What Are the Best Loans If You Have Bad Credit?

If you need to borrow money but your credit is less than stellar, it’s possible you’ll wind up with a bad credit loan. These loans are geared toward individuals with imperfect credit histories who can prove their income and ability to repay the loan. As a result of their bad credit, however, consumers who use […]

The post What Are the Best Loans If You Have Bad Credit? appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

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Store Brand vs. Name Brand: How to Save Money on Everyday Stuff

Editor’s note:  This post was originally published in February 2020. What’s in a name? A lot actually. We often default to certain brands when shopping simply because of the name on the package — and the reputation that comes along with it, thanks to clever advertising. We buy Bounty paper towels because they’re the “quicker […]

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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How Does Cash Back Work?

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer. … Continue reading →

The post How Does Cash Back Work? appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

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Can I Sue a Company for Sending Me to Collections?

It happens. A collections notice shows up, a debt collector starts calling or you find a negative report on your credit history, but you know you paid the account in question. Can you sue a company for sending you to collections for money you didn’t owe? Find out more about what the law says about… Read More

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How to Run a Virtual Brainstorm that Actually Works

Fun fact about pandemic life: Zoom fatigue is real. And not just real, but “widely prevalent, intense, and completely new,” according to Psychiatric Times.

Although we might be avoiding Zoom these days when an email or even a phone call (is it 1986 again?) will suffice, there's one place where video conferencing still shines, and that's the good ol' brainstorm.

Old school brainstorming was creative and connective and interactive—all things difficult, but not impossible, to recreate virtually.

When I picture brainstorms of years past, I see images of big tables full of candy and fidget toys and pens and Post-Its galore. Old school brainstorming was creative and connective and interactive—all things difficult, but not impossible, to recreate virtually.

Today we’ll talk about some virtual brainstorming strategies I’ve seen work really well. And then hopefully, you’ll give one a try. 

Choose your occasion wisely

brainstorms shouldn’t be a catch-all for any group conversation.

Back when our biggest workplace woe was a vending machine out of Diet Coke, many of us took brainstorming sessions for granted. But in a virtual world, it's harder to organize, facilitate, and get people engaged.

That's why brainstorms shouldn’t be a catch-all for any group conversation. (Often what you’re looking for is just a meeting.) Brainstorms are a very specific brand of discussion in which a collective of creative voices, ideas, and opinions are necessary inputs to achieve a valuable output.

Because of challenges like Zoom fatigue and burnout, I urge you to be stingy with your brainstorming sessions. They're a fabulous enabler of ideas and solutions, so do use them. But do so strategically and with clear intention.

Because of challenges like Zoom fatigue and burnout, I urge you to be stingy with your brainstorming sessions.

What are some great occasions to host a brainstorming session? Use them when you need to:

  • Add or refine product features
  • Define a path in a sticky situation
  • Solve a complex problem

These and many other scenarios call for a variety of perspectives in which there are no right or wrong answers, but only ideas.

In contrast, many other occasions don’t call for a brainstorm. Like when you need…

  • Approval or alignment
  • Receipt of a message or direction
  • Feedback on a mostly baked idea

These are not brainstorm moments—they're meetings with a much more defined outcome. See the difference?

Figure out the specific problem you want to address

Okay, so you've figured out that your situation calls for a brainstorming session. Now, it's time to make sure everybody who comes to the brainstorm is on the same page before you begin by creating a statement that lays out the specific problem and how you need to tackle it.

Your problem statement might be something like:

We’re losing market share on X product, and we need to define new features to attract Millennial customers.

And here's another example:

This client wasn’t happy with our last deliverable and we need to redefine how we’re engaging with them.

One of your goals is to keep the session short (because fatigue) while maximizing what you take away from it. A clear problem statement allows you to invite your brainstorming participants to get the creative juices flowing ahead of the actual session.

Assign some prework to get things rolling

Now that you've stated the problem or opportunity, it's time to let participants know you’re looking forward to a collaborative discussion and invite them to jot down some early ideas and send them your way.

You can then do some analysis ahead of the session. Did you spot any common themes? Any particular ideas you’re interested in having the group build upon?

Share your findings at the beginning of the brainstorming session. This will give you a strong foundation from which to build.

Get creative with tech 

Love it or hate it, video conferencing technology is definitely your friend in a virtual brainstorm. It allows you to create a purposeful connection amongst participants. But you have to understand how to engage them.

When I used to run in-person meetings with leadership teams, I was always intentional about switching up the activities every 30 minutes or so. I’d facilitate a breakout, and then we’d do a quick poll, and then I’d have people plot Post-It notes around the room, and more.

Keeping things changing and moving is a great way to keep adults engaged. According to the Harvard Business Review: "If you don’t sustain a continual expectation of meaningful involvement, [people] will retreat into that alluring observer role."

So take the time to learn the features of whatever platform you’re using, and make the session engaging. Some tactics you might try?

  • Use polls to test out early ideas
  • Use small group breakout sessions to create mini-competitions between your participants
  • Use a whiteboard to replicate a poster board people can plot virtual Post-It notes on
  • Use voting to prioritize or stack rank

Of course, talking is part of any brainstorm. But using technology can keep participants from slipping into the shadows without contributing.

Establish norms that serve your purpose

A brainstorm isn’t successful because of how smart its participants are, but because of how much freedom and space their voices are given.

A client once told me this story about a packaging company that was struggling with productivity. Their products had to be wrapped in newspaper before being shipped. But often, as employees were packaging product, they’d accidentally start reading the newspaper, losing precious packing minutes. These minutes added up to lost productivity.

One day the leadership team was brainstorming solutions to this distraction problem and one executive said, “Well, what if we just poked their eyes out?”

Of course, he wasn't serious—the question was absurd and meant to add a little humor. But it triggered a new line of thinking. Eventually, the company established a partnership with a non-profit organization that finds jobs for blind people.

Is this story true? I’m honestly not sure. But it’s a great illustration of the importance of free-flowing ideas.

A brainstorm isn’t successful because of how smart its participants are, but because of how much freedom and space their voices are given.

As the facilitator, what norms can you put in place to ensure that all ideas get voiced without judgment and everyone has a chance to speak?

Here are a few you might consider:

  • Use the improv rule of “yes, and.” It means that ideas are never knocked down, only built upon. (Don’t worry, they can get voted down later, just not during the brainstorm)
     
  • Use the two- (or one- or five)-minute rule. Ask people to limit themselves to two minutes at a time, even if they need to stop mid-thought (they can finish on their next turn). This challenges people to be concise and ensures that everyone gets a chance to speak.
     
  • Use a round-robin technique. Circle around the Zoom participants, calling on each person as you go. If someone isn’t ready, they can pass. But this is a great way to prevent introverts from getting overlooked.

What other norms will keep you on track?

Close out thoughtfully

Save a few minutes at the end of your scheduled session to check in on the process. How did it feel for everyone? What worked well and what might you skip next time? Do they have other tactics to recommend?

The best answer to “How do I host a great virtual brainstorm?” is the answer that your own participants give you.

When scheduled for the right occasion and with the right people, brainstorms are a fabulous tool. Don’t be intimidated by them. Just be open to learning as you go.

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15 Home Business Ideas & The Free Courses You Need To Get Started

Are you looking for a work from home job or some at home business ideas? If so, then I have a great list of free resources, such as courses and guides, that will help you find the best option and learn how to get started. Plus, all of the courses and guides in this article […]

The post 15 Home Business Ideas & The Free Courses You Need To Get Started appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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10 DIY Face Scrubs and Masks

Amazing scrubs

1. Chocolate-honey scrub

Who doesn’t want to cover themselves in chocolate? Here’s your opportunity with this hydrating, revitalizing scrub.

  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix together all of the ingredients in a bowl, making sure to break up any lumps in the cocoa powder. Apply this luscious mixture to your skin, rubbing in a circular motion. Leave for 5 minutes, then rinse with warm water. Divine! (Leftover scrub can be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.)

2. Apricot–sea salt scrub

Here’s a great scrub for smoothing out rough spots on elbows, hands, feet, or wherever you need a little extra help.

  • ¼ cup sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons apricot kernel oil
  • 5 drops apricot essential oil

Mix together all of the ingredients, then rub onto the skin. Rinse with warm water.

3. Light sugar scrub

Dry, itchy skin bothering you? Try this super-moisturizing light scrub.

  • 3 tablespoons baby oil
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar

Mix together the ingredients, making sure to break up any lumps in the brown sugar. Massage immediately into skin, as the sugar will begin to dissolve. Rinse with warm water.

4. Minty morning wake-up

This invigorating scrub is great for those sleepy mornings when it’s almost impossible to drag yourself out of bed. For best results, make it the night before and store in the refrigerator until morning.

  • 1 cup rice
  • 6-ounce container plain yogurt
  • 5 sprigs mint
  • 3 drops peppermint essential oil

In a food processor, add the rice and pulse until ground. Transfer the contents to a bowl. Then process the yogurt and mint together and add to the ground rice. Add the essential oil, stir well, and refrigerate. Then, during your morning shower, rub the mixture into your skin. You’ll feel it working!

SEE ALSO: Who Knew's 18 Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Acne and Pimples 

5. Ginger face and body polish

For beach-ready skin, try this body polish. Ginger will help stimulate the skin, salt and sugar will rub away dead skin cells, and the combination of coconut and olive oils will provide deep hydration.

  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup raw sugar
  • ¼ cup sea salt

In a small saucepan, add the coconut oil and grated ginger, and heat on low until the oil melts and the ginger has infused it. Strain into a bowl. Stir in the olive oil, sugar, and sea salt, and allow the mixture to cool. Transfer to a cosmetics jar. To use, massage a little into the face and body, and leave for 5 minutes before rinsing under warm water.

Is the skin on your elbows looking a bit rough? Here’s an easy treatment: Cut a lemon or lime in half, then sprinkle it with brown sugar. Bend your elbow and shove it right into the citrus, then twist the fruit back and forth. The fruit’s acid will slough off dead skin with the help of the sugar.

All-natural masks

6. Veggie revitalizer

This powerhouse of a body mask is loaded with vital nutrients to help rejuvenate and revitalize skin.

  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced and steamed until soft
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup honey

Mash together the avocados and carrots in a medium bowl. Stir in the milk, lightly beaten eggs, and honey. Apply the mixture to damp skin, then leave on for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water.

7. Yogurt soother

Try this body mask to help soothe irritated skin. The lactic acid in the yogurt gently breaks down dry skin cells, and turmeric is a well-known anti-inflammatory.

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

Combine the yogurt and the turmeric, blending well. Apply to damp skin, and leave for 10 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water, then moisturize.

RELATED: Mighty Mommy's 10 Cures for Rainy Day Boredom

8. Skin-balancing facial

Do you have acne scars or other dark spots on your face? You can use the enzymes in certain foods to help lighten them! Here’s a soothing mask to try.

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons plain yogurt

Stir together the lemon juice, honey, and yogurt in a small bowl. Apply to your face, and leave on for about 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

9. Pumpkin pampering

For clean, soft skin—and a clever way to use up that can of pumpkin that’s been gathering dust in your pantry since last Thanksgiving—try this facial mask.

  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ ground almonds
  • Olive oil

Mix together the canned pumpkin with the yogurt, honey, ground almonds, and a drizzle of olive oil. Apply to skin, and take a hot bath to let the steam and enzymes in the mask do their work. After 10 minutes, rinse and apply your normal moisturizer. Refrigerate any leftovers and use within a week.

10. Clarifying facial

If you have oily skin, try this sweetly scented scrub. The clay will help remove impurities and excess oil, while the oats and almonds will exfoliate and soothe skin. As a bonus, lavender is great for stress relief!

  • 1½ cups rolled oats
  • ¾ cup almonds
  • 1 tablespoon dried lavender
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1¼ cups white kaolin clay

Pulse together the oats, almonds, and dried lavender in a blender. Mix in the honey and white kaolin clay. (You can find the clay online or at stores that carry natural beauty products.) Remove a tablespoon of the scrub and mix with water to make a thick paste. Massage over the face and neck, and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes. Store the leftovers in the refrigerator in a closed container.

Have a teeny bit of Champagne or white wine left after a party? Make a face scrub with it! Wine contains tartaric acid, a terrific exfoliant. Mix a few teaspoons sugar with enough wine to make a paste, then massage into clean skin.

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What You Need to Know About the New Apple Credit Card

UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned here. The Apple credit card launches this summer, and it pairs the high-tech, app-based culture of the brand with… Read More

The post What You Need to Know About the New Apple Credit Card appeared first on Credit.com.

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