Category Archives: Money

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!

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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Needing Office Space like another Hole in the Head

GUEST BLOGGER: Derek Sisterhen in the host of Past Due Radio and Stewardship Director at Hope Community Church.  He has worked in banking in corporate risk management and as a personal financial consultant to over 150 families.  Derek also wrote Get Naked: Stripping Down to Money & Marriage for newlywed couples to cultivate financial unity in the early days of marriage.  For fun, Derek likes to rock out on his drum set (much to the chagrin of his wife).  You can reach him @dereksisterhen and on his website, getnakedbook.com.
Ain’t technology grand?  Everything required to run your business can be done from just about any location.  Wifi, your laptop, and some pajama pants are the only real necessities of today’s modern “office”.

Yet, in our efforts to digitize all our relationships, I’m hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t value good old fashioned face-to-face meetings.  Perhaps it even took an in-person meeting to secure a deal, contract, or new business relationship for you.

In my conversations with entrepreneurs and solopreneurs I find that there is a shared longing for an office, whether for the peace and quiet of being separated from kids and distractions at home or to have a professional meeting space without the sound of grinding coffee beans in the background (a la Starbucks “conference rooms”).  But before you jump into a lease be sure to consider all your options.

As the Lead Financial Coach at Lukas Coaching, it was pretty exciting to me and the founder, Justin, when we needed to find more space to meet with clients and establish an in-house radio studio.  So, we leased a large suite in a professional office park, piled into three of the offices, and found a few other tenants to sublease the remaining spaces.

The subleasing actually paid for nearly all of our rental costs, which greatly reduced our overhead.  We had a very professional space to meet with clients.  It all seemed great.

Then our business began to shift.  We were meeting with more and more people remotely.  One of our larger clients required that we meet with them in office space, but one by one other clients began to prefer phone, Skype, and email.

Then, shortly after renewing our lease for another 24 months, our biggest sub-lessee turned in their 60-day notice.  We were left with three open office spaces and no rental income to cover the cost.  We scrambled to rent the space to someone – anyone – as quickly as possible.  Dealing with a pinch in the commercial rental real estate market didn’t make the going any easier.

In the end we were able to fill the vacancies, but not after enduring the financial impact of carrying the cost of office space we weren’t even using for a few months (which further reinforced our decision to keep retained earnings on hand, but that’s a different discussion for a different day).

So, what did we learn?

First, sometimes we have to see the writing on the wall: If a significant portion of your client base isn’t in the same state as you, perhaps your office space needs aren’t anywhere near what you think they are.

In our case, 90% of our client base had shifted to out-of-state, so we really shouldn’t have been committing to a new, two-year lease with our business model changing like that.  While it’s difficult to sense the subtle adjusting trends in your business on a day-to-day basis, it’s critical to think about where you’re heading annually (at a minimum) and strategically consider your operational needs (office space, technology, service providers, etc.) as you go forward.

Second, there are plenty of alternatives to leasing your own office space.  I’m all about professionalism, so when the neighborhood Starbucks won’t cut it for a face-to-face meeting, I can easily rent space for a couple of hours through companies like Office Suites Plus.  Of course, you have to weigh the cost of the space to the benefit of face-to-face meetings with certain suppliers and customers, but you can get great looking space, as needed, for a fraction of the cost of a lease.

Some organizations, like churches and other non-profits, have conference rooms available for use.  It might require a little schedule juggling, but this can be a low-cost (perhaps even free!) space to use.  Just don’t abuse it.

Still others have crafted co-op arrangements on office space, splitting the monthly rent and scheduling equal use of the space through the week for each person in the co-op.  One of our sub-lessees actually did this, to which Justin and I thought, “Wow, we should’ve been doing this all along!”

So, while it might feel like your business is being validated by a need for professional office space, be sure to do your due diligence and evaluate your true needs.  You don’t want to get stuck in a costly rental situation thinking that you need office space like another hole in the head.