Security Token news for Week ending 24 January 2020

Security Token news for Week ending 24 January 2020

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Security Token news for Week ending 24 January 2020
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My 6 Goals for This Week

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My 6 Goals for This Week
Welp, I don’t have much to report when it comes to progress on my goals from last week. But I did spend all day/night Tuesday and Wednesday at the hospital practicing caring for Champ (our little preemie baby boy whom we’re fostering) under the watchful eye of the nurses. We were cleared for his release on Wednesday night and the rest of the week/weekend has been a whirlwind of adjusting to feeding him every 3 hours around the clock (and learning how to function on less sleep!), getting into the groove of having a newborn again, and figuring out our new normal. Here’s my goals list from last week: Last Week’s Goals — 2020 — Week 12 Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading Your New Name, Home Court Advantage, and Zachariah’s Story. Plus, finish listening to The Body Keeps the Score.  Home/Family Goals 3. Read 30 more pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. (Maybe we’ll finish it this week?!?) 4. Foster care stuff: Organize all of the preemie baby clothes/things. Set up the second baby bed. Get car seat installed. Work/Blog Goals 5. Finish the rough draft of chapter 8 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 6. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family.  I’m feeling like we’re starting to get back into a groove again, so I’m hopeful that I’ll have more progress to report on goals this coming week. We’ll see! This Week’s Goals — 2020 — Week 13 Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading Your New Name, Home Court Advantage, and Zachariah’s Story. Plus, finish listening to The Body Keeps the Score.  Home/Family Goals 3. Read 30 more pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. (Maybe we’ll finish it this week?!?) 4. Baby prep stuff: Pack hospital bag for me/Jesse/baby. (I can’t believe it’s now time to do this!! Since I had a super fast labor last time around, I’m hoping to be as prepared as possible this time!) Work/Blog Goals 5. Finish the rough draft of chapter 8 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 6. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family.  What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 27 March 2020

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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 27 March 2020
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The 3 Books I Finished Last Week (+ the 1 classic movie we watched)

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The 3 Books I Finished Last Week (+ the 1 classic movie we watched)
Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page. The Fourth Trimester I was really excited to read this book as I thought it would be great for me to prep for birth and postpartum recovery — especially since I’ve struggled with postpartum depression/anxiety after all three of my pregnancies. (I think a lot of my struggles were related to not taking time to properly rest and heal after my births.) Going into reading it, I knew the book wasn’t written from a Christian perspective and had a lot of influence from other religions in it. I was prepared for this. Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting past a lot of those sections. So much of the advice just felt so self-serving and humanistic…  and some of the advice to ask for so much help and set such strong boundaries after the birth kind of felt like it was encouraging you to come across as a jerk. (Just being honest here!!) That said, my big takeaways are that rest, good nourishment, and limited movement for the few weeks after birth are really important. Those are my hopes for this postpartum period for my upcoming birth and what I’ve spent the last few months prepping to make happen! This book definitely encouraged me to prioritize that. Does anyone have suggestions of a good book for postpartum that encourages these things that might be a better fit for me (or something for me to recommend to others)? Verdict: 2 stars The Lazy Genius Way I have heard of Kendra Adachi’s podcast (The Lazy Genius) but, truth be told, I’m not a listener. I think I may have have heard one episode way back when or maybe have heard her on another podcast, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge of her. Despite that, I really loved this book! It’s well-written, funny, practical, and realistic. Kendra has the perfect balance of truth, humor, and grace sprinkled throughout it. She also makes you feel like you can actually get your home and life in better order (notice I didn’t say “perfect order” just “better order”? I think Kendra would approve of that language!) I love her approach to be a genius about those things that truly matter to you and your family and to be lazy about those things that don’t matter to you and your family. I also found her light-hearted footnotes throughout the book to be a fun addition. While I’ve read a LOT of time management, home management, and life management books, I still found so much fresh perspective and inspiration in Kendra’s book. And now I’m thinking I need to check out her podcast! Verdict: 4 stars The Gospel Comes With a House Key Okay, I was a little scared to write this review, because it seems everyone I know absolutely adored this book. And, while I really loved parts of it, there were other parts of it that I just couldn’t stand behind wholeheartedly. Let’s start with what I loved: I loved the author’s desire to encourage what she calls, “Radically Ordinary Hospitality”. It is a lost art in our usually-busy worlds and I think it is one of the biggest building blocks to genuine community and Christlike love. I also loved that the book shone a light on foster care and the need for Christian families to prayerfully consider being involved in this ministry in some way. (You all know how passionate I am about foster care!) That said, what bothered me in the book was that she presented hospitality almost as a one-size-fits-all sort of thing. That it’s only in the context of your church and neighborhood and that it pretty much always involves opening up your home for a meal. While opening up your home is fantastic and serving food is great, I think hospitality can also be inviting a friend to the park or to coffee or to join you in a walk or reaching out to the lonely-looking person sitting on the sidelines at your child’s baseball game or inviting your co-worker to lunch… and a thousand other things. For me, I believe hospitality is going to take on many different forms — because we all have different giftings and different spheres and circles we run in. I wish she would have talked much more about this. The second thing I didn’t like in the book was that she was super honest about situations they’ve been through with other people — the good, the bad, the ugly. And in many cases, she shared a lot of details about conversations that I felt were private and not ones to be shared in a published book that anyone in the world might read. I feel like there’s good chance some of the things she shared openly and in detail about very personal hurts and situations could very well damage relationships in her life — even some of those that might be ones she’s seeking to practical “radically ordinary hospitality” to. (Maybe she got every single person’s permission to share what she shared and maybe each person was 100% okay with it… even then, I think many of the examples and conversations could have been omitted and the book would have still been as powerful. For me, it would have been even more powerful.) And now I’m going to go duck from all of the rotten tomatoes I’m going to get thrown at me! 😉 Verdict: 3 stars Classic Movie We Watched Last Week The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it. I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!) Last week, we watched Mr. Bean’s Holiday — a movie Jesse and I had watched together a long time ago together and thought the kids might enjoy. They did enjoy parts of it, but they found it a little on the slow side and thought it drug on — especially toward the end. (Note: I don’t think this actually qualifies as a “classic movie” since it came out in 2007, but oh well, we’re going to say it is since it was the movie we watched last week!) What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list?? [...]
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This Week in Fintech ending 27 March 2020

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This Week in Fintech ending 27 March 2020
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Business interruption- cover that’s too big to cover- but needs to be next time

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Business interruption- cover that’s too big to cover- but needs to be next time
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CFTC Issues Temporary Relief from Certain Regulatory Requirements

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CFTC Issues Temporary Relief from Certain Regulatory Requirements
On March 17, the staff of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued a series of no-action letters to provide certain CFTC-regulated entities and registrants with temporary regulatory relief from a targeted set of regulatory requirements. The CFTC’s Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight (DSIO) issued a set of Staff Letters aimed at a broad range of market participants — including futures commission merchants (FCMs), introducing brokers (IBs), swap dealers (SDs), retail foreign exchange (forex) dealers, floor brokers, and members of designated contract markets (DCMs) and swap execution facilities (SEFs). These letters provide for temporary no-action relief from a number of CFTC regulatory requirements, as described below. Until June 30, 2020, DSIO will not recommend enforcement action against FCMs, IBs, SDs, retail forex dealers, floor brokers and members of DCMs and SEFs for failure to record the time and date on certain order records and trade information by time stamp or other timing device as required by CFTC rules if the personnel who are responsible for preparing such records are mandated by the firm’s BCP to be absent from their normal offices, provided that the required records are created, are maintained, and include any required date and time to the nearest minute. This date and time entry could be manually entered. Until June 30, 2020, DSIO will not recommend enforcement action against FCMs, IBs, SDs, retail forex dealers and floor brokers for failure to record the oral communications of personnel who would otherwise be required to use a recorded line pursuant to CFTC rules if such personnel are mandated by the firm’s BCP to be absent from their normal offices, provided that a written record of the communication is maintained that identifies date, time, participants and subject matter, and that the firm takes “affirmative steps” to collect and maintain any written materials prepared by affected personnel in connection with such communications. Until June 30, 2020, DSIO will not recommend enforcement action against floor brokers who are not physically located in a pit or other place determined by a contract market, nor will floor brokers be subject to a requirement to register as an IB because of failure to so locate, if the floor broker is required by the DCM’s BCP to be absent from such place. DSIO will not recommend enforcement action against FCMs and SDs who would otherwise be required to provide the CFTC with a copy of their Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) annual reports prior to September 1, 2020, provided that they submit such reports within 30-calendar days of their original due dates. The CFTC’s Division of Market Oversight (DMO) issued a set of Staff Letters covering SEFs and DCMs. These letters provide for temporary no-action relief from certain audit trail-related requirements for SEFs and DCMs, as well as an extension of the deadline for submission of CCO annual compliance and certain financial reports for SEFs. Until June 30, 2020, DMO will not recommend enforcement action against any SEFs that cannot meet requirements around recording of voice communications, to the extent that voice trading personnel are outside their normal offices, provided that the SEF makes reasonable efforts to record in writing the time, date, parties and subject matter of unrecorded conversations, all transaction terms are captured in SEF systems, and orders (even if placed on unrecorded lines) are retained in the SEF’s normal audit trail. Until June 30, 2020, DMO will not recommend enforcement action against DCMs that fail to comply with audit trail requirements, to the extent that those failings are a result of interactions with market participants who are relying on the DSIO Staff Letters described above, provided that the DCM requires such participants to comply with the applicable conditions of those DSIO Staff Letters and that orders entered by such participants are retained in the DCM’s normal audit trail. DMO will not recommend enforcement action against any SEF or SEF CCO for failure to timely submit to the CFTC either an annual compliance report or a fourth quarter financial report (where either report would have been due prior to September 1, 2020), provided that such reports are submitted no later than 120 days after the end of the fiscal year for that SEF. The DSIO Staff Letters are available here. The DMO Staff Letters are available here. NOTE: On March 17, the National Futures Association provided relief from parallel NFA requirements for Members that are in compliance with the terms of the CFTC staff no-action relief. The NFA statement is available here. [...]
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Coronavirus and Negative Interest Rates: What It Means for You

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Coronavirus and Negative Interest Rates: What It Means for You
Thanks to the coronavirus-related financial crisis, we’ve broken more records in U.S. financial markets: Interest rates on some government securities have now dropped below zero, with one hitting a new low. As of this morning, three-month Treasury bills on the secondary market were paying negative 0.036% — a record low. One-month Treasury bill rates also went negative. This is the first time since... [...]
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Turn off the news and love the people in front of you

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Turn off the news and love the people in front of you
I haven’t said much about COVID-19 because I don’t want to be just one more person adding to the noise. However, I felt this burden to share something that’s been on my heart… If you are feeling panicked, scared, or stressed right now, can I encourage you to turn off the news and love the people right in front of you? That might mean unsubscribing from email newsletters, being offline more, unfollowing (or hiding) people or pages you follow online for a season, or shutting off the news. Whatever is feeding your worry and fear, step away from it as much as you can and replace it with loving those right in front of you well. Yes, we need to be informed. Yes, we need to be wise and cautious. Yes, we need to think carefully about how our actions might cause harm to those who are most at risk. But sitting around stressing and feeding ourselves a constant diet of theories and predictions and “what if’s” is not going to help anyone — and it’s going to wear down our own immune systems. Rock and sing to your babies. Read to your toddler. Bake cookies with your 5-year-old. Play a game with your pre-teen. Hang out with your teenager. Watch a funny movie as a family. Tell your spouse how much you love them. Plan a creative at-home date night. Text or call your elderly neighbor. Send an email or FaceTime a friend. Pray for those who are most vulnerable. Look for ways to serve your community. Think of those people who might be overlooked or especially scared and reach out to them. It’s amazing how much our perspective and outlook can change when we focus on loving others! Who needs your love and kindness today? [...]
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Technology helping governments & citizens, one line of code at a time

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Technology helping governments & citizens, one line of code at a time
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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 34), Fostering, Quarantining, & Kathrynne is home!

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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 34), Fostering, Quarantining, & Kathrynne is home!
34 weeks! And what a week it’s been! Kathrynne getting stuck in Suriname because they closed the borders (gratefully, her group got on a special flight this past Monday —  see below), spending hours at the NICU taking care of the preemie we’re fostering, everything else in our life getting cancelled… it’s felt like a pretty unprecedented week! Highlights Pregnancy-wise, I’m doing well. I feel like baby had a growth spurt this week and I’ve popped even more. Very few clothes still fit and I feel pretty big, but I’m not at the totally miserable stage yet, so I’m grateful. Getting comfortable while sitting and sleeping is becoming more of a challenge, but that’s to be expected when you’re in your final weeks of pregnancy! 😉 Notable I’m thankful to not be experiencing much swelling yet. My face is definitely a lot puffier, but other than that, so long as I keep my feet up for part of the day, I’m usually good. We’re hopefully bringing our NICU baby home soon, so I’ve spent some time this week making sure everything is in order for both babies — baby clothes are washed, diapers are stocked, a second bed is ordered, etc. I also sat down and mapped out the bones of a feeding/sleeping/life routine today — since our little preemie is on an every three-hour feeding schedule and will most likely continue that once released from the hospital. We’re getting excited to think of being a family of 7 soon — but also trying to savor our last few days of being a family of just 5. Cravings I’m mostly only hungry in the mornings now. I’m usually famished for the first few hours of the day and then I’m not that hungry after lunch. I’m eating lots of apples/peanut butter and Raisin Bran/milk. Oh and we found that vanilla ice cream before bed helps me to sleep better and not wake up with heartburn as often. I have no idea why, but hey, if it works, it works! 🤣I’m also eating dates every day and drinking red raspberry leaf tea to help prepare for labor. Weight gain: 27 pounds She’s home!!! After being gone for 11 days, getting stuck in Suriname due to the country completing closing their borders, and being told she might not be able to come home for 30 days… we got to witness God move some pretty huge mountains in a very short amount of time. (The government arranged a special flight out of Suriname for them and a handful of others who were trying to get back to the US!) A huge thank you to the many who prayed, the school administration who worked tirelessly to get them home, & the government officials who bent over backwards to make this happen. Also, we are so proud of this girl! She handled the whole thing like a champ and told me she decided to focus on the positive in it instead of dwelling on the what if’s or unknowns. She came back stronger, more resilient, more independent (in a good way), more aware of the goodness and provision of God, and so incredibly humbled by how many hundreds (thousands?) of people were praying for her and their team to make it home safely. Thank you all to the many, many, many of you who wrote, texted, and messaged to tell me you were praying. It has truly been a humbling experience to be the recipient of so much love and kindness this past week… especially when SO much else is going on in the world. We are blown away how deeply you care about our family. And now we’re hunkered down at home for the next few weeks trying to stay as healthy as possible and keep our home as germ-free as possible since we’ll likely be welcoming a medically fragile babe into our home very, very soon. (Interested in seeing the creative things my kids are finding to do each day while home 24/7 or want to follow along with our foster care journey? Be sure to follow my stories on Instagram. I usually post there multiple times per day every week day!) Speaking of Instagram, I posted this earlier this week and thought this might encourage someone today: This is what the last 8 days of my life have looked like. Sitting in the rocker in the NICU rocking this tiny preemie we’re fostering and praying. (Note: The mask is just one of the many precautions the nurses are having me take to keep me and baby as healthy as possible.) I’m usually a go-getter, a very driven person, who will have 15 balls in the air I’m juggling at any given time. My brain isn’t good at slowing down and I typically find living life at 100 miles an hour (with short pit stops here and there) to be exhilarating and fulfilling. But right now, this is my season to rock, hold, comfort, and speak words of life to this precious baby. And that is enough. I look down at this bundle I’m holding and realize, this sweet child doesn’t know anything about the chaos or fear going on in the world. Baby just wants to eat, sleep, and be held. And as long as I’m holding this child, they are almost always completely relaxed in my arms, resting deeply and peacefully. As I sit here, I think of so many of you who are struggling today. Some of you have written in and told me how you are facing scary unknowns, big financial setbacks, possible job loss, fear of the future, worry over immunocompromised loved ones, separation from those you love, and so much more. This virus is personally affecting each of us in big ways. I just want to remind you — as I am reminding myself — to crawl up into Jesus’ lap and let Him hold you. He loves you more than you can ever imagine. And He will give you what you need for today. There are a lot of unknowns in my future right now — as I am positive there are in yours. If I let myself start dwelling on them, I can begin to feel scared and stressed. But God hasn’t given me grace for tomorrow or next month. He is giving me grace for today and I can rest in that. And so, I sit here and rock — trusting Jesus that He has my future, my NICU baby’s future (and all the possible medical issues and things with that far outside my control!) my 34-week in utero baby’s future, my other 3 kids’ futures, my husband’s future, the future of our business, my extended family’s future… in His hands. I rest in that and rock on. ❤️ [...]
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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 20 March 2020

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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 20 March 2020
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This Week in Fintech ending 20 March 2020

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This Week in Fintech ending 20 March 2020
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XBRL news for Week Ending Tuesday 17 March 2020

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XBRL news for Week Ending Tuesday 17 March 2020
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Niche Fintech Could Catch The Coronavirus Bug

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Niche Fintech Could Catch The Coronavirus Bug
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CFTC’s Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee to Meet on March 24

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CFTC’s Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee to Meet on March 24
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee (EEMAC) announced that it will hold a public meeting at 9:30 a.m. on March 24 at the CFTC’s headquarters in Washington, DC. At the meeting, the EEMAC will consider the CFTC’s proposed rule regarding the establishment of position limits for derivatives contracts that provide for physical delivery. Specifically, the EEMAC will examine the proposed position limits for spot months, single month, and all-months-combined and the proposed bona fide hedging exemptions from such position limits and related procedures. The CFTC’s Market Intelligence Branch will also make a presentation on recent developments in the energy derivatives marketplace. The meeting is open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, as well as via conference call. More information is available here. For more information on the CFTC’s proposed rule regarding Position Limits for Derivatives, please see the January 31, 2020 edition of Corporate & Financial Weekly Digest. [...]
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5 Ways to Get Social Security Help While Offices Are Closed

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5 Ways to Get Social Security Help While Offices Are Closed
Businesses, retail and restaurant establishments, and other institutions are shuttering their doors in an attempt to arrest the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Now, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has joined them. As of Tuesday, all local offices across the country are closed for in-person service until further notice. The SSA notes that the decision is... [...]
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Time to check US Consumer debt, delinquencies, and refinancing applications

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Time to check US Consumer debt, delinquencies, and refinancing applications
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Announcing the Daily Fintech curated news on XBRL

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Announcing the Daily Fintech curated news on XBRL
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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 33), fostering a newborn, Suriname

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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 33), fostering a newborn, Suriname
33 weeks — and I’ve very much officially outgrown this non-maternity sweatshirt! Highlights Well, this was quite the week! As I mentioned yesterday, in addition to all the upheaval, unknowns, and cancellations due to COVID-19, Kathrynne also got stranded in Suriname (I hope to have a good report to share on her situation there soon! It’s looking hopeful that they aren’t going to be stranded for 30 days!), and we started fostering a newborn who was born prematurely and is currently in the NICU. This foster placement is likely a long term placement (as with foster care, that could always change) and baby will likely be in the NICU for another few weeks. So I spent the bulk of the last 5 days at the NICU and will likely be there much of every day until the baby comes home. I’m so thankful for the flexibility of my job and our lifestyle that is allowing me the opportunity to pour into and love on this little one. We are completely smitten and the kids look forward to me coming home every day to share the pictures and videos I take. This is my first experience with time in the NICU and I’m so thankful for the amazing team there who has patiently taught me so much about how to care for a medically fragile child. I’m learning all sorts of new terms, bottle-feeding techniques, what all the beeps and alarms mean, what I need to pay attention to… Each nurse teaches me something new every day. I’m trying to make sure to pace myself, eat healthfully, exercise, stay hydrated, try to get as much sleep as I can, and have downtime each day to hopefully stay well and continue to have a great pregnancy (the hospital won’t even let you in the door as a visitor right now if you’re not super healthy). Notable I’ve spent a lot of time this week sitting in a rocking chair in the NICU rocking two babies — one on my lap and one in my womb. It’s crazy to realize they are both about the same size right now! And it’s also funny because the babe in my belly is constantly kicking the babe on my lap. Also, yes, it’s looking like we’re going to have “twins” at our house in just 6-7 weeks. The kids are beyond ecstatic!! It should be quite the adventure! Feel free to hit me up with all your best advice for having two newborns at the same time! Cravings Milk, cereal, milk, and ice cream. Notice a theme?!? Weight gain: 25 pounds A Few More Peeks Into Our Life This Past Week… I had the privilege of interviewing Becky Keife for my podcast this past week. Her book, No Better Mom for the Job, was one that really blessed me this past year. I can’t wait to share her episode with you on Tuesday. You are going to be so encouraged! Like I said, Kathrynne left for Suriname last Friday morning to go on a special learning/serving/experiencing trip with a teacher and a small group of girls from school. (This picture was taken at a park there.) This is the girl who — just 5 years ago — was scared and completely uncomfortable to be around kids her age. This is the girl who has struggled with so many panic attacks and anxiety. The girl who was incredibly angry with us when we made the decision to put her in school after always homeschooling (she was so fearful of having to be around kids she didn’t know and to be in so many unknown situations all day long). This was the girl who was terrified to get on a plane to South Africa with us just 4 years ago. It’s our heart’s desire to raise self-sufficient adults, not co-dependent children. So over the past 5 years, we’ve slowly pushed her to do a lot of uncomfortable things, because we knew the only way she would grow wings and fly was if we gently nudged her out of the safety of our little nest. We often wondered if we were making the right call and we spent a lot of time crying out to God for wisdom and direction for the next step. God has been so faithful to give us wisdom — even when it’s meant making really hard calls (like quitting homeschooling). We look at her now and see that is was SO worth it — she’s a confident, outgoing 15-year-old with more friends than we can keep track of and a social calendar we struggle to keep up with. A girl who loves Jesus, life, adventure, travel, and people. A girl who excitedly jumped at the chance to go on trip to Suriname (her first international trip without us)! We’re still finding our way in what it looks like to parent teens. And I know we’ve made plenty of missteps. But we continue to just look to the Lord to give us wisdom for each new day, each new situation, each new unknown… and we trust Him to be faithful! Also, watching your kids go on their own adventures, jump out of their comfort zone, stretch themselves, and live courageously is one of the most rewarding things as a parent… even if it involves a lot of our own letting go! How was your week? How are you doing in the middle of so much unknown and unexpected? Let me know in the comments! (And if you are feeling stressed and scared or just going through a rough time right now, leave a comment and let me know. I have lots of extra time to pray for people right now while I’m sitting in a rocker in the NICU!) [...]
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We spent $71.40 on groceries this week (+ what a wild & crazy week!)

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We spent $71.40 on groceries this week (+ what a wild & crazy week!)
Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.). For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here. Whew! What a wild week it’s been! In addition to everything surrounding COVID-19… school cancellations, church cancellations, sports cancellations, my parents cancelling their trip to come see us, Kathrynne being in Suriname while all this was going down*, and just figuring out how to navigate life in the middle of all of the unknown, we’ve also personally had some pretty HUGE things happen at our house this week… namely, we said yes to fostering a newborn who was born prematurely and is currently in the NICU. So, much of our week was spent at the NICU loving on this little baby and meeting with the social worker/DCS/the medical team and learning how to care for a medically fragile baby. I had never stepped foot in the NICU up until 4 days ago, so it’s been a whole new experience. And of all of the weeks, this was probably one of the most unique and weird weeks to be spending a lot of time at a hospital!! (They have a screening process just to get in the door and then to get in the NICU is a whole other level!) The nurses and staff and social worker and DCS have all been amazing throughout this process and they have taught me so much and walked alongside us so well through this new territory. Also, we are so thrilled that the baby is doing so well, has started to bottle feed a little this week, and maybe get to come home in a few weeks! (And yes, in case you’re wondering, this means that we’re planning to have two newborns at our house soon!! The kids could not be more excited!! Of course, this is foster care, so things could always change at any time… we’re just taking one day at a time and seeking to love well in this.) If you want to follow along with this journey, I’m sharing little peeks on my Instagram stories every day. *As of last night, Kathrynne is currently stranded in Suriname because they closed the borders just hours before she was supposed to fly back home today! Her school is working hard to get this situation resolved ASAP and get the girls back home. In the mean time, she has such a good attitude about it all. You can read more details here. Okay, enough of an update! Let’s talk about groceries! We checked our stockpile and realized it was lacking in a few areas, so we shored up those areas so that we have a 30-day supply on hand — even though not everything was on sale this week. I’m grateful that we did this earlier in the week, because our stores are pretty sold out of a lot of staple items now. Jesse ran by Kroger on Monday to pick up a few things we needed: Kroger Shopping Trip #1 Potatoes — $2.49 Milk — $2.99 Cheese — $2.29 4 yogurts — marked down to $0.39 each Total with tax: $9.91 And then he ran by Aldi later on in the week to get a few more staple items: Aldi Shopping Trip 10-lb. potatoes — $3.79 Eggs — $0.58 Black Beans — $2.45 4 boxes Mac & Cheese — $0.33 each Steel Cut Oats —  $2.99 Great Northern Beans — $1.69 Milk — $2.49 Total with tax: $16.07 (The bag of sugar had a small hole in it, so they gave it to Jesse for free!!) Psst! Have you checked out my post on my 25 Favorite Things to Buy at Aldi? I’m glad we got potatoes, because our store was completely sold out of them by Friday! (Who knew potatoes would be the big thing to stock up on?? That one surprised me!) Kroger had some three-day sales that I wanted to try to take advantage of. I wasn’t sure whether they would have these items in stock when I went by on Friday night, but they did! In thinking of making sure we have a 30-day supply of food and household items, I made sure we had enough on hand to make 30 dinners with our freezer and pantry items. I always love to have a few frozen pizzas on hand — especially for a quick dinner on busy nights or if the kids have friends over at the last minute! Yay for them being on sale for just $3.14! Kroger Shopping Trip #2: 2 Kroger Pizzas — $3.14 each with the three-day sale 2 bags of rice — $1.99 each 5 packages Kroger cheese — $1.29 each with the three-day sale Eggs — $1.19 3 packages strawberries — $1.67 each 2 bunches bananas — $2.71 total 5 packages Nathan Beef Franks — $1.99 each with the three-day sale Milk — $2.99 Apples — $3.99 Total with tax: $45.42 Our Menu Plan This Week Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand. This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate. Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here. Breakfasts: Cereal Lunches/Snacks: Leftovers, Salad, Apples/Peanut Butter, Mac & Cheese, Banana Muffins, Danimals, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, Cookies, Pears, Yogurt, Random other markdowns/sale items 🙂 Dinners: Sunday — Fend for yourself Monday — Turkey Meatballs, Breaded Eggplant, Salad Tuesday — Rotisserie Chicken, Steamed Veggies, Twice Baked Potatoes Wednesday — Chicken Tetrazinni, Banana Muffins, Veggies Thursday — Meatballs, Apple Crisp Friday — Leftover Meatballs, Leftover Twice Baked Potatoes, Steamed Veggies Saturday — Pumpkin Waffles, Bacon, Strawberries Total spent on groceries: $71.40 Cashback Earned: 75 points from Fetch Rewards and $1 from iBotta [...]
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XBRL news for Week Ending Tuesday 10 March 2020

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XBRL news for Week Ending Tuesday 10 March 2020
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This Week in Fintech ending 13 March 2020

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This Week in Fintech ending 13 March 2020
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CFTC Designates Small Exchange, Inc. as a Designated Contract Market

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CFTC Designates Small Exchange, Inc. as a Designated Contract Market
On March 10, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced that it had issued an Order of Designation approving the application of the Small Exchange, Inc. (Small Exchange) for designation as a contract market (DCM). As required under Section 5 of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and CFTC Regulation 38.3(a), the CFTC issued the order after finding that the Small Exchange had demonstrated its ability to comply with the provisions of the CEA and CFTC Regulations applicable to DCMs. The CFTC press release is available here. A full copy of the Order of Designation is available here. [...]
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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 13 March 2020

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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 13 March 2020
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3 Books I Finished Last Week (+ 1 classic movie we watched)

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3 Books I Finished Last Week (+ 1 classic movie we watched)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page. Love Idol I read this book back in 2014 and it made my Top 10 Books Read in 2014 list. Since I’m writing some about the importance of recognizing how much you are loved by God in my upcoming book, I wanted to re-read this book again. It was just as good the second time around! It’s packed with powerful and wise reminders of how we are pre-approved by God. As such, we don’t need to chase after the approval, the praise, the admiration, or the affirmation of others. If you struggle to believe you are loved, enough, and valuable, this book is for you. It’s also a fantastic read if you battle against having perfectionistic, people-pleasing tendencies. It’s well-written and engaging, but more than that, the message is powerful, freeing, life-changing! Verdict: 4 stars Don’t Overthink It Ever found yourself second-guessing a decision or stalled by paralysis analysis? Don’t Overthink It will give you practical suggestions, sage encouragement, and worthwhile strategies you can implement to stop over-thinking and make faster, better decisions that will bring you joy! There were many great stories and examples in the book and I think it might be Anne Bogel’s best writing yet. Her words inspired both this Instagram post and this Instagram post. (In case you didn’t click through and read those links, you do need to read the quotes they are based on: “Decisions made out of fear are not good decisions.” AND “When we assume we can’t, it’s guaranteed that we won’t.”) Verdict: 4 stars The Austen Escape I’ve loved Katherine Reay’s books and have had this one on my shelf for a long time. So I was really excited when it came up to download for free on Libby. I have to be honest and say that it felt a little bit like a Hallmark movie and it seemed to drag on slowly at times and was pretty predictable in others. (If you didn’t pick up on it, I’m not much of a Hallmark movie fan. Should I admit that out loud??! However, if you are in the camp of people who love Hallmark movies, then it just might totally be your cup of tea.) Overall, it wasn’t my favorite book by Katherine Reay, but if you’re looking for a light read and you love Jane Austen (or Hallmark movies!), you might enjoy it. Verdict: 3 stars Classic Movie We Watched Last Week The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it. I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!) Last week, we watched The Strongest Man in the World. It’s a little cheesy in parts, but overall, it was a fun, lighthearted movie. Silas especially enjoyed it. Have you seen it before? What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list?? [...]
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We spent $62.05 on groceries last week (+ what we ate)

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We spent $62.05 on groceries last week (+ what we ate)
Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.). For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here. This week we had a lot of different things going on — Jesse got home from the men’s Discipleship retreat on Sunday, we had things going on almost every evening, Kathrynne left for a 9-day trip to Suriname on Friday, and I spent Friday-Sunday out of town at the women’s Discipleship retreat (both Jesse and I are small group co-leaders for our church’s Discipleship Intensive program). We also went with our youth group to the indoor waterpark at the Gaylord Opryland on Wednesday evening (Jesse and I both co-lead a small group of teens in our church’s youth group, too). So, when you see our menu plan below, you’ll notice we didn’t have a lot of “normal” dinners as a result. 🙂 But hey, this is real life right now! Kroger Shopping Trip #1: 5 boxes Kellogg’s Raisin Bran — $1.79 per box when you buy 5 participating items, get $0.60 back from iBotta for each box purchased Oscar Mayer Deli Meat — marked down to $1.79 — earned Fetch rewards Lettuce — $1.79 Half & Half — $1.99 Sandwich buns — marked down to $1.29 3 lbs. ground turkey — marked down to $2.09 3 bags of marked down produce — $0.99 each 2 gallons water — $0.89 Milk — $2.99 Total with tax: $31.47 I was excited about the Friday-Saturday deals! Especially the $0.99 Prego! And the $1.49 Kellogg’s cereal! Kroger Shopping Trip #2: 5 boxes Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes — $1.49 each with the Friday-Saturday deals 2 boxes Krusteaz Sugar Cookie Mix — marked down to $0.49 each 5 Ghirardelli Chocolate Cake Mix — marked down to $0.49 each Baking powder — $1.05 Salt — $0.49 Beefaroni — marked down to $0.39 Refried Beans — marked down to $0.39 Progresso Soup — marked down to $0.49 5 jars Prego (only 4 are pictured because we accidentally dropped one while bringing in the groceries!) — $0.99 each as part of the Friday-Saturday deals — earned $0.75 cash back from iBotta Milk — $2.99 Apples — $3.99, used $0.50/1 Kroger digital coupon = $3.49 Bag of avocados — marked down to $0.99 Kroger lemonade — marked down to $0.89 Kroger orange juice — marked down to $0.99 King’s Hawaiian Rolls — marked down to $0.79 Total with tax: $30.58 Our Menu Plan This Week Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand. This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate. Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here. Breakfasts: Cereal Lunches/Snacks: Leftovers, Salad, Turkey/Cheese Sandwiches, Apples/Peanut Butter, Mac & Cheese, Danimals, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, Cookies, Pears, Random other markdowns/sale items 🙂 Dinners: Sunday — Fend for yourself Monday — Turkey meatballs, Acorn Squash Tuesday — Broccoli, Creamed Corn, Garlic Bread, Meatloaf Wednesday — Pizza (Jesse, Kaitlynn, and I were at a youth group event and they served pizza & ice cream), Silas and Kathrynne had cereal Thursday — Pot Roast + Sweet Potatoes & Carrots, Pears/Apples, Spaghetti Squash, Biscuits Friday — Leftover Buffet (I was out of town at a retreat.) Saturday — Chili’s (I was out of town at a retreat.) Total spent on groceries: $62.05 Cash back earned: 375 points earned from Fetch Rewards + $4.05 earned from iBotta [...]
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Does Debt Consolidation Affect Your Credit Score? Get the Facts

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Does Debt Consolidation Affect Your Credit Score? Get the Facts
Debt consolidation is usually billed as a smart financial move, because it can boost your credit score and save you money. But a few mistakes could actually hurt your credit or cost you more money in the long run. Here’s what to keep in mind when deciding whether to consolidate your debt and how to choose the best way to do it. How Does Debt Consolidation Work? Debt consolidation usually means taking out a loan to pay off existing debts, most commonly credit card debt. These are technically personal loans that lenders often market as “debt consolidation loans,” which isn’t inaccurate; it’s just their way of letting you know how they can help you. You’ll take out the loan, receive the funds and use them to pay off your credit card balances. Then you’ll repay the loan over time like any other loan. You could also consolidate with a balance-transfer credit card or other kind of loan, such as a retirement account loan or home equity loan. However, personal loans typically have the advantage of lower interest rates and no collateral requirement. People with a lot of high-interest debt tend to look to consolidation because it simplifies repayment, and could reduce the cost of the debt through lower monthly payments, a lower interest rate or both. Pros of Debt Consolidation Replace a bunch of monthly payments with just one. Potentially get a lower interest rate. Potentially owe less each month. Boost your credit score — we’ll talk about how below. Cons of Debt Consolidation The debt might cost you more over time. Some mistakes could hurt your credit score — we’ll talk about what to avoid below. You’ll owe one large monthly payment, instead of several spread over the month. Your payment could be larger than minimum credit card payments. You might pay fees upfront or over time. Alternatives to Debt Consolidation  You might come across companies offering one of several ways to fix your debt. They’ll each have a different effect on your credit score and apply to different situations: Consolidation refers to “combining” several debts into one. A single loan or credit card pays off the balance on several others, so you’re left with just the one line of debt. Consolidate debt when you want to streamline repayment of several debts. Refinancing works like consolidation, but the term usually refers to paying off a single debt. You pay off one loan balance with a new loan that gives you a better interest rate and repayment terms. Refinance your debt if your credit and finances have improved since you first borrowed. Debt relief is an umbrella term that includes consolidation and refinancing, and it often includes some amount of debt forgiveness. The term is often used by companies that facilitate debt consolidation or a “debt management plan” — you’re generally best off doing a little research and managing the debt on your own. Settlement is when you agree with a creditor on a reduced repayment amount that it’ll consider payment in full. This will show up on your credit report and could have a negative impact for several years, but will help you pay off the debt faster. Restructuring is more common for companies than individuals and usually happens in dire situations. The effect is similar to refinancing, but it involves reorganizing the existing debt rather than replacing it with a new one. Do You Need Good Credit to Consolidate Debt? You don’t necessarily need a high credit score to take out a loan for debt consolidation, but better credit gives you a better chance at a low interest rate and favorable terms. Watch out for predatory lenders if you have a low credit score; some unscrupulous companies are willing to give you a loan you can’t afford with a super high interest rate. A loan you can’t afford to repay could put you in a worse situation than you are with credit card debt. Does Debt Consolidation Affect Your Credit Score? Consolidating debt could help your credit score in two major ways: Lower your credit utilization: The amount of available credit you use weighs heavily into your score. A bunch of maxed-out credit cards looks bad. Consolidation pays off those balances and reduces your utilization. A positive line on your credit report: The loan is a way to demonstrate your creditworthiness as long as you stay current on payments. Consolidation itself doesn’t leave a negative mark on your credit report, like debt settlement does. But the loan (or credit card) shows up as a new credit line, which could temporarily lower your score. FROM THE CREDIT FORUM Payoff Focus 2/24/20 @ 3:22 PM Credit Score impact for paying off an auto loan ? 2/25/20 @ 7:43 PM BUILDING CREDIT FINANCING A PHONE 1/12/20 @ 4:41 PM Build credit 2/16/20 @ 10:50 PM B See more in Credit or ask a money question How to Consolidate Credit Card Debt Without Hurting Your Credit A few common debt consolidation mistakes could hurt your credit score or cost you money. Here are a few tips to make the right decision for your situation. Don’t Close the Paid Accounts After you pay off credit cards, don’t close every account. Having them on your credit report affects these factors that make up your credit score: Age of credit history: Creditors want to see you’ve been around the block with credit. When you close old cards, your average credit history gets shorter. Credit mix: This is the variety of types of debt you have — installment loan versus credit card versus mortgage, for example. It has a small but significant effect on your credit score. Utilization: More cards open means more available credit. Cut up your cards to avoid growing that balance again, and that unused credit will keep your utilization ratio low. Keep up With Payments Your credit card consolidation loan or balance-transfer credit card is still debt with monthly payments you have to keep up with. Budget before you take out the loan so you know you can afford the monthly payment. Staying on top of the payments should help your credit score over time — but getting behind will hurt. If you opt for a balance-transfer card — which usually comes with an introductory 0% APR for about a year — plan to pay the debt off during the introductory period. Any longer, and you’ll probably face a high interest rate and annual fees. Compare Consolidation Options Shop around before committing to any debt consolidation option. Consider what kind of consolidation — personal loan, balance-transfer card or secured loan — works best for you based on your budget, existing debt and creditworthiness. Online loan marketplaces can help you quickly see and compare personal loan offers from lenders side by side. To evaluate a debt consolidation loan, consider: Interest rate: Aim for an interest rate that’s lower than the combined rate on your existing debt. A loan with a higher rate could still give you the relief of a lower monthly payment and fewer creditors, but it will cost you more money. Monthly payment: Reorganizing your debt to land a smaller monthly payment could outweigh the long-term savings you’d get with a shorter repayment term or lower interest. A smaller bill could make the difference between paying on time or not, which has a major impact on your cre [...]
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A peek into our week: Pregnancy Update (week 32), indoor water park, and Discipleship retreat

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A peek into our week: Pregnancy Update (week 32), indoor water park, and Discipleship retreat
32 weeks!!! Highlights I had another OB appointment this week and all is looking well! I hadn’t really asked anything about the birth up until this point, so I figured I should ask if my OB was good with my hopes for the birth. My biggest hopes: that I could birth in whatever position felt right to me (I usually birth on hands and knees), that I could move around a lot in labor if things were going well (I prefer to be on the ball or on my hands and knees when I’m having contractions), that the girls could be at the birth (this was their biggest request from when we found out I was expecting!), and whether we could do delayed cord clamping. I was so thrilled to hear that she was super happy to accommodate all of my requests (provided both baby and I are doing well) and I’m hopeful to have another non-medicated, natural, really positive birth experience like I had with all three so far! That said, I always go into birth with an open mind knowing that things can change and I will freely chuck all of my hopes and plans if medical intervention is necessary. But it feels good to know that my doctor is very much on board with my hopes for the birth. Notable I started to feel more pregnant this week. 😉 While I’m still feeling so good overall, I’m definitely noticing that I’m walking slower, waddling more, getting more clumsy, needing to take a lot more breaks, experiencing more swelling and heartburn (though lots of water and being super careful with my diet is still making such a big difference there!), and just generally experiencing more of the usual aches and pains involved with getting nearer to the end of pregnancy. I’m nowhere near the “l’m miserable and desperately need to get this baby out!” stage (though that stage is probably coming!!), yet… and considering I still have quite a few more words to write on my manuscript rough draft and tasks to accomplish and to do’s to tie up in the next 6 weeks, I’m grateful that I likely have quite a bit more time until baby gets here (I usually go late). Cravings This week, I was all about the cheese and beef. Gratefully, those are two things that don’t give me heartburn! Weight gain: 24 lbs. We spent Wednesday night at the Gaylord Opryland Indoor Waterpark with our youth group (Jesse and I both co-lead a small group in our church’s youth group). Jesse had fun doing the FlowRider and a number of the water slides. I could only do the lazy river, but I still had so much fun watching my girls have a blast! These girls bring so much joy to my life! And then I spent Friday-Sunday at a retreat center in TN with around 130 other women who are part of our church’s Discipleship Intensive program. (This is my 4th year to be involved in this program. It’s such an honor to get to co-lead and walk with a small group of women through this!) My Say Yes Season “Say Yes!” This has been one of my life themes the past 8 months. On the macro level, I’ve said yes to getting licensed as a foster mama, said yes to a 3-book deal, said yes to more speaking and travel, said yes to co-leading another small group for Year 1 of our church’s Discipleship Intensive program, said yes to being a youth group leader, and said yes to opening our home every opportunity we’ve had. On the micro level, I’ve been saying yes to opportunities to hang out and do more fun things with the kids and Jesse — like saying yes this week to putting on a bathing suit at 32 weeks pregnant and laughing and waddling around an indoor waterpark with Jesse & Kaitlynn for our youth group’s indoor waterpark night or spending two nights sleeping on a cot in the tiny kitchen area in the small room that I shared with three other women at the retreat center this weekend. In all of my other pregnancies, I stayed home a LOT. Yes, I had younger kids so it was harder to get out. But I also stayed home because it was uncomfortable to get out — you never know when heartburn or nausea is going to hit, you’re often dog tired, and walking and standing can be difficult in the last few months of pregnancy. This time around, I committed from the get go that I would get up, exercise, shower, and get dressed every day — no matter how I felt. Except for a few rare days, I have kept that commitment. And I truly believe it has made such a difference for me. After all, it’s much easier to say yes to fun and adventure and going places when you’re dressed and ready for the day! 😉 I look back on the last 8 months and see how this commitment to “Say Yes!” has brought so many unexpected blessings and people and relationships and opportunities into my life. And I have a whole catalog of memories, funny stories, and life-changing experiences I would have missed out on had a stayed home and played it safe. I’ve also gotten to see God show up in powerful ways and give me energy when I felt weary and I get to see Him multiply my time and strength on an almost daily basis. It has been stretching in the most beautiful of ways! Important note: While this is something that’s been simmering on my heart to share for the past few months, please note that this is my season of life that I am in right now. This is not to make anyone who is in a season of quiet feel guilty nor is it something I’m advocating for everyone. It is just where God has ME right now. And my season of life will probably look a lot different come April/May when our baby arrives. Also, in the midst of this Say Yes season, I’ve made sure to have daily downtime (I take a nap almost every day + aim for 7-8 hours of sleep at night.) and weekly Sabbath (I take Sundays off.) There is no way I could go at the pace I do without these regular rhythms of rest. [...]
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USDA Home Loans: What They Are and How to Apply for One

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USDA Home Loans: What They Are and How to Apply for One
You want to own your own home. It’s part of the American dream, right?  But saving up that magical 20% for a down payment seems impossible. Even 10% would take years. All you want is a nice, affordable house in the suburbs, or even out in the country. You might be in luck, thanks to a little-known mortgage program. If you qualify, it could help you buy your dream home with a $0 down payment. What’s a USDA Home Loan? The USDA is the United States Department of Agriculture, and one of its main purposes is to support rural development. The USDA home loan program is one of the ways the agency accomplishes that. Pro Tip The program’s full name is a USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan. You may also see it referred to as a Section 502 loan.  USDA home loans offer qualified borrowers a chance to purchase a home with no money down, mortgage rates that are below the market average, and even reduced mortgage insurance premiums.  The program is designed to help people with average or even below-average income buy their own homes, so don’t let that “qualified borrowers” part scare you away. USDA home loans are made to help those who need them, so a less-than-perfect credit score and lower income may be enough to qualify you. Who Qualifies for a USDA Home Loan? Like most loan programs, there are some eligibility requirements. Here are the basic qualifications for a USDA home loan: U.S. citizenship or permanent residency The ability to prove creditworthiness, typically with a credit score of at least 640 Stable and dependable income The ability and willingness to repay the mortgage – generally 12 months of no late payments or collections Adjusted household income is equal to or less than 115% of the area median income The property has to serve as the primary residence and should be located in a qualified rural area, which is defined as an area with a population under 10,000 (or certain areas with fewer than 20,000 people who are underserved with mortgage credit for low to moderate-income families). See if your area qualifies.  There may be exceptions to some of these qualifications based on the standards of individual lenders.  “The main limits are on location and income,” said Miguel Morales, a loan officer with Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation. “There are also rules for debt to income ratio and minimum credit scores. Most lenders need a 640. My company allows a 620 if we get automated approval and meet all approval criteria.” The income requirements are pretty straightforward. You probably qualify if you earn less than $86,850 for a household of up to 4 people, or less than $114,650 for a household of 5-8 people. The USDA has an income eligibility calculator you can use to determine if you could qualify for a USDA home loan. What Do You Need To Know About USDA Home Loans? If you qualify for a USDA home loan, you should get great mortgage rates and you won’t need a down payment. However, you still need to be ready to cover some basic costs of the loan. “The main benefit is that [the loan] does not require a down payment, but it does have closing costs,” Morales said. “The seller can often help pay some or all of the closing costs in a purchase scenario. A buyer can get into a home with little money as long as they meet the criteria. They will need funds for the earnest money deposit, appraisal and any home inspections, at the very least.” An earnest money deposit is basically a “good faith” deposit made to the seller. The deposit, which can be between 1% to 10% of the mortgage, is held in escrow until closing, at which point it’s put towards the down payment.  The average cost of an appraisal for a single-family home runs between $300 and $400, according to HomeGuide.  The cost of a home inspection typically ranges from $280 to $390. These loans also carry a 1% fee, which is paid at closing.  So if you’re looking at a rural home with a cost of $150,000, you may still need to have $1,500 or more for the earnest money deposit and another $650 or so for the appraisal and inspection. Then you’ll need $1,500 for the USDA fee. That’s $3,650. That’s still a lot less than a 20% down payment of $30K, right? Another thing to consider is that buying a home with a USDA home loan could be a slower process than your typical home-buying experience. “It can take a little longer to process a USDA loan since the USDA has to approve the loan after the lender has completed their final approval, which would include appraisal review and final underwriting,” Morales said. “So instead of closing a loan in 30 days, it may take 45 days or so to close a USDA loan.”  If you decide to pursue a USDA home loan, be aware that not every bank or mortgage company handles USDA Home Loans. To find one near you, check out the USDA’s list of approved lenders.  The USDA home loan program is targeted to a rather specific set of home buyers. If you’re looking to purchase a home in a rural or suburban area, make less-than-average income, and have decent credit, it could be perfect for you.  Tyler Omoth is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 6 March 2020

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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 6 March 2020
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This Week in Fintech ending 6 March 2020

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This Week in Fintech ending 6 March 2020
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20 Ways Retirees Can Bring in Extra Money in 2020

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20 Ways Retirees Can Bring in Extra Money in 2020
B-D-S Piotr Marcinski / Shutterstock.com Are you retired — or planning to quit work soon — and looking for ways to put a little extra cash in your pocket? Your many years of hard work and experience can still be valuable once you retire. But now, you’re in a position to leverage those skills in a new way — or to try your hand at something completely different. [...]
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We spent $68.74 on groceries this week (ALDI + Kroger)

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We spent $68.74 on groceries this week (ALDI + Kroger)
Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.). For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here. We’ve been eating a LOT of cereal these days. Somewhat because I’m moving more slowly and am more tired now that I’m in the third trimester so it’s an easy snack/meal, but also because I keep getting great deals on it and cereal/milk are one of the few things that don’t give me heartburn! (I didn’t get a picture of these groceries before the kids already got into the cereal & milk!) Kroger Shopping Trip #1 1 gallon milk — $2.69 2 tubes Colgate toothpaste — $1.99 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $4/2 Kroger digital coupon = free after coupons 1 box Raisin Bran — $1.79 when you buy 5 participating items 2 boxes Cheerios — $1.99 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $1/2 Kroger digital coupon = $1.49 each after coupons Total with tax: $8.49 I was so excited that Kroger had butter on sale for $1.99 again this week! We still have 4 pounds in the freezer from the last sale, but you can bet I went ahead and got 5 more pounds to stock the freezer! Kroger Shopping Trip #2: 2 loaves Bakery French Bread — marked down to $0.89 each 1 bag of pears — marked down to $0.99 2 jars of cinnamon/nutmeg — $1 each 1 3-lb. bag of Navel oranges — $1.99 2 bags of frozen Broccoli/Cauliflower — $1/bag 5 packages of sausage — $1.88 each with Friday-Saturday Kroger digital coupon 1 dozen eggs — $2.50 Milk — $2.99 5 pounds of butter — $1.99 each with Friday-Saturday Kroger digital coupon Total with tax: $35.70 Since we had about $26 left in our grocery budget, I decided to run by Aldi on Saturday after Silas’ baseball practice. I was hoping to pick up some cereal and cheese. I let Silas add up the amount of the our purchases as we added things to the cart and he made sure we stayed within our budget. He did a great job of doing the mental math! Aldi Shopping Trip Chocolate Chip — $1.69 Dried Cranberries — $1.29 2 Cinnamon Crunch cereal — $1.39 each 3 boxes of Macaroni & Cheese — $0.33 each 6-pack of Peach Tea — $3.99 Eggs — $0.58 Baby Carrots — $0.89 2 Honey Crunch Oats cereal — $1.29 Milk — $2.49 Frosted Flakes — $2.29 2 packages cheese — $1.69 each Total with tax: $24.55 Our Menu Plan This Week Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand. This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate. Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here. Breakfasts: Cereal Lunches/Snacks: Leftovers, Salad, Apples/Peanut Butter, Mac & Cheese, Danimals, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, Scrambled Eggs, Cookies, Chips, Random other markdowns/sale items 🙂 Dinners: Sunday — Frozen Pizza Monday — Quiche (used marked down pie crust, mixed veggies, ground beef, eggs, spices), Apple Turnover (used marked down pie crust) Tuesday — Instant Pot Apples, Pumpkin Waffles, Sausage Wednesday — Chicken Noodle Soup, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins Thursday — Parmesan Chicken, Rice Pilaf, Peas, Biscuits Friday — Leftover Buffet, Oranges (Jesse was out of town) Saturday — Frozen Pizza, Salad (Jesse was out of town) [...]
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From Adam Smith to the Glasgow Economic Forum 2020

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From Adam Smith to the Glasgow Economic Forum 2020
What was the most important document published in 1776? Most Americans would probably say “The Declaration of Independence”. But many would argue that Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” had a far bigger and more global impact. The University Glasgow in Scotland is home to the “Father of Capitalism”. Since Adam Smith published his works that revolutionized the world’s marketplaces, the progress over the last two hundred fifty years has been explosive. Year after year, the world has grown more connected and more prosperous. Today, the world is far more complex because of globalization, climate change, population growth and movement, and we need new approaches to problems. True to his spirit, for the fifth year in a row, students from the Adam Smith Business School at the University of Glasgow, are organizing the Glasgow Economic Forum (GEF). This is a student-led conference that brings together academics and professionals to share and exchange ideas that can stimulate discussion on how we can approach these complex problems. The two-day event will be led by world-class speakers from Oxford, Cambridge, OECD, the European Commission, Heidelberg University, and the Scottish Government among others. Professor Sarah Smith from the University of Bristol will deliver a keynote speech on the role of women and minorities in the economics and the ways the #DiscoverEconomics initiative can help to boost diversity in this subject area. The second keynote speaker is Professor Doyne Farmer, from the University of Oxford and Santa Fe Institute, and he will talk about Modelling the Economy as a Complex System. During the event there will be a fintech workshop, organized by Garreth Stubbs from the University of Glasgow Fintech Society. This event is supported by the Bank of England and the Young Scholars Initiative. Here are all the details about the event: Date: Saturday 7 – Sunday 8 March 2020 Time: 9:00am Venue: Lecture Theatre 201, Charles Wilson Building, 1 University Avenue Audience: Event is open to all Admission: Early bird – day pass £13.66, weekend pass £18.76 Website: https://www.glasgoweconomicforum.com LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/glasgow-economic-forum Instagram: @glaeconomicforum Louis Hatzis is the founder and CEO of Mercato Blockchain AG. The idea for this post was prompted by one of the investors in his company, whose son is a student at the University Glasgow and one of the organizers of the Glasgow Economic Forum (GEF). The post From Adam Smith to the Glasgow Economic Forum 2020 appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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This Week in Fintech ending 28 February 2020

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This Week in Fintech ending 28 February 2020
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Best Cheap Car Insurance in Chicago for 2020

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Best Cheap Car Insurance in Chicago for 2020
No matter where you live in the Windy City, finding cheap auto insurance in Chicago may not be a breeze. You’re likely to pay $150 to $230 a year more for car insurance in Chicago than if you lived elsewhere in your state, NerdWallet’s 2020 rates analysis shows. And since the Chicago metropolitan area technically... Lisa Green is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: lgreen@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lisaccgreen. The article Best Cheap Car Insurance in Chicago for 2020 originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 28 February 2020

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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 28 February 2020
  Here is our pick of the 3 most important Security Tokens news stories during the week: Commercial Real Estate Marketplace Red Swan Tokenizes $2.2 billion In Real Estate Through Security Token Platform Polymath  Red Swan CEO Ed Nwokedi:  “…in the past [real estate tokenization was attempted on] platforms like Harbor, Propellr and Fluidity, which were really tech companies…They didn’t really have the real estate background or the expertise to understand how the private real estate market works.” New York-based Red Swan says it has tokenized $2.2 billion in commercial real estate representing 16 different Class A commercial properties based in Texas, California and Ontario, Canada. CEO Nwokedi disclosed Red Swan is in the process of becoming a registered investment adviser, which will allow it to manage assets for accredited investors. The tokens are ST-20 tokens running on Ethereum.   Security Token Platform Dusk Network Says It Will Tokenize Shares For Thousands Of SMEs In The Greater Benelux Region The Amsterdam-based company announced Thursday it has partnered with Firm24, one of the region’s largest shareholder registries, and will use blockchain for an automated infrastructure that could introduce market efficiencies and transform how shares, that are not publicly listed, are traded. Firm24 has more than 35,000 SMEs from Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (known as the Benelux region).  Firm24 hopes to deploy a tokenized share register to automate corporate actions and connect customers directly, creating tokenized representatives of share certificates that are freely tradable. LuxTag Claims First Successful Security Token Offering in Malaysia LuxTag announced it has closed on a $360,000 token offering. The crowdfunding round saw 51% of the funds denominated in Bitcoin and XEM (NEM).  LuxTag claims to be Malaysia’s very first successful token offering. The securities offering was hosted on PitchIn. LuxTag is an anti-counterfeit, track and trace and anti-theft solution provider. LuxTag utilizes the NEM blockchain platform and NEM’s native tokens (XEM) to run its blockchain operations. The service revolves around digitized certificates of authenticity for tangible products, linking to brands and owners through multi-signature smart contracts and the IoT (Internet of Things) elements. The company included among its customers Chronoswiss, a Swiss watchmaker, the International Islamic University of Malaysia (for securing authenticity of graduation certificates) and Defeet International, a sports apparel brand based in the US. We have a self-imposed constraint of 3 news stories each week because we serve busy senior leaders in Fintech who need just enough information to get on with their job. For context on Security Tokens please read the chapter on Security Tokens in our Blockchain Economy book and read articles tagged Security Tokens in our archives.  You get 3 free articles on Daily Fintech. After that you will need to become a member for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day) and get all our fresh content and our archives and participate in our forum. The post Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 28 February 2020 appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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3 Books I Finished Last Week (+ 1 book I quit)

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3 Books I Finished Last Week (+ 1 book I quit)
Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page. Get Your Life Back: Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad I knew within reading just a few pages of this book that I was going to love it. I’m only vaguely familiar with John Eldredge and had never read any of his other books, but I truly found this book valuable and inspiring. In fact, I found it so helpful, that Jesse and I recorded a podcast together with some of my initial thoughts from the book last week. Then, we invited John to come do an interview with me where he shared even more about what first prompted him to write this book (he was feeling burnt out and addicted to his phone and email) and daily practices that have helped him to regain his perspective, renew his soul, and refresh his spirit. We recorded the podcast episode with him today and I can’t wait to share it with you next week! I think you’ll find his thoughts on caring for your soul, the power of the one-minute pause, and cultivating beauty in your life to truly be an inspiration! And, if you can’t tell, I also definitely recommend reading this book! 🙂 Verdict: 4 stars I Choose Brave: Embracing Holy Courage and Understanding Godly Fear Katie asked me if I would endorse her book a few months ago. I rarely say yes to endorsement requests, but the book title and subject intrigued me and I’d heard so many wonderful things about Katie. It was an honor to get to endorse her book. My only critique is that I would have loved for her to share a lot more of her journey and story, because I feel we could all really benefit from hearing more of what she has walked through. Here’s what I wrote about her book: If you are walking through a hard place in your life, struggling with fear, or feeling overwhelmed by a mountain ahead of you, Katie’s book will serve as a welcome reminder to you to fear God and walk in faith. Her words challenged and convicted me to say “yes” to boldly believe God and choose bravery, in spite of my own fear. This book is slated to release in August (thus the reason I don’t have a pretty book picture to show you; what I read was a collection of coiled bound papers that were her book’s final draft!) Verdict: 3 stars Raising Worry-Free Girls Whether you have sons or daughters, I think this is a valuable read. Yes, all of her stories, anecdotes, and advice is more girl-driven, but I think much of it applies to boys (and adults!), too. There is an epidemic of anxiety going on among our youth. This book will give you some starting places, great tools, and lots of food-for-thought to help you combat your kids’ anxiety. I found so many new insights, wise advice, and practical ideas for us to implement in our home through the pages. This book is not a replacement for counseling or therapy, but it would be a fantastic starting place if you feel like your child might be struggling with anxiety. Verdict: 4 stars Book I Quit: Things You Save in a Fire — I started listening to this because I enjoyed one of the author’s other books. About 4-5 chapters in, I felt like it was just too fluffy and felt sort of soap-opera-ish (not to mention that it had quite a bit of language), so I returned it back to the library on my Libby app. Life’s too short to spend it on books that aren’t feeding your soul! What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list?? [...]
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`Before me, everything was done manually` says the `Blockchain` Figure muppet

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`Before me, everything was done manually` says the `Blockchain` Figure muppet
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Life update: Pregnancy (week 30), basketball, prepping for baby, + my goals for this week

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Life update: Pregnancy (week 30), basketball, prepping for baby, + my goals for this week
I tried to post my usual pregnancy update over the weekend, but my blog decided it wouldn’t upload any photos. So here I am posting a life update + goals post all in one. We’ll just pretend like this is what I do every week! 😉 30 weeks!! And I can honestly barely believe it!! Highlights We now officially have all the basics for the baby (clothes, diapers/wipes, bed, carrier, car seat, and stroller). And now I’m working on collecting postpartum stuff for me (what are your faves to have on hand for recovery?) We went ahead and set up the bed in our room this past week and it’s the craziest thing to see it there. (We plan for baby to sleep in our room in a bassinet pack-n-play for at least the first few months — but we’ll see how that goes and are open to tweak our plans if that doesn’t work out well.) Notable I had another appointment with the OB and everything continues to look great and baby is right on track! I have two more two-week appointments and then we’ll start weekly appointments where they’ll be doing in-depth ultrasounds to make sure everything looks good (because have a tiny bit of higher risks near the end of pregnancy due to my age). I’m so grateful that I’m still feeling so well despite being this far into my pregnancy. I was usually pretty miserable at this point with my other pregnancies and really struggling to sleep, get comfortable, etc. I feel like the consistency with daily exercise, being super careful about what I’m eating, choosing an attitude of gratitude, really being vigilant about my iron intake, staying busy while also making sure I’m having a good balance of rest and downtime is making such a difference for me. As Jesse was saying earlier, “This is by far the best pregnancy you’ve ever had!” I have noticed I’m definitely needing more naps/sleep these days. I usually feel GREAT with 7 hours of sleep, but I’ve been needing at least 8+ hours of sleep the past two weeks to feel rested. So I’ve been trying to sneak in 1-2 short naps throughout the day and that’s made a big difference. (This is when it’s such a blessing that I work from home!) In other news, as most of you know, I’m currently working on writing a book that is due to my publisher the beginning of July. I set a goal to have the rough draft completely done by April 15 and I’m thrilled to say that I’m on track with my goal!! And I can’t wait to share more about it!! These two came home from school one day last week to discover that Kaitlynn and I had set the baby bed up (she was home since she hadn’t been fever-free for 24 hours). And I think this whole, “we’re actually having a baby!!” just got really, real to all of us. It’s hard to describe how surreal all of this is when you had waited and hoped and tried for years, then grieved the devastating loss of being told you’d never being able to have more kids, and finally truly moving to a place of peace and contentment with our family of five. And now there’s a 30-week-old baby kicking and hiccuping up a storm in my belly, we’re setting up the baby bed, buying baby clothes & diapers, talking about our birth plan, and I’m prepping for maternity leave. Truly, God is in the business of doing exceedingly abundantly above anything we could ever dream or imagine! I don’t know what the future holds for our family or this child, but I will say that I can’t imagine any child being more wanted or loved or looked forward to. Also, getting to share this journey with three older kids who are crazy excited about it has been one of the best parts of it all. Thank you to everyone of you who has been part of this journey, too. It has been humbling to hear from so many of you — many whom I don’t even know! — who have been praying for me, this pregnancy, and this baby. It means the world to me! I told the kids they had to wait to start counting down to the birth until I got 30 weeks. Welp, here we are. And the countdown is on!! Note: I know that my sharing of our pregnancy has been very painful for some of you and I just want you to know that if you are grieving a loss or deeply wishing or longing for a child, you are not forgotten. I think of you so, so often. And I would be honored to take time to pray for you today. One of the hardest parts of this journey has been seeing multiple friends of mine experience loss in recent months. I want you to know that my heart hurts deeply for you. If you are experiencing infertility or loss and your heart is grieving, I would be honored to stop and pray for you by name today. Just message me or leave me a comment. You don’t need to share details, just ask for prayer and let me know your name. In other news, Kathrynne’s basketball team took home the Championship win at the Varsity basketball championships last week!! This was Kathrynne’s first year to play on Varsity and it’s been so fun to see her work so hard, build a lot of confidence, and improve so much over the course of the year. One of my favorite parts of her being on the basketball team is the relationships she’s building with these amazing girls! Here’s how I did on my goals last week: Last Week’s Goals: 2020– Week 7 Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Read Raising Worry-Free Girls, I Choose Brave, and Get Your Life Back. Listen to Things You Save in a Fire. (I stopped listening to this one because it felt like it was just going to be too “fluffy” and didn’t have enough depth for me.) 3. Go to bed by 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Home/Family Goals 4. Read 30 more pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. 5. Clean and disinfect the house from flu germs (as soon as the kids are fever-free!). Work/Blog Goals 6. Finish the rough draft of chapter 5 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 7. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. (We did watch YouTube videos together — does that count??) 8. Go out to dinner with Jesse. (If everyone is well!) I’m keeping this week’s goals really simple because we are potentially getting a longterm foster placement this week and I want to leave a lot of space open for that. There’s a lot up in the air and it might not pan out, but I want to be prepared if it does. This Week’s Goals: 2020 —  Week 8 Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading Love Idol and Don’t Overthink It. Finish listening to Good Leaders Ask Great Questions. Home/Family Goals 3. Read 30 more pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. 4. Get a breast pump (I need to research whether our insurance provides this or not.) Work/Blog Goals 5. Finish the rough draft of chapter 5 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 6. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family.  What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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Wells Fargo Review: Big Sign-up Bonuses Come With High Fees

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Wells Fargo Review: Big Sign-up Bonuses Come With High Fees
Wells Fargo is a Big Four bank that made big headlines back in 2016 and 2017 over a scandal where employees created millions of fake accounts to hit their sales targets. But it’s up to you to decide whether you should or shouldn’t trust Wells Fargo with your money. We’re here to give you an honest look at the bank’s checking and savings features for individuals and small businesses, as well as its overall convenience and mobile banking features in this Wells Fargo review. Wells Fargo Review: Pros and Cons What we like: The monthly service fees for Wells Fargo’s basic checking and savings accounts are easily waived. The Automatic Refund feature is free and will reverse some overdraft fees. Low-fee checking and savings options for small businesses. Wells Fargo is currently offering a $400 bonus to new customers who open a checking account and set up at least $4,000 of monthly direct deposits for three consecutive months. What we don’t like: The APY on savings accounts is well below the national average. Not for habitual overdrafters: The standard overdraft fee is $35, and overdraft protection costs $12.50 per transfer. The trust factor: Remember that whole fake account scandal? Checking  Grade: C Wells Fargo’s most popular checking option, the Everyday Checking account, has a pretty standard minimum opening deposit of $25. It has a $10 monthly service fee, but Wells Fargo will waive it if you meet one of the following conditions: You have 10 or more debit transactions. Have $500 or more in direct deposits. Maintain a daily balance of $1,500 or more. Are between the ages of 17 and 24. The money you keep in the Everyday Checking account won’t earn you interest, but if you opt for the Preferred Checking account, you’ll earn a minuscule 0.01% APY if you maintain a balance of at least $500. Wells Fargo’s overdraft fees are a steep $35, with a limit of three per day. Overdraft protection is available if you have a linked Wells Fargo savings account or credit card — but the transfer to cover your overdraft will cost you a hefty $12.50. However, we do like the Automatic Refund feature, which will waive some overdraft fees if Wells Fargo receives an automatic transfer that covers at least the amount you overdrafted by before 9 a.m. the following business day. This feature is free and is automatically applied to all checking accounts. Wells Fargo is known for pretty sweet bonus offers for new customers: If you’re a new customer and you open a checking account, you’ll receive a $400 bonus if you set up and receive at least $4,000 in monthly direct deposits for three consecutive months. The offer is good through July 31, 2020. Savings Grade: C Wells Fargo’s basic savings account, the Way2Save Account, also has a $25 minimum opening deposit. There’s a $5 monthly service fee that’s waived if: You maintain a daily balance of at least $300. You set up at least one automatic transfer. You’re under 18. We’re also fans of the optional Save As You Go program, which transfers $1 into your savings account for each non-recurring debit purchase and automatic online bill pay transaction. But the Way2Save Account isn’t exactly a way to earn interest, as your balance will earn just 0.01% APY, which is well below the national average. The Platinum Savings Account has a standard APY of 0.05%, still below average, and requires a minimum balance of $3,500 to avoid the $12 a month service fee. Wells Fargo’s standard CDs require a deposit of at least $2,500, and APYs are also below average. To see Wells Fargo’s CD rates near you, click here. Small Business Banking Grade: B+ We think Wells Fargo is one of the best banks for small businesses in general. What we like its small business checking and savings account offerings because of their low fees. The Simple Business Checking Account has a $25 minimum opening deposit. There’s a $10 a month service fee that’s waived with an average balance of $500. You’ll also get 50 free transactions and $3,000 worth of free cash deposits each month. The Business Market Rate Savings Account also requires just $25 to open. It has a $6 a month service fee that’s waived with an average balance of $500. The account comes with 20 free check deposits and $5,000 worth of free cash deposits per month. Convenience Grade: A Wells Fargo is hard to beat on convenience, with more than 5,400 branches and 13,000 ATMs in the U.S. There’s also 24/7 customer service. Of course, like most big banks, Wells Fargo offers a lot of digital features (more on these in a minute) like mobile deposit and text banking that make it less important to be able to visit a physical location or interact with an actual human. While this Wells Fargo review is limited to its checking and savings options, it’s a convenient place to bank if you want a full suite of financial products, like credit cards, mortgages, car loans and investment accounts, all under the same roof. Mobile Banking Grade: A Customers give the Wells Fargo Mobile app solid reviews. It gets 4.8 out of 5 stars in the Apple App Store and 4.6 out of 5 stars in the Google Play Store. We also like the Control Tower option that lets you easily turn your card off if you’ve misplaced it. There’s also a cool cardless ATM option that allows you to access cash using your mobile phone — no debit card required. The app has several neat financial management tools that let you track your spending in real time, create a budget and make a savings plan. Granted, there are tons of other budgeting apps that do the same things, but it’s nice to have these features rolled into your banking app. Our Bank Review Methodology The Penny Hoarder’s editorial team considers more than 25 factors in its bank account reviews, including fees, minimum daily balance requirements, APYs, overdraft charges, ATM access, number of physical locations, customer service support access and mobile features.  To determine how we weigh each factor, The Penny Hoarder surveyed 1,500 people to find out what banking features matter most to you.  For example, we give top grades to banks that have low fees because our survey showed that this is the No. 1 thing you look for in a bank. Because more than 70% of you said you visited a physical bank branch last year, we consider the number of brick-and-mortar locations. But more than one-third of you use mobile apps for more than 75% of your banking, so digital features are also considered carefully. Banks are graded across the following categories: Personal checking accounts Personal savings accounts Small-business banking Convenience Mobile banking Credit card and loan products are not currently considered. Robin Hartill is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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This Week in Fintech ending 21 February 2020

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This Week in Fintech ending 21 February 2020
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SEC Proposes to Modernize Infrastructure for NMS Securities Market Data

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SEC Proposes to Modernize Infrastructure for NMS Securities Market Data
On February 14, the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed to modernize the infrastructure for the collection, consolidation and dissemination of market data for exchange-listed national market system (NMS) securities, including by expanding the content of included NMS market data and introducing a decentralized consolidation model with competing data consolidators. The rules that govern the content and dissemination of NMS market data have not be updated since the 1970s. The proposal will be published on SEC.gov and in the Federal Register. There will be a 60-day comment period following publication. More information from the SEC is available here. [...]
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We Spent $68.24 at the Grocery Store This Week (+ our dinner menus)

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We Spent $68.24 at the Grocery Store This Week (+ our dinner menus)
Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.). For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here. I was excited to find some great deals at Kroger, be able to stock up on a few things, and stay under budget. Here’s what we bought this week: Kroger Shopping Trip #1: 4 boxes Creamette Pasta — $0.49 each with the digital coupon Duncan Hines Microwave Cakes (I thought these would be fun to have for a movie night) — marked down to $0.39 each Kroger Hashbrowns — $1.79 Fresh Salsa — marked down to $0.99 1 bag of apples — marked down to $0.99 4 jars Kroger peanut butter — $0.99 each after digital coupon 1 jar natural Kroger peanut butter — $1.79 Kroger cheese (16 oz.) — $3.99 Pillsbury Pie Crust — marked down to $0.99 3-lb bag of Gala apples — $3.99 2 lbs ground beef — marked down to $1.99 each 3 bottles Odwalla juice — marked down to $0.99 each 2 boxes Kroger cereal — $1.49 each Milk — $2.79 Half & Half — $1.99 Total with tax: $38.38 Kroger Shopping Trip #2: 2 boxes Kroger cereal — $1.49 each Hostess Cupcake Dessert Mix — marked down to $0.39 2 cans Chef Boyardee — marked down to $0.19 each Simple Truth Refried Beans — marked down to $0.39 4 bags Kroger Frozen Veggies — $1 each Lemi-Shine Dishwasher Tabs — marked down to $0.89 5 packages of Pampers wipes — $0.99 each with Friday-Saturday digital coupon 2 Stayfree pads — $1.69 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $3/2 Kroger digital coupon = $0.19 each 2 Suave shampoo/conditioner — $0.99 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $1/2 Kroger digital coupon = $0.49 each Kellogg’s Raisin Bran — $1.79 when you buy 5 participating items Milk — $2.99 Simple Truth Eggs — marked down to $1.49 Total with tax: $29.86 Our Menu Plan This Week Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand. This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate. Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here. Breakfasts: Cereal Lunches: Leftovers, Salad, Apples/Peanut Butter, Mac & Cheese, Yogurt, Cookies, Chips, Random other markdowns/sale items 🙂 Dinners:  Sunday: Leftovers + Mac & Cheese Monday: Breakfast Casserole (recipe sent to me by a follower) Tuesday: Fend for yourself + leftovers Wednesday: Tyson Anytizers, Broccoli, Brown Rice Thursday: Chicken Tetrazinni, Green Beans, Bran Muffins Friday: Pumpkin Waffles, Bacon (Jesse & I went out to dinner with a gift card we were given by his parents — we’re trying to get in some dates before the baby gets here!) Saturday: Dinner out (Kathrynne had an out of town basketball tournament) [...]
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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 21 February 2020

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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 21 February 2020
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How to Become a Graphic Designer: Here's What It Takes

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How to Become a Graphic Designer: Here's What It Takes
A picture is worth a thousand words — and maybe just as many dollars. Graphic designers work in a competitive but exhilarating and fulfilling field in which they combine their passion for art and love of technology to create compelling design work for logos, websites, flyers, brochures, infographics and more. If you have been a lifelong artist and are looking for a way to apply your talents in your career, consider finding out how to become a graphic designer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for graphic designers is $50,370, plus the benefits that come with working in a typical office role (paid vacations, paid holidays, sick leave, health insurance, etc.). What can make graphic design an even more lucrative career choice is the flexibility to do freelance work. A common hourly rate for freelance graphic design work is $65 to $150, though as a freelance designer, you can set your own hourly or per-project rates above or below that range. What’s the Day-to-Day Work Like for a Graphic Designer? Parker Myers is a graphic designer at the Nashville, Tennessee, office of market-research firm Forrester Research, headquartered near Boston.  Myers told me in 2018 that he spends his days using software like Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft PowerPoint to build presentation graphics, interactive tools for websites, infographics and similar materials. He also keeps an ongoing dialogue within his organization regarding branding (fonts, colors, etc.). Aside from the actual graphic-design work, Myers’ role involves a lot of collaborative conversations with clients and the employees who interact directly with them, who are ultimately responsible for what he designs. But it’s not just the 9-to-5 that consumes Myers’ design skills. “My free time is taken up by freelancing projects and volunteer work as a designer for the church that I go to. Freelancing very much comes in waves. Right now, I’ve got a consistent flow of work, enough that my evenings are really busy. That’s why the full-time work is a great combination with freelancing if you don’t mind spending 90% of your waking time on design stuff.” Skills and Qualities of a Successful Graphic Designer Myers has been in the design field for the past five years, long enough to achieve a fair amount of success. The biggest driver of success is communication or, as Myers calls it, understanding and empathy.  “[You are] constantly putting yourself in someone else’s shoes,” he explained — meaning at times, you have to sacrifice your own personal aesthetic to create your client’s vision or to maintain your company’s brand. “The ability to see how others see — being able to get out of your own head — is really important.” Of course, the more obvious skill that a successful designer needs in is what I, someone with no eye for design, would call a talent you are born with: a well-nurtured aesthetic sense. But in the 21st century, that artistic vision must be coupled with a thorough understanding of technology, including programs like Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as web languages; a lot of design work is web-based nowadays. Myers also explained that minimalism is a helpful trait — “stripping down a solution to its core and making sure it functions perfectly, then dressing it up a little. That’s how I try to approach [design].” How to Become a Graphic Designer Graphic designers take varied paths to get where they are — and there’s no “right way.”  1. Consider Education in Graphic Design Myers attended college to become a journalist and realized closer to graduation that he wanted to pursue design. He ended up graduating with a journalism degree with a concentration in design, which is definitely not the most common route. “You can get there without [a degree],” Myers told me, “but if you’ve got the opportunity to go to school and study it, you’ll definitely be better off. School gives you a safe place to earn your wings and work out the kinks.” If you intend to go the full-time route, an associate’s degree at the very least is recommended; coursework will cover the basics of typography, web design and color theory.  The more common and preferred route is a bachelor’s degree. In pursuing your bachelor’s, you will take courses in digital and print production, media management and entrepreneurialism. Some graphic designers even get a master’s degree. 2. Put Together a Portfolio Perhaps just as important as the degree is the portfolio. Develop a portfolio that shows your special skills, your range and your understanding of core competencies.  If you need to build a portfolio and have no professional projects to include, volunteer your talents with a local nonprofit or offer to work for a reduced rate to start-up companies willing to give you a chance. 3. Create as Many Designs as Possible Myers emphasized the importance of doing as much work as possible. “Volume of work is essential to getting better,” he said. “In that sense, I like to think of it like a physical skill, like a jump shot in basketball. The more time you spend in the gym, the better you’ll be. Find ways to create every day. Put in the reps. Create random prompts for yourself. Take on any work you can find: brochures, posters, logos, flyers, programs, whatever. Do it all. Don’t turn down projects. And don’t be afraid to spend a lot of time on every project,” “It’s very hard to fake your way into being good at design. It’s just something that gets sharper and sharper over time..” The Challenges of Being a Graphic Designer Communication can be a graphic designer’s best friend or ultimate downfall. Most of your work as a designer will be in translating someone else’s vision. Talented designers are able to listen and ask the right questions to successfully act on someone else’s ideas. Hand-in-hand with this challenge is another: Sometimes colleagues or clients with no eye for design will push their ideas on you even when they conflict with your expert guidance. Designers must find the fine line between pushing back when novices try to influence the design direction and making clients happy. “Resisting trends is very tough for me,” Myers said. “I get really wrapped up in what everyone else is doing and want to chase it.”  That’s fine now and then, according to Myers, but it’s your own unique methods and stylistic touches that will set you apart from the competition when going in for a job interview or bidding for a client. Interviewing and bidding for work may be the biggest challenge of all; the field is highly competitive. While graphic designers are in large demand, the field is saturated by artists hungry for a challenge. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career field should see only 3% growth between 2018 and 2028 (slower than the national average). If you decide to pursue graphic design, be ready to fight hard to earn work, whether full-time or freelance. FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM Extra money on the side 1/27/20 @ 6:48 PM S Make money from home 2/2/20 @ 5:47 AM Is there Really a way to make MONEY ONLINE? 2/14/20 @ 7:34 PM Earn well with little Money? 2/14/20 @ 8:06 PM [...]
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Flood insurance- where the rising tide has NOT raised all ships

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Flood insurance- where the rising tide has NOT raised all ships
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What’s the Best Use of Your Tax Refund? 8 Smart Ideas

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What’s the Best Use of Your Tax Refund? 8 Smart Ideas
Getting a sizable tax refund can seem like winning the lottery. All at once, you’re a few thousand dollars richer. It can be tempting to blow that cash without thinking, but you’re wiser than that. You know that your tax refund isn’t free money — it’s your money. If you’re unsure of the best use of your tax refund, remember that it’s a portion of the hard-earned cash you worked for throughout the year and consider these eight smart ways to put that money to good use. 1. Build Up Your Emergency Fund Saving cash aside for emergencies gives you peace of mind that you can financially weather a crisis. Unfortunately, many Americans have much less than the recommended amount for an emergency fund. If you have less than three-to-six-months worth of living expenses, funnel some of your tax refund to your emergency fund. Pro Tip Keep your emergency fund savings in a liquid, no-risk account that’s easy to access when you need it. Earn interest with a high-yield savings account or money market account. 2. Pay Down Debt Relieve yourself of some of the pressure weighing down on you from debt. If you’re a fan of the snowball method of debt repayment, put your refund toward one or two of your smaller debt balances. Once they’re paid off, work on your next largest debt.  If you’re more of a debt avalanche fan, use your tax refund to pay down a larger balance that has the highest interest rate. Even if you don’t pay it off completely, reducing the balance means you’ll pay less in interest. 3. Contribute More to Your Retirement Funds Hopefully you’re already contributing to a 401(k) plan or individual retirement account (IRA), but are you maxing out your contributions? The 2020 401(k) contribution limits are $19,500 for individuals younger than 50 or $26,000 for those 50 and up. This year, you can contribute up to $6,000 in an IRA if you’re younger than 50 or up to $7,000 if you’re 50 or older. The more you add to your retirement accounts, the greater your money can potentially grow. Even if you can’t afford to increase the percentage of your paycheck that goes to retirement each month, you can use your tax refund to make a one-time, lump-sum contribution. 4. Save for a Big Bill Think about what big expenses you have coming up on the horizon that you haven’t budgeted for — like your auto insurance premiums or getting braces for your teen. If your monthly income can’t support such an expense in addition to all your regular bills and obligations, using your tax refund is a smart choice in lieu of dipping into your emergency fund or turning to credit cards. FROM THE BUDGETING FORUM Changing my eating habits is changing my finances 1/8/20 @ 2:56 PM Family Budgeting Strategy for Youth 2/10/20 @ 4:42 PM K Pay all bills on one day or spread throughout the month?? 2/6/20 @ 5:59 AM See more in Budgeting or ask a money question 5. Fill Out Your Sinking Funds You’re probably juggling multiple savings goals. Maybe you’re trying to stack cash for a cross-country move while saving for a wedding. Or you’re saving to welcome a new baby into the family while putting money aside for your older kid’s birthday party and concurrently saving for a down payment on a minivan. Each sinking fund — which is just a personal finance term for a pool of money you add to over time to break up a large expense — could probably use an influx of cash. Distribute a portion of your refund money to each savings goal — or funnel it all toward your most pressing need. 6. Invest in Yourself Sometimes it takes money to make money. Is there a certification program you can take or a piece of tech equipment you need to enhance your career and help you get a better-paying position?  Or perhaps you have a business idea you’ve been wanting to get off the ground but just needed some initial capital. Invest your tax money in something that’ll help you generate more income. 7. Save for Your Kids’ College Education College is a big-ticket expense for most parents. Even with scholarships and financial aid, families can expect to have significant out-of-pocket costs. Get in the habit of putting your tax refund toward saving for college to help offset your child’s looming tuition bill. A 529 college savings plan is a common option to store your funds. Pro Tip If your kid is still in diapers, it may seem more practical to put your extra money toward more immediate expenses, like the cost of daycare. There’s always time to save for college later. 8. Make Home Improvements Home upgrades can be expensive, but they can also increase the value of your home when it’s time to sell. If your roof is due for replacement, you’ve got major appliances that are decades old or you simply want to give your kitchen a facelift, tap into your tax refund to take care of those home improvement projects. Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Small Business Fintech is levelling the playing field with big business over cost of capital

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Small Business Fintech is levelling the playing field with big business over cost of capital
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FINRA Requests Comments on Proposed Amendments to CAB Rules

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FINRA Requests Comments on Proposed Amendments to CAB Rules
On January 14, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued Regulatory Notice 20-03 announcing that it had concluded its retrospective review of Rule 5250 (Payments for Market Making), which generally prohibits members from receiving payments for market making. Based on the review, FINRA has elected to maintain the rule without change. Regulatory Notice 20-03 is available here. [...]
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Life update: Pregnancy (week 29) + our brand-new hedgehog!

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Life update: Pregnancy (week 29) + our brand-new hedgehog!
29 weeks!! And what a week it’s been! Highlights Well, this week has definitely been different than what I anticipated! Silas woke up with a high fever on Tuesday morning and all three kids ended up coming down with Flu B over the next two days. So we’ve been quarantined at home all week and Jesse has been playing round-the-clock nurse to all three kids. He’s been a saint and it’s been so hard for me to not be able to help do much to take care of the kids (it’s dangerous for a pregnant woman to get the flu). The kids have never all been this sick at the same time, but they’ve been such troopers. Jesse has them on this regimen of elderberry, vitamins, homeopathics, and baking soda baths + lots of fluids/rest + Tylenol/Motrin every time their fever spikes. They’ve all had such good attitudes despite being miserable. We’re so hopeful that they only have a few more days of fevers before this runs its course. So none of that was about highlights or pregnancy, but it’s where we are at this week. That said, the highlight has been that I only got a touch of a fever and between rest, fluids, and elderberry, I seem to be dodging the flu bullet so far. And also, I am SO grateful that Jesse has stayed well! Notable The baby has had the hiccups multiple times this week. I kept waiting for it to happen because I remember all my other babies often having them! Also, the movements are getting more pronounced and it seems like there’s constantly some baby body part poking out underneath my skin. It has made it that much more real and helped me connect with this child even moreso. Cravings Um, should I admit that almost all I’ve been craving is cheeseburgers?? I have no idea where *that* came from, but Jesse ran to Burger King last night because the cravings were getting pretty ridiculous and for some reason I really wanted a Burger King cheeseburger. Here’s the crazy thing: I don’t even know if I’ve ever had one before. I can’t even remember ever going to BK in the last decade, but man, the cheeseburgers (yes, I ate two!) tasted SO good!! Weight gain: 21 pounds Meet the newest member of the Paine family – Theodore Quiller. (AKA Theo.) We’ve taken at least 90 videos/pictures of him since we got him and he’s so active that he was basically a blur in most of them. So this was the best we got! We already love him so much and are excited to have another hedgehog again! (Theo’s middle name is in honor of Quill, our first hedgehog who died in December from Wobbly Hedgehog Disease.) [...]
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Security Token news for Week ending 14 February 2020

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Security Token news for Week ending 14 February 2020
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This News Is Big!

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This News Is Big!
Earlier this year, I had fun with an April Fool’s prank with all of you.  I joked that I had sold the website and was moving on from Penny Pinchin’ Mom. This time it’s no joke. It is now real.  I have sold Penny Pinchin’ Mom. Don’t panic!  This is a good thing for everyone! ... Read More about This News Is Big! The post This News Is Big! appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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This Week in Fintech ending 14 February 2020

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This Week in Fintech ending 14 February 2020
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5 Cellphone Plans That Come With Free Streaming TV

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5 Cellphone Plans That Come With Free Streaming TV
This post comes from partner site WhistleOut.com. All major carriers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile now offer incredibly competitive unlimited data plans. In their effort to win your business, these carriers (and some smaller mobile companies) are now offering streaming service as a free perk for signing up for one of their unlimited plans. So, if you’re in the market for an... [...]
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2 Books I Read Last Week, 1 Book I Didn’t Finish (+ the classic movie we watched)

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2 Books I Read Last Week, 1 Book I Didn’t Finish (+ the classic movie we watched)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page. Here are the two books I finished last week… The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships If you enjoy all things Enneagram, I definitely recommend this book. It’s an in-depth at each number on the Enneagram and how that number relates and differs with other numbers. I found it insightful, enlightening, and just downright interesting. And while I’d studied a lot about the Enneagram, I learned quite a few new things — especially when it comes to how to better relate with other numbers, communicate with them, and help them to feel seen and valued. It also definitely, definitely confirmed what I already knew to be true: I’m an Enneagram 8 through and through! Also, it sparked some great conversations between Jesse and me about how we interact, how certain things I do can make him want to shut down (he’s a 5), and how we’ve both grown so much healthier as people in the last 10 years. The only thing I will mention is that if you’re new to the Enneagram, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this book. Instead, I’d start with a book like, The Road Back to You. Verdict: 4 stars Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message I’ve been to one of Donald Miller’s Story Brand workshops before and it made an indelible mark on how I approach marketing and communication with customers in our business. This book was a good refresher to listen to. If you are a blogger, a business owner, an online entrepreneur, or have any say in the marketing or oversight of the company you work for, I would highly recommend this book. It will likely challenge the way you think when it comes to marketing and change the way you approach doing business. The best part is that this book gives you a really clear-cut action plan and walks you step-by-step through out to implement it. So you don’t just read about the great ideas; you actually know how to put them into practice in your business! Two things I did want to mention: 1) I think this book would be better to read a physical copy of than to listen to as it’s more hands-on and has projects for each chapter. 2) I was a little turned off by the multiple promotions for Story Brand products and services. I understand that the goal was likely to get people to want to invest into some of the higher priced products that Story Brand offers, but I found it to be a turn-off — and it almost merited me bumping the rating of the book down to 3 stars. Verdict: 4 stars Book I Didn’t Finish The Atomic City Girls — Unfortunately, this book was a big disappointment to me. I had high hopes for it, but within an hour or so of listening, I quickly discovered it seemed more focused on the romantic story and details of that than the actual historical details of Oak Ridge. Yes, there were some historical details, but the book continued to sound more and more like a soap opera or tabloid and started going into details about the character’s loves lives that felt too edgy/raunchy for me… so I ended up quitting it. Does anyone have a book to recommend about Oak Ridge that is interesting but also much more historically rich? Classic Movie We Watched Last Week The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it. I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!) Last week, we watched the 1950’s Disney version of Treasure Island. Both girls had read this book in school, so they found that made the movie more interesting. It was a little slow and long (even though it was only 1 hour and 35 minutes, it felt long), but overall we mostly enjoyed it. I will say it’s probably been one of our least favorite classic movies so far. What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list?? [...]
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Australian Fintech Assembly Payments Lands JV with Standard Chartered Bank

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Australian Fintech Assembly Payments Lands JV with Standard Chartered Bank
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My 9 Goals For This Week

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My 9 Goals For This Week
(All dressed up for Silent Disco Night at camp!) I could look at last week’s goals list and be discouraged at how little it feels like I crossed off. But then, I look at all that actually happened last week and I can remember that maybe it doesn’t look like I got a lot done, but I focused on people versus projects and being present versus being productive… and I realize that it was a really good week. Last week’s goals: Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading The Path Between Us and Counterfeit Gods. Listen to The Atomic City Girls. (I decided to stop listening to this book because it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. More details on that on my book review post this week.) Home/Family Goals 3. Read 40 more pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. (I only ended up reading aloud once and we made it through 10 pages. Hey, that’s something, right?) Work/Blog Goals 4. Finish editing chapters 1-3 and finish the rough draft of chapter 4 of my manuscript.(I only got a chance to work on the book a few times last week between my friend’s funeral and being out of town helping at Youth Group camp all weekend. Here’s to hoping I make more progress this week!) 5. Run a book giveaway on Instagram with some books I’ve already read. Word of the Year Goals 6. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. (We watched Treasure Island. Review coming later this week!) We have what looks to be a calmer week this week. We are actually home three evenings out of seven — I can’t remember the last time that has happened! And we don’t have any big things happening this week… well, anything that I know of yet! 🙂 So I’m planning 9 goals and we’ll see how it goes! 2020: Week 6 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading Counterfeit Gods. Listen to Eat That Frog! and Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids. 3. Go to bed by 10:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Home/Family Goals 4. Read 30 more pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. 5. Research strollers, baby carriers, and car seats. Decide what we’re going to purchase. 6. Complete 4-hour Foster Care Training. Work/Blog Goals 7. Finish editing chapters 1-3 and finish the rough draft of chapter 4 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 8. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. 9. Go to a movie with Jesse. What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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12 Things That Are Cheaper in 2020

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12 Things That Are Cheaper in 2020
Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com What goes up must come down, right? For some prices, yes. Money Talks News analyzed the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest Consumer Price Index data, which is for December 2019, to find out which things actually cost less going into 2020 than they did one year prior. Overall, the price of all things overall rose by 2.3% over the course of 2019... [...]
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Security Token news for Week ending 7 February 2020

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Security Token news for Week ending 7 February 2020
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This Week in Fintech 7th February 2020

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This Week in Fintech 7th February 2020
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Speaking of Blockchain, what of its place in insurance?

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Speaking of Blockchain, what of its place in insurance?
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3 Books I Read Last Week + 1 Classic Movie Watched Watched

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3 Books I Read Last Week + 1 Classic Movie Watched Watched
Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page. The Year of Less Full disclosure, I’d never heard of this book until I happened to see it on Libby. The subtitle (How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store) intrigued me so I downloaded it. I almost turned it off during the first few chapters, but I’m actually happy I went ahead and finished listening to it. Why? Because the author is so different than me and it was truly insightful to help me understand more what it’s like to be a spender or to have an addiction to shopping/spending. (I could not relate to most of any of her struggles, but it really gave me such a helpful look into what it’s like to feel such a need to shop/spend money.) The book shares a lot of the author’s story and background, so some people might not enjoy the memoir-ish parts of it if you’re just looking for practical advice and encouragement to live with less. However, if you enjoy reading about how someone is seeking to make radical changes in their life and the resulting struggles, temptations, and triumphs, this might be a good read. Verdict: 3 stars Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World This is a much more head-y and data-driven book that I usually enjoy. But I’m glad I listened to it because it made me think deeply about various aspects of my life. There are so many different things I could share from the book, but a few that really stood out to me were: The conversation about how birth order can affect whether you are a rebel or a conformist. The author’s insights on how procrastination can actually be a positive, helpful thing. (Yes, for real!) The section on how it’s important to produce a lot of work if you want to produce a few really great works. And the encouragement to acknowledge cynicism people would feel versus trying to pretend it doesn’t exist (this was in the context of a business pitch, but it could apply in many realms. Verdict: 3 stars Not So Perfect Mom A lot of this book was repeat material I’ve read/heard elsewhere, so I didn’t get many new insights from it. I also felt like it stayed rather surface-y in sections (which surprised me considering the author is a licensed counselor) and bordered on being a little legalistic in others. That said, I did appreciate the author’s insights on how a mother’s love can deeply affect her child in such positive ways. I also gleaned from her encouragement to really invest in your kids when they are little and how that impacts the rest of your child’s life. One of my favorite quotes was: “You cannot have lifelong, heart-connected relationship with someone if they feel like they are a failure when they are with you.” (Such a good reminder and it goes along with something I’ve been trying to practice in my parenting.) Verdict: 2 stars Classic Movie We Watched This Week The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it. I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!) This week, we watched the original That Darn Cat movie. I had never heard of it, but a bunch of you recommended it, so I figured we’d give it a try. Now here’s the full disclosure on it: I fell asleep 20 minutes into the movie. Not because it was boring, but because I was exhausted. However, our kids + the 10-year-old girl we were fostering last week all enjoyed it. And the parts I saw had some genuinely funny moments. I want to watch the newer movie (well, after I go back and actually stay awake through the original one!), but I heard from some people that it wasn’t as good. Have you seen it? Would you recommend it? What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list?? [...]
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My 6 Goals For This Week

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My 6 Goals For This Week
Psst! I’m giving away this stack of books on Instagram tomorrow morning. If you’re not following me there, you should be so you can enter to win! I didn’t accomplish a whole lot off my goals list last week, but I did accomplish a lot that mattered — investing in the kids/Jesse, investing in my local community, doing respite care for a 10-year-old girl while her foster mom was out of town, launching my 4-Week Blog Coaching Program, working on my book, making family memories, and making sure to take care of my health. So I’ll call it a win — even if it doesn’t look like it on paper. Some weeks are like that, aren’t they? 2020: Week 5 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading The Path Between Us and Not So Perfect Mom. Finish listening to Originals: How Non-Conformist Move the World. Home/Family Goals 3. Read 40 pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. Work/Blog Goals 4. Edit introduction through chapter 3 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 5. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. This week is another full week. We have something going on every night, we have some extra things going on during the day, and I’m headed to camp with Kaitlynn and the rest of my 8th grade girls’ group from Youth Group this weekend. I’m also noticing that I am having to slow down and rest a lot more now that I’m entering my third trimester. My energy just isn’t what it usually is and I need more sleep and naps. So, once again, I’m keeping my list short! 2020: Week 5 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading The Path Between Us and Counterfeit Gods. Listen to The Atomic City Girls. Home/Family Goals 3. Read 40 more pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. Work/Blog Goals 4. Finish editing chapters 1-3 and finish the rough draft of chapter 4 of my manuscript. 5. Run a book giveaway on Instagram with some books I’ve already read. Word of the Year Goals 6. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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50 Diverse Takeaways from Davos WEF2020

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50 Diverse Takeaways from Davos WEF2020
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Pregnancy update (week 27) + some posts you might have missed

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Pregnancy update (week 27) + some posts you might have missed
27 weeks! And I feel like I’m carrying really low — can you tell that here? (Aside from the pelvic pressure, I’m not complaining one bit because it means that I actually still have some space underneath my lungs!) Highlights This past week was a super full week. In addition to the usual routine of working full-time and writing my book, we had activities every night but one night, Kathrynne celebrated her 15th birthday, and we did respite care for a sweet 10-year-old girl all week whose foster mom was out of town. So I think the highlight for me was just making it through with a smile still on my face. I worked hard to prioritize rest and down time, because I need 2-4 times the amount of downtime that I usually do right now or I just end up completely exhausted. Notable I started drinking Red Raspberry Leaf tea this week, we got a crib from friends, got our pack-n-play/bassinet in the mail, and got a box of diapers. It’s really starting to get real!! My chiropractor has been such a Godsend as I’ve been having back and shoulder pain (to be expected as my belly grows larger!) and she’s helping me with different things to minimize it. This is my first pregnancy to regularly go to a chiropractor and I’m a huge fan! Cravings I’ve been eating a lot of cereal with whole milk. In fact, I usually have two bowls every morning. It hits the spot and it doesn’t give me heartburn! Weight gain: 19 pounds Random question: Do you think the 3rd trimester starts at week 27 or week 28? I feel like the internet and baby sites/trackers are very conflicted on this! Did you see what I got in my FREE Target Baby Gift Registry Bag? In case you missed it, I did an in-depth post on the 5 books I finished last week + my honest reviews. This past week, we posted what has quickly become one of our most popular podcast episodes to date. Have you listened to Secrets to a Happier Marriage yet? Just a quick reminder — registration for my 4-Week Blog Coaching Group closes on Tuesday morning. If you are a beginning or intermediate blogger who wants to take your blog to the next level, don’t miss this. [...]
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Nimbla To Take Invoice Insurance Mainstream With Barclays Deal

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Nimbla To Take Invoice Insurance Mainstream With Barclays Deal
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This Week in Fintech 31 January

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This Week in Fintech 31 January
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Security Token news for Week ending 31 January 2020

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Security Token news for Week ending 31 January 2020
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5 Books I Read This Past Week (+ 1 classic movie we watched)

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5 Books I Read This Past Week (+ 1 classic movie we watched)
Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. Okay, I’m absolutely giddy to tell you that I finished 15+ books in January. Honestly, I am pretty shocked by this number! I think some of it has to do with setting weekly goals and some of it has to do with prioritizing audiobooks again (and the fact that they no longer make me nauseous now that I’m further along in my pregnancy, reading aloud again, and switching from being on my phone (answering comments/messages) while on the treadmill to reading/praying while on the treadmill. It seems like tiny tweaks and additions have added up to big results. And this is so encouraging to me. No promises that I’ll keep up this pace for the rest of the year! However, considering how full January has been, it seems like it truly might be possible to at least keep reading 2-3 books/week most weeks. We’ll see! If you want to see what I’m currently reading or what I’ve read so far this year, you can check out my GoodReads account. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Before and After I was so excited about this book as it’s the real-life stories of the children who survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. (If you have read or listened to Before We Were Yours, you’re familiar with that heart-breaking story.) While I think these stories need to be told and while I found some of them fascinating, the book as a whole was a let down when compared to Before We Were Yours. Maybe it’s because I was expecting more cohesiveness in the book as opposed to a lot of individual stories with only what felt like a thin plot string holding them together. If you loved Before We Were Yours, you might enjoy this book for more real-life biography/backstory for the novel. However, if you’re only going to read one of the two books, definitely read Before We Were Yours. I decided to give this book 3 stars because 2 stars felt like I was doing a disservice to the families and children and lives that were wrecked by the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. But for the writing and overall level that the book engaged me, I’d probably only give it two stars. Verdict: 3 stars 100 Ways to Love Your Husband + 100 Ways to Love Your Wife If you are looking for some practical ideas and inspiration for ways to love your spouse, these small books are a great starting place. They are filled with 100 different ideas to speak love to your spouse. Now, I’ll say that not all of these ideas will work for every couple. There are some that would most definitely not really be our “thing” at all. But there were other ideas that I hadn’t thought of before that provided some highly motivating and inspiration sparks of inspiration for ways I can practically show Jesse love. If you need more encouragement, be sure to check out this week’s podcast episode with the authors, Matt and Lisa Jacobson! Verdict: 3 stars Live Love Now I was sent a pre-release copy of this book in order to write an endorsement. Rachel Macy Stafford’s books have deeply impacted me and it was an honor to get to write an endorsement for her. Here was what I wrote: If you are the parent or grandparent of a pre-teen or teen or if you have any interaction at all with teens or tweens, you need to read this book. It is packed with powerful reminders of how our words, actions, attitudes, and availability (or lack thereof), leave indelible marks on the next generation. I was inspired, convicted, and challenged by Rachel’s gentle message of how to guide, encourage, and impact young adults to live with less stress and more joy. And I took away so many practical applications I plan to immediately implement in our home and parenting. Note: I likely would have given this more than 3 stars, but I felt like the writing was a big choppy at times and it sometimes felt more like reading a collection of essays or blog posts. However, the underlying concepts in so many of the chapters were really, really good. Verdict: 3 stars The Whole-Brain Child This was, by far, my favorite book this week. I honestly cannot stop talking about it. Poor Jesse has had to listen to me rave again and again about it all week long! 🙂 This was highly recommended to by one of our kids’ counselors and and one of their therapists in the past few years and I finally read it. It is packed with great suggestions and strategies for helping our kids process the world, relate better with others, and feel more loved and secure. It is not written from a Christian perspective, but I found the sections on brain science to be fascinating and really enlightening. If you are a parent or work with kids in any capacity, I highly recommend this book to help you better love, understand, teach, and nurture the kids in your life. Note: I would have given it 5 stars, but I disagreed with some of the points (and felt a few were not entirely Biblical) so I only gave it a 4-star rating. Verdict: 4 stars Classic Movie We Watched This Week The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it. I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!) This week, we watched the original Cheaper by the Dozen movie. I had seen it once before but it’s been a long time! While it’s a little slow moving and ends on a sad note, it has some genuinely funny moments throughout it. By the way, the movie is loosely based upon the real-life story as told in the book by the same name. I read it years and years ago and remember liking it. Have you read it before? I was wondering if it would be worth reading to the kids or not? I can’t remember it well enough now! What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list?? [...]
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My 5 Goals for This Week (and why I’m not setting very many goals)

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My 5 Goals for This Week (and why I’m not setting very many goals)
(By the way, I did, indeed, move the rug from in front of the toilet to in front of the sink. I thought that the hundreds of you who wrote in grossed out by this would be happy to hear that!) Last week was a really productive and great week. And I’m continuing to be so happy with my choice to set weekly goals instead of yearly goals in 2020. It seems like it’s keeping me a lot more accountable and making me more motivated! Here’s an update on how I did on my goals for last week… 2020: Week 4 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading 100 Ways to Love Your Husband, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife,The Whole-Brain Child, and Live Love Now. Finish listening to Before and After. 3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. 4. Go to bed by 10 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 5. Drink a gallon of water every day. (I almost hit this goal, but fell short a few days.) Home/Family Goals 6. Get new shower curtain, rug, and towels for upstairs bathroom. 7. Read 40 pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. 8. Get a crib and bedding. (I’m chipping away at my To Do Before Baby Comes list a little bit per week.) Work/Blog Goals 9. Finish chapter 2 and write chapter 3 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 10. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. 11. Take Kathrynne out on a date for her birthday. 12. Light candle and write notes to our Compassion children. I’m only setting 5 goals this week. We are doing respite care for another foster family this week so we’re hosting a sweet 10-year-old girl all week long, we have activities/commitments every night, Kathrynne turns 15, and I’m launching another 4-week Blog Coaching Group.  So I decided I’d be very realistic in my goal-setting for this week and not try to bite off more than I could chew! That’s the beauty of taking things week by week, isn’t it? 2020: Week 5 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading The Path Between Us and Not So Perfect Mom. Finish listening to Originals: How Non-Conformist Move the World. Home/Family Goals 3. Read 40 pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. Work/Blog Goals 4. Edit introduction through chapter 3 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 5. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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A Peek Into Our Week: Pregnancy update (week 26), bathroom redo, books, & romance

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A Peek Into Our Week: Pregnancy update (week 26), bathroom redo, books, & romance
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 26 weeks!! This past week FLEW by and I can’t believe it’s time for another pregnancy picture and update. Highlights I’m continuing to feel so well overall. Yes, there are the normal uncomfortable parts and the fact that I have to lay down and rest/nap and move more slowly than my usual pace, but I cannot believe how well I’m doing compared to previous pregnancies! It just goes to show that prioritizing healthy food, sleep, hydration, and exercise really can make a difference! (It may also help that every day has a lot going on so I not have a lot of time to sit around and think about how I feel!) Notable My belly is definitely popping out more and the baby is kicking a lot stronger and harder these days! It’s still so surreal for me… but feeling the elbows and knees protruding out make it more and more real. Cravings My diet is pretty limited these days in order to avoid heartburn triggers, but some of my standby’s right now are cereal/milk, apples with peanut butter, and a big salad with chicken and hard boiled eggs. This basically makes up most of my eating right now — and I’m grateful that it tastes good, is nourishing, and doesn’t make me sick. Every day that I’m not experiencing extreme acid reflux like I did in my previous pregnancies is a gift. Weight gain: 18 pounds Check out my honest reviews on the 5 Books I Read This Past Week (+ 1 Classic Movie We Watched). Did you see how we spruced up our upstairs bathroom on a budget? See the before and after pictures here. The podcast episode this week on 10 Ways to Keep the Romance Alive was one of our most-downloaded episodes in a long time. Have you listened to it yet? [...]
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We Spent $71.30 on Groceries This Week (+ our dinner menu)

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We Spent $71.30 on Groceries This Week (+ our dinner menu)
Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.). For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here. Last week, I only spent $60 on groceries, so I went a little bit over this week. Here’s what we bought… Kroger Shopping Trip #1 2 bags of apples —  marked down to $0.99 each 5 bags of Chicken Breasts — $4.99 per bag with Kroger digital coupon Total with tax = $28.61 Kroger Shopping Trip #2 4 tubs of lettuce — marked down to $0.99 each 3 bags of apples — marked down to $0.99 each Promised Land Chocolate Milk — marked down to $0.99 Rice Bitz cereal — marked down to $0.79 Cage-Free eggs — marked down to $1.39 Milk — $2.89 Total with tax: $13.80 Kroger Shopping Trip #3 2 Tyson Anytizer Chicken — $3.99 each with Kroger weekend digital coupon 3 dozen eggs — marked down to $0.39 each Strawberries — $1.67 Carrots — $0.99 1 bag avocados — marked down to $0.99 Milk — $2.89 Cage-free eggs — marked down to $1.29 Tortillas — $1.50 2 Private Selection Chips — $0.99 each with Kroger weekend digital coupon Refried beans — marked down to $0.49 4 jars Pace salsa — $0.99 each when Kroger weekend digital coupon Refried beans — $0.79 Total with tax: $28.89 Dinners This Past Week Frozen Pizza, Popcorn Slow Cooker Sausage & Sauerkraut Soup, Biscuits, and Apples Sausage & Sauerkraut Soup, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, and Apples Roasted Potatoes, Roast in the Crockpot, Instant Pot Apples, Roasted Broccoli Italian Chicken, Salad Leftovers Dinner Out By the way, what are your best tips for keeping lettuce fresh? I don’t want all the lettuce I bought to go to waste before we can use it, but it will probably take us at least 5-7 more days to eat through all that. Any great suggestions? [...]
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This Week in Fintech 24 Jan

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This Week in Fintech 24 Jan
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CFTC to Hold an Open Commission Meeting on January 30

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CFTC to Hold an Open Commission Meeting on January 30
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) will hold an open meeting on January 30, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET, to discuss a proposed rule regarding position limits for derivatives. The meeting will resume at 1:30 p.m. to consider another proposed rule on amendments to codify current no-action relief regarding swap execution facility (SEF) and real-time reporting requirements. The meeting is open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, as well as via live webcast and conference call. More information, including viewing and listening instructions, is available here. [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Saturday, January 25

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Afternoon Deals: Saturday, January 25
Every morning and afternoon we publish a list of the latest and best deals from our partner, DealNews. To learn more about the discounts and details, click on any of the deals for more information. To have this list, along with our latest news and stories, delivered daily to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter. For links to deals as they’re published, follow @mtndeals on Twitter. [...]
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Australia’s Open Banking Dream Drifts Away

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Australia’s Open Banking Dream Drifts Away
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My Goals for This Week

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My Goals for This Week
This year, I’m doing weekly goals in 2020 instead of yearly goals. And I’m thrilled to report that it’s going so well! In fact, even though we had activities almost every evening last week and a very full week, I got so much done — and had breathing room and rest time, too! Here’s an update on how I did on my goals last week… Last Week’s Goals Update Personal Goals 1. Get in 52,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading Romancing Your Child’s Heart and Awful Beautiful Life and listening to the Killing Patton audiobook.  3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. every week day. Home/Family Goals 4. Decluttering: Garage freezer, bathroom closet, attic area, laundry room, car. 5. Start a new read aloud book together as a family. 6. Inventory what baby clothes we need to buy and purchase these. Work/Blog Goals 7. Finish the introduction and write chapter 1 of my manuscript. 8. Write an in-depth honest review of Butcher Box. (You can read my Completely Honest Review of Butcher Box here.) 9. Run our $4 course sale. Word of the Year Goals 10. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. (We watched 7 Brides for 7 Brothers. I’ll share our thoughts on it on my book update post on Wednesday.) 11. Go out to dinner with Jesse for our anniversary. 12. Make tea, light a candle, and write a card to Jesse.  I cleaned out the sock basket when I worked on the laundry room. Can you believe that in this overflowing basket of mismatched socks that had come through the laundry in the last 6-8 months there was not one single match?? This Week’s Goals This week, I’m setting more personal goals because, as I wrote in my pregnancy update, I’m wanting to really prioritize earlier bedtimes and more hydration. If you’re wondering why I have such a long list of books to read, that’s because 4 of the books are ones I’m reading in preparation for a podcast interview and another one is a book I’m reading in order to do an endorsement for a friend. So it looks like a lot, but 4 of them are super short and I’m over halfway through two of the books on my list. It’s not as impressive as it might look! 🙂 2020: Week 3 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 53,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading 100 Ways to Love Your Husband, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife, 100 Words of Affirmation Your Wife Needs to Hear, 100 Words of Affirmation Your Husband Needs to Hear, Live Love Now, and No Better Mom for the Job. Finish listening to Killing the Rising Sun. 3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. every week day. 4. Go to bed by 10 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 5. Drink a gallon of water every day. Home/Family Goals 6. Decluttering: Boxes of mementos, under bathroom sinks, and kitchen cupboards. 7. Finish reading Great Escapes of World War II aloud as a family. 8. Buy hats and coming home outfit for baby. (I’m chipping away at my To Do Before Baby Comes list a little bit per week.) Work/Blog Goals 9. Write chapter 2 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 10. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. 11. Go to a movie with Jesse. 12. Go out to dinner with friends. What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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National Park Free Days: When to Plan Your Next Trip in 2020

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National Park Free Days: When to Plan Your Next Trip in 2020
If you’re already looking ahead to road trips or family vacations this year, here’s one way to do it on the cheap. While most of the 417 national parks in the U.S. are free to use anytime, 125 of them charge an entrance fee.  To encourage travelers and campers to visit new places, the National Park Service will waive these fees for five days in 2020: Jan. 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day April 18: The first day of National Park Week August 25: National Park Service Birthday Sept. 26: National Public Lands Day Nov. 11: Veterans Day Some of the nation’s most popular parks are among those that normally charge a fee, making fee-free days an opportunity to see places like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Death Valley and Crater Lake. Not the outdoorsy type? Even some national historic sites, like Vanderbilt Mansion in New York, are included. If you’re interested, you can find all participating parks by state or search through the full list of national parks, including those that are free anytime, to find one near you (or your next destination). Note: You may still encounter fees for things like camping, parking, reservations or concessions. The fees waived on fee-free days include entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation entrance fees. If you plan on camping, here are a few tips for camping on a budget. More Ways to Use National Parks for Free If you can’t make it to a national park on one of the fee-free days, you may be able to get free or discounted entrance to national parks year-round some other way. The National Parks Service offers an $80 annual pass that covers entrance to national parks, lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and other sites. Military members can get the annual pass for free. Through the national Every Kid in the Park program, fourth-graders can get a free annual pass for their families. Educators can also get involved through this program, obtaining free passes to take students on a national park field trip. Seniors age 62 and older can buy a lifetime pass for $80 or an annual pass for $20. Senior passes require proper documentation and may be purchased in person at a federal recreation site, online or through the mail. People with disabilities can get a free pass in person, or through the mail or online with a $10 processing fee. Both the senior pass and the access pass offer a 50% discount on some amenities like camping, swimming, boat launching and specialized interpretive services. Volunteer with participating federal agencies for at least 250 hours, and you’ll receive a free volunteer pass that is valid for 12 months. If you want to learn while you travel, you can apply for an Artist-in-Residence program with the National Park Service and stay at a participating park for free while you work on your next project. However you do it, consider including national parks or historic sites in your 2018 travel plans. For families — and curious travelers of all ages — it’s a fun, educational and affordable way to spend a vacation. With more than 400 to choose from, there’s probably one not far from you! Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a former branded content editor at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Sunday, January 12

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Afternoon Deals: Sunday, January 12
Every morning and afternoon we publish a list of the latest and best deals from our partner, DealNews. To learn more about the discounts and details, click on any of the deals for more information. To have this list, along with our latest news and stories, delivered daily to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter. For links to deals as they’re published, follow @mtndeals on Twitter. [...]
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This Week in Fintech 10 Jan

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This Week in Fintech 10 Jan
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4 Expiring Tax Breaks Extended Through 2020

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4 Expiring Tax Breaks Extended Through 2020
Federal budget legislation enacted in late December did a lot more than fund the government for another year. As we’ve recently reported, this bill package included provisions that tweak everything from retirement accounts to cable TV bills, for example. It also extends several tax breaks for individuals that had expired already or were about to expire, making them available for your tax... [...]
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4 Books I Read This Past Week (+ the classic movie we watched)

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4 Books I Read This Past Week (+ the classic movie we watched)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. In 2020, I decided not to put together a list of all the books I plan to read like I did the past few years. In the spirit of keeping my goals smaller and in bite-sized chunks, I decided to just pick the next few books I’m planning to read instead of trying to sort of plan out the whole year! And then I’m planning to do a book update post every week or every other week here with reviews and thoughts on the books I finished. It’s very possible that some weeks I won’t finish any books, so I’m giving myself permission to skip a week here and there if I don’t have anything to report! 🙂 Full disclosure, I did pick out a bunch of books I really would love to read this year and put them on three of the shelves in our library. And I plan to mostly pick the books I’m reading next from those shelves. I also picked out about 25 books on parenting that I plan to read while I’m writing my book. (My manuscript is due in July 2020 and I am hopeful that I’ll be able to read one parenting book per week. I’ve been reading 1-2 chapters every morning on the treadmill while I’m walking and, at that rate, it’s pretty easy to get through a book per week. We’ll see if I can keep it up!) If you want to see what I’m currently reading or what I’ve read so far this year, you can check out my GoodReads account. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Here are the books I finished last week: 1. An Invisible Thread This book was recommended to me twice in the same week by people I respect, so I figured I should get a copy and read it! An Invisible Thread is the story of a seeming chance meeting between an 11-year-old pan handler and a busy executive and how it changed both of their lives. This book is written from the perspective of the busy executive, Laura Schroff, and her thoughts on how this young boy impacted her life in ways she couldn’t have dreamed. I thought it did a good job of fleshing out some of the very real problems and struggles with children born into poverty. I think so many of us live very sheltered and safe lives that it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to grow up and never know where you’ll be living, to have to figure out how to fend for yourself from a young age, to always be hungry, and how hard it would be to break the cycles of poverty and drug addiction when that’s all you know. On the flip side, I cringed at some of the decisions Laura made and how hurt this young boy — often with her being completely oblivious. It made me examine my own life and thought processes over things and decisions, especially in light of fostering. One of the parts of the book that I didn’t expect was that it wasn’t wrapped up in a neat bow and it didn’t have a perfect Hallmark movie ending. But I appreciated that it was real and gritty and the author was honest about her struggles. That said, I felt like the author shared a lot more about her background and life than maybe was necessary and sometimes it felt more like her memoir than the story that is promised in the subtitle. In some ways, it felt like she was trying to fill a word count for her manuscript. And yet, some of her story was very interesting and insightful. Verdict: 3 stars 2. The Rock, The Road, and the Rabbi I had seen this book advertised or mentioned so many different places, but I had no idea what it was about. I was looking for some new books to listen to on my Libby audiobook app and it was available to borrow from the library, so I started listening to it. Honestly, it seemed a little dry in the beginning and the introduction was kind of long and drawn out. But I’m glad I kept listening, because I learned so much and it opened so many passages in Scripture in a new light. Kathie Lee Gifford shares her journey of traveling to Israel and learning under a Messianic Rabbi. He helped her write many parts of the book and, as someone who has read the Bible from cover to cover many times in my life, I couldn’t believe how much I learned. I think that it helped that I visited Israel a few years ago and had gone to many of the places mentioned in the book so I could picture them in my mind as I was listening. And it made me anxious to go back again!! If you haven’t been to Israel, I think you’ll still find this book insightful, it just might not come alive as much if you can’t picture the sites and places in your mind. (However, this book might make you really want to visit there!) Verdict: 4 stars 3. Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family I can’t tell you how many times people have recommended this book to me! Since I’m working on a book on the topic of parenting right now, I figured I should really read it. It was interesting to me how much of the book mirrored some of the lessons and journey God has had me on as a parent in the last 3 years. Much of it was refresher type of encouragement, but it was so good to read. I appreciated the author’s strong emphasis on the Gospel as that is often missing in parenting books. It’s so easy to focus on prescriptive parenting tactics instead of getting to the heart — pointing our kids to Jesus. In addition, I loved the underlying message that we won’t doing this parenting thing perfectly and that’s the point. If we were perfect parents, we wouldn’t need Jesus! While I didn’t agree with every tiny little thing in the book and I truly was irritated by the layout of the book, I am very glad I read this and think it’s a worthwhile read for every Christian parent! (A note on the layout: I think it needed more spacing and better breaking up of paragraphs, maybe some callout quotes, and possibly a different font? Yes, I’m weird in that book layouts can really make or break my reading experience. I’ve even been known to not read a book just because I felt like the layout was so poorly done!) Verdict: 4 stars 4. A Single Shard We’ve had this book on our shelf for a few years and I finally picked it up to read aloud to the kids. It’s the fictional account of a master potter, a homeless boy, big dreams, dashed hopes (literally), and how perseverance pays off. Truth be told, I really enjoyed the story and found it pretty engaging (even though I had mostly guessed what the ending was going to be!),  but the kids didn’t enjoy it. They said it was hard to follow and not super engaging. I think some of the was likely due to the fact that we’ve gotten way out of the habit of reading aloud (should I confess that it’s been almost two years — I think! — since we’ve read a book other than a devotional or the Bible out loud together??) and it’s going to take some time to get back into it. I also think that they’ve changed so much in the few years since we stopped reading aloud, that it’s going to take some trial and error to figure out what kinds of books will engage them now that they are older. Regardless of it not being a big hit, I’m going to celebrate that we read it, finished it, and learned some things about potters and ancient pottery and 12th century Korea. That’s a win, right?? 🙂 Verdict: 3 stars Classic Movie We Wa [...]
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3 Costly Social Security Mistakes That Women Make

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3 Costly Social Security Mistakes That Women Make
Retirement planning is an important part of long-term financial wellness. For women, the process can be especially fraught. In general, women tend to make less money and live longer than men. This combination can lead to lower Social Security benefits and other issues. Let’s take a look at some of the costliest Social Security mistakes that women might make. Deciding to take Social Security... [...]
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My Goals For This Week (+ details on my baby to do list)

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My Goals For This Week (+ details on my baby to do list)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. As I told you last week, I’m doing weekly goals in 2020 instead of yearly goals. We’re only a week into the new year, but I can already tell you that I am loving this approach and couldn’t believe how much I got done last week. (Okay, it probably helped that the kids were out of school, we had very few extra commitments, and it was an overall quiet week. We’ll see how it goes this week when we’re back to our usual schedule and pace and we have commitments and plans every evening!)  Before I share this week’s goals, here’s an update on how I did on last week’s goals… Last Week’s Goals (progress update) Personal Goals 1. Get in 50,000 steps total. 2. Finish reading Parenting and An Invisible Thread. 3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. (I hit this goal every day but Monday.) Home/Family Goals 4. Declutter the entire house. (See the pictures of our progress here. (Note: We did all the big projects this week, but I came up with a list of little areas I want to declutter and I’m planning to tackle one small project every week day fo r the next few weeks.) 5. Finish reading aloud A Single Shard together. 6. Start a new family devotional book together. (We decided to go with The Ology since we already had it and had been wanting to go through it.) Work/Blog Goals 7. Spend 12 hours on my manuscript outline. (My outline is done — yay!! This next week I get to start writing!) 8. Open up the blogging Mastermind to new members. 9. Get everything ready for our big $4 course sale next week. Word of the Year Goals 10. Pop popcorn and watch a movie as a family. (We watched Swiss Family Robinson and the kids really enjoyed it!) 11. Take Kaitlynn out shopping. (See details on our shopping trip here.) 12. Make tea, light a candle, and write thank you notes. I was SO excited to see all those things crossed off the list! YAY!!! A Word About My Baby To Do List You’ll start to notice baby items on my goals list each week. A few weeks ago, I sat down and made out a list of everything I needed to do/buy/get before the baby is born (I’m due April 30). I divided this list up into weekly tasks so that I could slowly chip away at it instead of waiting until the last few weeks and feeling overwhelmed by everything I needed to do. This makes the countdown more exciting and it also is in line with my word for the year — because it’s going to let me savor this special time even more instead of feeling sort of rushed with to-do’s. 2020: Week 2 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 52,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.) 2. Finish reading Romancing Your Child’s Heart and Awful Beautiful Life and listening to the Killing Patton audiobook. 3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. every week day. Home/Family Goals 4. Decluttering: Garage freezer, bathroom closet, attic area, laundry room, car. 5. Start a new read aloud book together as a family. (Any great suggestions??) 6. Inventory what baby clothes we need to buy and purchase these. Work/Blog Goals 7. Finish the introduction and write chapter 1 of my manuscript. 8. Write an in-depth honest review of Butcher Box. 9. Run our $4 course sale. Word of the Year Goals 10. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. 11. Go out to dinner with Jesse for our anniversary. 12. Make tea, light a candle, and write a card to Jesse. What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 23), Goal-Setting, Decluttering, Birthday Parties, and a fun girls’ night

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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 23), Goal-Setting, Decluttering, Birthday Parties, and a fun girls’ night
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 23 weeks!! And I officially “popped” this week. I kept waiting for it to happen and this week it totally did. In fact, Jesse walked in while I was walking on the treadmill and took one look at me and said, “Whoa!” when he saw my belly. And then he realized that he had said it out loud… and I started dying laughing, because it’s exactly what I feel every time I look down or look in the mirror. Highlights We cleaned out our master bedroom closet to make space for the baby’s things (we’re planning to have the baby sleep in our room for the first months, possibly longer). It’s getting real now that we have baby blankets and baby things sitting in our closet! Notable This was a rough week. I struggled with a lot more nausea and had a lot more fatigue than usual. In fact, at least half of the day most days, I could only manage to be up for 5-15 minutes at a time and then needed to lie down. I think I maybe overdid it the last few weeks (+ I was sick) and we were traveling and I think my body just got completely worn down. I tried to take it really, really easy the past few days and I’m feeling a lot more energetic. I’m so grateful! It was a good reminder to me that this is a season to make sure to really pace myself and take time to rest. Cravings Very little this week, since I was nauseous most of the time. But I’m so grateful that the nausea isn’t anywhere what it was like in my first trimester. Also, I keep thinking about so many people who feel sick all the time and it’s not for a good cause nor does it have an end in sight. Weight gain: 15 lbs. This Week at Our House We drove back from Kansas last weekend (it’s about an 11 to 12-hour drive). Silas asked if he could wear his jammies on the drive… he is such a PJ-lover and I wonder if he’ll ever grow out of loving wearing PJs as often as possible! 🙂 On the drive home, I worked on planning for 2020, including planning out my Weekly Goals for this past week. (Did you see my post on why I’m not setting yearly goals and am setting weekly goals instead?) Last week, I asked for ideas on Instagram to help with my lingering hacking cough that was keeping me up at night. I got so many great ideas! As a result, I started taking elderberry syrup (thank you, Four Mothers Elderberry!) and putting Vick’s on my feet with socks every night and it’s really made a difference. I’m still not 100%, but I’m so much better than I was last week! You all are the best! One of our biggest projects for the week was decluttering all the majorly-neglected spots in our home. (You can see all of the before and after pictures here.) We had multiple birthday parties to attend this past week (I guess it’s a popular week for birthdays??). I loved the way my friend, Fran, chose to celebrate her birthday — with a TAK PAK Party. We all brought specific items and then packed backpacks with these items for teen girls who are entering foster care. (Read more about TAK PAKS here.) From My Heart… “I’m at my wit’s end! I can’t seem to connect with my daughter at all! It’s like she just doesn’t want to have a relationship with me!” A distraught mom confided this to me recently. My heart went out to her and I asked some more questions about the situation. Two things I asked were, “What does your daughter like? What is she interested in and passionate about?” After the mom listed off some things, I said, “What would it look like for you to step into her world and be interested in those things with her?” The mom abruptly responded, “Oh! I couldn’t do that! That’s just not me!” Here’s the thing I’ve learned from doing it all wrong: We can’t expect our kids to love all the same things we love and get excited about all the same things we get excited about. I used to get frustrated because my kids were so different than me. But then, I began seeing that their wildly different interests were an opportunity for me to learn and grow and expand my world. My kids have taught me so much about so many subjects that I used to have zero clue about. They have helped me develop new interests and new skills. And they’ve stretched and pushed me outside my comfort zone. And it has made my world so much richer and interesting! Want to Deepen a Relationship? For instance, Kaitlynn absolutely adores Bath & Body Works, so she’s teaching me all about how to get the best deal there. I’ve learned all about their scents and sales and money back guarantee. And she and I went one night this past week with her well-researched list and gift card and $10/$40 coupon and she floored me by getting two bags full of stuff for only $10.80 out of pocket — and saving $98!!! As I watched her strategically shop last night, I thought: 1) She needs to start her own blog (but she’s not interested in blogging, and that’s okay!) and 2) I would have missed this had I not been willing to get out of my little, “I don’t like to shop or go to the mall” mentality and jumped in and embraced something my daughter loves. Want to deepen a relationship with someone? Care about what they care about. Be interested in what they are interested in. And let them open up a whole new world of ideas and insights and inspiration to you! [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Saturday, January 4

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Afternoon Deals: Saturday, January 4
Every morning and afternoon we publish a list of the latest and best deals from our partner, DealNews. To learn more about the discounts and details, click on any of the deals for more information. To have this list, along with our latest news and stories, delivered daily to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter. For links to deals as they’re published, follow @mtndeals on Twitter. [...]
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How to Optimize Chase Freedom, Discover it for Q1 2020

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How to Optimize Chase Freedom, Discover it for Q1 2020
It’s a new quarter, a new year and a new decade. That means it’s also time for new 5% bonus categories for the Chase Freedom® and select Discover cards including the Discover it® Cash Back and Discover it® Student Cash Back. From Jan. 1 through March 31, 2020, you’ll earn 5% cash back on up... Sara Rathner is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: srathner@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @sarakrathner. The article How to Optimize Chase Freedom, Discover it for Q1 2020 originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Get interactive 2020 Organizing and Goals Diaries for just $9 total!!

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Get interactive 2020 Organizing and Goals Diaries for just $9 total!!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Get Organized Gal is running a BIG sale on their 2020 Diaries right now! You can get both the Organize in 5 Diary and the Priorities and Goals Diary for just $9 total! That’s a $20 savings!! Both of these diaries are interactive — meaning you can type in them, save them, and print them with your information filled out. The Organize In 5 Diary is an interactive diary with a 5-minute decluttering, simplifying, or organizing task for every day of the year. Each day, you read your Organize In 5 task. The action is described in simple steps — easy and achievable. The daily tasks cover home, work, closet, computer, health, finances, time management, relationships, family, and even relaxation. Next, set the timer and go. Just 5 minutes and you’re done! The Goals & Priorities Diary is a structured diary for advancing your goals and getting your most important tasks done every day. Each day you’re guided to focus on the things that matter most — freeing you from overwhelm while allowing you to make progress on goals. The structure leads you to set yearly and monthly goals, then to translate those goals into daily tasks. Every day you’re prompted to identify your top three priorities and do these first. It’s a systematic, stress-free way to advance your goals. Go here to get both diaries for just $9 total! [...]
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The 5 Best Things to Buy in January — and 4 to Wait on

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The 5 Best Things to Buy in January — and 4 to Wait on
This post comes from Elizabeth Harper of partner site DealNews.com. Plenty of stores will ring in the new year with great sales. But if you’re wondering what to buy in January, you should know that not everything will be a bargain this month, so you’ll want to shop smart to get the best prices. Following is our take on the things you should buy — and shouldn’t buy — during the... [...]
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My Word for 2020

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My Word for 2020
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. You all had such great guesses on my Word of the Year for 2020. Surprisingly, only one of you got it right (at least, I think it was only one of you!) Like usual, as 2019 started winding down and we headed in November, I began contemplating what over-arching theme I want to pursue in the following year. My word for the year came pretty easily to me, as it often does. I sat with it for a few weeks to make sure I really loved it. And then I asked Jesse for his thoughts. He agreed that the word seemed fitting for 2020. So without further ado, my word for 2020 is: Savor. What Does Savor Mean? There are a variety of definitions for savor, but the basic definition is, “to taste or smell with pleasure.” I decided to expand my own personal definition of savor to encompass slowing down and fully experiencing life through my senses. I love how Vocabulary.com defines it: Whether it’s a feeling of joy or a piece of pecan pie — when you savor something, you enjoy it to the fullest. When you savor something, you enjoy it so much that you want to make it last forever. With that in mind, savor carries a connotation of doing something slowly. If you savor that flourless chocolate tart, then you eat it slowly, bit by bit, deliberately picking every last crumb off the plate. The word is often applied to eating, but you can savor any pleasurable experience, whether it’s the winning touchdown or your moment in the spotlight. Why Did I Choose This Word? My personality is one that doesn’t tend to do life slowly. I usually have an end goal in mind with almost everything and I can put my head down, my blinders on, and just aim straight for that objective. While there are good things about this tendency, it also means that I often miss a lot of beauty and experience along the way. This year, I want to take the time to really stop and savor life, to experience the richness of the everyday, and to notice what I’m tasting, touching, hearing, seeing, and feeling. I plan to not only be aware of this as I go throughout each day, but I also am going to set 2-3 goals per week that are focused on helping me use my senses to more fully experience life. To hear more about this word and why I chose it for 2020, be sure listen to this week’s podcast episode where I share more about choosing a word for the year, a book I just finished, a remedy that’s helping with my hacking cough, and more about weekly goal-setting versus yearly goal-setting. In This Episode:  [01:07] Happy New Year! It feels like it has been forever since we’ve recorded a podcast! Listen in for a quick recap of our holiday! [05:36] Vicks VapoRub with socks is saving my life this week! [07:33] I finished An Invisible Thread on the drive home. [10:15] Why choose a word of the year and what was mine from 2019? [11:33] My word for 2020 is Savor. I share more about choosing this word. [14:13] How do I plan to live this out? [16:35] My goals for week 1 – January 2020 are… [19:31] What is your word of the year? How are you setting your goals in 2020? Links and Resources: Vicks VapoRub An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park My Word for 2019 Why You Should Choose a Word for the Year Free Printable Word of the Year Ideas My Word of the Year for 2018 One Word for 2016 CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com YourBloggingMentor.com My Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player here. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app. Did you choose a word for 2020? If so, I’d love to hear what it is and why you chose it! [...]
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Why I’m Not Setting Yearly Goals in 2020

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Why I’m Not Setting Yearly Goals in 2020
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. In a very big and bold move, I decided to not set yearly goals in 2020. That might seem super out of character for someone like me who has long been a huge proponent of goal-setting. And it is very unusual. But I feel so happy about this change for this year. Here’s why: I’m writing a book, having a baby, and we’re likely taking in at least one (if not multiple) kids who are in foster care for longterm placement this year. And those are just the things I know are on tap for 2020! Because of this, I decided not to set yearly goals (especially considering how all the unexpected played into my goal-setting in 2019) and I’ll be setting weekly goals instead. I’ll be sharing these goals every Monday here on the blog. I’m guessing that there will be somewhere between 6-12 goals each week, depending upon the week and how much is on my plate that week. Even though it’s not quite 2020 yet, I decided to jump in and start weekly goal-setting today. Here’s my list of goals for this week: 2020: Week 1 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 50,000 steps total. 2. Finish reading Parenting and An Invisible Thread. 3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Home/Family Goals 4. Declutter the entire house (This has needed to be done for months! Follow along on Instagram stories this week as I’ll be sharing more behind-the-scenes of my decluttering!) 5. Finish reading aloud A Single Shard together. 6. Start a new family devotional book together. (Any great suggestions for this?) Work/Blog Goal 7. Spend 12 hours on my manuscript outline.  8. Open up the blogging Mastermind to new members. 9. Get everything ready for course sale next week. Word of the Year Goals 10. Pop popcorn and watch a movie as a family. 11. Take Kaitlynn out shopping. 12. Make tea, light a candle, and write thank you notes. *Note: I’ll be sharing my word of the year for 2020 tomorrow. Any guesses as to what it is, based upon goals #10-#12 above? Want to join me in weekly goal-setting? I’d love for you to check in every Monday and share how you did on last week’s goals + your goals for the coming week. Leave your goals for this week in the comments below! [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy (Week 22) + our trip to Kansas for Christmas

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Life Update: Pregnancy (Week 22) + our trip to Kansas for Christmas
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 22 weeks!! And this week’s pregnant belly picture is brought to you from our Starbucks bathroom road trip pit stop (we drove back from Kansas yesterday). HIGHLIGHTS I’m so grateful to be feeling great overall! It was such a blessing to be able to enjoy Christmas! I only had two days where I felt pretty nauseous and one really bad night. Besides that, other than moving at a slower pace than usual and lingering congestion and cough from my recent head cold, I am feeling so good!! NOTABLE This trip to Kansas to visit family for Christmas was our last big planned trip before the baby arrives. That’s pretty surreal to realize — that the next time we’re in Kansas, we’ll have a baby with us (and maybe another child or two from foster care, too!) It seems like the time is flying by right now and I’m trying to soak it up! CRAVINGS I was able to enjoy most all the Christmas food, including one of my mom’s amazing Peanut Butter Bon-Bons! Weight gain: 14 lbs. We traveled to Kansas to spend Christmas with both of our extended families. (We’re so blessed that they live about 5 minutes from each other!) My dad — ever the practical one! — buys a live evergreen tree for their Christmas tree each year. They only keep it in the house for two days and then he plants it on their land afterward. We all got matching blinking light hats for Christmas! We’re getting ready to celebrate 17 years of marriage — oh how I love this man! My dad usually does a scavenger hunt for the kids with their gifts, complete with poems that take them all over the house to find their gifts! Christmas morning with Jesse’s side of the family always starts with group pictures in jammies. Jesse with his siblings… this was the best picture I got as they were all giving each other a hard time and then only half of them would be looking at the camera at once. (Jesse’s face here is all, “Are we done with pictures yet??”) My nephew was SO excited about this Batman costume he got! We finished out the day like usual — with stockings. The kids were so anxious to tear into theirs, but they waited patiently so we could snap another picture! 🙂 In Case You Missed It: All the details on our family Christmas celebration Maybe you needed this reminder this Christmas? Why I Failed on My Goals for 2019 The Top 10 Books I Read in 2019 [...]
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7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security

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7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security
It’s never too early to start planning for retirement. Even if you don’t plan to have a traditional retirement, it’s a good idea to consider how you’ll manage income as you age. “I’d like to work until I’m dead because I love what I do,” says Stacy Johnson, the founder of Money Talks News. “But I’ll want to cut back at some point... [...]
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How to Plan Your Travel Rewards Strategy for 2020

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How to Plan Your Travel Rewards Strategy for 2020
As New Year’s resolutions go, “maximizing points and miles” might not be on the top of everyone’s list. But making a plan for how to earn and use points and miles in the coming year can make the difference between a stress-free travel year and an overwhelming one. Everyone has different reward travel plans and... Sam Kemmis is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: skemmis@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @samsambutdif. The article How to Plan Your Travel Rewards Strategy for 2020 originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Five Crypto Predictions for 2020

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Five Crypto Predictions for 2020
Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house Not a trader was trading, not even a mouse; The stocking were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that Saint Nicholas and Trezor were there; Investors were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of Bitcoins danced in their heads; The sell orders were posted on exchanges with care, In hopes that a Bull Rally soon would be there; More rapid than lightning, the rallies they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name; “Now Bitcoin! Now Litecoin! Now Ether and Ripple! If Monero can double, then you can triple; The mining rigs hummed in the cellar with clatter, In hopes that new bitcoins would soon be there; From Papa John’s pizza all the way to the moon, You all will be riding the rocket ship soon; I heard him exclaim as he checked coin market cap, Merry Crypto to all and HODL for now! Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and a weekly columnist at DailyFintech.com This year, 2019 was a decent ride picking up steam after the first quarter, while 2020 doesn’t seem ready to slow down or put on the brakes. Instead 2020, might be a breakaway year, especially after the halving in May. Who would of guessed that Libra’s wheels would come off? That Wyoming would be the only US state with friendly regulations for digital assets and digital-banking? That Bitcoin would have triple-digit gains since December 2018, when the market bottomed out? That cyberattackers compromised the Binance and made off with $41 million in Bitcoin? That Wall Street moved in with J.P. Morgan rolling out their own coin? That China went from a complete ban of cryptocurrencies to a highly publicized all in attitude on the blockchain? That crypto index funds and ETFs, among other things, would show us that with crypto, wealth building is for everybody? Nevertheless, 2020 is swiftly approaching and it’s time to start the crypto predictions. #1 Libra: Will go live, but with limited functionality Governments worldwide work overtime to regulate the rapid emergence of cryptocurrencies and companies in the industry. Facebook has faced enormous hurdles from regulators across the globe, for Libra. It’s not even certain whether the project will be launched at all, if regulators are fully in line with it. But iteration is part of Facebook’s core fabric. Nine years ago Zuckerberg said at a press conference, “We’re trying to be innovative and iterative with our development”. I think this will be how they approach the regulatory problems. An iterative approach can result in ever-closer approximations of a solution, as accuracy improves with each step. Most likely, Libra will go live in one jurisdiction and with very limited scope, partners and functionality, as Facebook iterates everything. #2 Digital yuan to be followed by digital euro and dollar While in recent years, China has moved to regulate the cryptocurrency industry, it has been avid supported of blockchain and has been developing its own digital currency, that it will launch in 2020. There has been a consensus among central banks that they need to control money. Mark Carney of the Bank of England, was probably the first leading central banker to talk about the importance for the West to embrace crypto and digitally-enabled money. Christine Lagarde, the ECB chief and former Managing Director of the IMF, thinks a digital euro is a good thing for the EU. It is very likely that Steve Mnuchin, US secretary of the treasury, will announce the digital dollar in 2020, continuing his past narrative about tracking cryptocurrencies. #3 Developing nations will embrace Bitcoin While the big global economies are working on the their own versions of fiat backed cryptocurrencies, there are three billion people around the world that don’t trust in their government issued money. Across developing nations in South America and Africa (Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Zimbabwe etc) , we’ve seen rapid adoption for Bitcoin. I expect that across many developing nations in the world, people will want to have a form of digital money that they can rely on. #4 Stablecoin heaven The stablecoin trend will continue. While stablecoins are still in the discovery stage, they have become the holy grail, with dozens of projects trying to develop a digital currency with low-volatility, that can withstand speculative attacks and debasement. In 2019, the stablecoin market cap grew from $3.3 to $5 billion. In 2020, the stablecoin market will exceed $20 billion, as we see the launch of Libra and a few others and multi-collateral DAI, accepting BTC and other assets as collateral. #5 The Lightning Network will do great things The existence of the Lightning Network on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, already enables cheap, private and instant transactions and payments. The current number of nodes are 10,861 and the number of channels is at 35,000, with the network capacity at 859 BTC (or $6.5 million). In December 2019, Bitfinex announced that their exchange would support Lightning Network transactions. Now even Airbnb allows customers to book stays using the Lightning Network via the Fold App. In 2020, we will see an increased number of applications like the Breez app, created on the Lightning Network. The new year, we will see crypto and blockchain move from away from something that’s trying to disrupt the old, into mainstream and becoming a bigger part of daily lives. With China’s digital currency set to be rolled out in 2020, digital money will come to the front and center stage. As global governments embark on a new moon race, to launch their own cryptocurrencies, mainstream adoption is set to accelerate. Subscribe by email to join the other Fintech leaders who read our research daily to stay ahead of the curve. Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research) The post Five Crypto Predictions for 2020 appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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View Our 2020 Proxy Season Update Webinar

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View Our 2020 Proxy Season Update Webinar
On December 12, Katten partners Lawrence Levin and Mark Reyes, together with panelists from Ernst & Young and Meridian Compensation Partners, participated in a webinar discussing key developments and trends impacting public companies in the 2020 annual reporting and proxy season. To request access to a replay of the webinar, please click here. [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy (Week 21), Lots of Christmas Fun!

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Life Update: Pregnancy (Week 21), Lots of Christmas Fun!
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 21 weeks!! Full disclosure: I just woke up from an accidental hour-long nap before this was taken so if I look extra tired and groggy it’s because I was.😉 I had planned to do an outside picture this week, but it was already dusk when I woke up! Oh well! HIGHLIGHTS Baby has been moving like crazy this week! I feel like I’m finally starting to believe this is really and truly happening… in fact, I told Jesse yesterday, “We are having a BABY in less than 19 weeks!” In honor of the fact that I am beginning to believe this is really happening, I actually wrote out a list of to do’s that need to happen before April 30th (my due date). And I was a little surprised to see how many things were on the list! I don’t think I’m going to be bored these next 19 weeks — especially since I’m planning to write a 60,000-word manuscript in that timeframe, too! 😉 NOTABLE I’ve started to be able to see the baby kicking from the outside. The kids think it’s pretty much the coolest trick ever. They are all crazy in love with this child and it is so fun to witness as a mom. CRAVINGS Water, water, and more water. Plus, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. Weight gain: 13 pounds Our church took all of the youth group leaders to GLOW Nashville one night this past week. It was c-o-l-d, but we had such a fun night, regardless! As we talked about on a recent podcast episode, one of our traditions for December is to create a family Bucket List where everyone gets to choose 1-2 things they want to do during the month of December. This year, Silas wanted to go back to the Gaylord Opryland — something we had done a few years ago. It’s a HUGE hotel that they decorate beautifully for Christmas. While there, we also went out to dinner at one of our favorite family restaurants — the Caney Fork Restaurant. We got Tableside S’mores — which is something the kids have talked about ever since they went there last time a few years ago! I went to get my hair done one day this past week and my hair guy did Christmas-themed foils… so I had Kaitlynn (who was with me) take my photo. Only after she took my photo did we realize the hilarious placement of the plant behind me! 🙂 We did our annual Dollar Tree Stocking Stuffer run on Saturday morning. (Read more about it here.) We are headed to Kansas tonight and will be there all week, so we celebrated our family Christmas with just the five of us today (Sunday). The kids helped plan the day and the menu — and then we all went shopping together! It’s so fantastic when your kids are not only old enough to help you plan your Christmas menu, but then they make some of the recipes, too! This girl got all dressed up on Saturday to go to her friend’s quinceanera. And then Sunday morning started bright and early with Silas and Kaitlynn waking us up by jumping on our bed because they were so excited about our family Christmas celebration! We all wore our matching Christmas jammies (Kaitlynn’s Bucket List item — she picked the jammies out, too), opened gifts, then had Cinnamon Rolls, bacon, and orange juice. Then we decorated a Gingerbread house, played a game together, and watched a Christmas movie. We also had yummy snacks — each person got to pick their snack choice for the snack spread. Now we’re getting ready to have a yummy Smoked Turkey that Jesse made with Sweet Potato Casserole, Mashed Potatoes, Layered Jello, Rolls, and Broccoli (everyone chose one of the recipes for our dinner, too!) and then open stockings together. And then we’re packing up and leaving to drive to Kansas! What a fun day! The aftermath after we opened presents this morning. A few thoughts on marriage from my heart… When we got married, I used to get so annoyed by him because I felt he was lazy and undisciplined. I tried so hard to fix and change him. I thought it was my job as a good wife to help him “improve”. So I nagged, I passively aggressively shared Scripture, I prayed hard for him to change, and I carried around constant frustration that he was never living up to the standard I had set for where I thought he needed to be. Yes, I was a model wife like that. Slowly, ever so slowly, God started changing my heart to stop trying to fix him and to start focusing on my own struggles and issues and short-comings. Guess what happened?? The more I focused on growing as a person, the more I began to see my husband in a different light. I began to see his differences not as problems, but as strengths. For instance, he doesn’t care so much about following a rigid schedule because he cares more about living fully in the moment and loving people well. That used to grate on my every last nerve. Now I see how God knew I needed to learn so much in this area from my husband. Today, I look at this man with new eyes of admiration and appreciation. I see how he is exactly the counterpart I need. I see how we balance each other out so well. And also, I see a man who constantly sacrificially loves his family and others. I see a man who is servant-hearted and fiercely loyal, a man who lays down his own needs for the needs of others, who cares deeply about others, and who always puts people above projects and to do lists. I see a man who is God’s greatest gift to me. ❤️ [...]
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5 Reasons You Should Claim Social Security ASAP

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5 Reasons You Should Claim Social Security ASAP
Many people believe that claiming Social Security benefits as early as possible — which generally is age 62 — is inherently bad since claiming before your full retirement age means smaller monthly payments. However, the reality is that everyone’s circumstances are different. For some retirees, it makes sense to start claiming benefits as soon as possible. [...]
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How I’m Changing the Way I Set Goals in 2020

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How I’m Changing the Way I Set Goals in 2020
Note: I said in the episode that next week we’d be talking about foster care next week. Well, I completely forgot that next week was Christmas! Whoops! We’ll be taking next week off for Christmas but then we’ll be back the week of New Year’s with an episode on our Word of the Year for 2020. And then the following week, we promise to do the foster care episode! Thank you for your grace! We’re nearing the end of the year and it’s time to reflect on this year to prepare for next. This is the time of year that Jesse and I sit down and review the past year. How did we do on our goals? What worked? What didn’t? What did we learn?  In this episode, we talk really candidly about our goals we set for 2019 and what worked, what didn’t work, what we learned, and how we’re changing up our goal-setting for 2019. If you’d enjoy a personal peek into what goal-setting has looked like for us, what we’ve learned about goal-setting, and how I’m completely changing the way I set goals in 2020, you don’t want to miss this episode. Psst! You’ll also get some first word news on a little of what you can expect on MoneySavingMom.com in 2020 (I think you’re going to like it — especially if you love my personal posts and enjoy my book posts and goal-setting posts!) We also give you a framework to reflect on your past year and how to use this as a reference point for setting goals. And by the way, even if you really despise the idea of setting goals, I think you’ll still enjoy this episode! In This Episode:  [00:49] Jesse and I are skipping our usual segments to dive straight into goal setting for the new year. [01:34] We share what our goal setting process looks like now versus in previous years. [03:27] Learn the three questions I ask myself as I reflect on the prior year. [03:50] Why should you set goals each year?  [05:36] Make sure your goals are serving you. [06:42] Jesse and I share the goals that worked in 2019. [13:44] Next we ask ourselves, what didn’t work for the year? [17:34] The third question I like to ask is, what did I learn?  [26:57] The last focus of goal setting for me is to think about what I hope for in the new year. [29:11] My two big goals for 2020? Have a baby! … and write a book. Plus, why I’m not setting yearly goals in 2020 and what I’m doing instead. Links and Resources: Michael Hyatt – The Full Focus Planner Choose Faith: Men’s Gratitude Journal Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app. Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support! [...]
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Rite Aid: Deals for the week of December 15-21, 2019

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Rite Aid: Deals for the week of December 15-21, 2019