Does Today’s Youth Know How To Handle Finances

In grade school, high school and college, you are forced to take many classes on an array of subject matters. Anywhere from English, Math, Science, Foreign Language, and History. If you were lucky you may even be exposed to special courses such as art, music, health, home economics and trade classes. One thing that most of us were not exposed to are personal finances, meaning every day finances that a family deals with in a home. I personally think this would be a good idea to help men and women learn to do things from a financial perspective in a classroom that may appear to be common sense but aren’t.

What can be done?

Similar to a home economics class that teaches you how to cook and sew, or a woodshop class that teaches you to build things made out of wood, a financial 101 class should be introduced into high schools to teach students the essential financial tools of running a household. This class would be mandatory so students would not be surprised by the responsibilities involved in financing their lives and their family’s life when they are on their own. A recent study in Canada by LowestRates.ca showed that only 31% of millennials could pass a financial literacy test. Financial literacy simply means the ability to understand how money works in the world. This is disturbing.

Subject Matter

There are many items that should be addressed in such a course. Kids need to be able to function in the real world. It would be ideal to teach information on mortgages, taxes, insurance, bank accounts, etc. These are all subjects that are addressed on a daily basis as an adult. All of us have been forced to figure it out, but wouldn’t it eliminate the unnecessary stress of starting off on your own?

How do you balance a checkbook? How do you make a budget? How can you begin to save money? What is a 401K? What do you need insurance for? How do you get insurance? What is involved in buying a new home? How do mortgages work? What is a loan? How do you get a credit card? How do you maintain good credit? What are taxes? How do you file and pay taxes?

All of these questions could be addressed and help today’s youth in understanding their financial situation better when they are on their own.

Online Resources for Businesses

There are many individuals out there who become entrepreneurs and create their own business. For most of history these businesses were brick and mortar shops where someone came in and bought a product.  At first we used the barter system, then eventually in human history we used cash.  In today’s society there is more of a reliance on credit cards more than ever.

Even within the credit card industry there is massive change.  In the past there was a need for credit card machines that would take a carbon copy of the credit card.  Then came the swipe machine.  Now there are companies like  SumUp are allowing merchants to accept credit cards without the clumsy and antiquated credit card machine.  SumUp allows merchants to accept credit card payments without that machine.  The store can simply hook up their tablet or cell phone to SumUp’s terminal and start accepting payments.  Convenience is key! The other revolution happening is the growth of online shops.

Social Media

There are so many social media platforms out there to help market your business and gain exposure that you need. Sites such as facebook, instagram, snapchat, pinterest, houzz, etc. can allow you and your business to be seen around the world. By creating profiles on any or all of these sites you have the opportunity to share information to the masses. Potential customers can see examples of your work, reviews from past customers, and your contact information (website, address, phone number). You can even share information easily in this format.

Online Shops

In certain industries it is beneficial for the business owner to have an online store. It allows customers to have access to the merchandise or services from anywhere in the world. This has opened many doors for a lot of companies. Online stores can have physical goods for sale. For example, a children’s clothing boutique in Philadelphia can now offer their clothes for sale to consumers across the country and not only in the immediate location. The same goes for actual services. A cleaning service or car wash can sell and book their services online. Restaurants can offer gift cards for sale. Event tickets are now available for sale online as well which makes it easy for purchase.

Website

A good company website is important for a business to have. A website is a potential customer’s first impression on you and your business. It sets your brand and your tone. Everything from the set up, pictures, colors, writing are very important for you to win over your customers. Your website must include all of the necessary information for someone to contact you or learn about your services as it is most likely the first place a person will go to find information out about you and your company.

Email

A common marketing technique for businesses are email newsletters. Typically a company has you sign up via email on their website. This tool will allow you to reach your customers. Most individuals access their emails on a regular basis and are likely to read information sent to them via email. This is a good way to offer promotions to valued customers as well.

This is a quick look at the online tools available to business owners. All of these items can help maximize your profits. The web is a valuable tool where the possibilities are endless.

 

 

 

 

How to Begin Stock Investing

Maybe you are a newly married couple who wants to save up for a house or you already bought one and you want to travel around the world once you retire. In both cases and not only, you have done your research and found out that stock investment is your best choice. Congratulations, you are on a right way and this article will help you plan your further steps. Stock market is not so much of a gambling as many people think, with careful and smart moves you can conquer the market and enjoy your house or the tour in Paris. You are here to learn how to begin stock investing so enough with this talk, let’s get to your guide.

Get your finances in order

Everything can go wrong if you do not take this step seriously or worse, skip it. You have to understand and analyze your current financial status. To some extent, this step is your insurance in stock market, and it is necessary for risk assessment. Keep in mind that in market losses are possible, so you should ask yourself if that happens, how much you are ready to lose. Some financial advisers suggest being debt-free before investing, which means you need to be done with your student loans, credit card debts and even shorten mortgage. By doing so you can eliminate the risk of compiling even more debts thus becoming a responsible investor. Don’t blame market and its ups and downs, if you did not pay much attention to finance evaluation and risk assessment. I should warn you that this step can take longer than you think but without it, I am sorry to say, you can’t expect any dividends.

Learn the basics

Dividend? You don’t know what it means? Well, you need to learn the basics of stock market. Just like the college or the bank you chose, successful stock investment requires research. Talking to your neighbor or friend who invested is not enough to declare, “I am done with research.” You need to devote some time to learning the terminology, current trends of stock market and explore investment opportunities. All you need to do this Google and you will find dozens of sources. Read investment newsletters, and guides, follow successful stock investors, and stay updated. Why do I need to learn all of this if I can go to an adviser or a stockbroker? Fair question, I have to say. Advisers, my friend, can guide you through the process of investing itself, meaning explain you what is good for you and assist you while forming your portfolio. But guess what? They will talk with terms and because the last thing I want is your baffled face expression when the adviser is speaking, I am telling you now, learn the basics.

Extend your hand to portfolio

Tadam, you have learned about stocks and you have done your research. Now with this background knowledge, you can easily pick a stock that will pay off at the end. For this step, you need to allocate your assets to form a portfolio of investments. There is one extremely important part, which can cost you the success of your investment. Similar to finance and risk evaluation, diversification plays huge role in minimizing the risks. Diversifying portfolio means to invest in different stock to ensure maximum variety. Since not all the stocks respond the same way to changes, at least some portion of your stocks will be safe.

Time for your stockbroker to shine

Stockbroker is your authorized representative in the market, so to speak. Their functions include and are not limited to finding the best deal of buying or selling stocks, and handling the whole process of the trade. So the only thing left for you is to go through the paperwork and sign them. Stockbrokers simplify the technical parts of investment for you, but their responsibility is immense. Therefore, select a stockbroker or a brokerage agency with your eyes wide open and with sharp mind.

Check, check, check and finally check

The market can be as much of an online casino UK as you make it out to be, but with proper planning it will be an investment and not a gamble.  Once you complete all the checkpoints, you can heave a sigh of relief because the hardest part is gone. We want you to have a safe and successful journey in the investment world and hopefully, we taught you how. You have a goal, you have a target and you know how to reach it so go ahead and begin investing.

How Business Owners Can Invest Their Earnings

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Running a successful business is no easy task. After all, recent research reveals that four in ten small companies don’t last for five years. After the recent political and economic uncertainty in 2016, many were also expecting this rate to rise further. However, this doesn’t mean that you should be overly pessimistic, and if your business is doing well, you should continue to forge a path to success. Here, we discuss the current economic situation and how you can reinvest your earnings at the current time.

The Current Economic Situation

Against expectations, the broad outlook for the UK economy is positive. Recently, the British Chambers of Commerce have announced that UK buying habits have shown strong resistance to the Brexit vote.

This level of robust customer spending means that the outlook for trade and investment for UK businesses is broadly positive. The economy is expected to grow a further 1.4% in 2017, which is almost at pace with the 1.8% growth we witnessed in 2016.

As a result, if you’re looking to invest some of your wealth, now could be the time. Let’s take a look at how you could make the most of the broadly positive economic situation.

How Can You Invest?

To help your wealth grow, you can invest internally within your business or externally. First, let’s look at your internal options.

Internally

Staff ­– if your customers are keen to keep spending high, then let them. Investing in new staff members means that you’ll be able to service larger orders in a higher volume, boosting your revenue.

New Products – Likewise, consider diversifying your offering to take money from your competitors. By investing in market research, you can find out what your customers really want and cater for them.

These two tactics will help you strengthen your business and generate new revenue. Sometimes, you have to spend your wealth to save even more. However, although these will help you accrue wealth, it may also be worth diversifying your assets through external investments. Your best options here are:

Externally

Property – the UK housing market continues to boom and shows no signs of slowing down. Housing is generally considered as a solid investment; particularly buy-to-let, which is low risk.

Stocks and Shares – If your business is doing well, then it’s likely that others are, too. So, it could be worth investing in other businesses. This is a higher risk strategy than investing in houses, but the rewards are potentially higher, too. Take a look online for advice on what investments could be profitable.

Forex – Finally, consider being bold, brave and bright. Geo-political tensions such as Brexit cause currency fluctuations and changes. By investing some of your money in forex trading, you could make money on these fluctuations. This is a high risk, strategy, however, so educate yourself before you begin.

To conclude, the current economic situation looks positive, so consider how you could invest to maximise your wealth carefully.

 

 

The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Money

There are people that were born to manage money, but for many others it’s a tough task and it can end up causing people’s finances to spiral out of control pretty quickly. Managing money is as simple as you make it, and as soon as you hit that age when your money is your own responsibility, then that’s when you’ll want to get on top of it straight away and learn how to manage it appropriately. There are many tips to follow that will help you manage your money better, and below we’ll look at some of the most important things to consider to ensure you stay financially sound.

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Create a Spreadsheet

Your first step when managing money is to create a spreadsheet on your computer, as it will help you keep track of all of your finances so you’ll be able to see where you are as the months go on. On your spreadsheet, you should have information on your monthly expenditure and any income you receive. Doing this will give you an idea of how much you are spending on things, and you’ll be able to allocate sums of money for whatever you want. You’ll also be able to see how much money you can save, and what you can cut back on in future months to increase your savings. It’s important that you go into as much detail as you can when it comes to expenditure, such as haircuts, gym memberships, takeaways, and many other costly things just so you can keep on top of it all.

Don’t Spend Money On Items That Are Unneeded

Allocating yourself a sum of money every month that will allow you to spend it on what you want is a good start, but as soon as that money is gone, don’t spend any more money on unneeded items. It’s nice to treat yourself to some new designer clothes now and again, but there’s nothing wrong in buying unbranded clothes either. Ask yourself if the item you are looking to buy can be purchased cheaper, or if it is even needed at all. When buying shopping, it’s always wise to have a look at https://7coupons.in/ to see if there are any coupons for the outlets you are shopping in so you can save money on the items you are buying.

Set Yourself Monthly Saving Targets

There is nothing better than earning money and having access to it in your bank whenever you want it, which is why setting monthly saving targets will benefit you greatly. Not only will it benefit you by giving you savings, but it will also make you feel good about yourself knowing you have worked hard to earn every penny. You will quickly realise that budgeting and managing your money efficiently has got you where you are.

The above are just a few of the basic, but most important tips when it comes to managing your money efficiently. You’ll find there are plenty of other tips to follow, and depending on how serious you are about managing your money will depend on which tips you take advantage of. Keep your money management simple, and you will find your credit report will benefit from it in the long run.

I could make a full salary on Craigslist.

I’ve blogged many times about my love of Craigslist, and how I’ve used it to save money over the years. Over the last six weeks or so, I’ve been flipping furniture on CL and am shocked at just how profitable that can be. Spefically, when you are wheeling and dealing mid century modern furniture. Let’s look at a few case studies shall we…

Case Study 1: 

Girl Ninja and I had been using a black ikea cube bookshelf thingy as a storage space behind our couch. I hated how cluttered it always looked and decided it was time to look in to getting an actual credenza for our space. I came across this guy for $120 on CL. I offered $90 and the seller accepted.

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After realizing it was waaaaaay too small for our space, I decided to put it up on CL for $350 and see what happened. I’ll tell you what happened. Someone paid me $350 and bought it.

Profit: $260

Case Study 2: 

I made $260 in profit from my first credenza so figured it was only logical to roll that money in to another credenza. One that better fit our space. I paid $250 for this Lane Rhythm credenza…

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I did a little refinishing. About 30 minutes worth of work, sanding down the top and staining it to make it shine. I sold it for $650 less than 24 hours after buying it.

Profit: $400

Case Study 3: 

I wanted to dabble with two tone furniture, so I was on the hunt for a mid century dresser. Found this guy for $200 on CL (paid $150 for it after negotiating)…

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I put about two hours worth of work in to this guy. Doing some light sanding, priming, and then painting, with leftover white paint I had on hand. This is what it looked like when I was done…
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I was super happy with the end result and felt like I just Pinterested the crap out of the dresser. I posted it up for $400, and it sold quickly.

Profit: $250.

Case Study 4: 

I had a tree taken down in our backyard a couple years ago and saved one of the rounds that was leftover, figuring I could make something cool out of it. Originally my plan was to make it a centerpiece for our dining room table, but then I decided to turn it in to a live edge, side table. I paid about $45 for some hairpin legs and simply screwed them in to the bottom of my tree round. This was the final product…

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I posted it up on CL for $180 and it sold shortly after listing it.

Profit: $135.

Case Study 5:

I paid $65 for this credenza.

IMG_4925Can you believe it! $65 for this diamond in the rough. The seller was using it as storage for his kids toys in their playroom. He decided he wanted it gone. Within 20 minutes of him posting it, I was on my way to meet him and take it off his hands. It had an ugly wood base that had pretty nasty water damage to it, so I hammered off the ugly bottom and was left with the picture you see above.

I got the bright idea to buy some mid century modern angled legs online and dress things up a bit. The legs and angled brackets set me back $90. That’s right, I paid more for the legs than I did for the actual credenza.

I rubbed the piece down with some teak oil to bring out the woods natural tones and this is what it looked like after…

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My total investment was about $165. I probably could have sold this for about $800 on Craigslist, but a friend of mine loved it and needed a new TV stand. I gave him a friend deal and sold it to him for $400.

Profit: $240 (could have been $600+ if I posted on CL).

Case Study 6: 

Found this mid century dresser on Craigslist Sunday morning for $200…

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I didn’t do a single thing to the dresser. I reposted it on Craigslist as soon as I got home for $450, and it sold six hours later for $450.

Profit: $250.

Case Study 7: 

If you haven’t noticed the theme, I like to stick to credenzas and dressers that could be used as credenzas. It was time to mix things up a bit so I decided to flirt with a new piece.

I saw this coffee table listed on CL for $60 (I paid $50 for it)…

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I brought it home, staged it, took some photos and back on to Craigslist it went. It sold 24 hours later for $200.

Profit: $150.

Case Study 8:

Picked up this Broyhill Brasilia Tallboy dresser on Sunday for $200…

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Haven’t done a single thing to it (except stage it and take some photos). It’s on craigslist right now for $750, and should sell somewhere between $500-$750. I may end up keeping it though because it’s so freaking pretty. I mean look at it…

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So beautiful, and a pretty rare piece at that.

Case Study 9, 10, 11, and 12: 

Picked up this Lane Acclaim credenza for $450 on CL…

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I sanded down the top and stained it to make it shine. I posted it for $800 on CL and had a slew of people wanting to come see it. Girl Ninja freaked out and pulled a trump card saying I wasn’t allowed to sell it. So for now, this is the credenza that we are keeping behind our couch 🙂 Unless I can find someone that is willing to pay me $950 for it, then I’m gonna trump her trump and sell it 🙂

Here are a few other pieces I could sell for a couple hundred more than I paid for them, but Girl Ninja has trumped…

Paid $220 for this white leather chair, could probably sell for around $400…

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Paid $150 for this mid century leather chair. Should sell for $300-$400. 00X0X_jUxBqGVeL1u_600x450

Paid $250 for this desk and chair. Posted it for $500 and had multiple people asking to come see it. That was before Girl Ninja told me I wasn’t allowed to sell it…

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Conclusion:

In the last month, I made about $1,700 by simply buying furniture on Craigslist and selling it a few days later (or sometimes the same day) for double or triple what I paid. And that’s without even trying. It just kind of organically happened. I bet I could triple that income if I really got serious about it.

If you’re interested in flipping on Craigslist here are a few pointers I have for you:

1. Look for crappy ads. Most of these items only had a single cell phone picture of the furniture piece and there was barely any description of the item. Craigslist posts like these tell me the person just wants the piece gone and doesn’t care about getting top dollar. If the furniture is staged and has a detailed description, the seller probably knows exactly what their piece is worth, so there isn’t much room for profit.

2. Always offer less than what they listed the piece for. ALWAYS! Most of the time I can save $25 to $100 by simply asking the seller if they’ll consider taking less. About half the time they agree, the other half they stay firm. Any money you save on the purchase, increases your profit come time to sell.

3. Stage your photos and use a nice camera to take pictures (your 12mp cell phone camera isn’t going to cut it). You’ll notice each of my listing photos are edited to really make the piece stand out. I increase the contrast and sharpness, bring out the natural colors of the wood, and blur the background to make sure the furniture stands out as the focal point. Great photography translates to great profits.

4. Don’t budge on price. You’ll notice in just about every instance I negotiated a lower purchase price from the seller. But I’ve never once budged on my asking price when I’m the one doing the selling.

By the time people have taken the time out of their day to drive to my house and see the piece, I’m almost positive they are emotionally attached to the piece. They ask if I would consider accepting less, and I respond with something like “Sorry, I’ve gotten a handful of other emails on it and am confident it will sell for asking. But I understand if you want to pass. No pressure either way.”

They fear missing out on it, and they end up paying me full asking. Worst case, they walk away, and the next day someone else is knocking on my door to pay full price.

5. Look often. Craigslist gets thousands of new listings every day. I’ve gotten very good at sifting through CL to discover the diamonds in the rough. Search terms, sorting by newest items, and putting the layout in “grid mode” will be your biggest helpers. There is an art to Craigslisting and if you spend enough time on there, you’ll figure it out.

Now get off my blog and go make yourself a little extra money!

 

 

 

You wish you could be like me.

At the end of each calendar year I review our financials, update my Excel spreadsheet, and calculate just how much Girl Ninja and I were able to increase our net worth (NW) by.

We started 2014 with a NW of $234,000, and ended with a NW of $288,000.

In other words, we improved our financial position by $54,000 last year, an average of $4,500 per month.

You wish you could be like me.

DON’T YOU!!! 

I mean, we managed to increase our NW by more than the 2014 national median household income ($53,000). That means half of the households in the United States couldn’t save as much as we did, even if they paid no taxes and saved 100% of their GROSS income.

Like the title of this post says; You Wish You Could Be Like Me

…or do you? 

I hope for your sake, you were nothing like me in 2014.

While increasing our net worth by $50,000 in a single year might be impressive, it becomes significantly less so when you consider we made about $110,000 in 2014.

Girl Ninja and I were fortunate to have a healthy income, so it only makes sense that were are able to save and invest more than many other American families could.

An increasing net worth on a $110,000 per year household income shouldn’t be something to brag about.

It should be expected. 

You see, our big financial gains in 2014 are only really half of the story.

…The better half.

…The prettier half.

…The half that I like blogging about.

But there is another side to this personal finance tale and it is ugly.

How ugly you ask?

Try $45,000 ugly. 

That amount represents exactly how much money Girl Ninja and I spent on our credit card last year.

We use our credit card for virtually everything we can and pay the balance in full at the end of each month.

I’m used to seeing a couple thousand dollar balance each month, but I had never taken the time to figure out just how much we were charging over the course of a full calendar year.

$45,000 makes me sick to my stomach. Especially when you consider that doesn’t count any of the money that came out of our checking account, which would be another $30,000 or so for mortgage payments, utilities, and the occasional check or ATM withdrawal.

Sure, Girl Ninja and I improved our financial situation by $50,000 last year, but we spent nearly $75,000 along the way.

I’m disgusted. 

I write about the “Joneses” as though they are some family that Girl Ninja and I are nothing like, but numbers don’t lie.

When you spend $75,000 per year, you are a Jones.

At the time I was justifying purchases with thoughts like…

…”We’ve worked hard, it’s time to upgrade to a more sophisticated couch” ($1,700 in July)

…”Our kitchen isn’t how we want it, we have the money, let’s improve it” ($4,000 in August)

…”Baby Ninja’s upstairs is the worst part of our house, let’s demo it” ($5,000 March)

…”We deserve a vacation. Let’s go somewhere.” ($4,500 in April)

While I believe an occasional splurge is appropriate every now and again, Girl Ninja and I could hardly argue that our splurges were limited or appropriate.

To put it bluntly I’m embarrassed by my failed leadership. 

I have a responsibility to ensure Girl Ninja and I are being good stewards of the finances we have been granted. Somehow, I lost sight of that.

And that really makes me sad.