Mint and your Money

If you don’t have the Mint app, I strongly recommend it. It makes it so much easier to track your spending, your debt, multiple accounts, and more. I’m not affiliated with Mint, I just like what they have done for my personal finance, and I think you will as well.

 

College – is it still necessary? Is it worth the cost? What are the alternatives?

Worldwide economy has, a few years ago, taken a blow it still hasn’t recovered from. However, the economic crisis was just a culmination of events and many different emerging patters that have been occurring for years – and those fallacies in the capitalistic system itself have been continuously ignored by the elite of our society, perhaps out of lack of care and lack of knowledge both. Looking from a perspective of an individual, trying to make a life and a living, this poses a few legitimate questions and one of them, an absolutely essential one is what we will be focusing on in this article.

College – Is It Still Essential and Worth The Cost?

College is life defining and important, or at least it used to be. But, has that changed over the years? We don’t need to speculate, numbers are what matters. College tuition continues to increase, along with student debt. In fact, the growth rate of college tuition has outpaced housing prices and medical care, for example, by a wide margin. Not everyone is lucky enough or able to get a scholarship and most people want a college degree, as it is considered somewhat of a ticket into the world of business. But, is the job market really in desperate need of college graduates, as we are often lead to believe?

Raising tuition fees and student loans that most people don’t pay off until their 30’s or even late 40’s are not the only and, arguably, not the biggest problem nowadays, when it comes to the education system. Education in itself has been significantly dumbed-down and some degrees, that are virtually printed out, are practically useless – they don’t mean a thing in the job market. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that tradesman are among the highest earners in the entire United States of America. The cost of learning a trade is, especially when compared to ridiculously high college tuition fees, minimal. The job market is flooded with liberal arts and humanity studies graduates who have nowhere to go and not everyone can be an engineer or an IT expert.

How Will Our Society Handle These Changes?

All of this has created a pretty hectic economic environment and pushed quite a few people into thinking outside the box. Thanks to that, there are more small, up and coming businesses than ever before. Everyone is trying to become and entrepreneur, not because they’re in love with “being their own boss” – but out of necessity. Ironically, this has been a moderately substantial financial injection and small businesses are what helps the economy recover. It’s safe to say that high college tuition fees and bank loans are what’s causing a shift of paradigm in our society, when it comes to business and economy.

Another thing that we can’t take out of this equation is the world wide web, for two reasons: many businesses nowadays are home and online based (in a nutshell, all you need to start a business is a website) and, thanks to the internet, everyone is able to educate themselves for free. Technology is what’s changing our world and will continue to do so in the future and while technology continues to speed up the process of globalization and while the internet continues to provide free education (if you know where to look you can find anything, from foreign language courses to free business e-books) our education system is falling behind and it’s falling behind majorly.

Thanks to the Pros at Greenwood Village Lawn Care for helping us to maintain this site, bringing you the best financial advice we can find!

Basics of Investing Online

A lot of smart individuals would like the risk and thrill of picking their stocks and funds on the stock market. These people are often day traders and need to have access to viewing each stock in their portfolio 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Online brokerages can, for this reason, be very useful.Below are the basics of investing online.

First of all, with an online firm they leverage technology to help them do their job. As such, less paper and people get between you and your stocks, so you pay less commission. You are responsible for choosing your investments. Before choosing an online brokerage firm, research all of the costs associated with the enterprise. Remember to look for more than just the lowest commission fee per trade. Many online brokerage firms with slightly higher commission fees offer more tools and research capabilities for their investors. If a higher commission fee is matched by extra investor support, the additional cost may be well worth it. Also, take note of the minimum balance requirements and maintenance costs. Sometimes firms with lower commission fees make up the difference with a higher required minimum balance.

There are some fundamental factors that make an online brokerage firm trustworthy and professional. Good brokerage sites offer glossaries of financial and investment terms to help their investors. There may also have free and unlimited access to news and research from third- party sources to help investors make better decisions. A telephone number for customer assistance is also a desirable feature. Of course, keep in mind that the client service division can only help with the mechanics of the online brokerage site. They aren’t there to help you choose stocks or offer investment advice.

If you like the convenience of investing online, there are several brokerages to choose from. Two of the most popular discount online brokerages are Ameritrade and ShareBuilder; please note that there are many other options available.

With Ameritrade, there is a minimum balance requirement of $1000. With that balance, you can open an individual account. There is a quarterly maintenance fee of $15, but only if the account has not less than $2000 of liquidation rate. The fee will be waived if a minimum of four trades has been made within a six- month window. The fee can also be waived if the account is an IRA, rather than an account for stock investing.

Market orders for stock are charged a $10. 99 commission fee by Ameritrade. Limit orders are also charged a $10. 99 commission fee. Commissions for mutual funds are $17. 99 for buying and selling no- loan funds. For buying a load mutual fund, there are no fees charged. A load mutual fund is the term used when there is a fee charged by the mutual fund manager. For those who want a riskier option, Ameritrade also offers margin accounts (borrowing loans) and short accounts (borrowing securities).

Ameritrade has many brick and mortar branches around the country if you prefer to walk into a branch rather than conduct your business online. This allows investors to have the flexibility of having both an online and a walk- in brokerage.

Many programs have options for investors to toggle on or off depending on their personal preferences. These services allow investors to build varied portfolios in almost 5,000 different stocks and funds. You can also buy and sell in real- time. Investors instruct the system in how much they want to invest and have complete control over when the investments are made and that companies they invest in. The system works by allowing the investor to specify a dollar amount to be deducted from their checking or savings account on a monthly or weekly basis. In this way, you can do lightning fast trades, and in a market that can change quickly being able to do that is crucial.All this covers all the basics of investing online.

The video below has more great info!  And a big shout out to our sponsors at Katy Fence Installation. We thank you!

How to Save While Still Living Like a King

Living life king size is an expression we often come across. People like you and me can’t help but take a detour from our exhaustive work schedule which fetches us peanuts and enter a world of day-dreams about a grand lifestyle. From fancy clothes to luxurious cars and from dining at fancy restaurants to travelling in style – A life like a king can be pretty fascinating and sounds like a distant dream to many. Living a life of such extravagance might be out of the context immediately for most of us, but there are simple ways which are more like life hacks which can give you similar fancy lifestyle but for little or no money. Although the notion seems impossible, with cautious handling of finances, and keeping an eagle-eye out to grab best deals, offers and discounts can easily ensure a lot of luxurious amenities within a small budget more suited to your income. Let’s briefly discuss how.

Stylish Attire

Fancy designer clothes are one of a kind and aptly compliment people with a lavish lifestyle. While affording designer range of clothing is out of bounds for most common men, there are quite a few provisions where you can buy similar branded clothes for a cheap price which would have otherwise cost ten folds. A lot of membership shopping websites and other sites like Overstock offer impressive discounts on selected range of clothing apparel time to time. Moreover thrift stores also often have stocks which are fancy and expensive but are available at the stores for a much cheaper price. The key here is to know where and when to look.

Fancy Dining

Today, the popularity of various coupon sites and websites offering alluring deals are increasing by leaps and bounds. What comes as a marketing and advertising policy might churn out to be an evening of fancy luxurious dining experience for you without having to shell out a lot of money. Moreover a part-time profession like mystery shopper also entitles you to dine at posh restaurants and shop at fancy stores in exchange of your reviews and audit of the same. Needless to say, such deals and offers are extremely beneficial if you want to eat out like a king but don’t have the necessary budget to always.

Travelling in class

Not being able to afford one of the top-notch sports cars or supercars does not necessarily mean you can’t enjoy the thrill and experience of the same. Even though you might own a very average class vehicle, the options for renting out luxurious cars and even exotic cars are quite popular. You can easily afford to rent out your dream car for a day of outing or during a vacation to undergo that once in a lifetime experience where you travel like a king. Also keeping an eye out for promotional travel offers can help you cut down your travelling expenses to a great extent.

Location Location Location

Where you live can have a big impact on the quality of life you can afford! If you live in an affluent area, the smallest, most run-down house on your block may cost you more than the nicest house in a less-high-status part of town. No, you don’t need to move to the ghetto; a neighborhood with older homes might do the trick. Consider school district — If you don’t happen to be a parent, you can live in a decent area just outside of the higher-rent suburban school districts, and save a great deal. If you DO have kids, look at ratings, not just reputation –you can often choose a better-rated school district (or just as good) as those who just want to make sure their kids are in ___ district because that’s where the Jones’ kids go (and your kids’ friends will be less of a challenge to keep up with as well!) When thinking about saving money, by all means shop around for the most affordable moving service, but don’t rule them out, or worse, stay put to save on moving expenses. If you save $100 a month on rent, and it costs $600 to hire movers, you’re still going to save $600 your first year in the new place. So be sure to give careful consideration to your location and be clear on your priorities regarding your living situation.

The key to living life king size on a restricted budget is to maintain a systematic planning and savings, while keeping your eyes open to the unending possibilities of making the best out of situations. Cut down unnecessary expenses and find means to best utilize your available resources and finances.

Check out the video below for more tips and tricks!

Simple Ways to Earn Extra Money on the Side

Nearly everyone dreams of earning extra money to supplement their income but there is a big gap between action and dreams that most people never cross because they have no idea which side hustle to undertake.

One of the best way to earn extra money on the side is by freelancing the skills that you have already developed, they can even be those that that you use in the full time job. However you should ensure that you do not compete with your employer and check the contract to be sure that you did not sign a non-compete agreement. Depending on your skills, a freelance job does not require a lot of upfront capital but you can earn a lot. Below are a variety of skills that you can use to earn extra cash.

· Do web design or graphic work

If you are a fan of color and you always know which color compliment the other best or you can create a beautiful website homepage or book cover in no time, you can earn extra cash with your skill. Advertise your skills in the different platforms especially in social media and share some of the projects you have done. Ask friends and relatives to refer you to potential clients and do not forget to offer your services in freelancing sites like Upwork.

· Develop applications and websites

If you can build a word press plugin with your hands or you just love playing with codes you can turn the skills into some extra cash. Known web developers states that they started by doing small projects like building church websites to make extra cash but it resulted to being their full time job and making much more money. Advertise your skills online and let your friends know so that they can refer clients to you.

· Be a photographer

If you have a good camera and experience in taking good photographs, you can earn money by taking photos. Whether it is capturing memories at a friend’s wedding or selling unique photos on stock photograph websites, earning extra money by being a photographer is a common hustle.

Get clients by posting your work on Flickr or by word of mouth and posting your work on social media. Making it in the wedding business is quite a challenge but you can start with word of mouth and offering quality services at a low cost or just taking engagement photos.

· Offer Calligraphy

If you have an amazing handwriting and can be able to write in calligraphy, turn the skill into some extra cash by offering calligraphy services to friends as well as offering the service online. To be an expert in calligraphy, you should invest in quality tools and practice constantly, also you can consider taking a course to hone your skill. Look for clients by posting your work on the different social media platforms like Instagram, twitter and Facebook and telling your friends for referrals.

· Start a blog

Though it takes time to build a following, starting a blog is a great way to earn extra cash. Once you get a following, you can make money in different ways.

In order to succeed in blogging:

· Write great content

· Get the content to readers all over the world

· Build an email list so that you can market yourself to the people

Blogging, requires a lot diligence and hard work but it is well rewarding.

Another option that a friend of mine has had success with, is that he purchases cars at auction for cash, fixes them up or cleans them or even pays to have repairs done, and then turns around and sells them for two to three times what he has invested in them. Not only has he made money this way, but he and his wife have upgraded their used vehicles using this method, with no payments, and plenty of cash left over. Check the laws in your state, but usually this is perfectly legal.

All the above ways require hard work and a lot of planning in order to be successful but you will certainly make that extra cash that you have been yearning to make.

Lesser-Known Ways to Cut Expenses and Save More Monthly

More often than not, people get into miserable financial statuses due to one major simple reason. They forget to check on their expenditure vs. income, especially when it comes to recurrent expenses. As one gets accustomed to settling the same list of invoices or bills, the mind becomes subconsciously trained into allocating the same amounts in the budget every month to cater for the expenses. In such a case, saving more becomes quite a nightmare to many, unless of course your income increases within a fortnight or at some point along the way. Well, the truth of the matter is that with a cost-cutting mentality, you can cut down on some of these expenses without necessarily compromising on your quality of life, enabling you to save more each month. Here are tips on some lesser-known ways to cut expenses and free up more money to save each month.

Watch What You Spend On Entertainment
Just to mention a few, you can cut on the amounts billed to you for telephone, cell phone, internet access, website’s subscription and much more. For the cell phone costs, try doing research to find out the best, prepaid plans from network providers in your area and save on talk time costs. Look for alternative ways to connect to the internet, like tethering your phone to your PC for instance, which is way much cheaper. If you want to save more, it’s about time you ditched those newsletters and article updates you are subscribed to, yet you never read them.

Keeping Your Energy Bill down
For most people, this is where the catch and challenge normally is. A good number of homeowners tend not to pay enough attention to what they spend on utility bills. The fact is that you can actually cut down on this recurrent expense and end up saving a good count of dollars or even hundreds of dollars using ways that are lesser-known to some people. To do this, ensure you developed a routine of keeping the lights off when not needed, switch off electronics when not in use and always ensure you buy energy-efficient appliances whenever you approach the market. Consider the type of roof, HVAC system you go for.

Shop Around Regularly for Best Insurance Cover?
Insurance covers such as health plans, life plans, auto insurance, and homeowners insurance are all essential. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t save on the recurrent expense either. Unbeknownst to most people, insurance policies are different in terms of costs, benefits, and contributions. Especially for covers such as auto insurance and homeowners insurance, be sure to shop around once in a while for the best deals in the market. There are numerous sites online from where you can get insurance quotes, which are resources you can utilize to get the better deal and reduce the expense.

Watch Your Credit Card
Most people actually do not consider credit card as a debt, but rather a convenient way of carrying money. The harsh truth is that a credit card is actually a debt, in which if caution is not taken, one is likely to end up living in a “debt cycle.” Most importantly, credit cards become expensive as soon as they start accruing and attracting interests as well as penalties for defaulted payments and cash transactions. They actually encourage spending for people with financial discipline issues. You can mitigate this with one of our lesser-known ways to cut expenses; try leaving the card at home when going out unless you really need it.

Next time, we will talk about ways to earn a little extra on the side — because you can only cut your bills so low. The alternative is to earn more. For example, I have a friend in Colorado who opened a dispensary, and with the help of a cannabis growers consulting service (yes, that’s a thing) to ensure that everything was legal and his product was the best in town, was so successful that within 2 days he had to quit his day job. Luckily, the tips I’ll share with you can be implemented anywhere, and without a storefront. Check back soon!