Medical Alert Alarms

Medical alert systems allow seniors to stay independent while making sure help is available when needed. The devices can help prevent further injury or death after a fall or other emergency. Here are our top 4 options.

Top pick: Medical Guardian

  • Free activation and free installation 
  • Free spouse monitoring with purchase of second pendant

Medical Guardian offers a top-quality service that is highly valued by its customers. With a monitoring center that is TMA Five Diamond Certified and a wide range of products to suit many different needs and lifestyles, Medical Guardian will provide the protection you need and the service you want.

At-home options include the Classic and Home models, for landlines and cell service connections, respectively. The Mobile Guardian offers help on the go with a wearable button and a mobile device that must be within 350 feet of the button for full functionality. 

The Active Guardian is an all-in-one wearable device that has both GPS and Wi-Fi capability along with a two-way speaker to speak with an operator. 

  • Price: $29.95-$49.95 per month
  • Monitoring center: TMA Five Diamond Certification, UL-listed 
  • Services: In-home and on-the-go
  • Equipment: Landline or cell signal via AT&T cell service
  • In-home range: 600 feet (Home model), 1,300 feet (Classic model)
  • Activation fee: None
  • Equipment fee: None (except the Mini Guardian which is a one-time fee of $124.95)
  • Battery life: Mobile pendant battery lasts up to five days. In-home station offers 32-hour backup battery in case of power outage
  • Contract required: None
  • Automatic fall detection: $10 per month
  • Special features: Wearable wrist button, automatic fall detection, wall-mounted buttons, voice-activated wall-mounted buttons, mobile app for family members

Best customer service: MobileHelp

  • Risk-free trial for 30 days
  • Free quote

MobileHelp and One Call Alert are two companies under the same ownership, and both provide great products to meet your monitoring needs. The equipment and services offered are the same, but pricing may differ slightly. The monitoring center for both is managed by Rapid Response and while it does not carry the TMA Five Diamond designation, it sets high standards for excellence. You can read more about the monitoring center on MobileHelp's site.

The element that sets both MobileHelp and One Call Alert apart from the competition is customer satisfaction. Both companies receive some of the highest customer reviews in the industry, and their customer service is second to none.

  • Price: $19.95-$44.95 per month
  • Monitoring center: UL-listed, Security Industry Association Certification
  • Services: In-home and on-the-go
  • Equipment: Landline or cell signal via AT&T cell service
  • In-home range: 1,300 ft (Classic); 1,400 ft (Wired Home)
  • Activation fee: None
  • Equipment fee: None
  • Battery life: At-home base station has 24-hour battery life in case of power outage. Mobile battery lasts up to three days
  • Contract required: None
  • Automatic fall detection: $10 per month
  • Special features: MobileHelp Connect app for notification and tracking for family members

Best mobile devices: Bay Alarm Medical

  • Risk-free trial for 30 days,
  • Free spouse coverage

Bay Alarm Medical is one of our top picks for its combination of high-quality service at an excellent price point with innovative features you won't find with the competition. The company offers an array of reliable in-home and on-the-go devices that can be used via landline or cell signal, and its emergency monitoring center is certified with the best quality ratings. Customer reviews indicate a high degree of satisfaction with the company and its service.

Bay Alarm Medical's mobile devices, the SOS Smartwatch, the On the Go Help Button, and the Splitsecnd® In-Car Alert­, are what set this company apart from the rest. The SOS Smartwatch offers a convenient, easy-to-wear solution for older adults who are still active. When you compare the real-life experience of wearing this watch versus other clunky mobile devices that often have to hang around your neck, there is no comparison. 

Some mobile monitoring services require a user not only to carry a mobile button but also to bring a mobile base wherever they go, and they must remain within a few hundred feet of the base for full functionality. Bay Alarm Medical's On the Go Help button is smaller and easier to use than its competitors and doesn't require any other hardware to go along with you.

The Splitsecnd® In-Car Alert­ is a feature that isn't offered by the other companies on our list. You can place this device in your car and forget about it, but you get 24/7 in-car monitoring with location tracking and automatic crash detection that will send help within seconds of an accident. Bay Alarm Medicals's state-of-the-art devices make it easier and more convenient to stay protected no matter where you are.

  • Price: $19.95-$39.95 per month
  • Monitoring center: TMA Five Diamond Certification, UL-listed
  • Services: In-home and on-the-go
  • Equipment: Landline or cell signal via AT&T cell service
  • In-home range: 1,000 feet
  • Activation fee: None
  • Equipment fee:  
    • At-home service: None
    • Mobile service: One-time charge of $79 for GPS Help button; one-time charge of $179 for SOS Smartwatch
  • Battery life: Pendants have five-year battery life with no recharging. In-home station offers 32-hour backup battery in case of power outage. Fall detection pendants have 12- to 24-month battery life
  • Contract required: None
  • Automatic fall detection: $10 per month
  • Special features: automatic fall detection, location tracking, caregiver tracking, automatic crash detection, personalized fashion necklaces to cover pendants, savings for bundled services

Best warranty: Medical Alert

  • 30-day money-back guarantee,
  • Lifetime warranty on equipment

Medical Alert provides everything you need in an emergency alert system. With an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and excellent customer reviews, you can be sure you're getting a quality product. The company earns the highest certifications for their 24/7 emergency monitoring center and offers Home and Mobile systems with long battery life and lifetime equipment warranties. A free mobile app for caregivers provides peace of mind for those wanting to ensure safety and security for their loved ones. Starting at $19.95 per month, Medical Alert offers excellent quality at a price point lower than many competitors. 

  • Price: $19.95-$42.95
  • Monitoring center: TMA Five Diamond Certification, UL-listed
  • Services: In-home and on-the-go
  • Equipment: Landline or cell signal via AT&T cell service
  • In-home range: up to 800 feet
  • Activation fee: None
  • Equipment fee: None
  • Battery life: 
    • At-home device: 36-hour backup battery in case of power outages 
    • Mobile devices: battery life up to five days 
  • Contract required: None
  • Automatic fall detection: $10 per month
  • Special features: Mobile app for caregivers, automatic fall alert detection, wearable wrist button

(sources: health.com, caring.com)

Pet Insurance

Are you interested in purchasing insurance coverage that will help pay for veterinary expenses necessary for taking care of your pet?

Below we will provide you with answers to your questions, and our two top choices.

Questions to consider may include:

  • Does the coverage offered have exclusion for preexisting conditions? If so, the insurer will likely not pay for treatment for any condition for which the pet owner has received medical advice or the pet has received treatment prior to enrollment in a new pet insurance policy.
  • Is there a waiting or affiliation period, which means the period of time specified in a pet insurance policy which must pass before some or all of the coverage in the policy can begin? If so, any costs for treatment provided before the end of the waiting period will not be covered by the policy.
  • Does the coverage exclude costs for treatment of a hereditary disorder, which means an abnormality that is genetically transmitted from parent to offspring and may cause illness or disease? If your pet has a hereditary disorder, such as a hip dysplasia, the insurer will not pay for treatment related to that disorder.
  • Does the coverage exclude costs for a congenital anomaly or disorder, which means a condition that is present from birth, whether inherited or caused by the environment, and which may cause or otherwise contribute to illness or disease? If your pet has a health issued identified as a congenital anomaly or disorder the insurer will not pay for treatment related to that disorder.
  • Is there a deductible or coinsurance clause that causes any claim reimbursement to be reduced by a set amount? Your veterinarian will expect you to pay the amount of any deductible or coinsurance percentage.
  • Is there an annual or lifetime policy limit that will cap the amount that will be paid for veterinary services? If so you need to consider whether the coverage is a reasonable investment in terms of premium paid versus total benefit available.
  • Will the renewal premium be increased if a claim is made? If so, you might want to know what is the amount of increase that takes place.
  • Is there a basis for reimbursement or formula for payment for veterinary services other than the actual amount of the billed services? Examples include claims payments based upon a standardized schedule of costs or a schedule of “usual and customary” charges in the industry for the services provided. Your veterinarian will expect you to pay the balance of any billed amount not paid by the insurer.

Here are our two top picks:

1. BEST OVERALL- Pet Assure

Why We Chose It

While Pet Assure doesn’t fall under the standard pet insurance umbrella, its low cost and flexibility make it our top pick for owners of all types of pets.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Low monthly fees
  • Covers all types of pets
  • No annual limits or deductibles
  • Not subject to waiting periods
  • Pays for pre-existing conditions

Cons

  • Limited to in-network veterinarians (which number about 5,600)
  • Covers only 25% of costs
  • Prescriptions not covered

Coverage

Pet Assure offers plans for a single cat, a single dog, a family plan for up to four animals of any size, and an unlimited plan for all pets in your household. Best of all, there’s no waiting period before you can use your coverage. All of Pet Assure’s plans come with discounted veterinary services, including treatments related to:

  • Accidents
  • Illnesses
  • Preventive care
  • Pre-existing conditions

Pricing

Pet Assure insurance is pretty affordable, plus there is no deductible. You can save some money on your policy if you choose the annual billing option. These are the rates for each insurance plan:

  • Single cat plan: $9.95 per month 
  • Single dog plan: $11.95 per month
  • Family plan: $16.95 per month
  • Unlimited plan: $21.95 per month

Usage

Instead of paying for veterinary costs in full and out-of-pocket, Pet Assure members simply need to visit a participating veterinarian and present their membership information to get discounted services. The Pet Assure network limits you to one of more than 5,600 participating vets spread throughout the country and will reimburse 25% of veterinary costs.

  • Deductibles: None
  • Annual limits: None
  • Copays: 75%
  • Waiting period: None
  • Network size: 5,600 providers

2. BEST FOR DISCOUNTS- GEICO

Why We Chose It

GEICO offers more pet insurance discounts than any other competitor, including lower rates for paying in advance, enrolling multiple pets, and spaying or neutering your dog or cat.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Generous discounts available
  • Low monthly premiums
  • Flexible policy terms
  • Offers wellness benefits

Cons

  • Policies administered by a third party
  • Wellness plans carry little value
  • Limited online resources
  • No option for unlimited benefits

Coverage

GEICO offers one pet insurance policy, and it’s underwritten by Embrace, another company on this list that strictly offers pet insurance. You can begin using your coverage 14 days after enrollment begins. GEICO’s pet insurance policies will reimburse up to $30,000 for the cost of treatments related to:

  • Accidents
  • Broken bones
  • Swallowed objects
  • Illnesses
  • Dental issues
  • Cancer treatment

Pricing

GEICO pet insurance starts at $68 per year, but you can get a quote online to see how much it will cost for your pet specifically. You can choose a deductible between $200 to $1,000, and choosing a higher deductible can help you lock in a lower monthly rate.

Additionally, GEICO offers a handful of discounts for pet owners. There are savings for pets that are spayed or neutered. You can also get a lower rate by paying your entire annual premium upfront, and enrolling more than one pet on your policy. 

Usage

GEICO doesn’t have any restrictions on where you can use your pet insurance coverage, which means you can take your dog or cat to any licensed veterinarian in the country. You can also file claims directly through Embrace’s website. However, you must wait 14 days before you can use the coverage at the vet’s office. Plus, your pet must have visited a vet within the last year in order to enroll. 

  • Deductibles: $200 to $1,000
  • Annual limits: Up to $30,000
  • Copays: 10% to 30%
  • Waiting period: 14 days for accidents and illnesses
  • Network size: Unlimited

(sources: insurance.ca.gov, investopedia.com )

Tax Relief Programs

Tax relief companies typically offer to help taxpayers in distress. Some of them can be helpful if you’re confused about the process or need help filling out forms. Here are out top 3 Tax reliefs companies. 

BEST OVERALL: Precision Tax Relief

Precision Tax Relief comes out a clear winner across all categories, including the company’s generous money-back guarantee, transparent pricing, and convenient communications channels. We found this to be the most trustworthy tax relief company that we evaluated.

Pros

  • Offers a 30-day money-back guarantee
  • All-inclusive flat-rate fee
  • Customer service available by phone, text, email, and live chat
  • In business since 2011

Cons

  • Doesn’t handle standalone state tax debt
  • No tax audit representation
  • Limited online resources

Reputable tax relief companies are hard to come by, but Precision Tax Relief rose to the top in nearly every aspect of our analysis. First and foremost is the company’s 30-day money-back guarantee, one of the longest in the industry. This guarantees a return of your funds if you’re not happy with the service provided during the first month.

The company bases its pricing on a flat-rate fee that is presented during a free consultation. The only way your fee will increase is if the scope of work changes from your initial quote due to new information that was not provided during your consultation. Payment options are flexible with a choice between one lump-sum payment or a zero-interest payment plan. Precision does not require that clients have a minimum debt amount. However, a call with their customer service department revealed that their base service fee may not be worth it for taxpayers who owe less than $10,000 with no other variables. However,  they only take on cases if the possible debt relief makes the service fees worthwhile for clients.

Precision Tax Relief has been in business since 2011 and offers convenient customer service options via phone, text message, email, and live chat. The company is certified by the American Society of Tax Problem Solvers (ASTPS), which is awarded to CPAs with a proven ability to solve a range of problems with the IRS.

The company does have a few limitations. For example, they don’t offer tax audit representation, a service available from many competitors. Precision Tax Relief also won’t handle state tax debt on its own; it works exclusively with federal taxes owed to the IRS.  

BEST GUARANTEE: Anthem Tax Services

Anthem Tax Services’ money-back guarantee is the only one of its kind in the tax relief industry. The guarantee has no time limit and promises to return your fees should the company fail to make any change to your IRS tax debt repayment schedule.

Pros

  • Offers a money-back guarantee with no time limit
  • Payment plans available
  • Accredited by NATP and NAEA

Cons

  • Money-back guarantee doesn’t ensure reduced total payment amount
  • Mixed customer reviews
  • No consumer education focus

Many tax relief companies don’t offer a money-back guarantee at all. Others offer a full refund for the first 14 or even 30 days. Anthem Tax Services, however, offers a unique, no-time-limit guarantee. If the IRS refuses to reduce either your total debt or your monthly payment amount, the company will refund any fees paid for its services.

One important note here: Anthem Tax Services’ money-back guarantee doesn’t constitute a promise to reduce your total tax liability to the IRS. It’s entirely possible that the company will only be able to reduce your current monthly payment, meaning you’ll still have the same amount of debt, it will just be paid back in smaller amounts over a longer period of time. This may reduce the immediate financial burden but won’t save you any money in the long term.

Anthem Tax Services charges a flat-rate fee that is determined on a case-by-case basis. This fee can be broken down into a payment plan for those who can’t afford to pay upfront. The company is accredited by both the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP) and the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA).

We did notice a handful of customer reviews for Anthem Tax Services complaining about a lack of regular communication and updates. While reviews are still overall positive, with the company earning four out of five stars on most review sites, this is something to keep in mind. If you do decide to contact Anthem, it might be a good idea to ask upfront about what you can expect in terms of communications and updates from your case manager. You can contact Anthem by visiting the company's website or calling 844-377-6553.

BEST FOR LARGE TAX DEBT: Fortress Tax Relief

If you have a large tax debt, standard percentage-based fees will vastly overcharge you compared to the amount of work required for your case. Fortress Tax Relief’s hourly-based fee structure gives you the best opportunity for savings with a major IRS tax debt.

Pros

  • No percentage-based fee structure
  • Offers a monetary customer service guarantee
  • Handles state tax debt in all 50 states

Cons

  • Minimum tax debt of over $10,000
  • Not accredited by any industry organizations
  • Limited business services

It’s common for tax relief companies to calculate fees based on a percentage of the overall tax debt you currently owe to the IRS. With large tax debt, this can quickly add up to an exorbitant amount that doesn’t reflect the number of hours required to resolve a higher-debt case. For example, a $20,000 debt probably won’t take twice the amount of work to resolve compared to a $10,000 debt.

Fortress Tax Relief offers a unique approach by generating quotes based on the estimated time required. Hourly fees for an attorney vary, but typical EA hourly rates range from $100-$200 per hour. For consumers with large amounts of tax debt, this means you’ll probably pay significantly less than you would with percentage-based tax relief companies. (Still, it never hurts to get a few quotes from different companies just to make sure).

There are a few other perks to working with Fortress Tax Relief, including their comprehensive customer service guarantee. Clients with active cases are guaranteed to have their phone calls and emails returned within two business days. If the company fails to meet this promise more than once, the client will receive a $100 account credit for each subsequent occurrence.

While Fortress Tax Relief provides individual state tax debt services in all 50 states, its business services are relatively limited. The company is also not a member of any of the common industry accreditation organizations.

(sources: investopedia.com, nerdwallet.com)

Top Home Security Systems

Investing in a home security system can improve home safety and help protect your home from break-ins and theft. Keep reading to learn about the best home security systems and find a solution that’s right for you.

1. Vivint

If you want a beautifully designed security system that works even better than it looks, then Vivint is for you. That is with the caveat that you’re also a homeowner, and you don’t mind paying for professional installation. Renters, look away, this one’s not your best option.

Why we chose Vivint

Everything Vivint does, it does well. Where other alarm companies offer a hodgepodge of third-party equipment, Vivint designs its own stuff. Where some options, like ADT, have good equipment but so-so cameras, Vivint’s cameras have some of the best features on the market, including video analytics and 4K image sensors (as well as more standard fare like motion detectors, two-way audio, and night vision).

Vivint also has professional installation, so you don’t have to break a sweat setting up your system. And it has full smart home support, so you can automate everything from your door locks to your bedside lamp.

If you want a security system that will protect your home and also make your neighbors say, “Wow, where’d you get that?” then Vivint’s got what you need.

2. SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe changed the way home security companies do things. It lets you order online instead of getting on the phone, it doesn’t do contracts, and it’s super affordable. We love that SimpliSafe makes it easy to set up a basic security system yourself without draining your savings in the process.

Why we chose SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe is perfect if you want a well-known brand that will protect your house but for way less money than you’d pay for the ADT’s of the world. Most people know the name “SimpliSafe” by now (potential burglars included), and it makes it cheap and easy to set up an alarm system in your house.

Plus, SimpliSafe is no slouch on the equipment front. You can find everything from window sensors to leak detectors to carbon monoxide sensors.

3. ADT

Everyone knows ADT. It’s been in business for over a century, and it’s available all across the US (and a few other countries as well. For any Canadians out there, it’s one of the most popular alarm systems in Canada.)

If what you want is the system with the most clout, then ADT delivers. Potential burglars will see the yard sign and skip your house faster than you can say, “break-in.” Not to mention, ADT uses professional installation so you don’t have to do the work yourself.

Why we chose ADT

Aside from its famous name, ADT also has a wide range of security equipment to protect your home. And the system requires professional installation, so you don’t have to worry about sticking sensors on your doors backward or something.

ADT also works with Z-Wave and supports a bunch of different smart home devices as well as some indoor and outdoor cameras. But you have to subscribe to the right monitoring plan to get support for stuff like that.

4. Frontpoint

Frontpoint’s system works for just about everyone: big house or small house, renter or homeowner, technophile or aspiring Luddite. We like Frontpoint’s simple, secure equipment and its smart home features (especially the Yale smart door lock). Just expect to pay a bit more for the monitoring service.

Why we chose Frontpoint

Frontpoint is friendly. Its customers routinely leave glowing reviews,2,3 and our own experience with Frontpoint’s reps has always been that they’re helpful and easy to talk to.

If you’ve ever tried to call in to something like your internet service provider and had a horrible customer experience (*cough* Comcast *cough*), then you know how important it is to have good support when something goes awry. And Frontpoint is like the Tom Hanks of home security companies—just so nice, you know?

If you’re having trouble installing your doorbell camera or telling your door sensor from your flood sensor, Frontpoint has a bunch of support resources on its website. And you can even contact its reps through social media platforms like Twitter if that’s your jam.

5. Brinks Home

Brinks smart home security equipment comes with some pretty neat monitoring alerts.

Why we chose Brinks Home

False alarms can be a huge pain in the you-know-what. If you have enough false alarms that make their way to police dispatch, you might even have to pay a fine. That’s why most monitoring centers will try to call you before they get the cops involved when your alarm system goes off.

Brinks takes that a step farther, though, and can contact you through text message, phone, or email, depending on which one you prefer. If, like us, you avoid answering your phone as much as possible, then text messages might be a better way to reach you. Brinks can also notify other people on your contact list in case you don’t pick up.

6. Cove

Cove is like a slightly fancier version of SimpliSafe. Both systems cost exactly the same, but if you like the look of a touchscreen control panel, then Cove will give your style a bit of a boost.

We still recommend SimpliSafe overall because it has a wider range of equipment, and offers a doorbell camera. But Cove is a nice alternative for people who want something affordable yet sleek.

Why we chose Cove

Cove’s equipment doesn’t just look good, it’s also super easy to set up, and it’s backed by good customer support.

Cove has a full range of support articles and videos in case you get stuck while you’re setting things up, but we doubt you’ll need them.

(sources: reviews.org, usnews.com )

Top Games – PC and Mobile

Finding the highest rated games isn’t easy. Whether you like to game on your phone or your PC, we put together a list of our best PC and phone games to help you find these top rated games.  Here is our list.

Best PC games

1. Mass Effect Legendary Edition

After an underwhelming entry on the last generation of consoles, the original Mass Effect trilogy has returned with a remastered edition for the PC, as well as the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

This isn't just a new coat of paint on the old games though. Bioware has tweaked the controls and gameplay to make all three titles play smoothly. And yes, that includes the infamous Mako tank from the first game.

To complete the package, all the games include all the DLC too, be it just guns and armor or a full story expansion. With so much high quality content to enjoy, this is unquestionably one of the best PC games around right now.

2. Little Nightmares II

A sequel that's just as good as the original, Little Nightmares II once again puts you in the shoes of a vulnerable kid trying to escape the clutches of monstrous adults. This time you're not alone though. You play as Mono, the boy wearing a paper bag, but you're joined by Six, the girl with the yellow jacket who starred in the original game.

As you'd expect, there are enemies to avoid or fight, plus lots of environmental hazards and traps to work your way around. The visual design and sound design are as atmospheric as ever, which helps create a baseline sense of unease as you traverse the Pale City. It's on the shorter sides of these best PC games, but it's still all too memorable.

3. Nioh 2 – The Complete Edition

Many aspiring nurses earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN), providing them with the education they need for a registered nurse (RN) license. Earning an ADN typically takes degree-seekers about two years, allowing them to begin their entry-level nursing careers sooner.

ADN graduates often pursue a BSN after satisfying their associate requirements. Some schools offer ADN-to-BSN bridge programs, enabling enrollees with an associate degree to earn their bachelor’s degree sooner than traditional bachelor’s students. Learners can explore a variety of program options to earn their associate degree, with unique course requirements.

4. Hades

After hiding on the Epic Games Store as an exclusive early access title since late 2018, Hades has now finally launched as a full product on other platforms, and quickly became recognized as one of the best PC games around. This is a rare combination of a roguelike game with a comprehensive, branching story. You, playing as Hades' son Zagreus, have to continually fight your way through Hades (the place, not your father) over and over until you make it to Mount Olympus.

The other famous gods of the Greek pantheon are also there for you to interact with. They serve as both characters in the story and as your method of upgrading your character with powers and abilities that reflect their place in the pantheon. Each run means trying out a new combination of these gifts, and every failure still moves you forward.

5. Microsoft Flight Simulator

None of the other best PC games on this list offer you the whole world to play with, but the latest flight sim from Microsoft gives you exactly that, with both a mind-boggling scale and a meticulously detailed hangar of aircraft to pilot. 

You have the choice of both light aircraft or huge passenger jets, letting you play as a lone amateur aviator or the captain of a commercial flight. The game promises to model their flight characteristics accurately, which are affected by real-time weather and daylight effects, so it'll be difficult to get a better idea of flying one of these machines without actually stepping into the cockpit in real life

While you can nerd out over every single setting and control of your plane, you can also let the game take care of the tricky stuff while you enjoy flying around, seeing landmarks from across the globe or touching down at one of the game's many detailed airports. 

Top phone games 2021

1. Among Us

Among Us dominated the gaming world in 2020 as the perfect, paranoid, quarantine pastime, even though it technically launched in 2018. As you and your fellow astronaut friends work together to fix your spaceship, secret saboteurs work to quietly kill you all. Whether you use good old-fashioned social manipulation to flush out the truth, or lie your head off to continue the ruse, trust nothing and no one.

2. Arena of Valor

On PCs, the MOBA market is completely dominated by Dota 2 and League of Legends. On mobile, however, the playing field is a little more even. Arena of Valor, from Chinese megacorporation Tencent, is one of the best ways you can enjoy this truly bizarre real-time strategy genre on the go.

3. Crossy Road

Give me any device that plays Crossy Road, and I will absolutely try to get that chicken across the road again. The Frogger formula works wonderfully as a methodical endless runner. The colorful voxel look is iconic, and chickens are just inherently funny.

4. Downwell

In Downwell, you plummet down randomized stages using guns strapped to your feet. The goal? Pull off the most stylish runs possible before death. Bullets not only kill enemies, but help you hover in the air for crucial repositioning. The levels themselves are retro and mostly monochrome, save for the occasional red splashes. The vertical orientation really sells the feeling of falling.

5. Final Fantasy VII

Before you play the big-budget remake on PlayStation 4, experience the original game that elevated Final Fantasy from popular JRPG to beloved cultural institution. In this mobile Final Fantasy VII, Cloud and his friends may not have as many polygons as their console and PC counterparts, but they have just as much heart. New cheat codes make it easy to experience the story, without getting bogged down in battles.

(sources: tomsguide.com, pcmag.com)

Weight Loss Plans

There are many weight loss programs available, making it easy to find something that can work for you. When picking a diet, look for a program that’s realistic, sustainable, and backed by research.

Best overall

1. Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is inspired by the eating patterns of countries like Italy, Spain, and Greece.

A well-rounded Mediterranean diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, proteins, and healthy fats.

Meanwhile, added sugars and foods that have been heavily processed or refined are restricted.

Although the diet isn’t specifically designed for weight loss, many studies have demonstrated that following the Mediterranean Diet could lead to weight loss.

For example, one analysis of 16 studies showed that those who paired the Mediterranean diet with physical activity and calorie restriction lost significantly more weight than those in a control group.

Plus, other research suggests that the Mediterranean Diet may help prevent chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

For an easy resource to help get you started on the Mediterranean diet, check out “The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook,” which features a variety of delicious recipes and in-depth information about the diet.

2. Plant-based Diet

Plant-based diets encourage you to eat foods from plants, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, and legumes.

Unlike vegan or vegetarian diets, most plant-based diets don’t eliminate meat or animal products entirely. However, these foods are only enjoyed in moderation and not generally considered to be the main focus of the diet.

Plant-based diets are particularly rich in fiber — the parts of plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are resistant to digestion. Fiber helps keep you full between meals to promote weight loss.

According to one review of 12 studies, people who followed a plant-based vegetarian diet lost an average of 4.5 pounds (2 kg) more than those who followed a non-vegetarian diet over 18 weeks.

Another review of 32 studies found that plant-based diets were more effective for weight loss, compared with conventional diets, and even led to greater improvements in blood sugar control, cholesterol levels, and inflammation.

Best for Diabetes

3. Carb-restricted Diet

Carb-restricted diets are often recommended to help support blood sugar control and increase weight loss among those with type 2 diabetes.

There are many types of carb-restricted diets, but most of them involve limiting the consumption of foods that are high in sugar or carbs, such as desserts, candy, bread, and pasta.

Although some carb-restricted diets, such as the Atkins or ketogenic diet, also require significantly reducing your carb consumption to 20–50 grams per day, low carb diets are defined as any diet comprising less than 130 grams of carbs per day.

One study in 49 people with type 2 diabetes found that a low carb diet was more effective at improving blood sugar levels than a low fat diet. What’s more, it led to reductions in cholesterol and body mass index (BMI) after 3 months.

Another study in 124 people with type 2 diabetes found that following a low carb, high fat diet was linked to improved blood sugar control and increased weight loss, compared with a control group.

4. Mayo Clinic Diet

The Mayo Clinic diet is an eating plan originally developed by experts at the Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit hospital system that’s considered to be a leader in medical research.

The Mayo Clinic diet is focused on developing healthy habits like eating breakfast every day, exercising daily, and keeping a food journal.

It also promotes nutritious ingredients, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, while limiting added sugars and saturated fat from full fat dairy and high fat meats.

Although there aren’t any peer-reviewed studies on the Mayo Clinic diet specifically, studies show that following a diet high in fiber and low in saturated fat may aid weight loss and blood sugar control.

Other research suggests that reducing your intake of saturated fat or added sugars may also enhance your body’s ability to use insulin, the hormone that’s responsible for carrying sugar from your bloodstream into your cells.

Best for PCOS

5. Low Carb Diet

Low carb diets involve restricting your intake of carbs, including high carb foods like bread, pasta, and sweets.

Some research suggests that reduced sensitivity to insulin may play a role in the development of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

As such, low carb diets are often recommended to improve insulin sensitivity and help manage symptoms of PCOS.

One review of eight studies showed that following a low carb diet could help increase weight loss and improve hormone levels in women with PCOS.

What’s more, another review of seven studies showed that low carb diets could help balance hormones and improve fertility in women with PCOS.

6. Anti-inflammatory Diet

Anti-inflammatory diets emphasize foods rich in nutrients that have been shown to fight inflammation, including antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.

These diets are rich in foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. They also typically limit processed products, fried foods, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Studies show that increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, vegetables, and nuts may be beneficial for weight loss.

In addition to promoting weight loss, following an anti-inflammatory diet may help alleviate symptoms of PCOS.

In fact, high levels of inflammation are thought to contribute to symptoms of PCOS and may be associated with increased levels of androgens, or male sex hormones.

One study in 100 women with PCOS found that pairing a calorie-restricted, anti-inflammatory diet with regular physical activity for 12 weeks significantly increased weight loss and improved hormone levels, menstrual cycle regularity, blood sugar control, and fertility.

Best for Heart Health

7. DASH Diet

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is an eating plan intended to promote weight loss, reduce blood pressure levels, and protect against heart disease.

The diet promotes nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

Meanwhile, red meat and foods high in added sugar, salt, or fat are limited.

According to one review of 13 studies, participants who followed the DASH diet lost more weight and belly fat than those following other calorie-restricted diets for 8–24 weeks.

The DASH diet has likewise been shown to decrease levels of blood pressure, total cholesterol, and LDL (bad) cholesterol — all of which are risk factors for heart disease.

8. TLC Diet

The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet is a plan developed by the National Cholesterol Education Program to support healthy cholesterol levels.

On the TLC diet, foods high in fat and dietary cholesterol are limited, while foods high in soluble fiber — a type of fiber that dissolves in water — are encouraged.

The diet also recommends aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily.

Increasing your intake of soluble fiber and adding more physical activity into your routine are two common strategies for promoting weight loss.

Plus, several older studies have even found that the TLC diet can decrease levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and enhance immune function.

Best for Vegetarians

9. Ornish Diet

The Ornish Diet is a low fat, plant-based eating pattern that promotes nutritious ingredients like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

While weight control is not the primary goal of the Ornish Diet, multiple studies have found that it may be effective for long-term weight loss.

For example, one study in 311 women showed that participants who followed the Ornish Diet for 12 months lost an average of 5 pounds (2.2 kg).

Another small study found that the Ornish Diet was more effective for weight loss than other popular diet plans like Atkins and the ZONE Diet, resulting in 7.5 pounds (3.3 kg) of weight loss after 1 year.

Keep in mind that the Ornish Diet restricts fat intake quite a bit and limits the consumption of several healthy foods like nuts, seeds, and oils. Thus, careful planning is necessary to ensure that you’re meeting your nutritional needs while following the Ornish Diet.

(sources: cnet.com, healthline.com)

Wrinkles and Skin Care

How to choose the best anti-aging wrinkle cream or serum

Please review the following suggestions on how to choose a product that works best for you.

Scan the label: The dermatologists we talked to recommend products that contain the following ingredients:

  • Retinoids (vitamin A derivatives) promote cell turnover, stimulate collagen production, and help to even out skin tone.
  • Peptides are another important anti-aging staple that help to repair skin damage.
  • Antioxidants like vitamins C and E help in the fight against free radicals (unstable molecules that can do major damage to your cells).
  • Hyaluronic acid, ceramides, shea butter and other hydrators can boost and lock in moisture, which will help reduce the irritating effects of anti-aging ingredients.

Know your skin type: “For those who have oily skin or live in humid climates, a lightweight cream with mattifying properties will prevent skin from becoming weighed down and shiny,” says Joel Schlessinger, M.D., Omaha-based board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon. “On the other hand, if someone has dehydrated skin or lives in a dry, cold area, a rich cream is more appropriate for their regimen.”

Factor in sensitivities: If your skin is easily irritated, consider looking for anti-aging creams that contain bakuchiol instead of retinol. “It actually has the same effect as retinol topically, but it’s less irritating because it’s also an anti-inflammatory agent,” says Dr. Ilyas. Other potential irritants to avoid include fragrances, artificial dyes, and even coconut oil or cocoa butter, which can clog pores and cause breakouts.

Look for prime packaging: Ingredients like vitamin C, retinol, and peptides can become unstable and degrade when exposed to air or light, so any products that contain them should be packaged in dark opaque tubes, preferably with air-tight pumps, says Lela Lankerani, D.O., board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology in Austin, Texas.

But sifting through all of the anti-aging products to find the one that’s best for you can be overwhelming. Here, the creams and serums experts recommend most.

Best Overall: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream

This beloved wrinkle cream has been earning rave reviews ever since it hit the market. Its creamy texture belies its price tag, and so do its results. It contains the ultimate anti-aging blend of ingredients, including hyaluronic acid, amino-peptides, and niacinamide (vitamin B3). They work together to majorly moisturize, plump skin, lift surface cells, and smooth the appearance of fine lines. You can see wrinkles softening from the first day you use it

Best Budget: RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream

Maximize your beauty rest with this anti-aging cream that fights wrinkles with retinol while you sleep. It has been clinically proven to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in just 12 weeks. The formula features their exclusive combination of RoC Retinol and an essential mineral complex, which penetrates deep into the skin to smooth even deep-set lines.

Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, is a popular anti-aging ingredient and—according to the experts at Mayo Clinic—can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Since consistent retinol use can cause sun sensitivity, it's recommended for evening use only, another reason why this night cream is a great option, followed by sunscreen during daytime hours.

Best for Dull Skin: OLEHENRIKSEN Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Crème

Being that retinol is powerful, there are some people that simply cannot handle it, no matter how many products with ceramides or moisturizing ingredients they use. But now there are retinol alternatives, like bakuchiol which is derived from the Ayurvedic babchi herb, that are a bit less intense on the skin, especially first-timers. In the same way that retinol helps to boost skin cell turnover, bakuchiol can gently slough away the top layer of dead skin to reveal the shiny new skin cells that are buried underneath the dullness.

Paired with edelweiss stem cell, not only does Ole Henriksen's Retin-ALT cream fight signs of aging like lines and wrinkles, but it also nourishes skin so that you don’t get any of the negative side effects that come along with the use of retinol. Best of all, it's gentle enough to use every night.

Best with SPF: Origins Plantscription SPF 25 Power Anti-Aging Cream

Your skin repairs itself while you sleep, and this cream can help take that up a notch. Wake up in the morning to dewy, glowing skin courtesy of this buttery cream that tackles dryness, fine lines and wrinkles, and a loss of elasticity. It contains vegan plant collagen to smooth and plump, alguronic acid to reduce the signs of aging, Mary thistle plant to hydrate, and ceramides to moisturize.

Best for Prevention: Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Face Lifting Soft Cream

Resveratrol essentially works as a defense system for your skin by fighting free radicals and preventing their formation, and this lightweight cream has no shortage of it. Caudalie's resveratrol comes from their family vineyard, Château Smith Haut Lafitte, in Bordeaux, France. It's sourced from their grapevine stalks and famed for its ability to restore visible firmness. The wrinkle cream also contains grapeseed oil to nourish, peptides to boost collagen, elastin to lift facial contours, and hyaluronic acid to moisturize. Its innovative delivery system features time release technology so that the active ingredients can work their way into the skin all day.

Best Organic: Eminence Organic Skin Care Bright Skin Moisturizer SPF 30

This plant-based formula hydrates and protects the skin during sun exposure, while using natural hydroquinone alternative, a complex formulated with African potato and tara tree extract, to brighten and fade discoloration and boost collagen production. It uses powerful antioxidants like bearberry extract, Swiss Alpine Plant Extracts, licorice root, and their signature BioComplex (a booster of antioxidants, Coenzyme Q10, and Alpha Lipoic Acid) to restore luminosity to your skin.

Best for Sensitive Skin: LilyAna Naturals Retinol Cream Moisturizer

Thanks to a potent combo of hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, green tea, shea butter, jojoba oil, and—of course—retinol, this cream can show wrinkles who's boss without drying out the skin. Cream Moisturizer.

Best Around the Eyes: Multi Correxion 5 in 1 Eye Cream

RoC excelled at tackling every eye-area issue, increasing firmness by 19% and hydration by 20%, reducing wrinkles by 10%, brightening dark circles, and depuffing — all with a price way below the average treatment! Testers said it also helped the look of crow’s feet and under-eye fine lines. “I noticed within days that the issues around my eyes were diminished,” one said. 

(sources: byrdie.com, goodhousekeeping.com)

Internet Speed

Slow internet? Business internet services and personal internet can get bogged down. Broadband should be a utility that just works but that's just not our reality yet. Here are the broadband speed tests we trust to help you get to the bottom of the network problems behind your laggy connection whether you have 100 people or just yourself.

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Internet Types. – Personal and Business

Everyone needs internet: large businesses and individuals. The basics are the same, it's just access to the internet using routers, modems, phones, computers, etc… but not all of these are created equal. For instance, business internet solutions offer a much higher range of internet bands which allows 100s of users to use the same internet service.

On the flip side, personal internet services can be extremely limited, especially if the hardware isn't allowing full connections. We'll dig into some internet speed testing tools below to help you choose:

1. Online Speedtest by Ookla

Ookla is the original provider of free online speed tests. As the global leader in internet speed testing, users can trust Ookla to deliver accurate results measuring performance and network diagnostics. With the click of a single button, users can take advantage of Ookla’s free speed test to find out the most unbiased information regarding their real-time internet speeds.

Unlike some of the speed test providers here, Ookla is not an internet provider and thus does not have a conflict of interest when it comes to providing broadband speed tests.

What’s great about Ookla’s Speedtest is that it offers users the opportunity to choose a test server anywhere in the world. While Ookla will automatically pair you up with a regional service, you can choose your own by clicking the ‘Change Server’ link and entering a search in the search bar. Along with upload and download speeds, they also perform a ping test. This is great for those who are curious about ping times between themselves and others in distant geographical regions.

 PROS:

  • Relatively Unbiased
  • Global Leader
  • Perform a ping test
  • Server Selection
  • Free

 CONS:

  • Ads
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2. NetSpot

Far more than just a simple speed test, NetSpot is a complete wireless auditor solution for analyzing wireless area coverage, network security, network feasibility and much more. NetSpot can help individuals and consumers determine the optimal set up for wireless networks through its analysis of wireless radio frequency behavior.

With a full site survey, NetSpot can help you determine your WiFi coverage, find “dead” zones as well as help you to understand where to place the equipment to enable maximum coverage. With its data collections and data visualization software, users can collect important information about their networks and workplaces to optimize wireless network solutions.

NetSpot also works wonders as a troubleshooter for solving issues related to network connectivity. Use NetSpot to resolve connection issues and identify sources of wireless interference all while receiving professional service and advice.

PROS:

  • Holistic Wireless Diagnostic Service
  • A Huge Array of Features
  • Great for Businesses
  • Free for Personal Use

 CONS:

  • Complicated User Interface
  • Far More Than a Simple Speed Test

3. Verizon Speed Test

Verizon Wireless is the largest internet service provider in the United States with over 147 million customers. With so many customers and so many different internet plans, it’s no wonder Verizon offers a free speed test. While it’s simply good customer service to provide a free speed test to your customers, you have to wonder whether Verizon speed test results are actually impartial.

Huge internet speed providers such as Verizon have vested interests in maintaining their public-facing credibility as top internet speed providers. With this in mind, users should also consider testing their internet speeds on one of the independent internet speed test sites. Nevertheless, Verizon’s free speedtest is simple to use and offers a range of tips and other information for users.

 PROS:

  • Intuitive user interface
  • Links to resources and other information
  • Free

 CONS:

  • Biased source
  • Large ad space for Verizon
  • US only

4. Google Fiber Speed Test

Google Fiber Speed Test is the best speedtest from Google, one of the original providers of fiber optics around the world. While fiber optics are known for offering some of the fastest speeds, most people rely on wireless connections to power their internet connections.

While designed with Google Fiber in mind, Google Fiber Speed Test can be used to test any internet speed. The user interface is clean and minimalist, something users have come to expect from Google. Free from cluttered ads, users are directed to click the play button.

Clicking the play button will begin the test, with results quickly appearing in the speedometer in the middle of the screen. Here Google also offers a link to learn more about speed testing in general, what affects speeds, and how to improve internet speed.

 PROS:

  • Perform a ping test
  • Simple User Interface
  • No Ads
  • Free

 CONS:

  • Potential Bias/not an Independent Service Provider

5. Fast

Fast.com is an easy-to-use free Internet speed test site run by Netflix. It measures your download speed by testing your connection between your device and Netflix's servers, they use in their content delivery system.

Simply visit Fast.com — the official Netflix speed test website — and instantly your internet speed to be thrown up on the screen. If it’s a few Mbps less than what you’re expected, there’s no cause for concern.

Netflix mainly expects this to be used by people who want to test if their current speed can handle Netflix content, however, the results you get are pretty similar to the results you'd get with a speed test directly from your ISP.

 PROS:

  • No Ads
  • Super Clean Interface
  • Test Runs On a Secure https Protocol

 CONS:

  • Lack of Information About Troubleshooting or Improving Connection Speeds

(sources: broadbandsearch.net, launchberg.com)

Top Accounting Software

Accounting software is used by individuals and business owners to enter income and expenses and track their finances. To determine the best accounting software, we researched more than 20 programs and applications before deciding on the top five. Here are our top picks.

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BEST OVERALL: QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online is the best overall accounting software for small businesses of those reviewed. Not only do the majority of small businesses accounting professionals use QuickBooks Online, but there are also endless online training resources and forums to get support when needed. All accounting features can be conveniently accessed on one main dashboard, making bookkeeping more fluid and efficient.

Pros

  • Scalable
  • Commonly used by accounting professionals
  • Integration with third-party applications
  • Cloud-based
  • Mobile app

Cons

  • Upgrade required for more users
  • Occasional syncing problems with banks and credit cards

Intuit’s QuickBooks Online has been the most common accounting software used by small businesses and their bookkeeping and tax professionals. The software is cloud-based and can be accessed through a web browser or through the mobile app.

After the 30-day free trial, the four options for subscription plans include: Simple Start at $25 per month, Essentials at $40 per month, Plus at $70 per month, and Advanced at $150 per month. Typically there is a significant discount offered for the first few months, and some accountants are able to offer wholesale pricing to small businesses, as well. 

The monthly subscription for this software can be upgraded as a business grows, and there are many customization options with the mobile app that can be used to receive payments, review reports, capture an image of a receipt, and track business mileage. For businesses looking for a payroll solution, QuickBooks Payroll fully integrates with QuickBooks Online.

Each plan offers more advanced features like inventory management, time tracking, additional users, and budgeting. Most service-based small businesses will find that Simple Start meets all of their needs. For product-based small businesses, Essentials or Plus will have more options for inventory and customizations. The Advanced subscription is a new offering and provides robust financial reporting that is powered by Fathom. Fathom is an elite online financial report analysis tool used by many large companies all over the world.

All plans allow integration with third-party apps such as Stripe or PayPal. QuickBooks Online’s app store breaks down all of their apps by function and provides helpful examples of the benefits of each app.

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BEST FOR MICRO-BUSINESS OWNERS: Xero

Xero is the best in our review for micro-businesses that are looking for very simple accounting software. This software has a clean interface and also fully integrates with a third-party payroll service. Businesses can collect payment online from customers through Xero’s integration with Stripe and GoCardless.

Pros

  • Cloud-based
  • Mobile app
  • Payroll integration with Gusto
  • Third-party app marketplace
  • Simple inventory management

Cons

  • Limited reporting
  • Fees charged for ACH payments
  • Limited customer service

Xero was founded in 2006 in New Zealand and now has over two million users worldwide. This accounting software is popular in New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Xero has over 3,000 employees and is growing rapidly in the U.S., as well.

Xero offers three monthly subscription options and a full-service payroll add-on: Early at $11 per month, Growing at $32 per month, and Established at $62 per month. The full-service payroll option is offered through Gusto and is an additional $39 per month, plus $6 per employee. The company offers a 30-day free trial and a promotion for 50% off for two months. 

The Early plan limits usage and only allows entry for five invoices or quotes, five bills, and reconciliation of 20 bank transactions per month. This limited plan may be suitable for a micro-business with high-ticket transactions, but only a few per month, such as a consulting or small service provider. Both the Growing and Established plans offer unlimited invoices, bills, and transactions. The only difference between the two is that the Established plan has additional features like multi-currency, expense management, and project costing. All three plans offer Hubdoc, a bill and receipt capture solution.

BEST FOR SERVICE-BASED BUSINESSES: FreshBooks

The most crucial accounting need for most service-based businesses is invoicing. FreshBooks offers more customizations for invoicing compared to other accounting software. Its primary function is to send, receive, print, and pay invoices, but it can also take care of a business’ basic bookkeeping needs as well. This accounting software makes it easier for service-based businesses to send proposals and invoices, request deposits, collect client retainers, track time on projects, and receive payments.

Pros

  • Cloud-based
  • User-friendly interface
  • Third-party app integration
  • Affordable
  • Advanced invoicing features

Cons

  • No inventory management
  • No payroll service
  • Mobile app has limitations

Founded in 2003 in Toronto, FreshBooks started as just an invoicing software. Over time, more features have been added and FreshBooks now has over 500 employees. There are four different plans, and businesses can get a 10% discount if they choose to pay yearly, rather than monthly. Additionally, FreshBooks offers a 60% off discount per month for six months. The four plans are: Lite at $6 per month, Plus at $10 per month, Premium at $20 per month, and Select, which is a custom service with custom pricing.

The main difference between the four plans is the number of different clients that are allowed to be billed per month. In the Lite plan, up to five clients can be billed per month. In the Plus plan, up to 50 clients can be billed per month. In the Premium plan, unlimited clients can be billed per month. The Select plan also does not have a limitation on the number of clients that can be billed per month, but adds unique features. It costs an additional $10 per month for multiple team members to use the accounting software and it costs an additional $20 per month for the advanced payment feature, which allows users to charge a credit card in real-time or set up a recurring credit card charge for a client.

There are many third-party app integrations available, such as Shopify, Gusto, Stripe, G Suite, and more. A unique feature of FreshBooks is that invoices can be highly stylized and customized for a professional look and feel. FreshBooks is a great tool for budgeting out projects, sending estimates or proposals, and collecting customer payments.

BEST FOR PART-TIME FREELANCERS: QuickBooks Self-Employed

QuickBooks Self-Employed accounting software is our top choice for part-time freelancers and independent contractors who primarily want to track their income and expenses for their tax return. This software is designed for business owners who file a Schedule C on their individual tax return. 

Without keeping up with business activity using a software like this, freelancers would need to dig through all of their bank and credit card statements to add up their income and expenses at the end of each year, which can be quite daunting. QuickBooks Self-Employed will total up all business transactions automatically.

Pros

  • Cloud-based
  • Mobile app
  • Track mileage
  • Differentiate between business and personal expenses
  • Syncs with TurboTax

Cons

  • Data cannot be easily transferred to other accounting software
  • Limited reporting
  • Limited invoicing functionality and customization

QuickBooks Self-Employed is an Intuit product with a cloud-based online interface and a mobile app. This software was created to help freelancers stay organized each year for tax season. Features of QuickBooks Self-Employed include tracking mileage, sorting expenses, organizing receipts, sending invoices, and estimating and filing taxes seamlessly through TurboTax.

Users can choose between three plan options: Self-Employed at $15 per month, Self-Employed Tax Bundle at $25 per month, and Self-Employed Live Tax Bundle at $35 per month. There is a 50% discount for the first three months. The two tax bundles include a TurboTax subscription for income tax filing. The Self-Employed Live Tax Bundle also gives you access to a CPA to answer questions throughout the year and during tax season. The CPA will also perform a final review of your tax return in TurboTax prior to filing. 

The mobile app makes it easy to track mileage while driving and capture photos of receipts for business expenses. Most accounting software is not designed to separate business transactions from personal transactions, but a special feature of QuickBooks Self-Employed provides an option to mark each transaction as business or personal. This is helpful for freelancers who don’t have a separate bank account for their business activity.

BEST FREE SOFTWARE: Wave

Wave is an ideal accounting software platform for a service-based small business that sends simple invoices and doesn’t need to track inventory or run payroll. For many freelancers or service-based businesses, Wave’s free features will cover all of their accounting needs and is the best free software in our review. At year-end, accountants can pull the necessary reports from Wave to prepare a business’ tax return.

Pros

  • Free accounting, invoicing, and receipt scanning
  • No transaction or billing limits
  • Run multiple businesses in one account
  • Unlimited number of users
  • Mobile app

Cons

  • Limited third-party app integrations
  • Higher fees for credit cards and ACH payments
  • Full-service payroll is limited to only 14 states
  • No inventory management

Wave was founded in 2010 and is based in Toronto. The company has over 250 employees and was recently purchased by H&R Block. The foundational accounting features that most small businesses need, such as income and expense tracking, financial reporting, invoicing, and scanning receipts, are all included with this free software. These features can be accessed online or on the mobile app. Customer payment processing and payroll are considered premium services that cost extra, but all of the bookkeeping, invoicing, and reporting features are completely free.

Wave makes its money on its payment gateway. To process payment from a customer, Wave charges 2.9% plus 30¢ per transaction for Visa, Mastercard, and Discover, and 3.4% plus 30¢ per transaction for American Express. These fees are slightly higher than other accounting software. Additionally, to process an ACH payment, rather than a credit card, Wave charges 1% per transaction with a $1 minimum fee. This is unique to Wave, as the majority of accounting software does not charge a fee for ACH payment processing. 

Wave offers two payroll plans as an add-on service. The first plan is $20 per month plus $6 per employee or contractor. In this plan, Wave will process payroll and prepare payroll tax calculations, but the user is responsible for manually completing payroll tax forms and submitting tax payments. The second plan is $35 per month plus $6 per employee or contractor. In this plan, payroll is full-service, which means that all tax filings and payments are completely managed by Wave. This full-service payroll option is only available in 14 states.

(sources: investopedia.com, thebalancesmb.com)

Top Online Degrees & Courses

There are many online degree programs, so we will help guide you. When looking into your options, it's important to keep these items in mind: 1) cost of the program 2) length of the programs 3) quality and recognition of the school.

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Top 5 Best Online Degrees Most Likely to Get You a Job

In the job market, there are those careers that are tried and true, reliable occupations (fields like accounting and criminal justice can never have enough trained professionals), and there are those that are up and coming. If your primary goal for your education is to get a job with real growth potential, set your sites on one of the many online degrees aimed at the fastest-growing and biggest occupations and careers- the jobs that are expanding much faster than the supply of workers, where there will be job openings anywhere and any time you need them.

These golden geese take some scouting out to capture, no doubt. The jobs with the most job market potential also require highly specialized skills that demand a higher education – usually at least a bachelor’s, and often a master’s. If you’re already a working adult, and you’re considering a career change to one of these in-demand occupations, an online degree program from one of the top online colleges is your ticket. That way, you can learn the new skills you need, while still working your current job to provide for yourself and your family.

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Ranking the Best Online Degrees to Get a Job

This ranking has one interest over all others – what online degrees are more likely to get you a job and long-lasting career. To figure out where the jobs are, College Consensus editors looked to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the occupations with the fastest and highest job market growth rates.  From there, we researched what kinds of online degree programs students should seek out.

Predictably, the majority of the top jobs are in technology, healthcare, and business. Criminal justice and security is a big one as well. These are all fields that are in periods of rapid change, and all experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals. There’s no way we (or the BLS) can guarantee that you’ll get the job you set out to get, but these are the fields that are looking for people who can do the job. Good workers are hard to find, so make yourself one with an online degree.

Students may also be interested in the Highest Paying Careers for College Grads,  Underrated Colleges Doing Great Things, and Most Unusual College Degrees for some inside and outside of the box thinking about careers and education.

1. Solar Technology Installer

Looking around any U.S. neighborhood is enough to alert students about the surge of professionals entering the field of solar technology. Solar photovoltaic installers are needed to assemble, install, and maintain solar panels. Installers require a deep understanding of how solar modules operate and must have knowledge about electrical systems. Online school programs prepare installers by allowing them to earn both an undergraduate and graduate degree in solar technology or sustainable energy. With a staggering 105% growth rate projected for the next 10 years, qualified individuals will have no problem securing a position. Median salary is $39,400 annually with six-figure potential for top installers.

Growth Rate: 105%
Average Salary: $39,490 per year
Online Degree Options: Sustainable and Renewable Engineering (multiple education levels)

2. Home Health/Personal Care Aide

Home health aides work directly with individuals who need personal care on a temporary or permanent basis. Home health aides are not intended to provide medical assistance, but instead help with daily living tasks such as dressing, bathing, and eating. Online associate nursing degree programs will prepare students to become a certified nursing assistant. The career growth rate for personal care aides is 47% and considered a higher than average growth rate when compared to other professions. The average home health aide salary is $23,210 annually with the occupation allowing a lot of room for advancement throughout their career.

Growth Rate: 47%
Average Salary: $23,210 per year
Online Degree Options: Associate’s Degree in Nursing and CNA certification

3. Physician Assistant

Physician assistants practice medicine in conjunction with a team of physicians and nurses. Physician assistants are qualified to assess and treat patients in a variety of settings including doctor’s offices and hospitals. The best online degrees to get career training as a physician assistant is through an accredited college that offers graduate-level courses. Each state also requires a physician assistant to be licensed. Jobs in the healthcare field are always experiencing a faster than average growth rate. Physician assistants who have finished online school programs have the potential to earn an average of $104,860 annually.

Growth Rate: 37%
Average Salary: $104,860 per year
Online Degree Options: Master’s in Physician Assistance

4. Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners have a higher level of advanced training and responsibilities when compared to registered nurses. Nurse practitioners have similar duties as a physician and a nurse practitioner can diagnose and treat medical conditions. They are also licensed to prescribe medications. In the field, a nurse practitioner can work in general practice or obtain a specialty. Accredited online degree programs will require the student to complete master’s level nursing courses for graduation. Passing a national certification examination is also required for practice in this career. Current growth rate for nurse practitioners is 36% with the median career salary at $103,880.

Growth Rate: 36%
Average Salary: $103,880 per year
Online Degree Options: MSN-NP or DNP Programs

5. Statisticians

With advancements in the field of technology, the need for statisticians is at an all-time high. Statisticians are needed to assist with the collection of data and analyze the data for practical uses. Statisticians are employed in both private and public sectors and U.S. News & World Report considers it the best business job. Best online degrees to get a job as a statistician is a bachelor’s or master’s in statistics. Many scientific and government agencies will require entry-level applicants to have a master’s degree in statistics. Entry-level job seekers are attracted to an average salary of $84,000+ annually and a growth rate of 34% projected over the next decade.

Growth Rate: 34%
Average Salary: $84,060 per year
Online Degree Options: Bachelor’s in Mathematical Statistics or Master’s in Statistics

(sources: www.collegeconsensus.com)