Saturday, June 30, 2018

At least 15 injured as passenger bus turns turtle in Chitwan

Chitwan, July 1

At least 15 persons were injured when a passenger bus lost its control and met with an accident in Khairahani Municipality-1, along East-West Highway, in Chitwan district on Sunday morning.

According to the District Police Office, the bus (Na 7 Kha 5118) heading towards Birgunj from Bhairahawa via Bharatpur turned turtle on the roadside at around 6:45 am on Sunday.

Of the injured, seven persons were rescued and rushed to the Purano Medical College in the district.

Similarly, it has been learned that condition of one person is critical.

Remaining injured are being treated at various other hospitals in the district.


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Escape Plan 2 movie review: Sylvester Stallone fails in a poor sequel

The 2013 Sylvester Stallone/Arnold Schwarzenegger Escape Plan was no stroke of genius, but it was a clever concept and offered the opportunity to see the two ageing action stars’ banter in an enjoyable fashion. But Escape Plan 2 which released after 5 years from the first movie offers nothing new as it doesn’t even look like a sequel.

The movie revolves around Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) who manages an elite team of security specialists trained in the art of breaking people out of the world’s most impenetrable prisons. When his trusted operative, Shu Ren (Xiaoming Huang), is kidnapped and disappears inside the most elaborate prison ever built, Ray assembles an elite team to assist in the rescue.

The first part of the movie is quite slow as the filmmakers have made it obvious that this isn’t a sequel. The slow buildup makes the movie a dull watch but the movie gradually gets better after the characters enter the high security prison – Hades.

The second part of the film does get better with the plot thickening. The manner in which the characters try to escape Hades is praiseworthy. There is less drama and the action picks up which makes the movie watchable. The climax is quite good but Stallone is quite poor when it comes to his final action sequence.

In the movie that stars Stallone, he only plays second fiddle to Huang who is decent as Shu Ren. Huang’s actions sequences are decent but his emotions are quite poor. Likewise, his dialogue delivery needs to be improved if he wants to be as charismatic as his Chinese predecessors like Jet Lee or Jackie Chan.

While Huang is full of energy, Stallone looks lethargic. His movement in most action scenes are slow as one can see he clearly lacks the energy to pull off movies like this.

Jesse Metcalfe and Wes Chaltman are good in their respective roles but the script doesn’t give them a role that makes them stand out. Rapper 50-Cent is one of few who has retained their place from the earlier movie and doesn’t really convince as he too has got a really low key role along with Dave Bautista who too has limited onscreen time.

Director Stephen Miller fails to bring any energy or visual consistency to the action sequences which is average and could be a lot better. Miles Chapman’s screenplay lacks the doses of humour that made the original film amusing. The design of the hellhole prison feels all over the place, one moment futuristic and the next medieval, with such flourishes as drones, artificial intelligence and a trio of albino hackers, adding little of interest to the proceedings.

Escape Plan 2 should teach filmmakers how to not attempt creating a new franchise. The ending makes it obvious that there will be another film, but how that will go–everyone will have to wait and see.

Overall, the movie is not worth a watch. With Sanju finally being shown across the halls, moviegoers should not waste their time watching this boring movie.

Run Time: 1 hour 33 minutes

Director: Steven Miller

Genre: Action

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Dave Bautista, Jaime King

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Balancing Humility and the Credit You Deserve

I was lucky in that, late in my collegiate life and early in my professional life, I had a few mentors that gave me some amazing career advice that helped me to find a great job during the 2002 recession, springboard that to an even better job, and set myself up for a lifelong career path in that field (I chose to change career paths for other reasons unrelated to their great mentorship).

Two of their main pieces of advice were to be humble and give credit to others as much as possible while, at the same time, make sure people know what you’re working on.

At first glance, those two things might seem in opposition to each other, but they’re really not. You can manage to be humble and give lots of credit while, at the same time, ensuring that the people who need to know have knowledge of the things you’re doing and producing in the workplace.

This balance is an important one. Being humble and giving abundant credit to others is a vital part of being a team player in a collaborative workplace (which is the nature of most workplaces). On the other hand, if you work in an environment with lots of people, your actual contributions can easily get lost in the shuffle. People in management and your influential peers might literally have no idea what you’re working on, and that can end up in a situation where you’re sorely undervalued at work.

You have to balance the need for your work to be known with humility and sharing credit, and it’s not always an easy balance. I was lucky enough to have mentors to guide me along the way.

Here are some of the tips and tools and tactics they gave to me that helped to balance humility, sharing credit, and getting my name out there.

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

This was the first and most important rule that they shared with me. You should be communicating with your immediate peers and your boss on a daily basis at the very least, and with more distant peers and other people in the management chain at least once a week. They need to know your name, and they need to be associating that name with things that are happening in the workplace that you’re involved with. (We’ll get back to how to communicate in a bit.)

If you sit silently in the corner and don’t participate in meetings, in email, in Slack, in watercooler talk, and so on, no one will know who you are or anything about you. You’ll become invisible, and the invisible person is easy to replace.

This does not mean being the center of attention. It simply means ensuring that you’re a small but active part of the conversation.

How do you do that?

Ask lots of questions.

Asking questions is one of your best tools in the workplace. Asking questions demonstrates your curiosity and desire to learn more. Asking questions demonstrates your interest and respect toward others, which raises their esteem toward you. Asking questions often demonstrates active progress on your tasks, too.

However, a key part of asking questions is listening to the answers. Pay attention to what you’re told in response to those questions. This is easily done by asking questions to which you care about the response.

(Remember, this is a type of communication, and you can overdo it. Try not to be the most talkative person in the room.)

Here are some ways to really use questions to your advantage.

Ask questions about professional topics from your experienced peers. This not only makes them feel good (because you are nodding to them as an expert on the topic) but it also demonstrates your active efforts to learn at work, which is also good. The person asking questions about professional topics is going to build a good reputation.

Ask questions of your boss about what their concerns are and how everything fits into the mission of your department and business. Your boss will greatly respect your concern for the department’s overall purpose and your desire to gather information. This works really well when you voice it in terms of making sure your work hits the criteria that your boss’s boss will be looking for.

Ask mild and nonintrusive questions about your coworkers and peers. Ask them how they’re doing. Ask them how their family is doing. Ask about their hobbies and interests outside of work. Most importantly, remember those things and follow up with them. Remember your family-oriented coworker’s children’s names and what they’re into. Remember the main hobby of many of your coworkers and ask about their latest adventures in their hobby (leading to questions like “What have you been reading lately, Cindy?” or “Hey, I saw you reading XXX book at lunch and it looks interesting. Is it good?”).

Again, the key here is to listen with genuine interest. If you really don’t care about the answer, don’t ask. If it’s just an excuse for you to talk about yourself, don’t ask. However, it’s worthwhile to try to seek out common areas of interest with your coworkers and your boss and use them as fuel for asking questions.

Be present for every team moment, such as team photos and team events and workshops.

Yes, some meetings are really dull and boring. Yes, “team building activities” and group photos and the like can be awful sometimes. That doesn’t mean there isn’t value in being there.

One of my mentors once told me that even awful meetings are valuable for building teams, and he was completely correct on that. Some of the best bonding I’ve ever done is talking over a bad meeting (or a useless meeting) with coworkers afterwards.

Beyond that, there’s also the advantage of the fact that if you’re present at key team moments, the other people there at least have some chance of remembering your presence and that builds your reputation. If you’re not there, you’re guaranteeing a zero chance of being remembered.

Don’t miss team photos. Don’t miss key presentations. Don’t miss team events. Don’t miss workshops. Don’t miss any “team building exercises.” Yeah, they might not seem useful, but they’re valuable in building a team and establishing those involved as team players, which is something that’s very worthwhile.

Volunteer to present work you’re involved with, then give tons of credit at the end of the presentation.

Presentations and talks are scary, even if it’s in front of just a few friendly people. You feel like all of the focus is on you – and it is.

Here’s the thing, though: almost everyone in the crowd empathizes with that feeling. The vast majority of the people in the crowd have felt nervous at the prospect of presenting and feel stage fright to some degree when they have to present. Virtually always, they’re sympathetic with you and they’re on your side.

Having said that, the benefits of presenting are huge. Simply by presenting, you are establishing strong credit for yourself in relationship to your work. You are the one standing there talking about what happened. You are the person who will face the tough questions. You are the person who will be remembered in association with the work. Credit is a given when you’re presenting work.

That’s why it’s also a great opportunity to be humble and share credit. Every presentation that’s positive in any way should include lots of credit to everyone who helped make that work possible, and you’re better off being thorough. Include a team picture at the end of your presentation and name people off and what they did (in a few words, so that it’s quick). Make it abundantly clear that what you presented wouldn’t have been complete without their efforts. Don’t be afraid to particularly highlight a few people who gave a lot or someone who really raised their game for this project.

There’s almost nothing to lose by volunteering to give a presentation on group work and then doling out tons of credit at the end. You come off good and get lots of credit by virtue of presenting, people get the credit they yearn for, and everyone goes home happy.

The same thing is true with written reports. Volunteer to write a draft of that report under the assumption that others will help you edit it. This guarantees that you’ll be a big part of the team communication about that report and it guarantees your name will be on the final product. That’s a big win for you.

Give lots of status updates to your boss, and copy others who are relevant in on the updates.

When I started my first professional job, my boss (who was also one of my mentors) told me in no uncertain terms that I should send along a weekly update on what I was working on that week. “Just tell me what you did each day and how your big projects are coming along,” he told me. “I might not read every word, but I’ll get the big picture and it will help with performance reviews.”

So I did just that. It turned out that when I actually met with him, he was very clear on what I had been working on and how my projects were going, and they did help immensely with my performance reviews.

When I switched jobs a couple of years later, I kept up the practice with my new boss. I just sent a weekly update summarizing what I was working on and how it was relevant to my various projects. Again, when I would talk to my boss, she seemed to be up to date on what I was working on at all times and when it was time for a performance review, it was always positive.

This is a practice I will pretty much always continue in any workplace that I’m involved with moving forward. (With my current role, for example, my actual work output makes it very clear what I’m working on, so there’s little need to do this directly, but at most other jobs that’s not quite true.)

It’s not bragging. It’s just a status update, so that your boss is always in the loop regarding what you’re working on and how it’s moving forward. This usually helps your boss make relevant decisions, but even if your boss considers it too much information, it can always be filed away.

Another worthwhile factor about such updates is that they push you to keep doing relevant work. I didn’t like to ever send emails that didn’t include some kind of significant progress that I could report on. I wanted to say that I had either made a lot of progress on something or completed something of note each and every week, and that nudged me to be more productive at work.

Find a workplace mentor and do everything you can to build a strong relationship with that mentor.

A mentor in your workplace can help you navigate some of the particular issues relevant to your workplace and also provide an advocate for you in conversations where you’re not present. You need to find one in your workplace if you don’t have one.

I’ve written about finding a life mentor before and most of that advice applies here. Seek out someone who is highly regarded in your workplace and has been there for a while, ideally someone in a position that you would like to eventually achieve but you probably won’t get there for a long while. You might not be able to find this person immediately, but give it some time and keep your eye out.

When you find a potential mentor, ask that person out to lunch and simply say that you’re trying to find your way in your career and that they’ve achieved many of the things you hope to eventually achieve and you’d like to learn from them. Ask for advice and ask all of the follow-up questions you can think. Listen, and do what they suggest. Show appreciation all along the way. Keep in regular contact with your mentor and keep asking questions and listening to advice.

What will likely happen is that your mentor will toss some things your way to see what you’re capable of or to give you opportunities. These might not seem obvious, but tackle them with relish. If your mentor asks for help, give it in abundance.

What you’ll find is that if you keep the relationship positive and give as much as you can, your mentor will end up being a valuable advocate for you when you’re not around. Your name will be in conversations where it’s treated with respect and value and that can do nothing but help you in the workplace. You’ll be getting credit without having to talk yourself up at all and that’s invaluable.

A mentor-mentee relationship is one where both people get a lot of value. You give that value by listening, asking questions, following advice, and handling things that your mentor asks of you. They repay that value by giving great advice, opening a few doors for you, and subtly being your advocate. You both win.

Attend meetings, pay attention, take notes, and speak up by asking questions and bringing up relevant points.

Meetings are boring for many people. They can feel like a hassle that gets in the way of your actual work.

That perspective is a trap.

Instead, look at meetings as an opportunity to make sure that you’re a known quantity. Be present at meetings. Take notes on what’s actually happening and pay attention. When there’s an opportunity to ask a question or give feedback, do so. If you think of something to ask or a good point to bring up while someone else is talking, write it down and then use it later.

Your goal in any meeting that you’re required to be at should be to speak up at least once with a relevant question or a useful point. You should aim should be to be involved enough with what’s going on that you can actually ask a good question or bring up a good point, and that requires focus and attention. For me, taking notes is the best way to do that.

Not only that, almost every meeting you’re at will include a few nuggets of information that are valuable to you, ones that you’d probably miss if your focus were elsewhere.

Come up with solutions to problems, spell out your solution in detail, offer to solve the problem, and share your proposal with your boss and others to whom it is relevant.

If you notice a problem in the workplace, figure out a potential solution to it on your own that has minimal cost in terms of time and money, then write up that solution and share it with your boss. Offer to implement that solution yourself if it’s within your skill level.

Going with a “solution first” attitude for handling problems moves you from seeming like a person who complains to a person who notices issues and wants to fix them. You get attention as a problem solver rather than as a complainer, even if your offered solution isn’t a perfect one.

This, of course, centers around genuine workplace problems. Don’t just seek out problems to solve for the sake of solving them. Wait until genuine issues surface, then come in with a solution-first suggestion regarding that problem.

Avoid saying anything critical of other coworkers unless specifically asked to by a supervisor.

Being negative about coworkers and bosses almost always ends up having a negative impact on you, whether you directly see it or not. Undoubtedly, it can feel good to criticize a problematic coworker, but in doing so, you paint yourself as a person who will criticize others behind their back, thus reducing your workplace trust. Outside of some extremely cancerous workplaces, there are few things that will erode your respect in the workplace than consistently talking negatively about a coworker behind their back. This will quickly erode much of the credit and goodwill you’ve built up through the other actions listed here.

A much better approach is to just listen to negative talk without comment and, when asked for your opinion, just feign ignorance of the subject. “I haven’t spent enough time around person X to really see it. You guys know more than I do.” That’s usually a good way to handle lit.

On the other hand…

Always have something genuinely positive you can say about all of your coworkers when called upon.

Try to think of positive things you can say about every person in your office. If you don’t know that person well enough to think of a positive thing to say, then that’s a relationship you know you should work on.

This serves a number of purposes. For starters, it gives you the ability to immediately have something positive to say about anyone in the office should you be asked about that person. Second, it provides a great tool for evaluating which workplace relationships are weak and which ones are strong. If you can’t identify something positive to say about someone in the workplace, that’s a relationship you need to build, because they likely don’t know who you are either. It also gives you something powerful to say whenever you’re in a situation to give credit to others, as noted above in the bit about presentations.

Know all of your peers well enough to be able to say positive things about them. In that process, you’ll probably give them enough to be able to say positive things about you.

Then, say those positive things when you get a chance. It’s likely, then, that word will get around and they’ll say positive things about you (that isn’t a guarantee, but positivity is going to get you a lot farther than negativity will).

Final Thoughts

What’s the key to almost all of these strategies? Communication! You need to be willing to communicate in a variety of ways in your workplace, even if it feels uncomfortable to you.

You need to be willing to communicate to your boss what you’re working on and your solutions to problems that you observe.

You need to be willing to verbally communicate with coworkers, to learn more about them and build some rapport with them.

You need to be able to communicate in meetings, to present, and to give written summaries and reports of your work (and others).

If you’re not willing to do those things, it’s going to be hard for you to receive credit for your work. The people who communicate are going to get most of the credit, regardless of whether they directly claim that credit or not.

The person who speaks up at meetings is going to get known, not the person who says nothing. The person who makes it clear what they’re working on is going to be known for getting things done, not the person who says nothing. The person who presents is going to be a face for the project, not the person who hides in the corner.

You can do all of the great work in the world, but if you’re not willing to communicate, someone else will take credit for it, whether they do it directly or indirectly. It’s up to you to get the credit you deserve.

You can claim that credit with humility, however. By simply reporting what you’ve done, presenting that work, and giving credit for all of the help from everyone else, you’re both claiming credit and being humble. That’s a powerful mix that will help greatly with your career success.

Good luck!

The post Balancing Humility and the Credit You Deserve appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Friday, June 29, 2018

Is It Cost-Effective to Replace Your Refrigerator Today?

James wrote to me with an interesting question:

My neighbor recently replaced his 20 year old fridge that was still working just fine. According to his math he would actually save money over the next few years by replacing it rather than letting the old one sit. Is that possible? Also what about hooking it up in the garage as a second fridge?

At a quick glance, yes, it is possible to actually save money over the next several years by replacing a 20+ year old refrigerator right away. There have been enormous leaps forward in the last decade in terms of the efficiency of condensers and coils on refrigerators, to the point that the energy savings on a refrigerator made in the late 2010s can save you $75 a year or more compared to a refrigerator made in the 1990s. This doesn’t even include any rebates you might get as a result of replacing your fridge (many energy companies offer rebates for replacing an appliance with a more energy efficient model), or any state tax benefits you might get related to energy efficiency.

If you’d like to calculate the raw energy savings that you would get from replacing your older refrigerator, this EnergyStar calculator will prove really useful.

In other words, if you’re not buying an expensive high-end refrigerator, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll save money over the next five to ten years by replacing your old refrigerator right now with a more energy efficient model. That seems pretty certain.

I did the calculation on our own refrigerator (which was already installed in our house when we bought it) and I found that we’d be saving about $450 in energy costs over the next five years by replacing it with a new model of similar design, and perhaps even more if we chose a more energy efficient design.

Given this, the question switches from whether or not it will save you money to replace your older refrigerator right away to whether or not it’s the best time to replace your refrigerator. I did some research into this question and here’s what I’ve found.

First of all, over the history of home refrigeration, the energy use of a refrigerator has halved about every fifteen years. In the 1970s, refrigerators gobbled up about 2200 kWh of energy per year. By the early 1990s, that was down to about 1100 kWh. By the mid 2000s, that was down to about 600 kWh. Today, we’re getting close to 300 kWh on the most efficient models. Assuming that things continue to get more efficient, you can assume that a fridge will be down in the 150 kWh per year range by the mid 2030s or so.

Let’s translate that to today’s dollars. A good nationwide average for energy use is about $0.12 per kWh. So, a 1970s fridge would eat up about $264 a year in energy use, an early 1990s fridge would gobble up $132, a mid 2000s fridge would slurp down $72, and a fridge today would only consume $36 per year in energy use. At that pace, a fridge in fifteen years would only consume $18 per year in energy use.

Let’s look at that in terms of the average lifespan of a refrigerator, which is around fifteen years. Over the course of 15 years, a 1970s era fridge would eat up about $3,960 in energy use. A 1990s era refrigerator would swallow $1,980 in energy use. A mid-2000s era refrigerator would eat up $1,080 in energy use. Meanwhile, a modern refrigerator would eat up about $540 in energy use.

Thus, replacing a 1970s era refrigerator today would save you $3,420 in energy use over fifteen years, replacing an early 1990s refrigerator would save you $1,440 in energy use, and replacing a mid-2000s refrigerator would save you $540 in energy use.

There are two big conclusions to draw from that. One, the gain that you get from replacing an old refrigerator right now won’t be nearly as beneficial as your next refrigerator replacement. This isn’t something you can just repeat every few years – refrigeration is now so energy efficient that replacing a pre-2000 fridge is probably the last time that replacing a refrigerator will save you money in terms of the energy efficiency gains.

Second, the older your fridge is, the better the benefit in replacing it. Choosing to replace a refrigerator that’s more than 20 years old before it breaks down means that you’ll probably recoup the cost of that fridge in energy savings well before the end of that new fridge’s normal lifespan, plus you don’t have the cost of replacing any food in the event of a refrigerator failure (one that’s probably coming if you have an old fridge).

So, here’s my final conclusion on the matter. There are definitely situations where replacing your refrigerator right away will save you money in the long run, but there are some conditions on it. First of all, you need to be either living in your current home for the next several years or planning to take your appliances with you. Second, you need to be replacing a fridge that’s older – no less than fifteen years old, and preferably a fridge with a manufacture year in the 1900s. Third, you need to not be moving to the absolute latest state of the art fridge; an entry level fridge or a Consumer Reports best buy is what you should be aiming for with your replacement.

If all of those things are true, you will very likely save money by replacing your refrigerator with a new entry level model over the course of the next several years. If not, then you’re probably better off hanging on to your old one.

After this point, however, you probably won’t save money by replacing your fridge for energy efficiency purposes. Fridges today are so efficient that even if they continue to halve their energy use every 15 years, you still won’t be gaining enough compared to a modern refrigerator to make the cost of replacing it for energy efficiency purposes worth your while.

What about moving that old fridge into the garage and storing less essential things in it? Well, remember that if you’re moving an energy inefficient fridge into your garage, you’re going to still be paying those energy costs listed above. If you’re moving an early 1990s fridge out of your house into the garage, it’s going to be setting you back about $130 a year in energy use until it fails. If that $130 a year (and the cost of any ruined food items when it inevitably fails) is worth the value you’d get from a refrigerator in the garage, then move it out there. Otherwise, recycle it.

As for us? The numbers on this question have me leaning toward replacing our old refrigerator if I happen to find a good deal on a well regarded entry level refrigerator. I’m pretty sure that we’re going to be in our current house for the next five years and the energy efficiency numbers on our current fridge are perhaps closest to the early 1990s refrigerators, as I noted earlier. I would probably move our current fridge out to the garage and use it for additional cold storage, enabling some refrigerated items to be bought in bulk.

However, am I rushing out to the appliance store to buy a replacement? Nope. I’m just watching for appliance sales and seeing if I can find a low cost refrigerator with strong energy efficiency numbers and a good review from Consumer Reports. If I find that, then I’m pretty sure that we’ll save money by getting that new fridge into our home sooner rather than later. By doing it this way, we can transfer our food to the new fridge without losing anything and then, since the garage fridge would be secondary cold storage and probably include some things that wouldn’t be ruined by a failure (like beverages), it won’t be a major food loss if it does fail.

So, if you have a fridge that’s at least 20 years old and can find an inexpensive modern refrigerator and you plan on staying in your current place for at least five more years or plan to take your appliances with you when you move, then you’ll probably save money by replacing your fridge if you find a good deal on one. This is particularly true if your energy provider offers you a rebate for refrigerator replacement or if you live in an area where there are tax benefits (sorry, there are no federal tax credits for refrigerator replacements). Otherwise, you’re better off staying put with what you have.

The post Is It Cost-Effective to Replace Your Refrigerator Today? appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Govt issues flood alert for people in Terai, Chure regions


Kathmandu, June 29

The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology of Nepal government has issued a special notice asking people living in Terai and Chure regions to stay alert and prepared against possible floods.

The Department says the water level in most of the rivers are likely to rise above the danger level.

Heavy rainfall has been predicted across the country for three more days, mostly in central and western regions.

Therefore, the Department has asked the commoners to maintain high alertness in districts in Tarai, Chure, and mid-hilly regions.

The Department has further requested the locals in lower areas of hilly region also to remain alert and prepared.

The notice further urges them to give priority to preparations and rescue works.


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Sarlahi man arrested with one kilogram illegal gold from Birgunj

Birgunj, June 29

Police have arrested a man with one kilogram of illegal gold from Birgunj of Parsa district this afternoon.

Santosh Kumar Sah, a permanent resident of Haripur Municipality-9 in Sarlahi, was arrested with the illegal gold in front of Shankaracharya Gate in Birgunj while he was allegedly on his way to India, informed SP Rewati Dhakal.

Acting on a tip-off, a team led by the Inaruwa Police Office In-charge Tribhuvan Sah confiscated the precious metal while checking a motorcycle (Na 48 Pa 3774).

The six pieces of precious metal were wrapped with a black tape, newspaper and again with a white tape and hidden in the air filter of the two-wheeler, said police.

Police are preparing to make public the alleged smuggler today itself.

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EPS Korean Language Test results published; 7,996 pass

Kathmandu, June 29

The results of Korean Language Test of Nepali candidates under the Employment Permit System of Seoul government for the year 2019 has been published on Friday.

The EPS Korea Section under the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) had taken the examination on June 9 and 10. The Department says the results were published early this year thanks to the optical character recognition (OCR) technique used in the test.

A total of 7,996 students passed the test and it is more than the required quota, informed Shobhakar Bhandari, spokesperson of the Section. The Korean government has already informed that it would recruit 7,100 Nepali workers this year.

Therefore, of the passed ones, only 7,100 will be able to fly to Korea for jobs next year. The passed ones will be listed in a roster and sent for labour contract.

As many as 74,866 students had attended the KLT exam that  the individuals require to obtain a work permit in South Korea.


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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Alleged Indian criminal killed in Rautahat police shooting

Rautahat, June 29

An alleged Indian criminal died in an exchange of fire between Rautahat District Police Office’s patrol team and his gang.

The police team and the gang had exchanged fire on the embankment area of Bagmati River nearby Gadahiya Dumuriya in Rajdevi Municipality-4.

A 25-year-old Indian criminal suspect was gunned down in the crossfire, police said. The deceased is yet to be identified.

District Police Office spokesperson DSP Ram Kumar Dani informed that the critically injured Indian national was declared dead by doctors of the District Hospital Gaur.

The motorbike-borne criminals had opened fire at police while undertaking a security screening.

Meanwhile, the police squad recovered an automated SMG gun, four bullets, one magazine and other substances from the gang, shared DSP Dani.

The District Police Office had mobilised a special squad on the bordering area along the Bagmati riverbank acting on a tip off about increasing presence and manoeuvring of Indian criminals of late.


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The Wisdom of Frugality: Why Simple Living Is Supposed to Improve Us

wisdom of frugalityThis is the second entry in an eight-part weekly series that provides a detailed look at the book The Wisdom of Frugality by Emrys Westacott. If you’re new to the series, feel free to hop back to the first entry.

There is an underlying thread, both in philosophical writing and throughout history, that living a simple and frugal life is meant to improve us. Westacott tackles this idea in the second chapter of the book, digging deep into the idea that simplicity and frugality can be a tool for making us into better people.

He starts off by listing four distinct reasons for praising simple living.

First, the moral reason for simple living is that simple living is inherently good or fosters other virtues. A person who lives a simple life is just inherently seen as a good person and thus likely has other virtues that are shaped by their life choices. The “friendly, wise hermit” that often shows up in popular culture is a prime example of this. For example, I remember watching the television show Grizzly Adams as a child and seeing the main character as incredibly virtuous, which ran in parallel with his choice to live as a “mountain man.”

Second, the prudential reason for simple living is that it promotes happiness and well being. This is my primary reason for simple living – it’s a life that leaves me content and gives me a lot of free time to do the things I most enjoy.

Third, the aesthetic reason for simple living is that it can be quite beautiful. This is captured in the minimalist movement that many people are into these days, which is a particular flavor of simple living done with style.

Finally, the religious reason for simple living is that simple living is done in accordance with divine will. Think of people who choose to live a simple life for religious reasons, such as the Amish or Mennonites, if you want a prime example of this.

It’s worth noting that, in many cases, the third and fourth reasons often boil down to the first two reasons, so for the rest of the chapter, Westacott really just focuses on the moral and prudential reasons for praising the simple life.

At first glance, distinguishing between the moral and prudential reasons for simple living is really easy. Is it a moral duty for you? Or is it just a way to have less stress and more time for leisure and other joys?

The closer you look, however, the less clear it becomes. If you enjoy frugality and relish the challenge of it, is it a moral thing or a prudential thing? Is something that is personally hard – like becoming financially responsible or losing weight – always inherently a good and moral thing to do? It’s not easy to see.

For me, most real change that has occurred in my life has been both moral and prudential. I do it because it inherently seems like the right thing to do for some reason, but I also do it because I either enjoy the challenge itself or deeply enjoy the results of succeeding at that challenge. I don’t invest time and energy into things if it doesn’t seem like the right thing to do (moral), but I also won’t invest time and energy if I don’t enjoy doing it or deeply enjoy the results (prudential). I need both.

Another issue that Westacott touches upon here is how moral virtue is shaped by daily habits. If you force yourself to adopt a particular habit, over time it will shape the nature of your character. For example, if you force yourself to cut the snark out of your words and be kind to others while thinking positively of them, that’s eventually who you will become and you will eventually think of it as the “right way” to do things.

Does Simple Living Help One Avoid Temptation?

Subscribing to a lifestyle of simple living and frugality removes many of the temptations that people are exposed to in life. For example, if you choose to live a much simpler life that doesn’t involve shopping for anything other than essentials, you’re going to find yourself far less tempted to indulge in expensive and unnecessary purchases.

This is something that often shows up in literature and even sometimes in film. A “sophisticated” person is either forced to or chooses to live a “simple” life and, because of that situation, begins to find moral clarity. It’s a trope that shows up again and again, even in children’s movies – that’s basically the plot of the Disney/Pixar film Cars, after all.

Monastic life is another great example of this phenomenon. People often cut themselves off from parts of society in order to do deep work or to deeply reflect. It’s why many colleges are often founded in rural locations (though, sometimes, cities spring up around them).

So, what kinds of temptations are people trying to avoid by striving for the “simple life”? It might be as simple as trying to live within one’s means and avoid debt and financial hardship. A person might be wanting to avoid other moral challenges like alcoholism or drug abuse or some other addiction. It may be simply wanting to change a pattern of habitual buying and getting out of a sense of feeling overwhelmed by one’s own possessions.

Another reason why people might choose the simple life is that chasing wealth often forces people to end up serving causes and people that they consider to be immoral. In my previous career path, there were definitely jobs and positions that I considered immoral; there were also people in my field that I would not have wanted to work for. Coincidentally, some of those positions paid really well; by choosing a simpler life, I could avoid them. The same was true when I was making decisions regarding The Simple Dollar – I could choose to make less money (and thus have a simpler life) by avoiding some sticky ethical areas.

The thing to remember in all of this is that money is not inherently evil. Money isn’t the root of all evil – it’s the love of money that’s the root of all evil. There are wealthy people and poor people who are virtuous and there are wealthy and poor people who are scoundrels.

The key here is to realize that you shouldn’t fear losing your wealth, at least not to the point of driving you to immoral choices. Don’t fear poverty as a life disaster or something to avoided at all costs. It’s not a disaster, but just a new challenge. If you’re willing to dive into immoral behavior just to avoid a period of financial trouble, what does that really say about your character?

Speaking of character…

Is There a Connection Between Simple Living and Good Character?

Westacott goes on to make the great point that practicing frugality and financial discipline fosters a bunch of character traits that tend to lend themselves well to other areas of life. Temperance. Prudence. Self-control. A strong work ethic. Those traits, once built, tend to help out in other parts of one’s personal life and professional life.

To illustrate this idea, Westacott refers to ancient Sparta, where the Spartans made simple living a core part of their culture. The “spartan” virtues of physical fitness, hardiness, self-control, straightforwardness, and lack of envy led to a cultural success that’s still highly regarded today.

Of course, the reverse perspective also exists: the idea that wealth and luxury erode meal character. The idea here is that people who have more are more afraid of material loss, which leads to selfishness and cowardice and other negative behaviors, which is a viewpoint strongly present in stoicism.

However, these impressions aren’t strictly true. Being frugal can lead to pride in one’s lifestyle, something I once felt quite strongly. It can lead to being very judgmental and narcissistic. It can also lead to miserly behavior and mistreatment of others. On the other hand, one only needs to look at a few examples of people with wealth and power who behaved with high standards of morality and values (such as Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, to name one) to see that wealth and luxury can go hand in hand with character.

The link between frugality and virtue isn’t a guarantee. Without a doubt, frugality can promote many positive virtues, but it is never a guarantee, and it can encourage some less virtuous elements, too.

Of course, this leads us into another problematic area.

Does Simple Living Promote Superior Values?

It’s easy to point at the cardinal virtues of western society and see how they line up – or at least aren’t contradicted by – living a simple and frugal life. Morality, integrity, friendship, peace of mind, wisdom – those are things that are acquired with few means.

There are two key problems with that idea.

First, there’s the problem of pleasure. Often, simple living seems to carry with it the idea that pleasure is somehow bad, but that’s not true at all. Simple pleasures aren’t inherently bad at all – it’s philosophers like Plato and religious movements like the Puritans that try to cast pleasure as somehow not being virtuous.

I tend to agree much more with Epicurus when he argues that simple pleasures are in fact the “first good” and that simple living enhances those kinds of basic pleasures. The feeling of warmth on your skin or grass under your feet or the taste of cold water on a hot day or the feeling of holding the hand of someone you love – those are incredible pleasures and it’s not a bad thing to enjoy them. In fact, I’d argue that simple living highlights them.

Second, there’s the problem of truth. The idea that some values are strictly good and desirable shows off the difference between philosophical and scientific truth. I often talk about what’s right and what’s wrong with my friends and my family rather than just subscribing to what I’m told to believe is right and wrong, which is a philosophical approach to truth. Do I subscribe to absolute laws set down by others? In general, I do, but it’s because I tend to agree with them and find them reasonable. I am not frugal because I am told to be frugal, however; I’m frugal because I thought through the reasons for it and talked about it often with Sarah and with my friends.

I view frugality as good and worth striving for because I personally see the value in it, not because there is a law or strong moral guideline in place that tells me to be frugal.

Is Simple Living a Sign of Integrity?

Most of the time, simple living is used as a sign of moral integrity in both philosophy and in culture. The person who lives simply is often assumed to have integrity, whereas that same assumption isn’t made of the wealthy person.

This is particularly true when people voluntarily choose to live a simple life. Part of the power of the story of people like Buddha, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and even Jesus of Nazareth comes from their choice to give up most of their physical possessions to follow a cause or idea they believed to be right. Famous people today will often do the same thing, choosing some act of simplicity as a way to earn some moral “credit” as a good person. “This celebrity is just like you!”

This works because the choice to live simply eliminates a strong avenue of hypocrisy, when a wealthy person with a luxurious lifestyle talks about how virtuous and superior the simple life is. If the simple life is superior, why doesn’t the person living in luxury practice it, then? It feels hypocritical, whereas the actual practice of living the simple life avoids that hypocrisy entirely.

A simple life also appears to be less corruptible, especially when it’s voluntarily chosen. If a person is content living a simple life, how are you going to corrupt that person? They’re likely not interested in bribery or other things that could be offered, whereas a person who enjoys luxuries seems much more desirous of the things that could be used to bribe them.

Are Extravagance and Accumulation Signs of Shallowness?

This is another idea often shared in culture. The person that invests a lot of energy and time seeking fulfillment through lavish spending is also signaling a lack of time and energy invested in building their moral, intellectual, and aesthetic capabilities. The idea that a person who shops all the time is “dumb” or “ditzy” is a very common element used in movies and television and books.

This is an area that many schools of philosophy dig into. The Stoics believed that people should be generally wary of happiness acquired through external means, and that the internal life is the source of true happiness.

Arthur Schopenhauer went a bit further and argued that extravagant spending was a sign of personal boredom and evidence of an unexplored inner life. Friedrich Nietzsche carried that idea even further and felt that people leading trivial and unconsidered lives were a displeasing spectacle and he actively avoided them.

This perspective that luxurious living is a sign of shallowness isn’t perfect, however. What does it mean to live a “shallow” life? Furthermore, it’s basically impossible to judge someone’s inner life by what possessions they own, because you don’t necessarily know why they own those possessions or what their thought process is. In the end, this type of judgement relies on the idea that some types of pleasure are inherently superior to others, trying to “rank” things that aren’t really quantifiable.

The reality is that in western society, people generally prefer to live an affluent life, and people who have lived both lives typically prefer the affluent one. This is true regardless of how well considered their internal life is. People want to live the “good life,” but the definition of the “good life” isn’t the same for everyone.

Final Thoughts

In the end, the connection between simplicity and virtue isn’t a guaranteed link, but a probable one. Living a simple life promotes many values that are considered a positive in our culture, but aren’t a guarantee of them; similarly, living a luxurious life might point to some values that aren’t respected, but aren’t a guarantee, either.

You do not have to be frugal to be a good person, nor does a good person have to be frugal. However, being frugal tends to encourage values that are considered “good” in our society, and the natural overlap of values that people consider virtuous tends to nudge people toward frugal living.

In the end, frugality and simple living tend to nudge us toward a set of values that are widely considered to represent a “good life” across many cultures and schools of philosophy. However, it’s not a guarantee of a good life, and luxurious living doesn’t mean a bad life.

Part of the difficulty here is figuring out what exactly the “good life” means – I take it to mean a contented life where you act as often as possible in accordance with the values you hold true. For me, frugality is unquestionable part of the “good life,” and I firmly believe that seeking frugality has been helpful in finding the “good” in other aspects of life, too.

Next week, we’ll look at why simple living is thought to make us happier.

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Problems That Can Haunt Your Credit Forever

Your credit reports are going to change over time, that’s as certain as death and taxes. New information is added, old information falls off, accounts get older, and your payment history and balances can vary as often as monthly. The ever-changing nature of credit is one of the reasons it’s so important to check your three credit reports frequently.

Why Is Credit Information Removed?

Old and inactive information generally does not remain on your credit reports forever, but you may not understand why the removal of the information occurs.

Some information is removed from your reports due to the credit bureau’s policies. Other information is removed from your reports due to the legal limitations regarding how long the information can be maintained. Finally, there is some information that could remain on your credit reports forever, meaning there’s no requirement to remove it.

What Information Gets Removed From Your Credit Reports?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates how long most derogatory information is allowed to remain on your credit reports. In general, most negative information is required to be removed after seven to 10 years, although there are some exceptions to that rule.

Must be Removed By or Before Seven Years

  • Late Payments
  • Collections
  • Foreclosures
  • Repossessions
  • Released Tax Liens
  • Charge-Offs
  • Settlements

Must be Removed By or Before 10 Years

  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (10 years from date filed)
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy (seven years from discharge, but cannot exceed 10 years from date filed)

Closed accounts with no derogatory information are allowed to remain on your credit reports forever. The FCRA does not require the removal of a positive account from your credit reports — and, frankly, given the value of old, good information, you don’t really want it to be removed. Yet credit bureau policy is to remove closed, positive accounts from your credit reports after 10 years of inactivity.

Credit Information With No Expiration Date

If you have made credit mistakes in the past, you’re no doubt grateful for the fact that these issues are generally not permitted to haunt you for the rest of your life. Yet there are a few exceptions.

Namely, if you default on a debt that is owed to or backed by the government, it is probably allowed to remain on your credit reports indefinitely, or at least until you make good on the obligation.

Federally Guaranteed Student Loans

The FCRA does not impose credit reporting restrictions upon federal student loans. In fact, the FCRA is silent on the subject. Instead, credit reporting standards for student loans are governed by the Higher Education Act.

Defaulted student loans are not required to be removed from your credit reports until seven years from the date they are paid. Unpaid student loans can remain on your credit reports forever, although the credit bureaus can certainly choose to remove them eventually.

Unpaid Tax Liens

Legally speaking, there is no requirement in the FCRA for an unpaid tax lien to be removed from your credit reports. The credit bureaus could report your unsatisfied tax liens indefinitely if they desired to do so and, until recently, that is pretty much what happened.

However, the credit bureaus themselves recently elected to remove the vast majority of tax liens from consumer credit reports as a matter of choice. The decision to remove tax liens from credit reports was due to the bureaus’ efforts to comply with new, improved standards for the credit reporting of public records.

The news isn’t necessarily all good, however. If you have an outstanding tax lien, keep in mind that it can still cause problems, including denial for new loans if your lender purchases a public records report from LexisNexis as part of your application review process. Additionally, there is no guarantee that the credit bureaus will not elect to re-add tax liens and other public record information back onto consumer credit reports in the future.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Financial Improvement and Self-Confidence

Several months ago, my mother-in-law made an interesting offhand comment that has tossed around in my head ever since. We were talking about my career path and how I went from being incredibly crushed at work – to the point of skipping a weekend visiting them because of work crises – to gradually standing up for myself at work and eventually quitting and starting my own business. When I sold that business and returned to an employment state, I did it exclusively on my own terms.

She made the point that, as my financial health improved, my self-confidence in my professional life also improved, which opened a ton of career doors for me.

When I was pushed up against the wall financially, I was basically scared to step out of line at all at work. If someone told me to do something, I did it, without question. I didn’t argue about it. I didn’t stand up for what I felt was right, nor did I do anything about what I felt was wrong.

I tolerated a poisonous coworker that nearly derailed a multi-year project and didn’t really say anything about it. I worked some ridiculous hours completing project elements that other people probably should have covered. I traveled a ton when I didn’t really want to travel at all.

I did that because I needed that salary. I was pressed up against the wall financially, mostly due to my awful spending habits but also because of my outstanding student loan debts and my outstanding car loan, and I lived in fear that I would lose this job and I’d basically be homeless. This obviously created a lot of stress, which I glossed over with yet more spending. It wasn’t a good cycle.

However, it was a cycle I was determined to break after the birth of my first child. Sarah and I buckled down and made some real financial changes to our life. We paid off all of our debt over the course of a little over a year and started making real concrete financial plans for the future.

In parallel with that came some professional changes. I had established a reputation at work of just being someone upon whom miserable tasks could be dumped and over the course of a couple of years, I started bristling against those tasks and standing up for myself more and more. This eventually came to a head at a meeting where I openly criticized a particular workplace policy in a way that I figured would get me into hot water, but instead I found that it actually raised my professional profile a little.

I began to be more and more assertive as time went on. I demanded extensive time off for the birth of our second child and I received it. I started openly suggesting some significant changes in the project I was working on. Along the way, I was invited to meetings and other forums that had previously been closed to me. I was dissatisfied with my career, but it seemed to be going better than ever.

It was that same self-confidence that led me to walking away from that job shortly thereafter, mostly because I wasn’t happy with what my role had become and where things seemed to be heading. Instead, I took up a full time gig as a writer.

It was a leap that took a ton of self-confidence, which I didn’t have just a few years before. If anything, having an infant and a toddler at home should have made me even less self-confident about taking professional risks.

What changed? I had righted my financial ship. That was the big change. I was no longer in fear of everything collapsing if I lost my job. Yes, it might be rough for a little while, but I had a firm financial foundation under me. I didn’t have debts hanging around my neck. I had a nice emergency fund in place. I had solid retirement savings under my belt. I also had a couple of moderately successful side businesses growing (one of which was The Simple Dollar itself). Not only that, I was spending a lot less than I earned – things were improving literally every month. Things would be okay.

That sense that my finances were in good shape and that my world wouldn’t collapse if I lost that job made me feel more comfortable asserting myself at work. I felt more self-confident in everything I did there because I knew that the threat of a job loss was far less powerful than it once had been.

That self-confidence was transformative. Not only did it make the final year or so at my previous job much more tolerable than it would have been, it also gave me the courage to try other endeavors, which led me to jumping to The Simple Dollar full time when it began to look feasible.

The self-confidence that came from knowing that it wouldn’t be a disaster if I had to change jobs, along with knowing that I could easily take the risk to change jobs without upsetting my apple cart, enabled me to not only advocate for myself at work, but it gave me the confidence to leap into a major career shift that was good for my health, happiness, and finances.

What’s the take home lesson here?

First of all, don’t let yourself get into a situation where you absolutely have to keep your job or else your life falls apart. When you’re in that position, you’ve allowed your job to have an enormous degree of power over your life, which means you simply have to accept what your boss shoves in your direction. Absurd overtime hours? Drudgery work? Poor treatment? You’re in a position where you have to accept it or add additional stress to an already fragile life and financial situation. Avoid this at all costs.

The easiest way to avoid this scenario is by living on less than you earn at all times. Never, ever, ever spend as much as you earn. Always spend less. Put aside parts of your paycheck for retirement and for an emergency fund. At the same time, don’t allow your debts to grow; instead, pay them down rapidly. When you pay off a car loan, don’t look at it as an opportunity for lifestyle inflation – instead, start saving an amount equal to your car payment so that in a few years you can just pay cash for the replacement.

The reality is that whenever you assert yourself in the workplace, there’s an upside and a downside to it. The upside is that if you have a legitimate and well-articulated concern, you’re likely to see at least some degree of improvement in whatever it is you’re concerned with, particularly if you have a good record as an employee. You’re also likely to be seen in a more positive and proactive light by others, provided you carefully choose what things to stand up for and don’t complain about everything. The downside, of course, is that you can potentially create conflict while being assertive, which has some risk of having a negative impact on your career. Being in a poor financial situation causes that downside to magnify, increasing the risks associated with standing up for yourself. Financial self-control makes it easier for you to be more self-confident at work.

So, my career advice to anyone and everyone out there is to get in control of your finances. Spend less than you earn, have a healthy emergency fund, and know that your world won’t fall apart if you were to lose your job. This makes the risk of taking a stand at work much less, and taking a stand can have some tremendous upside for your career.

Good luck!

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Who’s the Boss? Not Me: Why I Turned Down a Big Promotion

For the first nine years of my working life, I had one goal: Move up the ladder as fast as possible. If I wasn’t making quick progress through the ranks of my profession, I didn’t see the point of sticking with a line of work for more than a few years.

Lately, though, my thoughts on this matter have evolved. I’m now happy to hang around the middle levels of an organization, even if I end up doing so for my entire career. Below, I’ll explore how I got to this point and, with the help of a professional career coach, I’ll discuss why others might want to consider a similar path.

Missing the Forest for the Trees

My first post-college job was as a professional basketball player in Israel.

In the fall of 2012, after completing my third season as a player, I had a big decision to make. I was offered a contract to play for a fourth year, but I didn’t know if I wanted to take it. My issue was with the fact that I would be making the same amount of money I’d earned the previous year. I would also be on the same team, and I’d have the same general responsibilities on the court.

All of those factors made me feel like my career had plateaued. I felt like I would never achieve my real goal, which was to play on a more prestigious team and make a lot more money.

I didn’t care that I was making a pretty good salary to play a sport I loved. I didn’t care that my job offered me ample free time to socialize, explore, and work on side projects. I didn’t care about the relationships I’d built or my deep ties to the local community. All that mattered was my lack of upward mobility with my job.

I decided to stop playing basketball at that point. While I’m happy with how everything turned out, I have regrets about the decision-making process that led me to quit. I was looking at my career through a very restrictive lens. I should have stopped playing if I didn’t love basketball anymore, or if my work situation was toxic — not because I wasn’t hitting arbitrary career benchmarks I’d set in my head.

Changing How You Define Success

A few months ago, I was offered a promotion. The new role promised more money, but also substantially more responsibilities. I was perfectly happy at my current level, so I declined. I knew full well that the new role would not be a good fit for me. Every step up the ladder comes with a new set of new headaches, and I just don’t care to deal with those at this time.

Making the most money, or having the fanciest title, is no longer my goal. I am happy to be a career subordinate.

This is a contrarian stance to take. When I told my parents about my decision, they both immediately asked, “Why would you not accept a promotion?!” The dominant message in our culture is that we should be pushing ourselves to greater and greater heights in the workplace, regardless of the consequences.

Irina Pichura, a career coach and founder of Career Manifestations, realizes that it can be difficult to combat such messages. She thinks the key to your workplace happiness lies in figuring out how you define success, a process that will be unique to each individual. “Success is different for everyone, depending on their core values,” Pichura said.

Basically, you have to do an honest assessment of what matters to you. “Not everyone wants to be a manager or a high-level executive and take on that responsibility,” Pichura told me. “It’s important to think about your individual goals and what’s going to be fulfilling to you. Everyone has different aspirations in life.”

Like a lot of good advice, it sounds so simple but it’s hard to execute. When you’re swimming in a sea of people who all have the same aspirations, it can be hard to step back and figure out what you really want. But if you make the time to do so, the results might surprise you.

Finding the Right Fit

There are people who should be pushing their careers forward at full speed, and please, don’t let me stop you. If you love what you do and you like the responsibilities that come with increasingly high-level roles, then go for it! Many people have very good reasons to tip the work-life balance further toward work.

The key is in making sure you truly are that type of person. As Pichura told me, “It’s important for people to listen, be honest, and honor what balance looks like to them as an individual, and then find a company or workplace that gives you that.”

In the real estate world, the famous mantra is, “Location, location, location.” Most buyers are willing to sacrifice quite a bit so they can live in an area they absolutely love. It seems the job-hunting mantra should be all about, “Fit, fit, fit.” Even if you don’t make the most money or have the most exciting role, if your job perfectly suits your particular skill set and personality, well, that’s pretty darn important.

My best fit is at my current company in my current role. I’d truly be happy to spend the rest of my career in my position, regardless of what my parents, friends, or the “Hustlers,” “Ninjas,” and “Growth Hackers” on LinkedIn think.

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

Many people have found out the hard way that a higher paycheck and a new role doesn’t always make them happier. Or, as the rapper Notorious BIG famously put it, “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.”

Pichura told me a story that illustrates this point. She knew a sales representative that was very happy in her role as an individual contributor. She made good money and liked the work. She was also very successful, and her bosses repeatedly asked her if she wanted to take on the role of District Sales Manager. She finally relented and accepted the job. Then, she instantly regretted it.

“She now has the stress of managing six other sales representatives who have to produce and hit their quotas,” Pichura said. “She never wanted the position and only took it because of pressure from the company and the prestige of a higher role. I think it would have been better in her case to stick to what she originally doing and listen to her intuition.”

Whenever I consider taking on a new role at my company, I have to actively remind myself that I have it very good and that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Summing Up

I recently learned a new word that I love: satisfice. It means “to accept an available option as satisfactory,” and people who strive to be satisficers tend to be happier with their decisions. As someone who used to be a perfectionist, I now see the beauty in being a satisficer, whether it’s in where I live or where I work.

When I made my decision to quit basketball, things like work-life balance were not considerations. I had a one-track mind. Now, success in my eyes is more about having a good work-life balance than in moving up the ladder. I truly feel like I know when something is good enough, and no amount of societal pressure can sway me to think differently.

Related Reading:

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This Ropain Diwas, Minister will plant rice in the ‘farm of Buddha’s dad’

Kathmandu, June 27

As Nepali farmers are preparing to celebrate Ropain Diwas (National Rice Plantation Day) this Friday, the country’s Agricultural Minister will plant rice saplings in a field where King Suddhodhan, father of Lord Buddha, used to work with his golden plough as per myths.

Minister for Agriculture, Land Management and Cooperatives Chakrapani Khanal will participate in a function to be organised in Tilaurakot of Kapilbastu district on Friday, according to his secretariat.

Khanal’s personal secretary Arjun Bhandari says Khanal will plough the farm and plant saplings in front of the historical Tilaurakot Palace.

Khanal has already left Kathmandu for the function today itself.

The event is being organised in collaboration with Lumbini Development Board.

Nepal celebrates the 15th day of Asar, according to the Nepali calendar, as Ropain Diwas in a bid to promote farmers’ and stakeholders’ involvement in the production of the country’s major crop.

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Maintain decency in social media use, Kathmandu police tell public

Kathmandu, June 27

The Metropolitan Crime Division, the crime investigation police unit of the capital, has urged members of the public to maintain decency while using social media so that they can avoid being victims or perpetrators of cybercrime.

The Division has told public not to accept friend requests sent by strangers on Facebook as “the trend of making obscene pictures by morphing pictures of social media users from their Facebook, Twitter, Viber, Imo and Instagram and posting them online is increasing of late.”

The Division has also warned people against spreading rumours about various issues on social media, and defaming other people.

Police say people can be fined upto Rs 200,000 or jailed for two years or can be given both the sentences if they are found involved in such activities as they can be deemed cybercrime.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Brown Bagger: 7 Strategies for Maximizing the Value of Taking Your Own Lunch to Work

One of the most effective ways to cut back on your food spending is to find ways to keep the costs of your work lunches as low as possible. Many, many people rely on a simple routine of just going out to eat or ordering food while they’re working because of the pure convenience of it, but that cost really starts to add up over time, and since it’s such a simple cost to cut, it’s a great place to see some big financial gains by changing just one area of your life.

How Much Does It Cost?

According to survey data shared by Visa, the average American eats out twice a week for lunch and spends an average of $11.14 for each of those meals. This does not include the costs of the other three lunches per week, which are often prepackaged meals which come at a (relatively) premium price.

Let’s say that you follow the national average and eat out for lunch twice a week. The other three days in a workweek, you use some other solution that costs an average of $5 per day. That adds up to $37.28 per week for lunches. Over the course of a year, that adds up to $1,864.

With just a few tweaks, you can bring the average cost of your lunches down to $2 while still enjoying a great lunch each day. That’s an annual cost of $500, meaning that these moves would save an average person around $1,400 a year.

My Own Experience with Lunches

Early on in my professional career, I ate out two or three times a week with coworkers or with people in my field in other departments. The rest of the time, I mostly relied on prepackaged meals that I kept stored in the work fridge/freezer or else in my desk.

My average lunch, while eating out, was about $10 a day, while most of the meals I ate at my desk were at least a couple of dollars and often more than that.

Since switching to working from home, I eat leftovers for lunch most days and make-ahead meals most remaining days, and the financial benefits have been tremendous. My cost for lunches is almost nonexistent over the course of a year and that actually has a real impact on our family’s budget, especially over time.

My wife works outside the home most of the year. Most days, she takes a lunch with her thanks to several strategies we’ve worked out over the years, which I’m about to outline. This keeps her lunch costs low as well.

These strategies easily save us a few thousand dollars a year, in other words. So, what are these lunch strategies?

Strategy #1 – The Path of Least Resistance

This one’s simple: just make taking your lunch in the morning as utterly effortless as possible. Do everything you possibly can in advance, when you have more time, to make the actual decision to take a lunch with you as easy as humanly possible.

Almost every workday morning, the only thing Sarah has to do to take lunch with her to work is to open the refrigerator door and grab her lunch bag. That’s it. The lunch is already packed inside and completely ready to go.

This is done by moving the effort of actually packing the lunch to the night before. In fact, we typically do it during supper cleanup. If there’s a leftover meal that can be assembled for her lunch tomorrow, we assemble it right then and there and put it in her lunch bag in the fridge. If there isn’t a leftover meal that can be assembled, we find something else that works and put it in her lunch bag in the fridge.

For me, working from home, a similar strategy exists. I usually prepare a full lunch plate of leftovers if possible and store it in the fridge. That plate is again assembled during supper cleanup so that I can easily grab it the next day at lunchtime.

The point is this: there needs to be minimal resistance to taking a meal to work in the morning. It needs to be completely ready to go with minimal effort or else you’ll regularly convince yourself not to bother with it.

Our mornings are hectic, especially when the kids are in school. There isn’t time to prepare lunches right then as people are running around looking for papers or books or shoes or trying to finish breakfast. There’s always at least one or two unexpected events. Assembling lunch is something that’s incredibly easy to push aside because you can always just “throw money at the problem” and order lunch later, but that’s a fallback that you want to avoid. The solution is to make it incredibly simple to just grab that lunch and take it with you.

For us, a few tools make this easier.

My wife has an insulated lunch bag and several small Gladware containers that fit easily in the bag. We pack her lunch in those Gladware containers and put them in the bag so that everything is cool in the morning when she leaves. She can then put it straight into the fridge at work and then reheat it as needed. So, make sure that you have an appropriate and convenient way to take your work to lunch.

Most days, I either put my meal on a plate and cover it in some fashion or also assemble my lunch in a Gladware container or two.

Strategy #2 – The “Extra Leftovers”

Of course, one key part in making that first strategy work most of the time is actually having the leftovers available to pack away. Thus, one potential first step in having an inexpensive lunch at work is to prepare a larger dinner the night before.

Whenever we’re making a family dinner on a weeknight, we almost always make enough to serve four adults and three children. Sarah and I and the children eat dinner together, then there’s enough left over to prepare two lunches for the next day – one for me and one for Sarah.

This requires us to aim for recipes that serve six to eight people. Often, we’ll take recipes that serve four and double them in size for our family dinner.

How do we pull that off? Well, that rolls back even further into our meal planning and grocery shopping strategy. Here’s a detailed walkthrough of how we do our meal planning, using a real week in our life as an example.

We have a lot of shortcuts we’ve developed over the years that enable us to get a home-cooked meal on the table for our family pretty much every evening, even when Sarah and I are both working. We use our slow cooker all the time for soups and stews and casseroles that we usually assemble the night before and start cooking that morning. We often make full meals in advance and freeze them, which works well for things like lasagna and other dishes that will bake in the oven. We also have a large repertoire of meals that Sarah and I can assemble easily.

These tools enable us to put a family dinner on the table virtually every night, and almost all of those meals come with enough content to provide easily-assembled leftover meals for Sarah and I to use the next day. (They often provide even more than that, resulting in “leftover night” once or twice a week for our family dinner.)

Strategy #3 – The “Make Ahead Meal”

In this case, I’m not talking about full family meals that we’ve prepared in advance for our family dinners. Instead, I’m talking about individual meals that we’ve prepared in large quantities so that they can easily be pulled from the freezer and microwaved when a quick meal is needed.

Every once in a while, I’ll make an enormous batch of these individual “make ahead meals” – it takes an hour or two, depending on what I’m assembling. We have a bunch of individual meal containers that can go from the freezer to the fridge to the microwave to the table to the dishwasher and back with no problems and I’ll just make twenty or thirty identical meals in them for our family’s convenience. Here’s an example of that, where I made simple rice and beans; my most recent batch was a few weeks ago, where I prepared scrambled eggs, potatoes, and black beans with a bit of cheese and salsa in the exact same way by filling up a bunch of little containers and freezing them.

The nice thing about these meals is that, on a day in which leftovers are unavailable, it’s easy to just pull one of these out of the freezer for lunch. For Sarah, who leaves the house with her lunch bag each morning, we’ll often put one of those meals in that lunch bag the night before and leave it in the fridge, just as we do with any other meal. This is in line with the “path of least resistance” strategy at the start of this article – by having lunch in the same place each day, it becomes routine to remember it in the morning, so regardless of whether it’s leftovers or a made-ahead meal from the freezer, it’s waiting in the fridge in the morning in her lunch bag.

Strategy #4 – The “Simple to Assemble Meal”

In a given week, at least one or two of the following scenarios happens.

A child needs to take a lunch to school and failed to tell us until the last minute. One of our children has a practice of some kind after school that lands smack in the middle of dinnertime for the other four family members, which means that child needs an emergency supper of some kind. We miscalculated supper and there’s not enough for leftovers for the next day. We burnt supper, so something needs to be thrown together ASAP. The kids from across the street are unexpectedly here for supper so we need to stretch out a few more meals for everyone.

For whatever reason, we often need to throw together some sort of reasonable meal in a pinch, and sometimes that last-minute reasonable meal is something that winds up being lunch for Sarah or myself the next day.

Our solution to this problem is to always have stuff on hand for a quickly assembled meal. A loaf of bread. A package of deli cuts. Some sliced cheese. Some condiments. Some cut vegetables. Some fresh fruit. We almost always have these items around, and they can very quickly be put together into a passable meal if other options don’t work.

This is also true if we find ourselves in the evening without a good option for lunch the next day. Perhaps we don’t have enough leftovers. Maybe there aren’t enough meals ready to go in the freezer. Whatever the reason, having such an easily-assembled meal on hand makes it always possible to put together a solid lunch for the next day.

As with the other strategies, we often just pack this up the night before and put it in Sarah’s bag for lunch the next day so that it can be easily grabbed in the morning, just like any other lunch. This hews to the “path of least resistance” strategy noted earlier.

Strategy #5 – The “Brown Bag Club”

One reason that many people often eschew taking a lunch to work is that going out to lunch with coworkers is often done for social and professional reasons. Establishing a rapport and friendship with coworkers often has big professional benefits, after all. This strategy and the next focuses on how to resolve the conflict between saving money by bringing your lunch and improving your career by going out.

The first strategy to note is that it can be a good idea to intentionally dine with the other brown baggers. If you look around your workplace, it’s likely that many people bring their own lunches, and much professional and social benefit can come from eating with those people. Brown bagging provides a great opportunity to do so.

Just simply ask someone to eat lunch with you in the break room at noon, or else simply join in with a regular group of people who eat their lunches together. It’s a prime opportunity to build social and professional relationships without the expense of going out to eat, and it will probably help you build connections with people that you don’t know particularly well in the workplace.

When I worked in an office, I definitely had regular people that I ate with when I went out to eat, but there were also coworkers who brown-bagged it every day. Eating strictly with one group or another was actually restrictive in terms of my relationships, so what I eventually did was eat with people who normally ate out on days when they were eating at the office, and then ate with other people when the “dining out club” was out of the office for lunch.

Strategy #6 – The “Networking” Lunch

Still, there are definitely times where you really need to have lunch with a particular person for social or professional reasons that could really benefit your career, and on those days, eating out is perfectly fine.

Don’t treat such days as a food-related expense, however; view it as a professional development expense. Only go out to lunch if there is a direct professional development benefit and treat the lunch as such. If you’re establishing a relationship with someone or need to have a meeting with someone and a lunch is the best way to do that, then go for it.

When you go, order a very light lunch. Order a salad and a glass of water or something akin to that. Focus on the real reason you’re there – career and professional development.

If you get back to the office and find that you’re still hungry, then eat something. It’s not a mistake to bring a light lunch with you even on the days when you expect to be eating out, particularly if that meal can last an extra day in the work fridge (or in your desk).

Strategy #7 – If All Else Fails…

No matter how well you plan, there’s going to come a day or two where your plans fall through. Maybe you just forget your lunch. Maybe you were planning on eating out but plans fell apart. Maybe someone steals your lunch. All kinds of things can happen!

What do you do in those cases? What do you do if lunch time rolls around and you either didn’t bring a lunch or something went wrong?

My solution is a simple one, and it worked perfectly back in my office days. I simply kept a few prepackaged meals in a desk drawer and tapped them when needed.

My favorite prepackaged meal to keep on hand was a sealed bowl of soup, one that I could heat up in the microwave to have a filling lunch. I kept a single spoon in my desk as well and would wash that spoon as needed in the break room sink. I also kept a sealed bag of crackers in my desk to add to the soup. If I ever noticed I had only one or two soup containers left, I’d add soup to my grocery list and then put one or two of them in my lunch bag with the intent of sticking them in my desk.

One of my coworkers used to keep a can of tuna and some saltine crackers in her desk for this very purpose. Another coworker loved to keep several strips of beef jerky in his desk and would sometimes consume two of them for a light lunch along with a big glass of water.

These types of bare-bones meals are really inexpensive. They only cost a dollar or two and some options, like ramen noodle cups, might cost as little as a quarter. These might not be great “every day” lunch options, but they can certainly make up for situations where other lunch plans failed.

Final Thoughts

The key to all of this is to have a routine in place. Our routine that works well for us is to prepare lunch for both Sarah and myself the night before, by assembling the full meal and putting it in the fridge in a container that Sarah can just grab in the morning or I can grab at lunchtime. Sometimes, that meal is leftovers; at other times, it’s a “make ahead” meal or something simple made up of what’s on hand. If that system fails, then there are a few simple prepackaged meals around to cover for those gaps.

The key is to never leave yourself in a spot where an inexpensive lunch is unavailable to you in the middle of a workday, because that’s the very situation that ends up with you spending money needlessly. It doesn’t take much effort to start building a system that avoids that outcome.

What’s at stake here? As I noted earlier, a typical working American can save well over $1,000 a year by simply adopting a strategy of eating inexpensive lunches, and that money can easily make a real financial difference. It can help you start to pull out of debt. It can be a real start to a retirement fund. It can be the key to an emergency fund. It’s up to you.

It starts with lunch and being smarter about it.

The post The Brown Bagger: 7 Strategies for Maximizing the Value of Taking Your Own Lunch to Work appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Retirement in the Age of Uber: Can Gig Economy Workers Ever Call it Quits?

There are many upsides to the gig economy and freelance work, like the flexible schedule, the autonomy of being your own boss, and, if it’s a side hustle, the ability to earn extra income to pay off bills or save for special purchases. But a path to a stable retirement does not appear to be among the benefits, at least for a lot of gig economy workers.

Betterment, an online investment platform, has just released new research focused on the finances and the future of retirement in today’s self-employed workforce. And it’s not all good news.

Their report looks at the nation’s dated retirement system, and how it has left gig economy workers unprepared. The study notes that the rise of the gig economy is fundamentally changing the way Americans earn, spend, and save for retirement, pointing out that the freedom and flexibility of the gig economy is nice now, but, for many, unsustainable over the long term.

Two categories of gig economy workers are covered in the report: full-time giggers, who rely on independent work or temporary contracts as their main source of income, and side-hustlers, who supplement a traditional full-time job with an independent or temporary gig.

“While employees with a traditional nine-to-five are getting gig economy jobs to make up for gaps in their retirement savings, full-time giggers are unprepared for their financial future,” states the report, which revealed that seven in 10 full-time gig workers feel they will not be able to maintain their current lifestyle during retirement.

What’s more, three in 10 people who earn their main income through the gig economy set aside no money for retirement regularly.

With a significant number of people engaged in the gig economy, these are not statistics to take lightly.

As of May 2017, there were 10.6 million independent contractors in America, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the BLS number doesn’t take into account side jobs picked up for extra money; it only includes those who use gig economy or contract work as their primary source of income. Upwork estimates the gig economy is much larger, with as many as 57.3 million people.

With these numbers in mind, Betterment suggests there are several levers gig economy workers can pull to become more financially prepared for their future.

Make Better Use of Technology

Whether driving for a ride-sharing platform or selling products online, gig workers tend to be a tech-savvy group by nature. But there appears to be a major disconnect when it comes to using apps and web services to earn money – and tapping technology to maximize their financial security in retirement, says Betterment.

Gig economy workers, it seems, do not turn to technology for savings or investing with the same frequency as they do for finding jobs.

According to the Betterment study, while 59% of gig workers use a digital platform for their jobs, only 19% use an automated savings tool or app to save money, while 42% store money at home.

Gig economy workers need to embrace technology as a tool for work today as well as retirement tomorrow, states the report.

So what exactly does that mean?

“One of the main things you can do is make savings easy through auto deposits,” said Nick Holeman, a CFP with Betterment.

If you struggle to put money aside for retirement, begin by automatically transferring a small amount of money each month into a savings account. Pick an amount you likely won’t even miss, no matter how small, and over time, that money will grow. And then when you’re able, slowly begin to increase the amount you’re contributing.

Most checking and savings accounts allow you to set up an automatic transfer, but there are a variety of clever apps to help with this as well.

Digit, for instance, analyzes your the deposit and withdrawal patterns in your bank accounts and, every few days, picks an amount to transfer to savings that you’re unlikely to miss. Qapital lets you create savings rules to reward or punish behavior — for example, you can set it up to transfer $5 to savings every time you step into a Starbucks, or a dollar per mile you walk or run.

Yet another important way technology can help is through digital investing, including automated financial advising platforms and tools. Online investing is radically changing the dynamics of retirement preparation, says Holeman, making it far easier for the average individual to open an investment account.

“The minimum amount you need to invest in order to get started has been cut dramatically. You no longer need $10,000 to open an account… because robo-advisors are so much more efficient,” explained Holeman. “These companies don’t need an army of human beings. So, from a business standpoint, they can afford to serve customers with lower minimum deposits.”

Acorns, Stash, , and E*Trade are just some of the online and app-based investment tools available today, in addition to Betterment’s own offerings.

And one last note: Gig workers may not have access to an employer provided life insurance plan. But there are online companies that help with this as well, such as Policy Genius, which offers both life and disability insurance.

Open an IRA

Traditional, full-time jobs typically come with the advantage of 401(k) or 403(b) plans and matching contributions from the employer, says Holeman. Gig economy workers however, can’t count on such benefits.

But Holeman says there are ways to replicate at least part of the retirement benefits that full-time workers receive.

“Open an IRA,” he says. “Sure you might not have the match, which is a downside. But on the upside, you have so much more control over where you open the account and which funds you choose. Typically, employer plans are not very transparent and come with high fees. And you don’t get to pick which funds you invest in. So you’re at the mercy of your employer.”

In other words, think of it as an opportunity to be the master of your own retirement program. Whether you want the immediate tax perks of a traditional IRA or the tax-free retirement withdrawals of a Roth IRA, search for an IRA with low fees and attractive investing options.

Retire Later and Revise Your Definition of Retirement

There has been much written about the significant financial benefit associated with retiring just a few years later. Rather than leaving the workforce at 65 or 66, or taking early retirement at 62, consider working until 67 or longer.

There’s a variety of reasons why this can make a big difference to your bottom line in retirement. Chief among them is a dramatic reduction in Social Security benefits if you take them before full retirement age, which is gradually rising to 67 due to legislation passed by Congress.

But waiting for full Social Security benefits isn’t the only factor. A few extra years in the workforce means fewer years tapping your retirement savings, taking some of the pressure off your nest egg.

Holeman also suggests revising your idea of retirement. The image of one sailing off into the sunset at 65 and never working another day may be increasingly unrealistic. That’s not only because it’s financially untenable, but also because some retirees get bored and want to remain connected with people and their community by continuing to work at least part-time during retirement, Holeman explained.

“So many of us are behind for whatever reason. The main takeaway for me is that there are many ways to get back on track for retirement, such as retiring later, or shirking the traditional idea of retiring at 65 and never working again,” said Holeman.

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The post Retirement in the Age of Uber: Can Gig Economy Workers Ever Call it Quits? appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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