How to lower your credit card debt, grow lettuce in Brooklyn, and house the homeless in your backyard

Would you like to know how to lower your credit card debt? It might be easier than you think. Perhaps you would like to become a farmer, right in the middle of a big city; maybe even grow enough produce to be able to sell your crops? Maybe you might like to volunteer to help the homeless problem in your area by housing some of them in a small house on your property? These are some of today’s updates.

How to lower your credit card debt

Everything is negotiable… even credit card fees – More than 80% of people who ask for relief from their annual fees receive it, according to a new survey. We’re not just talking the annual fees that you pay for the card, it’s all fees: late fees, raise your credit limit, or — most importantly — have your interest rates reduced,

How to lower your credit card debt

image credit: Ed Ivanushkin

The survey of 952 American cardholders found that more than 8 out of 10 (84 percent) who have made any of these requests were successful.

While it’s possible to get those fees reduced or even eliminated, few people seem to ask for an adjustment. Only about 25% of those who were surveyed asked for a fee reduction. People who carry a balance on their credit cards stand to save a significant amount of money on interest if they could get those rates down some.

How to lower your credit card debt simply by asking

This is an incredibly easy way to lower your credit card debt. If you owe $5,000 on your credit card and you are paying 18% interest, you might be able to knock off a few hundred dollars in interest expense simply by getting that rate of interest down a few percentage points. It’s worth a phone call, you have nothing to lose. What’s the worst thing they can do, decline your request?


Irony: Amazon considers retail showrooms

In an ironic twist, Amazon is considering using the stores as showrooms to help sell items online that consumers might want to touch and feel. Some of the innovations being explored include augmented/virtual reality, automation at checkout and robots.

The automation aspect shouldn’t come as a surprise given Amazon’s grocery stores without a checkout counter. The other aspects sound intriguing. Maybe malls can be saved after all. Instead of going there to purchase goods, they’ll simply become showrooms, places where you go to check out the merchandise and they buy online.


A tree grows in Brooklyn… so does lettuce

A Future Farming Industry Grows In Brooklyn  – Eight months ago, Square Roots ― a startup that coaches and equips would-be urban farmers with growing materials in re-purposed 320-square-foot metal crates — started offering opportunities to people interested in growing their own produce.

The venture includes food and tech entrepreneur Kimbal Musk, the younger brother of Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

If we have a campus like this in every city, everyone can buy food from a local farmer

Today, there are ten farmers enrolled in this farming program in Brooklyn. The developers have launched a new delivery service for home-grown salad greens, and they’re deciding where to expand next. “If we have a campus like this in every city, everyone can buy food from a local farmer.”


Little houses for the homeless in your backyard?

Would you house the homeless on your property? – Faced with an intractable homeless problem, officials in Portland are thinking inside the box. A handful of homeless families will soon move into tiny, government-constructed modular units in the backyards of willing homeowners.

Image credit: oregonlive

Portland officials are looking for four backyards to place its Accessory Dwelling Units, what some people may call a granny flat, or a tiny home minus wheels. Under the pilot program taking effect this summer, the homeowners will take over the heated, fully plumbed tiny houses in five years and can use them for rental income.

There’s a similar situation afoot (or “a yard”) in California – A new state law in the state enables homeowners to build rental units on their property, whether through garage conversions, as a home attachment, or as a new, standalone structure. These types of residences are formally known as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and colloquially as “granny flats.”

Legally or otherwise, there are many such ADUs in and around Los Angeles. Only 644 ADUs were approved between 2003 and 2016, however it is estimated that there are about 50,000 “un-permitted” such units throughout America’s second largest city.

These little houses could be a source of income for homeowners. The Portland project indicates that volunteers who allow these government built little houses onto their property would be allowed to rent them out to other people after a five years period ends. During the initial five-year period, these little houses would be used as way stations for the homeless.

In LA, research suggests that 5% to 10% of the 500,000 single-family lots in the city could become space for additional tiny rental units. LA is looking for ways to add affordable housing; the city’s mayor has a goal for 100,000 new housing units by 2021. This would make a sizable dent in that projection.

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