati of Araniko Highway was blocked due to the flood from 4:30 am today.

The flood swept away a bridge near Siddhi Hospital in Bhimsensthan.

Public transport has come to a sudden halt whereas most of educational institutions and businesses have been shut down.

Meanwhile, security personnel mobilised by Nepal Army, Armed Police Force and Nepal Police have launched a rescue operation to evacuate the affected population to safer locations.

Cranes and rafts have been mobilised in the operation.

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How to Make Ordinary Experiences Amazing Again

I recently came across a fascinating article by Ed O’Brien, a professor at the University of Chicago, and Robert Smith, a professor at The Ohio State University, entitled Unconventional Consumption Methods and Enjoying Things Consumed: Recapturing the “First-Time” Experience, which appeared in a very recent issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

I’ll let the article’s abstract explain the basics:

People commonly lament the inability to re-experience familiar things as they were first experienced. Four experiments suggest that consuming familiar things in new ways can disrupt adaptation and revitalize enjoyment. Participants better enjoyed the same familiar food (Experiment 1), drink (Experiment 2), and video (Experiments 3a-3b) simply when re-experiencing the entity via unusual means (e.g., eating popcorn using chopsticks vs. hands). This occurs because unconventional methods invite an immersive “first-time” perspective on the consumption object: boosts in enjoyment were mediated by revitalized immersion into the consumption experience and were moderated by time such that they were strongest when using unconventional methods for the first time (Experiments 1-2); likewise, unconventional methods that actively disrupted immersion did not elicit the boost, despite being novel (Experiments 3a-3b). Before abandoning once-enjoyable entities, knowing to consume old things in new ways (vs. attaining new things altogether) might temporarily restore enjoyment and postpone wasteful replacement.

In each of these three experiments, an ordinary activity was modified in some significant way in order to make that ordinary activity appear novel.

The first experiment centered around eating popcorn – a pretty normal activity. However, the experimenters noticed that people’s enjoyment of eating popcorn increased drastically when they were eating it with chopsticks.

The second experiment? People drank ordinary water. However, their enjoyment was boosted greatly when they drank said water out of a novel container like a martini glass.

The third experiment? People watched a video of a motorcycle ride. However, those that watched the video while making “hand goggles” (meaning they cupped their hands and pretended that they were goggles or binoculars and watched the videos through them) noted that they enjoyed the video more.

What’s the core lesson here? Ordinary activities become fresh again (at least for a little bit) if done with a novel twist.

This is why restaurants will do things like serve ordinary beverages in unusual glasses, like a Mason jar with a handle – it makes the ordinary drink seem novel and special and heightens the experience. This is why so many restaurants try to come up with novel (but still palatable) food pairings. This is why movie companies rely on simple twists on ordinary movie plots over and over and over again.

It’s because all of those things take an ordinary thing – a plain beverage, an ordinary food, a typical movie – and twists them just enough to make them seem novel and new and fresh again, and you’ll pay good money for that experience.

The thing is, you can actively use that approach in your day to day life to make ordinary low cost things seem novel and refreshing. It’s really not that hard and, in fact, it’s something I do all the time.

For example, you might try a new seasoning blend on your ordinary scrambled eggs or on your ordinary hamburger or your ordinary grilled fish. The cost addition is trivial, but you’ve altered the flavors enough that the simple homemade meal tastes fresh and new. For example, rather than having an ordinary hamburger with ordinary seasonings, try making an Ollieburger, which tastes decidedly different due to the different spices used. It’s an ordinary burger, but with just a few spices and ingredients, it’s very different and fresh and novel again.

You can try simply altering the drinks you have at the dinner table. If you pour yourself a glass of water to have with dinner, add a few ice cubes and a slice of lemon (or lime or orange or grapefruit) to it and it somehow feels different. Drink it out of a Mason jar and it feels even more different.

Go on a different route than normal when you walk your dog. Just see what you find to the left rather than to the right. What do you find when you go that way? Keep your eyes open and suddenly the experience is interesting rather than routine.

You’re getting the idea. Here are some more.

Drive a different commute to and from work, just to see some different things along the way.

Put a different topping on your ice cream.

Try a completely different set of exercises at the gym.

Read a book on a subject you’ve never read about before, or in a genre you’re unfamiliar with, or by an author whose work you’ve never read before.

Buy different versions of the staple foods you buy at the store – a different kind of bread or a different kind of condiment.


Modify your morning routine in some significant way, such as drinking your coffee outside or taking a cold shower.

Do something different after work than what you normally do. Go to a park and go on a nature walk instead of just going home and crashing in front of a computer or the television.

Make your experience into a ritual by doing things with a bit of extra pomp and circumstance, like setting out nice place settings for an ordinary meal. (That’s actually the point of this paper, which outlines how rituals can make ordinary things much more enjoyable.)

Ask your spouse to surprise you with some of these variants, and surprise your spouse sometimes with some of these variants.

This list can go on forever and ever, of course, but the principle behind it is super simple: if your ordinary life seems boring, try simple variations on the ordinary things.

It’s worth noting that this is rather different than splurging. The goal here isn’t to buy yourself a treat, but to simply add some variety to the (ideally) very low cost ordinary daily routine that you have for yourself, so that you don’t fall into a sense of going through the motions over and over and over again and find yourself bored with your life.

The reality is that the road to financial success is slow and a big part of that path is minimizing the cost of your ordinary daily life. That can really lock you into a pretty ordinary and repetitive daily routine, which can become quite boring and constraining over time. Simply figuring out ways to add variations and new elements to that daily routine can add the kind of variety that we all want out of life without causing financial difficulties.

So, if you find yourself on the road to financial independence but you’re finding the day to day grind of it quite boring, look for ways to add variety to that day to day routine without adding cost and start mixing things up. Furthermore, ask your partner and your close friends and family to do the same, in ways which will sometimes surprise you.

You’ll find that adding these kinds of little variants to the ordinary routine of a financially stable life can make things quite a bit more enjoyable without making things far more expensive.

Good luck!

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Five Products I’m Happy to Splurge On, Guilt-Free

I am proud to call myself a wary consumer. I do my best to combat manipulative marketing, I recognize the value of repairing and maintaining my things, and I focus on long-term goals rather than short-term gratification.

That being said, there are certain products I buy without guilt, even when I know an alternative can be had for less. That’s because I have honed in on what matters to me. Everyone will have their own version of this list, and that’s great. We shouldn’t feel guilty about small (and sometimes large!) splurges that lead to a dramatically increased quality of life.

With Amazon’s big “Prime Day” sale coming up, I decided to profile my favorite products, all of which can be found on Amazon, and some of which can hopefully be had at a discount next Monday.


Safety razors are all the rage in the personal finance community, and for good reason. They represent the cheapest way to shave, they produce less waste than disposable razors, and many people get a closer shave by using them.

I tried for over a year to master the art of shaving with a safety razor. I found it tedious and painful. Then, one day, against all my frugal instincts, I splurged on some fancy (to me) multi-blade Gillette razors. My next shave was glorious. It was like I’d unlocked a super power. Everything was effortless and easy.

Ever since that moment, I’ve been spending $50 to $60 a year on new blades. When using a safety razor, I could get a year’s worth of blades for less than five bucks. It’s a steep price to pay, but for me, the new blades are worth every penny. If you’ve been struggling to master the safety razor and you’re sticking it out for cost reasons, I recommend coming over to the dark side.


I commute to Manhattan for work, and I don’t know how I would do it without headphones. It is so nice to get lost in my music while riding a squeaky subway or navigating the impossibly crowded, noisy streets.

When I moved here, I quickly realized that if I really wanted to get some peace and quiet, my $10 earbuds were not going to cut it. I had to blast those at dangerously high decibels in order to hear them over the din of NYC. I have sensitive ears and I didn’t want to get tinnitus, which is when you hear a ringing in your ears.

This is not a minor issue. About 50 million Americans have some sort of tinnitus! I look at the care of my ears in much the same way I think about my dental health, in that relatively minor efforts now (like brushing twice a day) will go a long way toward securing a healthy future. Thus, I invested in a nice pair of noise cancelling headphones from Bose.

They are very expensive, but I think they’ve been worth it. Hands down, the best aspect of the headphones is the noise cancelling function, which allows me to listen to my music at a reasonable volume amidst the chaos of the city. The icing on the cake is that music sounds rich and textured, the earpads feel like clouds, and the battery lasts for a very long time.

I use them about an hour a day. Even if they only last me four years, that will be about 1,500 hours of listening time. That’s enough time spent with one product for me to be willing to invest in something of the highest quality.

Kitchen Knives

As an avid home chef, I find my $120 Wusthof chef’s knife to be indispensable. If you’re chopping onions and peppers with a dull knife, you have no idea what you are missing.

When using quality knives, prep work in the kitchen is infinitely easier. I’m actually more likely to consume healthy foods than before I had this knife, as I’m less hesitant to prepare dishes that require me to chop vegetables. Yes, my past self was lazy. But that doesn’t change the fact that an upgraded knife made a big difference. It is durable and easily sharpened, so I should be set for a long time.

When you make eating at home a pleasure, you’ll be much less likely to spend money eating out, an activity that costs the average American over $3,000 per year.


As much as I wish I was like my father-in-law, who can chug instant Folgers all day and be perfectly satisfied, I really like to drink nice coffee. It’s something I do every day, and it would feel like a big sacrifice if I were to try to save as much money as possible on my habit.

I do limit my costs by mostly brewing my own coffee at home, but I’ll drink stuff that costs eight to 10 bucks a pound, such as Peet’s, when I could easily find coffee at Costco for four bucks a pound or less. I estimate that this costs me an additional $300 to $400 per year.

I consider this a worthy expense, though — especially because I drink my coffee black. If I used cream and sugar, this wouldn’t be as big a deal. You can mask a lot of the poor qualities of bad beans with additives. So, if I ever go the cream route, I know I can scale back on my coffee spending.

Bath Towels

This one might seem like an odd choice, but hear me out. Most of us use a bath towel every single day of our lives. Do you want to be rubbing yourself dry with something that’s rough, slow to dry, and prone to holding in smells?

For me, high-quality camping towels solve all of those problems. They’re soft, quick drying, and can pass the smell test for a lot longer than a cheap cotton towel. They aren’t prohibitively expensive, running me about $16 for a large towel, but they are significantly more than a generic one I could get at Walmart for four bucks. Heck, there was a couple-year stretch where I exclusively used old towels that I’d “borrowed” from my parents. So, while it’s not a necessity to spend money on a towel that perfectly suits my needs, it sure is nice.

Summing Up

I wouldn’t recommend these splurges to people who are in debt, or have yet to save an adequate emergency fund. But, for those who have those basics covered, there’s nothing wrong with spending a fair amount of money for quality things that make you happy. And if you can find something on sale during Amazon’s Prime Day, all the better.

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Janakpur-Jainagar railway to resume operation in December

Kathmandu, July 11

The Janakpur-Jainagar railway will come into operation from December this year, claims the government.

The government has made an agreement with India to rent coaches to resume the operation of Nepal’s first railway project.

A meeting held between officials of Nepal and India reached an agreement on Tuesday to rent the coaches for operation of the railway.

According to Spokesperson at Department of Railways, Prakash Bhakta Upadhyaya, the coaches and human resources have to be rented as Nepal lacks both.

Though India will provide the coaches and human resources, Nepal will have a complete authority over them, claims Upadhyaya.

The train will carry a flag of Nepal and India is ready to paint the colour that Nepal demands in the coaches, he informs.

The Department says it will plan its own coaches after few years. “Buying them immediately may result into some problems as we lack experience. Neither do we have human resources to operate them,” he says, “Therefore, we will rent them now.”

Accordingly, the Department has also planned to train Nepali personnel simultaneously.

Meanwhile, the two countries have agreed to resolve some legal issues that have surfaced in the resumption of service.





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Nepal Communist Party endorses party regulation

Kathmandu, July 11

The Nepal Communist Party has endorsed its party regulation at the Central Secretariat meeting held this morning.

The meeting held at the Prime Minister’s official residence in Baluwatar endorsed the regulation, informed the party’s Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha.

Talking to journalists after the meeting, he said, “Today, we gave a final shape to the regulation, which is an important component of the party statute. This will go for publication soon.”

Likewise, Shrestha also stated that another meeting would be organised to make a work plan to merge sister organisations and party committees of erstwhile CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre as the two parties have merged into the NCP now.

The party had organised a meeting on Tuesday to finalise the regulation. However, it was postponed until Wednesday morning.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Narayangadh-Muglin road caves in, one-way traffic obstructed

Chitwan, July 11

The Narayangadh-Muglin road in Chitwan district has caved in near Gaighat of the district, resulting in the obstruction in one-way vehicular movement since Wednesday morning.

Experts have been called to study causes behind the fall. The engineers, however, have suspected that the disaster’s root lies in the river that flows beneath the road.

According to Engineer Shiva Khanal of the Narayangadh-Mugling Road Expansion Project, a minor crack was seen in the beginning, but it later started to expand. The road has caved in around one foot down.

The caved-in section is around 30 metre long and seven metre wide.

According to Assistant Residential Engineer, Gyanendra Ghimire, the Project might need to cut the wall and expand the road on the other side if the road continues to cave in.

The expert team will reach the incident site today to finalise what should be done further to repair the road.

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Celebrating a Meaningful Life Event Without Spending Money

Your best friend’s birthday is coming up, or maybe it’s your significant other’s birthday, or your mother’s birthday. Whatever it is, it’s a special event, one that in your heart of hearts you know you should be playing a role in celebrating.

At the same time, however, you don’t have a dime to spare. Your financial situation is perilous. You want to celebrate. You want to show that person that they’re meaningful to you. At the same time, you simply can’t afford to buy them a gift.

What do you do?

The first thing to recognize here is that celebrating a meaningful life event does not have to involve spending money. There are many ways to celebrate and commemorate someone’s life event without simply opening the wallet.

What’s the catch? These strategies usually require some time, and they often require some forethought and planning.

Here are twenty ways to celebrate someone’s meaningful life event without spending money, divided into five categories. Not all of these are going to work for every relationship, so pick and choose amongst them for options that will work for you and the person you care about.

Spend Time

Spend a day with that person, just hanging out. This is a great way to give a gift to a parent or a grandparent, particularly once you’re an independent adult. Quite often, the thing that your parents and grandparents want the most is simple time spent with you. It often doesn’t even matter what you do – they just want to hear your voice and know about your life and still be a part of it, even as you have grown up and built a life for yourself.

Giving this gift is easy. Just plan to spend a day (or part of a day) with them sometime in the week or so around their birthday. Give them a handmade birthday card when you show up and then spend that time with them doing whatever comes to mind. Talk about their life and listen to what they’re saying. Talk about your life, too. Just spend that quality time.

Within that day, you can probably do some of the other things listed here, too.

Make a concerted and genuine effort over the next year to spend more time with this person; mark it on your calendar and give it a very high priority. Rather than just spending a one-off day with that person, make a concerted effort to see that person regularly. Make a new pattern of stopping by on Thursday evenings after supper for an hour or so. Stop by once a month on Saturday for several hours.

The key thing is to make it regular and make it important. Don’t push it to the side because something else came up. Make that regular time spent together into a priority. You can even turn it into a ritual, where you eat ice cream together each Wednesday evening while watching a show you both enjoy, for example.

Research free events and activities in your community and plan a day centered around them. Spend some time looking for free events coming up in the next month or two on your community calendar, then plan a day with a few of those events involved (with an eye toward the other person’s interests, of course). Then, give an itinerary of that day to the person as a “gift” for that occasion.

This type of gift does take some forward thinking and planning and thought, but the result is a meaningful day spent with someone you care about doing meaningful things out in the community.

Go on an outdoor walk together. The simple act of going on a long walk together at a leisurely pace, sharing conversation and thoughts and contact, is one of the best things you can share with another person. Such walks can be friendly, they can be intellectually challenging, they can be romantic, they can be energetic, they can be virtually anything you want them to be.

A walk on a beach. A walk in the woods. A walk through a community festival. A walk through a park. A walk around the block. A long walk. A short walk. A talkative walk. A quiet and contemplative walk. They all have meaning and value and they’re all wonderful shared experiences. They just take focused and uninterrupted time with someone you care about.

Spend Energy

Take care of some undone projects that they need handled. Almost everyone ends up with a list of undone projects around their home that they should take care of but keep putting off because it seems challenging or overwhelming. Maybe they have a doorbell that doesn’t work. Maybe their computer has some kind of hardware failure. Maybe their kitchen cabinet door is loose. Maybe their bathroom sink faucet is broken.

Visit their home and take care of some of those undone tasks for them. Fix that doorbell. Fix their computer. Fix that kitchen cabinet. Fix that faucet. Clear out that brush. Take care of those undone projects that they might struggle to complete or might have to hire someone to finish.

Handle something in their life that’s causing them stress and lack of sleep, like child care or caregiving. This one goes out to the new parents out there and the caregivers out there. When you take on the responsibility of having a baby at home or are providing full time care for a person who cannot fully care for themselves, it can become a real burden that not only involves a great deal of work but also puts a burden of worry and stress on your shoulders.

If you know someone who is bearing that weight, take it off of them for a while. Take their kid for an afternoon or for a whole day. Take on the role of caregiver and let them take the stress off their shoulders for a while. They’ll appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

Take care of a bunch of ordinary chores so that they have more free time to do things they enjoy. If you have a spouse or close family member or friend who seems like they’re always taking care of chores and never taking time for themselves, step in and handle a bunch of their chores for them. Make their bed. Do their dishes. Take out their trash. Do their laundry. Clean their living room. That way, when that person gets home, rather than facing a big to-do list, they actually have a big block of time for themselves.

This is a great gift to give almost anyone who finds themselves too busy thanks to the responsibilities of adulthood and parenthood and a professional life and community responsibilities all at once. Take away some of those never ending chores and just let that person have some time for themselves.

Be their “fitness buddy.” If you know someone who is considering making a fitness-related life change, be their “fitness buddy.” Just simply agree to exercise regularly with them, whether it’s a jog around the neighborhood or a pickup game of soccer in the park or playing a bit of tennis at the tennis courts.

Whatever their fitness goals, find something you can do together and do it with them. It doesn’t matter if you’re in better shape or they’re in better shape (in fact, the latter will probably be very helpful for you), the goal is to help that person with their fitness by making it a social event. You’ll burn some energy, bond with that person, and make both of you healthier than before.

Volunteer for that person’s favorite charity. There are some very socially minded people out there who will find few gifts more meaningful than time given to a charity rather than money. If you spend several Saturdays helping to build a Habitat for Humanity house in their honor, or take on some sessions at the local food pantry, or just step up a little bit with time and energy at a local charity that really matters to them, it’s going to mean a lot.

This is particularly true for those who want to volunteer but cannot for some reason, perhaps due to an injury or a changing life situation. If you know someone who used to volunteer once a month to build Habitat houses and can no longer do so, stepping in to do that volunteer work in their honor is one of the most amazing gifts you can give them.

Be Thoughtful

Write an actual heartfelt letter or handmade card to that person instead of giving them the “Hallmark special.” It’s easy to give someone a preprinted greeting card with a nice sentiment on it. It’s much harder to write your own sentiment… but it’s far more meaningful and impactful. That’s why it’s worth your while to write that sentiment you feel toward that person in your own words and in your own handwriting.

Just sit down with a blank card and write a genuine thanks to them for what they’ve done for you or a description of how they make you feel. Let that person know that they are important to you in your own words and share it directly with them.

Write and share a heartfelt appreciation of that person. Perhaps you want the world to know how amazing your friend or your spouse is. In that case, take the time to write a truly heartfelt appreciation of that person and share it on social media and elsewhere. Explain the things that person does that go above and beyond. Share some specific things they do, along with the bigger picture of the life practices they follow, and what that means to you and to others.

Many people who deserve recognition are humble and do not wish to pat themselves on the back, but are deeply touched when others recognize their efforts. Be the person that recognizes those efforts in a truly heartfelt way. Commemorate their day or their moment by sharing that accomplishment and the quality of that person with the world.

If this is for your partner and your partner is introverted, give him or her a big block of alone time without worries. This is particularly true for me. I am an introvert and sometimes I really enjoy time to myself, regardless of how deeply I love my family. I enjoy time to just read a book quietly or do a chore by myself or play a game of solitaire without anyone else around, but that’s hard to do when I’m part of a family of five.

My wife gives me this gift on occasion. She’ll spend the day with the kids somewhere out and about, leaving me at home (or elsewhere) to just enjoy some quiet alone time. It really recharges my batteries and I feel ready to connect when everyone gets home.

Make a video or mini-documentary about their life and how meaningful and wonderful it is. This is something that one of my friends made for her husband. It cost her literally nothing but time and effort, but it was one of the most meaningful things that her husband has ever received.

She just made a documentary on her phone in which she recorded a bunch of videos of moments when her husband was doing something for others or taking care of their kids or making dinner for the family or something like that, then she intercut it with people giving testimonials about how huge of a positive impact her husband has had on their life, from her and the kids and some other family members and friends and coworkers and community members. The only expense to her was a blank DVD, which she gave to him as a birthday gift.

Share in Their Passion

Engage in that person’s hobby with them. Whatever that person’s hobby, take some time to learn about it and engage in it with them. You don’t have to be passionate about it at all, but merely look at it as a way to learn more about it and learn more about this person you care about.

Sit down and play that person’s favorite game with them. Participate in a sport they like. Help them make something. Watch football with them and ask questions in an effort to really understand what’s happening. Whatever it is that they’re into, let them teach you about it and show you how it works and do it with them. It will build that bond and make them feel really in touch with their hobby and with you, too.

Organize a “party” or an afternoon with some of their friends who also share in their main hobby or passion and just run “support.” If your target person has a hobby or activity that they enjoy doing with some of their friends, plan a party centered around it for them. Invite their friends over and just take care of all of the little details around it. Make a pot of soup for them to enjoy during the event. Clear off the table so that they have space for whatever it is they want to do.

It might be a board game day with some friends or a crafting party or a scrapbooking party or a game of soccer at the park… whatever it is, set it all up and take care of all of the little details so that your loved one can just enjoy doing something he or she loves with his or her friends.

Let that person pick the next few movies you watch together or the next few series that you binge watch, and enjoy it with them even if it’s not up your alley. If you often watch television together in the evenings, intentionally let the other person pick the things you watch for a while, even if it’s not something you’re into. There’s probably something out there that’s in a genre that they really enjoy that they haven’t watched because they didn’t think you’d be into it. Nudge your loved one to choose that option.

Even if you’re pretty sure you won’t enjoy it, go into it with the most open mind you possibly can. Make the best effort you can to get into it, both for the other person’s sake and for your sake. It might not be your cup of tea at first, but you may in fact find some things you like about it and it might just draw you a little closer together.

Utilize Things Already on Hand

Make a cake from scratch – you probably already have most of the ingredients. Making a cake from scratch doesn’t require many ingredients and is much simpler than you think. Sugar. Butter. Eggs. Flour. Baking powder. Milk. Vanilla extract. That’s literally all you need. Here’s a recipe. You can make a sheet cake in almost any baking pan. Then, you can make a nice frosting using those same ingredients, plus powdered sugar. Here’s how to do that. There’s a good chance that you have most, if not all, of that stuff already. Add food coloring to get whatever color you like.

“But what if it looks bad?” So? Most people will appreciate a from-scratch cake with a few imperfections over a purchased “perfect” cake. The effort and love makes a real difference.

Go through your photo archives and assemble something memorable. One strategy is to find a picture frame in your own home that you’re either not using or aren’t using in a valuable way and then take some meaningful pictures from your photo collection to fill that frame to give as a gift.

Another approach is to find a bunch of good digital images of your friend and share them in a wide variety of ways – social media, group texts, and so on – including them in the sharing.

The goal is to visualize and share some of the memories you’ve shared over the years and perhaps spread those good feelings to others as well.

Contact your shared social network and plan a potluck dinner party. You don’t have to even spend a dime to have a nifty little surprise party. Just quietly contact a bunch of friends and family of the person you care about and say that you’re having a surprise potluck dinner party for that person and to bring a food item that you think the person would like (along with other guests). Divide up the requests so that there’s enough food to cover everyone and handle all of the planning yourself.

This works best with a collaborator or two who can get your targeted person out and about for a while as you’re setting things up.

A party like this enables everyone to bring a “gift” of a shared food item that the person would like, but it also results in a big shared meal that everyone will enjoy.

Ask their social network to help with a shared contribution gift. Several of the gifts above might work even better if you get lots of people involved in the gift. For example, if you want to make an amazing documentary about the person, involving several of their friends might help if they have video clips or are willing to share a story on camera. You might be able to track down lots of cool pictures for a photo collage, or you might be able to track down help for a project of some kind, like getting several people together to fix your grandmother’s deck.

Not only does such an effort enable you to pull off something even bigger than you could on your own, it gives those people the chance to connect with you a little and also build their connection to the person that the gift is for.

Final Thoughts

Money should never, ever stand in the way of a thoughtful and impactful gift. There are a multitude of ways to show someone that they mean a lot to you at a key moment in their life without dumping out the money. It just takes some time, some thought, and some energy.

Good luck!

The post Celebrating a Meaningful Life Event Without Spending Money appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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