Monthly Archives: November 2016

30Nov 2016

5 ways to cut holiday travel expenses – CNET

Most folks love to travel, but it’s an expensive hobby — especially if you venture outside the country. The airfares, the hotels, even just staying connected… it all adds up quickly. At this time of year, it adds up even more.

Fortunately, you can save a few dollars here and there — sometimes even more than a few — by taking advantage of various mobile apps and services. Starting with a simple one…

Use multiple airfare-tracking tools

True story: My wife and I had been keeping an eye on holiday airfares to France. Because I’d recently written about Google Flights, I was relying on that to inform me of price drops. Prior to that, however, I’d also set up app-based airfare-tracker Hopper to monitor the same trip.

One fateful morning, Hopper popped up an alert: Flights to Paris for close to one-fourth the usual price. Because I was at my computer, I quickly checked Google Flights — but it was still showing the higher fares. Thanks to Hopper, though, I was able to go directly to the airline’s site and score the cheap deal. Had I relied solely on Google, I’d have missed out.

Moral of the story: Use multiple airfare trackers, because one might catch what another misses. In addition to the two I’ve discussed here, Airfarewatchdog, Kayak and Yapta all offer flight monitoring and notifications.

Buy in-flight Wi-Fi in advance

Whenever I get on a Delta flight, I’m fairly appalled by the charges for in-flight Wi-Fi. It varies, of course, from airline to airline and route to route, but one thing I’ve learned is that it’s almost always cheaper if you buy in advance.

For example, right now Delta sells a 24-hour Wi-Fi pass for $16. I’ve seen that same pass for twice the price when purchased in-flight. (Some airlines charge even more.)

Again, depending on the airline, you might also get a deal by purchasing your pass from Gogo proper: An all-day pass now runs $19 there (until recently it was $16 — sigh), and it’s good on any Gogo-equipped flight and airline. If you fly a lot, Gogo’s Monthly Plan — $49.95 per month for one device or $59.95 for two — quickly pays for itself.

Bottom line: Whenever possible, buy Wi-Fi in advance. Chances are good you’ll save at least a few bucks.

Drive for less

Need a car? Depending on where you’re going and when, a traditional rental might cost you a small fortune, especially if there’s high demand.

Fortunately, just as Airbnb can help you find inexpensive lodging, Turo lets you rent cars from individuals — often for significantly less money than you’d pay a rental service. Just choose your dates and location to see what’s available and for how much.

Another nice perk: You know exactly what kind of car you’re getting, rather than the vague “midsize sedan” kind of description you get with typical rentals. Of course, as with Airbnb, you’ll want to check the lender’s ratings first, and also investigate insurance options. (Don’t assume your credit card will cover you.)

I used Turo once for a family vacation to Florida. We needed a minivan, and the best rental deal I could find was around $450 for the week. The Turo van I rented ended up costing around $200 — and the owner met us right outside baggage claim for both pickup and drop-off. Your move, Avis!

Double-down on hotel savings

Most travelers know a few tricks of the hotel-booking trade. For example, if it’s a small or independent chain and you call for a reservation, you might be able to score a better rate than you would from a booking site.

That said, I typically use for reservations, in part because I get a free night after every 10 nights I book through the service, and in part because I can almost always find extra discounts and savings — usually by leveraging a cashback service.

Sign up for Ebates or Topcashback, for example, and then head to through either portal. You’ll get a rebate of 3 percent or 7 percent, respectively, for whatever reservation you book. (Both services corral various special offers as well, meaning you’re likely to snag additional savings at the time of booking.)

So if you’re spending, say, $600 for three nights, and you book via Topcashback, you’ll get a $42 rebate — nothing to sneeze at.

Get a SIM card before you leave the country


Using a phone outside the US poses all kinds of challenges — most of them financial. If you stick with your US carrier, you’ll pay the kind of global roaming rates that make grown adults cry.

The conventional wisdom says to buy a local SIM card once you arrive at your destination, but do you really want to start your vacation with a shopping trip? And what if it doesn’t work? If there’s a language barrier, how can you be sure you’re getting decent rates?

Borrow a page from the Boy Scouts: Be prepared. Get a global SIM card before you go and make sure it works in your phone. That starts by making sure you have an unlocked GSM phone. (CDMA models, namely the kind used on Sprint and Verizon networks, work in few countries outside the US.)

I recommend KnowRoaming, which actually offers two options: a sticker (yes, sticker!) that affixes to your current SIM card and a straight-up SIM replacement. Both offer low calling rates and unlimited-data packages for worldwide travel.

For example, you can get unlimited data in over 90 countries for just $7.99 per day. KnowRoaming also offers free WhatsApp usage wherever data is available. And the sticker works even if you have a CDMA phone! That’s a huge plus.

Have you discovered any other money-saving travel hacks? Tell us about them in the comments!

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30Nov 2016

Credit card debt relief scam hits Pflugerville area – Austin American-Statesman

An automated call Joshua Gillard received several weeks ago seemed legitimate enough. The message asked if he was in debt and offered help. But once he reached an operator, he said it became abundantly clear who was on the other line.

“They started asking me for credit card numbers. They didn’t even waste time,” he said. “I knew it was a scam.”

The scam is similar to dozens of other reports the Better Business Bureau serving Central Texas has been receiving in the last year. The automated message has the person dial 1 to reach a live operator, which follows with an aggressive attempt to compile credit card numbers and other personal information.

Erin Dufner, chief marketing officer of the BBB serving Central Texas, said the calls are often from overseas “boiler rooms” full of callers searching for that one lucky call. She said a recent federal report showed boiler rooms can make up to $150,000 a day through phone scams like the one Gillard received.

Gillard said he gave a fake credit card number to the scammer, which led to some name calling and nasty language.

“He started dropping ‘F’ bombs on me … I guess they were mad I wouldn’t let them steal from me,” he said.

Dufner advised anyone who receives any similar unsolicited calls to ask a lot of questions. She said at times the caller can be very persuasive and offer personal information — which can lead to someone thinking they are speaking to a legitimate business.

“It can be confusing,” she said. “The way these pitches go, they are trying to verify information before moving forward. Some consumers are already thinking they’re talking to their banks.”

The credit card debt relief scam is one of numerous phone scams reported to the BBB. Calls claiming that someone won a sweepstakes were popular for a while, Dufner said, and people claiming to be officials with the Internal Revenue Service or local law enforcement were reported earlier this year.

“The good news is people are reporting these scams to BBB,” Dufner said.

Another tool being used by phone scammers is “spoofing,” which has a local number pop up when the scammer calls. Dufner said the technology evolved as fewer people answered calls without listing a phone number.

Gillard said he decided to notify BBB when he thought of people like his grandmother, who may be more trusting.

“I just don’t want that to happen to someone who doesn’t have the means to fight it,” he said.

Report scams to BBB

The Better Business Bureau urges anyone who has been involved in a scam to file a complaint at The BBB scam tracker is also available to report a scam or learn more about scams reported in your area.

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30Nov 2016

Surprising ways to earn frequent flyer points –

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Surprising ways to earn frequent flyer points
Sometimes it's the simple things that gets the best results and this is true when it comes to racking up frequent flyer points. Virgin Airlines has revealed some of the best ways to earn Velocity Points without booking a flight. Whether you're a points
American Express Velocity Platinum CardAustralian Business Traveller

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29Nov 2016

Watch out: Your rewards points are tempting to hackers – USA TODAY

Everyone knows that hackers can steal your identity and break into your bank account, which is why consumers take pains to protect their accounts. But did you ever think about protecting your frequent-flier miles, credit card points or other loyalty accounts? U.S. consumers have points and miles worth $48 billion, and criminals aren’t above dipping into them for their own rewards. Barry Kirk — vice president of consumer loyalty for Maritz Motivation Solutions, which creates and consults on consumer loyalty programs for major companies and brands — has some food for thought on the matter.

Q: What’s at stake?

A: The value of points and miles flowing through loyalty accounts annually is well into the tens of billions of dollars. This is real dollar value. When you consider that these points can be redeemed for hotel nights, flights, retail discounts and tangible rewards, earned loyalty currency can be a significant component of a consumer’s financial picture. It should be no surprise, then, that these accounts are a very appealing target for fraudsters.

Q: How are consumers at risk?

A: The greatest risk comes from wide-scale, organized criminal efforts to hack many accounts at once. If successful, criminals can steal members’ personal data, amass points in compromised accounts through fraudulent purchases and then siphon off those point balances to steal rewards.

Q: What should they do?

A: The easiest place is to start taking a proactive role in protecting your own loyalty program data. This could include:

  1. Think of your program membership like a bank account. Your points and miles have real dollar value, and consumers should take that seriously. They should be as vigilant with loyalty accounts as they would be with their credit card or checking account.
  2. Be more serious about account credentials. Did you put as much thought into your loyalty program password as you did your banking account password? Take time to review your current IDs and passwords, make them more complex and difficult to hack, and update them on a regular basis. 
  3. Check your account more frequently. Does your point balance look correct? Are there any redemptions you can’t account for? If you are checking your point balance less often than your checking account, there is room for improvement.

Q: What should they NOT do?

A: The key here is to resist the temptation to assume your loyalty program earnings are not at risk because they aren’t real money. That sort of passive thinking is exactly what organized criminals are counting on, because it makes accounts easier to hack and enables the activity to go less noticed.

Q: How can consumers make the most of their points?

A: The holidays actually offer a great reason to review all of your active loyalty accounts and see what your redemption options are and what holiday reward deals your programs are offering. Rather than using cash, your points can be redeemed toward those gifts and gift cards for family and friends. We see the largest spike in program redemption at this time of year for that very reason, with Cyber Monday hands down being the busiest day for consumers to use their points for rewards.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

A: While consumers have been slow to recognize the risk of fraud on loyalty accounts, companies that own and manage these programs have been focusing on it increasingly for several years.  Sophisticated tools are available to help detect and prevent intrusions into loyalty program systems, as well as to predict and mitigate potentially fraudulent redemptions. Combined with consumers being more vigilant, the chance of experiencing fraud on your own loyalty account is actually pretty low.

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29Nov 2016

How These 6 Millennials Travel The World For A Living – Forbes

Since I left New York City six months ago to circumnavigate the globe by couch-surfing through my social network, I have learned that I am not alone in my venture to become a digital nomad and an income-earning female traveler. There are many women out there who have similar dreams – and more importantly, are acting on them.

I’ve had the good fortune to meet a few of these women throughout my travels and learn about how they’ve become full-time travelers while supporting themselves on the road.

Meet Andrea Valeria, Selena Slavenburg, Phoebe Escott-Kenny, Kelsey Vaughne, Arianna Esposito, and Rena Ayoubi. Here’s how they manage to make money while traveling and the best advice they have for those looking to follow their footsteps.

Photo Credit: Andrea Valeria

Andrea Valeria

Age: 28

From: Panama City, Panama

Before She Hit The Road: Living in Hawaii working full-time at a photography company with an income in the mid five figures.

Currently: Working as a freelance travel video blogger for “It’s A Travel O.D.” from Playa del Carmen, Mexico

What precipitated deciding to travel for a living? Did you do any prep?

My motto has always been to “do what you love,” and my true passion is vlogging. When the opportunity to work remotely in my position came about, I got rid of most of my belongings, packed what was left in a suitcase and carry-on, and left.

There was no prep. Buenos Aires, Argentina, came to mind during dinner with a friend and two weeks later, I was there.

How are you making money on the road?

I began focusing on my vlog, It’s A Travel O.D., about six months ago while working my regular job remotely. I also run a cleaning business in Panama with my mother.

Once the groundwork for my travel vlog was done, the next logical step was transitioning my full-time position to part-time to focus on the vlog. This gave me more time to reach out to potential clients and work on these new projects, which resulted in my first two sponsored vlog clients within the first week of taking that step. Additionally, I’ve landed steady freelancing opportunities in video, social media advising and digital content creation.

How much money are you now making, and what are your future business plans?

Since switching to part-time, I’m making almost the same as I was before in my steady, corporate, full-time job. The current projects I’m working on involve affiliate marketing partnerships (which, done right, could result in a small stream of passive income) and social media advising for hostels/hotels in exchange for accommodation, which saves me money on housing.

My next project is to grow my Instagram account, @itsatravelod, which in this day and age is crucial for gaining partnerships and other business opportunities.

What advice do you have for other women looking to leave behind their 9-to-5 in exchange for a more nomadic lifestyle?

The idea of “quitting your job and traveling the world” is not as easy as it sounds. My advice is to be practical and think strategically. For most people, it’s not realistic to amass $30,000 in savings and embark on this marvelous journey, so don’t think that’s the only solution.

Think about your passions and hobbies, how you can turn them into profitable ventures, and put in the hours to make it happen. Could you transition your current job to being remote (even if the duties and salary would change)? Can you replace nights out drinking with staying in and doing the work (creating your website, booking small clients, working on your personal branding, etc.)? Also, always take risks. Know that every single person that you see out there doing something similar to what you want to do took risks and left their comfort zones. Success doesn’t happen overnight and patience is key to living your dream life .

Photo Credit: Selena Slavenburg

Selena Slavenburg

Age: 26

From: Palo Alto, California

Before She Hit The Road: Working as a marketing manager in Los Angeles.

Currently: Traveling the world, most recently through the Balkans, Morocco, and Hungary with her fiancé, Jacob Taylor. Recently moved to Amsterdam to have a home base.

What precipitated deciding to travel for a living? Did you do any prep?

I grew up traveling, and it’s always been a dream of mine to travel and move abroad. After experiencing the L.A. lifestyle for 5 years, I was ready for a change – I was entering my mid-20′s, and it finally hit me that I just needed to go for it.

I save by habit, and maybe more than I should! In L.A., I couldn’t justify buying $16 glasses of wine at dinner with friends or spending money on unnecessary clothing anymore. I saved the extra cash once I started thinking about the trips I could put that money towards.

How are you making money on the road?

I originally started our Instagram account, @finduslost, as a way to share our travels with friends and family, but it quickly grew into much more. We currently have 19,000+ followers, and it’s growing by a few hundred each day. People started asking us to share travel tips from each destination we visited, and we were enjoying the photography aspect so much that I decided to start our blog, Find Us Lost, too. I wanted to create the kind of travel guides that I’ve always looked for in my own travels. Now through paid partnership and collaboration opportunities, we’re starting to seriously shape our lifestyle around travel. 

How much money are you now making, and what are your future business plans?

Before leaving I secured a remote work opportunity as a part-time marketing consultant through connections in L.A.

I’m making roughly half of what I used to before I left. In the past few months, I’ve used my free time to teach myself basic HTML, SEO, Lightroom, Photoshop and WordPress.

It’s my dream to continue traveling and working from abroad. I’d love to expand our brand and build a travel community. I think some people believe our generation is unrealistic because they just want to travel without responsibilities, but I disagree – really, our generation is driven and unconventional.

What have you learned about Millennials around the world?

The travel community is incredibly supportive and genuinely interested in your adventures. I’ve made more meaningful connections abroad in seven months than I have in the five years I lived in Los Angeles. It’s not just the people – when you shift your lifestyle in such a drastic way, you can’t help but open up your own world.

Photo Credit: Phoebe Escott-Kenny

Phoebe Escott-Kenny

Age: 28

From: Queensland, Australia

Before She Hit The Road: Teaching English in Germany for nearly two years.

Currently: Privately teaching English while blogging and traveling the world. Just in 2016, she’s been to 16+ countries across Europe, North and Latin America, and Asia.

What precipitated deciding to travel for a living? Did you do any prep?

I first left Australia for Germany back in 2011 with nothing but $3,700 back in 2011, with no plans on staying for longer than six months. After arriving, I began to learn German at a language school and that’s where I got my first taste of the language-teaching world. I initially came to Germany because my boyfriend is German (I use Frankfurt as a base).

Soon after, I was able to get into private English training, securing jobs around the world and blogging about these destinations as I go. My blog, Kaptain Kenny, became just as much of a job as my English training business. My Instagram, @kaptain.kenny, is currently sitting on 13,900 followers, which has also helped to give me exposure and credibility in the travel industry, especially when contacting boards and companies for press trips. Overall, it’s helped generate a lot of interest in my blog.

How are you making money on the road?

My two businesses have complemented each other nicely: I book work around the world for both my English training and travel blog. For example, this year I was a guest English lecturer at a university in Vietnam and was able to use that experience to write a lot of content on Vietnam. I also work with hotels and resorts — helping to train their staffs while also taking photos of my experience and writing about that destination on my blog. To make direct money from my blog, I focus on receiving invitations from tourism boards, hotels, municipalities and tour companies in exchange for my travel pieces.

How much money are you now making, and what are your future business plans?

I’m lucky that I have two business avenues, which can work separately or together to yield income since I can either get booked locally for English lessons or abroad on a travel assignment.

I know the stability of a regular income suits other people but for me, I cannot imagine having an ordinary 9-to-5 job with a boss. I’d rather wake up every day and have 20 different things to do. From a personal development perspective, I’ll be happy so long as I can support myself financially and continue learning languages.

What have you learned about Millennials around the world?

I think people of my generation are particularly good at making money in fields that never previously existed. I’m constantly learning from and am inspired by people who utilize social media to promote their business in an authentic way and I can only hope to project the same image!

Photo Credit: Cameron Vaughne

Kelsey Vaughne

Age: 23

From: Virginia Beach, VA

Before She Hit The Road: Working as a full-time nanny while pursuing a Master’s degree.

Currently: Recently left home to build a business and become digitally nomadic with her husband, Cameron Vaughne.

What precipitated deciding to travel for a living? Did you do any prep?

Since making the decision last year of becoming digitally nomadic with my husband, we spent all of our free time researching ways to monetize our blog (The Wanderful Lyfe), social media and freelance services (photography, videography, social media growth and management, etc.), while also brainstorming how we could help people in need along the way. We maintained our current full-time jobs, saved and worked 60+ hours per week before announcing our decision to travel full-time in September.

How are you making money on the road?

It all started with the growth of our Instagram account, @thewanderfullyfe, which is currently generating an average of 150 to 200 followers per day. After having several companies inquire how we were growing so quickly, we realized that we could convert our unique methods for organic social media growth into a paid service, while also providing professional quality media content showcasing their products and/or services in beautiful destinations around the world.

It’s through the application of these services as well as through promotional sponsorships, writing competitive reviews on destinations/accommodations/restaurants/apps/etc., that we were first able to monetize our overall web presence.

How much money are you now making, and what are your future business plans?

If for some reason we find ourselves in a situation where our blog isn’t generating the necessary funds for sustaining this lifestyle, then our focus will remain primarily on the freelance services we provide, such as social media growth/management, photography and videography, amongst other things.

Although our current income doesn’t reflect that of what we were previously making (it’s about half), we end up saving much more due to the drastic cut in bills and “necessities” which have become irrelevant whilst living on the road. In addition to living minimally, we hope to show the world what we’ve learned is the most important and beneficial “travel hack” – that you can live almost purely off of human connection!

What advice do you have for other women looking to leave behind their 9-to-5 in exchange for a more nomadic lifestyle?

My only advice would be to set aside everything you think you know about the world and the people in it. Really…wipe the slate clean! Making the most out of living nomadically means truly allowing yourself to remain completely open-minded while forming well-rounded, multicultural and truly intellectual perspectives on the world that we live in.

Photo credit: Arianna Esposito

Arianna Esposito and Rena Ayoubi

Age: 20

From: Manchester, UK, and Italy

Before They Hit The Road: Working a few small waitressing and bartending jobs to save money for travel.

Currently: Traveling around the world together through New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and Canada while building a travel blog and social media presence.

What precipitated deciding to travel for a living? Did you do any prep?

We didn’t actually intend to! We met a travel vlogger in a hostel who showed us what they did and introduced us to the lifestyle. It all just snowballed from there.

We managed to save about $12,000 each from our jobs and we set out with only the first few nights’ stay sorted. From then, it’s been a pretty spontaneous ride.

 How are you making money on the road?

We started writing for travel sites and getting paid per article, and eventually moved on to creating our own blog, LandRoamers. Once our Instagram, @landroamers, got bigger (currently, it has 7,500 followers), our site got more hits and we used this surge to reach out to businesses for sponsors. We’re currently working with two companies and the future looks promising!

How much money are you now making, and what are your future business plans?

As we’re only six months into our journey, we’re making low figures, but it’s coming along well and our savings are holding. When necessary, we pick up small jobs on the road, which is pretty common for most travelers.

We’re lucky enough not to need a stable job for now, but we spend several hours a day on our blog and Instagram; however, this hardly feels like a job compared to a 9-to-5!

We’re aiming for a fully paid travel lifestyle, hopefully by building onto more social platforms such as YouTube so we can tell our travel story through a different form of media that’s more popular and easier to monetize. We’re also hoping to use our influence to reach out to people about important subjects that we’re learning about on our travels, for example, NGO work that we’re proud to support.

What advice do you have for other women looking to leave behind their 9-to-5 in exchange for a more nomadic lifestyle?

Take the plunge! Working in the travel business is very much about putting yourself out there and trying new techniques and ideas; opportunities come to those who ask, and you can’t be disheartened if something doesn’t work out . We’re lucky to be part of such a huge and supportive network of travelers. Once you start experiencing new cultures, you begin to see that the cliché “work to live” is actually one that makes for a happier person; we’ve seen children in villages who don’t even have shoes on their feet but who have the happiest smiles you’ll ever see, and it really does put things into perspective.

Celinne Da Costa is a travel journalist and brand strategist currently couch surfing around the world via her social network. Follow her journey on and social @TheNomadsOasis.

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29Nov 2016

Beyond Biglaw: Making Your Points (Or: Some Tips About Credit-Card Rewards) – Above the Law

No, this is not a column on persuasion, even if that is a topic I have been doing a lot of reading on lately. Instead, in honor of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Gift Card Tuesday (in case anyone wants to start up a new holiday by sending a gift card today to a friend), I wanted to talk about actual points — as in the kind you earn for spending money on different credit cards. Personally, I have long enjoyed the “points hobby,” using credit-card sign-ups and other tricks to earn free or cheap travel for myself and my family. Living in New York City, spending money is never a problem, so I may as well get something of value for doing so in a thoughtful way.

As with many hobbies, the points game can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. While I have run into other lawyers who enjoy the game, the demands of maintaining a functional legal practice usually mean that even the most dedicated lawyers would fall into the category of hobbyists, rather than points professionals. Yes, the latter category exists, and there are a plethora of blogs dedicated to the hobby written from a number of different viewpoints by said professionals. (Beware, however, that many of the bloggers make their money by enticing readers to sign up for new credit cards through links on their website. It can be easy for newcomers to get in over their head and practice poor credit management, especially if they have busy lives. So tread carefully before jumping into this hobby.) Their guidance can be very helpful for hobbyists like myself who just want to maximize the returns on spending we are already doing.

At the same time, just like we all choose the ideal payment method for our personal purchases, it is important to remember that small law firms in particular can really benefit by maximizing the rewards for the spending they are doing. Unlike at Biglaw firms — where individual partners have little control over the firm’s spending — at smaller firms it is often the purview of one or more of the firm’s partners to make necessary purchases on behalf of the firm. Whether those purchases are for office supplies or marketing travel is irrelevant for purposes of this column. What I’d like to suggest is that by smartly allocating the firm’s spending to the appropriate credit cards, the firm can actually earn back some of the money it is spending anyway. That remuneration for spending using a particular credit card can be in the form of cash back, or points that can be used by the firm for other things.

credit card credit cards debit card money personal financeAs an initial matter, it is important for any law firm (even solos) to have at least one business credit card. Different practices can have different types of cash flow, and many firms will come upon the need to make a purchase on credit to help further the business. I am not advocating loading up the firm with credit-card debt, of course, since practices that require lines of credit would be better served getting that money from a bank in many cases. Instead, there are many routine (internet/telecom bills, filing fees, etc.) and occasional (travel, technology, etc.) purchases that firms make where paying via credit card can be of benefit to the firm (as long as you are not paying a premium for the privilege of charging a particular purchase, of course). Whether that benefit is some form of travel insurance, or an extended warranty, or simple cash back — it would be a shame for firms to miss out on those benefits by paying cash. Unlocking the door to those benefits is simple for many firms. They just need to pick a business credit card or two that fits the firm’s needs.

The right credit card or set of cards will be different for different firms. Some firms would benefit from cash-back cards, where a portion of every purchase is returned back in the form of cash or a statement credit. Other firms may benefit from travel points cards, whether they are issued by a hotel chain, an airline, or a bank that offers transferable points to a mix of travel providers. For example, because our firm has a nationwide practice in various federal courts, as well as a client base that is geographically distributed, we have always had a travel-focused firm credit card. The points we earn go to marketing travel, when we have somewhere to go on business but don’t want to spend cash to get there because it is not a client-reimbursed trip. Likewise, we have always had firm credit cards that provide other travel benefits, such as elite status with a hotel chain, or lounge access at airports. Considering our travel frequency, those benefits are most welcome.

Ultimately, every firm will have their own needs and desired benefits when it comes to the firm’s mix of credit cards. Coming from a Biglaw partnership, I can say this is not an issue that had much relevance while I was at Biglaw. But now that I am at a small firm, I want to maximize every possible benefit our firm can receive from credit-card issuers. Anything that takes away some of the sting of the firm’s expenses is worthwhile, and it is well worth the time investment (for someone at the firm, if not you) to learn the different credit-card options available before choosing the right one(s) for your firm. The points are there, you may as well grab a few.

Please feel free to send comments or questions to me at or via Twitter: @gkroub. Any topic suggestions or thoughts are most welcome.

Gaston Kroub lives in Brooklyn and is a founding partner of Kroub, Silbersher & Kolmykov PLLC, an intellectual property litigation boutique. The firm’s practice focuses on intellectual property litigation and related counseling, with a strong focus on patent matters. You can reach him at or follow him on Twitter: @gkroub.

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29Nov 2016

How to get extra rewards on Swagbucks through Social Media – Headlines & Global News

A hand puts a Bitcoin in a wallet, filled with dollar bills on August 14, 2015, in Berlin, Germany.


Swagbucks has always been providing SBs through various methods like Surveys, Daily Polls, Online Games and many more. Apart from these methods there is also an option to get extra rewards in your Swagbucks account.

It is also a most common and approachable way to receive those extra rewards for any of its users. The time spent to get these rewards is almost equal to nothing. If you do not feel like taking up a survey or playing a game then there is always Social Media to get those rewards and make up for the loss.


One of the best places to find special promotions is the Swagbucks blog, the blog is always updated with news and offers and it is the best place to find special promo codes. The company is also famous to pick up random followers and provide them with free SBs every now and then as per Mrs. January.

There are exclusive opportunities available on “The Swag Guy” or “The Swag Girl” blog. Users get lucky often by reading their blog.

To get even more access and grab those rewards follow Swagbucks on Twitter as they provide periodic SB codes according to the Frugal Girls.

Make sure to like their page on Facebook as well, since they post special codes and offers, this process is less time consuming and it will hardly take a few minutes to check their page each time you visit Facebook. Swagbucks users who have liked their Facebook page have got extra rewards over a period of time.

They also offer coupons by helping its users to save money at the store and together with the coupons you get extra rewards on your account. Following them on Instagram will also provide a chance to get some periodic SB codes.

This procedure is not that difficult after all because users normally use Social Media every day and spending a few minutes on the Swagbucks pages will definitely gain those extra rewards.

© 2016 HNGN, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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29Nov 2016

10 Travel Essentials That Make Great Holiday Gifts – Forbes

Four to five times a month, I’m wedged inside the metal cabin of an airplane—usually one of United’s—so I can fairly say I’ve tested dozens of products for their road-worthiness. From scarves to shoes to creams to electronics, all promising to make the journey more tolerable, some have won permanent spots on my packing list, while others have been banished to the basement of my NYC co-op. Fortunately, my building has a robust neighbor-to-neighbor recycling program. As they say, “one woman’s trash…”

To make the cut, most products serve multiple functions or at least maximize space and weight. Unless you’re Beyoncé, long gone are the days of steamer trunks overstuffed with voluminous, pretty things in anticipation of whimsical dinners on yachts or in Marrakech. Today’s traveler demands lightweight efficiency. Vetted over the last twelve months, here’s my take on the ten essentials.

Nike Free Shoes are flexible, lightweight and stylish enough for the street.

1. Nike Free Running Shoes

I’ve finally eliminated the internal debate over whether to allocate valuable luggage space to clunky, ugly, single purpose gym shoes that would likely never leave the bag. I’ve hunted years for a solution to this dilemma. Why couldn’t running shoes be lightweight, structurally flexible to save space, and fashionable enough for walking around a metropolitan city by day and dropping into a bar at night? At last, Nike delivered the answer with its Free line, and I’ve never looked back, lest I be forced to admit where exercise falls on my priority list.

Apply this sleep mask on overnight flights and arrive fresh-faced.

2. Amore Pacific Time Response Skin Renewal Sleeping Mask

Flights from NYC to Europe run overnight; a drag for those of us in coach struggling for a few precious moments of REM sleep before arriving too early to check in to a hotel room. Fortunately, I’ve discovered I can put my skin to work during those mentally restless hours: Amore Pacific’s night mask combats the drying cabin air and plumps my visage by arrival. I transfer a few scoops of product into a carry-on approved vial and apply at take-off. At least my skin won’t look as tired as I feel.

A Kelly Moore purse that hides your camera gear. (Photo by Kelly Moore)

3. Kelly Moore Camera Bags

Another dual-purpose essential, Kelly Moore has nailed the merging of design with function. As a female photographer, I had to choose between carrying my camera, lenses, phone, keys and wallet in an unattractive professional nylon bag or loose in the bottom of a purse or tote. Moore came along and combined the two. From the exterior, her bags appear as purses–cleverly hiding an interior that organizes photography gear. Features include removable padded baskets, adjustable dividers, lots of pockets, and the option to wear any bag in a messenger style.

Lucy “Do Everything” Cuffed Pant easily earns its name.

4. Lucy “Do Everything” Cuffed Pant

We’ve entered the era of yoga pant as evening wear. Well, not quite, but almost, especially when on the road. I want to be comfortable when I travel, so I appreciate how the fabrics of Lucy’s athletic line are soft and breathable, yet stylish enough to perform multiple functions. I can wear the featherweight “Do Everything” pant from the plane to a hike in the vineyard then out to dinner with the swap of a shoe and top. And Lucy just debuted the Indigo line: drawstring waistband sweatpants that look like jeans. Goodbye, button fly.

The ultralight down jacket by Patagonia goes everywhere with me.

5. Patagonia Ultralight Down Jacket

Unbeknownst to me when I bought it, a down puffer jacket is de rigeur in Italy, especially in the wine industry. And I spend a lot of time in Italy with winemakers, so serendipitously I blended right in. But fashion isn’t the reason I love it. Rather, it’s warm but weightless, stuffs into a handy little drawstring bag, and can serve as a pillow or lower back bolster on the plane. Perfection.

Everlane’s Black Pima Stretch Long-Sleeve T-Shirt, perfect for cold plane rides.

6. Everlane Tees

This relatively new clothing brand differentiated itself from the pack based on a promise of ethical transparency which they claim translates into fair pricing. While design (in-house), fit, quality, and thus durability, have varied wildly since launching, the current iteration of their tee shirt line–tanks, short and long sleeve–are perfect for travelers looking for inexpensive and expendable basics. My go-to top for flights is the $28 pima stretch long-sleeve in black since United keeps cabin temps just above freezing.

Together, the Lole Travel Mat and Yoga Paws make practicing on the road easy. (Photo by Lauren Mowery)

7. Yoga Paws

Earlier this year, I thought I had a lightbulb idea to make a kit of padded gloves and booties for practicing yoga on the go without a mat. I even had a clever name picked out. Further proof of the difficulty of having an original idea, when I searched to see if such a product existed, I discovered Yoga Paws. The product quickly became my favorite travel gear discovery of 2016. Mother-daughter team Gail and Jamie Getzwiller went through multiple prototypes before settling on the current two versions, thin and thick, the latter providing additional padded support. #wearyourmat

8. Lolë Travel Yoga Mat

A fellow frequent traveler and yogi turned me on to this Canadian brand. Lolë makes an ultrathin, ultralight mat at 72 x 24 x .4 inches, weighing 1.76 pounds. Don’t expect a lot of cushion or support, but it covers the bare ground and provides critical traction for poses. Because I rarely have time for a run and small hotels seldom offer gyms, starting the day with 15 minutes of stretches can make all the difference in beating jet lag and feeling invigorated. Lolë’s current model is on sale, while a newer mat (see photo above Yoga Paws) debuts in early 2017.

Raden’s A50 set in Navy Gloss (Image courtesy of Raden)

9. Raden Smart Luggage

Despite all the crap we endured in 2016, it was a breakthrough year for luggage. Several companies introduced high-tech models that weigh your haul, charge your phone, and provide a weather forecast for your destination. My personal fave is the Raden A-22 carry-on. The sleek, polycarbonate shell weighs 8.4 lbs and has TSA-approved dimensions at 22 x 14 x 9 inches. The case pairs with an app on my phone, glides effortlessly on four wheels, and makes travel through the airport a breeze. The major downside is the size of the battery pack which consumes precious interior space. I can’t use the A-22 for trips longer than a week or during winter when sweaters and coats become essential.

Moment Wide Angle Lens

10. Moment Wide Angle Lens

I travel with a lot of camera gear, but sometimes I want to snap a few shots on my iPhone and leave the DSLR behind in the hotel room; images I can use immediately on social media. The iPhone lens has limitations, so a slew of attachments have been released to address them, including glass from the Moment brand. Their line-up includes a wide angle, telephoto, and macro. While I didn’t test the macro, and found significant vignetting on the “tele”, I kept the wide angle in my arsenal. It allows me to shoot buildings, dining rooms, parks, and landscapes, comes in a soft pouch that doubles as a lens cloth, and is the size of a quarter.

Roman gold mine in Galicia, shot with my Moment Lens. (Photo by Lauren Mowery)

When she’s not in a vineyard or the ocean, Lauren Mowery covers drinks, food & adventure/luxury travel. Follow her around the world on Instagram and Twitter.

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29Nov 2016

Don't Have Your Credit Card Details Stolen This Holiday Season – Nasdaq

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Holiday shopping season is upon us. Many people have already bought gifts for their friends and family. If you’re one of those individuals and you used a credit card, you may not have put much thought behind the security of your purchases. Credit card data breaches are on the rise. Hotel chains and big retail stores have their payment databases Hackers and fraudsters are using elaborate methods to steal your data. However, that doesn’t mean you need to put all your money under a mattress and burn all your credit cards. As long as you stay on top of things, and keep a few tips in mind, you can avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

Don’t Save Your Payment Data

Have you saved all your payment data online so that your next checkout can be a lot quicker? You should delete it for two reasons. First and foremost is the security concern. If the e-merchant you store the credit card information with is compromised, your payment information may be leaked. Not every company adheres to the best security practices, and a data breach can happen to anyone. A giant database of credit card information is like a honeypot for hackers who can steal all of it and flip it for a profit. Many places will typically encrypt this information, so it becomes impossible for someone to steal without passing some strict verifications in place. However, some places will cut corners and not do any of this, making it easy for a third-party to break in and steal all the data.

Another reason to avoid saving credit card information is more practical, rather than security-oriented. You are less likely to commit impulse buys if you need to go through the process of entering your payment details. It’s an easy psychological trick that can prevent you from buying something you shouldn’t.

Unfortunately, even if you don’t choose to save payment information doesn’t mean your e-merchant didn’t store it somewhere anyway. This is where you need to rely on the next method for securing your credit card and debit card payments.

Monitor Your Credit Reports and Monthly Statements

Your next best defense mechanism against fraud is spotting it before it spirals out of control. To do that, you need to be diligent about monitoring your personal information. Keep an eye on your credit score, credit reports, and bills. If you notice anything unusual or out of place you should investigate. As long as you are quick about finding and reporting any fraud activity, any damages are almost guaranteed to be reversed. Even the information on your credit report can be amended, if you manage to prove it was the result of identity theft.

Use Mobile Payments Whenever Possible

One way your credit card information can be stolen is when hackers intercept the information that leaves your card when it’s swiped. While more advanced than some of the more common fraud methods, this is still a threat to contend with. Mobile payments, like Apple Pay, use what’s called tokenization to prevent this. Instead of sending over valuable card data, like the number and CVV, Apple sends an encrypted token that can only be transformed into actual data with the proper authorization. You won’t miss out on any points when you shop with mobile payments, so use them whenever available.

Does All This Mean You Should Avoid Credit and Pay With Cash Instead?

Absolutely not. Credit cards have enough fraud-prevention mechanisms built-in that you should feel safe paying with them. Additionally, the above methods we described for reducing your chances of becoming a victim don’t demand a lot of work on your part. Even if you put minimal thought and effort into being more security-conscious you will be in a good spot. That’s a small price to pay for all the benefits you can get out of card payments – including all the price protection, chargeback abilities, as well as rewards and cash back you can earn.

The article Don’t Have Your Credit Card Details Stolen This Holiday Season originally appeared on ValuePenguin.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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28Nov 2016

Are You A Frequent Flyer? Study Says Repeated Jet Lag May Increase Liver Cancer Risk – ScoopWhoop

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Are You A Frequent Flyer? Study Says Repeated Jet Lag May Increase Liver Cancer Risk
Are you a frequent flyer? If yes, then you ought to know that as per a recent study, repeated jet lag can increase the chances of obesity-related liver disease and the risk of liver cancer. The study, performed a team of Baylor College of Medicine in

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