Protect Yourself from Scammers and Pickpockets

Protect Yourself from Scammers and Pickpockets

Losing your wallet or important documents will quickly sour any vacation or travel plans. Add the complications of international travel and a language barrier, and you will be facing a dire situation. That’s why it’s important to protect yourself and your belongings when you are in unfamiliar places. However, the best advice is to use common sense and learn how to prevent it in the first place. Here are a few tricks to protect yourself from scammers and pickpockets. Thinking ahead can save you a lot of hassle and headaches.

Don’t Stand Out to Scammers and Pickpockets

Identity theft is the last thing anyone wants to deal with on vacation. However, the truth is that anyone, anywhere, can become a victim of pickpocketing. There is no defining profile, age, or limit to the ingenuity of how scammers separate people from their valuables. It is also common for them to work in teams and distract their unknowing prey.

Your best defense is to not draw their attention in the first place. People wearing expensive jewelry, electronics, and designer labels tell pickpockets that they have money. Avoid wearing bright colors or standing out in large crowds, especially in transportation hubs and tourists spots. Carrying maps and showing large amounts of cash are great ways to become the next mark. Instead, think of how to blend in and act like a local. Even if you get lost, continue on confidently as if you know where you are. Find a discreet place to get your bearings and not stand out like a sore thumb.

Travel Light Through Airports and Stations

Toting around large amounts of luggage and bags is another way to attract the wrong kind of attention. If you are carrying several bags, using a map, or wearing a large jacket, someone can easily snatch things without you noticing. That’s why you should travel light, secure your most important belongings, and keep them in your field of vision at all times.

Make sure your bags are not hanging loosely open, and place the most valuable things in a zippered pocket. Slashing and snatching purse straps is one of the most common and profitable grabs for scammers and pickpockets. I prefer to store my documents in the hotel safe and separate my cash into different places, just in case. Even if you do become an unfortunate victim, at least you will not have lost everything due to a careless mistake.

Stay Aware of your Surroundings

This piece of advice is simply to use common sense. Always stay aware of your surroundings and watch out for suspicious behavior. Be wary of anyone who approaches you unless it is law enforcement. Surveys, fundraisers, maps, and clipboards are all common props scammers use in ruses. People expect bumping and pushing in crowded places, giving pickpockets the perfect opportunity. Thieves are known to operate around major metro stations, popular attractions, and ATMs, so be alert as you pass through these places.

Keep your belongings in front of you, and your valuables in the most inaccessible place. There are tons of travel accessories and clothing available with specially designed pockets to protect you from scammers and pickpockets. Most importantly, don’t carry anything that you aren’t prepared to lose.

Back-up your Identification and Documents

This last note is probably the simplest and most overlooked precaution. Before you leave, take a few minutes to scan your documents and upload them to a website like Dropbox or Google Drive. You can also add your itinerary and airline information so all your critical information is available in one place.

In the event something does happen, you will have your passport, driver’s license, insurance cards, and prescriptions available instantly. This will make things move faster if you do need to contact the police or embassy. You can also make photocopies to carry with you.

Being a traveler in an unfamiliar place means you are more vulnerable. With a few precautions and common sense, you can protect yourself from scammers and pickpockets. Take the time to prepare for all eventualities and stay alert. Theft will always be a concern for travelers, but the extra effort can decrease the odds of becoming the next mark and keep you safe.

Protect Yourself from Scammers and Pickpockets

 

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5 Easy Ways to Earn Money on Valentine’s Day

5 Easy Ways to Earn Money on Valentine's Day

Earn Money Instead of Spending It

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and for many people this means expensive gifts and dining. However,  there are others who prefer not to become victimized by the commercialism. They take advantage of this holiday to make some extra cash rather than spending it. Here are 5 easy ways to earn money on Valentine’s Day.

Easy Ways to Earn Money on Valentine’s Day

1. Get Busy Creating

Valentine’s Day is a huge money-making day for anyone working in retail, flowers, or confectionery goods. Small businesses can make a killing by attracting new customers with discounts and themed pieces. Therefore, this holiday is the perfect opportunity for the artistic and crafty types to get to work.

If you are a baker, start whipping up your favorite desserts to bring in some extra cash. If you’re an artist, perhaps greetings cards or commissioned work will earn you some additional income. For the musicians out there, consider learning some popular love songs and try your hand at busking. There are endless possibilities for finding the perfect gift, so get your name out there! Use your talents as an easy way to earn money on Valentine’s Day.

2. Throw a Singles Party

It’s no shock to hear that many singles dread Valentine’s Day. However, you can bring people together and celebrate your status by throwing a singles party. Whether you are looking for love or simply want to meet new people, a party is a great way to mingle. Choose a location and charge a flat fee to cover the expenses for food and beverages as well as your time. With the right theme and entertainment, you could create an annual event people look forward to and talk about the rest of the year.

3. Babysitting Services

Offering childcare services is a great way to capitalize on this holiday. If you prefer to stay in anyways, ask around to see if someone could use a night away from the kids. Babysitting rates usually range from $10-$15 an hour, although you should ask for more past midnight. Rates also vary based on the number of children and years of experience.

There are also agencies and periodicals you can work through if you don’t know anyone who is looking for a sitter. Try listing your services on sites like nanno.com or browse job posts on care.com. If you enjoy kids, this is a great and easy way to earn money on Valentine’s Day.

4. Photography Service

If you have an artistic eye and quality equipment, photography and videography are great ways to make extra money. Many couples celebrate anniversaries, engagements, and weddings on Valentine’s Day. You can be a part of their special day by capturing and immortalizing these moments. With the right lighting and editing skills, you can provide couples with a priceless gift they can treasure forever.

5. Date Planning

The fact is romance does not come easily to everyone. Event planning is the perfect opportunity for the hopeless romantics to really shine on Valentine’s Day. To spare someone the agony of planning an unsuccessful evening or a disappointed partner, you can put plan a romantic date for various budgets. Come up with a variety of packages that include locations, restaurants, photographers, and entertainment.

Transportation is another, less involved date service you can provide for the happy couples. Many people will be working since the holiday falls in the middle of the week. This means they will need delivery services during the day. At night, you can be certain people will need a ride home after all the bubbly. You can sign up with a taxi-hailing company or app if you have your own car, or drive with a fleet if you have a valid driver’s license.

The Bottom Dollar

If you decide to capitalize on Valentine’s Day, there are tons of easy ways to earn money. Play to your strengths and customize your marketing approach. There is someone out there who is looking for exactly what you are offering. Thanks to the internet, it is now bringing people together in new ways. If you have an idea, get out there and find your niche.

 

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Investing in your 30s: It’s Never too Late

Investing in your 30s

It’s a proven fact that fewer millennials are investing than previous generations. As your 20s come to an end, financial security becomes a more pressing concern. You may be asking yourself, “Is it too late to start investing in your 30s?” The short answer is that it’s never too late. Even if you are a latecomer to the investing game, you still have many years of earning potential ahead of you. Thanks to compound interest, it is within your power to build a strong retirement portfolio. Here are a few things to consider for first-time investors in their 30s.

Set Realistic Investing Goals

One of the most challenging aspects of investing in your 30s is that this stage of life is riddled with major changes. Paychecks have to cover huge expenses of school, weddings, children, mortgage payments, medical care, debt, and daily living. It can be extremely difficult to allocate large amounts to your retirement fund.

Your investing strategy needs to maintain a financial balance with the other aspects of your life. The best way to achieve this is by setting realistic and attainable goals. For many people this includes having enough for immediate expenses, providing for your family, saving for the future, and setting aside emergency funds for unforeseen events.

Assess your Risk Tolerance

The most difficult question when you start investing is how much you need to begin. This answer varies greatly depending on your financial goals and risk tolerance. In order to get good returns from your investments, you need a portfolio that reflects how much risk you are willing to take.

If you are more conservative with your investing strategy, more funds will be allocated into traditional, low-risk stocks and bonds. If you feel more comfortable with market fluctuations, your investments will include more real estate and international exposure. Aggressive investors may see higher returns, but they also have the potential to lose it all.

Your risk tolerance is a vital question that you need to answer before jumping in feet first. It requires serious reflection on your future goals and open communication. Include your partner in the discussion and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Meet with a Financial Advisor

If you are still feeling uncertain of taking the first step alone, contact a financial advisor to guide you through it. Just like your income, your financial needs grow and change over time. There are several types of advisors, so you should choose someone that understands your goals and financial situation. There also needs to be a certain level of trust since you will need to share private information about your life plans.

However, the beauty of the digital age is that technology presents other alternatives. If you want to focus solely on investing, there are many robo-advisors available to you. These online platforms can handle  your asset allocations, portfolio rebalancing, and investment calculations automatically. Just be aware that robo-advisors are only a tool, not a holistic investing strategy.

The Next Step for Investing in your 30s

Investing in your 30s is a lot more complicated than in your 20s because you have more responsibilities. However, don’t get discouraged or beat yourself up for not starting sooner. The bottom line is that you have time, but you need to start somewhere. Hindsight is perfect, but don’t dwell in the past. Get moving and start building towards a more secure future.

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