7 Tips for Acing a Video Interview

Whether you just graduated school or are just seeking a new job, work interviews have modernized. Video interviews —conducted online— are increasingly common. In some industries, IRL interviews are (for now) a thing of the past—as more companies take on remote hires and millions are working from home.

And, with the rapid rise in digital job interviews, what are some ways to ace the video interview?

Here are seven tips for giving an impactful and memorable video interview—from practicing potential answers out loud ahead of time to tweaking the lighting for your camera.

There are various ways to get a first job after college. Being prepared for video interviews is one way to make a positive first impression.

Dressing for the Video Interview

For remote jobs, it’s quite possible that applicants may do a video interview through their tablets or computers. And, while the job interview location may now be a digital platform (and your couch), certain interview expectations stay the same—namely presenting yourself with professionalism and dressing for the job. Even when (especially when) you’re interviewing from home.

It may be helpful to ask about the expected dress code for a remote position. Asking questions like this may show a hirer that you’re aware that businesses have diverse expectations for professionalism. Even if they say you can wear whatever you want, you’ve shown that you’re unafraid of asking questions to grasp what’s expected of that role.

There’s an old adage— dress for the job you want, not the role you have. In a video interview, this could mean opting to dress a touch more formally—even if HR said the employees usually go for business-casual. (And, yes, you should wear pants during video interviews.)

It’s hard to feel like you’re going to shine if you’re in coffee-stained PJs.

It’s also not a bad idea to confirm the logistics of the video interview (in addition to outfit- planning). Some video interview logistics questions could include:

•   Will you get a calendar invite or event link for the interview?
•   What time zone will the interviewer be calling in from?
•   Which video conferencing platform will be used?
•   Will you need to download software to be able join the interview?

Knowing the answers to logistics can help bring more confidence to the video interview.

1. Practicing to Make Perfect

Different companies or organizations may use different platforms to host the interview—from Zoom to Google Hangouts to other programs. Don’t worry: You don’t need to become a pro at all the expert features. Still, it’s a good idea to become comfortable at:

•   Dialing in to scheduled calls
•   Checking the audio and the camera
•   Understanding what the interviewer can see
•   Ensuring the WiFi signal is strong enough for the video interview

If an interviewer mentions a program you’ve never used, it’s advisable to download and try it out well before the actual call. Opening up an unfamiliar program just before the interview only to realize it’s not compatible with your technology might create a positive first impression. So, make sure you double-check that you have all logins or passwords for the call. It’s best not to keep interviewers waiting because you failed to check the video interview details.

Try to make a mental checklist of digital distractions you’ve run across, as well. Then, see what you can do to minimize (if not outright eliminate) those common distractions before the live video interview. For example, you could turn off notifications or sounds for texts and emails during the interview time slot.

2. Setting the Surroundings

Generally, it’s a good idea to do a test call on the planned video-interview platform. This could help you assess how you and your surroundings appear via video. You may even want an extra set of eyes and ears–asking a friend or family member to do a “mock” call to ensure the audio and visuals are clear.

When prepping for a video interview, put yourself in the position of whoever will be interviewing you. Some questions to chew on:

•   What can the interviewer see of your space?
•   Are you easily visible or is more light needed?
•   Are there any distractions in the camera frame?

Some digital platforms allow users to record sessions. So, interviewees may want to record themselves talking and then watch and listen. You could run through the main things you want to say in the real video interview. Talking aloud on camera can help some people to become more aware of their own nervous tics and body language.

3. Taking Notes Beforehand

With job interviews, researching the company beforehand could give you ideas of how to connect previous work experience with the brand’s values or role’s job. One of the benefits of a video interview is that you can make these research notes quite literal.

Write out key points on a big piece of paper near your computer. Or, jot down some ideas or accomplishments on a sticky note next to your camera. It’s likely that the employer conducting the video interview will have no idea you’re looking at those pre-prepared notes—just make sure you keep your notes short, so you can naturally weave in keywords.

Talking points are a good idea. You may want to skip long sentences that sound like you’re reading.

4. Minimizing Off-Screen Distractions

Above all else, keep your on-screen image distraction-free. It’s worth remembering that the only person the interviewer wants to interact with is you–not your adorable pets, lovely roommates, or kid sister. You ask the folks you share a living space with to keep quiet or stay in their rooms during your interview. Plan ahead so the conversation isn’t distractingly interrupted by unexpected visitors.

5. Wearing Headphones

It would be a shame to have the audio cut out mid interview. Nothing can derail a smooth interview back-and-forth than the inability to hear the other person. It’s likely neither the interviewer or the job applicant wants to say, “What?” or “Can you repeat that?” during the video call.

There’s no need to invest in fancy, studio-quality headphones, thankfully—if you’re comfortable with earbuds, those should work fine. They also have the added benefit of not being visually intrusive.

6. Going Outside for a Breather

It’s hard to feel energetic and friendly if you’re cooped inside all day. A good way to minimize nerves is to get fresh air. Don’t just open up a window—put on sunscreen, maintain social distancing, and go outside. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes, a jolt of sunlight and breeze can reset the mind.

7. Remembering to Be Yourself

After preparing for the logistics of a video interview, it can be easy to forget one simple thing: Be yourself. While a strong WiFi signal and well-lit space won’t hurt your chances during a video interview, it’s helpful to recall that interviews are conversations between two or more people. Be prepared and share who you are.

Getting to Work

Acing a job interview—video interview or otherwise—is just one part of navigating life after college. Being ready for a video interview is just one new way to get noticed these days.

On top of looking for a full-time or better-paying job, some grads also want to find ways to reduce their outstanding debt balances—including long-term bills, like student loan repayments.

After exhausting federal options (like income-driven repayment or loan forgiveness programs), some borrowers decide to refinance their student loans with a private lender.
Refinancing student loans could reduce monthly bill payments or the amount paid in interest during the duration of the loan.

Learn more about refinancing your student loans with SoFi.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

SOSL20038

Source: sofi.com

Zebra Insurance Review Reveals Good and Bad

Kids these days may never know the pain of spending hours pouring through web pages to generate various auto insurance quotes or (gasp!) having to actually call and talk to insurance agents about what kinds of premiums they could offer. That’s because of the advent of car insurance comparison sites like The Zebra. Our Zebra insurance review shows the site is a good place to start your search but it may not have all the answers you need.

How The Zebra Got Its Stripes

The Zebra was started nearly a decade ago, back in 2012, building off the astronomical success of Google and mirroring the structure of travel sites such as Priceline, Hotwire and Kayak. The difference? The Zebra allows users to compare rates for insurance. The company is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and as part of its “All Stripes Are Welcome” mantra, is very focused on diversity and inclusion.

Initially, The Zebra specialized exclusively in auto insurance (and this Zebra insurance review is primarily concerned with The Zebra’s performance in the realm of car insurance providers), but in recent years, the insurance comparison company has branched out to renters insurance, homeowners insurance and life insurance. And on the horizon: RV insurance, boat insurance and more.

Since its inception, The Zebra website has produced more than 6.5 million insurance quotes. Currently, The Zebra’s provider partnerships total more than 200 car insurance companies, including big names like USAA, Progressive, State Farm, Liberty Mutual, All State, Erie, Esurance, Nationwide and Metlife. The Zebra promises that it has no allegiances to any auto insurance providers, though my experience (detailed in the next section) suggests otherwise.

Fun Fact: Last year, The Zebra became the first U.S. employer to cover employees’ pet adoption fees. (No zebra adoptions permitted — yet.)

How The Zebra Works: A Review

Getting a car insurance quote from The Zebra takes fewer than five minutes. In fact, I was able to generate three sample auto insurance quotes in under 10.

Ready to see your personalized auto insurance rates? Here’s what you’ll need to input on the site:

  • Your ZIP code. To begin the process, The Zebra needs to know where you live. Car insurance laws and policies vary from state to state, so it’s important to choose the state in which you are actually licensed. (So if you’re going to school in Kentucky but still have Mom’s address in Ohio, you’ll technically need to use your mother’s ZIP code back home.)
  • The basics. After inputting your ZIP code, The Zebra will want some basic details. You’ll need to specify whether you have auto insurance, whether you own or rent (and type of home) and why you are shopping for car insurance.
  • Your vehicle details. Not only will you need to input your year, make and model, but you will also need the trim details. Depending on the manufacturer, you may also need to know which engine or drivetrain you have, as some automakers include those in trim distinctions. If you need to insure more than one vehicle on the policy, you have the option to add up to four more. Next, you need to input information about that vehicle: whether you own or lease the vehicle, how you use it and the number of miles you drive each year.
  • The drivers. To start, fill in the information about yourself: first and last name, birthdate and address. Then, you’ll need to specify gender (Note: Despite being a company that prides itself on diversity, The Zebra currently only has options for “male” and “female”), marital status, credit score range*, level of education, how long you have been continuously insured, current insurance provider, bodily injury limits of your current coverage and details about any accidents or tickets you’ve received in the last three years. If you indicate that you are married, you must include information about your spouse. You also have the option to add others to your auto insurance policy, such as domestic partners or children.

*Credit score options include Excellent (720+), Good (680 to 719), Average (580 to 679) and Poor (below 580). The Zebra prompts you to select “Good” if you don’t know your credit score, but you better believe that they will be pulling your credit score before actually letting you sign on the (digital) dotted line.

After inputting your information, The Zebra will take a few moments to calculate auto insurance quotes for you. Each time I generated a quote, I was shown results in ascending order of price, with the cheapest on top. (Each time, Progressive also had an unpriced quote at the very top of every fake quote I generated, which seemed to be a sketchy paid placement. So much for that no allegiance thing.)

A progressive ad appears.
This “ad” appeared at the top of every search that was conducted.

Once you have your auto insurance quotes, you can use the “Explore quotes at $XX/$XX bodily injury limits” link at the top to customize whether you view their Minimum, Basic, Better or Best coverage options. That’s helpful for those who like to be hands off, but if you want to customize your coverage beyond that (perhaps you want everything provided in Basic coverage but want to add roadside assistance, which doesn’t kick in unless you upgrade to Better), you’ll have to work with each insurance company directly.

This screen grab shows steps to building your policy.
Being able to select a level of coverage is nice as a starting point, but I wish you could then go in and further customize to your liking.

For each quote you are provided, you can see the name of the insurance company and the price in a big blue bubble. If you want more information, you can click the small “What’s covered” language, which I missed when creating my first two insurance quotes. The bright blue is definitely meant to draw your eyes so you immediately click into the quote without reading the fine print: a solid user experience decision or shady business practice? The jury’s out.

When you expand “What’s covered,” The Zebra does an excellent job of providing an overview on — what else? — the Overview tab. On the left is a paragraph about the auto insurance company for those who prefer their information that way while the right is for visual learners, with brief phrases about the benefits of the insurance policy and helpful iconography.

The “What’s covered” pop-out also has tabs on coverage and pricing. The coverage tab shows you whether this quote includes auto insurance options such as bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist bodily, uninsured motorist property, personal injury protection (PIP), collision (and its deductible), comprehensive (and its deductible), roadside assistance and rental reimbursement.

Here is where The Zebra could really be improved; I’d love to be able to see that the policy I’m looking at has, for example, a $1,000 deductible for collision and comprehensive and no coverage for rental reimbursement and then be able to edit to my liking. Then, the associated rate would dynamically update to reflect that change. Alas, that is not offered.

Finally, the pricing tab shows policy length, the first month price, how much you’ll pay in future months and the pay-in-full price.

Sample Quotes from The Zebra

To understand what the insurance comparison experience and pricing were like with The Zebra site, I created three auto insurance quotes: one for single 30-year-old Joe Schmoe, one for elderly married couple Johnny Tsunami and Daisy Duke and one for young college student Minerva McGonagall (because why not).

Quote #1

The first quote, for Joe Schmoe, was built off my own data:

  • Own a house
  • 30 years old
  • Owns a 2017 Subaru Crosstrek that is fully paid off
  • Unmarried
  • Excellent credit score
  • Male
  • 5,000 miles a year (I’ve been working from home for three years, and my odometer is happy with that decision)
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Discounts: Employed full-time, paperless billing and auto-pay

Here were the top auto insurance quotes this profile generated:

One of the quotes generated from Zebra Insurance comparison.

These insurance rates are in line with what I currently pay, so The Zebra seems right on the money here. But as far as its claim that it can save me money on my current auto insurance rate? Not so much.

Quote #2

For the second quote, I used happily married Johnny Tsunami and Daisy Duke:

  • Own a condo
  • Early 60s
  • Making payments on a 2020 BMW 7 Series (they have expensive tastes)
  • Married
  • Excellent credit score
  • Male and female
  • 12,000 miles a year
  • Master’s degree
  • Discounts: Employed full-time, paperless, auto-pay and pay in full upfront

This couple received the following auto insurance quotes:

One of the quotes generated from Zebra Insurance comparison.

Quote #3

Finally, Minerve McGonagall, who is putting herself through school, input the following details for her auto insurance quote:

  • Rents an apartment
  • 22 years old
  • Makes payments on a 2009 Chevy Cobalt
  • Unmarried
  • Average credit score
  • Female
  • 15,000 miles a year
  • One accident and two tickets on her record
  • Some college but no degree yet
  • Discounts: Employed full-time and paperless billing (is not comfortable with auto-pay)

The Zebra generated these quotes for this driver:

One of the quotes generated from Zebra Insurance comparison.

The Zebra claims it can save drivers up to $670 a year on auto insurance. That, I cannot verify. I can only share that what The Zebra quoted me is in line with my current insurance rate, so I wouldn’t get any savings.

What We Like About The Zebra

The Zebra’s insurance comparison is certainly an excellent tool to get a sense for what you will need to pay for insurance and compare quotes. At the least, you can use the information from The Zebra to make an informed decision when shopping for insurance directly with providers.

Here’s what I liked about The Zebra

  • It was fast and easy to get my quotes.
  • It detailed the discounts I was eligible for. Discounts include the following: paperless delivery, multi-vehicle, auto-pay, safe driver, pay in full, currently insured, currently employed, low mileage, excellent/good credit, and homeownership.
  • It provides a good foundation for your research.

What We Don’t Like About The Zebra

That said, there was a fair amount I didn’t like about The Zebra:

  • The Zebra works with over 200 auto insurance companies, but I probably couldn’t name more than 10 car insurance companies myself. Some of the companies suggested to me were brands I’d never heard of, and when it comes to something as important as car insurance, brand recognition is important to me as a shopper.
  • I couldn’t customize my coverage. If you are the type of savvy shopper who knows how much insurance you need and the exact deductibles and add-ons you’d like, this tool isn’t for you.
  • The Zebra patently lies about spam, and I have the receipts to prove it.

My Experience with The Zebra and Spam

I don’t like to give my email address out to just anybody (call me old-fashioned), so I was apprehensive when completing my fake quotes. But I’m a millennial consumer who knows the deal so I entered my email address.

Besides, The Zebra assured me they wouldn’t spam me. No, really:

A saying that says they won't send you spam.

But as soon as The Zebra had generated my quotes, my phone lit up with the sound of unwanted communication. It took just seconds for two emails to enter my inbox:

Spam from Geico.
It was at this moment that I realized I’d have to come clean about getting my first quote as Joe Schmoe in my review.

I did read online in a Better Business Bureau thread that, at one time, The Zebra used to require phone numbers for a quote and would immediately place spam phone calls (sometimes before users could read the quotes they were just provided), but The Zebra acknowledged that this was less than ideal and has since removed the phone number requirement in its auto insurance quote process.

What Customers Are Saying About The Zebra

So The Zebra’s insurance comparison site didn’t seem right for me, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not a great resource for others. At the least, I do maintain it’s a good tool for preliminary research. Perhaps I’m just old-school, but I want to do more digging and customization on my own to make sure I’m getting the best deal.

But all in all, The Zebra has wonderful customer reviews. It’s got a great score on BBB (an A, currently) and a 4.8 out of 5 overall satisfaction rating on Shopper Approved (with 1,683 5-star reviews out of 1,989 ratings total, at time of writing). Across the board, customer reviews on Shopper Approved highlight users’ satisfaction with The Zebra’s products, price and customer service.

With that said, it’s worth giving The Zebra a shot, if only to see what kinds of quotes you might get and then supplement with additional research. And if you’re worried about the spam, here’s a tip from a friend: You can still see the quotes even if you provide a fake email.

Timothy Moore is a market research editing and graphic design manager and a freelance writer and editor covering topics on personal finance, travel, careers, education, pet care and automotive. He has worked in the field since 2012 with publications like The Penny Hoarder, Debt.com, Ladders, WDW Magazine, Glassdoor and The News Wheel. 

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Is Your Apartment Tax-Deductible When You WFH? | ApartmentSearch

Woman holding baby while sitting at desk on computerIf you’re someone who primarily works from the comfort of their home, you might find yourself wondering, “Can I write off my home office?” This is certainly a valid question and one that can possibly save you a lot of money when tax season rolls around. Learn what (if anything) is tax-deductible when your apartment doubles as your office space!

But before we begin, please know this post is not intended as legal or tax advice; rather, it’s simply meant to provide some helpful resources for your tax journey. If you need additional support or guidance as you’re filing, we encourage you to seek professional tax prep services.

Can I write off my home office?

With so many of us working from home these days, there’s a lot of curiosity around whether this situation can yield any tax breaks. Unfortunately, you won’t qualify for the home office tax deduction as a full-time remote employee in most cases.

In other words, if you work remotely — but you’re not an employer or business owner — you won’t be able to write off your home office. With that said, this might be available as a state tax deduction for *some* remote workers, so don’t give up all hope!

Anyone who’s self-employed or runs a business out of their home will likely have better luck with this write-off. According to the IRS, there are two basic requirements to qualify for a home office deduction: (1) regular and exclusive use and (2) principal place of your business.

The term ‘regular and exclusive use’ means you regularly use part of your house or apartment exclusively for conducting your business. The second criteria (principal place of business) implies your home office is either the primary location of your business or space where you frequently meet with customers or clients.

For instance, if you run a business out of your apartment, like an e-commerce store, you may be eligible for this deduction. Likewise, if you are “self-employed” as a freelancer, you may also meet this requirement.

How do I calculate my home office deduction?

If you meet the criteria stipulated by the IRS, you’ll want to know how to deduct a home office to net the most significant savings possible. There are two ways to go about this: (1) the regular method — keeping track of your expenses throughout the year and itemizing them on your tax forms, or (2) using the simplified option (if you’re eligible for it).

The regular method involves diligent record-keeping of your year-round expenses and honest reporting in your tax form. With this method, you can write off things like the cost to paint or repair your office space, which can add up pretty quickly!

The actual-expenses approach also allows you to deduct a portion of some indirect home expenses, based on the square feet you use as your office. What this means is, if your office is one-tenth of the total square footage in your house or apartment, you can deduct 10% of your mortgage interest or rent and even some of your utilities (like water and electric bills).

The simplified version of the home office deduction can be used if your office measures 300 square feet or less. For those who qualify, the IRS will give you a deduction of $5 per square foot of your home that’s used for business, up to $1,500 for a 300-square-foot-space.

If you’re unsure which choice is right for you, know that the simplified method can work well for single-room offices or smaller operations, while actual-expenses might work better if your business takes up a larger part of your home.

Additionally, the simplified route is typically easier to compute, resulting in a smaller tax break overall. The regular method requires more thorough recordkeeping (and more time to gather your receipts), but it could provide you with a larger deduction in the end.

Find a Place for Work and Life

Are you thinking of upgrading your apartment so you can have a dedicated home office? With the help of ApartmentSearch, you can easily explore two-bedroom apartments and live-work spaces for rent near you! This way, you’ll have an extra room you can use as your very own office, which is sure to help boost your morale and productivity.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

How to Save Money on Printer Ink

They charge a significant mark-up, and you’ll save money buying third party, Freiberger says. There are companies that specialize in selling generic ink cartridges, and Ebay is the best place to find them, says Lou Gimbutis, chief homebuyer with Property Solutions in Charlotte, North Carolina. He says that the five-pack of the cartridges he needs costs more than at a major retailer, but he finds the five-pack on Ebay for to . By buying ink in larger quantities, he pays just over per cartridge.
These ink cartridges are available at a fraction of the cost, Cirignano says. A new set of three color and one black brand-name cartridges costs around 0 for Cirignano’s printer. On Amazon, he purchases a complete set or remanufactured cartridges containing three colors and two of the larger black cartridges for less than with free delivery.
These allow you to buy ink separately and pour the ink inside yourself. This is a messy, DIY project and it’s easy to do it wrong. But if you’re good at DIY and don’t mind making a little mess, this could save you more than 50 percent in printer ink, Freiberger says.
“I believe some printer brands can actually monitor your Internet-connected printer so they can see if you are not adhering to this ink policy,” he says.
Now that so many of us are working from home and buying our own printer ink, we thought it would be a good time to take a deep dive into the world of printer ink costs so you never run dry or at least don’t spend a fortune on ink.

The Essentials about Buying Printer Ink

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Don’t Buy Ink Directly from Big Brands

Most of the major printer companies now offer subscription-based ink services that are cost-effective depending on your plan. For example, HP offers a plan with a monthly fee to print a specific number of pages per month. The fee includes the ink, shipping and recycling and it rolls over front month to month. If you need to print more pages, you will be billed the same price per page as the base plan. The most popular plan is per month, and it includes ink for 100 pages of printing.
Within the last few years, a few major printer brands (Epson, Canon) have released ink in bottles that may be poured into reusable tanks. These are paired with EcoTank printers, and the ink is considerably less expensive than comparable ink (it’s about 3 cents per black page). The downside is that the actual printer is relatively high so this should only be considered as a way to save money for those who truly print often.
The biggest consideration when it comes to saving money on printer ink is buying the right printer in the first place, says Rex Freiberger, CEO of Gadget Review, a technology and lifestyle publication.

Try Remanufactured Cartridges

In recent years, when many cartridges have added smart-chips embedded within them, there are companies that will offer money for empty cartridges. It’s a win-win, Cirignano says.
“The key to purchasing quality refilled cartridges is to read reviews and to check the ink company’s warranty policy,” he says.
Some printers that have less expensive ink costs include the Brother MFC-J995DW (0 at Best Buy), the Epson EcoTank (0 at Amazon) and the CanonPixma G7020 (0 at Best Buy).

Consider Refill Ink Cartridges

Danielle Braff is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Check out her other work here.
Beware though, because many manufacturers require that you use their brand new ink cartridges or else you may void the warranty, says Thomas Cirignano, an author who prints numerous copies of his manuscripts for editing purposes.
Here are our tips on how to save money when loading up your printer with ink.
Printer ink is the most frustrating purchase ever. That’s because printer ink varies in quality and price, and you never seem to know what you should and shouldn’t do (Is refurbished ink okay? Should you stick with the brand name ink? What about subscription services?).

Check Out Subscription Services

“Many of the cheaper printers waste ink and have no option for ink conservation,” Freiberger says. “It’s worth it to invest in a more expensive printer to keep the cost-per-page down.”

There are Also New Print Bottles

Toner cartridges for laser printers are larger and require refilling less often, but the process is time consuming and not always successful. To refill toner cartridges, you must drill a hole in the cartridge, fill it with powder and then re-seal. In both cases, you will typically need a new chip  that your printer recognizes every time you do this, otherwise it will refuse to print.
Still, Gimbutis says that in his experience, ink and toner refills are more trouble than they’re worth. He’s owned a home-based business that relies heavily on direct mail since 2004, so he’s tried just about every way possible to get his printing costs down. Liquid ink cartridges tend to be relatively small, so the frequency of refilling is high per 1,000 pages printed, Gimbutis says.
“It’s also a messy process: The best of intentions often leave stained fingertips, surfaces and sometimes even printers.”

9 Factors to Consider Before Changing Jobs

Sometimes, the grass really is greener on the other side. Sometimes, it’s just more of the same.

So when it comes to leaving your current job for a new one, how can you tell beforehand if the opportunity is really worth it?

While there’s always going to be risk involved when changing employers, you can make a more confident choice by considering some key factors. Here are the most important variables to take into account before changing jobs.

Work-from-Home Flexibility

As the Covid-19 pandemic has shown, many employees can work from home just as efficiently as they would at the office. While some companies have vowed to continue letting people partially or permanently work from home, others have steadfastly refused to make working from home the new normal.

If you prefer a more flexible schedule because of family commitments, chronic health problems, or any other reasons, work-from-home flexibility should be a high priority.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is one of the most important factors to consider. A company that pays your premiums is essentially giving you hundreds of dollars in benefits every month.

Ask about the health insurance coverage before you accept a new position, specifically how much the monthly premiums will cost. Many small businesses are not required to provide coverage for their employees. If you’re applying to work at a small company, inquire about health insurance early on.

If the company does not provide coverage, you’ll have to buy a policy from the HealthCare Marketplace, where you’ll be 100% responsible for the premiums.

Paid Time Off

Paid time off is another major consideration to take into account before leaving one company for another. If your employer has a generous vacation policy, you may be surprised to find out that other companies are more strict.

Paid time off includes vacation days, sick days, holidays, and parental leave. If you plan to have kids soon, examine your company’s maternity leave policy so you can compare it to prospective employers.

Retirement Contributions and Stock Options

If you currently receive matching 401(k) contributions from your employer, double-check the vesting schedule of your new job. The vesting schedule outlines how quickly you’ll earn 100% of the employer contributions.

Many employers have a graded vesting schedule, which means that every year you will earn a certain percentage of the employer contributions. For example, if your company has a five-year vesting schedule, you’ll pocket 20% of their contributions every year. Once you’ve worked there for five years, you’ll receive 100% of the contributions.

Others use a cliff vesting schedule, which has an all-or-nothing requirement. You have to work there for a certain number of years to be eligible for 100% of the employer’s contributions. If you work less than that, you won’t be eligible for any of it. If you don’t plan to stay at your next job very long, then it’s important to understand the vesting schedule.

Public companies often provide stock options to their employees, which can be worth thousands of dollars in extra benefits. Employees with a stock purchase plan can buy company stock at a discount and resell it later for a profit.

Educational Benefits

If you plan to go back to school, look for a company that provides tuition reimbursement. Many employers will pay for all or part of your tuition, but the benefits vary.

Some will require that your degree applies to your current position, while others will be more lenient. If you don’t want a full degree, you may be able to convince your employer to pay for special courses or certificates that will also boost your resume.

Some companies have begun to offer student loan reimbursement. With these programs, employers contribute to your student loans by either matching payments or providing a set amount each year. Like a 401(k) match, you may have to work there for a certain period of time to qualify.

Room for Advancement

If you’re searching for a firm where you can stay for several years or more, it’s important to consider if there’s room to grow. The bigger the company is, the more likely it is that you can stay there and get promoted to another position. That’s harder to do at smaller companies where room for advancement may be limited.

Company Culture

The general office environment can impact your overall job satisfaction, but it’s a topic often neglected during the interview process. If you’re interviewing in-person, notice how the office looks and how employees are acting.

Do you hear laughter or is it dead quiet? Do they have a diverse staff? Are there fun initiatives, like casual Fridays, or does there seem to be a strict dress code? Depending on what you’re looking for, the answers to questions like these are crucial.

Company Stability

No one wants to get a job only to be laid off months later. Before switching companies, investigate your prospective employer to see if they’re in danger of shuttering or being sold.

Look through recent press clippings, especially from the local newspaper or business journal. If you have friends in the industry, ask if they think the company is stable.

Sometimes you can’t help but take a risk, like if you’re working for a start-up or in a volatile industry. In this case, you should have a sizable emergency fund and keep your resume and LinkedIn profile updated in case you lose your job.

Education and Training

When you’re interviewing at a job, ask if they pay for employee education, like attending industry-wide conferences or local training sessions. It’s valuable to work for a company that cares about employee professional development.

If you don’t expand your breadth of knowledge, then you may find yourself in a tough spot years later when looking for another job, with out-of-date skills.

Use Your Intuition

If you’ve considered all the factors listed above but are still getting a bad vibe about the new job, don’t hesitate to back out. Your gut intuition may be telling you something important about the company that you can’t verbalize clearly.

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Source: mint.intuit.com