Category Archives: Life

Smart Ways to Save Money

Three Smart Ways to Save Money

“A penny saved is a penny earned,” reads the proverb most attributed to Benjamin Franklin. Ironically, the same gentleman on the $100 bill in the United States. Believe it or not, saving pennies me just be one of the smartest ways to save your money. While money may not grow on a tree as we would all like, it can certainly have growth like a tree growing strong and mighty. In the post, I have included a few ways for you to count your pennies and save your money more intelligently.

Digit – Automatic Savings

New start-up Digit takes the idea of saving a few pennies a day and puts that into action. Within just a few weeks, I had saved over $100 and didn’t even think twice about it, in fact I didn’t miss a single dollar. With advanced algorithms, Digit analyzes your spending and in turn withdraws a few cents or dollars that it knows you won’t miss from your checking account into a savings account! Before you know it, your money is savings are growing right before your eyes. The plus side is they are so confident in their calculations they provide overdraft protection if it is their fault. The downside is that the money they’re storing away for you doesn’t earn interest as of right now.

Motif Investing – Smart Way to Invest

Now that you’ve got your savings building up, you’re going to need to find a place to responsibly store your wads of cash–it’s time to invest. Mutual funds and ETFs are a great, fairly safe way to invest. Individual stocks are usually more lucrative but if you don’t fully have a pulse on the market or you’re hesitant to get your feet wet in investing, stocks can be daunting. Understanding the ins and outs of stocks and their potential returns versus their risk can be overwhelming. What is a stock’s beta, P/E ratio, cap and yield? Motif Investing removes barriers for beginner investors and essentially lets you create something similar to a mutual fund filled with 30 individual stocks for a flat rate of $9.95. This brilliant, social approach to investing allows investors seasoned and green alike to invest around ideas, social concepts or just personal curiosity. With an easy-to-use interface and great reporting, Motif Investing is a great, affordable way to begin investing for those who have saved up.

Future Advisor – Retire Smart

It is always a great idea to save money for a rainy day such as a savings account or an investment account. However, saving for retirement is also critical. Saving up for that day you decide you no longer need to do the 9-5 thing is smart. While there are countless ways, there have been a number of start-ups making a splash in “virtual wealth management.” These start-ups are helping reduce the cost of portfolio management allowing for optimized portfolios for the day you want to retire. Two I am currently investigating include WealthFront and Future Advisor!

 

To me happiness and success are not defined by a number in a bank account. That said, while we are here on this earth, we need to be good stewards of what we have whether that be time, money, possessions or anything in between. No matter where you are in life, it is time you start saving your pennies. While money doesn’t grow on trees, you can be smart with the ways you save and before you know it, your money will be growing faster than you know!

new-years-eve

A New Year…

New Year's CountdownIt is that time of year again where we all stop and look back to reflect on what has happened in the course of our lives. We recount the happy moments and can’t help the painted smile on our face. We remember the hard, challenging and sad moments and we are quiet.

With the final hours of 2013 winding down,  I look back satisfied and look ahead excited. One area that I clearly lacked focus this year was in the area of blogging. Between averaging more than 1.5 flights a week the first 8 months of the year and then involving myself in work the final few months, I guess it can be said I didn’t have much time to write. The good news however is that I am back in the saddle and already have posts scheduled to get us started in 2014.

Many of the posts will deviate from social media and will turn more towards business, corporate culture and leadership.

Looking forward to having you on board in 2014!

Free Chick-fil-A Dress Like a Cow

Free Chick-fil-A and Free Starbucks on Friday the 13th

If you are at all superstitious, you probably have your woes about Friday the 13th. Well tomorrow may change your perspective because there are three great companies offering free or significantly discounted products including Chick-fil-A, Starbucks and Krispy Kreme without any strings attached.

Dress Like a Cow and Get Free Chick-fil-A

For several years, Chick-fil-A has run a promotion where you can dress up like a cow and receive a free meal. This year, it happens to fall on Friday the 13th. If you are totally decked out in cow gear, you will receive a free meal (entree, fries and drink). If you are slack only put on a spot or two, you can still get a free Chick-fil-A sandwich. In case you don’t have the right gear for Cow Appreciation Day, you can go to the CFA website and download the the cow starter kit here. Starting this year, you can upload your cow costume pictures to the CFA site and be entered to win the “Best Cow Costume” competition. You can get free Chick-fil-A for dressing like a cow all day long on Friday the 13th, 2012.

Get New Starbucks Refreshers Free

In case you need your caffeine fix before putting up with the herds at Chick-fil-A, head on over to Starbucks and try their brand new Refreshers. These naturally fruit energy drinks are quite tasty and are caffeinated with natural green tea extract. I have had the privilege of sampling the beverage and though I don’t have an official review, I would have to say that they are definitely worth trying, especially since you can get free Starbucks Refreshers from noon-3pm on Friday the 13th, 2012!

75 cent Dozen at Krispy Kreme

There’s no better way to bring some cheer to your office by brining in donuts. The best part is that you can bring in hot Krispy Kreme donuts for a fraction of the price. Tomorrow, Krispy Kreme is celebrating their 75th anniversary and offering a dozen of original glazed donuts for only 75 cents with the purchase of a regular dozen. You can view their flyer here. The Krispy Kreme discounted dozen promotion will last all day on Friday the 13th, 2012.

 

Happy savings and shopping tomorrow on Friday 13th! Have fun dressing like a cow to get free Chick-fil-A! I dare you to walk over in your cow costume to Starbucks and Krispy Kreme to get free Starbucks Refreshers and a discount on Krispy Kreme donuts! Good luck!

Cheaper College Textbooks

How to Get College Textbooks Cheaper – Reasons for eTextBooks

The question that seems to plague so many students is how to get cheap college textbooks. Renting textbooks and reselling textbooks can be a pain, plus textbooks are heavy to carry around. As a student, I have discovered what I think is the alternative to textbooks–etextbooks. Okay, okay, I know, it’s really not that big of a revelation. However, I want to make a case of why you should buy etextbooks and prove to you that you can get college textbooks cheaper.

5 Reasons for Electronic Textbooks

  1. eTextBooks are environmentally friendly
  2. eTextBooks are light to carry because you always have them with you on a phone, tablet or computer. Yes, that means you can have a textbook on your iPad or iPhone.
  3. eTextBooks are easier to search through using the “Search” feature
  4. eTextBooks can be easily bookmarked, printed, shared, and used just like any other college textbook
  5. eTextBooks are cheaper than college textbooks

Best Place to Buy Digital Textbooks Online

The place I have fallen in love with online is CourseSmart. There are truly MORE SAVINGS with CourseSmart. Save up to 60%! I have downloaded countless textbooks on my iPhone and iPad–from psychology to marketing to literature to finance, CourseSmart has the answer for getting college textbooks cheaper.

The Math: Cheaper College Textbooks

The average textbook costs about $150. On CourseSmart the average is about $70. That is major savings. I can be on the beach and have 6 textbooks with me and I am only using my iPad to read textbooks. Let’s say the average student buys 5 textbooks a semester. Well that’s about $750 if you are buying normal textbooks. If you are buying etextbooks you would only spend about $350. That’s a $400 difference. That’s the price of many tablets. So, now let’s say you invest in an iPad at about $600. If you were to do only etextbooks for one whole year of college (2 semesters), you could buy a total of 10 textbooks and the mid-range iPad and spend the same exact amount as one year of heavy, tedious, paper textbooks. After 4 years of college, that is almost a $2,500 dollar savings if you were to purchase an iPad going into your first semester of your freshman year of college and only buying electronic textbooks all four years.

So, the answer to how to get college textbooks cheaper is to switch to electronic textbooks. The reasons for etextbooks speak for themselves!

 

 

*please note the links used in this post are affiliate links.

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Thirty Hours Alone

“You can’t possibly go more than an hour without checking your phone,” my good friend Bryan joked, his wife, Alex totally supporting his point. My competitive attitude immediately kicked in and snapped back, “Wanna bet?”

I’ll be the first to admit to you that I am addicted to my iPhone. It is my watch, my brain, my notebook, my whiteboard, my way of communication, my calendar, my camera, my map and my business. The list goes on and on.

Our world is so cluttered with noise. We feel our phone buzz or hear our computer chime and immediately check to see what the latest news is. We are so consumed by technology and the busyness of our lives and hectic schedules that slowing down seems to be out of the question.

Life is a journey–to some, a race. Culture has convinced us that we must always look ahead, aiming towards the future. Sometimes though, the best step we can take to move forward is stopping and reflecting on the past. When we slow down and silence ourselves just long enough to listen and think, it is absolutely astonishing the amazing insights we will gain from our own experiences throughout our life.

A Challenge in the Middle of Nowhere

Realizing that I had to take action upon accepting the challenge of Bryan’s “no-human-contact” proposition, I started planning my 30-hour getaway. This was not supposed to be a vacation, but instead a time of true isolation–just God and me. No other people and absolutely no technological contact with the outside world.

I started scoping out locations for this 30-hour wilderness adventure. Everywhere I looked, there would be lots of human contact. In fact, unless I left the country and went away in some piece of forsaken land in the Amazon, there are not many places in the United States where you can truly be alone. But finally, after searching and looking at places in Peru and Costa Rica and Alaska and Thailand, I landed on Florida. More specifically, the Everglades National Park in Florida. This incredible national park is 1.5 million acres large. There is a lot of room to get lost and be alone.

So, I packed a kayak with a tent, sleeping bag, plenty of fresh water, a compass/GPS, my camera, pen and paper and set off on my adventure.  Following nautical maps I had to navigate the confusing mangroves of the Everglades for just under 10 miles by kayaking before landing on a small piece of land that was designated for camping. There was no fireplace, no running water, no bathroom. Just the woods, alligators, snakes, spiders, mosquitos and I.

The Power of Silence

As I kayaked in the hot Florida sun, battling rather sever winds, get soaked by the salt water and having salt dry to my skin, I had no where to turn but to God. Thirty hours of prayer and meditation and reflection is possibly the most incredible opportunity any human can have. I abandoned work, family, friends, technology and people for thirty hours to just absorb Creation and talk to the Creator.

Those thirty hours of silence allowed me to look inwardly and see how hundreds of different events in my life all interacted together to bring me to where I was at that point in my life. For the first time, my eyes were opened to struggles I didn’t know I had. My heart was burdened for things that I knew needed to be changed. My world of noise was shattered by the silence.

Sitting on the shore of my campsite and watching the sun dance over the still water as it slipped away for the evening behind the mighty mangroves (as shown in the picture above) rocked my world. Filling pages of my notebook with thoughts, ideas, prayers and desires enabled me to step out of this world for just a few moments and take a look at what was going on around me. In doing that, when I stepped back into society 30-hours later, I was better equipped and more ready to face the challenges and to embrace growth in my weakest spots.

Will You Take the Challenge?

My Campsite in the Everglades

Are you brave enough to step away from the busyness of all that goes on this game we call life to step back and just reflect? I am not challenging you to thirty hours and I am not challenging you to go do something crazy and leave civilization on a daring and dangerous kayaking expedition through the Everglades. I am merely challenging you to take a break from your day. Go somewhere where you will truly find peace and quiet and simply reflect. Learn. Listen.

Those thirty hours were truly, revolutionary. Those thirty hours very possibly could have been more challenging, more growing and more eye-opening than the past two decades of my life. Those thirty hours molded me and shaped me. Those thirty hours could be some of the best thirty hours of my life.

Parody of Country Music

Friday Humor: Country Music Parody

I was born and raised in what most people would consider the North. I am proud of my heritage. However, several years ago, I ended up in North Carolina and since then, I have experienced a whole new genre of music that I previously was not really exposed to–country music.

If you have a few minutes today and want a good laugh, take a second to watch this music video that some of my good friends wrote and put together. It’s a parody of country music. Regardless of your music preferences, I think you will get a kick out of this little tune:

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Where Have I Been?

The holidays are over and the New Year has begun so I guess using the “busy holiday season” as an excuse not to post is no longer valid. I typically don’t to life posts but am going to briefly fill everyone in on what to expect in the days and weeks to come.

As you can tell, there has been a serious lull in content. Why? Well, I have had the opportunity to be a part of pursuing some new business ventures, bogged down in projects, traveling and working on finishing up some long overdue writing projects. With all that compounded, I haven’t had a chance to write for my blog.

What to expect…over the next weeks and months I will slowly get back into blogging with a heavy focus on leadership lessons. Occasionally I will interject my thoughts on social media marketing and business!

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30-day Thanksgiving Challenge

If you are reading this article right now you should be thankful. That means you have a computer or a smartphone, you have access to the internet, you are literate, you can use a computer…

Very rarely do we stop to count our blessings. It is so easy to complain when something is slightly off in our world, yet we rarely give people due praise when they do something well. In general, it is fairly safe to say that most of us are not as thankful as we should be.

We are thirty days away from Thanksgiving, a national holiday where people get together, usually as families, eat copious amounts of food, watch a football game and then go on a shopping rampage on Friday. While that is all fun and good, we tend to skip over the “Giving Thanks” part of Thanksgiving.

So here is my simple challenge.

Every day for the next 30-days, write one thing down you are thankful for on a note card or a small piece of paper. It can be a detailed paragraph or a simple word, name or phrase. Once you have done that, drop it into a shoebox. If you feel inspired, write more than one notecard each day.

That’s a simple task. Here is the part of the challenge that is slightly more difficult. Everyday for the next 30-days, tell someone, “Thank You.” There are many different ways to say thank you. You can do something as simple as thanking someone as they hold a door for you. Maybe you want to write someone a letter or sit someone down and let them know that you appreciate them. Whatever it is you do, be sure that you thank at least one person every day during this challenge.

By the time Thanksgiving roles around, you should have a minimum of 30 cards each saying something you are thankful for. Additionally, you will have thanked at least 30 people and in that way touched 30 different lives by giving them a bit of encouragement that they ordinarily may not have received.

On Thanksgiving morning, after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and before your turkey is finished cooking, get that shoebox and start flipping through all of the things you are thankful for. Take a moment and reflect on all that you have been given.

Do you accept the 30-day Thanksgiving Challenge?

Celebrate this year’s Thanksgiving holiday by being truly grateful for all that we have and are blessed with! If you are willing to be a part of this challenge, comment below saying, “I’m in!” and include one thing you are thankful for, then pass it on!

 

Use #30daythanks when talking about the challenge on Twitter!

2 Best Places to Buy Textbooks Online

Every year, college students scramble to find the best place to buy textbooks online for their classes. Money is tight and the last thing students want to spend money on is more books for school. This post highlights two of the best places to buy college textbooks on the web.

Best Textbook Rental Service


Rent Textbooks & Save 65-85%
Did you know… Chegg.com Plants a Tree Every Time You Rent Books? Chegg.com is an inexpensive place to rent textbooks online.

Best Online eTextbook Rentals

 Study smarter with eTextbooks from CourseSmart and SAVE MORE, up to 60% off the price of printed textbooks. CourseSmart purchases can easily be read from your computer or from your handheld mobile device. It has never been easier to get textbooks on your iPhone.

 

Let me know what you think of either one of these online textbook rental services.

 

*Disclaimer: Links are affiliate links.