Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saugat Malla’s Look In ‘Lappan Chhappan’ Is Probably The Most Dashing One He Has Ever Sported!

Saugat Malla is undoubtedly one of the most versatile actors that Nepali cinema has every produced. And he keeps on surprising us with a completely different avatar in every other film and perfects each of the character he plays. We have a photograph from the shoot of his upcoming film Lappan Chhappan and his look in the film is probably the most dashing one he has ever sported so far. He is seen sporting a check overcoat over a navy color suit with a white shirt. With the cool goatie and mustache along with the perfect attire, he is making us neglect Dayahang Rai, and of course, the guy who looks pretty much like Salman Khan. His name is Devu Shrestha and he plays an important role in the film by the way.

lappan chhappan

The picture was taken a month ago during the shoot of the film in Belgium. The film that also stars Arpan Thapa and Barsha Siwakoti has been shot in various exotic locations around Europe. The final few scenes of the film are currently being shot in Nepal. The action-thriller written and directed by Mukund Bhatt is cinematographed by Purushottam Pradhan.

We just can’t wait to watch the film! So excited already!

The post Saugat Malla’s Look In ‘Lappan Chhappan’ Is Probably The Most Dashing One He Has Ever Sported! appeared first on NeoStuffs.

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Coming to Terms with Letting Others Down Because of My Past Financial Mistakes

It is impossible to look back at the state of my life when I was at my financial low point and not feel some degree of regret.

At that moment in time, Sarah and I were approaching six figures in debt between our student loans, our car loans, and our credit cards.

While our student loans were largely unavoidable, we had been out of college for four years and hadn’t done anything more than make minimum payments on those debts.

The car loans? Far bigger than necessary. We got nice cars, not the kind of older cars we should have bought.

The credit card debts? Completely unnecessary. Almost every purchase made with them was completely forgettable. Those purchases truly didn’t make our lives better in any tangible way.

If we had made responsible choices in those four years after college, we would have had zero credit card debt. We would have had very little left on our car loans, if any. We would have had much smaller student loan debt. We may have even had some savings for a home down payment.

We didn’t make responsible choices. Instead, we dug ourselves a huge hole. We did this on the back of a long string of bad choices, mostly little but some fairly large. We ate at a nonstop string of forgettable expensive restaurants. We bought piles of entertainment. We engaged in expensive hobbies like golfing without the resources to make it a sensible hobby.

We made mistake after mistake after mistake and we ended up in a miserable spot, a spot of our own making.

Since then, Sarah and I have worked incredibly hard to turn that ship around. Today, we’re debt free. We completely own our own home – no mortgage. We’re also currently on a path to be able to retire at least a little early.

I’m extremely proud of that turnaround. It’s the result of a lot of hard work over a lot of years.

But, even with that turnaround, there’s still regret of what might have been.

If Sarah and I had spent those first few years moving our finances in the right direction instead of in the wrong direction, we’d be in far better shape right now.

I don’t know exactly what our lives would be like right now, but I do know this: there would have been many life opportunities open to us that simply aren’t open to us here in the real world right now.

I can’t help but think of those possibilities, either.

Sarah and I would be on the verge of being able to retire right now, shy of our forties. If we lived on about 60% of our income and used the remaining 40% to pay off debts and then invest (which is essentially what we’ve been doing since our turnaround), we would be on the verge of retirement, assuming we did everything else the same.

Sarah could have easily committed to several years as a stay-at-home mother. This was a bridge that we crossed in 2007 and again in 2010. The reason she chose not to cross that bridge was that we were far away from our financial goals and although we could financially handle those years of stay-at-home motherhood, she wasn’t sure what it would be like to return to her career in several years, likely with a smaller salary. With a good financial start, she could have made this leap.

We could be living on our dream property. In 2011, the absolute perfect piece of land for us came up for sale. It was in the country, but our children would have stayed in the same school district. It offered a stream, lots of open grassy areas, some woods to explore, space for a huge garden if we wanted it… it felt like the Shire from the Lord of the Rings novels. We wanted it so badly, but we just could not justify the sticker price at the time. If we had been financially smart from the start, we could have written a check for this land and then written a check to build a house on that land.

Those lost possibilities – and many others – left me feeling incredibly guilty for years. Even though my mind knew that we were actually doing pretty well for our age, my heart kept coming back to what could have been – and it left me feeling miserable, knowing that my own personal stupid decisions left my family without those options. There would be times when I would feel almost as if I were drowning in that guilt, that I completely let my family down and denied them a greater life that they could have and should have had.

I still feel guilty, though perhaps not as sharply as I once did. Rather than just leaving me feel awful, it now feels more like a low level regret that crosses my mind sometimes, like a professional or personal opportunity not taken from many years ago.

How did I manage to tone down that financial guilt? In truth, it came down to several realizations about life, what I can control, and what I can’t control. I hope that these realizations can help you overcome any guilt you might feel from the lasting impact of your own past mistakes.

I Learned Valuable Lessons from My Mistakes That I Would Not Have Otherwise Learned

Right now, I’m in a position to look back and wonder “what might have been” because I learned a great deal from my financial turnaround and from my ensuing years of good choices.

However, there’s no guarantee I would have ever embarked upon this positive financial journey without those mistakes.

You see, when I look back with regret, I’m applying the lessons I learned from making those mistakes to a life where those mistakes haven’t really happened yet or were in the process of happening. There’s no realistic way I could have learned those lessons, at least not in the same way.

Sure, I can dream about how my life would be different if I had learned all of my financial lessons during my childhood so that I never made a big financial mistake in adulthood, but that’s not realistic. I never had the opportunity to learn those financial lessons at any point in my life. I never received any sort of personal finance education, nor did I even really realize that personal finance was a thing.

Feeling regret from my financial mistakes would be like an expert bicyclist feeling regret that he or she fell off his or her bike repeatedly while first learning how to ride. They wouldn’t feel that way – it’s silly. Those early fumbling steps and mistakes taught them the necessary things they needed to know to become an expert bicyclist.

My mistakes taught me things, and without those lessons, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I Can Only Change Today, Not Yesterday

I might look back at things that happened in my past and wish that I could change them and make them better.

But that’s truly just wishful thinking.

The truth is that I can only change today. I can’t change what I did ten or fifteen years ago. Those things are done. They’re long gone.

All I can do is try to do better today. All I can control is today. No matter how much I wish, no matter how much I pray, no matter how much guilt I feel, I can’t change yesterday. I can only change today.

If I make good choices today, then I put myself and my family in a better position. I deserve to be proud of today.

If I make bad choices today, then I put myself and my family in a worse position. I deserve to feel bad about today.

That’s my choice. That’s what I can control. Feeling guilty about choices I made fifteen years ago doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, because there’s nothing I can do today to control it or change it. All I can do is make my life better going forward from here.

I’m Moving Forward with Good Choices

If I can only control my choices today (and not the past) and those choices shape my future (as my guilt about my past mistakes reveals to me), then it makes sense to recognize that when I make a bunch of good choices today, I’m going to move forward to a better future.

For me, that puts the crux of my financial future on today. Today is the only day in which I have the power to actually control my choices. Yesterday? I can’t change it. Tomorrow hasn’t happened yet. Today is what I can control.

So, the thing I should actually feel guilty – or not guilty – about is the choices I make today. Do I make good choices? Or do I make poor choices?

Those mistakes from the past are actually useful. They inform my choices today. I know quite well what the long term result of making money mistakes is. I know that if I spend my money frivolously today, I end up closing the door to options down the road.

So, each day, I try to turn the lemons of my past into the lemonade of tomorrow. I take what I learned from those mistakes of the past to make good decisions in the present which will ideally lead to good things in the future.

I Made – and Still Make – Good Choices in Other Life Areas

When I look back over my life, I recognize that I made both good and bad decisions in virtually every area of life: personal, professional, spiritual, social, financial, physical, mental, and so on.

I tend to sometimes dwell on the financial because, perhaps more than any area of my life, I can see the huge mistakes I made in the past. Like anyone else, I want to have a good life in every aspect of life, so when I can so obviously see areas where I made bad choices.

It’s like seeing a car accident on the interstate. We might have seen hundreds of miles of perfect accident-free driving on the interstate, but we scarcely notice it. When there’s an accident – a mistake of some kind – we can’t help but gawk at it.

My life is like that interstate. In most other areas of my life, I’m like those many miles of interstate with good traffic. Sure, it might be slower in some areas and faster than others, but overall the traffic flows along and it’s scarcely noticed.

My finances, though… that’s the accident. That’s the five car pile-up that I can’t help but gawk at.

What I need to do sometimes is step back and not just look at that accident, but at the interstate as a whole. Sure, there’s an accident, but most of the things are moving along quite well. Goals are getting completed. I’m making good choices. Things are chugging along as they should be.

Rather than just dwelling on that one imperfect area of my life, I need to step back and look at the many good choices and good outcomes in the many other parts of my life.

My Wife and Kids Love Me for the Man I Am Today, Thus Forgiving Yesterday’s Mistakes

I have a great relationship with my wife and with each of my children. They are relationships built on love and respect and trust. We love each other for the totality of who each of us are.

Each one of us is a flawed person. Each one of us has made mistakes – and still does make mistakes.

On the whole, though, each one of us is a good person, a wonderful person that we all enjoy being around.

My wife isn’t perfect, but she’s always there for me when I need her. She’s smart, beautiful, funny, and caring.

My oldest son isn’t perfect, but he’s a charming and quick-witted boy with an adventurous nature and a kind heart.

My daughter isn’t perfect, but she’s a hilarious, imaginative, and creative free spirit who often sweeps us all along in her joyous adventures.

My youngest son isn’t perfect, but he’s loving and loyal and has this perfect sense of when to be serious and when a moment needs a bit of an icebreaker or a laugh.

I see that my loved ones aren’t perfect, but I also see that they’re made up of tons of good traits that make them into wonderful people that I want in my life. Based on how they act toward me, I believe that they feel much the same way about me.

I may have made big mistakes with my finances, but on the whole I am a good person. The people who spend the most time with me see this and love me because of it. No person is perfect – it’s who you are in the whole that really counts. The people around me tell me every day, in countless indirect (and occasionally direct) ways, that I am a good person that they love and value even through the mistakes I’ve made.

I Have Used My Mistakes to Help Others

As I began to grasp how I had really damaged my financial life and I began to walk through the steps I needed to take to right that ship, I also began to see how a lot of people my age – and people older than me and people younger than me – were struggling with many of the same issues.

They were trying to overcome debts. They were trying to figure out how to have the “American dream.” They were trying to secure a stable future for themselves. They were trying to balance a load of personal desires with smart financial choices.

And many of them were struggling with all of that, just as I was.

As I began to have some insights about how to cut through all of these issues and build a better future for myself, I couldn’t help but think that I wish I had known those things earlier. I wanted to tell all my friends about what I was figuring out, but I also didn’t want to be preachy.

Thus, I started The Simple Dollar. It turned out to be a way for me to take what I was learning from my own mistakes and turn it into a non-preachy way to help others using the skills that I had available to me (the ability to write quickly and in an earnest and friendly tone).

I turned my own mistakes into an opportunity to help others avoid similar mistakes. While it doesn’t really do anything to directly improve my life (other than the fact that it is my primary employment… but it was just one job opportunity among many), it does give me the opportunity to help others. Perhaps, in a wider sense – a national or global sense – I’ve actually helped to reduce the overall financial pain that people have felt.

I Caught My Errors Before Even Worse Things Could Happen

During our lowest financial point, Sarah and I didn’t have enough money in our checking account to pay our bills. We sat there facing a debt mountain that was bigger than our combined salaries without a home loan.

That was not a good situation. But it could have been far worse.

We were never late on a bill – or at least not late enough to negatively impact our credit. We both put aside money into our retirement plans. We had our careers in positions of very good standing with stable future employment ahead of us.

Our positions could have been far worse, in other words.

We could have destroyed our credit. We could have not funded our retirement plans. We could have been in less stable careers with lower income levels.

Things may not have been the best, but we certainly could have done worse. The fact that we did not is something of a saving grace, a nice silver lining around the cloud.

“What If” Scenarios Make Little Sense When You Look Closely

Remember at the start of this article, when I listed a sequence of these beautiful glowing “what if” scenarios that might have occurred if I had followed better financial practices from the day I graduated from college? Those scenarios seem beautiful and amazing… but they’re also not realistic.

Each of those scenarios rely on a lot of assumptions. They assume that those financial changes come with no other negative ramifications in our life.

For example, if we had purchased that dream parcel of land, we would have struggled with property taxes. We also would have different social relationships; two of our closest friends are our neighbors and that relationship would definitely wither.

If Sarah had become a stay-at-home mother, we very likely might have strained our marriage, since I have worked from home for many years. Would our relationship still be great if we were largely together at home every day for years and years and years through the stressful years of parenthood? I honestly don’t know.

What about that early retirement dream? Would I actually be happy with any form of “retirement” right now? I like having something to wrap my hands around and work on. I like to keep busy. I like to feel like I’m working for something and toward something. I wonder if I would lose that.

Those dreams seem wonderful and perfect because, well, they’re dreams. They’re not real. Real life has warts and flaws. Real life isn’t the “highlight reel” that is Facebook. Real life can hurt. It involves lost friendships and strained relationships and things you can’t possibly foresee.

The truth is that I like my life as it is right now and that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the mistakes. So, no matter how good the scenarios seem, the truth is that I likely wouldn’t be significantly happier or have a truly better life even with those scenarios.

Final Thoughts

It is very tempting at times to let our guilt from the mistakes of the past become a very big driving force in our lives. However, that guilt is often purely self-imposed and entirely based on poor reasoning.

If you feel guilt because of the financial mistakes in your past – or any other mistakes in your past – think about the things in this article and really give yourself time to process them. Not all of them will be true for you, but many of them will.

Let those true points guide you and bring you to a better life, one where you don’t feel guilt for the mistakes of the past, but joy for the opportunities of the present and the possibilities of the future.

Good luck.

The post Coming to Terms with Letting Others Down Because of My Past Financial Mistakes appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

These Siblings Fighting Over ‘Something’ Is The Story Of Every Single Household, Well Almost!

If you grew up with a sibling, you definitely know that the struggle is real. You are at war for almost everything and almost everyday. You fight for the smallest things one can ever think of. But one thing that you just can’t deny is, that your life would have been incomplete without them.

The creative people at Creative Makura have come up with an entertaining new skit. The one-minute-video is a hilarious take on how far the siblings can go for ….. well, you will see that. Watch the video below and let us know what you think of it. Connect with Creative Makura on YouTube for more of such interesting videos. Enjoy!


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If You’ve Lost Someone You Loved, This Song Will Hit You Right In The Feels!

Being in love is undoubtedly one of the best feelings in the world that one can experience. It makes you a completely new person who is more loving and caring. Everything starts to look better and you start enjoying your life more. But the same feeling can turn into a complete disaster if you lose the person you truly loved. That’s what this particular song is about.

Vijay Ghimire (VJ) is one of those few artistes who doesn’t ruin a classic song when he covers it but instead, he makes us love the original even more. With his most loved covers such as Samjhana Birsana and Eutai Sahara performed along with his life and music partner, Priety, he has made himself a good name in the music scene. The UK based couple had come up with their first original studio album titled ‘Paint Me Love’ in 2014 and the music video of a song from the album has been recently released.

The song titled ‘Yaha Sabai Jana’ is a solo by VJ that features Talvinbassi on drums, Stelian on guitars and Magda on violins. It’s a beautiful number that captures the sadness of a heartbroken person who has lost the love of his life. The music video that has Sara and is also edited and directed by herself, adds to the beauty of the song. It’s a beautifully made video shot by Anujit Sarkar that does complete justice to the song.

Watch the music video below and do share your opinions in the comment section.


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Daya-Priyanka Duo & Kali Prasad Baskota’s Song Make ‘Purano Dunga’ Teaser A Treat To Watch!

The duo of Dayahang Rai and Priyanka Karki is one of the most adored onscreen couples in Nepali cinema. With films such as Jholay, Woda No. 6, Fanko and How Funny, this duo has won thousands of hearts already and now they are all set to steal some more hearts together again.

The teaser of their upcoming film, Purano Dunga, has been released and the 2-minute-teaser features only two of them as we see an annoyed Priyanka with Dayahang trying to win her over. The two pretty much show us the story of any regular real life couple as we’re quite sure that the same happens with a lot of them. To add to the charm, an amusing Kali Prasad Baskota song plays in the background and it just makes it even more entertaining.

The film that also stars Maotse Gurung, Menuka Pradhan, D.B. Gurung and Buddhi Tamang is directed by Kabaddi fame Ram Babu Gurung and is made under the banner of Cinema Art Production in association with Maotse Gurung. The film that is mostly shot in and around Pokhara is scheduled to release on November 25th this year.

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


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How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?

What’s more fun than a root canal? Needing one but having no idea how much it will cost. Not only do you have the stress of a procedure whose very name is synonymous with unpleasantness — you also have the added stress of wondering how much it will cost and where you’ll come up with the money. And depending on whether you have dental insurance and who your insurer is, you might be footing the entire bill yourself.

How Much a Root Canal Costs

The cost of a root canal varies depending on where you are in the country — and which tooth needs it.

Molars are significantly more expensive than bicuspids and front teeth. That’s not an access issue — it’s because front teeth have one canal, while your back teeth can have as many as three. If all of them need work done, you’re actually getting a bulk discount on the molars.

So what are you going to pay for a root canal? The short answer is somewhere around the neighborhood of $1,000, depending on which tooth needs it, among other factors. Here are the average prices of a root canal by tooth:

  • Front teeth: The cost will range anywhere from $300 to $1,500, but a more typical range will be $900 to $1,100.
  • Bicuspids: The cost of a bicuspid root canal is a little steeper, ranging from $400 to $1,800 with a typical cost of $900 to $1,100.
  • Molars: Here’s where things start getting really expensive. For a molar root canal you’re looking at spending between $500 to $2,000, with typical costs between $1,000 to $1,300.

What does that include? An X-ray and the procedure itself. You’re probably going to be looking at extra costs, though, including follow-up visits (about $50 to $100 each) and a dental crown (anywhere from $300 to $3,000, depending on which tooth you had done and how nice you want the crown to be). If you’re lucky, you might get away with just needing a filling, which is going to run you between $50 and $300.

Will Insurance Cover Your Root Canal?

If you’re among the 64% of Americans who have dental insurance, according to the National Association of Dental Plans, how much is your insurance going to cover? That depends on your policy.

Dental insurance will often cover 100% of routine costs — but only about half of what you’ll owe for major procedures like a root canal. What’s more, there might be a waiting period on your insurance, meaning you have to carry the policy for a certain amount of time before you’re eligible to get more extensive – and expensive — procedures like a root canal. You might be tempted to wait until you get full coverage, but that would be a mistake.

How to Save Money on a Root Canal

While you don’t want to bargain shop or get the discount root canal procedure, you might want to look into getting the procedure done at your local dental college to save a bit of money. Dental schools are always looking for people for their students to practice on — and they’re not letting just anyone do a root canal. What’s more, there will be a qualified dentist or endodontist on hand to make sure that you’re getting the best care.

Other than that, you can always wait for deals on Groupon or other social shopping sites, or even ask for a discount for paying your entire bill in cash. Even saving just 10% can be significant on a big procedure like a root canal.

Why You Shouldn’t Put It Off

We don’t want to scare you too much, but if you’re thinking of putting off a root canal, you might need a little scaring. That’s because delaying a root canal procedure can have serious complications.

What you basically have right now is a tooth that’s infected down to the root. It’s not going to get better on its own, but it will probably get a lot worse. In a worst-case scenario, you can get a full body infection putting you at risk for heart attack, stroke, or death.

The good news is that once you get a root canal — which, contrary to popular lore, is actually not a painful procedure — you’re going to start feeling almost immediate relief from the pain of the infection. There’s not really a price you can put on that. Bottom line, if you need a root canal, start looking into getting it done sooner rather than later.

Related Articles:

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The Ginger Principle: When Buying in Bulk Is a Mistake

Sarah and I are adventurous amateur chefs. We love trying all kinds of things in the kitchen with fresh ingredients and interesting flavor combinations. Like everyone else, of course, we do have our own preferences. I tend to like spicy foods, ones that almost burn on the tongue as you eat them, for example.

Which, I suppose, brings us to ginger.

I love using fresh mashed ginger root as an ingredient in pretty much everything where it makes sense (and often things where it doesn’t). I love ginger in my stir fry. I love ginger in soups. I love ginger with curry. I love making gingersnap cookies and even using ginger and sugar in other kinds of cookies.

That means that every once in a while I have a need to head to the store and buy some fresh ginger root. After all, nothing beats freshly-mashed ginger root right into a stir fry or right into soup or right into a muffin recipe (cranberry ginger muffins…. mmmm…..). The aroma… the taste… I want some right now.

The problem is that I almost always seem to buy far more fresh ginger root than I need. I’ll go to the store, dig through the ginger root for sale, and find a piece of what I think is reasonable size for the recipes that I want to make. Yet, although I end up using it several times, I invariably still find a dried-out and basically unusable piece of ginger root in the refrigerator several weeks later and then I’m back to the store to get another piece of ginger root.

When I’m at the store, I fully intend to use that ginger root for lots of recipes in the coming week and I even have two or three planned out for the coming week. Beyond that, though, I don’t have any specific plans, just big visions, and by the time I get around to actually doing those things, the ginger root is no longer really good to use.

It’s really wasteful. It’s a poor use of money. It’s also kind of sad to throw out ginger root that could have been used if I hadn’t kicked the ginger-based recipes down the road for a while.

For me, this whole experience is a shining example of something that I’ve come to call the “ginger principle”: never buy more of something than you’re absolutely sure you’ll be able to use before it goes bad. Although there are situations where doing this might cost you a little bit of money – for example, when you turn down a bulk purchase – there are many, many situations where the “ginger principle” will save you money.

Let’s look at how the “ginger principle” works with regards to many of my most common purchases.

If I’m buying household supplies and toiletries, I can almost always safely buy items in the biggest bulk that I can. Shampoo and soap and razors and such things never go bad in any reasonable timeframe, so it’s completely reasonable to buy those things in enormous bulk.

That’s why, if you look in our closets, you’ll see tons of bottles of shampoo and garbage bags and toilet paper. We buy those in bulk and we stock up big if we find them on sale because toilet paper stored in packages in a dry upstairs closet is going to basically last forever. We could go years without buying toilet paper at this point.

I use the same principle (to an extent) when it comes to canned foods. If the canned foods are packaged in small individual containers, then I’m willing to buy them in extensive bulk, especially if the expiration date is far into the future (years). I generally avoid canned goods in large individual containers; there’s really no benefit to us opening up a two gallon jar of pasta sauce, for example, as we would have to repackage almost all of it immediately.

If I’m buying frozen goods, I am willing to buy in bulk for something that I know we’ll use frequently, but not on other items. Frozen goods tend to have a decent lifespan in the freezer, but there’s a risk – if we lose power, everything in the freezer is lost. So, I tend to limit my bulk buys when it comes to frozen items.

This brings us around to the fresh items, the real reason for the “ginger principle” in the first place. When I buy a fresh item, I ask myself a few questions.

First, can it be frozen – and will I realistically freeze it? Similarly, can it be canned – and will I realistically can it? I might buy a bulk purchase of a particular vegetable at a farmers market if I am dead certain I will go home and put it in the freezer in the next day or so. We don’t actively do canning – we experimented with it, but didn’t find the cost-benefit high enough for us when considering all of the time and materials.

Second, am I using this fresh ingredient in a “make ahead” meal? Our family really values “make ahead meals,” which are complete meals that we make well in advance. We freeze these meals and pull them out of the freezer a day or two before their final cooking so that we can have, say, a homemade lasagna after a very busy day at work.

Generally, this means that I’m planning ahead for a specific ingredient or two that I’ll buy in bulk. If I’m looking at the grocery flyer, for instance, and I see that tomatoes are on sale at an especially low price, I might plan to make several pans of lasagna in advance that week and then buy a ton of the sale-priced tomatoes, far more than we might normally eat. The same is true for virtually any fresh ingredient, whether it’s fruit or a vegetable or a meat.

If I don’t get a firm positive answer from the above questions, I simply buy what I need for the meal at hand and nothing more. It’s a pretty simple rule to follow.

So, this all comes back to me standing there in the produce section, digging through the ginger roots. What exactly do I do?

Well, it’s a fresh ingredient… and I’m not planning on making a bulk meal with this ingredient… could I freeze it? It turns out you actually can freeze ginger, whether in whole root form or in small teaspoon-sized amounts of ground ginger (like in an ice cube tray). But will I actually freeze it? If I just take home a medium-sized root, I might grind all of it up and store the extra in a couple of ice cube trays, freezing them thoroughly and then keeping “ginger cubes” in a bag. Will I do it? Maybe… if I think that I will, then I’ll buy a medium sized root. If I’m honest and realize that I won’t, I’ll buy a tiny piece of ginger root.

That, my friends, is the ginger principle at work. The ginger principle just launches a short series of questions in your head, either before shopping or while shopping, that can guide you right toward the appropriate size of a purchase. I’ve found that, as I’ve become more used to utilizing the ginger principle in my own shopping, I do it before ever heading to the store. Instead, I do it with the grocery list, identifying things that I might buy in bulk (like sale items at the regular grocery store or bulk items at the warehouse club) and marking them as such on the list before I ever head out the door.

Yes, there have been times when I might have “saved” money by making a bulk purchase of some kind and the ginger principle has talked me out of it – a great example is that titular piece of ginger root. However, using the ginger principle means that a lot fewer perishable purchases are going to waste, and the reality of the matter is that whenever I throw away food that has gone to waste, I’m throwing away money.

Overall, the ginger principle is a real money saver. In one simple statement, it tells us which items make sense to buy in bulk and which items do not. It reduces household waste, which is really just dollars thrown out the door, and it ends up being environmentally friendly, too.

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The Secret to Getting Great Concert and Sports Tickets for Cheap

We all want front row seats to see our favorite band play in an intimate venue, or to cheer on our beloved sports teams with a great view of the action. But when everybody wants the same thing, well… the law of supply and demand dictates that the price is going to go up.

Way up. Tickets to the hottest sold-out tours of the summer will set you back hundreds of dollars on resale sites like StubHub or VividSeats — and those are just for middling seats. The median price of a ticket to see Adele or Justin Bieber is currently $588 and $549, respectively, says Adam Clemence of Chicago-based VividSeats, while up-close floor seats can run into the thousands of dollars. Other big acts, from Luke Bryan to Drake to Beyonce, are costing fans upwards of $134 per ticket — on average.

And yet, over the past decade, I’ve managed to see most of my favorite bands play right up close – often in the first few rows – and rarely paid for more than $25 for the privilege.

The difference is, my favorite bands aren’t all that famous. They might be one day – after all, U2 was just an opening act at small nightclubs on their first American tour in 1980, and before Paul McCartney was fetching more than a hundred bucks per ticket, the Beatles performed night after night in the seedy strip joints of Hamburg, Germany on their way to fame.

But for now, the groups I love are slogging it out in music’s enormous working class, relentlessly touring smaller venues with $5 to $25 cover charges.

Here’s the truth: The talent gap between a good, local act and an international superstar is, in a lot of cases, totally negligible. (Okay, I’m not talking about Adele’s one-in-a-million voice here. But you’ll probably hear better country music at just about any bluegrass night in America than you will at an overpriced Luke Bryan concert. The parking, food, and beers will be cheaper, too – and if it’s a local joint, you might not have to pay those outrageous ticket fees, either.)

In fact, one 2008 study showed that popular music is largely a self-fulfilling prophecy – what marketers say is popular becomes popular, whether or not it’s any good. The study’s authors created a fake, online music market where more than 12,000 subjects were asked to download songs by unknown bands and then rate them. It turns out, users rated songs higher if they were told other people gave it a good rating — even if that wasn’t true. “We found that most songs experienced self-fulfilling prophecies, in which perceived—but initially false—popularity became real over time,” the study’s authors note.

In short, the main reason everyone is willing to pay big bucks to see these mega-acts is simply because they know and love those particular songs. They’ve heard them on the radio, can sing along to every word, and want to share that experience with the artist, their friends, and other fans.

But what if you and your friends knew and loved different songs? Ones that weren’t just foisted upon you by the Marketing Machine?

How to Find a New Favorite Band

That’s the whole key to this strategy. If you can fall in love with a different band or singer — one the rest of the world hasn’t caught onto yet – you’ll be able to see them perform up close and for cheap for years to come.

So how do you discover a new favorite act? Here are three ways to try.

Support Your Local Music Scene

If you live in a bigger city or in a college town, there’s probably live music happening every single night in small, intimate venues nearby. I’ll be honest with you: Half of it is probably not very good. But the upper echelons — often the bands who land coveted Friday and Saturday night gigs – are likely going to be every bit as good as a national touring act.

What’s more, most small bars and clubs book multiple bands per night to try and draw more people in. For a $5 to $15 cover charge, you can hear three or four bands play over the course of a night. If one of them is terrible, just head to another part of the club away from the stage and catch up with your friends like it’s any other night out — most venues have a place to retreat to.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know any of the songs: Simply being out and hearing music in person builds an anchor memory for the songs you’re listening to. The next time you hear the band’s music, it’ll conjure the memory of the show, and the songs will grow more and more familiar.

And here’s an added bonus: When you love a local band, you don’t have to wait two years for them to go on tour and hope they stop in your town. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to see them play live.

Attend a Music Festival

Another great way to find lesser-known bands you love is to attend a well-curated, music-centered festival. While tickets can be expensive, you’ll have the opportunity to see dozens of small but gifted acts perform in addition to the headliners.

In 2014, we went to the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island, and when I left I was the newest fan of several bands — including one, Houndmouth, that I’ve seen play twice since. (If you like rootsy rock with lots of harmonies, give them a listen.) They’ve since graduated to slightly bigger venues like the House of Blues, which I’m glad to see — although I hope they don’t make it too big, or I’ll have to find a new favorite band!

Free festivals abound in the summer as well, whether they’re sponsored by your city or a local radio station. Check out your area’s events calendar to see who’s playing — if it’s free, you have absolutely nothing to lose by stopping by to see if any of the acts have a sound you like.

Pay Attention to Pandora

Music-streaming service Pandora allows you to create a free personal radio station based on a few “seed” songs or artists — for example, it can generate an entire station from a handful of your favorite songs, or even just one artist, like Bob Dylan. Then, it plays you songs that its algorithms think you’ll probably enjoy based on those initial inputs. Much of the time, its playlist ends up being spot on for me — but you can give songs a thumbs down if you don’t like them.

I love Pandora for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that even the free version plays relatively few commercials. But perhaps its most valuable service is that it routinely surprises me with songs and bands I’ve never heard before and most definitely like. When you come across an unknown artist or song you really enjoy, just bookmark or like it within Pandora so you can remember the name later.

Of course, there are other ways to expose yourself to new music as well. On your car radio, check out the lower end of the dial, where college radio stations play music from all over the spectrum — much of it really good and relatively obscured from the popular masses. If you hear a great song, check the station’s website for their recent playlist and see if the artist is coming to town. And the best part? There aren’t any commercials.

It Works for Sports, Too

In an era when most of our star athletes bounce around from team to team in search of a bigger payday — one moment they’re on the Red Sox, the next thing you know they’ve signed with the hated Yankees — we’re all just rooting for laundry, Jerry Seinfeld once joked. So why pay $50 to $150 a ticket just to cheer for uniforms?

Just as with music, the difference in talent between the pros and the minor leagues or college level athletics isn’t as big as you probably imagine. If you’re truly interested in the sport of baseball, basketball, hockey, or football, you’ll see incredible skill on display and close, exciting games, even at these lower levels. And yet going to a college basketball or minor league baseball game costs a fraction of attending a big-league event — not to mention the lower cost of parking, concessions, and even souvenirs once you’re inside.

Here in Boston, I can get pretty good seats to a Boston College or Northeastern University hockey game for $15 to $20; comparable tickets to a Boston Bruins game ranged from $45 to $145 in 2015. Meanwhile, tickets to a New England Patriots game — if you can get them — range from $89 to $350, while a BC football game will set you back a more reasonable $25 to $60.

And with an average price of $54.79, the Boston Red Sox are baseball’s most expensive ticket, according to Team Marketing’s 2016 Fan Cost Index. But just 30 miles up the road, you can watch the team’s Single-A affiliate, the Lowell Spinners, for seven bucks. (Premier Box seats cost a whopping $10.) The players wear the same uniform as the pros — the only difference is how close you’ll get to sit to the field.

‘But I Really, Really Want to See ___!’

Now don’t get me wrong: I fully understand wanting to see your heroes. I’ll be in attendance at David Ortiz’s final regular-season game at Fenway this fall, and there was no substitute for seeing his game-winning, extra-inning heroics in Games 4 and 5 of the 2004 American League Championship Series in person — easily two of the most incredible events I’ve ever witnessed in person.

So if you really, really need to go to the big show, there are still some tried-and-true tricks to save money on tickets to popular, pricey, and sold-out events.

For starters, be flexible: Ticket prices can vary drastically depending on the night of the week and the location. “If an artist you’re dying to see is coming to Madison Square Garden and the tickets are too pricey, see if their tour stops somewhere within driving distance where tickets are in less demand,” says Clemence of VividSeats.

For example, tickets to see Zac Brown Band at Fenway Park in Boston on a Saturday night in August start at $97 on VividSeats, while tickets to the Sunday night show start at $75. Meanwhile, for a Saturday night show a couple of weeks later in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. — about a three-hour drive from Boston — tickets start at just $33.

It also pays to keep an eye on prices. “Big-name artists are constantly adding tour dates and extra shows, so if you can’t find the seat you want, be vigilant,” Clemence says. Then, he adds, “When you see a good price, take it.”

Finally, Clemence says single seats tend to be cheaper than others — so true superfans are often able to score a discount if they’re willing to sit solo. “If you’re heading to a stop on a massive tour – Beyonce, for example – it might be worth making some new friends!” he says.

More Fun, Less Money

In the end, the goal is to have as much fun as possible without breaking your budget. If you’re someone who only goes to one game or concert a year, this probably doesn’t matter as much — so by all means, splurge. Go see the big show, the real deal.

But if you like to get out a lot, and want to see a ton of live music and sporting events without crushing your entertainment budget? Look to lesser-known acts and lower-level teams at smaller venues. You’ll see really talented musicians and budding star athletes for a fraction of the price – and who knows, you might even get in early on the Next Big Thing.

Related Articles:

What are some ways you save money on concerts or sporting events? Do you have any favorite local or relatively unknown artists?  

The post The Secret to Getting Great Concert and Sports Tickets for Cheap appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Idea Studio Nepal: If You Have An Idea, Here’s A Wonderful Platform For You

Manindra Aryal, an engineer, was assigned to make 500 units of solar lights by Mr. Bal Krishna Joshi to be provided to the earthquake victims living in the tents after the last year’s devastating earthquake. Shiva Ram Poudel, a social entrepreneur and the initiator of free highway toilet project, has been supported by Panchkanya Group for building his next projects. Anil Basnet, the founder of Metro Tarkari, has been provided a collateral free loan to purchase a delivery van for his online grocery retail business. These three entrepreneurs have their own inspiring stories of success and one thing that is common in all of them is, all three of them participated in a reality television show called ‘Idea Studio Nepal’, where they were not only guided and mentored on how to expand their works but were also helped to find themselves possible investors and helping hands for their projects.

After the successful first season in 2014, the show is back with its second season and it’s looking for you and your creative ideas to give you a platform that would help you turn your idea into a reality by guiding you and helping you find the people and companies that would help you grow. Idea Studio is now taking ideas from all the Nepalese around the nation regardless of their age, educational qualifications and work experiences. So, if you have an idea that you think is worth a go, do share it with the team and let them help you with the execution of it. You can submit your idea by emailing it to idea@ideastudio.org.np, or you can mail it to P.O. Box No. 376, Bakhondole, Lalitpur or you can also just submit it on the organization’s official website http://ift.tt/29I624i. The deadline for the submission is July 21st. For any queries regarding the program, you can make a call at 01- 5520374, 5527977 or 9861289918.

The program was announced in an event held in Kathmandu on May 18th among the presence of various distinguished personalities from different backgrounds such as media, academia, private sector and social & development sector. Talking about the second season of Idea Studio, Chairperson Dr. Tsering Lama said, “Idea studio is a platform to develop and celebrate a complete eco-system of social entrepreneurs in Nepal, which ultimately restores human dignity based on knowledge creation and innovative approaches.”

You can watch all the episodes from the first season HERE. You can connect with the organization to stay updated on the program or to communicate with them on their official Facebook page HERE.

Good luck!


The post Idea Studio Nepal: If You Have An Idea, Here’s A Wonderful Platform For You appeared first on NeoStuffs.

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How to Actually Acquire the 10 Most Valuable Career Skills in Your Spare Time

Money Magazine recently printed an article in their June issue (page 45, June ’16) that lists the most valuable career skills that a person can have as ranked by the wage premium that such skills generate on average (here it is online).

In other words, they evaluated a ton of different skills that companies look for in their job postings and then evaluated how much higher those jobs paid on average than similar jobs that didn’t include those skills.

For example, a lab technician job that includes a requirement for the “data modeling” skill commands, on average, a 5% higher salary than a lab technician job that does not include that requirement.

To me, this kind of list is an incredibly valuable resource for people who are looking to improve their income and move ahead in their career path. It specifically identifies the exact skills that companies are willing to pay a premium for!

However, the article didn’t quite follow through in all of the ways that it might. The article offers some great general advice on how to acquire these skills, but it really doesn’t go into the specifics of what one might need to do to add these skills to their skill set (and their resume) in a meaningful way. It just provides a list and some very general ideas on furthering one’s education.

I wanted to go a little further than that, so I took the top 10 items on the list and did a little homework (and, in a few cases, quite a lot of homework) to figure out what a person could do in their spare time to add that skill to their resume and skillset in a meaningful way that would help them improve their earning potential and career opportunities.

Before we dig in, I want to mention one giant caveat. Not all of these skills line up well for every career. In fact, in most careers, only one or two of these skills will really make sense. It is definitely up to you to determine whether or not these skills really fit in well with the career you happen to find yourself in (or hope to find yourself in). You are far better off becoming really strong in one or two of these skills that are really well connected to and useful to your field than being mediocre in several skills.

Here’s what I found.

SAS (Statistical Analysis System) – 6.1% Premium

SAS is a suite of software developed by the SAS Institute for the purpose of data analytics. People use SAS in order to find patterns and trends and useful things in large data sets.

This is a specific flavor of skill related to data mining, which is an incredibly popular skill these days (as you’ll see on the rest of the list). In my experience (as I was once a fairly heavy user of the software), it falls into what I would describe as light computer programming specifically done to solve problems with data. It’s a skill that’s likely useful to anyone in business or in a technical field that ever does anything associated with sets of data of any significant size.

So, how do you acquire this skill?

The most obvious thing you can do is to get into the SAS Global Certification program. This is a series of classes and exams that will end up providing a certification if you know your stuff when it comes to SAS. However, the exam preparation materials that SAS themselves sell is quite expensive.

So, another good way to learn the basics of SAS and how to actually apply it to real world problems at a much, much lower price (i.e., potentially free) is to take the Learn Data Science Fundamentals specialization on Coursera, which consists of four courses and a capstone project. Doing that will earn a certificate of completion which, while not as big of a standout on a resume as the actual certification, will still teach you the skill and is resume worthy. You can also individually complete the four courses without the certification and without the capstone project for free.

The SAS software itself is very expensive, so this skill is probably easiest to acquire in the workplace if your workplace already has SAS (which many workplaces that use lots of data do). Check with your boss as to whether your workplace has a SAS license and make sure it’s okay to use it for personal learning before diving in (it probably will be and your boss will likely be impressed with your personal initiative).

Data Mining / Data Warehousing – 5.1% Premium

The number two item on the list is in many ways just a general version of the first item on the list – after all, SAS is a specific tool used for data mining. This skill also expands into dealing with the need to store and secure large quantities of data as well, not just in the analysis of that data.

So, again, how can someone acquire this skill in a resume-friendly fashion?

If you’re looking for an inexpensive approach, there are two specializations at Coursera that fit the bill here. First, Harness Business Data is a great series of four courses on the concepts and practice of data warehousing, including some great practical exercises and projects. I’d also point at the four course specialization mentioned earlier, Learn Data Science Fundamentals. Again, as I mentioned earlier, you can pay a fee to get an official certification for these specializations and the courses within (along with a capstone project for each) or you can just take the courses for free without a certificate of completion (though you can still demonstrate that you completed those courses).

If you’re looking for a more “industry standard” certification and are willing to pay for it, The Data Warehousing Institute has been a standard certification for a while for people wanting to get a respected certification in data warehousing. It’s fairly pricy, but you’ll learn a great deal in the process and you’ll have a certification that people will value.

Another option is to earn Stanford University’s Mining Massive Data Sets Graduate Certificate. While it’s very pricy, the courses are taught by top notch people and it’s got the Stanford University name on it, which absolutely can’t hurt.

Do you need the expensive SAS software mentioned above to do these things? While SAS is obviously worthwhile (as described above), you can complete most of (if not all of) the things above using the free programming language Python, which is already on most Macs and is easily installed on Windows computers. Python is a good fundamental skill to have and to list on a resume as well and there are many opportunities to learn it very cheaply or even for free; I really like the learning environment at CodeAcademy and it’s mostly free.

Search Engine Marketing – 5.0% Premium

Search engine marketing is the art of getting websites and individual web pages listed in prominent places on search engines, especially Google and to a lesser extent Bing and Yahoo!. There’s a litany of strategies and tricks to doing this that all fall under the umbrella of “search engine marketing” or “search engine optimization.”

This is an area where there really isn’t a widely respected certification of any kind. Instead, most companies that look for this skill are looking for practical experience, such as taking a website and having it rank well in search engines when people search for a potentially popular phrase or word. They’re much more interested in the conclusion of a search engine marketing project than any certification.

So, how can you learn this?

The best course I’ve found for search engine marketing is the SEO Training Course by Moz available at Udemy for free. It does a great job of grounding you in the basics of search engine optimization and gives you everything you need to take on a search engine optimization project of your own.

The real key, though, is actually executing such a project on your own. You might consider doing this for the website of the company you currently work for or for the website of a group or organization you participate in. Simply take the techniques that you learn from the course and actually apply them to that website. Attempt to improve that site’s rankings on relevant keywords, then see if there’s any improvement in traffic on the site in question. Those project results will provide the valuable element you need for your resume.

Data Modeling – 5.0% Premium

Data modeling is the practice of defining a way to organize information that describes something in a clear fashion that can later be searched, retrieved, and analyzed.

For example, a person with data modeling skills might be challenged to come up with a way to organize data that could be used to fully describe a particular new product line or, in my own personal experience, a particular variation of a plant. What is distinct about these things? How can you store that distinct data so that it’s useful in the future?

In terms of a strong introduction to data modeling at a reasonable price, the free Coursera course Model Thinking can provide a very thorough background on the field. While it’s not a professional certification, it is a great way to get your grounding in the field and gain an understanding of what specifically you may want to study or know that would be useful for your field, which can launch you toward something more tailored to your specific situation. If you have a more business-oriented approach, the Business and Financial Modeling sequence of courses might be more specifically useful.

The leading tool used in the data modeling field is ERwin, though many, many other tools are used. It is well worth your time to figure out which specific tools are used in data modeling related to the specific career path you’re in and do what it takes to learn and earn certifications for those specific tools. If you’re not sure, take a look at job positions related to your field that include data modeling and see what tools they’re looking for.

Contract Negotiation – 5.0% Premium

The ability to negotiate a contract is invaluable in many fields. So much of today’s professional world revolves around business arrangements between businesses and individuals as well as contracts between businesses, and well-written and strongly negotiated contracts are vital to the success of all involved parties. People who can negotiate those contracts are really in demand.

The catch is that this isn’t really a skill you can get certified for. Your best approach is to get a strong background on the basics of how to figure out what the needs of each party are and how to negotiate through those needs to come up with a solution that benefits all parties (particularly the one you’re negotiating for). This is often best done through practice and experience.

If you want to get started building this skill, I’d get some basic background in contract negotiation. One great way to get the basics for free is through the Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills course at Coursera. While this alone isn’t likely resume worthy, it will get you some of the basics that you need to build upon.

After that, look for opportunities in your current workplace to get involved in contract negotiations. Any time that there are contracts being negotiated, volunteer to be involved in that process or even to manage that process, and then apply those principles in a real situation. The more you negotiate, the easier it becomes and the stronger your skills become.

The resume-worthy part of this is being able to list contracts that you’ve actually negotiated, which can clearly fulfill a potential employer’s desire for contract negotiation skills.

Software Development – 4.9% Premium

Software development is the entirety of the process needed to take a piece of software from concept to finished product. Typically, it revolves around the actual programming aspects, as well as the organization and management of the computer code generated throughout the project.

In other words, to nail this skill, you need to not only be able to write computer programs, you also need to be able to use tools that manage lots of code used by a multitude of people all working on the same project.

Most universities offer entire degree programs centered around this topic, so it’s a skill that’s not necessarily one you can pick up in a few months in your spare time. Learning software development is a long process, no matter how you slice it. However, software development is a perfect thing to learn as a side gig. It’s also something that you can show off in terms of being involved in a noteworthy finished product.

Your first step would be to find out what particular specific skills would be useful in your field. If someone is developing software that’s related to what you’re doing, what languages are they using? What tools are they using? Look for projects related to your field and find out. Some fields rely heavily on Python and use tools like cvs. Others use the Microsoft suite of tools. Others might write in C and use Github or Sourceforge. It really depends on your field and the specific needs of that field.

Once you know what you need to know, take online courses to learn those specific languages and tools. CodeAcademy is a great place to start for many computer languages.

Once you’ve worked through some projects on your own, get involved with an open source project. This is perhaps the best way to build software development skills in your spare time. It’s going to feel like jumping into the deep end of the pool, so perhaps start with a small project that’s related to your field. Look through the code and the organization of that code and see what you can do to contribute to that code to add new features or fix bugs. After a while, you’ll be listed as a contributor to those projects, at which point you have a great resume line that shows off your software development skills.

Strategic Project Management – 4.4% Premium

Strategic project management refers to the management of a project so that it’s fully in alignment with the overall vision and strategy of the business as a whole. The goal isn’t just to finish a project as stated, but to have an array of outcomes that all benefit the overall strategy of the business. It’s sometimes also called “advanced project management” or “enterprise project management.”

While you can certainly study this in business school, most of the actual skill (and benefit) of strategic project management comes from actually practicing it with real projects on the ground.

So, how can you do that? The first step, of course, is to actually manage projects. You should look for opportunities in the workplace to take on the management of projects of any size, building your overall project management expertise. If there’s a chance to lead a project, jump on it.

Along the way, I recommend finding a mentor in your field who actually has a lot of experience managing projects, preferably someone that’s already progressed down your career path to a place you hope to be someday. Take that person out to lunch. Look for advice from that person. Ask that person questions. Give that person help whenever you can.

As you’re doing this, learn about the basic principles of strategic project management. One very highly regarded book that’s well worth reading is Strategic Project Management Made Simple by Terry Schmidt. What you’ll find is that strategic project management principles mix in quite well with the normal ins and outs of project management – it just gives you a new context and new tools for making decisions.

Project leadership on a resume is always good; amping it up with a strategic angle is even better.

Strategic Planning – 4.3% Premium

So, what’s the flip side of strategic project management? It’s strategic planning – coming up with the broader plan that is directly implemented through strategically-managed projects. As Wikipedia puts it, “[s]trategic planning is an organization’s process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy.”

Again, although there’s a good certification program in the field, the best way to get this on your resume is through actual work experience, and the best way to get started is to get involved in your workplace. Look for any and all opportunities to get involved in long-term planning groups and committees. You can – and should – also look for opportunities for strategic planning in organizations outside the workplace, as this is an activity that many nonprofits engage in as well. Get involved with community groups and look for chances to be involved in their strategic planning.

To learn more about strategic planning as you also acquire experience, take a look at this free Coursera course from the University of Virginia entitled Strategic Planning and Execution. You can take it as a free standalone course, but it’s also part of an overall sequence of courses on business strategy. There are few better ways to build a skill than to learn in a classroom environment and then immediately apply what you’ve learned.

The top certification for strategic planning is the Association for Strategic Planning’s Strategic Planning Professional certification, which actually has a requirement that you either have to be involved in strategic planning at your job or you’ve taken requisite business classes for it. This certification is a great way to hammer home strategic planning as a part of your resume and can definitely help improve your skills as a strategic planner, although nothing trumps true experience in strategic planning.

Technical Sales – 4.3% Premium

Technical sales refers to the practice of a salesperson who is responsible for selling a complex technical product to a customer. This requires not only strong sales skills, but also sound backing in the nuance and purpose of the product and how it can be used by the customer. Selling lab equipment to a research lab is a great example of technical sales.

Often, technical sales as a skill is built by people already within the field who add sales skills to their existing technical knowledge, so take that as a starting point. Rather than looking to study technical sales as an independent thing, invest your time in learning about salesmanship in general and try applying it to the real situations you see in your field.

Sales in general is more of an art than something you can study, so just look for opportunities in the workplace to be involved in selling technical products. What does your company make? Do they employ salespeople? Can others within the company get involved in that training? Are you serviced by salespeople? How did they get trained, and how can you get into that?

If you’re looking for a course to take that might assist you, many people speak highly of the Hubspot Inbound Certification and Training, which is a general marketing and sales course that’s free and actually appears on many resumes.

A key book that is frequently recommended for people interested in pursuing technical sales is Mastering Technical Sales 3rd Edition by John Care and Aron Bohlig. This would serve as a strong supplemental read to the other activities described here.

Customer Service Metrics – 4.3% Premium

Customer service metrics refers to the generation and analysis of data designed to measure the quality and efficiency of customer service. Such data is often used to make management decisions regarding customer service.

As with many of the other items on this list, the best way to start building knowledge and experience in the area of customer service metrics is to get involved with them in your own workplace. How is customer service managed? How is the success of it measured? At a small or medium sized company, you’ll often find ample opportunity to run with this idea as many small businesses are very limited in how they measure and evaluate customer service. Getting involved in implementing a customer service metrics project and then showing how the data was used to improve customer service without a major increase in cost is a spectacular resume builder.

But where do you start? A great free introductory class in using metrics for business, particularly in the customer service area, is Business Metrics for Data-Driven Companies, offered for free by Duke University through Coursera. This course will give you the basics on how companies generate and use data to evaluate and improve their own performance and will give you a great starting point.

The best certification for customer service metrics that’s available is the COPC Standards certification. That certification provides a solid all-around certification for the management and planning of customer service departments as well as the use of and generation of metrics that you can use to measure the success of your customer service department as well as measure the efficiency of your customer engagements. This is a great item to have on a resume if you’re shooting to get that customer service metrics pay premium.

Final Thoughts

All of these options provide a great opportunity for you to bolster your resume and open yourself up to significant increases in pay as you move up the career ladder. However, there are a few general tips that I consider vital.

Focus only on skills that make sense on your career path. Don’t use this as some kind of checklist. Instead, seek out just the top one or two skills that really make sense in the field that you’re in and that interest you.

Classes and certifications and books are great, but always be looking to apply what you learn. Try to find situations where you can put these things you learn into practice in a professional context. One great way to do this is to be mentored by someone who has that skill or to be a part of a team with more experienced people on it. That way, you get a chance to learn and practice these skills without having all of it thrust on your shoulders immediately. Another great way is to treat your experience as a “side project.” Maybe your boss will let you spend five hours a week setting up some customer service metrics at work so that even if it doesn’t work out it’s not a big loss to the business.

It’s going to take some significant spare time to learn these skills, and probably some cash, too. Building skills takes time. It’s not something you can just do in an evening. You have to work at it. Not only that, certifications in general aren’t free and university courses are very expensive. If you’re going to commit to building a skill, commit to it. Block off time each day for building that skill, whether through reading, practice, coursework, certification, or something else.

In the end, it’s all about taking that next step in your career path so that your earnings and opportunities go up and up and up. These skills are an investment of time and money; they just happen to be ones that seem to have a great opportunity to earn a nice return on your investment.

Good luck!

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What Do Nepalese Think of ‘Premarital Sex’? Let’s See!

‘Nepal Reacts’ show had quite an interesting topic this week. Making it a little different than the other episodes, the team had asked their viewers to send them a reaction video on the topic, “What do you think of premarital sex?” The reason also being not many people in public would be interested in giving their opinions on the subject. So the team came up with the episode with the clips submitted by the viewers and also some reactions taken in public by themselves.

Well, sex is not a much talked about topic in Nepal and it still is considered a taboo. Though most of the reactors featured in the video are urban Nepalese and we might tend to believe that the youngsters in cities are pretty much open about such subjects; it came as a surprise to see quite a lot of them against it and mainly because of the society. Hmm! Well, the reactions are pretty interesting – with some people directly opposing it to the others being absolutely cool about it.

So, before you watch the reactions, don’t you want to know what we feel about the subject? The gyaan begins now — When two adults are involved in something which is not illegal, doesn’t harm anyone physically, emotionally or in any other way; with both of their consent and without anyone’s pressure; we don’t think it should be taken as a crime or a sin. And the same thing applies with sex. Who are we to tell others how should they be living their lives? Who are we to judge them? Moral of the story – live and let others live the way they want to. So, the gyaan for today ends here. Let’s see what the people have to say. And also, do comment below what you think of the same. Chao!


The post What Do Nepalese Think of ‘Premarital Sex’? Let’s See! appeared first on NeoStuffs.

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Swoopna Suman’s ‘Mohani Lagla/Chitko Gunyo’ Mashup Is All You Need To Listen To Right Now!

Swoopna Suman is one of the most popular Nepali YouTube artists with various of his covers and original singles loved by thousands of music listeners. The Kathmandu singer had kind of disappeared from the scene lately, but guess what, he is back with a bang. He recently worked on some covers and mashups with the Channel Arbitrary team for their show called Me & My Guitar. The fourth artist to be featured on the show is here with a beautiful mashup of “Mohani Lagla Hai’ and ‘Chitko Gunyo’. The performance video shot at Durbar Lounge, Durbarmarg is directed by Anup Sapkota and Nattu Shah.

We loved the performance and it’s good to see Swoopna rocking again. We look forward to more of such beautiful performances from him. Listen to the mashup and comment what you think of it.

The post Swoopna Suman’s ‘Mohani Lagla/Chitko Gunyo’ Mashup Is All You Need To Listen To Right Now! appeared first on NeoStuffs.

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Why You Should Negotiate Your Entry-Level Salary

If you’re a recent graduate, and you’re interviewing for that first job out of college, you’d probably be pretty happy just to get an offer – bonus points if it’s for a job in your field. Salary negotiation might be the last thing on your mind at this stage. But here’s why it shouldn’t be:

  • Workers who don’t negotiate their salary at the offer stage potentially lose out $1 million in earnings over the course of their career.
  • That loss of cash is cumulative, not incremental, because most employers calculate raises as a percentage of workers’ salary. So if you’re paid $35,000 a year, and get a 3% raise at your annual review, your new salary will be $36,050. But if you negotiated for $38,000, and got the same raise, you’d be making $39,140.
  • In addition, many hiring managers ask for a salary history when considering candidates for a position. Take $5,000 less than you could have scored for this job, and you’ll be starting your next salary negotiation $5,000 behind.
  • Far from being put off by candidates who negotiate, most hiring managers expect it. Eighty-four percent of employers surveyed by NerdWallet said that attempting to negotiate would not jeopardize a job offer, and about three-quarters said that they had room in their budgets to increase their offer by at least 5%.

So, Why Don’t People Negotiate?

In short: fear. PayScale’s survey for its Salary Negotiation Guide showed that more than half of respondents — 57% — had never asked for a raise in their current field. Of the respondents who had never negotiated, 28% said they were uncomfortable negotiating salary, 19% said they didn’t want to be perceived as pushy, and 8% said they were afraid of losing their job.

Workers don’t ask for more money, in other words, because they’re afraid of the consequences of negotiating, despite the fact that most managers expect it, especially at the offer stage. But three out of four respondents to the PayScale survey who asked for money got some kind of raise, and 44% received the whole amount they’d requested. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.

Reasonable Employers Expect Negotiation – But What About Unreasonable Ones?

Whenever I talk with friends and colleagues about salary negotiation, someone brings up a story about a candidate who negotiated for a higher salary, and lost their offer. These stories, while not necessarily tall tales, have become the urban legends of salary negotiation. We don’t need escaped convicts or murderers who are already inside the house in the career world; a few anecdotes about people who asked for $50 more per paycheck and got shown the door are enough to frighten off most raise-seekers.

Of course, the reason these stories stick is that they do happen. If you’re nervous about negotiating salary, you probably looked at those survey stats earlier and thought, “If 84% of employers said they wouldn’t pull an offer because a candidate negotiated, that means that 16% of employers might.”

I’d never tell you that negotiating salary is totally without risk. But the question is, what’s the bigger gamble at this point in your career: asking for a bit more, and finding out that the hiring manager is less professional than you are, or keeping silent and losing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your career?

If negotiating a reasonable bump results in losing a job offer, you have to ask yourself if you’d really be happy working for that organization. Alison Green of Ask a Manager puts it well, in her response to a reader who lost a job offer after attempting to negotiate a $3,000 increase.

“Well, the first thing to know is that this guy is completely out of line,” she writes. “Assuming that you were professional and polite when you tried to negotiate, no reasonable employer would yank an offer just because you asked for a few thousand dollars more.”

How to Get the Salary You Deserve (Without Making Anyone Mad)

Regardless of whether you’re dealing with reasonable employers and hiring managers, you want to put your best foot forward when negotiating salary. That way, in the rare event that you run into someone who thinks negotiating shouldn’t be part of the process, you’ll know you were professional and appropriate.

  • Know your worth. The first step is to come into the process with reasonable expectations and data to back them up. That means having a salary range in mind, even if you’re hoping not to say the first number. Don’t go by what your friends say they earn, or what your expenses require. The goal is to find out what your skills, education, and experience will command on the market. PayScale’s Salary Survey is a good place to start gathering information.
  • Write a script. Knowing what you want to say and how you want to say it will help you keep the conversation on an even keel. The best salary negotiation scripts offer enthusiasm, as well as a sense of what the job market will bear. You want to show the hiring manager that you’ll be committed to the role.
  • Be polite. Negotiate for what you deserve, but don’t come in with a sense of entitlement. Hiring managers have their horror stories, too, and they feature candidates who demand an extra $10,000 because their dad said they were worth it or who declare that the offer is “totally off-base” and demand to speak to someone higher up the chain.

If you come in with accurate data about an appropriate salary, and politely express your request while being enthusiastic about the role, no employer should object – and most will probably give you more than the initial offer.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

“I Make Myself Rich By Making My Wants Few”

The title of this article is a quote from Henry David Thoreau, one that came rushing into my mind yesterday as I looked at Amazon’s sales during “Prime Day.”

For those of you unaware, yesterday Amazon had a giant sale that they called “Prime Day.” The sale was available to customers who used their Amazon Prime two day shipping service (which comes with some other benefits as well).

There were literally tens of thousands of items on sale and I spent some time in the morning browsing through all of those sales. I had a bit of store credit and I was looking for discounted items that matched up well with the things I know my children would be asking for at Christmastime.

There was so much stuff. Page after page after page of toys and electronics and books and on and on and on.

After some careful searching and lots of browsing, I did actually manage to find two items that we were specifically looking for to give as gifts during the holidays (yep, holiday shopping in July), but I didn’t find them until I had literally looked at thousands of items.

But did I buy anything for myself?

I saw many things that I could want and several things that I somewhat wanted on a pretty superficial level. I thought to myself more than once that a particular item would be kind of neat to own, and there was one item in particular (a pressure cooker) that I looked at for quite a long time.

But, in the end, I bought nothing for myself. Instead, I closed my web browser and went on about my day.

I then went to the library, pulled a bunch of personal finance books off of the shelves, sat down at a table, and did some reading and note-taking. After that, I wandered around the library for a while, checking out two travel guides and three other books that seemed interesting from the various displays.

I went for a walk around the downtown area of Ames, Iowa after my library visit. I stopped in to say hello to an old friend that operates a store in that area and also admired a lot of the art that’s all over the place in that area.

I spent about an hour and a half reading two different books, one of which was freshly checked out from the library.

I ate a great family dinner with my children, which included a great conversation about the Apollo missions and why we don’t do things like that any more.

I spent some time with my oldest son, helping him work through a fix for a problem he was having. Afterwards, he sat next to me on the couch for a while as I read a book, as I mentioned above.

I played a board game late in the evening with a few good friends. I actually won using a really different strategy than anyone had used before in the game, leaving us wondering after the game whether or not we would all approach it differently in the future and spurring on a lot of discussion about the game and our future board game sessions together.

I spent about twenty minutes in bed cuddled right next to my wife as we talked about our day together and about all the plans we had for the near future. We laughed a bunch of times about a multitude of things going on in our lives.

Here’s the truth: my life is rich without the things I saw at the Prime Day sale. I have a great family. I have great friends. I have a lot of interests that are sated by the things I already have, like my own book collection combined with the books from the library and my own board game collection combined with the collections of my friends that they bring whenever we play. I have supplies sitting around for several other hobbies that I dabble in at best, with my mind often wishing I had more time for those things, not more stuff. I spend less than I earn by a long shot and am using that extra money to open the door to retiring ten or fifteen years earlier than the average retirement age.

So, ask yourself this: why on earth would I ever sacrifice the stability of this situation in order to buy more stuff that I don’t really want?

Yes, there are a lot of things that I want in a very flimsy way. I always want some tasty food or a “classy” dining experience. There are always books I want to read or board games I want to try out or other items related to hobbies and interests of mine. There are things that will pop into my mind as a sudden desire whenever I walk around shops or browse a “Prime Day” sale.

But those wants are really, really flimsy when I look closely at them. Most of them are forgotten once that initial moment of desire is over with.

A few wants stick around, sure, and I don’t have any problem fulfilling them. I don’t feel guilty about buying a copy of a board game that I’ve played, considered for a long time, and spent my money on knowing that I’ll play it a bunch of time with my friends or enjoying in some other fashion (I actually kind of enjoy late night solo play of complex wargames or simulation games). I don’t feel guilty about buying a book that I’ll continually refer to, like a really great cookbook.

But those wants are truly few and far between. Most of the rest of the things that I want are just transient things, things I’ll forget about in a day or two.

If I consistently spend my money on those things, I’ll lose other things that are much more important to me.

I’ll lose my track toward retiring when I’m 50 or 52 or so. Right now, that looks like a very strong possibility for both Sarah and myself. Our plan upon retiring is to spend several months visiting pretty much every single national park in the lower 48 states on a giant road trip.

I’ll lose the ability to consider opportunities for my children almost purely on the basis of whether it is a net benefit for their life, which is something we have the freedom to do right now. We’re selective about things, but our children get to participate in a lot of enriching things.

I’ll start stressing out about money again. For years, I really haven’t worried about money at all, and our natural behavior (and our automatic savings plans) have meant that we keep spending less than we earn by a healthy measure. The more momentary wants that I give into, the more money stress will start creeping back into my life.

I’ll slowly become less and less happy with what I already have, as my focus turns more and more toward acquiring new things. Rather than wandering around my house and feeling as though the things I have are full of possibilities, I’ll feel like all of the possibilities are outside of my possession and that I need to throw money at them to chase them. Those little wants will grow up like weeds in my mind, overshadowing the things that I already have.

That’s a very stiff price to pay for getting into a habit of fulfilling little fleeting desires. So, I just don’t bother with those desires. I let them float out there and, eventually, almost all of them just fade away, leaving me with a life that I truly love.

So, yes, I saw some things that I wanted during that Prime Day sale. The honest truth, though? While I can remember wanting some things, the only specific thing I can actually remember wanting was that pressure cooker. Maybe that want will stick around for a while longer, or maybe I’ll forget about that one in a day or two – who knows.

The rest of them? They’ve vanished.

Knowing that now, wouldn’t it have been utterly foolish for me to spend my money on those things? I can’t even remember them, just a day later. In a few days, after the future holiday gifts for my children arrive and are hidden away in our gift hiding spot, I’ll barely remember the sale itself.

Life delivers many, many opportunities to experience these kinds of little transient desires, desires that just fade away within an hour or a day. Once upon a time, I used to strive to fulfill those wants all the time. I’d stroll through the store with a Starbucks cup in my hand. I’d fill my cart with all kinds of impulse buys. I’d buy a bottle of Gatorade every day at the convenience store down the street.

Today, I don’t do any of that, and my life isn’t any worse for the loss. On the other hand, it’s better because I didn’t spend that money; now I spend far less than I earn and have the freedom not only to save for a very bright future, but also the freedom to spend money when I need to on the fairly rare real wants and the things that actually matter to me.

“I make myself rich by making my wants few.”

Thoreau really nailed it.

The post “I Make Myself Rich By Making My Wants Few” appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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