12 Easy Ways to Add Value to Your Home This Year

When my husband and I bought our home over 2 years ago, I’m been slightly obsessed with adding value to our home. We did a lot of work on the house initially but a lot of it was cosmetic changes I wanted to make to improve the look and feel. After a while, we focused on projects that would actually add value since I know we won’t be in this home forever.

When you buy a house, the value of your area may go up but there are also some specific things you can do to add value to your home yourself. You don’t have to be or hire a contractor to do many of these projects either. So consider starting with a few of these simple projects.

Paint the Walls

Painting is one of the first projects you might find yourself doing when you move in. It’s also a great way to boost your home’s value. We spend around $75 or less to paint a room and DIY it with tools from Home Depot. Experts say that painting the interior of your home can easily increase its value by $2,000.

Plus, depending on which colors you use, painting can make the room seem larger and brighter. Talk to employees in the paint section at the store to get advice and tips on which paint type and color to use. You can also review information online or play around with virtual design tools to predict how the room will look when the job is done.

Replace Your Bathroom Vanity

Homeowners can expect to recoup about 50% to 60% of the costs associated with doing a bathroom remodel. But a bathroom remodel can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 depending on the size of the room, the scope of the project, and materials.

If you don’t have the budget to remodel your entire bathroom, start with a small fix by replacing your bathroom vanity. You can buy one for a few hundred dollars and install it easily. Also, consider other bathroom projects like reglazing your bathtub or install a backsplash.

12 specific things you can do to add value to your home yourself. Click To Tweet

Change Your Cabinet Hardware

Kitchen cabinets need a facelift? Consider installing new cabinet hardware along with repainting your cabinets. It may not sound like a big deal but replacing the handles and hardware for your kitchen cabinets can change the overall look and feel of this often heavily used area of the house.

It’s no secret that updating your kitchen in any way can add value to your house. Kitchens and bathrooms often sell homes. Amazon has tons of affordable kitchen cabinet hardware options to choose from ranging anywhere from $20 to $60.

Trim Your Trees

I have mixed feelings about trees and homeownership. Personally, I would love for my next home to have fewer trees as it would save us money. It has been expensive removing trees from our yard. Yet, I also understand how trees could be great for shade and curb appeal.

According to Angie’s List, a mature tree can add an appraised value of anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 to your property. Other sources claim that a tree in front of a house increases the home’s sale price by $7,130. That said, if you have a tree or two that is not causing you much trouble, consider trimming it regularly and keeping it healthy.

Energy-Efficient Systems

Buying energy-efficient systems may not be the cheapest way to add value to your home, but it’s well worth it in the long run. Whenever it’s time to replace an appliance or system, aim to buy the most energy-efficient version. Last year, we had to replace our washer so we decided to buy an energy-efficient one that uses less water and runs quieter.

New buyers are often interested in homes with energy-efficient appliances already there. Plus, when you buy some of these items, you can get a rebate and earn some money back on your purchase.

Install Outdoor Lighting

Installing outdoor lighting is an easy project that you can do in just an hour or two. You can also stick to your own budget seeing as how there are many low-end and high-end lighting options. Plastic material won’t last long, but it could still look nice and could run you around $40 to $50.

Outdoor lighting can set your home apart from others and make it appear more welcoming and high value.

Replace Your Entry Doors

A new front door can improve curb appeal and be a smart investment, especially if your home’s current door is showing signs of wear. Replacing your front door often adds an estimated 96% value compared to the cost which is pretty high.

Plus, it will add perceived value which is also important among potential buyers. It’s important to realize that while your appraisal should be reasonably high, buyers also purchase homes based on emotional attachment to some of the finishes and changing out your front door can definitely help you appeal to this.

Change a Light Fixture

Outdated light fixtures can take away from the value of your home. Be sure to update your lightbulbs and replace old fixtures as you see fit. You can even consider installing a light fixture with a ceiling fan in some rooms.

Our old apartment had ceiling fans and I miss if because our new house doesn’t have any so this may be a project that we tackle down the line.

Plant Some Perennials

A well-landscaped home has the potential to sell for much more than a home with no landscaping plan at all. The good news is, you don’t have to rush out and hire a landscaping company or landscape architect just yet. Use sites like YouTube or home design websites to brainstorm some simple ideas for your outdoor landscape.

Also, start planting some perennials as opposed to annuals since they will last longer. Perennial flowers and greenery may cost a little more on average, but you’ll get your money back since they last longer and you won’t have to replant every year.

RELATED: Why Can Starting Your Garden Now Save You More Money?

Refinish the Floors

Many people prefer hardwood floors in their main living area so if you already have them, you’re in luck. Consider refinishing your floors to refresh your entire space and add value to your home.

Home Depot has a great guide to help you refinish your floors. The best part is that you can DIY this project with just a few tools.

Small Bathroom Updates 

In some people’s eyes bathrooms are what can sell a house. If you have any outdated bathroom changes are potential buyers might be turned off. Now it’s understandable if you can’t afford a full remodel but doing things like changing your wallpaper or even your sink or tub faucet can go a long way to adding value to your home.

Power Wash

Power washing your home can add anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 of value to your home should you decide to sell according to the National Association of Realtors. If your home has never been power washed before, now could be a great time to do it.

Just like other surfaces in your home, the exterior of your home needs to be cleaning thoroughly and it’s also the first thing people see. You can try your hand at power washing your home on your own or you can hire someone to do it for $40 to $5o per hour.

Summary 

If you live in an older house and want to add value to your home these tips will be ways to do that. They are all reasonable things that you might even be able to do yourself. Some houses could really use these updates and the change should really make a difference. If you’re thinking about moving consider making some of these small changes that can end up making a big difference.

Have you done any of these updates? Are there any that we missed? 

Source: everythingfinanceblog.com

When Are Mortgage Rates Lowest?

We’re all looking for an angle, especially if it’ll save us some money.

Whether it’s a stock market trend, a home price trend, or a mortgage rate trend, someone always claims to have unlocked the code.

Unfortunately, it’s usually all nonsense, or predicated on the belief that what happened in the past will occur again in the future.

Sometimes history repeats itself, sometimes it doesn’t. We probably only hear about the times when it does because it makes the individual behind it sound like a genius.

In reality, it’s very difficult to predict anything, even the weather, so when it comes to complex stuff like mortgage interest rates, success rates probably move a lot lower.

That being said, I set out to see if there were any mortgage rate trends we could glean from available data, using Freddie Mac’s historical mortgage rates that go back to 1971.

Using 50 years of data, you would think some trends would appear, right?

Were mortgage rates lower in certain months, higher during others, or is it all just random? Let’s find out.

What Time of Year Are Mortgage Rates the Lowest?

mortgage rates by month

I looked at monthly averages for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage over the past three decades to determine if there’s a winning month out there.

It turns out there is a month when mortgage rates are lowest, and as you might expect, it’s at a time when most folks wouldn’t even be thinking about purchasing a home or refinancing an existing mortgage.

Yes, it’s December. You know, when individuals are more concerned with holiday shopping and traveling to see family then calling up a mortgage lender.

This could explain why mortgage rates are lowest in December. If you recall, lenders pass on bigger discounts to consumers when things are slow.

As alluded to, December is always going to be a slow month for mortgage lenders, which probably has something to do with the discount seen over the past 30 years.

Keep an Eye Out for a Mortgage Rate Sale

  • Mortgage lenders operate just like other types of businesses selling products or goods
  • They price their loans based on expected profit margin and operational costs
  • If their business slows down they might be inclined to lower the price (or interest rate)
  • But if they’re doing a lot of business (or even too busy) they might keep rates artificially high

Similar to any other company out there selling goods, there are “sales” at certain times throughout the year, and also times when prices are marked up.

As you might expect, if a company is trying to move product, in this case home loans, what do they do? They lower the price to drive business.

Mortgage lenders able to lower the price, or rate, because they’ve got a margin built in to their market rate.

This margin acts as their profit, minus operational costs. Sure,they may not make as much per loan if they lower rates for consumers, but they could make up for it on volume.

Instead of closing one higher-priced loan, they might be happy to close three loans and earn more on aggregate. So they have wiggle room to play with rates a bit.

They can adjust them lower when business is crawling, and simply maintain or raise them when their phone won’t stop ringing.

How Much Cheaper Can They Really Be?

  • While mortgage rates are measured in eighths of a percent (0.125%)
  • Which may look or sound like absolutely nothing when comparing rates
  • The small difference can be exponential because you pay the mortgage each month for years (possibly 30!)
  • This explains why even a marginal difference in rate can amount of thousands of dollars over time

Okay, so we know rates vary throughout the year, and even a small difference in rate can be very meaningful. But how much can you really save?

While not massive by any stretch, you might be able to get a rate .25% lower in December versus April. Same goes for October and November compared to spring.

If we’re talking about a $300,000 loan amount, a rate of 2.75% vs. 3% is the difference of roughly $40 per month, or nearly $500 per year.

Keep your mortgage for a decade and you’ll pay nearly $5,000 more over that period.

Are You Overpaying for Your Home Loan and House in April?

  • The most common time to buy a home is in spring, namely April
  • This is when prospective buyers get serious and make offers
  • It’s also when more home sellers finally agree to list their properties
  • But it might be cheaper to buy a home during fall or winter

Now speaking of April, that month tends to be prime time for home buying historically, which explains the lack of a discount.

The same goes for buying a home during April – it’s a lot less common to see a price reduction during spring than it is during fall or winter.

It all begs the question; should we buy homes when prices, competition, and interest rates are lowest? Probably.

Just one problem – there tends to be less available inventory in the fall and winter months as well. But if you do come across something you like, it could be a great time to snag a deal.

In other words, you should always be looking, even if it’s not the ideal time to move.

If you’re refinancing a mortgage, there are less obstacles in December since you’ve already got a house.

To sweeten the deal, lenders probably aren’t busy, so you’ll breeze through underwriting a lot quicker. And you could receive a little more attention from your loan officer.

Should I Wait Until December to Get a Mortgage?

In short, probably not. While December had the lowest mortgage rates on average over the past 30 years, there were plenty of years when rates were higher in December compared to other months.

Take 2018, where the 30-year fixed averaged 4.03% in January and 4.64% in December.

Same goes for 2015 and 2016, when rates were markedly higher in December versus the beginning of the year.

However, in 2020 the 30-year fixed averaged 3.31% in April and 2.68% in December, which is a difference of 0.63%. That can equate to thousands of dollars in savings.

All in all, you’re probably better off paying attention to what’s going on in economy if you want to predict the direction of mortgage rates.

The trend (moving up or down over a period of time) might be more important than the month of year.

Simply put, bad economic news generally leads to lower mortgage rates, whereas positive news tends to propel interest rates higher.

Time of year aside, you might be able to save even more on your mortgage simply by gathering quotes from more than one lender.

Ultimately, timing doesn’t seem to be the biggest driver of rates, nor is it something most of us can control anyway.

(photo: Marco Verch)

Lock in a lower rate.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

10 In-Demand Jobs for People With a Bachelor’s Degree

Accountant or actuary
Phovoir / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on SmartAsset.com.

Jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education for entry are often more insulated from unemployment than others. During the COVID-19 pandemic, total unemployment for individuals 25 years and older spiked to 13.1% in April 2020. However, the highest unemployment rate over the past year for bachelor’s degree holders 25 and older was 8.4% in April 2020.

As of November 2020, the national unemployment rate was 6.7% — 2.5 percentage points higher than the unemployment rate for bachelor’s degree holders.

Some jobs for bachelor’s degree holders may be even more insulated from economic changes as demand is high.

In this study, we investigated the most in-demand jobs for bachelor’s degree holders. This is SmartAsset’s third annual study on the most in-demand jobs for bachelor’s degree holders. Check out last year’s rankings here.

We compared a total of 131 occupations across four metrics: percentage change in average earnings from 2018 to 2019, percentage change in employment from 2018 to 2019, projected employment change from 2019 to 2029 and projected percentage change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

For details on our data sources or how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section at the end.

1. Producers and Directors

Film set - director, cinematographer and actors working on the cinema, wide angle
Studio 72 / Shutterstock.com

The producer and director occupation ranks in the top quartile of our study for all four metrics we considered. Between 2018 and 2019, employment of producers and directors grew by almost 9%, while average earnings rose by about 5%.

Moreover, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the occupation will continue to grow. According to their estimates, the number of producers and directors will increase by 16,000, or 10.0%, from 2019 to 2029.

2. Computer and Information Systems Managers (tie)

Information security analyst
leo_photo / Shutterstock.com

The computer and information systems manager occupation ranks in the top 15% of occupations for three of the four metrics in our study. The occupation saw the ninth-largest percentage increase in employment from 2018 to 2019, growing by 10.87%.

Between 2019 and 2029, the BLS expects it will grow by an additional 10.4%, adding 48,100 workers. Across all 131 occupations in the BLS data, that is the 19th-highest percentage increase and ninth-largest gross increase in workers.

2. Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes (tie)

Businesswoman smiling
ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

The occupation of agent and business manager for artists, performers, and athletes ties with computer and information systems manager as the No. 2 in-demand job for bachelor’s degree holders.

Between 2018 and 2019, the average pay for agents and business managers for artists, performers and athletes grew by almost 7%, the seventh-highest rate across all 131 occupations. Over the same time period, employment grew by 15%, second-highest in our study for this metric.

4. Information Security Analysts

Man working on computer cybersecurity and password manager
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock.com

Information security analyst is the fourth most in-demand job for bachelor’s degree holders, moving up from fifth place last year. Though average earnings grew at a comparable pace year-over-year, employment increased sharply in this profession.

BLS estimates show that information security analyst employment increased by 16.20%. There were about 108,100 information security analysts in 2018 and almost 125,600 in 2019.

5. Actuaries

Computer actuary
fiskes / Shutterstock.com

Most actuaries work for insurance companies, assessing the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. Between 2018 and 2019, average earnings for actuaries grew by 4.06% — the 15th-highest one-year earnings increase in our study.

Additionally, between 2019 and 2029, employment for this occupation is expected to grow by an additional 17.6%, the seventh-largest percentage change in employment in the study.

6. Interpreters and Translators

Black Translator
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

According to BLS employment projections, the number of interpreters and translators in the U.S. is expected to increase by 20% between 2019 and 2029, a top-five rate in our study.

With that projected percentage change, employment will grow by roughly 15,500 workers, a top-30 rate. Most recently, from 2018 to 2019, average earnings for interpreters and translators grew by 3.20%, the 25th-highest rate for this metric in the study.

7. Fundraisers

An older businessman gestures thumbs up
Stock-Asso / Shutterstock.com

The occupation of fundraiser ranks in the top third of all 131 occupations for three of the four metrics we considered. Between 2018 and 2019, employment grew by 7.87%, the 19th-highest rate.

Looking forward, total employment of fundraisers is expected to grow by 14,400, or 14.3%, over the next 10 years — the 30th-largest gross increase and 11th-highest percentage increase.

8. Medical and Health Service Managers

Medical coding
Burlingham / Shutterstock.com

Medical and health service managers plan and coordinate the business activities of health care providers. Average earnings for medical and health service managers are high and growing.

In 2018 and 2019, average annual earnings for workers in the occupation stood at $113,730 and $115,160, respectively. Additionally, across the 131 occupations in our study, BLS expects the profession to have the third-largest gross employment increase (133,200 workers) and highest percentage employment increase (31.5%) over approximately the next decade.

9. Athletic Trainers

Motivation, two men working out
michaeljung / Shutterstock.com

Between 2019 and 2029, the occupation of athletic trainer is expected to grow by 16.2%, the ninth-highest rate for this metric in our study. Athletic trainers may also see their earnings continue to grow over time.

Between 2018 and 2019, average annual earnings for athletic trainers increased by 2.56% from about $49,300 to more than $50,500.

10. Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists

Manager
Pressmaster / Shutterstock.com

Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialist rounds out our list of the top 10 most in-demand jobs for bachelor’s degree holders. Average earnings for compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists grew by 2.84% between 2018 and 2019, 33rd-highest in our study.

The occupation ranks within the top third of the study for the other three metrics as well. It had the 26th-highest percentage change in employment from 2018 to 2019 (6.88%), the 43rd-greatest projected gross employment change from 2019 to 2029 (7,500) and the 28th-highest projected percentage employment change from 2019 to 2029 (7.9%).

Data and Methodology

A man studies financial data at his computer
NicoElNino / Shutterstock.com

To find the most in-demand jobs for bachelor’s degree holders, we looked at data for 131 occupations that the BLS classifies as typically requiring a bachelor’s degree for entry. We compared the 131 occupations across four metrics:

  • Percentage change in average earnings from 2018 to 2019. Data comes from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics and is for May 2018 and May 2019.
  • Percentage change in employment from 2018 to 2019. Data comes from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics and is for May 2018 and May 2019.
  • Projected employment change from 2019 to 2029 (gross figure). This is the projected change in the total number of people employed in an occupation from 2019 to 2029. Data comes from the BLS 2019 Employment Projections.
  • Projected employment change from 2019 to 2029 (percentage change). This is the projected percentage change in the number of people employed in an occupation from 2019 to 2029. Data comes from the BLS 2019 Employment Projections.

We ranked each occupation in every metric, giving a full weighting to all metrics. We then found each occupation’s average ranking and used that to determine a final score. The occupation with the best average ranking received a score of 100 while the occupation with the worst average ranking received a score of 0.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

How to Not Overspend On Your Super Bowl Day Fun

With the Super Bowl right around the corner, it’s time to start planning an epic party. This year will probably be more important to have a great party than other years. Courtesy of the pandemic, the chances of anyone being there live is slim to none. This also means you will need to have a smaller party than usual and continue to social distance. This ultimately means you’ll probably spend less money on food, drinks and supplies also. I can’t argue with having a great party and not spending as much money to put it on!

Since we can’t be there, then everything you choose to have at the party should be meant to make you, and your guests feel as much like they are at the Super Bowl as possible. This list will obviously be a bit different for everyone, but there are some general rules we can start with.

Super Bowl Party Food

First and foremost, we need to start with the Super Bowl food. There are a few things seem to be regular fare at any super bowl party. Some of the food items I regularly run across include:

  • Chicken wings
  • Chili
  • Chips and dip (many different dips, to be precise)
  • Cocktail weenies
  • Football shaped cookies
  • Hamburgers
  • Hot dogs
  • Meatballs
  • Nachos
  • Potato skins
  • Sliders

Of course, everyone has their signature dish, so don’t forget to include that. And do your best to utilize ingredients in multiple dishes. This not only makes cooking easier but can also help reduce your overall party costs.

On top of the food, having the right serving platters is key to any Super Bowl party. Some of my favorite platters to have on hand are: 

No matter which serving platters you choose, make sure you have enough to effectively serve all of the Super Bowl food. And, whenever possible, try to get serving platters that you can use year round. This will help offset the overall cost.

RELATED: Save Money with These Super Bowl Party Tricks

Super Bowl Beverages

No Super Bowl party is complete without some good beverage options. I usually think of beer when I think about a Super Bowl party, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only option. There just happen to be some fabulous Super Bowl themed craft cocktails also. And some of them are extremely easy to make, but look and taste awesome! Some great craft cocktail options are:

  • Dilly Dilly  – Vodka, Limeade, Bud Light, Lime
  • Super Bowl Slammer – Apple flavored Whiskey, Dr. Pepper, Grenadine
  • Super Sunday Punch – Bourbon, Apple Brandy, Sweet Tea, Red Grapefruit Juice, Honey, Cinnamon Sticks, Cloves, Allspice
  • Touchdown Punch – Prosecco, Blue Curacao, Lemon, Sprite
  • Yellow Hammer Slammer – Vodka, Rum, Amaretto, Pineapple Juice, Orange Juice, Maraschino Cherries

It might be a good idea to only have one of these options in addition to beer to help cut the overall costs. But, if some of your guests want to participate in the party planning, you could entreat some of them to choose a drink they might like and bring the ingredients.

Other than having football themed craft cocktails, beer options are simply a must. This doesn’t mean you have to provide all of the beer (we certainly don’t). Since it can get so expensive, I would suggest having a few different choices to please as many guests as possible. Or you could potentially get a pony keg of your favorite option and ask guests to bring some beer they like to share. That way all the guests can get a chance to try a few different beer offerings. 

Once you have decided which beverage offerings to serve, then you have to figure out the cups. Here are a few different options that are also pretty cost effective:

No matter which option you choose, make sure you have enough for people to have multiple drinks, because they will. Or, better yet, use a marker to put their names on the cups so that they can reuse them the whole time. That will save more plastic from being thrown away and keep more money in your pocket so you won’t have to buy as many cups. Which ultimately helps your bottom line, since everything for this Super Bowl party should be coming out of your entertainment budget.

Grill

Having the right grill is an essential part of any super bowl party. In fact, having at least one good grill for regular all year use is a good idea anyway. If you don’t already have a decent grill for regular use, then that is the best place to start.

How much grilling you plan to do throughout the year should determine the size of your grill. But, you also have to decide if you prefer charcoal or propane grills. I grew up as a charcoal grill lover, so that is still where I reside. I just prefer the charcoal flavor on the food over the propane gas flavor any day. But, not everybody feels that way. And charcoal grills tend to make more of a mess and usually take more work to get started. So, propane grills certainly have their place. There are also some hybrid options now that are charcoal grills with propane starters. So, if you want the best of both worlds, that might be the right choice for you.

Either way, here are my three favorite options for each type of grill mentioned:

Once you get the larger grill figured out, it’s time to consider a smaller tabletop grill. These are usually much cheaper, and easier to store when not in use. Plus they heat up pretty quickly so they work exceptionally well for parties when you need a bit more grilling space.

RELATED: Save Money With These BBQ Tips

Grilling Tools

Once you have your grill situation nailed down, grilling tools are next. These can range between pretty darn cheap to fairly darn expensive. So, ultimately, a lot of the cost here will come down to your personal preference and how often you think you will actually use them.

For us, we keep two sets of grilling tools on hand. A much smaller set for kitchen use and a much larger, more elaborate set for our outdoor grilling needs. And the outdoor set has a nice case that everything can be stored in, so that way we can leave the set under our grill. It makes things much easier to find when the time comes for grilling, as well as when the time comes for a party, such as the Super Bowl. 

Therefore, here are a few suggestions for grilling tools that won’t cost you an arm and a leg but will still get the job done:

No matter which grilling set(s) you choose, just make sure that the set has everything you need, for regular use and for party time.

These are some awesome tips to host a great Super Bowl party and not overspend! Click To Tweet

Super Bowl Party Summary

When it comes time for Super Bowl, you can be ready to host one killer party all while not killing your budget. The steps to do so are fairly simple. Just make sure to have great party food, a few beverage choices, a great grill or two, good grilling tools and awesome serving platters and cups. Once you have all that, you’ll be ready for the big game!

What are some ways you plan to enjoy a Super Bowl party and not overspend?

Source: everythingfinanceblog.com

4 Ways to Stay Energized and Engaged When Working Remotely

Happy confident remote worker
Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

More flexibility, no commute, and the ability to live where you want — the benefits of remote work can be truly life-changing for those looking for a better work-life balance. But working at home has its downsides, too. When your “commute” only involves walking from your bedroom to your workspace, and your lunch “break” is a quick rummage in the refrigerator, the days can start to feel monotonous.

And if you’re not careful, that feeling of monotony can turn into fatigue, disengagement, and burnout.

It’s clear that remote work is here to stay, so how do you work from home day in and day out without feeling like you’re living at work, rather than working where you live? Here’s how you can feel energized, inspired, and engaged while working from home.

1. Change Your Workspace

Alex Brylov / Shutterstock.com

When you’re working in a company office, you have your workspace, but you also have the rest of the office to wander about. When your brain needs a refresh, it’s easy to walk around and visit with colleagues or head to the break room for a quick snack.

At home, your office is usually a small room (or closet!) in your house — where other family members may be working or doing online school. This can make it challenging to find space when you need a change of scenery throughout the day. When boredom sets in, consider switching up your workspace for a couple of days a week. Whether you head to the backyard, hotspot it at a park, or simply trade offices with your spouse, the new work digs will help you feel revitalized.

And don’t forget to decorate your workspace with colors and items that make you feel comfortable, inspired, and happy. Framed photos, fun desk accessories, and office houseplants can all improve your energy and mood.

2. Break Up Your Day

Woman with cup of coffee
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com

It’s easy to plow through your day without taking breaks when working remotely, but this will only contribute to your feelings of malaise and monotony — not to mention stress. To help divide up your day, schedule a mandatory daily lunch break away from your computer.

While you’re at it, implement the 50/10 rule and give yourself a 10-minute, screen-free tech break for every 50 minutes of focused work time (or 25/5 if that works better for you). Letting yourself recharge with mini-breaks throughout the day will keep you feeling energized and ready to take on the next task.

3. Vary Your Routine

dog walker
Christian Mueller / Shutterstock.com

In many ways, a structured routine is essential for setting and maintaining work-from-home boundaries. However, too much routine can make your days in your home office feel endless and repetitive.

You can still keep your daily office hours and end your remote workday with a routine, but switching up even the smallest things can make your days feel fresh instead of fatigued. Do you usually make coffee at home every morning? Head out for a coffee in the middle of the week instead! Are your lunches the same sandwiches Monday-Friday? Chef up a hot, delicious new creation!

Even switching up your exercise routine can breathe new life into your workday. Trade your usual evening walk for a refreshing midday run, or schedule an online yoga class at the end of the day to give you something to look forward to.

4. Engage Your Senses

clean air work from home remote work
theskaman306 / Shutterstock.com

When you’re super-focused on the task at hand and buried in work-related projects, your world shrinks down to exactly what’s in front of you. This ability to hone in on your work is crucial for your productivity, but the narrow focus can also make you feel drained and exhausted when you’re working by yourself in your home office.

Engaging all of your senses throughout your workday boosts your mood, reduces anxiety, and inspires your work. Pick different senses to focus on throughout the day to keep you feeling energized. Perhaps you listen to a favorite music album while you work on your morning tasks, followed by an hour of an energizing essential oil diffusion (try peppermint or sweet orange!). A tasty afternoon treat and a cozy blanket can help you wrap up your workday feeling calm and soothed.

Switch It Up

remote job
uzhursky / Shutterstock.com

If we don’t intentionally breathe new life into our everyday tasks, anything can start to feel monotonous and boring — including remote work. By giving yourself breaks, switching up some of your regular routines, and letting your senses lead the way, you can keep yourself feeling energized and engaged while you work from home.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

11 Companies That Hire for Remote Sales Jobs

remote worker home office
Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

By design, sales positions are very conducive to working from home since most (if not all!) of the work can be done virtually. These days, companies can even successfully conduct global sales meetings online — without the extensive travel required of sales professionals in the past.

Even though some remote sales jobs may still require partial travel, as companies realize just how much work can be done remotely, more and more sales responsibilities are moving online. And they can be very lucrative positions! According to Salary.com, a sales representative with only four to seven years of experience earns an average of $91,531 per year.

To help you launch your remote sales career, FlexJobs has identified 11 companies that commonly hire for remote sales jobs, with positions that range from entry-level to senior management and executive level.

1. Amazon

Amazon sign
Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com

Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world and a Fortune 500 company. Through its online marketplace, Amazon offers books, e-books, furniture, household items, electronics, apparel, music, movies, and a vast selection of other products.

Recent remote sales jobs:

  • Global Account Manager, ISV Sales
  • Account Manager, Media and Entertainment
  • Enterprise Account Manager, Higher Education

2. Concentrix

Concentrix
JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock.com

Based in Fremont, California, Concentrix is a global provider of business services that enable high-quality communication between clients and customers. Concentrix specializes in providing clients with marketing, analytics, consulting, financial, technology, and customer lifecycle management solutions.

Recent remote sales jobs:

  • Sales and Service Representative
  • Director, Sales
  • Global Vice President, Sales

3. Grand Canyon Education – GCE

online college
Rido / Shutterstock.com

Grand Canyon Education – GCE is a nonprofit organization providing academic models, intuitive online learning tools, and other programs to help support institutional growth and student success. Grand Canyon Education strives to help students and schools thrive and prosper.

Recent remote sales jobs:

  • Account Executive
  • Account Executive – Online Division

4. Oracle

Oracle
Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com

Founded in 1977, Oracle is a cloud application and platform service company offering services that include comprehensive, fully integrated cloud applications, platforms, and engineered methods. Oracle works with customers to develop business software and hardware systems that include applications, databases, engineered systems, enterprise management, and Java.

Recent remote sales jobs:

  • Pre-Sales Cloud Architect
  • Regional Sales Manager
  • Applications Sales Representative III

5. Medallia

Medallia
rafapress / Shutterstock.com

Medallia is a computer software company specializing in customer experience management. Medallia provides digital solutions that help clients engage customers, manage feedback, and streamline services, and works in a variety of industries, including retail, hospitality, airlines, government, telecommunications, financial services, and high technology.

Recent remote sales jobs:

  • Sales Associate – Sales Academy Program
  • Account Manager
  • Associate Sales Director, Hospitality

6. Robert Half International

Robert Half
Casimiro PT / Shutterstock.com

Founded in 1948, Robert Half International is a global professional staffing and consulting firm composed of eight divisions: Robert Half Executive Search, Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Robert Half Legal, Robert Half Technology, OfficeTeam, The Creative Group, and Robert Half Management Resources.

Recent remote sales jobs:

  • Sales Support
  • Sales Administrator
  • Purchase and Sales Specialist

7. Salesforce

Salesforce sign
Bjorn Bakstad / Money Talks News

Salesforce helps businesses of all sizes and industries connect with their customers in new ways as the Customer Success Platform and world’s leading CRM. Salesforce employs over 34,000 team members and is used by well-known companies like Spotify, Coca-Cola Enterprises, GE, Kimberly-Clark, and Virgin America.

Recent remote sales jobs:

  • Senior Account Executive
  • Strategic Account Manager
  • Strategic Account Executive, Media

8. Thermo Fisher Scientific

Thermo Fisher Scientific
Michael Vi / Shutterstock.com

With a history dating back to 1902, Thermo Fisher Scientific is a global biotechnology product development company that strives to help customers accelerate life sciences research, solve complex analytical challenges, improve patient diagnostics, deliver medicines to market, and increase laboratory productivity.

Recent remote sales jobs:

  • Business Development Executive – Viral Vector
  • Genetic Analysis Sales Representative
  • Technical Sales Specialist – High Content Screening

9. Twilio

Twilio
Vladimka production / Shutterstock.com

Founded in 2007, Twilio is a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) cloud communications company that provides users with a way to make and receive calls and texts using web service APIs. Twilio enables the use of VoIP, messaging, and phone services to be embedded into desktop, web, and mobile software.

Recent remote sales jobs:

  • Enterprise Solutions Engineer
  • Strategic Growth Account Executive
  • Vertical Enterprise Inside Sales Representative

10. UnitedHealth Group

Unitedhealthcare sign
Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

UnitedHealth Group provides benefits services and health care coverage to clients and consumers in all 50 states and in 125 countries worldwide. UnitedHealth Group includes United Healthcare, a provider of benefits and insurance coverage; and Optum, a leading provider of technology and information-enabled health services.

Recent remote sales jobs:

  • Regional Account Manager, Autoimmune
  • Specialty Benefits Sales Representative
  • Business Development Representative

11. Veeva

Veeva
Michael Vi / Shutterstock.com

Headquartered in Pleasanton, California, Veeva provides cloud-based software and services for the life sciences industry. Veeva serves the pharma and biotech, consumer health, and animal health industries with products that fall into five main categories: clinical solutions, regulatory solutions, quality solutions, medical solutions, and commercial solutions.

Recent remote sales jobs:

  • Enterprise Account Executive
  • Sales Manager
  • Director, Sales Operations

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Does a Refinance Require an Appraisal?

Mortgage Q&A: “Does a refinance require an appraisal?”

A reader recently asked if they needed an appraisal to refinance their existing mortgage, knowing they can often add weeks to the loan process.

As with anything in the mortgage realm, the answer is it depends. Mainly, it depends on the type of loan you plan to refinance.

Additionally, the type of refinance (rate and term vs. cash out) you’re applying for can also come into play, as can the property type.

Nowadays, there are both appraisal waivers and a number of different home loan programs that do not require an appraisal to refinance, known as streamline refinances.

Let’s learn more about if and when an appraisal might be required, and how you might be able to avoid one.

[Can I refinance with negative equity?]

The Appraisal Waiver

  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can both waive the appraisal requirement in some cases
  • This applies to home purchases and refinance transactions
  • But you must meet maximum LTV limits (or minimum down payment requirements)
  • They are not an option on 2-4 properties, manufactured homes, and properties valued over $1 million

In recent years, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac introduced a novel concept known as an “appraisal waiver.”

As the name implies, it allows you to waive the appraisal requirement typically needed to get to the finish line.

Initially, this was an option for certain types of refinance transactions, but now it’s good for some home purchases as well.

(Note that this isn’t possible for purchase transactions involving FHA loans, USDA loans, or VA loans.)

There’s been some debate as to whether this is a good or bad thing, but one thing seems certain – it can shave days or even weeks off your mortgage timeline.

In fact, Freddie Mac noted that you can close a home loan 7-10 days (or more) faster without an appraisal. Surely that’s good news, especially if you’re in a time crunch.

It can also save borrowers money, as appraisals are expensive, often amounting to hundreds of dollars (Freddie says $300-$700 in savings).

But before you get too excited, you need to ensure your loan actually qualifies for a waiver.

Fannie Mae Appraisal Waiver Guidelines

  • Must be a one-unit property (includes condominiums)
  • Home purchase loans (primary home or second home up to 80% LTV/CLTV)
  • Rate and term refinances (up to 90% LTV/CLTV for primary/second home, 75% LTV/CLTV for investment property)
  • Cash out refinances (up to 70% LTV/CLTV for primary home, 60% LTV/CLTV for second home or investment property)
  • Loan casefile must receive an Approve/Eligible recommendation

As you can see, not all transactions qualify for an appraisal waiver from Fannie Mae.

And even if the transaction type and property type work, you still need to keep the loan-to-value ratio (LTV) at or below a given threshold.

This means you either need 10% minimum home equity for a refinance or a 20% minimum down payment for a purchase to be exempt.

Additionally, in order for an appraisal waiver to be considered, a prior appraisal must be found in Fannie Mae’s Collateral Underwriter (CU) data.

And it must be a clean appraisal. For example, if a CU “Overvaluation Flag” was issued on that prior appraisal, an appraisal waiver won’t be offered on the new loan.

Freddie Mac Appraisal Waiver Guidelines

  • Must be 1-unit primary residence or second home (condos OK)
  • Purchase transactions with LTV/TLTV less than or equal to 80%
  • Rate and term transactions with LTV/TLTV less than or equal to 90%
  • Cash-out refinance transactions with LTV/TLTV less than or equal to 70% (primary residences) or 60% (second homes)

You’ll notice that Freddie Mac goes a step further and outright excludes investment properties.

Like Fannie, 2-4 unit properties are also ineligible, as are manufactured homes, properties valued over $1 million, and non-arm’s length transactions.

Again, they must have appraisal data on file and Freddie Mac’s automated underwriting system must give the originator the green light regarding a waiver once the loan is submitted.

Do Streamline Refinances Require an Appraisal?

  • If you refinance under a streamline program like the FHA, VA, or HIRO
  • A home appraisal often isn’t necessary to close the loan
  • The rationale is a lower interest rate for the borrower generally means less risk (lower payment) to the lender/investor
  • Regardless of the LTV or collateral backing the mortgage

First things first – those who refinance under streamline programs often do not need an appraisal. The only exception might be if the loan has to be manually underwritten.

Basically, lenders don’t care as much about your property’s current appraised value if you’re only refinancing to take advantage of a lower mortgage rate, and thus a reduced monthly mortgage payment.

Or if you’re refinancing out of a higher-risk loan program like an adjustable-rate mortgage into a more stable fixed-rate product.

And because the loan amount stays the same, the lender/investor isn’t bearing more risk or exposure.

The logic here is that the same borrower with a lower mortgage payment is less likely to default on their loan, so it’s a win for all parties involved.

The only loser might be the old investor of the loan who was enjoying all that interest via the higher-than-market mortgage rate.

Anyway, because the default risk goes down with the refinance to a lower payment, an appraisal often isn’t necessary if the automated underwriting system determines the refinance is eligible for an appraisal waiver.

Both the High LTV Refinance (HIRO) from Fannie Mae and the Enhanced Relief Refinance program from Freddie Mac could allow you to forgo an appraisal.

However, both programs are reserved for those with loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac with a note date on or after October 1st, 2017.

Borrowers must also be current on their loans (one 30-day late payment permitted in past 12 months, none in the past six).

FHA-to-FHA Refinance Doesn’t Require an Appraisal

  • You can also avoid the appraisal requirement if you’ve got an FHA loan
  • If you execute a streamline refinance via the FHA an appraisal isn’t required
  • But if you want to roll closing costs into the loan an appraisal is required

If you currently have an FHA loan, you can refinance into another FHA loan via the FHA streamline refinance program.

This program doesn’t require an appraisal either, for the same reasons mentioned above.

Instead, the FHA uses the original purchase price of your property, or the most recent appraised value.

The general thought process is a borrower with a mortgage already insured by the FHA that is reducing their monthly payment is going to default at a much lower clip.

However, you must prove a “net tangible benefit,” accomplished by refinancing from an ARM to a fixed mortgage, or by lowering the principal and interest payment (plus annual MIP) by at least five percent.

This is a great way to refinance if your property has decreased in value, resulting in an otherwise ineligible LTV ratio.

You must be in good standing on your existing loan, with no more than one late payment in the past 12 months (all mortgage payments for the three months prior to the date of loan application must have been paid within month due).

Lock in a lower rate.

And you must have made at least six payments on your existing FHA loan.

Note: If you choose to roll closing costs into the new loan, an appraisal is required.

And if you want to streamline refinance an FHA loan tied to an investment property, it must be done so without an appraisal.

No Appraisal Needed for VA IRRRL

  • You can also forgo the appraisal requirement with a VA streamline
  • But certain rules apply, including the necessity to lower motnhly payments
  • And being current on your existing loan

Another popular type of loan that does not require an appraisal is the VA’s “IRRRL.” Yes, there are lots of “R’s” involved, but those very letters help you forgo the need for an appraisal.

IRRRL stands for “Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan,” which means the rate should be reduced via the refinance.

However, if you’re refinancing from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed mortgage, the rate is permitted to increase.

And closing costs can be rolled into the new VA loan, or you can opt for a slightly higher interest rate via a no fee refinance.

You must have no more than one 30-day late in the preceding 12 months, and you may NOT receive any cash via the transaction.

USDA Eliminated Appraisal Requirement for Refis

  • You can also avoid the appraisal requirement
  • If you go the USDA loan route
  • As long as you’re current on your existing USDA loan
  • But the new mortgage rate must be at least 1% lower

At this point, you’re probably wondering if appraisers are out of a job…

About a year ago, the USDA announced, “Streamlined Refinancing for Rural America,” which allows borrowers with USDA loans to refinance without the typical requirements.

As long as borrowers are current on their existing USDA loans (on time payments for 12 consecutive months), they can refinance to a lower rate with no need for an appraisal, property inspection, or a credit report.

However, the new mortgage rate must be at least one percent below the old rate, no cash out is permitted, and the mortgage term cannot exceed 30 years.

[Refinance rule of thumb.]

So that’s basically it. If you’re looking to get cash out via your refinance, an appraisal will likely be required unless the LTV is super low.

And traditional rate and term refinances also tend to require appraisals, though this is slowly beginning to change.

While Fannie and Freddie are now waiving appraisals on purchase loans as well, it’s still a small percentage of transactions.

And the argument remains to get an independent appraisal just to be sure you don’t miss something, or overpay for a property.

Also note that some lenders may require appraisals as part of their own underwriting processes, so be sure to shop around to find a competitive lender that doesn’t require one if that’s what you’re looking for.

FYI, Fannie Mae’s Homepath program, which is a special purchase program for the company’s REO inventory, does not require an appraisal either.

Instead, the purchase price is used to come up with the property value. However, borrowers are still urged to order an appraisal.

Read more: When to refinance your mortgage?

Lock in a lower rate.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

6 Best Ways to Get Out of Debt and Achieve Financial Freedom

Debt is part of life, but you should never let it drain you to the point where you start to relate your own worth and happiness to financial obligations like debt. As difficult as it may be, it’s important to face your debts head-on and relieve yourself from that burden in order to achieve financial freedom.

Financial freedom is something most people crave to achieve, but debt can serve as a major roadblock to achieving that. In order to save more, invest, and become more financially independent, you need to free up the cash from your budget in the first place. I don’t know anyone who’s financially independent but still saddled with car loans, credit card debt and student loan debt. Thus, it’s safe to say that getting rid of debt is an important step that can help you reach financial freedom.

So how do you get started and stay on track to actually see results? Here are 6 ways to get out of debt and achieve financial freedom.

1. Assess Your Financial Situation

If you’re in debt, this is no doubt heavily affecting your financial situation. So many people believe that debt is normal or numb themselves to the fact that they owe a creditor a lot of money. This type of mindset won’t do you any good because it’s not helping you solve the problem.

Start peeling back the rug and carefully assessing your financial situation and the debt you have. You can start by reviewing your credit. How much credit are you utilizing and is anything in collections? There are tons of free sites that will allow you to check your credit score like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame.

Next, layout all your bills and list out your total debt balances, the minimum payments, and the interest rate. Doing this will give you a clear and accurate picture of how much debt you have so you can start to prioritize accounts and create a strategy.

Here are six ways to get out of debt and achieve financial freedom. Click To Tweet

2. Negotiate with Your Creditors

As much as it is hard to negotiate with creditors, it can help you get out of debt quickly. You can start with prioritizing your bills from the most important ones like rent, mortgage, utilities as well as insurance and transport.

Make the payments or give the card issuer a call if you cannot make the minimum payment on a credit card. This way they will not have to do the tedious work of sending your account to collections or worse, tracking you down.

So depending on your credit history, you can be in a position to negotiate for a lower interest rate with your creditors or ask for a lower minimum payment. If you’ve been making on-time payments but your situation has changed (perhaps you endured a job loss or furlough), you may be able to negotiate payments, lower your interest rate, or defer payments.

Keep in mind that while payment relief options can be helpful, it should also be a small part of your strategy. You will still have to manage the debt so long as you don’t file for bankruptcy. Prioritize your debts by determining which ones you want to pay off first and which ones you can negotiate or defer. During the relief period, continue to work on paying down the other debt you’re prioritizing. Use it as an opportunity to get ahead and knock out a burdensome balance.

RELATED: 5 Steps to Negotiate Lower Credit Card Interest Rates

3. Lock Your Credit Cards

To avoid plunging into too much debt, you can try to minimize your use of your credit cards by either locking them up somewhere you cannot always reach, freezing them in a bowl of water, or cutting them up. If you are serious about getting out of credit card debt and know you have a problem with overspending, it’s wise to just stop using credit cards for the time being.

Eliminating the temptation to spend with credit cards can also free up more mental space and energy for you to focus on developing better money management habits.

Also, consider opting out of your relationship with certain creditors. You can opt-out of receiving pre-screened credit card offers by clicking here.

RELATED: Is It Better To Shop With Credit Cards or Cash?

4. Create an Emergency Fund

This is very important when you are trying to get yourself out of debt. It can help in times of need especially during emergencies and when your debt is high up on your neck. You don’t want to pay off debt only to get back into debt when an unexpected expense comes up. This is why it’s important to create a baby emergency fund to help you stay afloat so you don’t continue to borrow more money and dig your way deeper into debt.

Saving anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 is ideal. Life is full of surprises so this money would definitely come in handy when life happens. Creating a baby emergency fund may slow your debt repayment process down a bit, but it will be worth it for the added protection.

Just be sure not to spend the money on non-necessities or expenses that are truly emergencies.

RELATED: 4 Reasons to Have a Large Emergency Fund

5. Spend on What Really Matters

You should start cutting back on what you do not need and start spending money on the essentials only. This way you get to save loads of money that would have been wasted on frivolous items and services.

As much as it seems frugal, it can be the best road to take and also give you some important habits that contribute to financial freedom. You can start by making payments of your most important bills like utility bills, rent, and gas. You can also swap eating out for some home-cooked meals.

Likewise, do some research on discounts, coupons, and other affordable deals before making any purchase. Such small cutbacks can help you save loads of money that you can save or use to pay your debts.

6. Budget

A proper budget be it monthly or weekly can go a long way when it comes to helping you become and stay debt-free. Nonetheless, you should try to stick to it and avoid spontaneous purchases.

Nowadays there are modern apps, software, and services that can help you make a proper budget and stick to it. They can even remind you of upcoming bills and make some financial suggestions to help you along the way.

You can also use your budget tool to spot some areas where you need to cut expenses. This way you save some money to either fund your emergency account or pay off some debts.

RELATED: 5 Things That Could Be Holding You Back From Your Financial Goals

Summary

You can become debt-free if you are disciplined enough to follow the steps needed in order to do so. These 6 steps are not the easiest, but they work and help you develop much better financial habits for the future. Remember, paying off debt is just one part of your financial journey and doesn’t have to represent your entire future.

Are you ready to take steps to achieve financial freedom this year? 

Source: everythingfinanceblog.com

10 Common Myths About Remote Work

relaxing remote worker with laptop
Olesya Kuznetsova / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

Ask any remote worker, and they’ll likely list off several myths about working from home that they’ve encountered.

Keep reading as we cover a few of the common myths about working from home, and determining the truth about remote workers.

1. Remote Workers Aren’t Productive

Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley / Shutterstock.com

The Truth: Naysayers often have visions of remote workers watching TV or completing household chores instead of getting work done, but studies show that this perception is incorrect.

Having a micromanaging boss hover over you doesn’t mean that you’ll get more work done. Instead, when goals are clearly communicated, workers know what is expected of them and feel empowered to perform to the best of their capabilities, whether they are in an office or not.

2. Remote Work Requires a Lot of Tech Support or Special Equipment

Female IT engineer
Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock.com

The Truth: Most remote workers use regular desktops or laptops purchased in a retail store.

Sure, they may utilize particular apps or software specific to their industry, but apart from having a fast internet connection, the only must-have items a remote worker really needs would be furniture, like an ergonomic chair and desk.

3. It’s Hard to Stay Connected

Remote work Zoom call telecommuting
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

The Truth: Sure, working remotely means that you’re not going to bump into co-workers around the water cooler. But it certainly doesn’t mean that remote workers are unreachable.

Part of being a successful remote employee means sharing your schedule with your boss and co-workers, so people always know when you’re online and reachable and when you’re not. There’s also email, IM, and video chat to help you stay connected to your team and to enable clear communication, no matter where everyone’s located.

4. My Job Isn’t Suitable for Working at Home

HBRH / Shutterstock.com

The Truth: It’s true that some jobs require you to be on-site, but there may be parts of your job that you can do remotely.

So look for areas in your job where you perform desk duty — those responsibilities can be done from home. All it would take is for you to restructure your workweek to have one day (or more) when you are strictly doing paperwork in order to allow you to work from home.

5. Everyone Loves (or Hates) Remote Work

Woman happily working from home
F8 studio / Shutterstock.com

The Truth: While everyone can benefit from working from home, not everyone is suited for it — or wants it. While there are traits that make for great remote workers, not everyone likes working at home.

Some individuals are happier being around other people, and others need to have their bosses present in order to get work done. But many employers still offer remote work options to employees who are looking for a better work-life balance.

6. Every Day Is PJ Day

remote worker in pajamas
Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock.com

The Truth: Another one of the common remote work myths is that remote workers spend all day lounging about in their pajamas. While it’s true that a dress code doesn’t usually apply when working from home, top remote workers know that changing into regular clothing will signal a start to the workday and will help them feel more productive.

Dressing to impress in a work-from-home environment might not involve a business suit, but plenty of remote workers dress in business casual to prepare for a successful workday.

7. It’s Not a Real Job

Thoughtful home worker
1463229359 / Shutterstock.com

The Truth: Remote jobs are available at all ends of the spectrum, ranging from entry-level to executive positions. Remote jobs can be freelance, or they can be full-time jobs with all the same benefits as an in-office gig.

In fact, FlexJobs has over 50 different job categories with remote job openings. Every day we hear from successful FlexJobs members who find remote work in a wide variety of industries. Remote job offerings in every career area will likely continue to grow with technological advances and more open attitudes towards remote working.

8. You’ll Never Know Your Co-Workers

Remote work desk computer zoom
Girts Ragelis / Shutterstock.com

The Truth: It may seem that working from home is a lonely venture, with little human interaction throughout the day. While that may be true at times (and even desired by some introverted workers), a lot of remote jobs are collaborative and require frequent interaction with co-workers via email, instant message, video chats, etc.

Just like an office job, remote workers are often required to attend meetings, and some companies offer virtual social activities for remote employees as well.

9. There’s No Accountability

lazy sleeping remote worker
Deman / Shutterstock.com

The Truth: It can be a myth that remote workers don’t have as much accountability, and there’s no way to know if they’re completing their work. Just because you can’t physically see a remote worker doesn’t mean they aren’t producing, though. And if a company is successful in objectively measuring goals and results, they should focus on outcomes instead of physical presence.

10. Work-From-Home Jobs Are Scams

robocall
Dragana Gordic / Shutterstock.com

The Truth: Easily one of the most common remote work myths is that all work-from-home jobs are scams or are only available for very entry-level, specific jobs. The truth is that legitimate work-from-home jobs are available in a variety of career fields and at every professional level.

At FlexJobs, we review and screen every job on our website, so you can find legitimate jobs and enjoy a scam-free search experience.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Here are Safer Alternatives if You’re Too Obsessed with the Stock Market

We’re big on investing. It’s an important way to grow your money and set yourself up for retirement someday.

But is it dangerous to be too obsessed with the stock market?

You bet it is. Our financial advice columnist, Dear Penny, recently heard from a reader whose husband stopped funding his 401(k) so he can bet on the stock market, instead.

Is it OK that he’s stopped contributing to his 401(k) so he can trade stocks? the reader asked. How do I ask him what he’s actually investing in? I’m worried that he’s gambling money that we need for our retirement.

That’s not the way to go. Here are five safer ways to invest and grow your money.

1. Just Steadily Invest Like a Normal Person

Instead of betting all your money on the stock market, just steadily invest in it. Take the long view. The stock market is unpredictable, which means that sometimes stock prices go up, and sometimes they go down — but over time, they tend to go up.

If you haven’t started investing and have some money to spare, you can start small. Investing doesn’t require you throwing thousands of dollars at full shares of stocks. In fact, you can get started with as little as $1.*

We like Stash, because it lets you choose from hundreds of stocks and funds to build your own investment portfolio. But it makes it simple by breaking them down into categories based on your personal goals. Want to invest conservatively right now? Totally get it! Want to dip in with moderate or aggressive risk? Do what you feel.

Plus, with Stash, you’re able to invest in fractions of shares, which means you can invest in funds you wouldn’t normally be able to afford.

If you sign up now (it takes two minutes), Stash will give you $5 after you add $5 to your invest account. Subscription plans start at $1 a month.**

2. Grow Your Money 16x Faster — Without Risking Any of It

Save some of your money in a safer place than the stock market — but where you’ll still earn money on it.

Under your mattress or in a safe will get you nothing. And a typical savings account won’t do you much better. (Ahem, 0.06% is nothing these days.)

But a debit card called Aspiration lets you earn up to 5% cash back and up to 16 times the average interest on the money in your account.

Not too shabby!

Enter your email address here to get a free Aspiration Spend and Save account. After you confirm your email, securely link your bank account so they can start helping you get extra cash. Your money is FDIC insured and they use a military-grade encryption which is nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”

3. Stop Paying Your Credit Card Company

One way to make sure you have more money is to stop wasting money on credit card interest. Your credit card company is getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates. But a website called AmOne wants to help.

If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.

The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.

AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.

4. Cut Your Bills by $540/Year

Another way to grow your money: Stop overpaying on your bills.

For example, when’s the last time you checked car insurance prices? You should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.

A website called Insure makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options — and even discounts in your area.

Using Insure, people have saved an average of $540 a year.

Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.

5. Add $225 to Your Wallet Just for Watching the News

Here’s a safe way to earn a little cash on the side.

We’re living in historic times, and we’re all constantly refreshing for the latest news updates. You probably know more than one news-junkie who fancies themselves an expert in respiratory illness or a political mastermind.

And research companies want to pay you to keep watching. You could add up to $225 a month to your pocket by signing up for a free account with InboxDollars. They’ll present you with short news clips to choose from every day, then ask you a few questions about them.

You just have to answer honestly, and InboxDollars will continue to pay you every month. This might sound too good to be true, but it’s already paid its users more than $56 million.

It takes about one minute to sign up, and start getting paid to watch the news.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He tries not to be obsessed with the stock market.

*For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.

**You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com