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diamond-2565550_640Guys never seem to know how much they have to pay for a high quality engagement ring without having to break the bank or take a second mortgage on their house! Everyone tells them they need to spend so much money because their significant other will be unhappy if they buy them a cheap ring. While your better half certainly does deserve a great ring for their engagement, it doesn’t mean you have to put yourself in financial distress just to buy it.

As a matter of fact, there are a couple of ways you can look at budgeting for an engagement ring and you can pick the one that best fits your particular need. We’ll share some ways to successfully budget for an engagement ring below, so look them over thoroughly, figure out which one makes the most sense to you, and use that to make your final decision.

Do I Have To Spend a Specific Amount on an Engagement Ring?

Some people will tell you that you have to spend a certain amount on an engagement ring. It’s “common knowledge” that every guy should save three months’ worth of his salary and use that to buy the engagement ring. Guess what? Some guys could potentially end up homeless if they spend this much money on a ring, so this is not going to fit their personal situation.

Here’s another way to look at buying an engagement ring…

Think about going to a jeweler or going to an online engagement ring website. When you look at rings that cost $10,000, how do you feel? Are you ready to jump off a bridge because it’s too much money? If so, spending $10,000 on a ring isn’t going to be right for you.

When you look at rings that cost $5000, how do you feel? Does this feel like a good number to you? Or does it feel like you’re being too cheap? Judge how you feel and base your decision on your gut instinct.

Ultimately, you should look at various engagement rings at different prices and judge your personal feelings toward them. If a particular ring at a certain amount really sticks out to you and makes you feel good, then that’s the ring and the price you should pay. Do not pay any more or less.  There are several guides to help you budget for this cost, so make sure to look around the web.

Do You Know How Much Your Better Half Expects You to Spend?

Maybe you’ve already talked to your better half about buying an engagement ring and maybe she’s told you how much she expects you to spend. If it seems like she’s asking for too little, you could always spend more and don’t tell her you paid extra.

On the other hand, if it seems like she’s asking you to spend too much, you could always look for discounts on engagement rings or try to find a payment plan so you can easily afford it without going broke in the short term.

Conclusion

Take the time to use these guidelines when choosing the right budget for your engagement ring purchase.

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Amazon has opened up a tremendous opportunity for independent authors to get their books published and delivered to every corner of the globe! You can create a book of any size and set your price, regardless of your experience in the field of writing. Amazon’s KDP program helps you throughout the process of writing, editing and publishing your book to getting the paychecks from the eBook sales. And this whole set up doesn’t cost a dime! Authors no more need to send their creations to an extensive list of publishing houses hoping their book would be selected for publishing and this takes out a crucial roadblock from the path of aspiring authors. Now more people are starting to get their work published, and sales are rapidly increasing. Seems to be proven as a golden opportunity for creative people from all age groups and cultural backgrounds.

How Kindle Publishing Works

The first phase is the creation of the content material for the eBook. Takes the majority of time in the whole process; however, there is a possibility of saving some good amount of time if you are aware of the secrets of pro authors in the digital publishing space. The next phase is getting your eBooks formatted and uploaded to Amazon as per the given instructions. After that, Amazon will handle all the technical issues, legalities and formalities for getting your book published and giving you the “author” status. Finally, it’s waiting for sales to increase and cashing the checks. It’s that straightforward!

Amazon Needs Creative Writers

Amazon needs new, creative talent to create a lot of content via its marketplace. This way, Amazon gets 30% commission on every sale and promotes your eBook to anyone searching for related keywords. That’s the reason why they’re serving a huge crowd of indie and experienced authors alike for publishing all their content through Amazon. They have invested millions of dollars in establishing the systems for editing the titles, generating ISBN, setting up direct access to Kindle and other processes that aren’t even visible.

Amazon Offers Different Revenue Options for Aspiring Authors

The Kindle publishing author gets 70% revenue from the sales, while Amazon keeps the remaining 30%. The primary payout plan by Amazon; however, that is not the only one. Independent authors and publishers can opt for “KDP Select” and get paid a share from the fund worth billions of dollars dedicated to this group of people. The revenue generated depends on how many times your book was borrowed or purchased during a specified period. Not just that, you’ll get access to a host of promotion tools from Amazon, and they’ll be campaigning to promote your eBook to the top charts!

A huge breakthrough for people who want to get paid for their creativity, without any commitment. Amazon has removed all the hard-work involved in the process and wants you to publish your work and earn income. It’s all about gaining in-depth knowledge about the whole Kindle publishing scenario; following a work-plan and watching it grow!

by The Lazy Plumber

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allstate drivewise reviewAllstate Insurance has unleashed an insurance program app that determines your monthly payments based on your driving skills. Most insurance programs evaluate a series of demographic factors like age, income, marital status, gender, income, and education level to calculate your premiums. Of course, your driving skills cannot be accurately judged based on criteria such as a master’s degree or whether or not you’re divorced. These are arbitrary circumstances that end up forcing a driver to pay a high premium even if they’ve never so much as received a ticket. That’s why Allstate’s Drivewise and other insurance companies are rolling out performance-based insurance plans, so that that people can pay rates that are equivalent to their driving skills rather than their socio-economic background. However, there’s nothing simplistic about Allstate’s program. It requires diligent attention-to-detail, leaves no room for error, and is best used on an unlimited data plan. Still curious? Here’s how Drivewise works:

Drivers use Drivewise’s GPS monitor gadget or keep the Allstate app open on their phone while they’re on the road, so it can learn your driving habits, breaking patterns, average speeds, and typical driving times. It will aggregate all of this data to determine your premium. According to Allstate, you can save up to 30 percent on a typical payment. However, many users say this discount is mostly a myth, as drivers are required to only be on the road during “low risk hours” in order to qualify.

Here’s Allstate’s risk-level time frame:

Moderate risk: 11am to 10pm

High risk: 10pm to 4am

Low risk: 4am to 11am

Driving during ‘moderate’ or ‘high’ risk times will lower the discount. Same with moments of abrupt high speeds and acceleration when you drive over 80 mph or you accelerate faster than eight mph-per second; low battery levels; accelerometer events, which happens when your car pushes past the “At” trigger; and breaking events, which Allstate defines as “slowing down between 8 mph and 10 mph over a 1 second interval.” Of course, no one can stop those moments when you have to slam on the breaks to save a raccoon that just dashed across the highway. Unfortunately, there’s no exception for those.

One user blogged about his experience with Drivewise, and was only able to achieve a seven percent discount after being graded a “B-“ for mileage, “A” for breaking, “C” for time of day, and “A+” for speed.

With the app, Allstate pledges to not raise your pre-existing premium. The incentive to sign up are the performance-based discounts. The app will send text warnings if it senses unsafe driving, and will remember exactly where you parked and sends meter alerts. Drivers can also complete “challenges” to earn Allstate Reward Points and cash back through other services.  Those with a strict cellular data plan should be wary, as the app claims to use around 9KB each trip. The app requires the phone’s battery life to be at least 25 percent, and you will probably want to buy a charger.

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live off interest of a million dollarsAre you looking for some extra cash? Do you want a money-making gig that you could fit into your day?

You can still apply at fast food restaurants. But these days, the array of options for how to make money is bigger than your local restaurant menu.

For some of these jobs, you need equipment such as a car or a computer. For others, you just need a cheerful personality — and sometimes not even that. Here’s a sampling of ways to earn some money.

Side jobs at home

Customer service representative

These days, a lot of customer service jobs are work-from-home jobs. Some companies require you to work for a minimum number of hours per week. Hours might be business hours or weekend or night hours. You could be making calls, responding to calls, or replying to emails on behalf of the company you represent.

You’ll need a quiet place to work, high-speed Internet access, a computer, and a landline.

Laundry care provider

You pick up your clients’ laundry, wash and dry it, and return it to your clients’ homes folded and ready to wear. You don’t need to look for clients or handle payments if you work for a company such as LaundryCare.

In addition to having a washer and dryer, you’ll need a vehicle, Internet access, a smartphone, and daytime availability.

Transcriptionist

A lot of the work for transcriptionists is in the medical and legal fields. You listen to a recorded dictation, transcribe it, and identify any errors or inconsistencies. Required skills include good grammar and spelling, good listening, and fast typing.

Even if you have no experience, some transcription companies may hire you if you pass their skills test.

Virtual assistant

You might be doing scheduling, transcription, data entry, research, or a variety of other tasks. Individuals and companies hire virtual assistants to take on some of the workload while working from home.

At a minimum, you’ll need a computer, a high-speed Internet connection, a phone line, and good computer and organizational skills.

Website tester

Website owners want to know what their target audience thinks of their site. Is it user-friendly? Does it appeal to their tastes? One way for them to find out is to hire a website testing company.

Website testing companies hire computer-savvy people to go to their clients’ websites, perform tests, and provide feedback on topics from ease of use to personal impressions. Tests can take from five minutes to 30 minutes to complete.

Side jobs away from home

Dog walker and pet sitter

To get started, create a profile at websites such as Rover.com and WagWalking.com, Clients can hire you to walk their dogs or take care of their pets while they’re away. You’ll go through a vetting process, and once you get some good reviews, you’ll get more clients.

If pet service provider companies aren’t hiring in your area, or if you prefer to work independently, you can set up your own dog walking or pet sitter services.

Mystery / secret shopper

Secret shoppers, or mystery shoppers, get assignments to go to places of business. For example, you might go to car repair shops, computer stores, and restaurants. You’ll perform a specified task and obtain proof that you were there, such as a receipt. You’ll then fill out a detailed report about the customer service, cleanliness of the establishment, and other details.

SecretShopper.com and BestMark.com are two of many companies that hire secret shoppers. Avoid companies that ask you to pay to join them — they’re most likely scams. Legitimate mystery shopper companies don’t charge a fee to become a shopper with them.

OnSource field inspector

For this job, you drive to where a specified vehicle is located, take photos, and send the photos to OnSource. They use the photos for insurance, sales, and other purposes. You get paid $18 plus $0.65 for each mile after 20 miles that you have to drive to get to the vehicle.

You’ll need to pass a background check (you pay the $6 for it) before OnSource will hire you. For each job, you tell OnSource when you’re available, and they schedule the appointment.

Part-time jobs

Part-time jobs with employers are still out there, and they aren’t all entry-level jobs. You might be surprised at the opportunities in your field or areas of interest.

For example, for people in New York, recent part-time job listings include pastry chef, bus driver, receptionist, and various sales positions.

It might be a good idea to look at the more local and niche job boards, or even Craigslist, as many of these companies won’t be shelling out big money for part-time positions. You’ve got to dig deep to find good ones.

Photographer for stock photos

Just about every website these days has stock photos. Blog posts and social media posts in particular typically have stock photos of something relevant to the post topic. Online publishers get most of these photos from stock photo sites.

If you have good photography skills, you could sell photos to stock photo sites. Photos of people at work and of various objects are two popular categories.

Uber driver

Do you have a 2001 or newer four-door vehicle? Are you 21 or older? Do you like to drive? If so, you might be interested in becoming an Uber driver. You’ll be a taxi driver of sorts, but you’ll be driving your own vehicle, and you’ll set your own hours.

Uber connects patrons and drivers via an app, and they handle payments. The downside is that you’re responsible for all your vehicle expenses, from gas to normal wear and tear.

Choose an option from the above list and get started. There’s plenty of work available for you.

Susan Ranford is an expert on job market trends, hiring, and business management. She is the Community Outreach Coordinator for New York Jobs. In her blogging and writing, she seeks to shed light on issues related to employment, business, and finance to help others understand different industries and find the right job fit for them.

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allyinvest review

Ally Invest has come on the scene as the latest hot bargain trading platform. Formally known as TradeKing, Ally Financial Inc. purchased the brokerage firm in June 2016. Ally Invest acts as the low-cost brokerage branch of Ally Bank, one of the world’s largest online banks. Ally Invest has become popular with investment nerds, counting more than 250,000 customers and a whopping $4.7 billion in assets. So, is Ally Invest’s success all talk? Let’s take a hard look.

Ally Invest doesn’t have a minimum deposit requirement, and stock trades go for $4.95 a pop. The platform offers a versatile set of trading options — from ETFs, fixed-income securities, corporate agency and municipal bonds, Treasuries, strips and zeroes, CDs, and stocks. Its Forex & Futures platform allows advanced investors to take advantage of over 50 currency pairs, including gold and silver, all the while conducting careful research on through the feature’s resource and analytics tools.

Designed for investors of all skill levels, Ally Invest also comes equipped with a robo-investor, which manages your portfolio using algorithms to trade stocks using the same practices and theories as a seasoned broker. However, for those who are set on polishing their investment skills, Ally Invest’s trading tools can help you fine-tune your trading strategies. The Streaming Charts feature allows you to analyze the performance of securities through six fully-customizable charts, each with over 90 chart studies and drawing tools. The Probability Calculator helps you assess potential volatility before you place trades. Market Data breaks down your performance stats to the smallest detail, through quotes, prices, dividend dates, news, charts, and summaries.

Ally Invest’s rates are comparable to other investment giants like Fidelity and Charles Schwab, and for hot shots with 30 or more trades, the rate for trades drops to $3.95 each, with an additional $.50 for per contract option trades.

Managed Portfolios are another core facet of Ally Invest’s methodology. Available for individuals, joint accounts, Roth, and roll-over IRAs, the portfolio is curated to meet your long-term investing objectives and goals. Intentionally created to give investors peace of mind, the auto balancing feature maintains the target portfolio allocation. An initial deposit of $2,500 is required to open a Managed Portfolio, and the annual fee is .30 percent, which means it will only cost $300 to manage a $100,00 portfolio. This is a significantly low rate compared to the 1.02 percent industry average. However, it’s not the cheapest on the market. Schwab Intelligent Portfolios charge no fee, although they require a minimum deposit of $5,000. Ally Invest’s less-than-desirable rate structure is counterbalanced with its option to move funds into the self-managed accounts.

Opening up an Ally Invest account is an easy way to glide into Ally Bank, which boasts one of the highest interest rates on savings accounts in the country. They also reimburse customers for ATM fees for up to $10 a month.

AllyInvest isn’t ideal for people who need to make instantaneous fund transfers. Moving funds through ACH can take up to five days and 10 days for check. Ally Invest is a completely virtual operation, and all customer service interactions take place over the phone or online.

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Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 10.40.43 PMWith credit and debit cards dominating the way we do financial transactions, we rarely consider what it would be actually like to carry around loose change. Acorns, a spare-change investment app, is trying to bring back the archaic practice of hoarding those left-over pennies by turning them into a basic investment strategy. The app rounds up your daily purchases to the nearest dollar and takes that extra change and pours it into an algorithm-managed investment portfolio.

Acorns isn’t ideal for aspiring high-rollers, it’s just a way to bring in some extra cash. Acorns has a utilitarian approach to pricing. Subscribers pay $1 a month until their balance reaches $5,000, after that, they only pay 0.25% of their balance a year, so $125, which is considerably more than the initial fee. College students are allowed to use the service for free for four years.

Connected to your credit and debit cards, Acorns collects small amounts of change on everything you buy, so that you don’t have to worry about squirreling away too much money or overdraft fees. Acorns tries to automate the savings process as much as possible, and lets you build a nest egg without having to keep tabs on your stocks. However, the app gives you the option to manually transfer specific purchases or just sweep away every last bit of change automatically. You can also deposit separate funds or schedule reoccurring withdrawals from your savings or checking accounts for as little as $5 a pop.

Even in momentary lapses when your investments plateau, Acorns has other incentives to keep you an active subscriber. The app has partnered with big name start-ups and brands to earn you extra dough on your regular purchases. With Airbnb, up to 1.8 percent of the booking subtotal will be deposited into your Acorns account, and if you’re a host who rents out their home for at least $75 a night, the app will throw $50 into your account after your first night of hosting. When you sign up for a Blue Apron account, Acorns will deposit $30 into your account. Buying a Casper bed gives you an additional $50 investment, and JackThreads will invest 10 percent of each item of clothing you buy back into your Acorns account. Jet.com, Warby Parker, Hulu, Hotel Tonight, Dollar Shave Club, and Boxed have similar rewards programs.

Acorns is geared towards younger investors who are just navigating the market for the first time, and don’t want to make any risky investment decisions. By the same token, Acorns isn’t suitable for people who are trying to build a retirement account, as all investments are taxed. IRA and 401(k) accounts grow without the burden of taxes, and are more beneficial for those who are winding down their careers. That’s why it’s important for Acorn investors to take into consideration the potential tax impact the app could have on their finances come April 15. Unlike other artificial intelligence-portfolio managers, Acorns doesn’t help with tax-loss assistance, which help balance the gains and the losses.

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two auto loans at onceQ: I found the car of my dreams. It has great gas mileage, four-wheel drive, seat heaters, and a DVD video system. As luck would have it, this perfect vehicle is out of my price range, and I’m trying to strategize ways to finance it. About a decade ago, I had to default on my student loans and now my credit is in the tank. So, I’m concerned about getting approved for a loan. Is it possible to get two car loans to afford my new set of wheels?

A: The short answer is yes: you can get two car loans. However, your particular situation might make it a little tricky, if not completely impossible. When you apply for a car loan, the bank will do a “hard inquiry” on your credit report to analyze your credit history and score in order to figure out if you’re a feasible candidate for a loan. If they find out that your credit is shot, then the chances of getting approved for just one lone are very slim.

That being said, if you’re in good standing credit-wise, then getting a loan is easy, and usually just takes a day, and taking out two auto loans at the same time is totally doable. Auto loans come with interest that you’ll have to pay until the loan is finished, so keep in mind you will be paying double interest if you take out two loans. Try to look for the financial institutions that issue out the lowest interest rates. Interest.com lets you compare interest rates from national and local to help you find the cheapest ones. Once you get some leads, go to their websites and fill out the quote form, which will tell you know how much your total monthly payments would be along with specifics regarding the loan agreement. It’s important to pay finite attention to detail when evaluating loan options, so you can find the best offer with the least number of strings attached.

In your case, reader, your credit remains a crucial component in the loan-approval process. You might not qualify for low-interest loans, but financiers will most certainly try to entice you with high-interest ones. In those cases, the initial interest might fluctuate, and down the road you could be paying much more than you anticipated. That’s why it’s always important to read the agreement fully.

We understand your woes, reader. Cars often look a lot sexier on the lot than do on the highway. Car salespeople will jazz up their pitch to make the car sound faster, sleeker, and safer than it is in practical application. Do you research before you spring for a major purchase like a vehicle, and try searching for a car that will meet your daily needs. Many used cars are adequate and work just as well as new ones, and are a whole lot cheaper. Don’t just shop at the dealership, check out Craiglist and eBay for your new car.

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If you’re trying to save money or stick to a budget, then the thought of buying a car can feel daunting to say the least. But a lot of us need a car, whether it is to get to work, school or to do errands and get to appointments. Not every city or town has public transportation that is convenient and easy to navigate. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to crunch the numbers and get the most value when buying a car.

Tip #1: Start by doing your homework. If you visit Cars.com, in the convenience of your own home with a cold iced tea and your feet up you can easily browse through to see what cars meet your needs. Take a look at what cars are not only within your budget but also might even be a bit outside of your budget. Don’t forget to visit their Video & Reviews section, so you can get a full view of the cars and understand what it is like to own the car. Once you have a list of cars it’s time to move on to the next step.

Tip #2: Sit down with your budget and understand what you could afford to pay for a car. Buying a car is a personal decision, so everyone is going to think something different. Some prefer to always lease a car. Others like to own a car. Some car buyers will take a look at pre-certified used cars. Others only want a new car. Decide what types of cars you prefer the most as we’ve mentioned and then see how your budget is going to work with them.

Tip #3: Plenty of people who need to buy a car realize that they need to have additional income coming in because this is an added expense over your typical month-to-month budget. Take a look around to see what type of work you could add to your schedule that you would like to do. If you are a teacher, then being a private tutor could be a great way to earn money. If you are a great DIY person, then putting together items people have bought, such as furniture is something that is convenient and also would be in great demand.

Tip #4: Think long term when you buy a car. It can be very tempting to jump at the first car you see that is in your price range, especially if you are on a tight budget. But remember that if you are buying a used car, you want to have a mechanic approve of the car before you hand anyone a check. Realize that when you buy a car, you want this to be a car that you will be driving five to ten years from now.

Tip #5: Make the most of the time you are looking for a car. While you could find something quickly, focus on your needs and be sure the car you purchase meets them!

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