Acts of generosity towards friends and family can be draining on the wallet, but there are a few strategies to help mitigate those costs, according to U.S. News. For these ideas to work, however, it is essential that you already have a reasonable budget in place that allows you to know exactly how much money you can comfortably spend during each month to make smart decisions.
One of the easiest ways to spend a lot of money is by going out to expensive restaurants, shows, and other social events where one can quickly feel pressured to spend a lot of money to fit in. Rather than putting yourself in those situations, explain to friends that you can’t afford to pick up any tabs and good friends will understand. Learning how to host a simple dinner can be an excellent substitute for a night on the town.
Buying a case of wine and food to cook will end up being much cheaper in the long run. Friends will appreciate the effort put into the occasion and it will settle the score if it’s your turn to pick up the tab.
In other cases, a heartfelt invitation for something like being a friend’s maid of honor in a destination wedding can end up costing you a lot of money despite their good intentions. Rather than suffering through the ordeal, opt out of the invitation with an honest conversation with that person to explain that you can’t commit to the obligation. Joining the event as a regular guest or sending a gift without attending will be a generous compromise for someone on a tight budget.
Finally, giving gifts can be a significant source of stress for someone without a lot of extra money. According to Frugal Rules, some of the best gifts do not have to cost a lot of money, and a great example is merely giving your time. As an example, offer to babysit on date night for a friend that has young children or help with household chores when someone is ill or incapable. Baked goods and small do-it-yourself gifts can also provide a more personal touch while still saving the wallet.
Three wedding photography trends you need to know about
Whether you spend two weeks or two years planning your wedding, it’ll be over in the blink of an eye. To ensure you capture the event with beautiful photographs you’ll appreciate for a lifetime, take a look at these three inspiring wedding photography trends:
1. Drone photography. If your wedding is taking place in a beautiful outdoor location, a drone can create awe-inspiring photos that are impossible to get from the ground. Since photography drones are basically miniature helicopters with cameras attached to them, be sure to hire an experienced and licensed operator to avoid disaster.
2. Smoke bombs. Photographers are now incorporating colorful puffs of smoke that add an unexpected and untraditional element to wedding photos. Available in any color, smoke bombs can be used in different ways to add touches of whimsy or drama to your pictures.
3. Photojournalistic photos. Also called reportage style photography, these photos have a more candid and natural look than traditional shots. While your photographer will likely still cue you for some pictures, they’ll be using smaller, less obtrusive cameras to capture intimate moments from your wedding ceremony and reception.
No matter what type of pictures you eventually want to see framed on your mantle, the key to having beautiful photographs you and your partner will love is to work closely with your photographer.
Glossary of investment terms you should know
Are you too embarrassed to ask about the difference between stocks and bonds or what it means to “diversify” your investment portfolio? Here’s a brief glossary defining some key investment terms.
Bonds: bonds are formal “IOUs” that specify how a loan will be repaid over time. Government bodies and corporations borrow money from investors to fund projects and pay them interest until the bond reaches maturity and is repaid in full.
Diversification: a diversified investment portfolio means having a mix of different assets to reduce risk. For example, you own stock in a variety of companies and also have bonds; you won’t lose everything if one company fails.
Liquidity: liquid investments can be cashed in or sold quickly. This is important if you’re investing on a short-term basis.
Mutual funds: with mutual funds, investors pool their money together into one professionally managed investment. An investing expert then determines where the money should go to generate the greatest returns for the investors.
Return on investment (ROI): the profit you make on an investment. It comes in two forms: income generated, including interest and dividends, and increases in values, which means you can sell your shares for a profit.
Stocks: stocks represent partial ownership of a company. When you buy stock, you become a shareholder and earn money when the company does well.
Now that you know some of the basic terminology, it’s time to get your feet wet and start investing.
What to do if you find a lost animal
If you come across a cat or dog that looks lost, here are three things you should do.
1. Use caution to catch and contain it. Approach the animal slowly and carefully, speaking in a calm, gentle voice. The best way to contain dogs is with a leash or inside a fenced yard. Cats should be put in a cat carrier, a secure box with air holes or in a room in your house. If the animal is behaving aggressively, don’t try to catch it: call animal control or the police right away.
2. Look for an ID. If the animal has an identification tag, you’ll be able to contact the owner immediately and arrange its return.
3. Contact a local animal shelter. If the animal doesn’t have an ID tag, take it to an animal shelter. The animal shelter will scan the animal for a microchip, which typically contains the owner’s contact information. Even if it doesn’t have a microchip, the animal has the best chance of being reunited with its owner at the animal shelter, as it’s the most obvious place to go looking for a lost pet.
Seven ways to save money without sacrificing your dream wedding
Traditional weddings can cost an arm and a leg, and sometimes leave the couple in debt before they even begin their lives together. Here are seven ways to save money while still having the wedding of your dreams.
1. Limit your guest list: only request the presence of the people that matter to you. Avoid inviting distant relatives you never see.
2. Find a beautiful location: art galleries and botanical gardens are venue options that won’t need extra decorations.
3. Choose a restaurant: not only will the food be better, but you’ll also have all the tables, chairs and linens you need.
4. Only serve beer and wine: or if cocktails are your thing, create a signature drink to offer your guests.
5. Get a deal on the dress: buy your dress at a sample sale, or consider renting or buying a used one.
6. Minimize your florist bill: use candles as your centerpieces instead of flowers.
7. Make your own wedding album: find a photographer that will give you all of the day’s pictures on a flash drive and use an online tool to create your own photo book.
A beginner’s introduction to cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are digital currencies that allow people to make anonymous transactions electronically without involving third parties, such as banks, credit cards or companies like PayPal. This is appealing because third-party institutions often charge fees and slow down the transfer process, especially for large, international transfers. Cryptocurrencies eliminate the need for a middleman by using a peer-to-peer network that relies on cryptography — the practice of encrypting information so that only select people can read and process it.
These currencies are not only virtual but also decentralized, meaning that no government or central authority controls how much is in circulation. Instead, circulation is monitored by the user community, and transaction data is stored on computers across the world.
How blockchain works
Rather than using intermediaries, cryptocurrencies use blockchain technology to record and verify transactions. A blockchain is a list of all transactions that occur using a cryptocurrency, with each block representing a specific transaction. It can be accessed by anyone using the currency but is encrypted so your private information stays secure.
When you start using a cryptocurrency, you receive a digital wallet and a public and private key. Your private key is a string of letters and numbers that you use to sign a transfer to confirm that it’s from you. Once entered, it becomes encrypted, but other users can use your public key to check that you’ve signed it with your unique signature.
So, how exactly do transactions get recorded on the blockchain? When you enter your private key to send cryptocurrency, it spurs an encryption process that generates a complex math problem. Blockchain users compete to solve the problem by running high-powered computers that eventually find the solution to the algorithm. Solving the algorithm results in a new block being added to the chain.
The users competing to solve algorithms are called miners because the user who solves the problem first is rewarded in new digital coins. Each time a block is added, more cryptocurrency is generated. Mining cryptocurrency thus verifies transactions while rewarding the people responsible for keeping the blockchain updated.
Investing in cryptocurrencies
Financial experts are divided on whether cryptocurrency is the future of money or just a passing fad. In any case, at the moment cryptocurrency is a high-risk investment. Since digital currencies have no fixed worth or government backing, their value is purely speculative and can fluctuate wildly, even within a few days. If you buy cryptocurrency, spend only what you’re prepared to lose.
Instead of buying cryptocurrencies, some experts recommend investing in companies that are developing blockchain technology. Blockchain has applications beyond cryptocurrency, and many people think that even if cryptocurrency doesn’t last, blockchain could transform how we do business in the years to come. If you’re looking for investment opportunities, consider buying stock in companies that are finding new uses for blockchain.
Did you know?
Microsoft, Subway, Expedia and PayPal are some of the major companies that are now accepting certain cryptocurrencies as payment. Customers can pay for goods and services out of their digital wallets when making online purchases.
What you need to know about pet insurance
Innovations in veterinary medicine, including advances in medical techniques and the development of better prescription drugs, allow for superior pet care. However, more expensive vet bills are a byproduct of these innovations. Pet insurance, therefore, is an increasingly popular purchase among dog and cat owners.
Types of pet insurance
There are three types of pet insurance coverage: accident only, accident and illness, and comprehensive. The comprehensive option covers not only accidents and illnesses, but also various health treatments such as vaccinations, worm and parasite prevention, spaying and neutering, dental care and even behavioral therapy training classes.
Is pet insurance right for you?
When deciding on a pet insurance policy, do the appropriate research but also consult your veterinarian to find out what particular health needs your pet may have.