From Pokémon Go To Donald Trump, very little of 2016 felt predictable. Yet, even in that chaos, there were still trends --while companies, politics and pop stars change with the wind, trends remain eternal, twisting effervescently in the breeze.
Here's a solid five predictions for what's going to be big, trendwise, in 2017!
1. Brick and Mortars (or anything) that offer something!
Amazon didn't kill main street, despite still doing its best to thin it out. Borders went ages ago and Barnes & Noble is soon about to politely bow out, wine and dining-options be damned. But it's not just books that are suffering: Target's seen some serious losses this year and there were even whispers, earlier this year, that the behemoth that practically invented the contemporary big-box experience, Walmart, might have already seen its best days. What's surviving: Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, the corner indie bookstore. Why?
The other day, working a holiday shift at a nameless big-box store, an old woman asked me what I could recommend as a gift for her teenage daughter. Perhaps she spotted my hip and generational cool. Regardless, I told her to get herself to an Urban Outfitters and listen to what they told her. From music streaming services to direct retail, the one word that everyone is yelling in this age of information-overload is curation. Stitch Fix, for instance, gets it: it's a service that will literally put an outfit together based on the algorithms that you represent and sell it to you. Now that's cash: Stitch Fix brought in $250 million of revenue last year. Invest in places that are offering something you can't get on Amazon; in 2017 they're going to soar.
Will 2017 be the year Mary Jane becomes Everyday Jane? Forbes seems to think so, with Debra Borchardt, the magazine's self-described "retail and cannabis" expert, predicting, among other things, that the popular drug will inspire at least one network television show and at least one major league sports team to come behind the popular drug in the coming year. Personally, my money is on NASCAR. But maybe Lou Williams will be the one sporting a spliff, since Adam Bierman, of the cannabis investment firm MadMen, predicts that LA will become the "the marijuana capital of the world." Bierman estimates that LA's medicinal cannabis market is already worth somewhere near $1 billion and with California, having passed Proposition 64, legalizing recreational use of weed, back in November, expect that green to flow.
Apps, apps and more apps! Remember when the coolest thing was to be investing money in somebody's idea for an app, finding the engineers in Belarus, and pouring champagne over your empire in the morning? Come 2017, it will be the most profitable thing: "Even Your Grandma Will Use Grubhub," is Fortune's line on the matter and they're not just talking about the single-tap food delivery empire whose active user base grew by 19% in 2016. Fortune also predicts that Slack, the workplace chat app that slipped into 2016 and replaced every workplace conversation ever, will get a major purchase offer by one of the big tech giants. It's time for all those smart investments to make some serious bank.
4. Investing young!
Among many other things, 2016 will also be remembered as the year that the millennials took over, literally. A few months back, Pew Research confirmed this: "Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation's largest living generation," per the latest census data. Ian Altman, among the old people of Forbes, knows what this means: "Just like past generations, millennials will emerge as the next set of managers and executives." What will this mean, besides giving any spare cash you have to the nearest person younger than you? Businesses associated with the aged will be in or are already in decline: health care, car sales. Where's the money: ZipCar, Uber (see: apps!) and companies with young leadership--like Stefan Larsson, of Ralph Lauren, who's barely in his forties, or even someone like Sean Kelly, 29, who founded a brand of vending machines that specialized in health products or Aaron Bell, who started out as a developer for Microsoft at the age of 15 and now runs an advertisement retargeting software company that's worth over $34 million. Keep an eye out for them.
Just this November, Sony's Playstation launched its first VR interface to massive success, followed quickly by Google's Daydream View which is set to generate millions for their parent company in 2017. But even before those platforms took command of the zeitgeist, the absurd and sudden popularity of a game like Pokemon Go showed how much interest there was in using something as basic as an app to augment everyday reality into a social and capitalizable experience. And Google's quick foray into the field suggests that VR developers have goals greater than video games. Daryl Plummer, Chief of Research at Gartner, a technology research company, goes long: "by 2020, 100 million consumers will shop in augmented reality," he told Forbes. What's in store for the year ahead? Plummer predicts that at least one global brand will be using some augmented reality platform for sales by the end of the year. They will probably deserve your money.
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As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.
Extensive Plants and Greenery
A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.
As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.
There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.
Usable Outdoor Furniture
Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.
A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.
Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.
Acting Quickly Out of Emotion
Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.
Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.
Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation
Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.
If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.
Donating Unusable Materials
Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.
Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.
Strictly Giving at Year's End
As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.
With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.
Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.
The Age of Your House
Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.
The One-Percent Rule
An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.
The Square-Foot Rule
Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.
The Mix and Match Method
Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.
Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.