Is college worth the cost to you?

College gives young people more than a degree. It is also offers critical thinking skills while forcing young people to manage independent living.

But is it necessary for everyone?

Many jobs do require a college degree, and graduates do tend to make more money.

In college, you’re acquiring lifelong skills like critical thinking, organization, problem-solving, and teamwork. You also have access to counselors, career centers, internships, job fairs, clubs, and volunteer opportunities to intensify your marketability after graduation.

However, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports that 43 percent of today’s college graduates work in a job that doesn’t require a degree. A 2017 Gallup survey revealed that 51 percent of Americans who went to college would consider changing their degree, major, or institution. Moreover, The National Center for Education Statistics found that only 59 percent of college students get their degree within six years.

Try to determine whether the money you’ll earn with a degree will be worth what you’ve paid for it. If you’re not entirely sure about your career choice, you may later regret going to college at all.

While a college degree can open doors, sheer ambition, determination, and willingness to work open others. Do not dismiss such alternatives as trade schools, community colleges, and apprenticeships, among others. Becoming a real estate agent, medical assistant, or web developer doesn’t require a college degree. Capitalize on your entrepreneurial spirit by starting your own business through websites like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy. Take free online classes, learn a trade skill, or earn an associate degree at a community college, among other possibilities.

Most people invest in college to prepare for a productive and rewarding future. This pursuit is viable when you know what you want, manage your expectations, and intend to pay for everything from your own pocket. If necessary, apply for scholarships, find a part-time job, maybe even take a few semesters off to save up before you leave for college.

This way, you may earn a college degree without being haunted by a student loan for years and maybe decades to come.

How to scale the company ladder

It takes more to get ahead in a company than just doing the basics.

“Simply meeting expectations is not enough if you want to get ahead,”

writes business trainer and consultant Cy Wakeman in her book, The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace.

If you want to climb the ladder, strive to be a low-drama, high-value employee, Wakeman says.

Victor Lipman agrees, and he’s an author and management specialist with more than 20 years of Fortune 500 experience.

“Be relentlessly reliable,” he says. “Reliability is a cornerstone of business and a fine core personal attribute. Businesses may not often need brilliant bursts of artistic creativity, but they always need the trains to run on time.”

For example, try to become a go-to person by developing as many skills as possible. The more you can do within a company, and the more you can learn about its operations, the more relevant you are to its goals.

Your attitude and willingness to work do matter too. Try to be consistently collaborative. In projects involving multiple participants with conflicting views and opinions, the person who can react effectively with all kinds of people is appreciated.

Also, create strong, enduring relationships. In the corporate world, networking has been and always will be an influential factor regardless of an individual’s status in the company. As much as others may profess that professional advancement is based on merit, individual relationships do have their roles in any company, large or small.

Think about ways and means of resolving an issue that may have been gnawing at the company for years. Although some of these problems are unique to each organization, the more common challenges include containing costs, improving production processes, and discovering new markets for established products.

Be a self-starter. Try to identify obstacles before they get worse. Try to be valued as a team member who tries to make difficult decisions easier.

Keep in mind that any solution you propose is likely to be met with skepticism; if not, the issue most likely would have been solved long ago.

Should you succeed–or even make noticeable progress–your efforts could advance your career in ways you had not imagined.

Finally, try to make your boss look good (and if possible, his boss too). This sense can set you apart, showcase potential, and promote an ability to think beyond current circumstances.

Are you checking account wisely? Your credit score could now go up

This year, people who wisely manage their checking accounts could see an increase in their credit scores.

The new UltraFICO credit score will let some consumers offer their banking activity as proof that they are credit worthy.

A credit score has never been based on income. A person who makes $20,000 per year — and pays loans faithfully — could have a higher credit score than a person making $200,000, who doesn’t pay loans on time. The credit score tries to predict if a person will pay back a loan and pay it back on time.

Some people, especially younger people, may not have much of a history of loan payments. Those people pay for things mainly in cash, and through their checking accounts and debit cards, which aren’t counted toward a credit score. If they do apply for a loan, their lack of credit history could put them in the subprime category, scores below 670. They might be denied credit.

With the UltraFICO scoring system, a lender can offer to recalculate a consumer’s score based on banking activity. People who have had a checking account for some time, maintain a balance of about $400, and don’t overdraw are likely to see their score rise, possibly high enough to get a loan and therefore build credit history.

One caution: those who do overdraw their accounts could see their scores go down in an UltraFICO calculation.

Since the subprime mortgage crisis, banks have been focused on only the most creditworthy borrowers. In 2018, a record 58.2 percent of U.S. consumers held a score between 700 and 850, the FICO maximum. These high-score consumers aren’t taking out as many loans these days and lenders have been eager to find responsible borrowers.

Fair Isaac Corporation, the creator of the widely used FICO score, estimates 7 million people with thin credit histories could benefit from an UltraFICO recalculation. Another 26 million people could see an increase, and 4 million could see their score increase 20 points.

How Much Does Boat Insurance Cover?

Your boat is a symbol of success. How horrendous would it be for the thing that represents much of your hard work and diligence to be destroyed? The future may be unknown, but you can work to protect yourself from the total financial loss today. Read on to learn about boat insurance!

What does boat insurance cover?

Boat insurance pays for damages accrued in the event of an accident or another form of disaster. You typically need to pay more for a plan that pays when a natural disaster ruins your vessel. It may also be necessary to pay more if you want a boat indemnity plan that covers more in terms of policy limits.

What about sinking?

Surprisingly enough, some boat insurance plans do not pay for instances where your vessel is destroyed by sinking. It is important to speak with a specialist at InsureUs to ensure that you have the best plan for your watercraft in Cypress, TX.

Is boat insurance just for boats?

You typically think of boat assurance as something solely for boats. You can purchase an indemnity plan to cover other things that operate on the water. Some consumers seek coverage for expensive jet skis. It is better to seek an assurance plan today rather than suffer from a total loss tomorrow.

Does home insurance cover anything?

Your home insurance plan may pay for damages suffered in the instance of your vessel being damaged or destroyed while on your property. A home assurance plan does not, however, pay if your boat is damaged or ruined while attached to a dock. You would need to purchase a boat indemnity plan in Cypress, TX to have that type of coverage.

You have worked hard for your things. Let an expert at InsureUs help you find the indemnity policy that works best for your situation. Call today for a quote!

Can balance transfers backfire?

The average American had $6,354 in credit card debt at the end of 2017 which continues the upward trend of recent years, and many people might be looking for a balance transfer after overspending during this year’s Christmas shopping season.

The benefits of a good balance transfer card are that a person with existing high-interest credit card debt can get as low as zero percent interest rate for up to 21 months. That can allow them to focus on the debt itself without worrying about interest charges slowing them down, according to The Simple Dollar.

Without proper preparation, however, balance transfers can backfire.

Balance transfers still require work and sacrifice to totally clear the debt. Bad spending habits and a lack of budgeting probably created the debt in the first place. Transferring a balance might save you interest, but it won’t save you from bad habits.

One of the worst things to do is continue to use an old credit card while trying to pay off a new one, racking up even more debt in the process.

This includes falling into the trap of wanting to use the credit card to access the rewards for things like presents for the family at the end of the year – they are not worth it if there is a balance at the end of the month.

The only way to clear out debt with a balance transfer is to divide the total balance by the number of interest-free months. That is the monthly payment you must make to ensure your profit from the balance transfer.

This payment will likely be much higher than the minimum required but paying only the minimum amount will not make much progress toward total payoff.

You’ll get the best deals on a balance transfer with a great credit score. The best scores can attract offers of zero interest for close to two years.

A strict monthly budget can help carve out extra money to pay down debt. Focus on absolutely perfect payments to increase your credit score.

Tax moves to make before year-end

As April’s tax deadline looms, there are some things you can do before Dec. 31 to cut your tax bill.

First, use any extra money to make a final contribution to an IRA or 401k. This makes a tidy deduction in taxable income. In 2018, those limits are $5,500 and $18,500, respectively.

Don’t forget that unused money in a flexible medical spending account will be lost at the end of the year so use the balance to stock up on eligible household items like bandages, vitamins, and sunscreens.

Homeowners that plan to itemize their deductions should think about squeezing in an extra mortgage payment at the end of the year, something that adds to a deduction and pays your house off sooner.

One significant change in the 2018 tax code caps the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) at $10,000 for any combination of property, income, or sales-related taxes. For those with expensive homes in high property-tax states, this can be a hit. For example, New York’s average deduction last year was $21,000. The deduction cap won’t affect the average homeowner outside coastal and metro areas.

According to Quicken, the end of the year is also an excellent time to make energy-efficient improvements such as insulations, roofs, or doors that can qualify for up to $500 through the Residential Energy Tax Credit.

According to Quicken, the end of the year is also an excellent time to make energy-efficient improvements such as insulations, roofs, or doors that can qualify for up to a $500 credit.

Many people can gain a small advantage in their taxes by selling investments that lost money during the year and using the losses to offset capital gains on a dollar-per-dollar basis, up to $3,000, on the ones that did well. Extra losses can also be carried over to future tax years, meaning one particularly lousy year can spread out over time.

Additionally, donating cash to charity is deductible, but it is important to remember that unwanted items can be given and written off at current fair market value as well.

Money saving tips during holiday shopping

Avoid impulsive shopping during the holidays by making your plan and sticking to it.

One method to avoid the madness, according to Real Simple, is to work out a complete gift plan, then set aside one day for shopping.

Before the big day, shop sales for specific items and download any necessary retailer coupons and price scanning comparison tools onto a smartphone for real-time help.

On the big day, get up early, eat a healthy breakfast, dress for business, leave the credit cards at home and plan on using cash only.

By some estimates, spending cash only will save you up to 23 percent on your shopping trip.

While at the store, shop solo, avoiding salespeople, unless you really need help.

Buy cheaper items first. If you buy the big ticket items first, tossing around $20 or $50 here and there seems easy. So start small.

Break up the day with a coffee or soft drink to stay in a good mood and make better choices.

Get in and out of stores more quickly by checking out in less crowded areas of major department stores and steering clear of sales pitches.

During lunch and dinner breaks, cash in credit card rewards on discounted gift cards and exclusive special offers to round out the list.

An extra sneaky tip is to load up an online cart but cancel it right before finalizing. Often, they will send an email offer with a discount code but if not, there is no harm in asking the live chat representative.

Holiday-themed promotions and marketing ideas for small business

Special holiday offers and charity events top the list for best promotions during November to January.

December Holiday sales in 2018 are expected to pass the $700 billion mark in the U.S. with at least a 3.8 percent increase over the prior year, according to Retail Touch Points.

This spike is hot on the heels of a 5.5 percent increase from 2016 during the 2017 holiday season, the month of November and December. Small businesses should be doing everything they can to maximize their exposure to potential customers and driving sales throughout this period.

Fit Small Business tapped small business owners to find out their most powerful marketing and promotions during the holidays that nearly any owner can incorporate into their strategy.

Many events focus on creating scarcity and a sense of urgency through limited-time-only specials such as a 12 days giveaway that offers something new for one day only. This allowed social media marketer Proko to increase the daily traffic to their website by 20-30 percent each day as customers checked to see what was on display and boosted sales throughout the promotion and into January as well. Creating a product or two with a limited-edition holiday run can create instant demand among existing customers that don’t want to miss out as well as new customers intrigued by the offer. Suit maker Shinesty, for instance, creates 100 suit batches of a unique design that, once sold, will never make it back into their shop again.

A great way to tap into the giving spirit during the holidays is to avoid the overplayed Buy-1-Get-1 specials and create a Buy-1-Give-1 promotion that pledges to donate a product or a portion of the profits to a good cause whenever someone buys something. For traditional businesses with a local presence, doing good in the community can bring benefits long into the future by cultivating a positive brand image. Once all of the fun ideas are planned, don’t forget to ensure that there is enough product on hand to last through a busy sales period.

Sometimes injury numbers don’t tell the story

Organizations with low numbers of on-the-job injuries can be proud of their record.

But number of injuries alone doesn’t tell the whole story.

Safety expert Don Groover, writing in Safety and Health Magazine, points out that, in dangerous situations, luck plays a part.

Groover gives this example: An observer stands below a worker on a high platform. The worker is using a hammer. The hammer falls and misses the observer. There are zero injuries on the job that day but, the fact is, the observer was lucky, not safe. The exposure to danger was still there.

The key is creating a work environment and a safety culture that recognizes exposure, not just injury.

In that example, you could say that the workers were in error, either because of the way the hammer was used or because of the position of the observer. While that might be true, Groover points out that the pool of exposure points is more important.

“A focus on exposures is a radical departure from a focus on hazards or unsafe actions,” Groover writes.

The key is focusing on the factors that cause vulnerability to dangerous situations before the injuries occur or, with luck, don’t occur.

“When a person is exposed, the outcome is out of their control,” Groover says. They could have good luck — or bad.

The significance of safety exposures becomes clearer when seen over time.

Groover gives the example of a worker who climbs on a unit to install a strap on a shipping container. When he steps back, he stumbles and falls five feet. He is uninjured.

He is lucky, and the company has zero injuries but their exposure, when considered across the system, is huge: An employee climbs up twice for each unit loaded. About 25,000 units are loaded per day, equaling 50,000 exposures per day or 18 million exposures per year.

Given this immense number of possible falls, relying on perfect execution each time from employees reveals a much bigger risk than merely calculating injuries per day.

Common ways to save money on homeowner’s insurance

Although homeowner’s insurance is a necessary expense, there are several ways to reduce these costs with or without spending money on improvements, according to Nerd Wallet.

Some of the simplest reductions, such as bundling the home insurance with auto insurance through the same company or improving your credit score, won’t cost a penny and will likely only require a short phone call. Similarly, raising the amount of the deductible on a policy or lowering the maximum payout for possessions can reduce the rate without any upfront cost. According to Bankrate, you can also receive discounts between 1-20 percent for being a nonsmoker, over the age of 55, part of a homeowner’s association, and not having filed a claim in many years.

For those looking to spend money on home upgrades and renovations, there may be discounts available to help offset some of that spending if the changes make the home safer or more durable.

Many older homes, for instance, have older wiring that poses a much more significant risk of catching fire and causing property damage that insurance companies will often grant a 10 percent reduction in premiums to avoid the potential payoff. In fact, home electrical fires cause an average of $659 million in losses each year while a wiring-related issue causes more than half of those reported. Meanwhile, wind and hail caused by powerful weather can wreak havoc on an unprepared or deteriorated roof, and discounts of 5-10 percent can be had for installing newer, impact-resistant roofing material.