Monthly Archives: May 2018

10 Places to Buy Real Estate Overseas

There are plenty of reasons why buying real estate overseas can be a good idea for you. You might want to have a place where you can spend your summers or winters. You can also try to take advantage of tourism booms in certain countries. You can just want to diversify your investment portfolio with some real estate abroad. Whatever the reasons for your desire to buy property abroad, here are ten destination that might be worthy of checking out.

  1. Portugal

Portugal, and its capital Lisbon, offer some great investment opportunities. Tourism in Portugal is blooming, and it has been for a couple of years now. While that means that some of the more lucrative opportunities have already been snatched, you’ll still be able to find solid real estate opportunities in Lisbon. Especially if you don’t mind a fixer-upper.

  1. France

France is a traditionally stable market for real estate investments. Sure, the prices will change, but they are doing that everywhere. France offers you a chance to get financing as a foreigner, which is a great benefit. It’s also the most visited country in the world, which is great if you want to buy property and rent it out for the better part of the year.

  1. Colombia

There are several reasons why buying real estate in Colombia is a sound idea. There’s a favorable exchange rate for Americans. There’s also a growing middle class that will be looking for nice places to live. And there are cities like Cali that are experiencing a tourism boom.

  1. Panama

Panama offers great opportunities for real estate investors. If you are looking to invest in rentals, or even if you want to invest in agricultural land, Panama is the place to do it. The market is stable, the yields are decent, and the country’s newly developed relationship with China is likely to have a positive impact on the economy and property appreciation.

  1. Turkey

Even though the country faced severe political instability a couple of years back, it has bounced back stronger than it was before. The economy is on a strong upswing, propelled in part by an increase in tourism. On the other hand, the growing inflation is causing the national currency lira to drop, making for a favorable exchange rate with the dollar.

  1. Thailand

Even though Thailand presents some unique challenges to foreigners who want to own real estate there, it’s still a great country to buy property in. Richard Lusted of SiamRealEstate explains it: “Return on Investment on Thai Real Estate is exceeding 10% per annum. With land values increasing more than 300% over the past decade and current HPI at 6.8%, real estate in Thailand is experiencing high capital appreciation.”

  1. Turks and Caicos

The rule of thumb says that it’s much harder to get a good return from a high-end rental than a mid-range one. The one place where the rule is an exception are the Turks and Caicos. Plus, you’ll have financing options as a non-resident, which can come in handy if you’re planning a luxury purchase.

  1. Greece

Greece’s predicaments might not be over, but its tourism has been drawing crowds as big as ever. The financial troubles of the country have given plenty of opportunity for foreign investors to swoop in and buy great real estate on the cheap. There’s probably more than a few good deals left.

  1. Croatia

Croatia’s real estate market is split in two parts. The one that’s oriented towards foreign investment is located closer to the Adriatic Sea, and Croatia’s many islands. The market where locals shop is mostly inland. For a good investment, you should keep your eyes to the high-performing coastal regions.

  1. Italy

Italy’s housing market is still experiencing depressed prices. Even though the dollar to euro exchange rate is not as favorable as it was a couple of years ago, it still makes sense to look into Italy’s many beautiful cities and towns for a great real estate opportunity.

The Investor’s Guide to Cryptocurrency Taxes

The number of investors in the world of cryptocurrencies is constantly increasing. At the same time, the value of virtual currencies is also increasing at an incredibly fast rate. While some people have not been so successful with their investments, there are those who have gotten insanely rich in a matter of months. Nevertheless, almost all of these people avoid reporting profits on their tax statements.

Back in 2014, the IRS made it clear that investors need to pay taxes on the profits they make from cryptocurrencies. This is when the Internal Revenue Service first provided guidance for taxpayers, which addresses transactions made with virtual currencies with a document known as the Notice 2014-21. However, it was soon revealed that most people simply don’t report their profits. Namely, only 802 investors even mentioned cryptocurrencies on their tax returns in 2015.

One of the main reasons why people don’t mention them is because they think that they can get away with it, since the IRS currently doesn’t do a great job of tracking down transactions. Nevertheless, it’s only a matter of time before they figure it out. “To avoid problems with the government, you should seek help from an accountant who is experienced with digital currency. The last thing you want is to get hit with a hefty fine following your success in the cryptocurrency market,” says Joshua V. Azran of Azran Financial.

Another important reason why people fail to mention cryptocurrencies on their tax statements is because they simply don’t understand the guidance provided to them. First of all, there is this big myth that the Internal Revenue Service treats crypto like a currency. However, this is not really the case. In fact, they treat it like bonds, stocks, or any other kind of investment opportunity. Nevertheless, it looks like virtual currencies will start being treated like currency in the near future. There is currently a bill in the works called the Cryptocurrency Tax Fairness Act, which aims to do this. If and when the bill passes, taxation of digital currency will be much simpler.

However, for now it’s important to remember that you should pay taxes only after you sell a cryptocurrency and make a profit. In other words, if you’ve invested in a certain virtual currency and are holding it, then there is no need for you to be reporting it to the IRS. However, when you sell it, then you should include that information on your tax statements. In fact, you should include it even if you use a cryptocurrency to pay for goods or services.

It doesn’t really matter if you sold a virtual currency for US dollars or used it to buy a new car, the IRS looks at both of these cases like you sold the coins. This is where paying taxes can get a bit complex. In order to properly report your gains and losses, you will need to take every single transaction you made into account. It’s on you to find all the needed information, which can be extremely hard to do. Thankfully, there are some cryptocurrency exchanges that allow you to download transaction reports. If your exchange has this option, then this process will be a lot easier for you. However, if it doesn’t, then you’re going to need to personally record every transaction.

After you’ve gathered all the necessary information, you will have several options to choose from when it comes to calculating capital gains. It’s worth noting that you’re able to deduct your losses on your tax returns if you’ve lost money trading. Nevertheless, you can only deduct up to $3,000 from your taxable income a year. But the good news is that your losses won’t expire, so you’ll be able to carry them forward for years.

How to Go Back to School While Working Full-time

A full-time job likely occupies at least 40 hours of your week; add in the commute, obligations at home, time to sleep, and you probably barely have time to even think about going back to school. However, returning to college or enrolling for the first time can allow you to land your dream career. Fortunately, the accessibility of online schools has made it at least somewhat easier to achieve your goals, and you can follow some other tips for success as well.

Evaluate the School’s Requirements and Schedules 

You may jump into a program because you see that it’s offering many evening classes in the upcoming semester. However, one semester does not necessarily tell you what the entire program will require. The best idea is to sit down with the chairperson in your intended program or a guidance counselor at the school. Seeing what the schedule of courses is like will let you know if this institution is the best one for your needs. If you are choosing an online program, you may be required to complete at least a few of the classes on the actual campus. Knowing this information before you start the program means that you’re reducing the risk of unpleasant surprises later on.

Ask about Tuition Reimbursement 

Before you start applying for student loans and scholarships, find out if your company offers tuition reimbursement. If you are looking to leave the job, you may likely discover that this option isn’t possible. In fact, you have given your boss a reason not to keep you. On the other hand, if obtaining the degree would better your skills and position at the company, you may then discover that the business will cover the costs of tuition.

Understand How Costs Work 

In the event that your job does provide tuition reimbursement, make sure that you aware of exactly what those funds will cover. For example, many colleges have fees that are not covered under tuition. Your job might pay for them too, or these fees may be your responsibility. When you cannot procure tuition reimbursement, start seeking cost-effective options. You may think that you can just take out a loan to pay for schooling; however, your income might preclude you from doing so. You shouldn’t be so quick to give up though when it comes to how to pay for college. Speaking with a representative from the school’s financial aid department can introduce you to options that you didn’t know existed.

Enroll in an Online Program 

Attending on class and arriving on time are both important components of the college experience. When you’re working a full-time job, however, you may be unable to do so. To prevent problems that arise with missed classes and lateness, enroll in an online college. You can also find online schools that provide laptops so that you have a means by which to accomplish your work. An online school means that you could take care of assignments early in the morning before heading off to your job or during your lunch break. You’ll have a greater amount of flexibility than you would if you were enrolled in a traditional brick-and-mortar school.

Work with Your Cohort 

While online school provides a host of benefits, it does not necessarily offer you the community perk of a cohort. When you enroll in certain programs, you’ll often go through the classes with the same group of people. In fact, if you’re taking classes in the evening hours or on weekends, you may discover that many of the other students are also working full-time. You can act as a source of support for one another. For example, you can swap notes to make sure that you are prepared for the next exam; however, you can also talk each other through the tough days and discuss strategies for dealing with time-management debacles that may arise.

The decision to obtain a degree while you’re working full-time is likely a tough one to make. However, this choice will eventually allow you to obtain the position or the job that you want. Keep in mind that you’ll have this packed schedule for just a few years until you finish up the program requirements.

9 Ways People Relieve Stress Online

Where do you turn to when you’re in dire need for some stress-relief? When the usual methods are not available, the digital world will be there to help. Even though being online can cause you more stress, the Internet abounds with many stress-relief tools. Here are some you might find useful for keeping your stress levels in check.

  1. Watch Cat Videos

If you’re not a cat person, you can watch puppy videos instead. But the important thing to remember is that watching cute animals will reduce your stress and make you feel better. You can replace cats and dogs with other animals, like baby chicks, ducklings, pandas, or any other animal that looks cute and cuddly and makes you feel good.

  1. Enjoy Some ASMR

ASMR is not for everyone. It’s short for autonomous sensory meridian response, and it refers to a pleasant tingling sensation that’s triggered by listening to certain sounds. There are plenty of videos online that trigger this effect in some people. If you’re not susceptible to it, however, you’re likely to just find these videos creepy.

  1. Tend to an Online Zen Garden

Zen gardens are a form of minimalist gardens that often contain little except some sand and a couple of stones. But they can relieve stress because they can significantly reduce visual clutter, which is a possible cause of stress. And you can create these Zen gardens online.

  1. Vent (Without Being a Jerk)

If you see something online that causes you stress, it might help you to react to it. If it’s an article or a video, you can do so by leaving comments. Comment sections are often nasty places where people write terrible things, so you shouldn’t really add to that. But if you keep your comments thoughtful and reasonably polite, you should comment away. Just be careful not to get drawn in a conversation you don’t want to be a part of.

  1. Listen to the Sounds of Nature

You’ll find many sound generators online that can help you manage your stress. The sounds of waves crashing, rainfall, or birdsong can drain your stress, leaving you more relaxed. If your stress is making it hard for you to focus, these sound generators will help with that too.

  1. Online Window Shopping

Do you like window shopping, but can’t do it while at work? Spending a couple of minutes to research your future purchases can give you the pleasant feeling of window shopping from the comfort of your chair. It’s as simple as going to an online store and looking at the products you’d like to buy. The added benefit is that you’ll be able to find deals and compare prices in the process, so you’ll actually be reducing stress and saving money at the same time.

  1. Play Online Games

Playing games can be a powerful form of stress-relief. It gets even better if you can find online the games you used to play while you were a kid, as the nostalgia effect often provides comfort. You’ll find no lack of websites that offer you online games for free, and most of them will have a large selection for you to choose from.

  1. Stress Relief Apps

There’s an app for everything these days, stress relief included. If you like to practice mindfulness and meditation for stress-relief, there are hundreds of apps for that. If you want to be more positive, there are apps that will help you. If you need help with managing your anxiety, you guessed it, apps will be there to lend a hand. You can even find coloring apps that serve as a virtual coloring book.

  1. Satisfy Your Curiosity

Finally, you can just browse the web to find things you’re interested in and take your mind off the stressors around you. Whether it’s music, movie trailers, TV show episode recaps, you’ll find plenty of content online that will grab your attention and help you forget, at least for a moment, that you’re under stress.

4 Hidden Dangers Lurking in Your Home

Home is where you hang your hat at the end of the day. But what you may not know is that your home could have hidden dangers that may be affecting your health. These dangers include:

1. Mold

Mold may be lurking in your home without you even knowing it. These microscopic organisms thrive in moist, oxygen-rich areas. In homes, mold usually grows in damp areas with poor ventilation.

Exposure to mold can cause sinus and nasal congestion, eye irritation and chronic cough. Mold can also trigger asthma attacks in some people as well as lung infections in those who have respiratory disease.

2. Lead

If you live in a home built before 1978, there’s a good chance that lead paint was used at some point. And if you have lead pipes, your drinking water and soil may be contaminated with this metal.  

Lead exposure can cause a number of serious health issues, especially in young children. Lead can lead to developmental and behavioral issues in children, but they can also affect adults in similar ways. This toxic metal can cause nerve disorders and other issues.

Have your home and water tested for lead. You can buy and perform the test yourself, or you can consult with an environmental organization.

If you do have lead paint in your home, a certified lead paint removal company can come in and remove it. If you have lead pipes and do not have the funds to replace the pipes, make sure that you never use hot water from the tap for drinking or for making baby formula.

2. Bacteria in Your Pipes

You do your best to keep your home clean, but there’s one key area that you may overlook: your pipes. Bacteria may be growing in your plumbing system, and among the possible harmful bacteria you may be ingesting is legionella.

One way to reduce the number of bacteria in your pipes is to have them professionally cleaned with hydrojetting.

“Hydrojetting is an environmentally friendly option to clean your home or business sewer drain pipes using high pressure water,” says SPT Pipe. “A high-pressure hose with a nozzle connected to a machine produces a powerful stream of water that clears grease, hair, mineral buildup, and other debris that has been forced down the drain.”

3. E. coli and Salmonella

One of the dirtiest rooms in your home is the kitchen. If you’re a meat-eater, there’s a very real possibility that salmonella and/or E. coli may be lurking somewhere in your kitchen.

These two forms of bacteria can cause some distressing gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea and vomiting. They can also cause life-threatening dehydration.

Humans are typically infected with salmonella after handling or eating contaminated raw foods, including poultry, eggs, fruits, beef and vegetables. E. coli infection typically occurs after consuming contaminated foods that weren’t properly cooked or cleaned.

Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling food. If possible, use two cutting boards – one for fruits and vegetables, and one for meats.

Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood separated from other foods in the refrigerator. When preparing meat, be sure to cook it to the safe temperatures indicated by the Food Safety and Inspection Service.

4. Pesticides

There may be more pesticides in your home than you realize, including weed killers, insect repellent, roach sprays and even your dog’s flea and tick shampoo. There are also dangerous chemicals in some unexpected places, like pressure-treated wood and wallpaper.

Household pesticides are one of the leading causes of poisonings in children, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). If used or stored improperly, these chemicals can cause breathing problems, nerve damage and other health issues.

Read the labels on these products and store them properly. Keep all household pesticides locked away from children.

How to Dress for a Formal or Casual Interview

Your interviewer will form an initial opinion on you before you even say one word based on what you’re wearing. Apart from having a good resume and attitude, dressing appropriately will help you secure that job. However, deciding what to wear can be pretty confusing nowadays.

There used to be a time when you couldn’t really go wrong with a conservative dress and heels or suit and tie, but things have changed a lot since then. Now it all depends on the company that you want to work for. Thanks to the rise of countless tech companies in recent years, you don’t need to wear a suit to an interview in certain companies. Nevertheless, in some industries like law and finance it’s expected of you to dress conservatively.

How Men Should Dress for a Formal or Casual Interview

You should show up to an interview in business formal attire if you applied for a job at a law firm or a bank. It’s also recommended that you dress like this for business consulting jobs as well as administrative or managerial positions. On top of that, any high-skill white collar jobs such as advertising require you to dress formally for an interview.

Dressing in business formal attire means that you should have a dark colored suit with no pattern or fine white pinstripes. Make sure that it fits you well and that you’re comfortable in it. The shirt underneath the suit should be plain white with a point or spread collar. Your tie should be dark colored, while your shoes should be black. In order to look more professional, you can wear a nice luxury watch. Keep in mind that nowadays you can get a pre-owned luxury watch for a low price on a lot of websites that sell them.

In case you’re applying for an entry or mid-level office job or any kind of desk job, then you should go with a business casual outfit. Pick out a dark sports coat or blazer that isn’t patterned. Your trousers should be with minimal texturing and of solid color. Go with a collared shirt, but make sure that it’s not bright colored. Pick out some nice brown or black leather dress shoes, and you can skip the tie if you don’t feel the need to wear it.

How Women Should Dress for a Formal or Casual Interview

The first item that makes up your business formal attire should be a suit. For women, a suit consists of a blazer and a matching skirt or pair of trousers. It’s recommended that you choose a suit in a neutral color like dark grey or black. Underneath the blazer, you should wear either a pullover shell blouse or a buttoned-up shirt. Make sure that the color of your blouse or shirt matches well with your suit. You can either go with light colors like white and white pink or conservative tones like burgundy and black.

Leather pumps are a great addition to a formal business wardrobe. Keep in mind that heels should be somewhere between two and four inches. Pearls are a great conservative accessory that can improve your look. You can go with either a pearl necklace or a pair of pearl earrings. In addition to this, you can wear a luxury watch if you’re applying for a serious position. If you don’t have one, you can find many great websites that sell pre-owned luxury watches at affordable prices.

If you know that employees at the company you want to work at don’t dress so formal and you start wondering if you’re too dressed up, then you most likely are. In case you’re going shopping for business casual clothes, you should choose items that you can wear with anything, such as pencil skirts, blouses, button-down shirts, sweaters, and black or navy blazers. For your business casual interview, you can wear dark-washed jeans, a blouse, a navy blazer, and some pearl earrings.

Creating a Mobile Office: How to Work from Anywhere

With all the hype today about working remotely, it’s no wonder that many entrepreneurs are looking into mobile offices as a way to work from home without actually having to work at home. Plus, some businesses are simply set up so that a mobile office is a necessity.

If you are a business owner or traveling salesperson who might benefit from working in a mobile office, consider these four tips when setting up your business on wheels.

1. Use a Vehicle That Will Suit Your Needs

When creating a mobile office, the first thing you need to do is to determine what kind of vehicle will meet your business needs.

Will you be meeting with clients? If so, then you need enough space for everyone to sit comfortably, to chat and to share documents. And you’ll also need to take extra care to keep the interior clean and well-maintained to present a professional appearance. Your air conditioner and heater will also need to work properly to provide a comfortable atmosphere.

Will you need to use a laptop? If so, then you will need either a van with room for a desk, or you’ll need to install a laptop stand that mounts to the dash or to the frame of the passenger seat — similar to what you see police using in modern patrol cars.

Will you be traveling across the country in your mobile office? If so, then you will want to consider a vehicle with excellent fuel economy to ensure that you can make your trips without making excessive stops and without breaking your budget.

2. Sign Up for a Portable Hotspot

Having a steady internet connection is a must for any mobile office. In some cases your smartphone may provide enough data and power for your laptop to act as its mobile hotspot, provided your mobile service provider offers this option.

Otherwise, you’ll need to purchase a dedicated mobile hotspot that is separate from your cell phone. In many cases, this will work out better anyway because you may need to use both devices at the same time and will want a separate hotspot device to avoid overloading your smartphone’s data flow.

Plus, using a dedicated hotspot is usually better if you are using multiple devices simultaneously with clients, such as multiple laptops and tablets.

3. Use a Mobile Cell Phone Signal Booster

Along with a strong internet connection, you will need a reliable cell phone signal. There’s nothing worse than losing a potential client because you keep dropping the call. This is where a cell phone signal booster can come in very handy.

Signal boosters amplify the existing signal from your network’s cell towers to give you better reception, better clarity and less dropped calls. In some cases, having a booster will make a huge difference when driving through dead zones in rural areas in certain parts of the country. When your business relies on those calls getting through, this can make the difference between success and failure for you.

Boosters typically attach to your vehicle and to your phone magnetically. Some will need to be attached directly to your car’s radio antenna, but other models have their own built-in antenna and can work without any other equipment.

4. Load Up on Battery Packs and Chargers

Power will also be a major concern when you’re on the road in a mobile office. You will need multiple USB cords and car chargers. But you should also have a power strip on hand with standard outlet chargers so that you can stop into a Starbucks or public library any time and charge everything up in one session while you take a lunch break. Portable battery packs are also great for smartphones and tablets.

Your laptop may provide a challenge though. If you are using a newer Macbook or Chromebook, then the battery should last for eight to ten hours — more than enough for most mobile office workers. But if your computer will need a recharge during the day, most car chargers won’t have the power to get the job done.

In that case you should purchase an extra laptop battery that you can pop into the back of your laptop when the first one dies out. Just go online, search for spare batteries for your laptop model and you’ll find several options.

Setting up a mobile office can be a challenge, but many entrepreneurs, salespeople and traveling business executives have made the transition smoothly. Follow these four tips to help you set up your mobile office to make it a productive environment and a viable option for your business.

9 Quick Fixes for Common Home Problems

No matter how careful homeowners try to be, there will always be a problem that arises in their home due to normal everyday use. Luckily, many of these common problems have quick, affordable fixes.

1. Clogged Drains

Whether it’s from hair in your bathroom drains or food in your kitchen drain, your home will eventually suffer a clogged drain. When a clogged drain occurs, you can save money by utilizing a simple fix using common household items such as baking soda with vinegar or by loosening and removing the clog using a bent coat hanger. Even the use of hydrogen peroxide can help to remove clogs in your drains.

2. Ant Control

Ants are a common problem for many homes. Regardless of how clean you keep your home, ants will always find a way to invade. Fortunately, there are simple solutions to fix an ant invasion. Coating your doorways and windows with lemon juice or clove oil will repel ants with their strong odors. Cloves and clove oil will even kill ants with a chemical compound called eugenol.

3. Stinky Garbage Disposal

No matter how many times you run your garbage disposal in hot water, gunk will still form around the blades of your disposal. This gunk will develop a pungent, awful smell quickly. To remove this gunk, throw some ice into your disposal and turn on the blades. The ice will loosen the gunk. After crunching up the ice, pour in a mixture of baking soda and vinegar before rinsing it out with a kettle of hot water.

4. Weak Toilet Flush

Toilets play a very vital role in your home. If they’re not working properly, it’s a very big deal. One common issue with toilets is a weak flush. Instead of calling an expensive professional plumber, you can try an easy quick fix yourself. Find the water valve behind the toilet and turn the knob counterclockwise entirely. This will fully open the water line to your toilet tank and give it an extra boost to its flush.

5. Smelly Washing Machine

Although your washing machine is designed to thoroughly clean your laundry, it is also in need of a cleaning from time to time. In between cleanings, you can help to prevent it from becoming smelly by removing your wet clothes as quickly as possible to prevent the moisture from building up inside. Also, keeping your washing machine door open after a cycle to allow it to air dry will help prevent moisture accumulation and musky odor.

6. Rust On A Stainless Steel Sink

When you cook with metal baking pans and leave them in your stainless steel sink exposed to water, this can cause the baking pans to form a layer of rust. This rust will stain your metal sink and can prove to be difficult to remove. A mixture of white vinegar and baking soda along with vigorous scrubbing can remove light surface rust stains.

7. Scratches On Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are beautiful to have in your home, but they can attract scratches and dents from normal wear and tear by your family. These scratches can be unattractive to keep on your floor and can be easily fixed with some simple products purchased at the hardware store such as wood staining marker.

8. Removing A Stripped Screw

Stripping a screw head is a common issue during home improvement projects, construction projects, or home repairs. A stripped screw head can make removal of the screw virtually impossible unless you know this quick fix. Grab a handful of rubber bands (you may need more than one due to breaking), place the side of a rubber band over the stripped screw head, place your screwdriver or drill bit on it and turn to remove the screw.

9. Fingerprint-Free Appliances

The sleek look of steel appliances is very appealing in a modern decor kitchen. Unfortunately, steel appliances also show and hold fingerprints on a fairly consistent basis. A quick fix for this problem is to wipe down the steel appliance with a soft cloth before using window cleaner to remove the fingerprints and return the sleek shine of the steel.

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12 Keys to Finding a Contractor You Can Trust

Any type of work you need done on your home will cost money. Remodeling, for example, averages at a couple of dollars below $40,000. And sure, you might not need that much work done, but even less extensive work can set you back a four-figure sum. And because it’s your home, you want to make sure that the quality of workmanship doesn’t suffer — you don’t want shoddy work in the place where you live.

Finding a trustworthy contractor is a challenging task. There are plenty of people offering services. The construction industry in the United States employs some six million people, any of whom could be the person you hire to work on your house. But how do you know you can trust the person you hire? Well, here are some tips that will help you determine.

  1. Be Clear on What You Want

Before you even start looking for a contractor, make sure you understand why you are calling them. This might not be a big issue if you need someone to do some minor work. But as the work gets bigger, it becomes more important that you have a very clear understanding of your needs.

  1. Ask People You Trust

If someone you know had any dealings with contractors recently, ask them for references. People around you are a great starting point for finding a good contractor.

  1. Look Online

If your family members, friends, or colleagues come up short, you can always look online. You’ll be able to find contractor reviews, although it’s debatable how much you can trust them. However, you can also find contractor websites that offer upfront pricing, which is a trust signal.

  1. Talk to Multiple Contractors

You will want to pick at least three different contractors to start talking with about your project. You want to be picky, remember, and you want to create a pool you’ll be able to choose from.

  1. Ask for References

It’s important that the contractors you’re considering can produce references. Most will be able to do it, so the ones that can’t stick out like a sore thumb, and they are the ones you shouldn’t hire.

  1. Follow Up on the References

You’re not asking for references just to see whether they can produce them. Do the work — call the people or businesses that serve as a reference. Ask them a couple of important questions, including pricing, quality of work, and how well the contractors communicated with them.

  1. Check the Contractors’ Licenses

Contractors should hold valid licenses from local, county, or state licensing bodies. In some cases, they should also provide you with the results of inspections of their past work, if they are not included in the license.

  1. Lien Waiver

To protect yourself and your property, you should require your contractors to sign a lien waiver, or release of liens. This document will prevent you from having to pay subcontractors from your own pocket if the contractor doesn’t honor the agreement with them.

  1. Check Their Availability

You should expect to wait for a good contractor if you’re doing a big project. Good contractors are always in demand, and their availability might tell you something about the quality of their work.

  1. Agree on a Budget

Going for a cheaper option is fine, but you should always aim for quality. Choose the contractor that seems like he would be the best person for the job, not the cheapest one.

  1. Set Up Milestones

Pay for the work that’s done and pay in milestones. Your contractor should work with you to figure out the payment schedule.

  1. Listen to Your Guts

You should never disregard what your guts is telling you. If you have a perfect contractor but you feel that something isn’t quite right with them, look for another contractor. People sense more than they are aware off. Your gut feeling is just you telling yourself that you’ve missed something important.

What to Do When You’re Injured at Work

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 2.9 million workers suffered nonfatal workplace illness and injuries. And the actions that you take when you’re injured will dictate the outcome of your incident.

When you’re injured at work, the key most important thing to do is to notify a supervisor. You’ll want the entire report to be in writing, and depending on the state, the employer may be required to file all reports in writing.

Employees should protect themselves by putting everything in writing.

Statutes of limitations do exist, and this can be 30 days as it is in Alaska or two years as is law in Alabama. The best course of action is to alert your employer of an injury immediately. Once this is done, unless the injury is severe, you’ll want to seek medical treatment.

Seek Medical Treatment

Seek medical treatment for your injury or illness. Non-federal employees will need to adhere to state laws, and you may have the right to see your own doctor. The main issue with seeing your own doctor is that you’ll need to make the request, in writing, before the injury occurs.

Typically, you’ll alert your employer and they’ll:

  • Refer you to a doctor
  • Require you to see the doctor for 30 days

After the 30-day period, you’ll be able to see your own physician.

It’s important to seek medical treatment as quickly as possible. Workers’ compensation may require you to obtain medicine or tests through a network.

File a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Workers’ compensation is there to protect you and the employer in the event that an injury occurs. Claims are filed much like an auto claim, and you’ll need to fill out a workers’ compensation form.

The form will need to be mailed to the nearest Workers’ Compensation Board.

Employers may fill out this form on your behalf, but you’ll want to stay on top of the matter and make sure your claim is received. It’s important that a claim be made before the statute of limitations so that you still maintain your rights to benefits.

In emergency situations, everything is happening so quickly that you may not know what to do. “OSHA advises posting the emergency action plan in a convenient location that’s visually accessible to all employees or giving every employee a copy,” claims Bogdan Martinovich.

Ask employers, well before you’re injured and start working in the workplace, what policies and standards they have for emergency situations. You’ll also want to ask about protocol to follow when you’re injured.

After a claim is filed, you’ll want to keep a log of your injuries and any documentation you receive from the doctor. Make sure that all correspondences are in writing and follow the instructions of your doctor properly.

If you fail to follow your doctor’s instructions, this may lead to further injuries or illness that will not be covered.

Attend hearings on your case, see the doctor and go back to work when you’re medically cleared. You may also need to attend what’s known as an Independent Medical Examination.