Other


ModestMoney.com Top Finance Blogs

Archives

Four Ways to Be Productive Throughout the DayMany people wake up in the morning a little tired. The day hasn’t even started yet. It can be tough getting everyone out of the house and ready for the day sometimes. Then you may have to wait in traffic because of your work commute. By the time you get to work, you may be thrown off. This doesn’t have to be you, though. There are ways for you to incorporate some more productivity into your day. In this post, I want to go over four of them.

Pre-plan some things

I’m a planner by nature. I have a planner that I update every week. With a little pre-planning, your day will get much better. It’s good to plan your day the night before. You can take 5-10 minutes and go over things that you want to accomplish.

You can also take ten minutes to make your lunch for the next day. Instead of dumping out the leftovers, you can eat them for lunch. By making your lunch the night before, you will have more time to do other things in the morning.

You should also look at the weather at night. It will give you an idea of how the next day will go. For example, if it’s supposed to rain, you will be ready for it, instead of being caught off guard the next morning.

Take a break

Taking a break at your job is critical. Working non-stop every day is the quickest way to get burned out. We’ve all been there before. Going outside for a breath of fresh air can do wonders. It breaks the cycle of sitting at a computer all day. You will come back feeling refreshed, and you will be ready to finish the day. Depending on your work schedule, you may need to take two breaks. That should be fine. The break will get you re-energized.

Eat well & sleep well

Eating right and getting a good night’s rest is the next thing on the list. A lot of people struggle with both of those. There was a time where I was an insomniac. I was up until 3 AM almost every night. Thankfully, times have changed. I go to sleep between 12 – 12:30 AM on most nights.

Eating healthy meals, practicing some relaxation ritual, and getting a good night’s sleep are all things that can help you to become more productive. It might not be easy when you are initially trying to change your habits, but if you keep at it, your habits will change. You will become more productive throughout the day. When you are well rested, you have more energy, and your memory is better. That will make your work easier for you.

Technology

The last tip on helping you to become more productive is to rely on technology. Some people may not be the biggest fans of technology, but they need to relax. Technology isn’t going anywhere. It’s only going to get more advanced. You might as well embrace it. There are apps for a lot of different things these days. You can use your phone or tablet to file important documents, take notes and add meetings to your calendar.

Blue Apron Review

My excitement at opening the Blue Apron delivery box was only matched by my disappointment at the passionless bland flavor of the meal.  In case you haven’t heard of it, Blue Apron, Inc. is an e-commerce food delivery business. Pretty much the business model is it delivers recipes and ingredients to make meals at home. You order the meals via their website and ingredients come a few days later. I recently had a chance to try it for the first time. Today’s post will be my Blue Apron review.

The Basics

In my case, the Blue Apron package was delivered by Fed Ex. The package had three different meals in it. One of the first things that impressed me was how organized the packaging was. All the ingredients were correctly labeled. There were meat, vegetables and different seasonings for each recipe. To make sure that the food doesn’t expire or go bad during delivery, two ice packs are included in the package.

The Meals & Instructions

The package came with three different meals. They were Moroccan chicken with prunes and brown rice, chipotle-glazed meatloaf with crispy potatoes and spicy shrimp coconut curry with green cabbage and rice. All three of those recipes were new to me. Blue Apron has inserts for each dinner. The insert has the meal name, a small breakdown going over the meal and step by step instructions.  Even if you don’t consider yourself a cook, you should be able to follow these instructions verbatim. The instructions even have pictures of each step when you’re cooking.

Prep & Cooking Time

Each meal has about 10-15 minutes of prep time. If you’re not familiar with cooking these foods, you are going to need it. The cooking time for each meal is between 25-45 minutes. That’s nearly standard cooking time for me. So the total prep and cooking time is substantially longer than the advertised time.

Spicy Shrimp Coconut Curry

For my Blue Apron Review, I selected the spicy shrimp coconut curry. With the instructions, it was relatively easy to make. The meal said that it would make enough for two servings. That was all right with me. I opened the package and organized the ingredients and started cooking. With the instructions, I was able to cook the meal without any problems. Below are a few pictures of the items and the finished product.

IMG_20170313_200747297

IMG_20170313_205858678

IMG_20170313_205644771

To me, the meal was just okay. It was kind of bland. I usually like a little more flavor.

Thoughts On Pricing and Value

As part of my Blue Apron review, I did some research on pricing. For three meals each week, the price is $59.94. The prices for the family plan are even higher – $69.92 for 2 meals per week.  I’m sure that if I go to the store on my own, that I’ll be able to purchase more than three meals worth of food. I’m the king of finding deals at my local grocery store.  Also, Blue Apron also doesn’t have any meal choices beyond fish, meat, and vegetarian.   So Blue Apron doesn’t accommodate vegans at the moment.  Delivery dates are flexible, you can skip deliveries if you don’t want the food that week. Here is a screenshot of the pricing.
Blue Apron review pricing

My Blue Apron Review Conclusion – Only Worth It If You Are Busy

If you are super busy or need help coming up with new meal ideas, then Blue Apron may be worth it. For my lifestyle, it’s not worth it at all. I can get more bang for my buck when I shop on my own. That said, some people have run the numbers and found that Blue Apron can actually be LESS expensive than buying from a supermarket (clicky), especially when you factor in the fact that supermarkets don’t always sell in single portion sizes.  Blue Apron may therefore be a good solution if you travel a lot or otherwise aren’t interested in buying stuff that’s just going to sit in the back of your refrigerator.

Blue Apron is offering $30 dollars off first orders – click on the ad the left or use this link.   You can always cancel after your first order if you don’t like the price or you aren’t happy with the meals.

If you liked this article, please share it on social media or leave us a comment!

Paribus ReviewMoney is the basic necessity of life. Most of life isn’t possible if you don’t have money. It is a well-known fact that people spend a lot of money on online stores and they don’t even know if they are eligible for some return or refund. Paribus is one of a kind platform that is helping people save a lot of money from their online purchases in a unique way.

How Paribus is Different

Paribus is different from other savings apps because they use a model based on getting refunds from pricing changes. Paribus makes sure that you get a refund when prices charged by online retailers change. If you have made the purchases in the past 90 days from an online store and the price of that very product has changed in the meantime, you are subject to a return of the difference in the price. It happens in real time, and Paribus uses bots to monitor the price changes regularly. Once an eligible claim is detected, Paribus engages with the retailer on your behalf and files a claim requesting a refund. This is a unique model that hasn’t been implemented before.

What Paribus Charges

In doing this Paribus review, one thing I liked was the pricing structure. When a claim is detected, and Paribus is successful in getting you a return, the amount is deposited directly to your credit card you used to make the purchase. Once it is done, Paribus keeps 25% of that amount. You can, however, lower your rate by referring your friends and even earn some cash.

Paribus covers different popular online stores. More stores are being added to the database to help more people get a return on their purchases. Some of the major retailers that Paribus currently supports are Amazon, Costco, Sears, Home Depot, Best Buy, Staples, and Target. The full list from Paribus’ webpage is below.
Paribus merchants

Why Choose Paribus

There are tons of reasons why you should trust Paribus to make your claims. One of the major reasons is the signup process which is free. There is no signup fee that you need to pay them upfront. You can claim your amounts from different stores you spend money on. The amount you can save depends on the amount you have spent. Purchases with higher prices are likely to get you higher refunds. So, the only major outlay is your time.

Paribus does request your credit card information and read access to your email. A lot of people don’t like this. However, there haven’t been any instances that I could find of anyone who felt their identity was stolen because of Paribus. That said, providing credit card information is standard in most on-line transactions. Also, if you are using a commercial email package like gmail you already consent to have your email read by their advertising bots, so you aren’t giving up much that you haven’t already. Plus, you get your money back without having to work for it – the savings are totally effortless and since the app is owned by CapitalOne, they use industrial grade encryption.

How to Use Paribus

Using Paribus is very simple. All you have to do is to download the Paribus app on your iPhone with iOS 7 or newer, and signup with your email address. You can also use Paribus by visiting the website and signup using your email ID. Then you sit back and collect. It’s pretty simple. Sign up here or navigate to their website using the icon below.

Hopefully, this Paribus review has given you much need information about the app. I’m all for saving money these says.

Have you used Paribus before? What are your thoughts on it?

How to Buy an Oil WellInvesting in oil wells is one opportunity that ought to be on everyone’s radar. Without a doubt, stocks and bonds and more recently opportunities like Forex and binary options are well worth the look. However, so long as balancing risk and reward goes, oil wells are among the finest options available in the market these days, especially if one is keen on diversifying his assets. There are numerous opportunities for growth with oil wells.

Where to purchase an oil well

Oil wells may be purchased from oil producing nations like Nigeria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iraq, Kuwait, and Russia. You can also purchase from other oil-producing countries all over the world. Offers for the sale of oil field are often published every once in a while. Oil well price is fixed based on the millions of barrels in the well. Offers for the sale of oil fields are generally publicized. You could find prices starting from $250,000 to $950 million (USD) all prices are subject to the quantity of oil inside the well. Areas, where you stand likely to get oil fields for sale in USA and Canada, are Ohio, California, Texas, Alberta, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Kansas.

All oil producing countries have their specific procedures for selling discovered oil wells to investors who intend to reap the benefits of the crude oil inside it and sell. This article will talk mostly with regards to the process of buying oil field from Nigeria. Nigeria is similar to several oil producing countries.

Nigeria

In Nigeria, your starting point to buying an oil well must begin from the office of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources whose office is situated at Abuja Nigeria’s capital city. Nigeria has above 1481 discovered oil fields with billions and billions of oil reserves. There are also ones that are yet to be uncovered. Hence there is a huge opportunity for the sale of an oil block in the country.

If you cannot pay a visit to the ministry of petroleum resources to demonstrate your interest to purchase oil field, you can make use of private third-party firms. Third party companies can tell you about producing oil wells in Nigeria for sale once they become available.

Purchasing an Oil Well

The steps involved in purchasing oil wells are very simple, and it is similar to the purchase of crude oil. The initial clause demands the buyer to offer LOI which will undoubtedly be in the name of the seller. As soon as the seller reviews it and considers it feasible, the seller would bring it back with an offer letter. The paperwork of the block also is issued to the buyer for verification purpose. First, the buyer confirms the documents and is comfortable with the verification process. The subsequent step is to meet face to face with the seller, usually referred to as the allottee. After successful dialogue has occurred between the two parties, then the Sales agreement would be signed by the two principals. Payment would be done, and the transfer of ownership of the oil well would take place.

file8391306993784Financial institutions around the UK have already paid out billions of pounds to people who were mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) and it’s even possible that you’ve been bombarded with calls, texts and even TV advertisements to reclaim your PPI.

PPI was supposedly a good product, sold to customers who took out a loan, mortgage, credit card, car loan or store card that if the customer were unable to make payments since they fell ill and can no longer work, they would still be covered to meet the repayments of the loan they took out.

What was the big deal? The PPI became a scandal because banks were found to have sold this policy to people who are not qualified and in some cases, other sellers did not disclose all the information needed to the person taking out the loan.

It still makes sense to make a claim for a mis-sold PPI. If you feel that you don’t qualify for the claim or you don’t remember any PPI on the financial product you took out, it’s best to think again. Here are several reasons why you file for a PPI claim:

  1. It’s not as difficult as it may seem. This is one of the reasons why people put off filing a claim, especially if they think that they are not qualified for a PPI refund. You may also be put off by the stories you’ve heard of court cases or even reaching the Financial Ombudsman and it sounds stressful and difficult for you. If you’d rather have this taken care of, here’s how you can find a ppi claim company that can assist you in making your claim.
  1. It is still possible you were mis-sold PPI even if you had wanted it. When you took out a loan and you have agreed to also have the PPI included, there is a chance it was still mis-sold to you if it wasn’t explained to you properly. Some examples are:
  • You should have been asked if you had any prior medical condition that could lead you to be unable to work in the future
  • If you were self-employed, unemployed or over the age limit of the clause of the policy
  • The seller told you it was mandatory or you could only get the loan if you also took the PPI
  1. You have PPI and you didn’t realize it. This product wasn’t only sold along with credit cards or loans by banks – it was also sold along with mortgages, secured loans, store cards or with car loans too. If you had borrowed money in the past, it is possible that you were charged with PPI without knowing it. Check your credit report or other paperwork that you have and you could be entitled for a claim.
  1. You can still make a claim even if you had the account closed or it defaulted. When you realized that you were being charged on a product you took out or you had PPI canceled or you have already paid off the loan, it is still possible to reclaim the PPI on it. If the lender doesn’t exist anymore or has gone bankrupt, then you can still make your claim through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

You could be a victim of this scandal. Keep in mind that there are funds allocated in order to repay those that have been mis-sold PPI and you need to be compensated. Don’t have the time to do all these? There are PPI claim companies that can make the process easier for you to succeed in getting what was owed to you.

file8391306993784Mainstream media has been covering a lot about PPI claims recently so you may have heard about this and also about how it was mis-sold to people who aren’t eligible for this type of insurance in the first place.

PPI isn’t at all bad – it was an insurance policy created to assist you cover payments on loans you took out if you’re unable to work in case of unexpected emergencies such as unemployment, accident or sickness. This was intended to give you peace of mind through tough times. The issue that came along with PPIs is the way it was sold to people who were unaware that it wasn’t compulsory or those who aren’t eligible.

Do you feel that you were mis-sold on PPI?

There must be a good reason why you feel you’re mis-sold on this insurance policy. Here are a few reasons for a complaint against PPIs:

* It was added on your loan without your knowledge.

* It was forced for you to get by a salesperson.

* You were told that it was compulsory.

* You informed the salesperson on your pre-existing medical condition but you were not warned that it could affect your insurance.

* You were informed that you could not cancel the PPI policy at all.

* You were informed that you couldn’t cancel the insurance without taking a new type of credit agreement.

Once you have checked that you can make a valid PPI claim, you have to prove that you have been mis-sold. You have to go back and get all the paperwork from old loans and other financial agreements you have made. In cases where it was lost or gone missing, it can get quite difficult to track down and get solid evidence to send.

You can then make your claim and choose from two available options: write your own letter to make your complaint and explain your case or you cause use a PPI claims service for handling the entire process for you for a minimal fee.

Have you applied for a PPI refund and you’re not sure whether the amount you got is a correct compensation, all is not lost. Check the factors that can affect the amount you will get. You have to consider if you owe money to the bank or you can make a claim on the policy. If the bank has made an offer to make the calculations, these should have been explained to you in the letter. If you feel that there is still some information that is incorrect or if you feel that you have unfairly treated, the first thing you should do is call your bank.

You also have the right to contact the free Financial Ombudsman service to ask questions or challenge your bank’s decision if you still feel that the amount in the final offer of the bank is not fair. There isn’t a cost in doing this however keep in mind that due to the volume of PPI complaints – it can take a while and even in some cases, it could take more than a year for a decision to be made.

engineerrenovateHomes aren’t usually one-size-fits-all. Even when you find your dream house, you must complete a few odd jobs to make the space absolutely perfect for you and your family. Plus, renovations typically add value to your home, increasing its price if you decide to sell. Though renovating often feels inconvenient and time-consuming, it is a smart practice for all homeowners looking to increase their equity.

Even better, some homeowners can obtain funding from banks to repair and update their homes. Lenders offer various loan options to help you achieve the home of your dreams, so it is important to understand your selection thoroughly before you knock down any walls.

EZ C

When you are just about ready to buy a home, but you know the house could use a few cosmetic updates to make it fit your dream, you need an EZ Conventional loan (or EZ C, for short). EZ Cs allow you to roll your mortgage and renovation loan into a single account, which makes for a simple repayment process.

By necessity, you must apply for this type of renovation loan before you sign papers acquiring your new home; you should have a list of necessary updates, compiled by you or an appraiser, to inform your lender of renovation-related costs. You and your lender agree on a contractor, and the lender pays the costs directly. The primary limitation on EZ Cs is the type of update: You can make only non-structural, cosmetic changes to the home. Therefore, any changes that require knocking down walls will need a different loan.

FHA 203k

Many young homebuyers dream of transforming a fixer-upper into a personalized paradise. The primary reason the dream is so widespread is the misconception that renovating a house is cheaper than buying a turnkey option – but that isn’t always true. On a dime, a fixer-upper can turn into a money pit, so it is better to use a renovation loan than sink untold amounts of savings into refurbishing an older home.

If you plan on making significant renovations, the FHA 203k loan is the best option for you. There are a few different options to suit your remodeling needs, including:

  • 203k Full: best for older properties that require structural updates; boasts low down payments, low refinancing interest rates, and fewer costs.
  • 203k Streamline: appropriate for homes with cosmetic damage; limits repairs to $35,000, but can be acquired much faster than full loans.

HomeStyle

Providing a comfortable middle between the extremes of most renovation home loans – i.e., minor cosmetic updates and significant remodeling – HomeStyle loans can be used for changes that will add value to your home and alter it to suit your needs and wants. Most HomeStyle borrowers use an appraiser to determine what changes will be most beneficial, and lenders use these suggestions to determine potential costs.

The primary limitation on these renovation loans is that all changes must be attached to the property. Therefore, you cannot use your HomeStyle loan to purchase appliances, like refrigerators, dishwashers, and stoves – unless your renovation makes it so that the appliances cannot be removed when you leave.

HUD REO With Repair Escrow

Though few homebuyers know it, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a listing of homes available for purchase. These properties failed to sell during a foreclosure auction, so they are now available without liens and at prices well below market value – making them extremely attractive. However, many foreclosed homes also require extensive renovation – which is where the HUD REO with Repair Escrow loan comes in.

Dedicated to HUD REO listings that can claim the required number of repairs, these loans are not widely obtainable. Most HUD REO properties meet or exceed HUD’s standards for living spaces, but those that don’t are eligible for repair escrow accounts. If you are considering purchasing one of HUD’s REO options, you should consult with a real estate agent or lawyer to determine your fitness for this loan program.

Jumbo Renovation

A jumbo home loan is one used to acquire large, luxury homes valued over about $417,000. If you want to buy an expensive home, but you also want to complete costly renovations, you also need a jumbo renovation loan. This loan option gives you up to $250,000 to make structural and cosmetic repairs to your home, but you can only obtain it when your home’s value is already immense.

What is Participatory BudgetingGood morning. Have you ever heard of participatory budgeting before? Most people probably haven’t. A couple of days ago, I hadn’t heard of it either. According to Wikipedia participatory budgeting is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making. Ordinary people decide how to allocate part of a municipal or public budget. Participatory budgeting allows citizens to identify, discuss and prioritize public spending products. Participatory budgeting sounds good so far.

How does participatory budgeting work?

PB involves meetings and votes. Each cities PB is adapted to its particular needs, but it generally follows these steps.

Design the process

The first step is to design the process. A committee and a representative of the community create the rules in partnership with the city officials to make sure the process is inclusive and meets the needs of the locals. This process shouldn’t take too long.

Come up with ideas

The next step is to come up with ideas. The city residents will brainstorm ideas. They will have the chance to share them through meetings in person and virtual. They will discuss ideas for the different projects.

Proposals

The third step is to develop proposals. Volunteers usually called budget delegates, develop the ideas into actual proposals. Once the proposals are developed, city experts then take a look at them.

Cast votes

Next, the residents of the communities vote to divide the available between the proposals. It is a direct democratic voice in the city’s future.

Fund the winning projects

After the votes are cast, the winning projects will be financed. Examples of winning projects are safety improvements for the city, Wi-Fi in public parks and improvements on the conditions of roads.

PB was first developed in the 1980’s in Brazil. By 2016, thousands of cities have implemented participatory budgeting. People get excited about it for several different reasons. Below are three of the most common reasons.

Community Building

Because of the regular meetings, people get to their neighbors. They feel more connected to their city. The local organizations spend less time lobbying and more time deciding policies. The budget meetings help to connect community groups and help them bring in more members.

Public education

Participants become more active and informed citizens. That’s good for any community. Community members, officials, and staff learn democracy by doing it. There is no better way to learn something than by doing it. They gain a deeper understanding of complex political issues and community needs.

Deeper Democracy

The people of the community have a real say. They get to make real political decisions. What community wouldn’t like that? Because of that participation budgeting tends to engage many people who typically don’t care about the government. Politicians also have the chance to build close relationships with the community members.

Preparatory budgeting sounds interesting, to say the least. It seems to be working pretty good in some places. I wonder what the effect of it would be if more cities in the US attempt to try it.

Do you think PB would work nationwide?

 

 

SSCP   CAS-002   9L0-066   350-050   642-999   220-801   74-678   642-732   400-051   ICGB   c2010-652   70-413   101-400   220-902   350-080   210-260   70-246   1Z0-144   3002   AWS-SYSOPS   70-347   PEGACPBA71V1   220-901   70-534   LX0-104   070-461   HP0-S42   1Z0-061   000-105   70-486   70-177   N10-006   500-260   640-692   70-980   CISM   VCP550   70-532   200-101   000-080   PR000041   2V0-621   70-411   352-001   70-480   70-461   ICBB   000-089   70-410   350-029   1Z0-060   2V0-620   210-065   70-463   70-483   CRISC   MB6-703   1z0-808   220-802   ITILFND   1Z0-804   LX0-103   MB2-704   210-060   101   200-310   640-911   200-120   EX300   300-209   1Z0-803   350-001   400-201   9L0-012   70-488   JN0-102   640-916   70-270   100-101   MB5-705   JK0-022   350-060   300-320   1z0-434   350-018   400-101   350-030   000-106   ADM-201   300-135   300-208   EX200   PMP   NSE4   1Z0-051   c2010-657   C_TFIN52_66   300-115   70-417   9A0-385   70-243   300-075   70-487   NS0-157   MB2-707   70-533   CAP   OG0-093   M70-101   300-070   102-400   JN0-360   SY0-401   000-017   300-206   CCA-500   70-412   2V0-621D   70-178   810-403   70-462   OG0-091   1V0-601   200-355   000-104   700-501   70-346   CISSP   300-101   1Y0-201   200-125  , 200-125  , 100-105  , 100-105  , 1Z0-803  , 400-051   EX300  , CISM   100-105  , 000-106   400-201   642-732   220-902   70-410  , MB6-703   810-403   70-243  , CAS-002  , AWS-SYSOPS   70-462   70-410   2V0-621   LX0-103   70-461  , 220-902   1Z0-144   70-178   70-270   350-080  , 1Y0-201   1z0-808  , NSE4   102-400  , ADM-201   SSCP  , 200-125  , 640-911   000-104   640-692   300-320   350-060   000-089  , 000-017   1z0-808   700-501   1Z0-051  , 70-177   M70-101   300-209   70-461   3002   N10-006   VCP550   70-487   300-320  , 3002   700-501   NS0-157  , 1V0-601   CAS-002