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Hello? Is anyone listening? Have you ever felt like you are not being heard during meetings at work or that you're not even given the chance to participate? It can happen to anyone, but some people find it harder than others to get their point across. Frustrating? Indeed. Especially when you know you have valuable information to share that deserves the team's attention and consideration.

Before you throw in the towel and decide the fight just isn't worth it, understand that there are ways in which you can get your point across in meetings… and others will sit up and listen. It may take a few tries, but before you know it, you will become a pro at participation. Finally, your voice will be heard, and your ideas will become part of the big picture.

Prepare and Practice

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You'd likely practice before giving a presentation or speech, so why not put the same effort into what you would like to speak about at an upcoming meeting? You already have the agenda, so prepare beforehand with clear thoughts and a plan of action as to how you'll relay them. Not only will you be organized and ready to share, but you'll be better informed and caught up on business matters in general.

Forbes recommends, "Find a group outside of work where you can practice speaking or create your own group with friends and colleagues."

Be Front and Center

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If you are already having issues with being heard during meetings, sitting off to the side or in the back of the room won't do you any favors. Jump right in and make yourself seen before you make yourself heard. You'll be noticed by others and right there amid the action.

As Goodwill notes, "Positioning yourself near the center not only puts you in the middle of the conversation flow, but also subliminally reinforces that you're central to the discussion at hand." Sit up straight and exude confidence.

Choose Your Words Wisely

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When you are among a large group, there is little time for beating around the bush or speaking without purpose or clarity. Time is money, and your words are valuable. Make sure what you contribute will move the needle. Don't speak up just so you do not feel left out.

Forbes suggests the use of "power language." "Get to the point and be clear about what you want." Forget the "maybes" and "what ifs." Confidence is power, and your words are your allies.

Ask Questions

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You may not have something innovative to share at every meeting, but proving you are engaged in the discussion is important as well. Mindtools suggests "asking questions about what other attendees are saying. This shows you're attentive and interested."

By delving deep into the discussions and making sure you completely understand what's going on and what others' points of view are, you will be more informed and more likely to have something to bring to the table that others will want to absorb.

No Interruptions

It is inevitable that people will talk over one another during meetings, particularly as the head count goes up. Tact and respect can make this dynamic more palatable, but some people tend to be drowned out and steamrolled.

What to do? Speak up. If you are mid-thought, don't feel shy about asserting yourself and letting the team know that you're not done speaking. Goodwill suggests saying something along the lines of, "I'd love to hear your feedback, but wanted to finish saying one thing first." Your voice is just as important as everyone else's and you deserve your time to be heard.

Do you have advice for being heard in meetings? Which techniques have empowered you?

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Home garden and porch

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.

Lawn Care

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.

Paved Pathways

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.

Unfortunately, giving back can sometimes go haywire. If you're ready to make a donation, first consider common mistakes made when giving back.

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.