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Carnival's Princess Cruise Lines to pay $40 million for dumping waste into ocean

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday that Princess Cruise Lines pleaded guilty to seven felony charges after the cruise line was accused of dumping waste into the ocean and intentionally aiming to cover up the action.

Princess Cruise Lines, under parent company Carvinal Cruise Line, must pay a $40 million penalty, the largest-ever criminal penalty for deliberate vessel pollution, according to the DOJ.

>> Read more trending stories 

In a statement released to TravelPulse, Princess Cruises "accepted responsibility" for illegally dumping oil and waste from the Caribbean Princess cruise ship. The company admitted its employees "not only broke company policies," but also "violated environmental law."

"We are extremely disappointed about the inexcusable actions of our employees," the company said in the statement. "This settlement clearly shows that we fell short on our commitment to the environment, and for this we are very sorry and we take full responsibility."

According to CBS News, a whistleblower first alerted investigators of the illegal dumping in 2013. The informant, a former engineer on the Caribbean Princess ship, said he observed more than 4,000 gallons of water contaminated with food particles, grease and fat, among other material, discharged into the ocean, The New York Times reported. Officials said one motive for the dumping was to save money, as removing waste from ships at ports is costly.

"Our open seas are not dumping grounds for waste," Miami U.S. Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer said. "There was a campaign of obstruction in an effort to hide the deliberate pollution of our seas with oily waste."

Princess Cruises released an official statement on the company's website, saying: "The marine environment is incredibly important to us, and we are using this experience to further improve our operations. Princess Cruises stands committed to environmental practices that protect our oceans."

Read more at the Times and at the Department of Justice.

5 Strategies to Help You Get the Salary You Want

Few moments in the career growth process are more satisfying than receiving a coveted job offer, though for many, the contentment is short-lived once the conversation turns to salary. The topic of money can be challenging and downright uncomfortable, but there are a few ways to rise above the awkwardness to secure the salary you feel you deserve. Here are five strategies to help you prepare for that moment.

1. Practice

While the average job applicant prepares for an interview, it’s easy to overlook what experts deem the more difficult portion of the hiring process: Salary negotiations.

“The best thing to do is practice, because it’s just like an interview; the more often you practice, the better off you’re going to be,” Lisa Andrews, Ph.D., a career services manager for the Certified Financial Planning Board of Standards, Inc., said. Andrews recommends going through a few scenarios, including “one where your offer is accepted right away and the handshake happens and everyone’s happy, one where the person pushes back on you and one where the person gives you a low offer and you really have to negotiate.”

“Practicing several scenarios over and over is definitely going to help you have a very successful negotiation because you will have already said the words out loud,” Andrews said. “When you do that and you hear yourself saying it, you’re going to become a more effective negotiator.”  

2. Research Your Worth

Nailing down your professional value is possible thanks to online recruiting and career databases. For example, in addition to location, services like Glassdoor can give job-seekers insight into compensation based on company, job title and experience level. If you crave specific salary parameters, it’s a good idea to put these types of online tools to work. Learning from your professional peers could help you gain insight during the negotiation process.

3. Use Social Science to Self-Advocate

Don’t allow the question of salary to catch you off guard. When asked what you’d like to earn, a Columbia Business School study suggests providing a “bolstering” range (i.e., your ideal salary as the minimum amount) to gain a competitive edge in the conversation. For example, if your ideal salary is $80,000, the co-authors of the study suggest proposing a small range of $80,000 to $85,00. This strategy allows you to bolster your potential earnings by placing your ideal income at the low end of the range.

Why is this method effective? According to Ames and Mason, it comes down to social norms. “… We posit a politeness effect: We believe that an unaccommodating counteroffer seems less polite in response to a range offer compared with a point offer, thereby leading to more conciliatory responses to range offers.”

Translation: Managers are likely to reward friendliness and flexibility in kind.

4. Gauge Your Flexibility

When deciding how flexible you plan to be, it’s important to remember that negotiations may include more than base salary. You might also consider how health benefits, paid time off, flexible spending, stock options, 401K, bonuses and other perks factor into the equation. How do these variables impact your willingness to negotiate base pay? Are you prepared to make concessions in one area to benefit another? Ask yourself these questions as you calculate your salary requirements.

5. Set Aside Emotion

The days following a job offer can be full of conflicting emotions, including fear.

“People tend to be weary of salary negotiation because they think that it may somehow disqualify them for a position they were just offered,” Andrews said.

If this is how you’re feeling, you aren’t alone in your trepidations. A Salary.com survey found that only 37% of employees always negotiate salary, while 18% avoid the topic entirely. Those who don’t negotiate salary may be forfeiting years of long-term earnings according to Margaret A. Neale, a Stanford University professor specializing in business negotiation.

“Suppose that at age 22 an equally qualified man and woman receive job offers for $25,000 a year,” Neale said. “The man negotiates and gets his offer raised to $30,000. The woman does not negotiate and accepts the job for $25,000. Even if each of them receives identical 3% raises every year throughout their careers, by the time they reach age 60 the gap between their salaries will have widened to more than $15,000 a year.”

In Neale’s example, failing to negotiate during the initial interview would cost the woman $361,171 over the course of 38 years; a sizable — and perhaps, unnecessary — sacrifice.

When your financial security is at stake, it’s a good idea to leave emotion at the door. Rely on your research and professional qualifications to communicate with enthusiasm instead.

[Editor’s Note: It’s important to remember that many employers review a version of your credit reports as part of the application, so it’s a good idea to know where yours stands. You can view a free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.]

Related Articles

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

6 Credit Card Perks You're Missing Out On

When consumers shop for credit cards, they’re usually evaluating things like annual fees, interest rates and common benefits such as travel points or cash back rewards. But there are many more credit card perks available through some of the largest credit card providers you shouldn’t ignore. If you don’t know about them, you could be missing major benefits. In fact, your current credit cards may have some of these perks that you’ve never even used.

Here are six credit card perks you might be missing out on.

1. Purchase Protection

Purchase protection helps to safeguard products from theft or damage in many instances. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card (which you can read a review of here) will replace or reimburse lost or damaged goods purchased on the card, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 annually for 120 days from the date of purchase.

2. Online Shopping Portals

Online shopping portals offer rewards for shopping online through the credit card company’s official channels. Basically, it’s an online storefront you can use to shop at many major retailers and brands. Oftentimes, they’ll award you bonus points, offer you extra cash back or even let you redeem points to make purchases.

3. Concierge Services

The concierge service is another neglected benefit provided though many credit cards. These concierge services are often available 24 hours a day. They can help customers book travel reservations, make dinner arrangements and even score tickets to concerts and sporting events. This is an especially handy service when traveling, which leads us to our next perk.

4. Travel Protection

Sometimes weather or other unforeseen circumstances delay flights or shut down hotels. Sometimes you have to cancel a trip due to an emergency. When travel adjustments come last minute, you could be on the hook for the cost of the canceled reservation or making alternate travel arrangements.

With travel delay and interruption protection, your credit card company could reimburse you for losses or expenses associated with adjusted or canceled travel plans.

5. Price Protection

Some credit card companies will even help you hunt for bargains. Price protection policies can match lower prices and reimburse you the difference. For instance, the Citi Prestige Card (which you can read our review of here) has a search feature that hunts for lower online prices for certain items. (Full Disclosure: Citibank as well as Chase advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.) If the item is listed for a lower price than you paid within 60 days, you could be reimbursed the difference.

6. Rental Car Insurance

Rental car companies often try to convince customers to pay for additional insurance coverage. But if you pay for the car rental with your credit card, you may already be protected and could save money and avoid paying for redundant coverage. These policies sometimes only cover certain car models and regions.

These perks are offered by many different companies, but are frequently neglected when consumers choose a new credit card. If you haven’t read your credit card contract or benefits statement in a while, you might want to give it a read. You could already have access to many of these benefits without even knowing it. And, if you’re considering a new card that offers perks like these, it’s a good idea to review your credit before applying. You can see two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Related Articles

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

Five Fun Financial Facts: Sleep - #1 of 5

MoneyTips

Recent research from the RAND Corporation estimates that the lack of sleep among workers costs the U.S. economy up to $411 billion per year (2.28% of GDP), due to individuals' lower productivity levels, higher mortality risk, and poorer health and wellbeing. Photo ©iStockphoto.com/valentinrussanov

Originally Posted at: http://www.moneytips.com/5-fun-financial-facts-sleep-1

Should Your Workplace Have A Nap Room?

More Than Two-Thirds of US Employees Suffer From Work Overload

Employers Prepare For Higher Benefit Costs From Older Workers

Five Fun Financial Facts: Sleep - #1 of 5

MoneyTips

Recent research from the RAND Corporation estimates that the lack of sleep among workers costs the U.S. economy up to $411 billion per year (2.28% of GDP), due to individuals' lower productivity levels, higher mortality risk, and poorer health and wellbeing. Photo ©iStockphoto.com/valentinrussanov

NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for December 2016

Wait, what? It’s December already? The end of the year is approaching fast, and the Nerds’ top credit card tips this month will help you cross the 2016 finish line and sprint ahead in 2017. Here are four things to consider doing this month.

Check expiring rewards points

You’ve chosen the best rewards credit card so that you maximize your cash back, points or miles. But are you one of those cardholders who have let rewards expire? In a 2011 report, loyalty rewards research firm Colloquy estimated that about $16 billion worth of rewards went unredeemed that year. Don’t let yours go to waste. Many cards now offer rewards that never expire, but others still give their points or miles a use-by date.

Log in to your credit card account to see whether and when your points or miles expire. If the clock is ticking down, use them to purchase merchandise through your issuer’s online shopping mall, buy gift cards for popular retailers or book a winter getaway. And if you have expired miles or points, all may not be lost. Some programs let you restore expired miles — for a fee. Better to check the status of your rewards and use them now.

Donate points or miles to charity

If you have miles or points you aren’t going to use, consider donating them to charity. Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses, says it needs 2.8 billion miles each year to make travel dreams come true. You can donate miles from frequent flier programs with American, Delta, United, JetBlue and Southwest on the Make-A-Wish website. United Airlines has dozens of other charities listed on its website, including the American Cancer Society, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Special Olympics, where you can donate a minimum 500 miles from your MileagePlus account. At American Airlines’ AAdvantage, you can earn miles when you make a cash donation to Miles to Stand Up and Miles for the Cure. You can also donate miles to Miles for Kids in Need, Miles for All Who Serve and Miles of Hope. Note: Donated points or miles are not tax-deductible.

Cure post-holiday blues with 0% APR

No matter which end-of-the-year holiday you celebrate, you’re buying gifts for family and friends and doing more entertaining. According to Discover’s annual holiday shopping survey, consumers plan to spend an average of $1,159 this season. With that kind of outlay looming, you might want to look into a card with an introductory 0% APR on purchases, balance transfers or both:

For a great new cardholder bonus 

Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer: You could turn $200 into $400 with Cashback Match™. We’ll automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year. New cardmembers only. Introductory APR of 0% on Purchases for 6 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 11.24% - 23.24% Variable APR.

For a $0 balance transfer fee

Chase Slate®: Save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee, 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Plus, receive your Monthly FICO® Score for free. Introductory APR of 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% Variable APR.

For a long 0% APR period

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever: Introductory APR of 0% for 21 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% Variable.

For rewards and 0% on transfers

Citi®Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer: Earn cash back twice on every purchase — 1% on every purchase, and another 1% when you pay for it. Introductory APR of 0% for 18 months on balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% Variable.

Opt in to 5% bonus rewards

As we get closer to 2017, remember to opt in to the 5% bonus cash-back categories for January-March if you carry a Discover or Chase card with rotating categories. Discover has already announced its first-quarter 2017 bonus categories: gas stations, ground transportation and wholesale clubs. Chase says it will announce its categories for 2017 in mid-December.

The Nerds wish you a healthy, happy and financially savvy holiday season!

Ellen Cannon is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: ecannon@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ellencannon.

How to Tell If a Roth 401(k) Is for You

A 401(k) is already one of the best ways to save for retirement, but many plan sponsors now offer one step better: a Roth 401(k).

If you could build the ideal retirement account, this might very well be it. Like a 401(k), there’s a high, $18,000 annual contribution limit, or $24,000 for those 50 or older. As with a Roth IRA, you make contributions with after-tax dollars, but qualified distributions are tax-free. If you earn so much that your Roth IRA contribution limit phases out, a Roth 401(k) gives you access to that coveted tax-free growth.

With that list of high points, you might be wondering where to sign. And with rare exceptions, most workers who are offered this retirement account should take it. But here’s what to consider before you do.

Your current and future tax rates

This is the dividing line between a Roth and traditional tax treatment: If you expect your tax rate to be higher when you pull the money out in retirement, you’re better off paying taxes now and avoiding them later with a Roth 401(k).

Many people fall into this box, either because of a standard of living that increases over time and requires them to draw more income in retirement, or because they expect across-the-board tax increases between now and then. With a Roth, you get to lock in that current low tax rate, then enjoy tax-free growth on your investments.

Even if you expect your tax rate to go down in retirement, a dollar in a Roth 401(k) is worth more than a dollar in a traditional 401(k), says Tim Maurer, a certified financial planner and author of “Simple Money: A No-Nonsense Guide to Personal Finance.”

“Virtually all the time, for people who are considering making a contribution, the Roth dollar is more valuable, because the traditional is going to require tax payment,” he says. When you pull a dollar out of a Roth, you put that dollar in your pocket. When you pull a dollar out of a traditional 401(k), you put that dollar minus taxes in your pocket. That could leave you with 75 cents — maybe a little less, maybe a little more.

The only way a traditional meets the value of a Roth is if you expect your future tax rate to be lower — and you immediately invest the value of the tax deduction you receive now from contributing to a traditional 401(k). If you put $4,000 into a traditional account this year and you do the math to determine that the tax deduction on that contribution is worth $1,000, you need to invest that $1,000 as well.

You can do that out of cash flow or from your tax refund. But many people don’t get a tax refund, and about half of those who did expect one last year planned to spend it, according to a National Retail Federation survey. That means the second part of this decision comes down to behavioral finance: Can you trust yourself to invest, rather than pocket, those tax savings each year? If not, go Roth.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing

Despite the growing availability of these plans, less than 10% of employees who are offered a Roth choose that version of a 401(k), according to a survey this year from global advisory firm Willis Towers Watson. One possible reason: Because you lose the initial tax deduction, it costs more on the front end to make that choice.

“I typically suggest that a person who is considering introducing the Roth 401(k) do so slowly and over time. Year one, you can split the contribution so 75% goes to the traditional and 25% goes to the Roth. You won’t feel the tax bite as much,” Maurer says.

If you do that, you’ll also head into retirement with tax-deferred and tax-free pots of money, which can help you manipulate your taxable income each year. For instance, the ability to pull some of the money you need in a given year from a Roth can lower your taxable income, which could help you reduce or eliminate taxes on Social Security benefits and lower Medicare premiums that are tied to income.

“Even if you’re someone for whom the tax benefit seems to be negligible, merely having a bucket of money that is tax-free can be a huge advantage in retirement,” Maurer says.

Arielle O’Shea is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: aoshea@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @arioshea.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

Sean Talks Money: You Can Ease the Bank Fee Bite

On a balmy September morning in 2013, an email hit my inbox that too many Americans see regularly: an overdraft notice. My rent bill had been paid automatically before my paycheck was deposited in my checking account, so I was $1,649 short. To make matters worse, I had used my debit card several times before I knew I was out of money.

This proved to be costly. My account was linked to a credit card, which covered the difference. But my bank charged a $20 fee for the overdraft, followed by rapidly compounding interest charges. It could have been worse, though: My rent check didn’t bounce, which meant I avoided hot water with my landlord. I called my bank, which agreed to remove additional overdraft fees that piled on for each purchase I’d made before I was able to move money into the account.

Still, this was not a one-time error on my part. This was the last in a string of five overdrafts from 2010 to 2013.

Bank fees are relatively easy to avoid, but I hadn’t done my homework, and I was paying the price for not paying attention. Let me save you that pain.

What I did wrong, and then right

Mistake No. 1: My simplest mistake was neglecting to keep extra cash in my checking account. I tried actively managing my deposit accounts, moving as much money as possible from checking into a separate savings account and hoping to maximize my interest yield there. Looking back, this was a misguided goal. While I had a good job, I was fresh out of school and didn’t have nearly enough cash to generate meaningful interest yields, and it left me exposed to costly missteps.

Fix: I now keep a sizable cash cushion in my checking account to keep it from running dry. My rule of thumb: one rent paycheck, plus a little extra. If your checking account ever drops below the floor you’ve set, you’ll know something has gone wrong.

Mistake No. 2: I chose the wrong overdraft option. Consumers typically have three options when it comes to overpaying from their checking account: (1) Deny the payment, which results in a bounced check or denied debit card payment. (2) Pull the money from a linked savings account or credit card. (3) Let your checking account go negative, with the amount covered by an automatic loan from your bank.

Each of those options carries expenses, but I was unaware of additional costs with the credit card transfer option (more on that shortly).

Fix: Each of these options has pros and cons. But I should have chosen to transfer money from my savings account, not a credit card, because I usually had the necessary funds in savings. The overdraft fee would have been the same, but I wouldn’t have had the immediate interest charges to worry about. Speaking of which …

Mistake No. 3: I thought, incorrectly, that money borrowed from my credit card would behave like normal credit card debt. Credit card purchases generally don’t begin accruing interest until the bill is due. But an overdraft transfer counts as a cash advance on the credit card, which is different from a purchase in three important ways: (1) It demands a much higher interest rate, around 25% compared with the average of 18%. (2) Interest begins accruing immediately. (3) It charges a “cash advance fee,” which varies by bank.

Here’s my 2011 self, in an email to my wife, upon realizing this mistake after an overdraft: “I’d forgotten that there’s a very evil side to overdraft protection — they charge a very high interest rate on the unpaid amount. … So I just paid off the balance.” I wish I had kept a record of how much money I lost.

Fix: Again, you can choose a different overdraft option. But if that step won’t work for you, make sure to pay off the credit card balance as quickly as possible. Cash advance APRs charge roughly $25 per year per $100 spent, which adds up frighteningly fast.

You probably have better options

It took me years of mistakes to figure all of this out. After that September 2013 overdraft, I fixed my money management issues and haven’t had an overdraft since.

But beyond the lost money, I’d also become deeply frustrated with my bank. Not that any of this was the bank’s fault — it was all mine — but I was frustrated nonetheless. Each time an overdraft fee hit my account, it was a reminder that something was wrong, and these fees came precisely when I didn’t have the money to spare. I was ready for a change.

»MORE: Best checking accounts

So I made one. I took advantage of a $200 cash bonus offer for switching to a new bank, and then a year later I switched again, enticed by the chance to earn interest on my checking account balance.

»MORE: Best bank account bonuses

The big picture

Checking account fees are expensive. A recent NerdWallet study found that Americans spend an average of $97.80 per year in checking fees, $62.52 of which comes from overdraft and nonsufficient funds fees. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that the median overdraft fee is a hefty $34.

But the good news is that those fees are avoidable. In fact, if you’re paying any type of fee regularly for your checking account, chances are you’re doing something wrong. NerdWallet’s recommended checking accounts waive ATM fees and offer ways to avoid or minimize other account fees.

Take a few minutes to re-evaluate your relationship with your bank. Maybe add a cash cushion to your checking account or change your overdraft preferences, or even consider switching banks. The time you spend will be worth what you save in money and frustration.

Sean McQuay is a credit and banking expert at NerdWallet. A former strategist with Visa, McQuay now helps consumers use their credit cards and banking products more effectively. If you have a question, shoot him an email at asksean@nerdwallet.com. The answer might show up in a future column.

How To Choose A Home That Is Likely To Grow In Value

MoneyTips

You are shopping for a new home, confident that you have done your homework. You know your price range, the general area you want to live in, how many rooms you need, and how much land you prefer to have. However, have you considered whether your new home will appreciate in value over time? Shopping for appreciation requires a different mindset. You still want to buy a home that meets all your requirements, but you will also look at a house through the eye of an investor. What properties will not just hold the property's value, but allow you to increase it? Location and Surroundings – Location is almost a cliché in real estate, but it really is one of the most important assets of a home. First impressions can make a huge difference. The views, the traffic, access to parks or natural areas, proximity to airports or industrial areas (noise and smells) – all these things play a huge role in appreciation. Not only do you want a great location and surroundings, you want them to stay that way. Therefore, the next factor to consider is… Growth – Nobody wants to live in an area that is decaying and losing population. You want to live in a thriving neighborhood with growth that is close – just not too close. Check the local planning and zoning office to see what sort of road upgrades, business developments, or similar plans will appreciate or depreciate your property. Schools – Whether or not you have children, check around to find out which school districts have the best reputation in the area. Good schools keep the neighborhood more desirable, which keeps demand high, which keeps property values high. Land – In general, the value of the land will appreciate faster than the house that resides on it. Make sure you are assessing the value of the land, and whether any improvements to the landscape can increase the potential for appreciation. Consider Fixer-Uppers – If you buy the best-looking and most expensive house in your neighborhood, you should not expect it to appreciate as much. It may hold its value just fine, but you have left less room for improvements that can accelerate appreciation. Fixer-uppers can provide the greatest increase in appreciation, as professional house flippers can tell you. Just be sure that you are capable of doing the work (or having it done for you), and that the house is structurally sound. Good Structure – People do like to change and renovate homes, but they do not want to have to gut a home completely to do it. The basic structure of the home (foundation, supporting walls, roof, etc.) must be sound; otherwise, any renovation costs would be prohibitive for a potential buyer. Any home with an unusual floor plan or one built for a specific purpose may have great appeal to a very narrow list of buyers, but, in general, it will not appreciate well because of the cost it would take to change the basic layout. History and Trends – What have home prices been doing in the region you want to buy? Are they increasing or decreasing, and are they moving in unison with surrounding areas? Is there any reason to expect the trend to change based on one of the above factors? If you want a house that is likely to appreciate, consider these factors as you shop. Be sure to look with an investor's eye before you buy. Photo ©iStock.com/maxsattana

Originally Posted at: http://www.moneytips.com/how-to-choose-a-home-that-is-likely-to-grow-in-value

Homebuyers: How To Evaluate a Neighborhood

Where Can Millennials Afford to Live?

Survey Shows Homeownership Is Rising Among Millennials

How To Choose A Home That Is Likely To Grow In Value

MoneyTips

You are shopping for a new home, confident that you have done your homework. You know your price range, the general area you want to live in, how many rooms you need, and how much land you prefer to have. However, have you considered whether your new home will appreciate in value over time? Shopping for appreciation requires a different mindset. You still want to buy a home that meets all your requirements, but you will also look at a house through the eye of an investor. What properties will not just hold the property's value, but allow you to increase it? Location and Surroundings – Location is almost a cliché in real estate, but it really is one of the most important assets of a home. First impressions can make a huge difference. The views, the traffic, access to parks or natural areas, proximity to airports or industrial areas (noise and smells) – all these things play a huge role in appreciation. ...
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