Money Guides

How to Pay for College

Ways to Pay for College

Mounting student debt and rising college tuition prices have both been major subjects in the media recently, which has raised questions as to whether or not higher education is really worth the cost. Despite these rising tuition rates and the buildup of debt, most experts still agree that the majority of Americans would benefit from taking advantage of higher education opportunities. However, this still leaves students with the difficult question of how to pay for college despite a dwindling job market and loan requirements. Fortunately, there are still some accessible methods students can take advantage of to help pay for college and invest in a better future.

Taking Advantage of Scholarship Opportunities

It’s always best for students to consider scholarship opportunities before loans, since scholarships don’t require repayment and certainly don’t carry with them the burden of interest rates. The following list includes good websites to utilize when searching for a good scholarship:

These websites are good for connecting you with several different scholarship opportunities that range anywhere from academic awards to minority scholarship awards. Sports scholarships are also great for going to school while performing in the sports team of your choice. Although these scholarships can certainly be very helpful to help pay for college, one of the most helpful scholarship programs can be found through your current college and through your state. Many states have special programs for residents who have performed especially well in high school either academically, in sports, or in some specific subject.

If you continue to perform well at the college you attend, your school is also likely to offer rewards in the form of scholarships. Something important to remember when it comes to scholarships is that you can pretty much find one for just about anything. From being left handed to wearing a duct tape dress to prom, there are scholarships available for wacky subjects that seem completely unrelated to education. If you struggle with academics or are intimidated by the competition, it might be best to look into these alternative kinds of scholarship programs.

Joining the Military

When you make the noble decision to serve your country in the military, you are rewarded by several federal programs that allow you to attend an institute of higher education for free, receive benefits on housing, healthcare, and benefits for your dependents. If the cost of college seems overwhelming to you, joining the military may be a great decision. Not only does joining the military provide you with a paid education, it also gives you invaluable experience learning the various skills necessary for each job and experiencing new countries and cultures. These life lessons not only help you become more well-rounded as a person, but can also make you more valuable in the job market because you have more skills to offer.

Applying for Grants and Loans

Federal grants are similar to scholarships in that you don’t have to pay the money back; however, grants are usually preferred because they don’t require much (if any) work from the recipient. Students who come from low-income backgrounds usually qualify for the Federal Pell Grant, which can add up to $5,000 in aid per year for qualifying students. Although grants are ideal, many students don’t qualify for them and have to take out loans to pay for college. The following loans are available for students who need assistance paying for college:

Getting a Job

Rising tuition means that very few students are lucky enough to juggle classwork and homework without maintaining a part or full time job on top of that. Unfortunately, having a job is absolutely essential to making the cost of college easier on the student. In extreme cases, some students are forced into the position of taking on a full time job during the day while attending night classes just to be able to make ends meet. Fortunately, there are alternative options for paying for college besides employing a sugar daddy to help out.

How to Get Cheap Car Insurance

How to Get Cheap Car Insurance

There are hundreds of millions of drivers with car insurance in the United States. Many drivers receive their auto insurance bill and wonder why they are paying so much. There are a number of steps that drivers can take to ensure that their auto insurance is as affordable as possible.

Raising Deductibles

Drivers should often consider raising deductibles on their auto insurance. Many drivers have low deductibles that make it easy to use insurance. Drivers who rarely place a claim with their auto insurance company should consider raising their deductible. A customer may be able to save up to 40% by changing the deductible on their policy from $250 to $1000.

Drop Additional Coverage

Many drivers who have older vehicles may not be aware of expensive options they have on their auto insurance. A customer who has an older vehicle but still maintains collision/comprehensive coverage on it may pay hundreds of dollars a year more for their coverage. Older cars may not receive a full payout for these claims either. Customers should strongly consider drop collision/comprehensive policies or raising the deductibles on these policies.

Avoid Extra Medical Coverage

Drivers who already have health coverage through work should avoid purchasing health coverage from their auto insurance company. Drivers will receive coverage from their primary health care policy. Drivers only need to maintain the statement minimum personal injury protection liability insurance. Anything extra will only increase the cost of the policy as well as over protect the driver.

Purchase a Vehicle That is Cost Efficient

Drivers who want to save money every month should purchase a vehicle that is cost efficient. An insurance customer who purchases a vehicle that is stolen often will be charged a higher premium. Any driver who decides that they want to have an expensive sports car because it looks cool will have a higher premium. Vehicles that have costly technology or expensive repairs costs are likely to have higher insurance premiums as well. Drivers can save a large amount of money by purchasing a vehicle that is unlikely to be stolen and has a good reputation for repair.

Drive Less

Drivers who drive less are able to save money on their policy. A driver who drives only 5,000 miles a year in their vehicle will pay a lower premium than drivers who drive 12,000 miles a year. Drivers also will have a lower likelihood of being involved in an automobile accident. Drivers who carpool may also receive a discount on their auto insurance. Customers should contact their auto insurance company to inquire about a potential discount.

Notify Your Insurance Company about Safety Features

Many insurance companies are automatically able to see which safety features are installed in your vehicle. However, some insurance companies do not automatically apply these discounts. Many auto insurance companies allow drivers to receive a discount for having air bags, ABS brakes or an alarm system. Insurance companies may even bundle these discounts together to give the customer even further savings.

Add Teens to Parents Policy

Many parents may not want to have their teenager on their auto insurance policy. However, teenagers who are on their own policy typically have to pay over $1,000 more a year for similar coverage. Teenagers who have good grades as well as pass a drivers education class can qualify for discounts. College students may also qualify for discounts depending upon the auto insurance company.

Carry All of Your Insurance With One Company

Many companies provide a loyalty discount for having multiple policies with the same company. This means that a customer who has a homeowners’, life insurance and auto insurance policy with the same company could save hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. Best of all, many insurance companies are willing to give you discounts on your other policies as well. Price shop other insurance companies and notify your current insurance company that you have found a better price elsewhere. You may be able to save money simply by asking for a discount.

Ask for a Discount

Customers should always ask for a discount. Many companies may deny a discount or only apply a small discount to your account. However, customers may be eligible to save hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. Often a customer has to make a simple phone call that takes less then ten minutes in order to save a large amount of money.

Avoid Coverage for Rental Car Reimbursement or Towing

Drivers should strongly reconsider adding rental car reimbursement or towing coverage to their policy. Many drivers may already have a credit card that covers them in the event of their vehicle breaking down. Check with your credit card carrier for more information to determine whether you truly need this coverage.

Tips to Remember

Drivers should remember to check with their insurance agency about all of the tips that are mentioned above. Many drivers are able to save hundreds of dollars a year on their auto insurance premiums. Cost savings can add up quickly when drivers raise deductibles, drop coverage and simply ask for a discount. Customers should always remember that the insurance market is very competitive and there are many car insurance companies who are willing to give you a quote for cheaper insurance rates.

How to Buy Small Business Insurance

How to Buy Small Business Insurance

Owning and operating a small business is hard work. Some problem is always cropping up. Making sure the business runs smoothly, efficiently, and profitably is totally up to you. There is no one to fall back on, no one else to blame. You make the decisions, and either suffer the consequences or reap the rewards. Carrying the right amount, and the correct type, of insurance is absolutely necessary–it’s a backup plan that won’t fail you. Following are a few tips on how to properly insure your small business.

Necessary Coverage

Depending on the size of your company, certain kinds of insurance will be necessary–you have to carry them. They consist of Medicare, workman’s compensation, Social Security, and unemployment insurance. A few states also require a business to provide disability insurance, which will partially cover an employee’s injuries if they are hurt on the job. For companies that use vehicles to do business, special business auto insurance is required. If your small business provides a professional service, such as a doctor or dentist, you must carry malpractice insurance. If your business is a sole proprietorship you won’t need to be concerned about workman’s comp or unemployment insurance, but there are other types of insurance you may need to consider carrying in order to be fully protected.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance covers employees that are injured on the job and are unable to work. The insurance coverage will provide a worker with an income while they’re laid up and partially cover their associated medical expenses. It will also help with the rehabilitation process, should it be required. In a similar vein, the same sort of coverage will apply if someone becomes incapacitated due to a job related sickness or disease. You can get business liability insurance through a private or state run provider.

Criminal Liability Insurance

In order to protect your business from an intentional act of sabotage by a disgruntled employee you may want to consider carrying criminal liability insurance. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for someone to become disenchanted with you or your business due to a perceived wrong and take their frustrations out on something you own. This type of insurance will make sure you’re covered for a willful destructive act.

Business Disability Insurance

Carrying added coverage, like business disability insurance, while not mandatory, is a good idea in order to protect you and your business. This type of insurance will provide coverage for you in the event you are unable to work for an extended period of time. Without it, your business probably wouldn’t survive–especially if you’re a sole proprietor. In that case you would be out of business–you would go belly up in no time. However, if you have adequate business disability insurance you will have protection, and the business should continue to prosper.

Business Owner’s Insurance

Business owner’s insurance is a type of coverage that will provide protection in the event you are named in a lawsuit for one reason or another. It will provide separation between your business and personal assets and can also help pay for attorney’s fees. It all depends on the amount of coverage you sign up for.

Professional Liability Insurance

If your business provides professional services, such as the services provided by a doctor or dentist, or many other areas of the medical community, you will need professional liability insurance. Frequently called errors and omissions insurance, or malpractice insurance, professional liability insurance will protect you against charges of negligence or any mistakes you may inadvertently make.

Product Liability Insurance

Another type of insurance to consider is called product liability insurance, which will protect you in the event of a problem arising with a product you make. If a problem develops in the manufacture of that product, or in any area of your business in which you may be considered liable, product liability insurance can provide financial protection and allow you to solve the problem.

This guest post about how to buy small business insurance was written by Bailey Harris. Bailey writes for

Starting Your Own Vending Machine Business

Thinking of starting your own vending machine business? Take this quick quiz to determine if the vending business is for you.

1. When your boss is out of the office for the day, you are most likely to___

(a) Finish your current assignment and organize the materials for the presentation.

(b) Finish your current assignment and leave a little early.

(c) Work on your current assignment, with breaks for checking Facebook.(d) Spend all day updating your Facebook profile and posting pictures.

How to Start Your Own Vending Machine Business

How to Start Your Own Vending Machine Business

2. Your financial monitoring habits are best described as___

(a) Reconciling down to the last penny.

(b) Scanning monthly statements for suspicious activity.

(c) Scanning bank statements for significant overdrafts.

(d) Waiting to see if the ATM screen says “insufficient funds.”

3. Your standard procedure at a party is ___

(a) Working the room because you enjoy meeting new people.

(b) Parking yourself by the snacks and making small talk with other grazers.

(c) Hanging out and “people watching.”

(d) Hard to say because party memories are so fuzzy.

4. Your primary means of transportation is___

(a) A car or truck.

(b) Public transportation.

(c) Walking.

(d) The back seat of other people’s cars.

5. The area where you live is best described as___

(a) A city or town.

(b) A rural community.

(c) A remote outpost.

(d) Desolate and/or uncharted.

If all your answers were (a), congratulations:

1. You are self-directed and motivated.

2. You are good at managing money.

3. You enjoy interacting with people.

4. You have reliable transportation.

5. You live in a populated area with a number of viable locations for a vending machine. Visit an online retailer like to see how you can launch your business.

If some of your answers were (b), you should think about whether you are willing to do what it takes to succeed in vending machine sales:

1. You have to be willing and able to take initiative.

2. You need to keep detailed, accurate financial records. The IRS does not have a relaxed attitude about these things.

3. You need the social skills for building and developing contacts and negotiating potential sites.

4. You will need reliable and efficient transportation.

5. You need consumers. Whether you operate a soda vending machine or a hot food vending machine, your business cannot succeed if there are not enough consumers to create a demand.

If most of your answers were (c):

Although it’s good that you like to “go with the flow,” you may not be the best candidate for vending machine sales.

If most of your answers were (d):

It’s possible you should not even be buying things from vending machines.

Jessica writes about a wide variety of topics.  She especially enjoys writing about business. You can learn more about vending machine business at

How to Handle Life Insurance if You Smoke

People who smoke should know that smoking isn’t just hazardous to your health – it is also hazardous to your wallet. Smokers are practically guaranteed to be charged higher life insurance premiums than non-smokers for the simple reason that the mortality rate for smokers is higher than it is for non-smokers. If you’re more likely to die early, life insurance companies want to make sure they can get as much money out of you as possible, as soon as possible.

Even if you no longer smoke, your past will have an effect on your current insurance rates. Insurance companies usually will take the fact that you have stopped smoking into consideration when calculating the premium, but the rates will still be higher than for someone who has never smoked. Insurance companies tend to classify former smokers into three different categories: preferred plus, preferred and standard.

Tobacco, Life Insurance, and Smokers

Tobacco, Life Insurance, and Smokers

Preferred plus policyholders are people who stopped smoking five or more years ago. Preferred policyholders are people who stopped smoking three to five years ago. Standard policyholders are people who stopped smoking 12 months to three years ago. Preferred plus policyholders will be charged a lower premium than preferred policyholders, and preferred policyholders will be charged a lower premium than standard policyholders. The reasoning behind these categories is that the longer someone stays away from smoking, the less likely they are to die of a smoke-related disease, the more likely their body will have healed from the smoking-inflicted damage, and the less likely they are to resume smoking again. If you purchase an insurance policy as a smoker but later on you decide to quit smoking, make sure to inform your insurance company of these changes. Once you start qualifying for former smoker rates, you’ll be able to start saving money.

Some people may be tempted to lie to their insurance companies about their smoking status. This is not a good idea; insurance companies require potential policyholders to undergo thorough medical exams before they agree to provide insurance. A good doctor can easily figure out if you’re lying about your smoking status, whether it be past or present. For example, if you currently smoke, your urine will contain traces of nicotine. Your lie will be easily revealed once the insurance company receives the results of your urine test.

Another thing you should never do is entirely forgo life insurance because you smoke. Sure, your policy will be more expensive, but that’s not a good reason to chuck life insurance out the window. By smoking, you are doing something that, whether you like it or not, increases your chance of dying. When you look at it from this perspective, a smoker needs life insurance more than the average non-smoker does. The best thing you could possibly do for your loved ones would be to stop smoking, but if you can’t manage that, at the very least make sure to get life insurance.

This post was provided by the life insurance website For more insurance resources visit their website today.

How to Cook Salmon

How to Cook Salmon

Like any fish, there are countless ways to cook salmon. I’m practically a salmon addict–if there were a 12-step program for salmon addiction, I’d be the poster child. This delicious fish is surprisingly good for you, and new research pops up all the time about the benefits of eating salmon.

Health Benefits of Salmon

Salmon is high in protein and what are known as “good fats.” The fat in salmon is good for your body and especially good for your brain. People who eat salmon reports fewer headaches, less depression, and even a decreased suicide rate. A single 4 oz serving of salmon gives your body its full day’s requirement of vitamin D. There are very few foods that provide that much vitamin D–a substance that has to be added to milk for the same effect.

How to Cook SalmonThat same size piece of salmon has half your body’s requirement of vitamin B12, niacin, and a chemical called selenium which is necessary for bone and cell growth and regeneration. Salmon is also high in vitamin B6 and magnesium. One benefit of canned salmon over wild salmon is a huge dose of calcium, thanks to the bones present in the canned version.

The omega-3 fats in salmon can reduce inflammation, so it is a perfect food for people with a heavy workout or exercise regimen or chronic pain. These same fats also reduce the risk of heart disease of all kinds, diabetes, many forms of cancer, and painful conditions like arthritis. Omega-3s have been shown to reduce the risk of  blood clots, thus reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack. Scientists now tell us that omega-3 fats can prevent serious aging problems such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Why I Love Salmon

As a red wine fanatic, salmon is often the perfect food pairing with my favorite vintages. I got into salmon as a result of my newfound fascination with pinot noir. But since salmon is, after all, a fish, I also like to eat it when I enjoy a decent white wine. In fact, even on nights when I’m not imbibing, or am sticking to cheap beer, a piece of grilled or baked salmon is the perfect dinner.

It doesn’t hurt that I have heart disease and Alzheimer’s in my family. Every time I eat a piece of salmon, I feel like I’m treating my body and my taste buds at the same time.

4 Ways to Cook Salmon

Here’s a variety of preparation methods for salmon. I eat it twice a week and try to mix up how I cook it every time so I don’t get bored. But let’s be honest–how could you get bored with the most delicious fish ever to swim in God’s waters?

Roast Salmon Fillets

4 (6 oz. 1″ thick) fillets
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place fillets on a baking pan. Brush them with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings. You can season the fish any way you want.

Roast the fillets for 8-10 minutes, then turn off the heat and let them stand in a closed oven for another three minutes.

Baked Salmon Steaks

This recipe is perfect for a quiet night at home with just the wife and me. I find a decent bottle of pinot noir (preferably something like the 2005 Penner-Ash from the Willamette Valley for around $45) and bake two salmon steaks according to this simple recipe:

2 Salmon steaks
melted butter
lemon juice
chopped onion
whatever herbs and spices I have lying around

Add lemon juice and seasonings to melted butter. Put the fish in a shallow casserole, pouring lemon butter mixture over the top. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Brown Sugar Baked Salmon Fillets

For people who don’t like the strong flavor of salmon, I like to prepare this brown sugar version which takes no time at all and uses ingredients most people have around the kitchen already.

lemon juice
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
4  salmon fillets
melted butter
4 thin slices of lemon
8 tsp. loose brown sugar

Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Pour the lemon juice into an ungreased rectangular baking dish, ideally 11″ x 7 1/2″ x 2″. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup brown sugar on the bottom, and arrange the salmon fillets in the dish. Drizzle the whole shebang with drizzle with melted butter. Bake them uncovered for 15 minutes; then turn them over, put 1 slice of lemon on each salmon fillet and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons brown sugar. Bake until the fish flakes easily with fork, about 10 to 15 more minutes. Pour the juice from the dish over the top when it’s time to eat.

The brown sugar really complements the sweet taste of quality salmon.

Smoked Salmon “BLTs”

Not every salmon recipe calls for big hunks of fish baked or fried. In fact, my wife’s favorite preparation of salmon is this simple sandwich, basically a BLT with a nice piece of salmon. Great with white wine for a weekend lunch.

4 slices thick bacon
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped dill
8 half-inch thick slices of good multigrain bread
6 ounces of smoked salmon
arugula for sandwiches
2 large sliced tomatoes

Cook the bacon until crispy over medium-high heat. Drain the bacon on a paper towel.

Mix up the mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, and dill. Spread this mixture over each slice of bread. Place the smoked salmon on the bread and break up the bacon and place it on top of the salmon. Add arugula and tomato slices on top of the arugula. Eat ’em up.

Salmon is not just delicious and healthy, it has also taught medical science a thing or two. A fat found in salmon, known as “subtype resolvin E1” has been shown to halt cell migration. That means that doctors can use this fat to halt the severity individuals’ immune response, reducing disease risk and treating pain from inflammation.

Whereas aspirin used to be the only real treatment for this kind of condition, this new fat found in salmon is the next big thing in treatment. Doctors are now developing new drugs based on salmon fat.

Palmolive Coupons

Palmolive Coupons

Manufactured by the Colgate-Palmolive company, a multinational corporation specializing in home health products as well as veterinary products, Palmolive dish detergent was invented in 1898 as an all-purpose soap. At one time, Palmolive was simply a combination of palm oil and olive oil, lending the product its trademark name.

By the turn of the 20th century, Palmolive soap was the best selling soap product in the world, popular enough to host and sponsor two radio programs as a means of advertising. In 1928, Palmolive bought the Colgate company, a joint business venture that continues to this day. Few people know that Palmolive actually owns Tom’s of Maine, a natural and organic health product company with a small-guy image.

Palmolive IngredientsPalmolive Coupons

No longer a combination of palm and olive oils, today’s Palmolive actually contains neither. The main ingredients, besides water and dyes, are ammonium, alcohol, sodium chloride, and sodium bisulfite. The ammonium is the only actual “cleaning” ingredient, with most of the others added to create texture, consistency, or shelf-stability.

Palmolive Varieties

There are so many varieties of Palmolive dishwashing liquids and detergents, there’s probably a product for every home dishwashing need. Choose from detergent for handwashing or detergent for automatic washing machines.

Dishwashing Liquid–These are products used for hand-washing dishes. There are seven varieties of Palmolive dishwashing liquid, ranging from standard Palmolive to “Pure + Clear” without dyes or added chemicals to a special Palmolive Baby product meant for washing dishes used by babies, with ingredients that are softer on your baby’s system.

Dishwashing detergent–Palmolive is pushing their “Eco+” line of dishwashing detergent heavily. These detergents meant for dishwashing machines contain fewer environmentally harmful chemicals, like phosphates. Other varieties of Palmolive detergent include Oxy+ which has an added ingredient to fight grease.

Palmolive Coupons 2011

You can find coupons for free palmolive products and discounts on all Colgate-Palmolive cleansers and soaps in weekly ad circulars, online coupon hunting sites, and directly from the manufacturer or grocery store where you buy Palmolive.

Right now at, for example, you can find dozens of printable coupons for Palmolive and Colgate products, including a special 25 cents off coupon good for Palmolive Antibacterial, listed as “The only detergent approved to kill 99.9% of E.coli, Salmonella & Staph on dishes in seconds.”

Printable coupons are also easy to find at sites like and–just search for “Palmolive” or “Colgate” and you’ll have instant access to lots of different free coupon offers, including “buy one get on free” deals and retailer-specific printable deals.

Check your grocery store’s weekly ads for specials on Palmolive products. These detergents and washing liquids are so popular, it is common to find deals at the grocery store of your choice for the Palmolive product line.

Palmolive has a long history, and has been one of the world’s most popular soaps and detergents for well over a hundred years. Thanks to Palmolive’s popularity and third-party retail websites, you can almost always find a free, printable Palmolive coupon good for the Colgate-Palmolive product you’re shopping for.

Where to Get Fake Money for Your Child

Where to Find Play Money for Your Kid

Knowing where to get fake money for your child can pay off dividends when it comes to teaching them how to count currency, identify the various types of cash notes, and be a responsible consumer. Plus, younger children may be prone to rip or tear bills as their curious hands explore the texture, so using fake currency will save you from losing real money.

Fake Money on the Internet

Thanks to the Internet, fake bills can easily be downloaded or printed directly from the website. Here are some of the best (and safest) sites I’ve come across:

Counterfeit Money from Other Sources

While the Internet is a convenient source for fake currency, you will also find it available from other sources. Here are a few to try:

Now that you know where to get fake money for your child, it’s time to begin the process of teaching them about how the economy works. You may be surprised at how fast they pick up these lessons, and parents with more than one mortgage and steep credit card debt might expect to receive some sound financial advice from their kids.

How to Screw Up a Business Card

Is there anything worse than a bad business card? Business cards can be “bad” for lots of different reasons, but does the particular reason for a business card’s awfulness really matter?

A bad business card means less interest in you and your business and makes you and your interests look sloppy and disinterested. Since a business card is a relatively easy thing to put together, making a mistake or putting out a terrible, unattractive, or misprinted business card says a lot about your skills.

Here are some of the most common ways that people screw up their business cards.

Leave Important Information Off

Business Card MistakesHow many times have you been handed a business card that didn’t give sufficient information? Business cards that lack critical information are worthless, wastes of money and time, and the most likely cards to be ignored or thrown away.

Your business card should have your name, the name of your business, your contact information (including physical and web address), and maybe a business logo if you have an attractive one to add.

Make sure your business card contains a phone number where you or someone at your place of business can be reached during normal business hours. It should also have a valid email address, if you want to be contacted by potential customers via email.

Add Too Much Information

Even worse than a business card without vital pieces of contact info are those overly busy, tacky looking business cards so stuffed with information and details that you can’t make heads or tails of the card itself.

There’s no real need to put a “mission statement” or multiple phone numbers and email addresses on your business card. A recent trend in business cards has been to put not just one person’s name, but the names of the entire executive staff. Who cares what your bosses name and his bosses name are . . . this is your business card. A good website URL can clear up any questions your customers may have about the names and roles of the businessmen above you in the pecking order.

Too much information makes it look like you and your business are unorganized or heavy-handed, and cards that are stuffed with too many details are just as likely to be tossed out with yesterday’s garbage as cards that have too little information and too few details.

Print Incorrect Details

Putting incorrect information on your business card isn’t as big of a problem as handing out a business card with a bad design—if you catch the error and reprint the cards before handing them out. Sure, it adds cost and is wasteful to have to reprint business cards, but if you catch the mistakes in time, you can avoid embarrassing yourself and your business.

Now that everyone has an email address and website URL on their business card, it is easier than ever to put bad information on business cards. It can be hard to “spell check” a URL or email address, and a single incorrect symbol, number, or letter in an email address or URL can frustrate your potential customers and have them wondering about the legitimacy of your business.

That’s why your business card should be checked top to bottom, gone over with a fine tooth comb by more than one person to check for mistakes. Type in the URL of your website symbol by symbol directly from your business card the same way your customers will. Otherwise you run the risk of handing out bad info.

Get Too Gimmicky

There are sometimes good reasons for business card gimmicks, but most of the time a straightforward business card is best. Gimmicky business cards work best in small runs—print ten or twenty unusual cards to keep around the office for special clients or customers you think would get a kick out of these goofy cards. You should always have a more traditional business card to back up a business card built around a gimmick.

A business card gimmick can help certain people remember you or your business, but they often make it more difficult for a customer to keep track of your card. I knew a guy who had a business card designed that contained tiny seeds that (if watered) grew little watercress seedlings out of the top of the card. A nice gimmick, but pretty difficult to keep in a business card organizer wouldn’t you say?

Print Too Few Cards

One of the classic business card mistakes is simply not printing enough business cards. If you’ve spent lots of time and effort putting together your business card, running out during a meeting or on a lengthy business trip is a real amateur mistake, and is basically an invitation to your competition to step in and hand out their own cards in your place.

If you find that you usually print too few business cards, there’s a simple way to avoid this mistake in the future. Find a business card printer that charges less per card. Simplify your design to reduce costs and print three times as many cards as you think you’ll need. There’s just no reason to not have a business card every time you need one.

If you want your customers to question the ability of you or your business to get the job done, go ahead and make any of the above mistakes. Business cards can be designed and printed from pretty much any computer these days, and any idiot can use a business card template or printing service to put together a solid business card.

Avoid the above mistakes to avoid losing business and looking like a fool. Printing good business cards is easy enough if you approach the task with a little care.

A good way to make sure you have a GOOD business card is to have criteria or standards for your company. Look at this page for an example of guidelines for business cards.

How to Get a Credit Card

Credit Applications and Realistic Expectations

Due to the troubles in the economy, the standards for how to get a credit card have changed in the last couple of years.

When you have a credit crunch, underwriters naturally are going to tighten up standards and add restrictions to manage their risk. Interest rates are likely to increase.

So you want to get the latest information on being issued a line of credit through one of the major finance and credit institutions.

Even if you have bad credit or you’re a “credit ghost” (no credit history), you shouldn’t give up. You just need tips for how to get a credit card.

Apply for the Correct Credit Card

When it’s time to get your own credit card, do a little online research and find the type of credit card which fits your demographic. There is a credit card designed for every person in the world; you just have to find it.

There are debit cards specifically designed for kids and teens (see “Visa Buxx”), so it shouldn’t surprise you that there are credit cards for college students and credit cards for seniors, too. Find the one whose program you’re most likely to be accepted into and apply for this card. You might not be getting an American Express Card or a Visa Gold Card on your first try, but you’ll be able to get a credit card, no matter what your credit issues are.

In those particular cases, here are way to get a credit card if you have bad credit.

Explain Your Bad Credit

One fact many debtors don’t know is that you can add a personal statement to your credit report explaining any defaults or bad items on your history. If you have some issues in your recent past, use those 100 words to explain what happened. If you lost your job in the economic crunch or you went through a long illness or divorce, add that to your credit score. People understand these things and they show your credit problems are likely a one-time issue, not a pattern of trouble.

Get a Subprime Credit Rate

People with a bad credit history or no credit background have to be ready to deal with subprime credit rates. “Subprime” is another word for crazy-high interest rates on your credit line. You don’t have the history other people do, so you are asked to pay high margins when you borrow money. Remember, a credit card is borrowing money from a financial institution, even if it seems like charging is buying things and paying later.

Getting a subprime credit rate mitigates some of the danger the credit card company faces when issuing you a credit card. When you pay huge amounts in interest, you’ll cover the costs if you eventually default on credit.

Imagine you’ve gotten your first credit card and you only have a $1,000 maximum. Then imagine you max out your credit card and end up paying only on the interest for a year or two. Even if you pay $1,200 in pure interest, not paying down your credit bill, then default on your loan, the credit institution ends up with a net gain. Extrapolate that concept out to big sums of money in the tens of thousands of dollars, or across tens of thousands of debtors borrowing from a creditor institution, and you’ll see how even defaulting debtors still pay off for a firm.

Build Your Credit Score

The key to getting a subprime credit rate is to avoid paying interest. Don’t overcharge your card. Instead, use it for convenience, paying only what you can afford to pay off at the end of the month. When you do this, you avoid interest payments. Your bad interest rate doesn’t matter, but you begin to establish a positive credit history. Funny enough, you hear about creditors calling the people who pay off their bill every month and never pay interest “deadbeats”, because lenders make their money off the people who fall into the credit trap.

How to Read an Electricity Meter

Reading an Energy Meter

You may want to learn how to read an electricity meter to track your monthly energy consumption, so you and your family can become more efficient energy consumers.

Or learning how to read an electric meter may be your way of keeping your energy coop or provider honest, checking up on their figures and seeing they aren’t cheating you on your electric bill.

Whatever your reason for reading the meter on your energy usage, reading an electricity meter is a good skill to have.

Once you learn the basics and start keeping your own records, the process will become second nature. That might happen right from the start, if you have the type of energy meter that’s easier to read.

How to Read a Digital Electricity Meter

A digital electricity meter looks quite similar to the odometer on your car. It should have a face on the gauge with five numbers showing, and these numbers should roll over like an odometer. Reading this meter is as easy as reading the mileage on your car.

The fifth number (going left to right) on the digital meter is going to change often. Every time this number increases, you have used another kilowatt-hour of energy in your house and around your property. When the meter reader comes to your house to read this gauge, or when the electric company’s machines back at the home office are transmitted this number, they are able to determine your energy consumption for the month by subtracting last month’s number from this month’s number.

You’ll want to do the same, so get a small notepad and jot down your monthly meter readings. Make certain to note what day (day, month, and year) you check your electric meter. Learn about the local rates, so you can figure out what your energy bill should be for the month.

How to Read a Dial Meter

The dial meter is going to be a lot harder to read. You’ll probably wonder why in the heck the electric company would use such a complicated device. I couldn’t really give you a clear answer to that question, but I can tell you how they’re read and make it much easier to decipher.

Once again, you’ll see five dials, so your electric reading should include five numbers. In this case, though, the dials look a little bit like a clock face, except the numbers go from 0 to 9, with the zero at “12 o’clock” on the dial. You’ll also notice that two of the dials–#2 and #4 running left to right–go counterclockwise, while dials 1, 3, and 5 go clockwise.

Reading the Dials Carefully

Read each dial carefully, taking note which way the dial runs (clockwise or counterclockwise). Whichever way they go, read them as if they start at 1 and go to 0. If the dial has passed a number, count that as that number. If it’s between a number (say the “1” and “2”), read this as the last number passed (“1” in this case).

Do the same for all four dials. The number you arrive at should be your electricity reading for the month. Most of the time, the higher numbers (or the ones furthest on the left) shouldn’t move very often, while the lower couple of numbers should move every month. Once again, this electricity gauge is tracking the number of kilowatt-hours of electricity you’ve used.

To get the amount of electricity consumption for the past month, simply subtract last month’s reading from this month’s reading.

When the Hand is Directly on a Number

When a dial hand is directly on a number, you might have trouble determining exactly how to mark the number. Let’s take an example of a dial that’s pointing at a “5”, but you’re uncertain whether it’s really on a five or only in the high fours.

Take a look at the hand on the right. If that dial has passed “0”, then you should assume it’s rolled over to the next higher number, in this case a “5”. The number on the dials should be “50”.

If the number on the dial to the right hasn’t yet passed the “0”, then assume it’s not rolled over and choose the lower of the two numbers, in this case a “4”. The number on the dials should read “49”.

Track Your Electric Bill – Read the Meter

That’s how you track your electricity meter. If you intend on keeping track of your own energy consumption, remember to keep track from one month to the next. Keep your notebook in the same place, preferably somewhere secure, but somewhere near to the electric meter, and keep the electric company honest.

How to Purchase Precious Metals Online

How to Purchase Precious Metals Online

If you want to buy precious metals online, you can’t go into it willy-nilly. Buying precious metals is a serious investment. Not only will you have to make sure you’re buying from a legitimate precious metals dealer, you need to consider how you’re going to store and protect your investment.

Precious metals are good investments, especially for long-term asset protection. Precious metals aren’t affected by the forces that can make a country’s economy fluctuate. They are liquid assets, meaning you can easily turn them into cash. They are also portable–you can take your investment with you and have a physical representation of your investment rather than some set of numbers on a printed page.

Here’s a quick guide to buying precious metals online.

1. For starters, there are five different ways you can invest in precious metals–coins and bars, certificates, precious metals mutual funds, stock in mining companies, and gold and metal futures.

2. If you are investing in precious metals to diversify your investment holdings, you should always invest in tangible metals–coins or bars. Before investing in tangible metals online, check the US Mint’s approved list of metals dealers.

3. Precious metal bars (also called bullion) is usually made up of the purest form of metals. Metal coins (also known as numismatics) are minted coins, usually minted to mark special occasions. These may not be as pure as bars or bullion.

4. Search for reputable online precious metals dealers. Usually, the best place to buy precious metals online is a dealer that also has a land-based business. To make sure a dealer is reputable, check how long the metals dealer has been in business.

5. Shop around. Different dealers have different markups and fees for selling or storing precious metals. The most popular way to invest in gold, for instance, is the 1 troy ounce coin or bar–these are easy to buy and sell and easy to store, but buying in small sizes usually results in higher fees. Heavier amounts of precious metals will cost less in the long-haul, but are more difficult to store and protect.

6. Choose to buy precious metals certificates online if you don’t want the hassle of storing and protecting physical metals. A metals certificate indicates that you own a specific quantity of a specific metal, but you don’t have to do any physical storage of the metal yourself.

7. Another good online precious metals investment is to invest in stocks and mutual funds that are investments in precious metals. Precious metals funds are the most stable metal investment on paper, mostly because they are diversified and managed unlike stocks. A purchase of stock is an investment in a single company.

Investments in metal futures are the most dangerous form of metal investing, because these investments are subject to the same market fluctuations that make national economies go up and down.

Investing in precious metals is a smart choice when the economy is in trouble, but you should always keep track of your investments by looking at the daily market price.

How to Buy Gold Online

How to Buy Gold Online

Stockpiling gold has seen a spike in popularity recently, thanks to economic insecurity and heavy advertising on television. First of all, gold is beautiful–gleaming and bright, appealing to the eye. Gold is also the most popular precious metal investment. Gold is a tangible asset that maintains its value even if paper money becomes worthless.
Gold is a liquid asset that can easily be converted to cash, and is a way to “ride out” the peaks and valleys of the economy. Gold is portable and accepted as currency anywhere in the world.
Here is a quick guide to buying gold online as an investment property. If you’ve been interested in learning to buy gold online but thought it was too complicated, we’re here to set you straight.
1. Decide What Type of Gold You Want to Buy
The three most popular forms of gold to own are gold coins, gold bars, and gold jewelry. Which of these three you buy for an investment will affect how you buy gold. Gold bars should be at least .995 Fine, meaning they are 99.5% pure gold. Ideally, you’d find a source for .999 Fine gold, though that isn’t always possible, especially if you’re investing in coins or jewelry.
The biggest downside to investing in gold jewelry is that part of what you’re paying for is the craftsmanship of the jewelry itself, which may not maintain its value like the gold will. Still, investing in gold jewelry can be just as profitable as investing in gold bars, as long as you don’t mind having the jewelry melted down to pure gold at some point.
2. Decide How Much Weight of Gold You Want to Buy
Obviously, you want to own as much gold as you can afford–but the cost is not the only restriction on the amount of gold you own. Storing and protecting all that gold is going to take up a ton of space and cash in its own right–even if you store the gold outside of your own property, you’ll have to pay fees for that as well.
Gold bars come in 1 ounce, 10 ounce, and 100 ounce form–a single 100 ounce gold bar is about 6 or 7 pounds worth of gold. If you decide to buy several dozen of these 100 ounce bars, you have a huge chunk of gold and a lot of weight to heft around and protect.
3. Decide Who You’re Going to Buy the Gold From
No matter if you want to buy gold coins or gold bars, you’ll probably be dealing with the same online vendors. You can buy gold online from gold sellers, brokerage houses, and even banks with online precious metals sales options. How can you tell if a gold dealer is legit? Use common sense–make sure the vendor you buy from has been in business for a while. Make sure they’re certified. And you can always check the US Mint’s list of authorized gold dealers.
Gold has historically maintained a pretty constant value, adjusted for inflation–about $400 an ounce. When the economy suffers, the price of gold tends to go up for a while (a “bubble”) before falling again to historical norms. Be careful that your gold investment doesn’t come too close to the tail-end of just such a bubble.

How to Buy Silver Bars

How to Buy Silver Bars

With all the hubbub about investment-grade gold, it is easy to forget about humble silver. Silver is cheaper than gold simply because there’s more of it. Silver is an investment equal to gold in terms of expected profit, and you can afford more of it by virtue of it being less expensive.

If you want to buy silver bars, the process is fairly simple. Here’s a quick guide to buying silver bars.

1. Learn About Silver

You need to know just enough about silver to be able to know if the price you’re going to pay is a good one. High quality (investment-grade) silver bars are always stamped with the bar’s weight, the name of the mint, and the quality or “fineness” of the silver. Investment-quality silver is usually .999 Fine. This means that the silver bar is at least 99.9% pure.

The size of the silver bars themselves will vary from the smallest single ounce wafers to gigantic 1000 ounce silver pieces known as “pricks.” The cost of the bar is figured by the current ounce price of silver–you can check this price in your newspaper’s financial section or online. Don’t expect to pay the price of silver–dealers always add a premium to cover their own costs.

2. Open an IRA Precious Metals Account

IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts) are great ways to protect your investment from taxation. Because there are complicated rules about opening these accounts, check with the IRS (specifically publication 500) before you decide to open an IRA precious metals account.

3. Secure Your Investment

Since precious metals are easy to turn into cash, they are easy targets for theft. The brokerage firm you invest in silver with may offer what is called a “custodial” service to store your silver and other precious metals, for a fee of course. You could also rent a safe deposit box at your bank or purchase a high-quality safe and keep your silver safe at your home.

4. Choose the Size of Bars You Want

As long as the silver you buy is at least .999 Fine, the brand doesn’t matter as much as the size. Smaller silver bars cost more per ounce but are good for people who want to buy small lots of silver at a time. For large purchases of silver, you can buy it in 100 ounce bars–you save a little money buying in large chunks like this. Remember that the largest size silver bars (1000 ounce) weigh 68 pounds–you’ll probably want to arrange to have them stored professionally. Ever tried to move a 68 pound bar of silver around in your minivan? It’s tougher than it sounds.

5. Find a Dealer

You can buy silver bars directly from the mints themselves or from online precious metals dealers. There are also lots of  jewelers and coin dealers that carry silver bars and other forms of precious metals. The US Mint keeps a list of trusted Bullion Dealers.

6. Watch Your Investment

The whole idea behind buying silver bars is to turn a profit, right? That means watching the market price of silver. While you’re at it, keep good records of your silver purchase for tax purposes.

How to Prepare for Your First Child

No other event in your life – not marriage, not a new job, not even a month-long vacation to Switzerland – will alter your life as much as your first child. From sleep and work to exercise and running errands, babies will rock your world. Just how can a nine-pound bundle change so much in the course of a day?

Consider your pre-baby routine as it stands now. When you and your spouse want to see a 9:00 movie, you head out and do it. Need a haircut? Make an appointment and go. And when you’re super tired after a long week the Saturday sleep-in is non-negotiable. Newborns have a different idea on how your life should run. They need to eat every three hours. Around the clock. They get fantastically fussy just when your hands are full preparing dinner. And after weeks of getting up at night, when you feel a deep tired ache down to your bones, desperately needing a night (not a day, not a week, but just a single night) off, babies pick that night to randomly wake up at odd hours. Which means you’re up too.

But lest you swear off the whole ordeal, understand that bringing children into the world is a supremely important task. Life as we know it ends without babies. Children simply illuminate how selfish we are with our time. No article or blog can prepare you for that realization, which lies at the core of why babies are so difficult. You’ll simply have to run through the fire knowing that billions of others have done the same and survived. There are, however, a few ways to prepare for selfless giving that break the ice a bit and prepare your current routine for baby.

Select a list of reliable babysitters.

How to Prepare for Your First Child

How to Prepare for Your First Child

You will need time away from the baby with your husband. Repeat eight times. Then repeat again. Even as early as a month after delivering, you both need to spend time as a couple, because that’s who you were first. When Junior grows up and hits the road, you don’t go with him. And if you have a ridiculous notion that as long as you stay with your spouse through the child’s early years and then split when he goes to college, you failed as both parent and spouse. The last day of your marriage is more important than the first. So get the sitters lined up and keep dating! Make sure your babysitters (especially for a newborn) are older and have CPR training.

Define “help” to extended visitors.

Don’t wait until birthing recovery (which is amazingly painful and lingering) to let your family know the best way to support you when baby gets home. Define it clearly for your mother-in-law or it will be the most miserable week of your life. The best advice I got was to tell people staying with me to help with cooking, cleaning, and other house stuff so I could relax with our new baby.

Organize your house and keep it clean.

Don’t be insane about it but having a place for everything in your home will make life so much easier when baby arrives. The only thing worse than sleep deprivation is sleep deprivation in a pigsty. Cut the cable to hire a maid if you can’t seem to get it done yourself. Routines for housework are great. I always unload the dishwasher in the morning and stick dirty dishes and utensils in it throughout the day before running it at night. Laundry is done during three days each week. I alternate cleaning the carpet and tile every other day so it stays relatively clean. If you’ve worked until the baby comes this will be a great transition to being homebound for a while. You might be tempted to think the house will stay clean because you’re “at home all day to do it”. Good luck with that.

Find friends with kids and help them out.

Your schedule is wide-open right now, whether you know it or not. Get some buddies who are a bit further along on the journey and soak up any information you can from them. Volunteer to change diapers, feed their little Princess, or just clean house. It becomes immeasurably harder to help each other out after your baby comes, so use your enormous amounts of time and be an extra hand to another new mom. You’ll also get a good refresher on baby care.

Practice 3-minute showers.

I always put my first in the swing in our bathroom while I took a rapid fast shower, since I preferred to nap when she did. While it was a bit over-stimulating to her, it worked out for us in those early weeks. Gone are the days of 20-minute showers followed by half an hour to primp. Even if you make the time to do it when hubby gets home you have other things to worry about. You still need to take a shower and look presentable, but just do the basics.

Play with your new baby equipment.

Open and shut the stroller. Do the same with your play yard. Stock up on all sorts of rechargeable batteries and have them ready for the annoying toys Aunt Mildred gives to you. Practice installing your car seat, removing the infant carrier and lifting the handle up and down. Even stick a baby doll in it! Making these routine things automatic will remove some of the stress after delivery.

Arrange once-a-week help from a friend.

This is different from getting date-night help. Once-a-week help can be from your mom, cousin, or someone else with a young baby. This is your time to get a haircut, grocery shop, or take a long nap if you need it.

Don’t buy a bunch of stuff. Especially not blankets.

Unless you just moved or truly have no friends you will be bestowed with more unnecessary frills than you could hope for. The pint-sized snuggly crib animals and homemade blankets will come out of the woodwork. Plus it’s easier to buy things you know you and your family need. A solid percentage of baby junk is just that. Wait a couple weeks before blowing your wad. And when it comes time to buy baby stuff, buy used or use coupons to save money on a purchase that is likely only going to last a few months before it’s grown out of.

Read two or three baby books, but no more.

The best way to find good baby books is to watch other moms whose children respect them and behave. Then ask them if they would recommend anything that helped them. Most of the literature on the subject of babies is completely contradictory and will drive you insane if you take it at face value. Observe other moms and get the scoop directly from them. Authors and folks with letters after their names don’t know you, your child, nor your unique circumstances.

Stop working early, if you can.

The shift from full-time work to full-time baby is immensely tough. To stop work a couple days before birth and then transition to the home immediately is too much stress, even though many women make that same path. I’m convinced that lack of mental, emotional, and physical preparation for such a life change contributes to post-partum stress. Stop a few weeks early and get your mind set on this meaningful yet daunting shift. You need time to talk with your spouse and outline your new responsibilities.

Avoid intentional sleep deprivation.

Most pregnant women have a tough time sleeping anyway. But there’s no need to “get in the routine” of up every 3 hours. Get your rest now and get to bed early to prepare for the labor marathon and ensuing weeks of sleeplessness. It’s really not that bad. You get to spend time nursing or bottle-feeding your little one. That time is so limited and precious that you’ll eventually miss doing it.

If you’re like I was before children, the thought of giving up every inch of myself for a baby terrified me. Each part of the daily routine is turned over on its head to make way for an infant. What I didn’t expect was the accompanying feeling of acceptance through all of it. We can’t head out with our kid-less friends until midnight. Or eat dinner without having to jump up a dozen times. We cherish things like singing kid songs, going to bed early, and reviewing pictures of the new bundle. But neither of us mind that change. The desire for the things we used to do is gone and we don’t miss it.

How to Become a Teacher

How to Become a Teacher

The old adage, “Those who can’t do, teach.” is a load of crap. As a fourth generation teacher (my great-great-grandmother taught Arithmetic in the early part of the 20th century) I can promise you that a teacher does more work and earns greater rewards than any other occupation.

If you’re wondering how to become a teacher, follow these steps:

Forget everything you’ve heard. There have never been more routes to becoming a teacher than there are now. As the population increases and the demand for teachers grows, so do the methods of becoming a teacher. You used to have to go to a teacher’s college or normal school to learn how to become a teacher, but there are now alternative and emergency certifications and plain old bachelor’s degrees. Because every state has different requirements for earning a teacher’s certificate, your own means of becoming an educator may differ from the plan outlined below. But most people in America will find these baby steps useful in their pursuit of a career in education.

The Process of Becoming an Educator

The process of becoming a teacher can start in many ways. You can enroll in a certificate program at an accredited university (even some online programs offer teacher certification courses) or look for “alternative methods” for teacher certification. Both traditional and alternative teacher certification programs are designed in such a way that you can get your certification or degree while you work another job. It’s common for teacher’s certification courses to take place at night or on the weekends.

Once you finish your degree or certification program, you’ll have to pass a test (called Praxis) to determine your academic abilities, skill at education, and the extent of your knowledge in your area of certification. Once you pass the Praxis tests and complete your certification program, you can apply for the physical teaching certificate from the state in which you want to be certified. When you are granted your teaching certificate, you’re free to apply for teaching jobs wherever your teaching certificate is recognized.

How to Become a Teacher

How to Become a Teacher

Public schools require one of these certificates, but many private schools are willing to hire teachers without certification. The difference is often your pay rate — private schools often save money by paying teachers less than public schools, although this isn’t always the case. Even if you want to teach at a private school, a certificate could help you earn more money, get jobs more easily, and make your employer more comfortable with your abilities as a teacher.

Examples of Teacher Requirements by State

In California, the state that boasts the highest average teacher salaries in the country, there are several “incentive” programs to convince people to enroll in teacher certification courses. There’s no one answer to the question of “how to become a teacher in California” — in fact, California has been recognized for its teacher certification programs. BTSA (Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment) is a state-funded teacher induction program that helps newly credentialed teachers in finding and keeping work.

The state of Illinois (with a low cost of living and a relatively high compensation rate for its teachers) is one of a handful of states in the country that will honor just about any state’s teacher certificates. The state of Illinois is also one of just a few states that automatically recognizes people who have completed necessary coursework for teacher certification and automatically recommends the state grant them a license. Because of the low cost of living and the state’s willingness to recognize other state’s certificates, Illinois is one of the most “teacher friendly” states in the country.

Though the state of Mississippi has one of the lowest starting salaries in the country for teachers (less than $29,000), they are ranked number one in terms of giving raises, with teachers earning over an average 50% raise in the first ten years of their careers. Wondering how to become a teacher in Mississippi? Thanks to one of the country’s worst job performance records in the recent past, the state’s teacher certification requirements have gotten tougher in recent years. If you want to teach in Mississippi, you’d do well to earn a teaching certificate at the college level, and those prospective teachers with Master’s degrees will find it that much easier to get work.

Benefits of Teaching – It’s Not Just about the Money

Depending on what part of the country you teach in, the money alone could be enough to draw you toward a career in education. In California, for example, the average teacher’s salary is around $60,000, with an average of a 50% raise over ten years.

Some states compensate their teachers far less. South Dakota’s average teacher salary is almost half of California’s, at just $34,000.

Aside from salary, teacher’s unions across the country fight hard for their members, providing good pensions and health insurance benefits long after retirement.

There are more benefits to being a teacher than a paycheck. No joy in the world compares to seeing a student grasp a concept right in front of your eyes.

Once you’ve been a teacher for a few decades, you may find yourself teaching the children of your former students, or even the grandchildren. Seeing generations of a single family through their formative years is a benefit unto itself.

Don’t forget summer — unless you teach in a year round education district, teaching offers you a couple of months’ worth of built in vacation during your students’ summer break. But many teachers find themselves tutoring or working other jobs during their time off, either to make ends meet or keep themselves busy.

If you or someone you know wants to know how to become a teacher, take encouragement from the fact that educators will always have work. A teaching certificate is the perfect fall back option for any other career, any many people who burn out at other jobs find themselves gravitating towards a career as a teacher. If you’re looking for a career with rewards beyond your bank account, consider becoming a teacher.


How to Get a Baby Sitting Job

How to Get a Baby Sitting Job

Knowing how to get a baby sitting job can be a good way to make extra cash. The more families you baby sit for, the more money you can make.

To be a good babysitter, you need to be reliable, punctual, organized, safety conscious, mature, and trustworthy. You also need to have people skills . (That’s what is required when  dealing with unruly or needy children.) Being fun, firm and patient is  a good start toward having those people skills.

Baby Sitter Qualifications

No hard and fast rules or state laws affect babysitters, but most parents want to hand their children over to an older youth. You should probably be 12 years old or older to babysit. Having a babysitter training certificate is even better.

Babysitting Courses and Classes

You can find informal babysitting instruction courses by looking at the bulletin boards at your school or local YMCA. Carry a pen and paper with you so that you can write down this information. Many modern parents prefer to hire babysitters who have some type of babysitting instruction or education behind them, so take advantage of these courses if you can, especially if you have no previous babysitting experience.

Getting a job baby sitting the neighbor’s kids is the easiest way to get started. Family members are another good place to find potential baby sitting clients. Depending on where you live and how large your family is, you might be able to get all the babysitting gigs you can handle. But if you need to broaden your pool of potential clients, you should definitely have some child care courses under your belt. Having lots of options enables you to pick and choose which kids you get along with. And you can prioritize the parents who pay more for the babysitting services you provide, too.

Baby sitting and child care classes are usually easier to find in the spring and early summer.

How to Get a Baby Sitting Job

How to Get a Baby Sitting Job

How to Get a Babysitter Job

The first step is to get the word out that you’re in the market for babysitting gigs. Babysitting and informal nanny jobs are best found via word of mouth. (So you needn’t put together a resume.) Ask your parents to tell their friends that you are now a baby sitter and that you are ready to sit their children for money.

You should also tell any babysitters you know to consider you as a “backup babysitter.” You can create a network of contacts so that you’ll have steady work as a babysitter.

But be sure to get your parents’ permission before advertising yourself for babysitting jobs.

Baby Sitting Job Specifics

It’s a good idea to set limits on your babysitting. Stipulate exactly what times in the day or week you are available, how many kids you can babysit at once, and what age groups you’ll sit for.

Keep the following questions and their answers in mind when you’re looking at prospective babysitting clients:

Don’t be so restrictive when you’re answering these questions that you’re useless to potential customers. But you do want to leave time to get your homework done. And you have family responsibilities and extracurricular activities to think about too. Keep your parents’ curfew in mind too.

Many parents need babysitters when they go out at night or on the weekends. Part of being a babysitter is giving parents time to have a social life, so this can sometimes impede on your social life. But that’s why you’re getting paid. You’re trading your time for your clients’ money.

Safety Issues

Once you get a baby sitting job, you’re going to have responsibility for one or more children, so learn some basic babysitting safety.

Safety Checklist

Handling Emergency Numbers

When writing down emergency numbers, get the mom and dad’s full names, the dad’s phone number, the mom’s phone number, an emergency contact for the next nearest relative, and a phone number for a trusted neighbor. Also make sure you know the major emergency phone numbers, such as 911, the Police Department, the Fire Department, Poison Control, the Family Doctor, and the preferred hospital.

Print up a sheet of paper with a line beside each of these items, then have one of the parents fill these out when you arrive. If they seem to be in too much of a hurry, have them point you to their list of emergency numbers. Program these into your cell phone if you need to.

Media Access

Some families have strict Internet access and television watching policies. Find out what your clients’ rules are for television and Internet usage in advance.

How to Become a Nanny

Becoming a baby sitter is good preparation if you later want to become a nanny. Being a nanny is way more involved than being a babysitter, but if you find that you enjoy spending time with children, you might be a good nanny candidate.

Nannies spend more time with children, seeing to their basic needs and instructing them in basic life skills. A nanny needs to know first aid and household medical skills, and a nanny needs to know how to cook. Nanny instruction courses can make you better qualified to become a nanny. And being better qualified almost always means making more money.

Getting a nanny job is more like getting any other job. You’ll need a resume with a list of your appropriate experience and education, and you may need a certificate. Unlike most babysitting jobs for teens, a nanny might have to undergo a routine background check.

Getting Your First Baby Sitting Job

Getting your first baby sitting job is a big responsibility. Being a babysitter means that you’re being entrusted with a parent’s most precious thing in the world, so work hard to be worthy of that responsibility. Good babysitters are hard to find, so if you’re dependable, you’ll be in demand.


How to Buy and Sell Stocks and Bonds

Study the Difference in Stocks & Bonds

Learn the two major different types of capital investments in the market. There are a lot of other ways to invest your money, from CDs (certificates of deposit), equities, real estate, mutual funds and so on. But if you want to learn the basics of investment, start by studying how to buy and sell stocks and bonds.

Stocks and bonds are two quite different transactions, though most big dollar investors eventually diversify their portfolio over a range of the two. Stocks tend to be more volatile, but offer the greater lure of profits. Bonds tend to be safer investments, but have a fixed rate of interest (profit).

Don’t Follow One Guru

How to Buy and Sell Stocks and Bonds

How to Buy and Sell Stocks and Bonds

When investing in stocks and bonds, don’t follow the advice of just one individual. Do your own research by reading numerous market experts and analyze the logic of their writing. Everyone has advice for playing the stock market and getting rich through investment, but it stands to reason that not all of them are right.

When investing in stocks, learn who the management of the company you’re investing in is, then learn about their experience. Read annual reports, then read quarterly reports. Read industry news and press releases from potential investments. Learn about this company’s major competition.

Once you study the market yourself, then compare this against what the experts and gurus are telling you. You should be able to see whether they make sense, once you can fill part of the role as your own investment advisor. If you say to yourself that you don’t have the time to learn the market this way, that’s true: find one small part of the market and learn it well.

Open a Brokerage Account

This how you start to buy and sell stocks and bonds. Once you start to understand the fundamentals of market investment, open an account with a brokerage that lets you buy and sell stocks, along with bonds. The general rule is: the more money you pay to a brokerage, the more work they do for you.

So if you want to hire a full-service broker who handles the research and investment angle of your portfolio, you’re going to end up paying higher commission fees. If you want brokers who simply execute the buy and sell orders without getting a lot of advice, hire a discount broker. These brokerages tend to release some of their investment research, but leave the thought process largely to you.

Buying and Selling Stocks & Bonds Online

You can hire an online brokerage and handle all of your money transactions over the Internet, if you want to. Research and choose the e-brokerage you like the most, such as eTrade, ScotTrade, OptionsXpress or TDAAmeritrade. Open an account, knowing you’ll need to apply and link to your bank account. You’ll need to include social security and personal information, so find a reputable online broker.

Once you have an online stock account, fund the account with a limited amount of funds. I suggest $500 to $2000 for beginning investors, and no more (unless you are a person of means). Don’t invest so much that a full loss hurts your future.

Now you have the tools to trade online. It’s a matter of making buy and sell orders and having your broker execute them on the trade floor. Learn the difference in a market order and a limit order and you’re ready to start investing.

Consider Investments in Mutual Funds

Mutual funds are a good place to start investing in the stock market. A mutual fund is a pool of money that invests in a wide range of investment opportunities, often from a particular industry or a particular type of stocks, bonds and other securities.

There are two advantages to a mutual fund, at least for the beginning investor. One, the fund is managed by an expert, who is handling the research and making the investments, so you are investing in this person’s expertise. Two, the investment is diversified, so the mutual fund is less likely to falter than stock in one single company; you’re already diversifying. Of course, the profits aren’t likely to be as great, either.

Buying and Selling Stocks and Bonds

It doesn’t take long to learn the basics of how to buy and sell stocks and bonds. Mastering the art of investment takes a lifetime of study and experience. That’s why I suggest you dip your foot into the pool at first, because you are going to be learning how to invest as you are putting your hard-earned money on the line.

How to Repair Your Credit

When your credit score is low, your life is just plain hard. You will have trouble getting approved for loans, difficulty opening any new lines of credit, and you may even find yourself rejected from job applications and simple things like library cards. If you’re like most people, you may not be sure how to repair your credit score once it is damaged — there are ten basic steps you can take to repair your credit score.

Repairing Credit Score

To begin the process of repairing your credit score, follow these steps.

1. Stop Using Credit Cards

If you have bad credit, the worst thing you can do is keep adding debt by buying stuff with your credit cards. Your credit cards are probably what got you in trouble in the first place, so put your credit cards away until your credit score is better. Don’t close your credit cards, even when you pay them down to a zero balance. Closing a line of credit will affect your credit score negatively.

2. Get a Copy of Your Credit Report

Until you know how bad your credit is, you can’t start to fix it. It is easy to get a copy of your credit report. Remember that there are three credit bureaus to get a score from, and you really do need a number from each one. You never know which bureau a creditor will look at. Get your credit score and find out which accounts need attention.

3. Fix Your Credit Report

Many people’s credit reports contain bad information — the good news is you can have it removed. Your credit report will tell you how to dispute any inaccurate information.

4. Make Delinquent Accounts Current

How to Repair Your Credit

How to Repair Your Credit

Your payment history makes up a huge chunk of your credit score — 35% to be exact. Making payments and “getting current” has a huge impact on your credit score.

5. Stop Applying for Credit

While you are busy fixing your credit, stop applying for lines of credit. Every time you apply for credit, your credit score drops. You’ll probably just get rejected anyway, if you’re in “repair mode”.

6. Keep Accounts Open

Before you close any account, talk to a credit professional to make sure closing that account won’t have a further negative effect on your credit.

7. Talk to Your Creditors

Sometimes, a creditor will offer a temporary hardship solution to reduce your monthly payments until you can start making regular payments again.

8. Pay Off Your Debts

At some point you will actually have to start paying off debt. This is the simplest part of this process — start writing checks.

9. Get Professional Help

Use any resource available to you, from consumer credit counseling to help from a credit counseling agency. Find these through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

10. Play the Waiting Game

Be patient — your credit score went down slowly over time, so you can expect it to go up at the same pace. Fixing credit is really just a waiting game. As long as you’re doing the right thing, you can trust that your score is improving.

Bad credit isn’t the end of the world. If you follow these ten steps, you can be back in good standing with creditors in a matter of months.

See also:

How to Interview Someone for a Job

One of the keys to running a successful business is knowing how to interview someone for a job. As the old saying goes: trash in, trash out. If you hire bad employees, there’s no amount of training or managing techniques that are going to turn them around (forever), and getting them out of the system is often a lot harder these days than it once was.

So having the secrets to good interview skills becomes important for the owner of a small business or the employment personnel at a corporation. Keep problem employees out of your company by following the interview tips below. I’ve tried to provide broad outlines of interview advice and suggestions, instead of trying to create an unrealistic universal template for interview questions.

Get a First Impression

One way to weed out bad employees is to look for red flags before the interview ever starts. Notice whether the person is on time and conscientiously dressed. These issues are only going to go downhill, since people are trying to make a good impression.

Does a person try to look good for the job interview? If that’s how they behave when they’re trying to impress you, imagine how they behave once they have the job.

Learn What They Know About Your Business

Another way to gauge this person’s attitude and conscientiousness is to learn what they know about your business. A good employee is likely to learn a little bit about your company before the interview. This shows that they care and want to learn about the business.

If a person doesn’t know the first thing about what your company does, that is a sign they want a job, but not necessarily a job in your field. People are going to be better at the things they are interested in, and if a person about to interview for a job can’t be bothered to learn a little bit about the career they’re presumably want to enter, they aren’t likely to put much energy into the job, once they get hired.

Don’t expect newcomers to know everything about your field or the company itself, but expect them to know the basics. If they are asking questions they could have learned with a quick online search of your business’s homepage, that’s a red flag.

Evaluate Their Job History

Looking at their resume, decide whether they are both qualified and/or overqualified. A qualified employee has either done the job before, or has skills that apply or translate to this new job. Someone that is overqualified is probably going to be searching for a better job, once they do get hired. If there’s room for promotion in your company, that might not be a bad thing. If not, you’re likely getting a half-hearted employee.

Put Them on the Spot

Interviewees hate this, but if you ask them pointed questions and put them under pressure, you’re likely to see how they handle stress and the pressures of the job. Ask them why they want to work at your company, which skills they have that make them an asset, what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are and how much they expect to be compensated.

Get down to brass tacks and see how the potential employee replies. They’re going to be nervous at a job interview anyway, but you don’t have time to get to know them under ordinary circumstances. Put them under the spotlight and see how they react.

Do You Establish Rapport

Do you and the interviewee establish a rapport? If your gut instinct says this person doesn’t fit in, then don’t give them the job. You might have to modify your hunch-making ability, if you have a larger business.

If so, then ask yourself whether this person is going to establish rapport with the other employees they’ll be working with. You don’t want personality clashes and office politics to get out of control, so before hiring someone, ask yourself whether they’re going to become a part of the team.

Let Them Know Your Decision

For those who came in to interview, give them the callback to let them know you did not hire them. This lets them get on with their search for a new job. You don’t have to tell them why you didn’t hire them, but it’s a basic courtesy to let them know it didn’t work out.

Those prospective employees who just missed the cut are good to keep in the back of your mind, because they might be options later. There’s even the chance that your courtesy pays off some years down the line, when you’re looking for a new career and this person is sitting behind the hiring desk.

Interview Questions That Aren’t Allowed

How to Interview Someone for a Job

How to Interview Someone for a Job

When considering how to interview someone for a job, there are certain questions that cannot be asked during the interview process. Below are specific questions that an interviewer cannot ask during a job interview. Federal law says these questions are illegal.

There is a wide list of questions that are off-limits to people conducting interviews for a company job. Below are subjects that you cannot broach during a job interview. Below this list is a list of questions, somewhat related to these topics, that you can ask about.

Remember, these are not hard-and-fast rules of interviews. Certain states allow more leeway to job interviewers. Look up your specific state laws, to know whether the rules below apply to you. Also note that the rules change, once you have made a conditional job offer. At that point, you might be able to ask more specific job-related questions, including credit history and health-related inquiries.

Interview Questions You Can Ask

There are specific questions related to the topics above that you can ask. These often get to similar information, but in appropriate ways. These questions tend to do with job performance or specific company policies, but not with gray areas of the law.

How to Write a Cover Letter for a Resume

When you write a cover letter for a resume, you’re attempting to make your resume stand out from the other hundred candidates for the job that also submitted an application. Knowing how to write a cover letter for a resume is knowing how to write a call for action on the part of the hiring personnel in that company.

Whenever a job is open and a business gets a bunch of application submissions, only a fraction of those resumes are going to be fully looked over by those doing the hiring. You want yours to be the resume that’s put on the short list, not the big dump pile.

Use a Cover Letter Template

Find a cover letter templates and have your resume in the form the company wants submitted, or the standard cover letter form. It’s going to be points off, if you try to get attention with a radical cover letter aesthetic. You want the company officials to be impressed by your cover letter, so make it look professional.

This means adding a subject line, along with your address and the address of the reader.

Cover Letter Paragraph #1

The first paragraph should be a couple of sentences, which introduces you to the reader and lets them know you meet all the qualifications posted on the call for resumes. If you don’t qualify, there’s no reason they should bother.

Cover Letter Paragraph #2

How to Write a Cover Letter for a Resume

How to Write a Cover Letter for a Resume

The second paragraph should be about three to four sentences long and should list why you’re the best person for the job. Show passion and energy while discussing your education, training and accomplishments. Know what these people want at this position and post credentials that apply.

Don’t add a bunch of qualifications that really don’t apply to the position you’re applying for. Winning the National Tekken Championship back in ’98 doesn’t really impress anyone, unless you happen to be applying for a position as a video game tester. Leading the team to a state title doesn’t apply to being a systems analyst.

In other words, state concisely your education, training and other credentials, and state them in a way that shows you have a passion for your field of work. If you were in a related field, but not this one, explain in an additional sentence how your skill set is transferable to the job at hand.

Additional Information on the Cover Letter

If you feel the qualifications for the job criteria is too much to add in a four-sentence paragraph, then attach a chart on a page 2 with a numbered list of their criteria in one column and a description of how you qualify in column two, then mention in Paragraph 2 of the 1st page that you have made a chart explaining your specific qualifications for the job.

This chart may or may not be looked at and, if it is, may only be glanced at. Make certain the chart makes perfect sense, nevertheless. If they posted criteria, tailor your resume specifically to that criteria, showing that you know exactly what the job is about and that you’re willing to take extra effort.

Cover Letter Final Paragraph

The final paragraph on your cover letter should be a call to action. Let them know you want to discuss the job further with them, and that you would like to know within a specific time-frame (week or so) whether your application is in the system.

Also, make certain your contact information is easy to find and access. Provide your phone number and email address.

The Callback

After a few days, make a call to see if your resume was received and is in the system. If you find out it is, get off the phone within a minute or two and stop pestering them. This is like getting a date: you want to get the appointment, then disengage, before you screw up.

Getting on the short list of potential employees who get the call back and interview is what’s important here. Short of that, find out within a few days if you’re being considered, and move on if you’re not.

Cover Letter Template

Once you have a cover letter, keep a copy on your computer, so you don’t have to relearn how to write a cover letter for a resume. If the resume doesn’t seem to be working, look over it and make necessary improvements.

How to Write A Business Letter

Knowing how to write a business letter can mean the difference between appearing professional and being ignored. Though e-mail and informal conversation have overtaken most standard businesses practices in recent years, knowing how to behave appropriately in a business setting is important when dealing with old fashioned client. A proper business letter communicates a clear message according to a specific form and using mostly emotionless language.

One way to make sure your business letter sounds professional (if you’re afraid your letter writing skills are weak) is to use “stock phrases”. These are standard words that are found in most business letters. Think of your stock phrases as the frame of a house — the frame helps you build the perfect business letter around it.


You should begin your business letter with a phrase like “Dear Sir”.

Depending on who is getting the letter, you may choose to say “Dear Personnel Director” or “Dear Editing Department”, or a more person specific greeting like “Dear Dr.”, “Dear Professor”, etc. — make sure you really know who you’re writing to when you address a business letter so specifically. Use “Ms.” for women unless you know they are married.

The Business, or What You’re Writing About

How to Write A Business Letter

How to Write A Business Letter

You should start out by telling the person getting the letter what business you’re referring to. Phrases like “In reference to your advertisement on the 3rd of March”, or “In response to your inquiry of March 13th”, etc. Make this line as specific as possible, so the receiver knows exactly who you are and what you’re writing in reference to.

Indent a paragraph, and immediately include another stock phrase, such as “I am writing to respond to your bid” or “I am writing to confirm your order of” or something along those lines. This is where the business transaction takes place. Be specific and use as few words as possible.

In Closing

Write a simple but polite closing, such as “Thanks you for your help” or “Please contact me by phone for future orders”, or whatever is appropriate.

Sign your letter with a signature appropriate to your relationship, such as “Your friend,” or “Your associate”.

This will let them know you are just doing friendly business, and did not write the letter for social reasons.

Sample Business Letter

Here is a sample business letter written using some of these stock phrases:

January 10, 2010

Justin Cypert
Retail Manager
Works Inc.
220 Industrial Road
Amarillo, TX

Dear Mr Cypert:

In reference to our telephone conversation of last week, I am writing to confirm your order for 100 Sprockets at $0.10 per Sprocket.

Your order will be shipped within three (3) days via the US Post Office and should arrive at your store in 5 business days.

Please contact us again if there is a problem with the shipment or if we can help you in any way.

Your associate,

Jack Cassel
Director of Sprockets Inc.

How to Write a Mission Statement for a Company

Anyone starting their own business needs to know how to write a mission statement for a company, so business partners and employees alike know the purpose of your organization and has benchmarks to measure the performance of the enterprise. Mission statements require some thought and analysis, though.

How to Write a Mission Statement for a Business

Here’s a step by step guide for how to write mission statements for a business. Follow each instruction to

Brainstorm for Ideas

Start by asking for ideas from all the people in your life whose business opinions you respect. Once you brainstorm and write down the suggestions and ideas in a notebook, it’s time to think through each and keep those that make sense for your situation.

What Role Will Your Company Play?

Decide what role your company is going to take in your chosen industry as it pertains to your local community. I’m assuming you’ll start out with a small company or business, so worry only about your place in the local scene at the moment.

State Your Priorities – Set Benchmarks for Success

What is your company dedicated to? Do you want to please your customers? Do you want to have the best quality product in the local industry? Do you measure success by growth? Bottom line profits?

This is where you define what success is going to be for your company. This is your goal. Answer this question by determining what your company’s mission is going to be.

Product Evaluation

How to Write a Mission Statement for a Company

How to Write a Mission Statement for a Company

Get a rational and realistic assessment of your product. Assess whether it pleases customers, whether you can assure a ready supply from (and profits for) your suppliers and whether your partners are going to be pleased by it.

Incorporate Ideas into the Mission Statement

Next, collect a committee, possibly your prospective board of directors, and analyze the collected ideas and suggestions. Choose the appropriate ones and incorporate these ideas into your mission statement.

Post Your Mission Statement

In the lobby of your company and in your meeting areas, post your company’s mission statement. Consider putting your mission statement in the halls and other spots on the company premises, so your employees know what the business’s mission is.

Company Mission Statement

Your mission statement is going to remind the people in your company what the common goal is and how their work helps to achieve that goal. The mission statement is the heart of your company and the objective at the end of the day.

Studying how to write a mission statement for your company lets you analyze why you are going into business, brainstorm ideas for how you achieve success and set clear benchmarks to measure the achievements of your company. Mission statements bring focus to your business. Focus brings success.

How to Buy Stocks Online

Study how to buy stocks online before you start putting money into the stock market. Internet stock trading is a good way to break into the stock market, because you’ll have access to handy resources through your online broker, along with whatever stock tracking you use from other electronic investment resources.

I suggest you start with a small investment in the stock market, before you jump in and risk a large percentage of your net wealth. Somewhere between $500 and $2000 is probably a good amount for most beginning investors. This lets you buy a number of stocks and understand the implications of gains and losses, but doesn’t expose you to ruin, as you continue to learn the stock market.

Buying Stocks Online

Buying stock online is going to be done through an online stockbroker firm, so it’s time to select your stock broker.

Choosing an Online Stockbroker

I’m not going to suggest any one online stockbroker company, because I don’t want to advertise for them. I’ll tell you the checklist you should use in finding your own stockbroker. You’re looking for proper e-resources to research stocks and stock trends, along with user-friendly software and reasonable trade fees. Find a company that gives you a comfortable mix of these, instead of finding the site with only the cheapest trade fees.

Resources you want to have at your handy disposal include educational tips and other materials, up-to-date stock news, software that’s easy to use and understand, solid general strategy advice and real-time charts of stock trends. You should be able to get a lot of your basic Dow Jones, NASDAQ and S&P information from your online stockbroker website.

Register and Fund Your Account

Registering with your online broker is going to be about like signing up any other online account. You’ll need to trust your online broker, because you’ll be transferring your money into this account. Add the proper funds into your online stock account, so you’ll have the money to make purchases.

Remember the basic assumptions of the stock market. When stocks go up, you make money. When they go down, you lose money. When you sell, you lock in profits or losses. This is real money, so don’t play the stock market like it’s a game.

Study the Market – Make Observations

How to Buy Stocks Online

How to Buy Stocks Online

Once you are in the market, study the market for a while before making a bunch of new purchases, or selling your stocks. Getting in and out of purchases quickly is going to make it hard to profit, because each new move is going to cost you a fee. You’ll want to have faith in the stocks you buy, assuming you’re original logic should hold.

In the early days of your investment in the stock market, you’ll probably make plenty of mistakes. So after studying the stock market for a while, you’ll probably want to trade out of some of your positions – possibly all of them. Don’t make this a habit in the long term.

When I say “study the market”, I mean that you should follow the up and down trends of individual stocks in the DOW, S&P and NASDAQ, while also studying how the general trends move. This takes a lifetime to master, but you can start to get a sense of what’s going on by studying the market.

Keep track of rally days and pull-backs, which are when stocks rally and drop, respectively. Notice how far the stocks tend to drop/rally in a day, how often they bounce back in the corresponding days and whether you can spot a trend or pattern in these seemingly random fluctuations. Read about the stocks in question, noticing patterns or developing theories, then read more to confirm or challenge these ideas you have.

Learn How to Limit Order

A “Limit Order” tells the brokerage at what prices you want to buy or sell a stock. This limits their flexibility in making orders for you, limiting the amount of money you spend on particular stocks to the limits you feel comfortable with.

A “Market Order” tells the brokerage to buy or sell your stock at the earliest possible convenience, at market price. The market order can be a lot more complicated than that, but it’s distinct from the limit order mentioned above. A limit order sets a limit on the time you execute a buy/sell order, or the price being sold, where the market order does not.

Wait a Few Days and See

Once you start buying stocks, keep checking your portfolio every day, to see whether your choices have succeeded. While it’s more interesting to buy and trade all the time, the safest return is to find stock that you think is undervalued and invest on the long-term likelihood that the stock is going to rise. There are plenty of reasons that stock might be undervalued, from a new company who’s time hasn’t come yet, but which has a good business model or product, to an established company that has had bad management, either increasing too fast or too slow, or otherwise not maximizing their potential.

Buy & Sell Stocks Online

The stock market is speculative, so not every investment is going to work the way you expected it to. Knowing when to buy & sell stocks online is a major concern of all investors, but if you find good investments and have faith in them, it’s usually best to stay in the position, unless your faith is shattered in them. Learning how to buy stocks online can be exhilarating or terrifying, because you have the ability to change you mind so quickly. So when learning to buy online stocks, also learn to maintain your patience and let your portfolio make money for you.

How to Identify Counterfeit Money

If you’re afraid that someone is going to slip you a counterfeited $20 bill, you can learn how to identify counterfeit money with a few easy-to-remember tips. People working in retail often have to pay for the money lost when customers steal from the store, so identifying fake money is important for employees of retailers.

Even if you’re a customer, you want to know whether you’re holding counterfeit dollars, because if you pass them on and the cashier notices, you’re going to have to talk to the authorities about why and how you are carrying fake currency. It’s hard to prove a negative, so it’s not always easy to prove to the FBI that you’re a victim, not a counterfeiter. So it pays to be able to spot counterfeit U.S. currencies.

Identifying Counterfeit Money

Here are a few things to check, when identifying counterfeit money.

Paper Quality

U.S. paper currency has a particular consistency. The paper is made of 75% cotton and 25% linen, so American dollars have a particular look and feel. Test out money you know is real and gets used to the texture. Most counterfeits are clever copies, but copies nevertheless.

Micro Fibers Woven into the Paper

U.S. money has blue micro-fibers and red micro-fibers woven into the paper, usually along the ends of the money. Holding up a $20 bill to the light reveals this microfiber in real paper currency.

Counterfeiters attempt to copy this feature, but most of them imitate the effect by placing ink on the surface, instead of treads woven into the paper itself.

Bill Denomination Micro Thread

Also, different denomination dollar bills have the denomination woven into the thread, a little closer to the center of the bill. Holding this bill up to the light lets you see this writing. For instance, a $20 bill is going to have the words “USA Twenty” on it.

Dead Presidents

How to Identify Counterfeit Money

How to Identify Counterfeit Money

Most have an image that is unique to the denomination of the money, often a second, smaller picture of the president on the front. The $20 has a smaller picture of Andrew Jackson on the left, if you turn look at the backside of the bill, while holding it up to the light.

Clear Pictures

Real U.S. paper money is going to have perfect images that are clear and sharp, because these are inspected before getting into circulation. Fake money often is blurry or the pictures aren’t as clear as they should be. If money looks dull, but is clearly new, that’s a sign it’s counterfeited.

Serial Numbers

Serial numbers on a real dollar bill are going to be evenly spaced and of the same color as the Treasury Seal. If the serial numbers don’t line up, that’s a bad sign.

Color Shifts

In recent years, the Treasury Department has begun using color shifting ink in the right hand lower corner of the bill. The ink tends to shift from a copper or gold color to a black or green color, according to the angle you’re looking at the money from.

Uniform Size and Features

All U.S. treasury bills are going to be uniform size that will line up, if you put them together. They are also going to have uniform features that are going to line up, if you stack them.

Counterfeit Bill Pens

Finally, if you really want to know whether a dollar bill is counterfeit, there are special pens you can buy that detect fake money immediately. Many businesses now have these counterfeit spotting resources.

Identifying Counterfeit Money

If you are offered money that doesn’t look right, don’t accept it. If something looks funny, but you aren’t sure, check for other signs of counterfeiting listed on this page. Counterfeiters are usually going to get a few things right, but it’s hard to get everything perfect, which is why the U.S. money printers go to such great lengths to add different touchstones.

Knowing how to identify counterfeit money is knowing each of these tip-offs, so you can check suspicious money a half-dozen different ways.

How to Make Your Own Website

A website is nearly a necessity. It’s fortunate then that there are so many ways to get one, even for those of us who aren’t particularly web-savvy. The internet today offers more free means to make your own website than it ever has before.

Vast numbers of designers and software companies give away their themes, their software, and those which don’t offer you trial versions that can be used to help you make your own website.

Making your own website means that you need website content, a host to house that content for you so that it is served up to the online community, and a means to get it on the website. The “boat” if you will that transports it to the world wide web.

Taking those necessities one at a time, we can offer you a little insight on how to make your own website in a fairly short time and get it online.

Creating Your Own Websites

How to Make Your Own WebsiteThe first and best way for creating your own websites is by the use of the tools that your server or host will offer you. In most cases, website hosts now offer a service called Fantastico. It is a software engine that will set up the software that you want to use to make your website. Fantastico does the installation for you automatically, so that you can take some of the most popular of the content management systems or blog software and install them with a single click.

Once you have installed your software there are multiple ways to get themes, or skin as they are sometimes called, to make your website unique and well dressed. Some of the makers of the free software that you have installed will be willing to make your themes available to you to customize your website.

Among the multiple software options that you have are WordPress, Joomla, Mambo, Joomla 1.5, as well as several bulletin board systems such as PHPbb. These groups have dedicated users who feature themes for the software in question that will customize your website to the level that you’d like. Essentially they may be found in nearly any color or style that you are looking for. Finding the right theme for your website is not at all difficult in consideration of the hundreds of themes that are offered free of charge.

The sites which house some of these them offerings for WordPress, Joomla, and other content management systems that you may install are:

These are just a few of the free themes that are online, depending on the content management or blog software that you select when making your own website.

Many of the major software options such as WordPress, which can be a blog or a content management system will offer you a vastly easy way in which to install the template for your website too. Some of these are one click installations that will negate the need for a lengthy learning curve for your new website.

When beginning a new site online it is advisable to learn a little about search engine optimization, search engine marketing, and affiliate marketing too. While your website may never make you wealthy, having it pay for itself is a means of assuring that you don’t have additional outlay for the upkeep of the site or server.

If you elect to use affiliate marketing on your new website, as most people do, then you will want to find several affiliate companies of good reputation with which to build a profitable relationship. Apply to several of the brokerage-type websites that host affiliates to make a few extra dollars on your site.

Making your own website can not only be a real bonus when seeking a job, when finding a new friend, or when building a new business, but it may also be a real bonus for you in making a viable second income.

How to Repair Your Credit Score

Having good credit is essential for a consumer to have, so if you have bad credit, learn how to repair your credit score. A favorable credit rating enables you to borrow money, make purchases and pay for them at a later date. When you borrow money, banks charge you interest which is a percentage of your balance tacked on to your payment(s).

The better the credit you have, the more money you are able to borrow and the less interest you are forced to pay. Good credit will come in handy when you are making large purchases, such as buying a car or home. In the case of the home, you’re unlikely to be able to buy a house at all, if you don’t have a good credit history.

How to Improve Your Credit Score

Knowing how to improve your credit score requires some responsibilities. You have to pay your credit card bills, pay them on time, keep your balances low and avoid having too many different lines of credit. If you fail to do any of these, it is possible to receive marks on your credit report that will have a negative impact on your credit score.

This will make it more difficult to receive lines of credit (if you can get them at all) and the interest you will have to pay will be much higher.

The great thing about credit, though, is that if you happen to make one of these mistakes and tarnish your credit report, it’s not the end of the world. There are ways to repair your credit score. We have provided some tips on how to do so below.

Tips on How to Repair Your Credit Score

These tips for how to repair your credit score will help you get your debt situation under control, while clearing your credit rating. This is going to take a year or two, in most cases, so start to improve your credit rating now and not later.

Have Someone Cosign for You

A cosigner is someone who signs a credit application with you and acts as a backup in case you don’t pay. This is less risky for the lender seeing as they can hold more people accountable for the monies owed.

Be aware that finding a cosigner can be difficult to do. Let’s face it; you wouldn’t need a cosigner if you paid your bills on time in the first place. So understand that you might run into some resistance and whomever you ask might be a bit weary of putting their name and credit on the line for you.

Apply for a Credit Card

How to Repair Your Credit Score

How to Repair Your Credit Score

Obviously, if you’re having issues with your credit score, the last thing you might want and/or need is another credit card. However, the only way to build or repair credit is to put yourself into situations where you have to borrow money and pay it back. Having a credit card will allow you to do this.

If you happen to go this route, don’t be surprised if you encounter a high interest rate (because of your credit score) or have to pay tons of fees before you can even use your card. Many of these fees include annual fees, sign up fees and monthly service fees.

People with good credit can find lenders that will not charge these fees. But people with poor credit do not have enough leverage to avoid them.

Secured Credit Cards

Another option is to find a secured credit card. Secured credit cards often have an amount that you need to pay first prior to the card being activated. This money will act as collateral in case you fail to make your payments.

Secured credit cards are easier to obtain, as opposed to unsecured credit cards.

Pay Down Your Current Card or Cards

One of the factors that are considered when determining your credit score is your balances in comparison to your limits. As a general rule of thumb, you should never owe more than 30% of your maximum limit on any one line of credit. For example, if you have a card with a $1,000 limit, your balance should be $300 or less.

Anything higher and your credit score will suffer.

If you cannot pay your balance down far enough, a good idea might be to ask for a credit limit increase. So, if you owe $400 on a card with a $1,000 limit and cannot pay the balance down, see if you can get an increase on your max limit up to $1,350 or more.

The increase in your debt limit will put you under the 30% threshold, thus lowering your credit score.

View Your Credit History and Search for Errors

Monitor your credit report to ensure that it is accurate. Small errors, such as supposed late or missed payments, can affect your score quite a bit. These errors are worth pursuing and correcting.

If you have sent in bills late, it might be possible to ask for leniency, even though it’s not technically an “error.” If you have been on time and have a proven track record, some lenders might do this for you, if you ask.

Pay your Bills on Time

The best way to repair your score is to maintain good habits, such as continuing to pay your bills on time. You want to be sure to send the minimum payment (although more is always better) and be sure to drop it in the mail at least a week prior to it being due.

If you have issues getting your bills sent out on time, many banks offer an online service where payments can be sent on your behalf automatically. You set the date, the amount that you would like to send and where the money needs to be sent to and the bill pay service does the rest.

Establish a Credit History

The longer your history with any one lender, the more proof there is that you make payments on time. So there is more room for error, if you have a late payment. If you have a habit of opening and closing accounts, in an attempt to chase better rates, then the mistakes you make will have more bearing, since they were done within a shorter timeframe (smaller history with a lender).

This is how your report a credit score. Improving your credit history is a matter of showing you have your credit situation under control, exhibiting self-control and planning.

How to Make Money Blogging

For those who want to know how to make money blogging, don’t be misled into thinking that it’s easy. Sure, it beats hard manual labor, but you’ll still need to devote months or possibly years to the process in order to achieve the kind of financial independence that most people dream of. There are those who will promise to teach you the secrets of achieving overnight success on the Internet, but they’re nothing more than con artists looking to separate you from your wallet.

In the following article, we’ll take a look at what you’ll need to do in order to start blogging. Then we’ll examine the various money-making blog options at your disposal. As you read, keep in mind that the road to blogging success is paved with hard work, creativity and a little bit of luck.

How to Start Blogging

In this section, we’ll discuss the basic steps you need to learn how to start making money with your own blog. While you might be tempted to skip one of these steps, I would advise against it. Following these suggestions will give you a solid foundation upon which to build your blogging empire.

Get a Domain Name

Some beginners may consider going with a free blog service, but your long-term success will hinge on establishing your own site with its own domain name. There are two reasons behind this:

1. Some free blog services may impose restrictions on advertising and affiliate links. If you’re trying to figure out how to make money blogging, do you really want someone telling you what you can and can’t advertise?

2. You’ll want to establish a brand name. Buying your own domain name will allow you to have a URL that looks clean and professional. With a free blog, you’ll have something tacked onto the end of the URL. Which sounds better to you: or

You might think there’s no difference in the two, but there is. You want people searching for “make money” to find you – not “make money blog spot”.

Domain Name Options

Two options for purchasing domain names are and Dreamhost. Some domain names can be purchased for under $10, while others can run into the thousands. Try to choose a name that’s catchy, short and easy to remember; search engines and your readers will love you for it.

Purchase a “dot com or “dot org” domain. Forget about options like “dot us.”

Get a Web Hosting Provider

A web hosting service is what allows people to access your website via the Internet. For around $10 to $20 per month, you can host your site on GoDaddy, BlueHost or DreamHost. For a little over $100 per month, you can be hosted at LiquidWeb, which offers more reliable service. Avoid free web hosting services, as they’re worthless for those trying to make money with a blog.

Choose a Blog Publisher

You’ll need a blogging platform in order to publish your posts. These are handy, because you don’t need to know lots of complicated HTML code. You just type it in (or cut and paste), and the platform will insert all the necessary codes.

I would recommend WordPress, as it’s much more convenient and user-friendly than Blogger.

Blog Every Day

It’s important to blog every day, especially in the beginning. It will take some time before people start discovering your posts, but the key is to remain patient and keep turning out high-quality blog entries. If, however, you feel yourself getting burned out, then there’s nothing wrong with taking a day or two off.

Get words up on the blog. The more words you put on your site, the more words people might find you via a search engine. Make these quality words and quality posts, of course. Nonsense will just drive readers away.

Keep Improving

No matter how well your blog starts doing, don’t rest on your laurels. You should always be looking for way to generate more traffic and increase sales or click-throughs. One way to accomplish this is by experimenting with the placement of ads and blog titles.

You can also look for ways to spread the word about your blog and achieve a bump in the search engines. Some options for this include article marketing, making guest posts on other blogs, commenting on forums, getting listed in blog directories, exchanging reciprocal text links, and establishing a presence on social media sites.

How to Monetize Your Blog

How to Make Money Blogging

How to Make Money Blogging

Next, we’ll examine the best strategies for how to monetize your blog. Others do exist, but these are the strategies that have proven most consistent.

Sell Advertising Space

In order to sell advertising space on your blog, you’re going to need to generate a lot of monthly traffic. While this can lead to serious profits, it also requires a lot of focus and hard work. You should not assume that Internet marketing isn’t going to require some effort.

You’ll also need to constantly experiment with ways to promote your site. Still, when examining how to make money blogging, there are few options that are more lucrative.

Pay Per Post

You write blog posts geared towards promoting a specific product and get paid for doing so. Even with a small readership, you can make a decent amount of money. If you’re interested in this option, the best sites to visit are PayPerPost, LoudLaunch, Blogsvertise, Sponsored Reviews, and Blogitive.

Selling Text Links

You can also make money blogging by selling text links to businesses and webmasters looking to improve their ranking on Google. This option doesn’t require much time, but you may find yourself limited in regard to the number of links you can sell. Your site will also need to rank well on Google in order to charge higher fees.

Automated Blogs

This type of blog (also known as a splog) is set up to automatically pull items from search engines, news sites and RSS feeds. The best way to make money is to set up Google Adsense or affiliate links on these pages.

While you won’t have to write the articles yourself, your Google ranking will need to be high in order to generate solid traffic to your site. Even then, the conversion rate isn’t exactly impressive.

Contract Blogging

You get paid to create content for someone else’s blog. In most cases, you’ll either receive a small percentage of the site’s advertising revenue, or you’ll get paid in relation to the number of page views (also known as page impressions).

Affiliate Marketing – If you’re looking for how to make money blogging, this is one of the best options around. With affiliate marketing, you partner up with various companies and receive a payment for referrals. This most often works in one of three ways:

1. Pay Per Click – You receive a small payment each time someone clicks on a text ad or banner ad on your site.

2. Pay Per Sign-Up (aka Pay Per Action) – Each time you refer someone to another site and they sign-up or become a member of that site, you’ll receive a commission.

3. Pay Per Impressions – You receive a payment for a set number of website viewing impressions.

When using this option, it’s important to know your audience. If your site is geared towards people 50 and older, then affiliate ads for online video games wouldn’t be appropriate. Keep in mind that some affiliate programs won’t deal with you until your site generates a certain amount of monthly traffic.

As your blog’s traffic does increase, you may also be able to negotiate for a higher commission rate.

If you’re looking to test the waters of the affiliate marketplace, here are some quality places to start:

How to Teach Kids About Money

With financial dangers lurking around every corner, it is more important than ever that you teach your kids about money. Teaching your kids about the importance of money and how to make money goes further. These “how to save” lessons are economic skills your children will be able to utilize every single day for the rest of their lives.

Also, these lessons will likely help them avoid the many pitfalls that others face, such as being waist deep in debt or worse – filing for bankruptcy. In this consumer-driven economy, it’s hard to thing of more impactful training you can impart to your children than economy-based skills.

While the lessons of money management are important to learn, they can be difficult to teach to a child. The following are our ten tips to help you get started teaching children about money.

Ten Tips to Help Teach Your Kids About Money

Advice for parents and adults teaching children about money.

1. Start teaching your kids about money as soon as possible. The suggestion that I have seen most is to start when the kids are able to count, so bring money into the picture around kindergarten or first grade. Money is a complicated subject, so the younger you start, the more time you have to ingrain important concepts such as saving into them.

2. When your kids are old enough give them an allowance. Give your kids a set amount of money per day, week or month and give it to them in such a way that they can easily put some aside to spend, while keeping some to save. For example, if you give them $1 a day, give it to them in all quarters so they can easily save $.25 a day, while spending the rest.

If you give them $5 a week, give it to them all in dollar bills.

As an added lesson, you can even have your kids do chores in exchange for their allowance. This teaches your boys and girls that money is not free, but that it needs to be worked for. From my own experience, I valued my money that much more when I actually had to sweat for it, as opposed to it just being given to me.

3. Use a clear plastic jug or see through piggy bank. Kids are visual. They need to see everything with their own two eyes.

So by using a see-through piggy bank, children will be able to see first-hand how quickly money can add up, when they are trying to save. Doing this will also make the time to save up for bigger items much more bearable, since the child can see that they’re getting close.

It might even help when they spend money, because your kids will be able to also see how much of their savings has been depleted when they purchase something. This might make a young mind think long and hard before making their next purchase.

How to Teach Kids about Money

How to Teach Kids about Money

4. Take your kids shopping and show them first-hand how to make money go further. There are a number of ways you can do this. I would find a grocery item that I purchase regularly and show my child how it can cost differently at two different stores.

When you shop around for the best deal, you have more money leftover. Purchase both items and have your child do the math so they can see first hand how much can be saved by “shopping smart”. Younger and older kids learn by example, seeing how you handle your business, so teach by example.

5. Open a savings account, preferably one that pays interest. You want to show your kids that saving money is important to do. Make them feel grown up by opening up a savings account in their own name.

Show your kids how the bank rewards consistent saving by rewarding a small interest payment a couple times a year.

6. When your kids are old enough to work, make them set aside a certain amount of money each paycheck. My mom did this with me when I first started working. I was required to put aside 50% of every paycheck for savings.

I was able to do whatever I wanted with the other 50%. Learning to hoard money will ingrain the benefits of saving, since your kids will be able to see their savings grow weekly/bi-weekly. This will double as a lesson in budgeting money from paycheck to paycheck.

7. Start a family 401k plan. Most kids or teenagers don’t bother to consider saving up for college tuition, their first house or retirement. But you can still show them how different investing plans work (like the 401k) by setting one up on your own. Don’t assume someone else will teach your children these important lessons.

Pledge to contribute a given amount for every $1 that your child puts away. They’ll see how fast this money adds up which will be more of an incentive to save their money.

8. Explain the dangers of credit cards, the earlier the better. It’s important for your kids to realize that credit cards actually cost them money to use, and that credit card fees and/or interest rates are large.

It should be taught that credit cards should be used for emergency purposes only. You can really drive this lesson home by getting your teen a credit card with a small $100 or $200 limit (with no increases) and make them work and pay off the balance each month. This will also double as a lesson in credit.

9. If kids make a mistake or blow their money, let them deal with it. If your kid wanted a toy or your teenager needs gas for his or her car, but they blew all of their money, let them pay the consequences. They’ll learn first hand how to budget their money so they have some when they need it.

If you always bail them out or buy them what they were saving up for, they’ll start to get the impression that help will always be around the corner and will use that as a crutch. That could be a lifetime trend. If you decide to bail them out, another idea is to “loan” them then money and charge them interest on cash advances, like a bank would.

10. When saving for a specific purchase, have your kids start small and work their way up. For example, if you child wants a $5 toy, $50 video game and a $250 bicycle, have them start saving for the $5 toy first. This will ease them into the mindset of saving.

Your child will learn that sometimes it takes a little while to save up for what they want. Your kid will see that, in the end, saving is a worthwhile thing to do. This will also teach them how to prioritize what they want to save up for.

Keep in mind these 10 tips for how to teach kids about money and your children should be far ahead of the curve when it’s time for them to go out into the world and keep their own budget.

How to Invest in Bonds

Investing your money is a smart and efficient way to save up for long-term goals such as buying a home or retirement. Learning how to invest in stocks is also an effective means for short-term saving for life expenses like vacations or school tuition. Anyone who is interested in having a more secure future while earning a little bit of money in the meantime, should have an investment portfolio.

However, it’s important to realize that investing in itself isn’t enough. You also need to be diverse in what you invest in. In other words, “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” A great way to diversify your investment portfolio is to learn how to invest in bonds.

What are Bonds?

Bonds are loans given by lenders to governments, cities and large companies or corporations. In return, lenders are given recurring interest payments until the term of the loan has ended. Once the term has ended, the “issuer” (borrower) will pay the principal back in full.

While the exact terms of each bond will vary, the underlying groundwork is similar. Most bonds will be a “fixed-rate.” As a lender, you will receive a fixed “coupon” (percentage rate for interest payments) over a fixed timeframe.

Most interest payments are done semi-annually, for the life of the bond.

For example, if you bought a bond of $50 with a 10% coupon and 2-year maturity date, you would receive payments of $2.50 twice a year ($5 total) for 2 years. Once finished, you would receive your $50 (principal) back.

A 10% coupon or 2-year maturity date is just an example. Bonds can have coupons as low as .5% or as high or higher than 10%. Bonds can also mature in as little as a day, or they won’t mature for 30 years. Some bonds may even be “floating-rate-bonds”, which will have a coupon that adjusts to market conditions.

Many variables are factored into what makes up the terms. One of these factors is who the issuers are, so let’s look at the entities you can buy bonds from.

Bond Issuers

Bond issuers will come in many shapes and sizes. They will play a large role in determining how much money you might make, as well as the risk you take to make that money.


Government bonds are the lowest risk bond to get involved with. This is because a government is unlikely to go bankrupt, because a government creates and charge taxes. Bonds issued by the government will come in one of the following forms.

Bills: Bills are bonds that have a maturity date of less than one year.
Notes: These bonds have a maturity date ranging from 1 to 10 years.
Bonds: Bonds have a maturity date of 10 years or more.

Because of how secure government bonds are (low-risk), you’ll likely see a much smaller coupon than you would if you were issued a bond from a corporation or company.


How to Invest in Bonds

How to Invest in Bonds

Also known as “Munis,” Municipal bonds are bonds issued by a city or town. This type of bonds is also low-risk, because the likeliness of a city going bankrupt is slim.

Municipal bonds are also free of federal tax. Because of this, the coupon that a lender receives tends to be smaller.


Corporate bonds are the riskiest type of bond to purchase. This is because there is a higher chance of a corporation or company going bankrupt. If so, the corporation won’t be able to pay back principals and you’ll lose your investment.

Because of this, you will be given a higher coupon, to compensate for the risk you take. This coupon will vary due to a company’s credit rating. The better a company’s credit score, the lower your coupon will be, because they are considered a lesser risk than a company with a poorer credit score.

Zero Coupon

Zero Coupon bonds are simply as the name suggests, “no coupons.” This type of bond does not pay regular interest payments, but the bond can be bought at a price less than the “par” value, while the face value will be paid when the bond matures. The profit is made from the difference of what you pay for the bond and what you receive when the bond matures.

How to Buy Bonds

When you’re ready to purchase a bond, you can do so using one of the following methods.


Brokers will likely be the most expensive route, when looking to purchase a bond. It is common for most brokers to require a minimum which can be in the neighborhood of $5,000, give or take. Also, despite that you may be told that your bond is “commission free,” many brokers tack on a fee and/or commission to the top of the bond itself.

When buying through a broker, it is always a good idea to research the market first to get an idea of what your bond is worth and what you should be paying.

Financial Institution/Bank

If you have a brokerage account, you can purchase bonds through different banks or credit unions. A couple of financial institutions that can aid you in buying bonds would be Wells Fargo and Bank of America. You will have to have an account and will pay fees that vary depending on market conditions.

Direct through Government

To cut out the middleman entirely, you can visit Here you will pay no fees, because all transfers and payments are done electronically.

Investing in Bonds

Investing in bonds, or anything, for that matter, is simply no different than investing in yourself and your future. Bonds are a great way to invest, because their fluctuation is much milder when compared to stocks. This means a more stable income for you.

How to Get Out of a Lease

For one reason or another, there may come a time when you’re involved in a lease but need to get out from underneath it, so tenants need to know how to get out of a lease. This can be difficult to do since a lease is a legally binding document which states that you need to occupy said living space for a fixed amount of time. There are few reasons that you can have that will enable you to leave with minimal financial damage in terms of fees or penalties, if you can even leave at all.

The purpose of this article is to provide insight on how to get out of a lease while making as clean of a break as possible. Please keep in mind these are only tips and in no way a substitute for legal advice.

Reasonable Excuses for Breaking a Lease Agreement

You might have tons of reasons as to why you would want to break a lease agreement. Maybe you live in a bad area, you need to relocate for your job or maybe you’re going through a divorce. These reasons aren’t good enough to break your lease without repercussion, under most circumstances.

In fact, there are few reasons that are.


By law, you are entitled to break a lease if you have enlisted into the military. However, rules will vary from state to state and even from one leaser to another. Some places might require that you still pay rent for a period of time before leaving or have a minimum amount of notice that they require from you, before you can leave without facing a penalty.

Uninhabitable Living

Uninhabitable living is defined as living in a place that had holes in the roof, rodent infestation, mold or similar conditions. What you need to know about this is that you need to complain about these conditions first. Have everything documented in writing (preferably including pictures) and give the management a reasonable amount of time to take care of the issue.

Also, know that issues that make for an unbearable living space does not automatically mean your lease is void and you can move out. If the landlord or management takes care of the problem(s), than you still have to stay and pay rent per your lease agreement.

Find an Excuse to Break Your Lease

How to Get Out a Lease

How to Get Out of a Lease

If you do not have what would is considered to be a legitimate reason to break your lease, then you only have one option. Find an excuse for getting out of your lease.

Look for damage around where you live. Don’t damage anything yourself; that will do more harm than good. Try to find things that are broken or are in need of repair like holes in the drywall, cracks in the ceiling, broken appliances or mold around sinks and toilets.

Be sure to complain about the damage frequently and document everything. Include the time you found the damages, when you complained and when or if the problem was taken care of.

Bait and Switch. Were you given everything that you were promised? While the lack of amenities such as a weight room, tanning room or swimming pool might be a bit of a stretch to get you out of your lease, the quality of where you live isn’t.

If you were shown something nicer than what you moved into, that might be grounds to be able to get out of your lease. Or, for example, if you were thinking you were moving into a gated community, only to find there isn’t a fence and/or gate anywhere to be seen, would be another example of a bait and switch tactic that might give you some momentum in your attempt to move early.

Report other issues such that go against the lease agreement. Have you complained about noisy neighbors who aren’t being taken care of? Is there someone not cleaning up after their pets?

Find an issue and complain about it. The more problems that you’re having and the fewer problems that are being addressed, the more likely it is that you’ll succeed in getting out of your lease.

Other Options for Getting Out of a Lease

If the suggestions above aren’t viable options for you, or if they have failed, then here are some other options worth looking into.

Sublet. Find someone to take the lease over for you. This could be a friend or family member. Just be sure that they are trustworthy, because if they do not come through, then you might be the one to face the consequences.

Also, as a word of caution be sure to check with your leasing agent or landlord to see if this option is even acceptable.

Pay the difference. If you have the disposable income you could just pay the amount that would be owed if were to stay. Again, be sure to check and see if this is acceptable. Many lease agreements require that you occupy the space you’re renting.

Stay put. You can just suck it up for the mean time and stay. This will be the most effortless option and the one that will cost you the least. Just wait it out and give ample notice for when you’d like to move out.

Work assistance. If you are moving because of a new job, then it’s possible that that your job has a relocation assistance program. See if they will pay some or all of what you’d owe so you can move out early.

Ask nicely. Explain your situation to management and see if they will have pity and let you leave. The worse they can do is say no.

Top 5 Tips for Successful Lease Breaking

  1. Document everything. Document and take pictures of everything. These will hold up much better in court as opposed to “he said,” “she said” arguments.
  2. When in doubt, get a lawyer. When you are dealing with legal documents, don’t mess around. Get a lawyer if you need help finding a loophole or if you are making a deal with the lease agent. Just remember that, unless the property management or lease agent is at fault, the law is likely to be their side.
  3. Don’t bail and vanish into the night. Your life will be a hellish nightmare, if you decide to just pack up and leave. You will face fees, penalties and a tarnished credit score as a result.
  4. Be civil. Since it’s so hard to break a lease without a really good reason, you’ll be much better off if you’re nice and are trying to work with management, instead of against them. Even go out of your way and offer to help find a tenant to replace you.
  5. Follow the rules. Since you are trying to find a way out from under your lease, don’t make yourself look bad by not following the rules in your lease yourself. Try to be a model tenant when trying to get out of a lease.

How to Budget and Save Money

With the economy getting worse, more and more people have been losing their jobs. As a result, many families are struggling to pay their bills, put gas in their cars, feed or clothe their children. They are just having a difficult time surviving, let alone trying to save money.

There is hope, though. While money problems can never be solved overnight, short of winning the lottery, it is possible to lessen the financial blow by learning how to budget and save money.

Knowing how to budget money will help you make sure you have money for all your monthly necessities as well as enable you to save up for those costly and unexpected surprises. Families across America are learning how to budget and save money, retrenching for the day when their economic circumstances are better. You can learn to do the same.

Budgeting & saving money is a good skill to have. If you’re interested in learning how to balance your home budget, we have shown you how to do so in as little as 5-steps.

How to Make a Budget and Save Money in 5 Steps

1. Gather all of your old receipts and bills from previous months.

You want to gather all your receipts from the times you went out to eat, the gas you paid for, the times you went out to the movies – everything. Also, grab all of your bills such as car payments, mortgages, insurance and so forth.

2. Separate all of these receipts into different categories.

You want to separate all of your receipts and bills into different categories. Categories might include the cable bill, mortgage, car payment, groceries, gas and entertainment. If you have any bills that consist of luxury items, such as a satellite dish instead of basic cable or extensive cell phone packages, then it might be wise to separate those into their own categories.

I would separate each category by month as well. For example, in your entertainment category, you will want your receipts separate for December 2009, January 2010 and February 2010.

How to Budget and Save Money

How to Budget and Save Money

Once you have everything separated into different categories, add all the totals up and find out what you spend each month for each category. If you have several months worth of bills and receipts, find the average amount you spend per month for each category.

The reason why you want to do all of this is so you can see where all of your money goes. Are you spending $200 a month on average going to the movies? If you are, do you need to? What about your cell phone; are you spending $150 a month on a phone with tons of bells and whistles? If so, can you do without unlimited text and internet access?

Ultimately, you just want to see where all of you’re money is going so you can try to find things that you don’t need (or need little of) and can eliminate.

3. Figure out what your family needs and what you all want.

Yes, there is a difference and this is especially true when you don’t have a lot of disposable income. This is why you separated all of your receipts and bills into separate categories. You want to find out how reckless you are about spending money.

To put this into perspective, you need electricity, but you don’t need to go out to eat at Outback every Friday. You need hot water, but it is not necessary to buy $100 shoes every month.

With that in mind, take all of your necessities and add them up.

4. Make your budget.

Now that you know how much money your family has to have each month to live on, you can then plan a budget to reflect that. Remember, you’re budgeting & saving money for the tough times. The tough times won’t last forever, but you and your family have to cinch your economic belt right now.

The minimum you will want to set aside is the average you calculated that you spend on each category every month (gas, groceries, mortgage, car payment, etc). If possible, I would suggest setting aside a little extra, just to be sure that you’ll have enough.

Once you know how much money you will need to set aside, then you can see what you will have left over for extracurricular activities and your savings.

5. Entertainment and Saving.

The rest of the money you have left over from your bills can then be divided amongst entertainment, such as going out to eat or the movies. Better yet, you can budget this towards paying off credit cards, or opening a savings account.

Some people will argue that you should always “pay yourself first”, aka put money into savings, before you do anything else. I can see merit in that. However, I feel that you have to reward yourself and your family with fun things to do each month.

This doesn’t have to be anything elaborate and expensive, but it’s a good way to keep everyone happy and positive and together, despite the hardships you might be facing. Just remember that you do need to save money each month, even if it’s just a little bit.

Learning How to Budget and Save Your Money

Learning how to budget and save your money is one of those skills that takes time develop. This will be especially true if you’ve never been in a situation where money was a concern.

However, since you never know what life will throw your way, developing an important skill set such as budgeting and saving money is definitely worth your time and effort.

For more information related to budgeting and money, see:

How to Make Money for Kids

Knowing how to make money for kids can allow an adult to keep a few extra dollars in their wallet. Instead of your child receiving something for nothing, they can earn cash themselves and develop a strong work ethic in the process. The following article provides a number of tips to get a young entrepreneur started, as well as a detailed list of potential job opportunities.

Tips to Remember

When researching how to make money for kids, the following tips should be remembered. Not only will they keep your child safe, but these suggestions will also ensure that kids get the most out of their job experience.

Ways for Kids to Make Money

The following is a list of ways for kids to make money.  We recommend that you talk with your child and generate even more ideas on your own.

Baby Sitter – If your kid likes to be around younger children, then this could be a good way to earn some money. Just make sure your child is old enough to understand and follow through on the responsibilities of baby sitting. When looking at how to make money for kids, this has to be one of the most popular.

If your child isn’t old enough to be left alone with younger tykes, they might earn extra money by helping parents feed and play with their children.

House Cleaning – Houses constantly need to be dusted and vacuumed, and clothes are always piling up in the hamper. While this can put extra money in their pocket, it should also help children develop better habits when it comes to picking up around their own room.

Cleaning house for money is also a great way for kids to learn the skills they’ll need when moving away from home one day (washing clothes, etc.).

How to Make Money for Kids

How to Make Money for Kids

Selling Cookies – Your child can buy packages of cookies from the local market or grocery store and sell them individually for a profit. This can be done throughout your neighborhood, or an enterprising kid might set up an operation in the local park (under supervision, of course).

Selling cookies could be combined with a lemonade stand for an effective one-two punch. This idea can also be applied to items like brownies.

Lemonade Stand – When mulling over the notion of how to make money for kids, there’s nothing more traditional than the lemonade stand. Location is key, of course, and a child could even go so far as to set up their stand near a bike or marathon route (they might also want to sell bottled water). While a lemonade stand is best during the summer months, warm beverages such as coffee and apple cider could also be sold in the fall.

If hot beverages are involved, however, make sure that your child is old enough to serve these items without burning themselves.

Newsletter – If your child has a topic they’re passionate about, encourage them to write about it in a simple newsletter that can then be sold to friends, family, and neighbors. There are numerous computer programs that can give a professional look to the finished product.

Car Washing – Everyone needs to wash their car from time to time, but not many people enjoy doing it. That’s where your child comes in. Your children could even team up with other kids from the neighborhood and offer a more comprehensive car washing service.

Window Washing – This idea would work for both local houses and nearby stores. To get started, all your child will need is a bucket, squeegee, and window cleaner.

Fence Painting – If you or your child know of any fences in need of painting, this is another opportunity for making money. Make sure your kid understands the importance of scraping off peeling paint before applying a fresh coat. The owner of the fence should provide the paint and brushes, while your child will charge for labor.

Renting Toys – If your child has toys no longer in use, they can make a few extra bucks by renting them out to others. This is a perfect offer for area grandparents who may be keeping their grandchildren for the weekend.

Dog Caretaker – For kids who like dogs, a small business focusing on walking or washing dogs can be a fun way to make a profit. Just be sure that any animals around your child are friendly and safe. It’s not a good idea to let your child walk a pit bull by themselves. If someone in the neighborhood is going out of town, your kid could also offer to act as a pet sitter for a reasonable fee.

House Sitting – Especially useful during the summer months when people go on vacation, kids can get paid to water plants, feed animals, collect mail, and many other small tasks. Just make sure your child is responsible enough to follow through, especially if the job involves feeding animals of any kind.

Yard Work – This is a job for kids that can be done all year round. In the summer, children can make money by mowing yards, watering plants and lawns, and planting flowers. Leaves can be raked in the fall, and driveways or porches can have snow removed in the winter.

Account Leveling – For kids who are skilled at video games (especially MMORPGs like World of Warcraft), account leveling provides a novel way to earn some extra money. Basically, there are many people who want top-level online characters in these games, but they don’t want to spend all the time it takes to get there. Instead, they pay someone else to take their character through all the lower levels, only taking over once the character has reached a certain status within the game. The pay for this can be surprising, and it’s perfect for children who excel at online games.

Special Items in Second Life – In the online community of Second Life, people can design, among other things, their own cars, clothing, and jewelry. Of course, not everyone has the time to devote to such feats of design, and that’s where your kid comes in.

It might sound strange at first, but by creating unique items for the world of Second Life, your child can earn real-life money.

Surveys – There are many sites online that pay people to answer surveys as a means of conducting market research. There’s no reason why your child can’t earn money doing this.

How to Get Rich

If you want to know how to get rich, read these 16 financial tips to give you a number of ideas and strategies to consider. While none of them may turn you into a millionaire overnight, they will provide you with a solid foundation for financial management.

The first thing you need to do is determine what being rich means to you. Is it having enough money to take exotic vacations and buy a mansion? Or does it mean saving up enough to live comfortably during your retirement years?

Whatever the case, answering this question will help you determine what goals you need to set for the future. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll now be able to employ the following strategies for how to get rich.

Wealth Building Strategies

The following 16 get rich tips and wealth building strategies have been proven to help you build the foundation that will better position you towards the road of richness.

Avoid Get Rich Quick Schemes – If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. For this reason, avoid get rich quick schemes, as the only person making money will be the con artist who suckers you into parting with your money. This goes for anything that sounds like a pyramid scheme.

Pay Attention – During your life, you’ll come into contact with many people. Some may present legitimate opportunities to increase your personal fortune, while others may be nothing more than liars and blowhards. Pay attention so that you can tell one from the other.

If an opportunity presents itself, don’t be afraid to step up to the plate. Be able to tell a get-rich-quick scheme from a sound business proposition.

Play the Lottery – If you live in a state or country with a lottery, playing it regularly offers a way to get rich quick. The odds are heavily against you, but there’s still a mathematical chance of becoming an instant millionaire. Just make sure to play with some common sense, as spending all your cash on lottery tickets is not a wise financial decision.

That is, spend on 1 lottery ticket and no more per night. 1 ticket gives you a lot better chance of winning than no ticket. 2 lottery tickets doesn’t give you a much better chance of winning.

Improve Yourself – No matter what your age, you should constantly seek to improve yourself. Whether this means taking college classes, learning a new language, or studying the stock market, every new thing you learn can help contribute to your future success.

Give Up Luxuries – Are you spending too much on car payments? How about that house with two bedrooms that you don’t even use? One way to better your financial situation is to cut ties with things that you don’t need. An economy car is a much better investment than a sports car, as it gets better gas mileage and will probably last longer.

Moving into a smaller house or apartment can save you hundreds of dollars each month. If you don’t need it, then consider it a luxury and get rid of it.

How to Get Rich

How to Get Rich

Be Mature – You’re not going to get rich sitting around and playing video games. It’s time to grow up and make responsible use of your time. Instead of playing the latest version of Halo, try using this time to improve your resume, look for better job opportunities, and network with professionals in your chosen field.

Get an Education – While a college degree does not guarantee you a fortune, it should still be looked at as an asset to your future. Even if you’re not studying to be a doctor or lawyer, attending classes and getting good grades allows you to meet other like-minded individuals and gain a success-oriented outlook.

Invest – Learning how to invest your money is a key factor for those who want to be rich. Whether you’re saving up to attend college or investing in rental properties, it’s important to put your income back into things that will enable you to make even more cash in the future.

Know Your Economics – The study of economics is important, especially for those who want to know how to get rich. Learning about investment strategies, the advantages of compound interest, credit, debt, and budgeting can make a big difference. How can you expect to make money if you don’t understand how it works?

Avoid Debt – Pay off that credit card bill and student loan as soon as possible. Credit card debt can be crippling with the high interest rates, so devote yourself to paying it down. Once that’s done, you’ll have more money each month to invest in your future.

Money in the Bank – Each month, decide to put at least a little money in the bank. It might be $100, or it could be as small as $10. Over time, it will all add up. If you really want to make your money work for you, try placing the funds in a savings account or something else that will draw interest.

Be Your Own Boss – Many people who know the secrets of how to get rich will tell you to work for yourself. Working for someone else only gets your boss rich. Take classes, speak to business owners, and don’t be afraid to begin your own venture. There’s a reason why most millionaires are entrepreneurs.

Keep Working – Even if you do manage to become rich, don’t immediately stop working. Why? Because there are a number of factors that can quickly drain your bank account. Maybe a nasty divorce cuts your savings in half, or maybe you lose a small fortune in the stock market. No matter what the danger, constantly working to amass a greater fortune will provide a buffer for when the tough times hit.

Network – You never know who you’ll meet when going to the grocery store or standing in line for tickets at the movies. The Internet is also a valuable tool for networking, as it allows you to mingle with people who have similar interests and goals. Self-made millionaires are especially valuable to know, as they can provide real-world advice on how to get rich.

Learn Patience – If you want to buy something that’s considered a luxury, try mastering the art of patience by putting it off for a month. You can still buy it when the time elapses, but you may have found that it doesn’t seem as important after taking some time to reflect. This is an excellent way to save money and practice self-control.

Save Your Change – Every night, empty your pockets and place all your loose change into a jar. This can add up quickly, often making you a few hundred dollars each year. While this might seem like an odd suggestion on how to get rich, there’s more to it than just collecting dimes and quarters.

By putting these coins aside, you’re training yourself to think about the steady accumulation of money. Hoarding your small change creates a habit that has a direct impact on how you think about the future. Besides, you’ve got to do something with all those pennies, so why not put that money to use building up your bank account? It may not be how you get rich, but a lot of little budget decisions add up to better household budget.

How to Get Out of Debt Fast

Debt sneaks up on you. When it does, you want to get out of debt as quickly as possible. So I’ve put together a how to guide for how to get out of debt fast.

No one plans to go in debt. The main symptom of debt is despair: a feeling that you can never get on top again. Don’t let student loans, credit card debt or medical bills ruin the rest of your life.

Remember, this is a temporary state and, while you’re going to have to go without certain luxuries for a little while, you can start getting out of debt right now. You have the power. In just one year, you’ll start to see an improvement in your credit score.

Here’s how I got out of debt quickly:

1. I made a deal with myself: spend less than I make for one year and I’d buy myself a (reasonable) car.

I’m just like everyone else. I respond to rewards. I knew that if I started to save some money and pay down debt, I’d be in a much better position to put money down on a new car within a year — even if it isn’t the Ferrari I’ve always wanted.

Debt relief isn’t hard. It can be as simple as spending within your means. You have to learn to spend less than you make, then take that excess cash and buy down your debt. If you don’t get to work eliminating your debts, you’ll be in the same situation (or worse) in a year.

Spending less than you make should become a habit, like putting on the brakes for a red light. Remember, if you can’t afford that flat screen TV right now, you certainly won’t be able to afford it at the end of the month when the bill comes.

2. I learned about good and bad debt.

How to Get out of Debt Fast

How to Get out of Debt Fast

While there may not be such a thing as “good debt”, there are debts that are okay.

What I call “good debt” is debt with a low interest rate, as far under 10% as you can go. that debt should come with some kind of tax incentive.

This means using borrowed money on something that will appreciate in value. That’s right, I’m talking about an investment. A mortgage for your home and even educational loans or home improvement loans are examples of good debt, because you’re investing in valuable property or you’re investing in yourself.

To put it simply, “bad debt” is all other debt: high interest rate, low return debts like a car loan or a credit card. When trying to eliminate debt, find the worst debt you have and pay your it on it first. Then move on to the next problem, so you eliminate debts one at a time.

3. I paid down to just one (emergency) credit card

I had two credit cards before. I paid one off and left it open for emergencies. The other card was paid off and is now only “open” to maintain my credit score. I never use it, and in fact I don’t have a copy of the card on me.

That’s a little credit trick for you there: pay down a credit card, get the balance to 0, and leave it open without ever touching it. Closing a credit card will lower your credit score and diminish your efforts of getting out of debt.

For your emergency card, pick the one with the lowest annual interest rate.

4. I paid off my debt in a specific order.

This means I found the highest interest rate debt and paid it off as quick as possible.

While it would have been easier to pay off the low interest rate credit card with a lower balance, I knew that would make a tiny dent (if any dent at all) in my credit problem.

After the big boy was paid off, I paid the other debts in order of annual interest rate. I did this over and over until every one of my bad debt accounts were paid off.

This tactic is good for a number of reasons. Paying off the big problems on your credit score first mean those big bumps in your credit score come sooner, sometimes during your payments to the lower interest debts. Those rates can be begged down quite a bit while your score improves.

Being in debt can feel like financial prison. The good news is that it doesn’t take years and years to improve your credit score and shore up your financial situation. Start resolving your debt today using the simple guidelines above.

Everything is in your control. Just get a plan and stick to it and you’ll eventually find your way out of debt hell.

How to Invest in Gold

Studying how to invest in gold is a sound economic idea at the present. With certain currencies around the globe taking big hits, there’s lots of buzz about investing in gold these days, and for good reason. Gold holds its value over time much better than cash or common interest available at a bank. Gold is used as a hedge investment against inflation and is the perfect way to store wealth over time.

Though gold has had its ups and downs on a micro scale, long-term investors see gold as a smart and fairly conservative investment. The reason gold holds value over time better than many other investments is that the supply of gold is limited and constrained. The world’s gold supply increases at a snail’s pace as gold is mined little by little.

If you’re wondering how you can invest in gold, there are two simple ways to do it and the amount of the investment for both methods is variable.

Exchange-Traded Funds

These gold exchange trade funds, called ETFs for short, are like regular mutual funds that can be traded like a stock.

There are many ETFs that are nothing more than funds that purchase, store, and even insure physical supplies of gold. One of the benefits of investing in gold through an ETF or mutual fund is that you don’t have to worry about the storage and maintenance of the physical supply of gold yourself.

You can purchase gold for you own storage (more on that below), but ownership of physical gold stocks is a big risk — what if it’s stolen? You could store it at a storage facility or bank, but these investments require even more money against your bottom line. Investing in a gold-based ETF is like investing in gold without the headache of storage and ownership.

Tax Laws and Gold ETFs

How to Invest in Gold

How to Invest in Gold

Remember that buying into gold exchange trade funds means you’ll be liable for a different set of tax laws. Unlike investing in mutual funds or stock, the tax on collectibles like gold is different, and the IRS will ensure you pay it.

If you hold the same gold ETF for over a year, for example, it is taxed at a “special collectibles” rate of 28% — much higher than the capital gains rate of 15%. One easy way around this payment is to hold your gold ETF fund in a Roth IRA, which is tax-free. Still, that’s a lot of trouble to go through for a gold investment. For some investors, it isn’t worth the hassle.

Owning Physical Gold

ETFs and mutual funds are not the only ways to invest in gold. Many people are suspicious of the ETF and mutual fund market, so they prefer to own gold they can physically hold in their hand. If you do decide to invest in gold coins, please “do your homework” beforehand and find yourself a reputable gold dealer.

Remember that you’ll need to store your gold safely — consider a safe deposit box at your bank.

When considering an investment in gold, remember that, like any investment, there is an element of risk. The price of gold moves around a lot in the short term.

In 1980, for instance, an ounce of gold went as high as $800 per ounce or more while just a year later it was valued at just around $300 per ounce. Unlike tech stocks and corporate funds, you know gold will always rebound in value. Don’t look too short term when investing in gold . . . prepare to hold on to your investment for at least a decade.

How to Advertise Your Business

Think of business promotion like practicing any hobby or skill and learning how to advertise your business as a way to increase your bottom line. You need to spend at least an hour every day on promotion of your business, no matter how small, in order to get any better at it. That might sound like a lot, but think of it as helping you make more money, while training yourself in a valuable commercial skill.

Promoting your business means getting the word out about your products or services. You can have the best product in the world, the best staff or a unique business that fills a niche, but if you don’t get the word out, you aren’t going to make it as a business owner.

Business Promotion

Business promotion is also an exercise in budgeting skills. You’d be surprised how much money you can dump into promotional expenses…but if you don’t spend it the right way you may as well throw your money out on the sidewalk.

Here’s three low-cost ways to get you started advertising your business. Spend a little time each day on ideas like this and you’ll find your promotional skills (and business) increasing.

1. Promote your business all the time

Think about all the paper and electronic communication that flows in and out of your business: receipts, bills to customers and suppliers, emails to clients and associates. These are all advertising opportunities that you could be using at no extra cost.

Develop a simple lot of business stationery using your computer. Add your business name, a logo if you have one, and your updated contact information to your envelopes. Do the same for your bills, receipts – pretty much any company stationary.

Remember that all your correspondence is more than just that — it is a business promotion.

Take this one step further. You need to have business cards and other promotional material ready to hand out in casual situations. You’d be surprised how many chances you may have the next time you go out to hand some a card or point them toward your website.

The bottom line is: always be promoting.

2. Use the Internet

How to Advertise Your Business

How to Advertise Your Business

The Internet is amazing for advertising your business. Everyone these days is using some kind of web-based promotion. But many businesses still aren’t using the Internet to its fullest, and that’s where a little knowledge and time on the Internet will do you good.

Even if you don’t sell goods and services online, think of all the people in your local area.

Just about every one of these people has a computer these days. A lot of people look online to find local business’s phone number and address, instead of the phone book. It’s expected you’ll advertise in the phone book, so why not the Internet?

Use social networking as a kind of tangential advertisement for your products or services. This doesn’t mean posting rude messages on Facebook cajoling people into buying your stuff. You can use social activity online to promote your business online just like you do in the real world.

Join a few bulletin board communities or forums and become an active member. By indicating your skills or knowledge in an area (and linking to your website or your company in a secondhand way like in a profile) you can gain some familiarity and eventually some traffic in your community. Use your company logo as your profile picture or signature line.

3. Give Away Free Stuff

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and have a giveaway. Giveaways may cost you a bit on the back end, but there’s no new money coming out of your cash register and that means it is a low impact expense. Free giveaway promotions work to get your door darkened if only because people like free stuff.

Put out a sign that says “First 50 customers get free ice cream”, or the equivalent for your business. Get bodies into your store. You can give anything away. The point isn’t the item; it’s the foot traffic.

Business promotion doesn’t have to be about how much money you can throw at a problem. Remember to work smarter and not harder, as the old idiom goes. Get ready to increase your business without spending much money out of pocket by learning how to advertise your business smartly.

How to Advertise Your Website

For an inexperienced person, learning how to advertise your website might seem like an impossible task. The average person looking to advertise their website is most likely not going to have a background in marketing, or even much Internet experience.

All advertising your website is scary, since most small businesses and website operators don’t have much of an ad budget at all. Spending a ton of money on an advertising project that doesn’t pan out can mean the end of your business. This happens all the time.

So when you set out to advertise for your website, be sure to look into the following avenues. These are the six most popular ways to succeed in Internet advertising.

First, a tip: the better you know your audience and your customers, the better you’ll do when it comes time to advertise. The tell a speaker to know their audience, so an advertiser should know their customers. Ask yourself the two following questions:

Who are your customers? What are your customers interested in? If you don’t have something of an idea about this, it is not yet time to spend any money on advertising.

Trade Magazines Advertisements

These magazines specifically cater to a targeted national audience. The focusing is all done for you. Believe me; there’s a trade magazine for everything. Let me illustrate my point.

Looking to target wild boar hunters with your new line of camo coats? Check out “Texas Wild Boar Hunter” or any number of other boar hunting specific magazines. I’m not kidding; there are plenty.

Prices in trade magazines vary widely. You can expect to spend between $40 for a small ad in back of a newsletter on up to $100,000 for the biggest ad at the front of the biggest trade magazines. This number also fluctuates depending on the magazine’s circulation.

The worthwhile trade magazine ads start in the thousands, so spending less than that is pretty futile. Don’t laugh at magazine advertising — depending on your website’s focus, your trade magazine ad could pay itself off with a single big order.

Promote Yourself at Trade Shows

How to Advertise Your Website

How to Advertise Your Website

Like trade magazines, these shows contain a pre-targeted (though usually small) audience. If you set up a booth at a trade show and get a decent location, you could get hundreds or even thousands of eyes and hands on your products and promotional materials.

The big downside on the trade show circuit is the cost: a decent spot in a trade show can easily cost thousands of dollars. I’ve heard of people spending in the 6 figures for bigger booths at the bigger shows.

But there’s another thing to consider about trade shows: business networking. The other big thing that happens at trade shows are alliances with other businesses that can support you either with materials or promotion.

Should You Buy Newspaper Ads?

Here’s an example of a completely non-targeted audience. There’s no “type” that fits a newspaper audience — all people of all classes read the newspaper. The good side of this kind of advertising is that it gets under a lot of eyes because, as I said earlier, everyone reads the newspaper.

Newspaper advertising can be cheap, depending on the market and the type of ad. Expect to spend in the four figures for a decent ad that will get you any traffic at all. A newspaper ad is better suited for a local business with an actual store front, as opposed to a purely online website.

Advertise on the TV

This kind of advertising is easy to target (different times of day equal different audiences), but television advertising is one of the most expensive ad investments to be had. You have to pay for the spot, sure, but you also have to produce the spot. That’s where the cost really hits.

Honestly, advertising your website via TV is best when it is left up to big companies with billion dollar budgets. No one likes those annoying late-night ads shot by some business owner’s brother in law.

Marketing a website is a complex process, but if you stick to advertising venues that offer the most reward for your investment, stick to newspaper, trade magazines, trade shows and other forms of advertising that allow you to target your audience.

How to Invest in Mutual Funds

Mutual fund investing offers most of the advantages of financial diversity, plus the investment management flexibility that comes with stock market investments. Mutual funds don’t carry as much risk as stock market investment, in most cases.

Just like with any other investment opportunity, investing in mutual funds requires you to face some risk. Don’t forget also that fees and taxes will diminish the immediate value of your mutual fund’ investment. Any investment can go bust; anyone telling you different is trying to sell you an investment.

With that in mind, lets look at how to invest in mutual funds. Before we delve in, let’s get an understanding of what mutual fund investing is and how you can choose a mutual fund products that’s best for you — that is, one that matches your needs in terms of risk and potential gain.

The following is a collection of six basic mutual fund tips and mutual fund advice to help you get started and answer some common questions.

1. What is a mutual fund anyway?

A mutual fund gathers money from a wide pool of investors to put together its own portfolio of stocks, bonds, or other securities. These decisions are made based on that fund’s charter.

Each investor in the mutual fund then either earns or owes a piece of the financial gain or loss mutually. Hence the name “mutual” fund.

2. How is a mutual fund easy to diversify?

Because almost all mutual funds require small investments (anywhere from just a few hundred to a few thousand dollars at a minimum), mutual fund investors can build a highly diverse personal portfolio, with much less money than it would take to diversify one stock at a time.

3. What are some different types of mutual funds?

How to Invest in Mutual Funds

How to Invest in Mutual Funds

There are so many types of mutual funds that just categorizing them can give you a headache. Here are a few examples: sector funds, growth funds and index funds.

Sector funds buy shares of companies in a specific sector of the economy, like technology or health care. Growth funds are mutual funds that buy shares of up and coming companies expecting heavy growth. Index funds are mutual funds that buy shares of every stock in a single index, like the S&P 500.

4. Mutual Fund’s Weird Cousin: Bonds

There are also such things as bond funds for a variety of investment needs. You can make a safe investments in a government bond fund or, if you want to risk some money in the bonds market, invest in so called high-yield bond funds.

5. What is “risk” in a mutual fund?

Every mutual fund has a different level of “risk”, a chance that you’ll lose money on your investment in a given year. If you are a customer who can deal with a big market swing or two for a shot at bigger returns in the long term, go after so called “high risk” mutual funds. Understand that downtrends occur in the economy which can affect even sound investments, such as the sell-off of September 2008.

Still, some mutual funds are stronger than others, while others offer bigger rewards.

Here’s how to tell how risky a fund it. Take a look at that particular fund’s biggest single quarterly loss. This will tell you how bad it can get. There’s also a state known as the standard deviation: this number will tell you how much a mutual fund or bond fun moves up and down from its average return.

6. Don’t dump and run.

Every mutual fund has the capacity to have an off year or two. Mutual fund investing is long term investing. If you want quick gains inside a year, go play the stock market. Remember that if your mutual fund goes down a bit over a year this is the best time to buy more shares in that fund and cut your losses when the fund moves back up.

Only when you feel like your earnings are consistently below the expected performance, should you dump the fund. Moving on too quickly after a small loss will never earn you money, but re-investing and preparing for a good year will make you money every time. Learning how to invest in mutual funds is about making strong investments and keeping faith in the original investment.

How to Negotiate with Credit Card Companies

Learn how to negotiate with credit card companies to lower your debt and end their harassing calls. If you are paying an interest rate that is through the roof, you need to know that you have lots of room to negotiate with your credit card company. Most people don’t realize that you, as the consumer, have a lot of leverage and power against your credit card company.

Credit card companies spend a lot of time and money trying to convince you that they’re the biggest man in the room and that you’re going to have to capitulate to them. That’s not true.

They don’t do this all in your best interest of course. All creditors benefit from a customer making and keeping their account current and by maintaining a relationship with a customer who makes payments on time. Credit card companies even negotiate on their own with some borrowers when it is in the best financial interest of the creditor to do so.

The way to negotiate with a credit card company on a better interest rate is to convince the creditor that you are one customer they can benefit from negotiating with. Paying off your debt is better than you totally defaulting on the loan, right?

Machiavellian Debtors

Take a lesson from Machiavelli, who argued against a strong prince making an alliance with a weak prince. He said the weak prince (or state) has all the power, because it can always threaten to collapse. The stronger state therefore becomes the slave of the weaker party, even if the weaker one is bumbling and incompetent.

It’s the same with you and your credit card company, but on an economic and not political level. The two of you have entered into an economic agreement, but you, as the weaker of the two, have the power. You can always threaten to collapse financially, wherein the credit card company doesn’t see one red cent from you.

Tell your credit card company you’re considering bankruptcy and they’re likely going to renegotiate with you.

Some Tips for Negotiating Better Interest Rates

How to Negotiate with Credit Card Companies

How to Negotiate with Credit Card Companies

First and foremost, don’t tell any sob stories. The people who work in collections for these creditors are analyzed to ensure their hearts pump ice water. Even if they came into the business with a soft heart, they’ve heard it all by now. This just won’t work.

If your account is current (or “in good standing”) and there is some history of “on time” and “full payments”, it is more than likely that your credit card company will volunteer to reduce your interest rate.

Force the issue if you know you match these credentials. Tell them you want your rate lowered – now. Being aggressive means you can usually negotiate a lower interest rate, even if your account is a bit in default.

Negotiation isn’t just for perfect credit. These creditors know that your new lower interest rate means you can be expected to pay off your loan in a more manageable way, rather than defaulting. While you’re at it, ask the creditor to waive any late fees you’ve built up.

Asking doesn’t hurt. What’s the worst thing they can do? Say no?

Prove You Have Options

For customers in better standing whose creditors are unlikely to believe when they talk about filing for bankruptcy, you still have the power. You always have the option of taking your debt elsewhere.

Show your credit card company that you have alternatives for service by saving up a variety of low-interest credit card offers that you get in the mail. We all get hundreds of these things a year, and your credit card company needs to know that you’re considering changing services.

Once again, this is a good tactic for the person with bad credit history, because your creditors can expect to be paid high rates of interest. If you have a high balance or a bit of a rocky history, they don’t want to lose your potential payments to their competitor. This is a powerful negotiation tool.

Be Firm With Your Creditor

Don’t be nasty on the phone, but don’t take a simple “no” for an answer. If you are really ready to negotiate, just come out with it and ask for a better interest rate. The first trick the creditor will pull is to tell you that the rate is non-negotiable, and may even try to use your rocky credit history against you.

Take a deep breath and ask to speak to a supervisor with the proper authority to negotiate the interest rate. Don’t take “no” for an answer.

When you get to the supervisor, be honest about your history and your expectations. Tell the supervisor why you should get a lower interest rate (now would be a good time to mention switching creditors) and demand a lower interest rate. You may be shot down initially, but try again next month.

Your interest rate is really up to you. If you are paying a rate that you just can’t afford, or if you just want to spend a little less cash every month, call your creditor today and make your case for a lower interest rate.

How to Invest in Real Estate

Learning how to invest in real estate isn’t just for the big spenders. The potential returns in the real estate market make it the perfect business opportunity for people from all walks of life. There will be some need for capital to sink into your real estate venture, but there are many levels to get involved in from basic rental properties on up to massive corporate deals.

Investing in real estate is a bit less popular these days than a couple of years ago before most markets burst. But regardless of the ups and downs of the market, real estate investing is a common choice. You might not be able to get in at the investment level you once could have, because of the credit crunch, but now is a time to buy cheap.

Investing in Rental Properties

This is the most basic investment in real estate. You buy a property and rent it out to a tenant. This either can be a time intensive exercise or a back burner project depending what kind of landlord you want to be.

The owner of these properties is responsible for almost everything: paying the mortgage, paying taxes and maintenance costs. In an ideal rental situation, the landlord charges enough rent to cover all of the aforementioned costs, with a tiny bit left over.

Become an owner on a hundred properties and you can see big gains. Become a landlord on a small scale for a little extra spending money.

There are problems with this kind of investing that make what seems like easy money into a rocky choice, though. If you have a bad tenant who damages the property you can lose money, or you may have trouble finding a tenant at all. An empty apartment is an income drain.

The costs of finding and maintaining a good rental property can be enormous. Look for an area where there aren’t many vacancies, or a “hip” area of town that just soaks up business.

Another Kind of Real Estate Investment

How to Invest in Real Estate

How to Invest in Real Estate

You can also choose to invest in something called a REIG or “Real Estate Investment Group”. These are like small-scale mutual funds, but with rental properties instead of stock properties.

If you want to own a rental property and enjoy that alternate source of income, but are scared about being a landlord, an REIG is for you.

In an REIG, a company buys or even builds a set of apartments, duplexes or condos, then lets investors put in money to form a kind of company. In this way, a single investor can have part ownership of one or as many units as they want, but the property is managed by an REIG instead of the individual.

What’s the catch? The REIG takes a percentage of the rent right off the top.

There are lots of different kinds of these REIG groups, but the actual lease is in the individual investor’s name. Do your research, because not all REIGs are the same. Not all are profitable, due to the real estate market and fee structures.

No matter how you choose to enter the real estate investment market, you need to be aware that these are high risk investments especially in the short term. Imagine if you had started your investment right at the cusp of this recent bust in home values.

You’d probably be underwater, like most real estate investors in the country. Investing in real estate pays to move slowly and research plentifully in a market as volatile as this one.

How to Manage Your Money

When people hear the words “money management”, their eyes glaze over and roll to the back of their head. There is little in this world less “sexy” and exciting than proper money management and learning how to manage your money.

At the same time, there are few skills more important in the 21st century than learning how to manage your household budget. If you do a poor job managing your money, the rest of your life is affected. A little nerdiness now and again can prevent a future of financial problems and stress.

So buck up and learn how to manage your money. It may not be as interesting as the bar, but one night a week dedicated to proper money management can’t be all that much to ask.

These five easy steps can be done a little bit at a time and will lead you to the financial promised land: good money management skills. Believe me; having money is sexy.

1. Save Your Money

No matter how little “extra money” you have at the end of a pay period, and no matter how much debt you are working to pay off, you must set something aside with every paycheck. I started saving my money twenty bucks at a time. I am now saving many times that every month, but I had to start somewhere.

If you aren’t saving your money, you aren’t preparing for eventualities that could sink you with haste.

What happens if you get injured and need an expensive procedure as well as time off from work? What if your job peters out and you need a bit of cash to survive on until your next gig?

Saving money is the antidote to all negative financial possibilities.

If you have trouble saving money, talk to your bank and see if they can auto-draft a certain amount of your paycheck for you directly into a savings account. Your bankers are there to help, and believe it or not they actually want you to save money. Its better for them and for their customer: you.

2. Balance your Checkbook

How to Manage Money

How to Manage Money

Even if you don’t write a ton of checks, learn to use a check ledger to track your checking account and debit card expenses. Depending on your bank’s electronic automatic system for keeping your balances straight is a dangerous road to go. Sometimes the bank isn’t as up to date as you think and this leads to overdrafts and other poor decisions.

3. Make (and Follow) A Budget

This is as important as any other step — set a budget for yourself and make yourself stick to it. If you know you only have xxx amount of money for groceries every week, stick to that number.

Budgeting will also help you save money. Keeping a budget will help in every other area of our mini money management lesson as well. Budgeting means you’ll know how much money you can spend on a date night, for instance, and you won’t have to worry about the waiter returning with your debit card declined.

4. Read and Understand Your Credit Report

Your credit score is your gateway to financial good times. A good credit rating determines your ability to take out lines of credit and influences decisions about your interest rate. Looking at your credit score multiple times a year (and meeting with a financial advisor to go over it so you understand it) is crucial in understanding and properly spending your money and your credit.

5. Prevent Identity Theft

Your bank can provide you with some kind of identity theft watch system, but if you want something beefier, check out one of any number of private identity protecting services. Trust me: if your identity is stolen and you aren’t protected, you could spend months and plenty of money trying to reclaim your credit score.

How to Incorporate a Small Business

If you’re thinking of incorporating a small business, you may feel like the process of incorporation is an impossible task. That’s not so. Learning how to incorporate a small business is easier than you imagine.

The advantages to incorporating a small business are legion: tax incentives, liability limitations and income control are just the biggest reasons why you may want to incorporate.

Starting a Small Business

You should understand before starting a small business and incorporating that, though many people will tell you to incorporate in a handful of states for the tax breaks, it usually makes the most sense to just stay where you are and incorporate at home.

People are falling over themselves to incorporate in Delaware or Nevada, for tax purposes. Businesses forming an out-of-state corporation usually will end up having to go through a process to “qualify” to do any business in the state where your business is.

That lengthy and potentially expensive process could easily outweigh the benefits of out of state incorporation.

Corporate Stock and Small Businesses

Incorporating a small business is easy if you plan on using family members and close friends to own all stock. That is, if you’re doing as most people do and avoid offering any stock in your business to the general public. It is so easy to incorporate, that all the necessary legal documents can be written up in a matter of a couple of hours.

These documents are things like the “Articles of Incorporation” and your “Corporate Bylaws”. Thus, the first step in the incorporation process is to figure out your state’s requirements.

How do you do that?

How to Incorporate a Small Business

How to Incorporate a Small Business

Find your state’s corporate filing office and look through the federal and state trademark registers to be sure the name of your business isn’t already in use. Most state’s corporate filing office is part of that state’s Secretary of State offices or the Corporations Commissioner’s office.

Filling Out Forms

There will be plenty of forms to fill out during this process. Start out with a pre-printed incorporation form that asks you to list the purpose behind your new corporation, as well as the corporation’s principal place of business and the number and type of shares of stock that will exist. State incorporation forms are available through your state’s corporate office or online through commercial services.

Filing Incorporation Forms

You’ll eventually need to file all these documents with the right state office. There’s going to be a fee for that process, too. In some states, that fee can be quite hefty, reaching as high as $1,000, depending on which state you incorporate in.

If you’re like most small businesses and won’t be dealing with public offerings of stock, conducting your corporate business is not complicated. Most of the time, all you have to do is record any big corporate decisions, like buying real estate or taking out a loan.

Otherwise, you’ll need to hold some sort of annual meeting of the corporation to report. As a matter of fact, you can skip these formalities via a written agreement between members of the corporation. You may never have to have a single meeting.

Incorporating Your Small Business

It is easy to incorporate your small business. If you feel that the benefits of small business incorporation are worth it, you may be surprised at how quickly you’re done with the task.

For more guides about how to incorporate a small business, visit:

How to Negotiate a Car Price

Car shopping is really a catch-22 experience. On one hand, shopping for a new car is fun experience, because you get to choose a bright and shiny new toy. What man doesn’t enjoy looking under the hood, reading up on specs, eyeing the shiny wheels and smelling a nice leather interior. Being able to test drive several different vehicles is always fun, too.

On the other hand, car shopping really sucks. As soon as you’re noticed on the car lot, you’re pressured by salesmen. Sales guys bombard you with questions and try to pressure you into test-driving something immediately, which is then followed by filling out a credit application. Car salesmen are trained to not let a potential customer off the lot without buying a car.

If you are “just looking,” on the other hand, you’ll be lucky to get any help. In that scenario, find something that does interest you, so you get your questions answered, at least.

Negotiating a Sales Price

Of course, the real torture comes when it’s time to negotiate a car price.

Haggling with a car salesman for a good deal on a car is no fun. Price haggling is the most stressful and trying part of the car buying experience, because you’re in the dark about how low they can go, while these guys have everyday experience with car price negotiations. Negotiating a car price takes a lot of the fun out of buying a new car, because you’re an amateur playing a pro’s game.

You can even the playing field somewhat, though, if you do your research, learn a few of the tricks of car bargaining and know how to negotiate a car price before you step on the lot.

That’s the key: prepare yourself before you step foot on the lot. Here’s some car negotiation tips to help you do just that.

Tips to Negotiating a Car Price

There are three words to keep in mind when buying a car: research, research and research. Don’t expect to go and buy a car and negotiate a good deal, if you don’t know what you’re trying to buy or what it sells for somewhere else.

First and foremost, you need to know what kind of car you are looking to buy. Be specific. Know the year, make and model, including the different upgrade packages that are available.

Know Your Auto Information

This information comes in handy for several reason.

One, you’ll look knowledgeable, so the sales staff are going to be less likely to try to take advantage of you.

Two, you know when you’re trying to be sold on an upgrade that you may or may not actually need.

Three, you can use deals other car dealers are offering for the same make and model to get a better deal when negotiating a price. Quoting the #1 competitor’s lower price is a great way to tell the sales guys that you have other options. They don’t want you going down the street, and there’s no reason you won’t, if they don’t come down on the price.

Researching Your Car Prices

Familiarize yourself with the invoice price. The price you see is the MSRP (manufactured suggested retail price), which is stickered to the windshield of a car for sale. This price is the maximum the dealer hopes to get out selling the vehicle. The MSRP can be as high as a 10% markup.

Never pay the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price.

You won’t know the difference in the MSRP and the invoice price, if you don’t learn the invoice price. The “invoice price” is the price of what dealers pay for the car.

Find this information out by going to a website like Once armed with the invoice price, you can than start the negotiations at 1-2% above the invoice price. Negotiate up from there.

Knowing the invoice price will save you a substantial amount of money.

Have a Maximum Price You’ll Pay

How to Negotiate a Car Price

How to Negotiate a Car Price

Go to the dealership with a maximum price in mind. If you don’t have a maximum price in mind, you’re setting yourself up to be pressured by a salesmen to spend more than you’re prepared to.

Don’t let the salesman pressure you into spending more than what you want. Tell them you can’t afford to spend any more and threaten to go somewhere else, if they can’t respect that.

Don’t Show Your Cards

Don’t tell the salesman how much you can afford to pay per month. If they know this, it affects you in several ways.

One, you’ll have a hard time negotiating a price, because the salesman will have the attitude that “oh, you said you can pay x amount of dollars per month.”

Two, just because you can afford a certain payment a month, doesn’t mean that you have to max yourself out.

Three, if you can afford so much per month and the salesman know it, they’ll try to sell you everything under the sun, to squeeze as much money out of you as possible.

You Have the Hammer – Walking Out is an Option

Do not be afraid to walk out. Use the fact that you’re not afraid to walk out as a leverage point. The dealership doesn’t want to see you walk of their lot empty-handed, much less see you walk of their lot and onto someone else’s.

Remember, salesmen are trained to keep you from walking off the lot. That can be to your advantage, if they get the idea there’s a real possibility you’re going somewhere else. They know you’re going to buy a car soon and, if you walk off their lot, you’re going to end up buying a car somewhere.

When you start to walk, see the dealership come down in their price on the car you want.

Take Control of the Negotiation

Be calm, be firm and be in control. If you ever feel like you’re out of your element or if you start to give some leeway while negotiating, the salesman sees that and they’ll walk all over you. Don’t let them use your emotions against you, in attempt to apply more pressure or try to get you to buy immediately at a higher price than what you want.

Staying calm and being firm in your offers leaves you in control of the negotiation process. Maintain the initiative and don’t be passive. I’m not saying you should be belligerent or rude – only firm and assured.

If at any time you feel you’re losing ground or have lost momentum while negotiating, leave. There’s nothing wrong with coming back and trying another day, when you’re armed with more information.

Be sure to get any deals in writing before you leave, however, so you can be sure that you don’t have to start the negotiations all over again from scratch.

Negotiating a Car Price

The most important thing to you need to realize is this: the biggest weapon you have in negotiating a car price is yourself. If you don’t arm yourself properly with knowledge about the car you want to buy, how much you’re willing to spend and how much the car is worth, you lose the battle of negotiations with the salesman before it ever starts. If you go in with blinders on, you pay much more than you should for your car.

If you use our tips above and educate yourself on how to negotiate a car price, you’ll drive away from the dealership in a great car that you got at a good price. It’s hard to say if you ever get the lowest price you could have on an automobile purchase, but you can know that you didn’t pay the maximum price, when you negotiate a car sale.

For more advice on how to negotiate a car price, see:

How to Negotiate a Home Purchase

Learning how to negotiate a home purchase, instead of buying a house on nothing more than expectation and instinct, is going to save you thousands of dollars over the years. Buying a house is one of the best purchases that you’ll ever make. It’s also one of the most expensive.

Since a home purchase is a 20 to 30 year commitment, you want to know how to negotiate with a seller, so you get the best price possible. This is the biggest financial commitment most people make in a lifetime. You have no idea what your family is going to look like in 20 to 30 years, or if you’ll be here at all, so don’t saddle your loved ones with a bad mortgage.

The better the price, the lower your monthly payments. The better the price, the bigger the profit margin you collect, if you choose to resell the home in the future. This is not a purchase to make in the dark, but after you read how other homeowners have lowered the price of their mortgages.

Negotiating a home purchase isn’t as simple as walking in and demanding a lower price, though. There are factors to be considered which have an affect on what kind of offer you make, along with what you’ll ultimately pay for the home of your choice.

Negotiating a Home Purchase

Read about home purchase negotiation topics before you consider signing on the dotted line. If you have no experience, learn from other’s experience. Do your research and you’ll be prepared, when it comes time to negotiate.

Current House Market

The current house market plays the biggest role in determining how much you will pay for a house.

If there is a lot of demand for homes, you’ll be less likely to talk someone down on their asking price. In a booming housing market, there are always others be willing to pay the full asking price.

On the other hand, if the supply is large but the demand is low, most people selling their homes have had their house on the market and it’s sat there for several months. Negotiating a lower price is easier in this case, since sellers are starting to get antsy.

Look at how long a home has been on the market, before you start to negotiate the price. If you see a home has been on the market for months and months, that means the homeowners have seen others turn down the house at their asking price. They’re more likely to take a smaller profit, just to get out from underneath their home. That’s when you come in with a lowball offer.

This is how the house market is today, as of early 2010. There’s plenty of supply (homes for sale), but little demand (people to buy). Therefore homes are cheaper to buy right now, if you can get the home loan.

Homes in the Area

Look at the price of other homes in the area. We often talk of the housing market as one big polyglot, but housing prices actually a break down into a whole lot of smaller, regional housing markets. One part of the country is going to have different supply and demand than another part of the country, so you need to research your specific housing market to make sure the local trends conform to national trends.

If not, you might have to adjust your strategy one way or the other.

Target Homes that Fit Your Need

How to Negotiate a Home Purchase

How to Negotiate a Home Purchase

You don’t want to research a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath, single story home, if you’re looking at buying a 4 bedroom, 2 bath, two story home. Research similar homes in comparison to what you’re looking to buy. The prices are more in line with what you’re going to spend.

When you find a home you’re interested in, research similar homes close to the house you’re looking to buy. Location can affect the cost of a house.

For example, a similar house 5 houses down from the one you’re looking to buy might be selling for $1,000 more, but a similar house across town might be selling for $10,000 more. The one across town might be located near a park, or it might be closer to town, or it might be placed on the rim of a lake.

Location can have a major affect on the price of a house.

But the whole idea behind looking at similar houses in a nearby area is so you have some leverage when negotiating. If a house 5 houses down the street is selling for $5,000 less, that’s a good point to bring up. It’s implied you have options, because you can buy a similar house down the street for less money. That’s a good reason for the home owners to come off their price.

That’s the spirit of competition. Other variables come into play, such as add-ons, landscape and overall quality, but it’s still a factor that you want to consider. Learn the factors that go into house estimates, so you don’t bring up a house that isn’t that similar, or the effect will be lost.

Get Appliances or Furniture Included

Sometimes a homeowner is stubborn when it comes to lowering their asking price. This may have to do with a lingering sentimental attachment to the home, or an unwillingness to admit the home isn’t worth as much as they believed. If they won’t come down on their price, ask them to leave their furniture or appliances behind.

Think about it; you’re not getting an immediate discount on the house, but you are saving money, by not having to buy or move furniture or appliances. You won’t have to move your old furniture, which can be used as an added selling point when selling your old home. You can sell your old furniture for the difference, or use it to negotiate when selling your home.

Either way, you also save on moving costs, which is money in your pocket.

Get an Inspection

Getting the house inspected serves multiple purposes. The most important purpose is highlighting any damage that’s done to the home, so you know what kind of shape the home is in and how much fixing up the home is going to cost.

However, inspections that lead to new-found damage serve as a leveraging agent, when negotiating a deal. Request to have the damages fixed, which add years of longevity to a home. These are other costs that come off the price you would have to pay, eventually.

The other option is to request money off the asking price, in exchange for not fixing the damage. This means you’ll have to take care of the damage on your own time and dime, but at least it’s more money taken off the overall cost of the house. This means less money you’re paying each month for a mortgage payment, and therefore more money to spend on repairs and fixup costs.

Closing costs

The closing costs of a home purchase amount to a couple thousand dollars, in and of itself. See if the sellers will eat the closing costs themselves. If not, discuss splitting the costs with you. If the closing costs are $2,000, you save $1,000 this way.

That’s substantial, and can almost equal one mortgage payment. Every little bit helps.

How to Negotiate When Buying a Home

Buying a home is an big deal, probably the biggest financial deal you’ll ever make. If you take your time, do your research and get a little creative, you can find the home of your dreams, and get a good price on it as well. When considering how to negotiate a home purchase, remember that you’re the buyer, so you have a significant amount of leverage in this bargain.

How to Get Out of a Cell Phone Contract

Cell phones can be a luxury. And if your financial circumstances change before the end of your contract period, you might need to know how to get out of a cell phone contract. (If you get laid off from your job, a $75 or $100 a month cell phone bill might be out of the question.)

Here are some tips and advice about extricating yourself from a cell phone contract without having to pay the exorbitant $300 or $400 cancellation fee.

Getting Out of a Cellphone Contract

The following 10 tips have been known to help others get out from underneath their cell phone contracts with little or no repercussions. We can’t guarantee that they’ll work for you, but they’re worth a try.

10 Tips to Getting Out of a Cell Phone Contract

1. Roam when You Talk

Many cell phone companies don’t charge roaming fees. But when you roam, it does cost the carrier more money. So set your phone’s preference to roam, and use it whenever you talk on the phone. This will cut into the cell phone company’s profits.

Better yet, use your phone while roaming during your free nights and weekend minutes to avoid using up any of your minutes. Since you’ll be costing the phone carrier money, it’s possible they’ll let you go without a fight.

2. Check for Changes to Your Contract

Any changes that were made to your contract that weren’t approved in writing by you are grounds for a voided contract. But the changes that void contracts are limited to higher prices for services.

If this applies to you, you have anywhere from 14 to 60 days to attempt to terminate your contract.

3. Use the Free Trial Period

If you are given a free trial period, be sure to use it. Knowing that the phone doesn’t live up to your needs or wants is much easier to handle before you’re locked in for 2 years. It’s better to test the product before you sign on the dotted line, if you can.

4. Complain

If you have problems with your phone, its coverage, or the carrier, complain often. Every time you call in to complain, document everything. Be sure to document the date and time you called, who you spoke to and what you discussed.
These records can help you renegotiate and/or justify canceling your contract without a cancellation fee.

5. Pawn the Service Off

Find someone to take over the cell phone service. Cell phone companies allow contracts to be transferred. If you cannot find someone, several online services allow you to list your phone and contract. Maybe someone would like to take the contract off your hands.

You pay a small fee to do this, but you avoid a huge termination fee. And the person who takes the offer avoids the start up costs of a cell phone contract.

6. Fake a Death or Say the Owner of the Phone Died

How to Get Out of a Cell Phone Contract

How to Get Out of a Cell Phone Contract

Cell contracts are void if the owner of the contract dies. If you happen to go the risky route of faking a death, be prepared. Some cell phone companies ask for proof. This means providing a death certificate.

This might not work, but it’s an option, if you think you can pull it off. (We don’t seriously recommend this, as it’s fraudulent, and we’re honest people. But it’s an entertaining idea, nonetheless.)

7. Just Pay Your Bill

This will depend on what your goals are and how much you’re paying already. But to put this into perspective, say you only have 6 months left at $90 a month. That’s $540. Most termination fees aren’t more than $400. Figure out when it’s cost effective to terminate your cellphone contract, so you can terminate your contract and save money.

On the other hand, if you only have 2 months left at $90 and the termination fee is $400, you would spend more to get out. It’s better to wait in this situation.

Also, note that some companies pro-rate their termination fees. Factor this into your decision too.

8. Move

An online friend of mine suggested this works, though I’ve never tried moving to get out of a cell phone contrac. This is an extreme measure to take to get out from underneath your cell phone contract. I suppose if there is a will, there is a way.
The idea behind this is to move outside the coverage area so you cannot get service. Be prepared to fight long and hard on this one. You’re not guaranteed to have coverage in many contracts and you’ll have to prove that you moved.

9. Demand to See Paperwork

If your cell phone carrier cannot produce your contract, then you’re free to go. If they do, you could always hope that you didn’t sign it, and that no one noticed it when the deal was finalized.

10. Join the Military

This is an extreme action, if you’re not planning on an Army career otherwise, but if you are joining the Armed Services, that’s a good excuse to get out of your cell phone contract.

This measure is guaranteed to work, though you might find a tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan is more of an inconvenience than a bad cell phone contract. Join the army, tell your carrier that you don’t want your phone anymore, and they’ll have to honor that. Even cell phone corporations want to support the troops.

Breaking Cell Phone Contracts

Breaking cell phone contracts is not an easy feat. While these strategies aren’t guaranteed to work, some of them are worth a shot, if you’re unhappy with your current cell phone company. Cell phone companies will do everything in their power to avoid losing you as a customer. Even worse, they don’t want to lose you as a customer to another company.

If you’re having a hard time terminating your contract, the best thing to do here is to leverage the fear of losing you to another company and try to get some free services or money shaved off your bill. While there is no guarantee you’ll get a discount, it is better than nothing in the event you can’t figure out how to get out of your cell phone contract.

How to Invest in Stocks

Learning how to invest in stocks will enable you to fund your retirement, increase your personal income, and ensure your financial future. This article examines what stocks you can invest in, how you can invest in them, and what you need to know before doing so.

Ways to Invest in Stocks

There are several ways to invest in stocks. Here are some of them:

Traditional IRA – It’s important to know about the traditional individual retirement account (traditional IRA). Through an IRA, investors can make tax-deductible contributions and invest in mutual funds, bonds or stocks. Account owners can withdraw funds penalty-free once they turn 59 ½ years old. Early withdrawals incur a 10% penalty. Investors are required to begin withdrawals at the age of 70 ½.

401k Plan – A 401k plan is a retirement account funded via payroll deductions prior to taxes. Created in 1981, 401k funds are not taxed on interest or dividends until they’re withdrawn, and they can be used to invest in mutual funds, bonds and stocks.

403b Plan – A 403b retirement plan is often used for public school employees, self-employed religious leaders, and those who work for tax-exempt organizations. They are similar in function to 401k plans.

Roth IRA – Created in 1997, Roth IRAs allow annual contributions to a retirement fund. Your income must be below a certain level to qualify, and the money contributed is not tax-deductible. Early withdrawals are not penalized. There is no required age for withdrawals.

Simple IRA – More affordable than many retirement plans, a Simple IRA (also known as the savings incentive match plan for employees) is an excellent option for self-employed individuals or small businesses who don’t offer retirement plans.

SEP-IRA – Also referred to as the simplified employee pension IRA, this retirement plan is an affordable and easy retirement option for employers and employees alike. SEP-IRAs offer several advantages:

Brokerage Account – This type of account secures a professional broker to buy or sell mutual funds, stocks or bonds on your behalf. You are charged a transaction fee for each transaction, and these transaction fees can range from under $10 to hundreds of dollars. You can choose between traditional brokers or discount brokers, and this will determine the size of the commission. Discount brokers do not offer advice to their customers, while traditional brokers do.

DRIP – A dividend reinvestment plan, or DRIP, allows the dividends of the investor to be reinvested in the equity of the company. Whether you choose to reinvest your dividend income or receive it in cash, you’ll still have to pay taxes on it each year. In many cases, participating in a DRIP is free from commission fees.

Types of Assets to Invest In

How to Invest in Stocks

How to Invest in Stocks

When investing in stocks, there are three types of investment opportunities. Each is detailed below.

Common Stocks – When you buy common stocks, you are buying a tiny piece of a business. If the business increases in value, so does your stock. The opposite is also true. Many day traders, as well as long term investors, buy and sell common stocks.

Preferred Stocks – A mixture between the bond and the common stock, these preferred stocks receive first priority on their guaranteed dividends. This means that the preferred dividend will be paid prior to common stockholders receiving their money. During times of bankruptcy, the preferred stock is second to bonds, but it still takes priority over common stockholders. To make up for this advantage, preferred stocks offer limited financial upside to investors.

Mutual Funds – For those who want to know how to invest in stocks, another vital area is the mutual fund. Providing an easy way for anyone to invest, the money placed in a mutual fund is then taken by a fund manager and re-invested in various stocks, bonds, and other securities.

Stock Research

Before you begin investing in stocks, it’s wise to perform stock research. When researching stocks, here are the most important items to look at to determine investment potential.

Annual Report – An annual document written by the Chairman and CEO, this details how the high-ranking members of a company view the state of their business.

The 10K – Filed annually with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), the 10K explains how a company makes its money, its level of debt, current lawsuits, financial policies and accounting policies. This document contains all the information that a potential investor could want.

The 10Q – Filed at the end of each quarter, the 10Q is a shorter (and simpler) version of the 10K.

Proxy Statement – This document includes matters that stockholders will need to vote on, bios for the current directors, income of the CEO and other executives, and the number of shares owned by the executives and directors.

Financial Statements

When learning how to invest in stocks, there are also three financial statements that you’ll want to become familiar with.

Balance Sheet – This provides an investor with details concerning a company’s net worth, liabilities, and assets.

Income Statement – This document is distributed to investors and details the earnings of a company over a period of time.

Cash Flow Statement – This important document is concerned with the flow of cash in and out of a company. If you want to learn about the short-term viability of a potential investment, this is a good place to start.

How to Get Free Money for College

Getting a college degree gives you the tools to enter a rewarding career. To go to college, you need to have money to afford the high costs of tuition and books.

The next best thing to having your own money is to find free money for college in the form of grants and scholarships. Not only can you use grant and scholarship money to pay for your books and classes, but in many cases, grants and scholarships can also be used to help pay for living expenses as well.

This article features many of the options available to you that will help you pay for a college education and help you avoid having to apply for student loans.

Where to Look for Free Money for College

Actually finding grants and scholarships is half the battle. Most people who fail to get scholarship money don’t know where to apply for the help. Here are some resources to help you find scholarships and grants to apply for:

Free Application for Federal Student Aid: Also referred to as the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid can be found in most financial aid offices, or it can be filled out online. The FAFSA application makes one eligible for several grants, including the Pell Grant.

Fill this out as early as possible, because many schools run out of money for FAFSA sooner rather than later. The FASFA can be turned in as early as January 1 for the following school year.

FastWeb: FastWeb is one of the best-known websites for college students. You can look for colleges, find scholarships to apply for, and read articles explaining the finer points of college life.

They also offer an online discussion forum. Many of the topics being discussed on Fast Web include admissions, tests, financial aid and job hunting.

10kScholarship: This is another website that has tons of content about finding jobs, locating colleges and scholarships. They also offer a $10,000 scholarship contest on a regular basis.

Financial Aid Office: The financial aid office at your college can have information on special awards that are offered by your specific college. Sometimes these are for anyone who is in need, while other scholarships are directed towards an ethnicity or gender.

Grants and Scholarships

Free Money for College

Free Money for College

Grants are usually awarded based on a student’s needs, while scholarships are usually awarded based on a student’s accomplishments or merit. Some grants and scholarships are given based on ethnicity, gender, interests, hobbies, religion or achievements. Belonging to as many of these categories as possible can help you qualify for federal grant money for college.

Grants and scholarships are better than student loans, because you don’t have to pay them back. Getting out of college with $250,000 worth of debt hanging over your head can be a bummer. So here are some of the better grants and scholarships available:

Getting Free Money for College

One of the most important free money tips to remember when looking for scholarships and grants is that you should never turn one down because of its size. Many students will turn a grant or scholarship down because it doesn’t fully pay for their needs. This is a big mistake.

Don’t limit yourself to one grant or scholarship. Apply for more than one and use all the ones you’re qualified to receive when paying for your tuition. Never turn down free money.

Aside from that, be sure to apply as early as possible to avoid being turned down. Wait, and your options will be limited.

See also:

How to Make Money Online

If you’ve ever wondered how to make money online, this article will answer all your questions. Ten popular strategies for earning cash on the Internet have been included, and tips and ideas are provided for each.

Make Money Online with Google Adsense

If you have a blog or website, you can make money online with Google Adsense. To take advantage of this option, you first sign up for a free Adsense account with Google. Google will then place contextual ads on your site that are relevant to the posts you’re making and the part of the world you live in. For example, if a site is based in Texas, and you’re making posts about horses, the contextual ads would deal with Texas, horses, and possibly horses in Texas.

Each time a visitor clicks on one of these ads, you’ll make a small amount of money. Your “click through rate” (the percentage of people who click on your ads) can be influenced by the size of the ads, the color of the borders, and their position on the page. One big advantage of Google Adsense is that it requires little maintenance on the part of the site owner.

Make Money Online with eBay

If you enjoy selling stuff, you might choose to make money on the Internet selling on eBay. This can be done by setting up a free account and then selling either a specific type of product or a wide variety of items. EBay does charge a small percentage for each sale you make, but you can list your items at any price.

Listing items for sale on eBay is easy, as the site has a number of fill-in-the-blank or clickable options to choose from. Almost everything in your ad can be customized: size, font color, images. Thousands of people make a full-time job out of selling items on eBay, and eBay even offers health insurance for its most prolific clients.

Make Money Online with ClickBank

If you’ve never dabbled in affiliate marketing before, ClickBank is a perfect place to start. Opening a ClickBank account is free, and then you’ll be able to choose from a number of products to promote through your website or blog. Most of the options involve e-books, but other products (all of them delivered digitally) are available. If someone clicks on the ad and buys the product, you’ll receive money for sending them there.

Make Money Online Writing Articles

If the possibilities discussed above don’t sound appealing, you can always choose to make money online by writing articles. This might include content for websites, blogs, newsletters, or forums. The most common practice is for the employer to pay the employee per each word written, with a cap on the maximum number of words.

Many employers can be found on sites like Elance and Craigslist, and they will often contract writers for multiple articles or projects. It’s important that assignments are turned in on time and with a minimum of typos, otherwise a client may not want to use you again. This is a perfect fit for anyone wanting to make money online by using their writing skills.

Make Money Online by Taking Surveys

Companies will pay you for your opinions, as this provides them with valuable market research information. All you have to do is sign up for a free account at a site like SurveyClub. You’ll receive an email notification when a new survey is available, and you’ll be paid a small amount for your participation. The more surveys you take part in, the more money you’ll make (often between $4 and $50 per survey). In some cases, sites offer drawings to award larger cash prizes to participants.

The surveys you receive will be based on the information you provide when you fill out your free profile. In the beginning, it’s a good idea not to sign up with too many sites, as you may find your inbox flooded with survey opportunities. Also be sure to read the details of payment. While some survey sites pay in cash, others will offer product vouchers in exchange for your time.

Make Money Online Selling E-books

How to Make Money Online

How to Make Money Online

If you have talent as a writer, another option is to make money online by selling e-books. While the Internet is flooded with electronic books on almost every subject, any e-book you write yourself will be unique. Researching and writing about a subject will take time, but doing it yourself will mean that you don’t have to share the profits with anyone else. This is a savvy option for those who are serious about earning cash on the Internet.

Some e-books are hundreds of pages, but others are only as a dozen pages. Regardless of the length, you’ll need a catchy title to draw the interest of customers, and you’ll also need a website where you can promote and sell your product. Offering bonus items such as single page follow-up reports can also increase sales.

Make Money Online with Affiliate Marketing

Entire books have been written on affiliate marketing, but the basic premise is this: you place affiliate links or affiliate ads on your site, and you receive a commission every time someone uses your link to visit a site and purchase a product.
The best approach for affiliate marketing is to direct readers to sites that have a similar theme. If you’re running a movie website, for example, affiliate ads for Netflix and Amazon would be appropriate.

Make Money Online by Marketing CPA Offers

Consider marketing CPA offers too. The abbreviation stands for “cost per action.” This means that anytime revenue is generated based on your actions, you’ll receive a commission. This can be done by collecting leads such as locations, names and email addresses, or you might design an ad to sell a product. There are many ways to make money online by marketing CPA offers.

Be sure to research the company you’re planning on becoming a CPA marketer for. You’ll want to make sure they’re legitimate, otherwise your profits marketing CPA offers might never be paid. (CPA deals are a specific type of affiliate marketing, where you get paid per action instead of a percentage of the sale.)

Make Money Online Blogging

To make money online with blogging, you’ll first need to buy a domain name and set up your own blog (this can cost as little as $20 per year). Free blogs are available, but they often impose restrictions on advertising and affiliate ads. WordPress is the best blog platform available, but Blogger is another easy-to-use option.

Once your blog is set up, you’ll need to write content for the site. This will help your blog rank with the search engines, thus generating more traffic for your site.

The main ways to make money online with blogging are to include Google Adsense and/or affiliate ads. This allows you to make money each time someone clicks on an ad or buys a product.

Make Money Online Domaining and Domain Parking

Domaining is the buying and selling of domain names. You buy an available domain name at Godaddy, then turn around and sell it at a profit. While you’re waiting for the domain to sell, you can also make money by “parking” the domain. To “park” a domain is to include a code which runs pay-per-click ads relevant to the words in the domain. This is similar to running a Google Adsense site, only without the content. It only makes significant money if the keywords in the domain are popular enough to drive lots of type-in traffic.

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