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000000angry-atm96-crop-600x338Many years ago, a friend offered me an opportunity to purchase an Automated Teller Machine. He was the manager of a new mini-mart in the area and had already been asked by several customers for the location of the nearest ATM.

“It’s easy money!” he said.  “All we have to do is keep it stocked with cash and collect fees. The bank does everything else!”

He really thought he was onto something and was doing me a huge favor by sharing his investment advice. He thought he’d found “easy money”. I thought he was nuts! Why would I want to leave thousands of dollars of my own money, cash mind you, in a machine at the back of a gas station just in case the opportunity to collect a few little fees might present itself?!  Who would be dumb enough to pay a fee to get their own cash out of my machine? No, thank you.

I politely turned down his offer.  However, many times over the years, I’ve wondered if he might have been onto something.

000000It turns out that many, many people are paying ATM fees.  According to an analysis verified by SNL Financial, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo … America’s three biggest banks … earned more than $6.4 billion last year from ATM and overdraft fees! That works out to more than $25 in fees annually for every American adult!

I rarely carry cash.  When I do, it’s not because I’ve gone to a bank and it’s almost never because I’ve gone to an Automated Teller Machine.  According to Bankrate, the average fee for using an “out-of-network” ATM in the United States is $4.57.  WHAT?!

Who’s paying these fees?!

Almost any establishment where a Debit Card is accepted will allow customers to receive a minimal amount of cash back at the time of payment. Many retailers and grocers allow customers to receive as much as one hundred dollars cash back.  That’s what I do when I need cash! It’s convenient, safer than an isolated ATM and it’s FREE.

Had I realized back then that American are willing to pay BILLIONS in fees to access their own cash, I might already be retired after years of traveling from machine to machine filling each with crisp twenty-dollar bills.

Do you pay ATM Fees?


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Copyright © 2017


OVATION: National Margarita Day!

national-margarita-dayI love a good margarita! Come to think of it I enjoy bad ones, too. At this very moment, there’s a bottle of pre-mixed Jose Cuervo ready-to-drink goodness chilling in our kitchen refrigerator.  Always be prepared, right?

Today is National Margarita Day!

For the uninitiated, the margarita is the most common tequila-based cocktail served in the United States. It consists of tequila, triple sec and lime or lemon juice. There are many legends associated with the origins of the cocktail but two things are certain … margaritas always include tequila and the bartender edges the rim of the glass with salt.

One of my favorite margaritas is a simply mixture found at our local Mexican restaurant. The drinks they serve there aren’t particularly fancy but they’re always cold, they’re affordable and they serve them quickly! While many variations of the classic margarita are available, including fruit flavors and frozen concoctions, I prefer the “classic” recipe.

According to Mexican tradition, when drinking straight tequila (particularly if the quality is bad), the best course of action is to down it in one swallow, suck on a wedge of lime and lick a dash of salt off the back of your hand. It’s not surprising that the lime and salt followed tequila to the margarita glass.

00000In the December 1953 issue of Esquire magazine, the margarita was the “Drink of the Month” and the recipe was printed, perhaps for the first time, on a large scale.  The cocktails popularity was further popularized in 1977 when Jimmy Buffett released his signature song, “Margaritaville”.

National Margarita Day is claimed to have been founded by a few dozen bartenders, so it’s hard to trace its exact origin. But February 22nd is the day to use the #NationalMargaritaDay hashtag to share your love of this thirst-quenching favorite!

Do YOU like margaritas?


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OVATION: Guest Post – 529 Plans – Are They Right For Your Children’s Future?

0000000000000Any basic financial life plan will include provisions for your children. Most parents, when thinking about how and when to invest, will focus on basics like paying down debt, setting up retirement, estate planning, and allocating funds for their children’s endeavors.

Usually, the biggest single expense in a child’s life is their education. 529 plans are the most-used savings plans for college. If you want to reap the benefits of these tax-advantaged plans, it’s best to start early. But before you start investing, it’s important to make sure that they are right for you and your kids.

What is a 529?

A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan that is specific in its purpose – future college costs. 529 plans, also known as “qualified tuition plans,” are run by states, state agencies, or educational institutions. Prepaid tuition plans and college savings plans are both types of 529s.

Here’s how the federal government defines the two:

Prepaid tuition plans generally allow college savers to purchase units or credits at participating colleges and universities for future tuition and, in some cases, room and board. Most prepaid tuition plans are sponsored by state governments and have residency requirements. Many state governments guarantee investments in prepaid tuition plans that they sponsor.

College savings plans generally permit a college saver (also called the “account holder”) to establish an account for a student (the “beneficiary”) for the purpose of paying the beneficiary’s eligible college expenses. An account holder may typically choose among several investment options for his or her contributions, which the college savings plan invests on behalf of the account holder. Investment options often include stock mutual funds, bond mutual funds, and money market funds, as well as, age-based portfolios that automatically shift toward more conservative investments as the beneficiary gets closer to college age.

529 plans are exempt from federal taxes, which make them an attractive option for parents looking to stow away money for their children’s education.

For more information on the basics of 529s, check here.

guestbloggerUS News & World Report also offers a great guide to understanding 529 plans. Their guide will walk you through the different types of investments offered and their specific risks. Most state-sponsored 529s give investors choices on how their money is managed, but it’s important to know that once your money is in a 529, it’s somewhat locked up.

The SEC offers a solid bit a starting advice for anyone considering investing in 529 plans.

“Before you start saving specifically for college, you should consider your overall financial situation. Instead of saving for college, you may want to focus on other financial goals like buying a home, saving for retirement, or paying off high interest credit card bills. Remember that you may face penalties or lose benefits if you do not use the money in a 529 account for higher education expenses.”

This means that you need to be pretty sure that you want the money you invest to be used for college specifically – not just random expenses in your children’s future.

If you’re unsure about where you want the money used 10 or 20 years down the line, there are other investment options that give parents more control.

00000000Jackie Waters lives on a three acre hobby farm in Oregon, where she juggles between raising four energetic boys, having a healthy lifestyle and being Hyper-tidy!

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Copyright © 2017

Ovation: GUEST POST – Five Reasons to Support Your Local Museum


Image via Pixabay by valentinsimon0

Museums are a staple in many communities. Almost every town has a museum devoted to something whether it is furniture, teacups, dolls, dinosaurs, or simply local history. While museums may conjure imagery of dusty mannequins in powdered wigs, they actually provide an enriching experience that makes for a positive family outing. Of course, there’s no need to travel to the Louvre; odds are your area already has its own museum. Here are a few reasons to take the family to your local museum.

1. It Teaches Your Kids that Learning is Fun

There is a distinct difference between lecture-based learning and hands-on learning. Most kids who dread school do so as a result of dull, static learning.

Museums create an entirely new form of learning that includes visual aids, audio tours, short lectures, hands-on exhibits, and even mobile apps. Regardless of how your child learns, there will be an option that excites them. The teaching tactics may even help you learn other hands-on, engaging ways to educate your children.

2. Museums Appeal to People of All Ages

No matter what age you are, learning interesting tidbits about history, art, animals, or any number of potential museum themes is fun. Many child-friendly outings are enjoyed at the cost of the parents. A trip to the park leaves parents sitting on the bench. A museum, however, provides entertainment for the whole family. Furthermore, kids watching their parents get excited about learning new things sets a great example.

3. Museums Preserve and Spread Cross-Cultural Knowledge

guestbloggerMuseums hold some of the last remaining artifacts of past cultures and a wonderful array of items from existing cultures. Learning about diversity and cultural differences is critical in raising a 21st-century child, and a museum is a great place to start.

By educating your child on your culture as well as other cultures around the world, you are teaching your child tolerance, acceptance, and the skills necessary to navigate an increasingly diverse environment. It is never too early to start instilling cultural values and positive traits like acceptance and embracing diversity in young children.

4. By Supporting a Local Museum, You Support Education

When you patronize a local museum, you put money into maintaining the establishment. You are essentially funding the preservation of history, of art, of rare items, or whatever else you might find in a museum. You simultaneously educate your child about the world and pay to ensure that other children reap the same benefit.

Furthermore, by helping a local museum stay in business, you are also increasing tourism to your town, benefitting the local culture, and even aiding the local economy.

5. There Is a Museum for Everything

Regardless of what you want to teach your children about, there is likely a museum with exhibits on that theme. Even better, each type of museum is family-friendly, educational, and enjoyable for all involved. While small towns may only have a small exhibit on a specific collection, larger towns likely have several types of museums including science centers, art exhibits, and natural history museums. Start with one variety and you may find your children asking for more.

Museums are wonderful educational opportunities for both you and your children. They make learning fascinating and fun while teaching important like skills such as intercultural acceptance and diversity. When you visit local establishments, you not only help them stay in business but also ensure that other children will receive the education your child did while aiding town tourism and boosting the local economy. Yes, a trip to the Smithsonian is nothing to turn your nose up at but it certainly doesn’t hurt to start locally.

guestbloggerDelores Santos is an information junkie. She enjoys writing about a variety of subjects based on diligent fact-checking.


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Copyright © 2016

Ovation: GUEST POST – Tomorrow’s Tech, Today: How Geek Culture Influences our Technology

Are we living in the future? No, this is not an existential question … Think back to your favorite cartoons, science fiction movies and cult television shows. You likely remember self-driving cars, hoverboards, personal computers and other cool tech. Now look around you. We’re living in a world that has some of those same cool inventions. Here are a few examples.

Star Trek’s PADD and Today’s iPad

It seems as if the sci-fi series foresaw the invention of the modern-day tablet. Think about it. There are some crazy similarities between the handheld computer PADDs we first saw in “Star Trek” and Apple’s first iPad. There was one difference, however. Apple’s iPad is much larger than Star Trek’s personal handheld. The Apple iPad Pro measures at 9.7-incheswhile the PADD is just a four-by-six-inch tablet. Otherwise, these personal computers are surprisingly similar to the smartphones we all know and love today.

The Jetsons and Self-Driving Cars

guestbloggerWhile our cars don’t drive in the sky like they did in the classic cartoon “The Jetsons,” tech developers are working on perfecting the technology of self-driving cars. The technology is very much in its beginning stages, but it is progressing rapidly. Google, Tesla and other automakers like Hyundai are driving this innovation and creating cars like we have never seen before. Tech experts predict that in the not-so-far-off future we will have cars that are 100 percent self-driving, built with lounge cabs where “passengers” can take a nap, make a phone call or bring out a laptop to get work done. These cars of the future are even assumed to be safer than the cars that we have on the roads today.

Star Wars Imperial Walkers and Today’s Robots

“Star Wars” fans know what we are talking about here. Imperial Walkers are only the coolest type of combat vehicle that we’ve seen in the “Star Wars” movies so far. When we first saw these battle bot-like weapons, we never dreamed that we would see them in real life. But now, our dreams have come true — kind of. While not nearly as grand in size as Imperial Walkers, the modern robot created by Boston Dynamics called BigDog Robot is not too far off. BigDog is about the size of an average mule, and it can run, climb and carry 300-pounds of cargo. Although it’s not used by Imperial Ground Forces, BigDog is eerily similar.

Back to the Future and Hoverboards

Ah, hoverboards … the future’s go-to mode of levitating, quick transportation. We can presume that people of the future don’t like to walk, apparently. We first saw these levitating boards in “Back to the Future,” but late in 2015, we saw a surge in hoverboard-like technology. The invention of the self-balancing scooter led some manufacturers to claim they had invented “hoverboards.” While they don’t hover above the ground like their name implies, they do get people from place to place rather quickly. However, they aren’t as easy to operate as you might think. And they aren’t safe. There were dozens of fires started when these things imploded on the spot. So, it’s safe to say the hoverboard is still in beta.

Iron Man and Projection Screens

Leave it to the folks from MIT to create Tony Stark’s transparent projection screen. Iron Man is one of the most badass superhero characters to date, so why wouldn’t we want to emulate him? By using tiny nanoparticles, laser projectors can cast images that are reflected back at the user’s eyes, which enables an image to be seen on a transparent glass screen. The International Business Times reported that this technology might be available for widespread public use in the near future.

lauren-topor-headshot-copyLauren Topor full-time freelance writer and alumna of Arizona State University. Her professional work has appeared in a variety of publications from lifestyle mags to business websites. Follow Lauren on Twitter @laurentopor.


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Copyright © 2016

Ovation: GUEST POST – Four Best Industries For Starting A New Business

daydreamingI would have to say that there is simply no joy like the joy of owning your own business.  That is just the American dream at its very best.  The thrill of the life of an entrepreneur, the ability to make decisions for yourself on how you achieve financial success, and to not have to answer to anyone really does say something for the success and the intelligence and the voracity of the American spirit.  It is something to be proud of, and it really speaks to the character of an individual when they go out on a limb to make sure than they can have a decent life and a decent income while doing exactly what it is that they want to be doing with their lives.

With the recovery from the recession in 2008, now is one of the best times possible for starting and owning your own business.  In the last couple years and this year too in fact, many entrepreneurial-minded Americans will undoubtedly be preoccupied with starting their own business, and I am quite happy to see this.  I have been starting, running, and owning my own businesses year after year since the 1980s. I have never in my entire life seen a better time to start and own your own business as I have been seeing now.  The market is just perfectly primed for it and so many more are jumping on this bandwagon and not without good reason too.

Which Fields to Go Into

GuestBloggerI truly believe that it is important to invest in and start your own business when you have what you think will be a lucrative idea. However, if you are on the fence about what you want to do then there is nothing wrong with taking a look at what businesses are doing the best and which ones people are having a tendency to go into the most.

Many entrepreneurs already have a business idea in mind for themselves.  This is good and I like to see it when this happens. But if you’re looking for industries where it might pay to start your own business and you are pretty open-minded about what you do, then here are the four most successful business categories right now:

  1. Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses
  2. Software Design Publishers
  3. Computer Designers
  4. Investigation and Security Systems

If one of these suits you then I would jump at this opportunity and get on the bandwagon.  If not, know that you can be successful at anything you set your mind to, you just have to work at it.

Now more than ever is the time for the American worker to rise up and finally realize his or her dream of being an entrepreneur.  You can accomplish this. It will take a bit of work to pull this off successfully but if you pick a business model and a subject or product or service that you feel very strongly about, then, it won’t really feel much like work.

per-wPer Wickstrom is the founder and CEO of Best Drug Rehabilitation, one of the top holistic rehabilitation centers in the country. He found sobriety after a decades-long struggle with addiction and has since dedicated his life and career to helping others find the same life-affirming success he has. His program is based on natural and holistic methods and has helped lead hundreds to recovery. Connect with Per via his blog, Twitter or Facebook.


Like this post? Follow the blog and get involved in discussions! Find “Follow via Email” on the right side of the page.  There’s also an opportunity to follow on Twitter and/or LIKE our page on Facebook so you won’t miss a daily post.  Click on buttons at the end of each post to share on other social media sites, too!  Thanks for reading!

Copyright © 2016

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