How to Market Your Business While Maintaining Your Budget

Marketing a business

Marketing your business can be difficult to say the least. With 2020 posing challenges for many small businesses, it may be time to consider ways to market to a wider audience while also saving money. From business closures due to the pandemic to paying your employees, it may seem like you can never catch a break.Thankfully, due to the digital era, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of the internet to market your business successfully. 

Need some great ideas to help you make marketing a priority? We’re here to give you a list of inspiration!

1. Social Media

With Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn becoming popular social media platforms, it is an excellent move to make a business account on these platforms. There are also exclusive features for businesses on these sites. Start by building an audience and following other local businesses or loyal customers you are in touch with. You can potentially partner with other businesses and ask them for a shoutout or to tag you on a post. 

After you’ve built an audience you can work to keep them engaged by creating fun content. For instance, Instagram has a story feature where you can post for 24 hours until it expires. Stories appear at the top of a users page– meaning they are more likely to see it over a post. On the other hand, LinkedIn is great for networking and making business connections. If you are able to manage your time correctly, you can use as many social media sites as you’d like for free.

2. Google My Business 

Google My Business (GMB) offers small businesses a free account– essentially Google wants your business to succeed and be able to compete with larger businesses. When you create a GMB account, you have access to enter all the necessary information your business needs like the address, phone number, and name. You can connect with customers through Google search or maps and create a great first impression. With Google being the largest search engine in the world, creating a business page will most definitely get your name out there in your local area. 

Make sure to fill out all the necessary information on Google My Business. Additionally, optimize your business page by using keywords you want your business to show up for. For example, if you are a yoga studio you may want to include “hot yoga” “yoga membership” or “ vinyasa yoga”. That way, when users are searching for any of these terms, your business listing will show up!

3.  Create a Blog 

Blogs are great opportunities to extend your digital marketing strategy by implementing keywords and building your SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization and with more keywords, you could rank higher amongst other businesses. A blog is a great way to build your SEO and get more potential customers to visit your website– meaning more future sales.

4.  Build Reviews 

Reviews are a driving force behind consumer decisions. A positive online reputation is so important these days. Yet, with so many review sites out there, it can be difficult to keep up. Most review sites offer free business profiles. Everyone has heard of Yelp reviews; they seem to run supreme as one of the biggest review platforms in the US. Yelp cannot be overlooked as the company made over $900 million in revenue in 2019 alone. Additionally, sites like Google and Facebook also offer customers to write reviews for your business– meaning you will reach a wider audience. 

5. Create Ads

Once you feel you’ve built an audience on social media and the internet, you can begin making ads. There are many different types of ads that are available to your business. Facebook and Google are your best bets to target the customers you truly want. The best part is you can put a small amount of money towards your ad spending in order to experiment with what works and what doesn’t.  

If you’re feeling intimidated or confused by ads you can hire a digital marketing agency to help you get started. For instance, if you are a law firm that handles DUIs, you can invest in DUI lawyer marketing to get the ball rolling. You can also work with someone to get a low rate!

6. Offer discounts and create great customer service

Lastly, customers love discounts, so try to offer an incentive to get them to start business with you. Anything that gets customers talking about your business and the great deals they’re getting! Additionally, once a customer decides to do business with you, ensure that they are pleased with their service. There is nothing worse than having a first-time customer leave a bad review on something that could have easily been avoided. 

5 Ways to Save Money on Home Repairs

Doing home repairs

Believe it or not, home repairs don’t have to be incredibly expensive. There are plenty of ways that you can save money on essential fixes.

1. Set a Budget and Keep to It

First, set up a dollar amount that you’re comfortable with spending. Next, contact your contractor and see how much a repair will take. If it ends up going over your budget, see if the repair can be done with cheaper materials while ensuring that more affordable doesn’t mean shoddier. If it’s an essential repair that you can’t live without, like a burst pipe or broken furnace, then see if your contractor will set up a payment plan that fits your needs and wallet.

2. Have Repairs Done During the Offseason

Demand for certain home improvement services goes up and down throughout the year. Because of this, homeowners can save money by opting for services in the offseason. Take repair services for heating and cooling in Santa Rosa, for example. If you need AC repairs, try having them done when temperatures are cooler. If you need furnace repairs, late spring or summer is a good time for them. Insulating your plumbing can be done in the summer before frozen pipes become an issue. This way, you’re more likely to get a good deal for the job since these are in lower demand.

3. Perform DIY Repairs Whenever Possible

Simple fixes, like snaking your drain or repainting peeled paint, can be done without the need of an expensive professional. Even replacing window panes can be done by yourself with little difficulty. All you need to do is keep your skills and limits in mind. If you don’t know how to do something safely or can’t learn too easily, then a professional may be a better option. If you can learn quickly, however, you can look up simple fixes on YouTube videos or a whole host of websites.

4. Keep Preventative Maintenance a Priority

DIY preventative maintenance can cost money, but it costs a lot less than a massive repair job down the line. Cleaning gutters and sealing cracks can prevent roof leaks and basement flooding. Taking care of pests can keep you from repairing structural damage caused by termites or carpenter ants. Fixing pipe leaks can keep you from having to undertake expensive plumbing replacements. Changing an AC filter every month can also keep unnecessary repairs away while cutting down energy costs.

5. Prioritize Your Repair Needs

Not all repairs have to be done right away. Before you contact a professional, think about whether or not the issue at hand will lead to more significant problems down the road or if it’s just an inconvenience that you can live with. Is the issue an immediate safety hazard? Can it cause bigger issues if left unaddressed? If any of these can happen, then contact a professional right away. If not, leave it until you can save enough money to have it done without breaking your bank.

If you follow these guidelines, you’ll not only save a lot of money on repairs, but you’ll prevent a lot of repairs from happening in the first place. You’ll also gain the skills necessary to undertake simple repairs yourself and save hundreds of dollars by not calling a professional contractor.

Budgeting Advice: Ways to Keep your Finances in Check

There’s the old saying that ‘money makes the world go around’, but in reality, it should be ‘money makes your world go around’ as ultimately this resource is what makes our existence more enjoyable. For many of us it’s also something that can be quite scarce or not as plentiful as we’d like and as such it means we need to manage our money as best we can.

Trying to fit this around your day-to-day schedule can be a challenge though, but fortunately for you there are some simple steps you can take to get your finances in order. What follows are a number of approaches for you to consider:

Review your Expenditure

The first thing you can do is review your expenditure and create a chart or list of everything you need to pay for each month. Use estimations on things like utilities and your food bills and see how much this costs against your typical income on a monthly basis.

Implement Cost-Cutting Strategies

With this list of expenses, you can then look at areas where you could cut costs and make savings. Whether this is through being more efficient with your energy and installing a Smart meter to monitor this, or simply cutting down on how much you spend on groceries and treats, you could hopefully start to see an improvement in your finances.

Budget for Different Things

That’s not to say you shouldn’t cut down on everything enjoyable in your life. Make sure you can still budget for social and leisure time, as you should still treat yourself when you can. Just factor this into your budgeting each month and spend money if you feel there are special purchases you can afford.

Seek Professional Advice

There’s also nothing to stop you from looking to external support with your money. If you feel you’ve already tried a number of approaches to save but they aren’t working, then you could turn to wealth management companies such as Sanlam. These firms can assess your situation and help you create strategies and plans to safeguard the future of your finances.

While not all the above will apply to you and your money, the wise move is to start putting at least a few of these approaches into place now to help improve your situation. Eventually, you should start to see a healthier bank balance at the end of each month and hopefully a happier existence for you and any loved ones.

How to Live Your Life on a Budget

Are you in complete despair when reviewing your monthly expenses? Realistically it’s not surprising, for last year the minimum total of expenses for a UK region was a shocking £427.50; with the highest total being £616.30 in Greater London.

If you’re concerned about your finances, perhaps it’s time to cut corners through comprehensive spending to ultimately save those costs. Check out this guide on how to live life on a budget without sacrificing quality.

Road to Change 

Create a Plan:

First off, there’s no point mindlessly jumping straight into altering your finances with no considerations, for you are effectively changing your entire lifestyle. You still need to live, so boycotting all expenditures will simply fail. Start by creating a plan that covers all your current overheads to work out A) how much you’re spending and B) what’s costing the most. Software like Excel is brilliant for producing spreadsheets that are easy to interpret.

Suit Your Circumstances: 

One scheme of planning definitely won’t suit everyone, so make sure yours suits you. Take into account when you get paid (i.e. weekly, bi-weekly or monthly) to ensure your smarter spending complies. Another important factor to reflect on is the amount of people living in your home. Naturally if you live alone you’ll have fewer essential expenses than a family of four so set a limit per person to create an overall figure.

Set Goals:

Once you’re aware of the individual expenses, start setting some goals that’ll help you achieve and most importantly, stick to your targets. These need to be sensible and realistic, for example – reduce expenses on groceries by £50 a month. Putting these goals in a visible place like the refrigerator or a pin board will ensure everyone in the household is aware of these goals; increasing your chances of everyone sticking to them.


Separate Wants From Needs:

Be honest, how many items do consider a need when they actually aren’t? A need is something you simply couldn’t survive without (food, water & shelter); whereas a want covers the things you desire to have that you realistically could live without (expensive holidays and designer clothes). Categorising these separately will ensure you’re saving on the wants and focusing more on the needs.

Food

Create a Food Budget:

The average UK household spends approximately £60.00 a week on groceries, that’s over £3,100 per year… Considering a family with children throws away £700.00 worth of food annually, perhaps you’re buying way more than necessary. Implement a weekly or monthly food budget that sets a limit per person in the household to make the budgeting fairer and easier to manage. Also if you want to be really thorough, it might be beneficial to research each supermarket to gain a comparison on which will work best for you. In May 2016 Aldi once again triumphed over all six leading UK supermarkets, ranking £10.68 cheaper than ASDA and over £20.00 cheaper than Sainsbury’s.

Buy Multipurpose Foods:

Stocking up on your staples is a brilliant solution to making food last longer. Always having staples means you’ll have a variety of cheap meals to cook, allowing you to focus the rest of your food budget on fresh produce. Some great staple foods include:

– Rice

– Cooking oil (light olive oil)

– Butter

– Eggs

– Frozen vegetables

– Tinned fish

– Tinned tomatoes

– Dry beans

– Pasta

– Spices

Less Meat:

You can save money by skipping the meat and going vegetarian. A recent study identified a vegetarian diet can save you up to £530.00 a year in comparison to a meat diet. However, if you’re not prepared to go cold turkey on the meat, try incorporating some vegetarian meals throughout the week to reduce meat consumption. Cheaper cuts can be sourced through economy meat (sausages, chicken wings, mince and even organ meat), combine these with vegetables to produce both tasty and cheap stews, casseroles, soups and bakes.

Purchase in Season:

Fruit & vegetables are at their cheapest in season, so as it is summer you could focus on purchasing: strawberries, cherries, cauliflower, mangetout and asparagus. Thankfully there are vegetables that grow all year: carrots, potatoes, cabbage, celery and sweet potatoes as they can withstand the winter months.

Luxury Alternatives

Exercise for Free:

The UK wastes a total of £37 million a year on unused gym memberships, and with the average membership costing a gym-goer £442.00 annually, are you really getting the most out of yours? Ditch the gym and workout at home for free. Plan your own weekly workout routine (e.g. Monday – run for two hours, Tuesday – do an hour of aerobics, etc.) You could even set up an exercise group that meets in the park every week if you prefer a group workout.

Eat Meals at Home:

According to a recent study Britons spend £4,000.00 a year on dining out, that’s a ¼ of the average annual living income! Saving leftovers is a great way to avoid having to cook and not spending a fortune in a restaurant. Planning a weekly menu at home will ensure the time duration of each meal complies with your daily schedule.

Ditch the Habits:

Smoking is not only unhealthy, but it costs a fortune. In 2015, an average 20-a-day smoker spent £3,000.00 on cigarettes, that’s almost a year’s worth of food.  This will test how determined you are, for kicking a habit is never easy, but dedication will always prevail. Another habit you could kick are all those work morning coffees. Buying a coffee everyday costs you £519.00 a year, so either invest in a flask or wait until you get to the office.

Clothing Cutbacks:

Clothes are always something we have more of than we actually use; making them a fantastic cost cutting solution. Before you purchase new clothes go through your old garments and choose between the ones you do and don’t wear. Try selling these at car boots or online, that way you can reinvest any money earnt into new garments. Sticking to sale racks and avoiding expensive clothing is essential for making your money go further; the beauty of fashion nowadays is the versatility -nothing ever really ages.

Homemaking

Purchase Inexpensive Furnishings:

There is absolutely no need to splash out on brand new furniture when there are fantastic alternative methods, for example – instead of purchasing a new oak wood cupboard for storage when you can buy plastic containers for considerably cheaper; these can even be decorated with wrapping paper for extra appeal.

Fix & Update Instead of Replace:

Shabby chic furniture is extremely popular right now, so don’t throw away and replace broken furniture, try fixing them instead. If the legs on old chairs are coming loose then retighten the joints; don’t throw them away for the sake of a little DIY. When things the kitchen cupboards are looking tiresome and outdated, add a coat of paint to revamp them.

Energy Saving Solutions:

It costs 7.3p to run ten lightbulbs for an hour, and although this doesn’t seem like a huge amount the cost quickly adds up. To prevent the gradual cost increase, optimise natural lighting for as long as possible by opening the curtains and cleaning your windows. In the colder months, turn down the heating and opt for blankets and hot water bottles for added comfort without the added heating bill.

Accessorize Inexpensively:

Accessorizing your home doesn’t need to involve fancy cushions and overpriced candles. Add house plants for extra colour and freshness; these can be purchased very cheaply at almost all supermarkets for considerably less than gardening shop prices. Picture frames are also great for brightening up plain walls without having to purchase expensive wallpaper. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you could sew your own cushion and sofa covers for a sense of uniqueness, discarded pieces of fabric can be purchased from most charity shops for a fraction of their original price.

Ungrateful Ninja…

I went out to dinner with some friends the other night. Yeah, believe it or not, I actually have friends! One of them is a pretty consistent reader/commenter here on PDITF (shout out to MattyIce). We were talking about some of my recent blog posts when he said, “Ninja, you are sooo good looking and you smell amazing”.

Okay, you caught me. He didn’t say that, but wouldn’t that have been really weird if he did?

This was our actual conversation…

Friend: One of my buddies reads your blog and he made some comments to me about your recent budget posts.

Me: Oh yeah? What did he say about them?

Friend: He said you seemed super stressed about your post-marriage budget even though you anticipate having about $2,000 in left-over income each month.

Me: Yeah. He’s right. It does stress me out a little bit.

Friend: He also said he can’t believe you seem stressed about having such a large surplus when he doesn’t even make $2,000 in a month.

Me: Hmmm. I guess I may have came across as a little ungrateful. I should probably blog about this.

Friend: Yes. You should. Because I love your blog and it is what gets me through the day. It’s the wind beneath my wings. I love you. If it were possible, I would want to bear your child.

Yup. That’s EXACTLY how our conversation went down the other night. Moral of the story mi amigos is this: I’m a crapbillion times more excited about my income than I am stressed about it.

If I have ever came across as ungrateful, unappreciative, or even snobby, then I have failed yet again at communicating my thoughts.

Just last week I wrote an article about how it is difficult to verbalize financial success, but easy to communicate financial turmoil. Well, I think this is probably why I may seem more stressed about our budget than I actually am. It’s a lot easier to say “Oh man this variable income thing kinda stresses me out” than saying “Wow, Girl Ninja and I are going to have an incredible income.” I’d feel weird proclaiming the latter statement as people may perceive that as arrogance. But ya know what? I shouldn’t be afraid. It’s time to just lay it out there and tell you how I really feel.

I’ll be 25 when I get married this summer and Girl Ninja will be 23. I expect our 2010 annual income to be approximately $85,000. Next year, 2011, we should hit right around $100K. Our income level for our age is WAAAY higher than I would have ever expected. I am totally stoked on our generous income, but I also believe it’s important to temper that excitement with reality. The reality is, our income could decrease at any moment with the loss of job, medical issues, etc.

With a generous income, a great deal of responsibility follows. How should we save for a house? How much should we contribute to retirement? How much rent is “too much”? When you have a smaller income, or a lot of debt, you don’t have the need to stress about such things. Instead your wondering “Can I afford my water bill this month?” of “Will I be able to make my car payment?”

Now obviously I’d much rather worry about retirement and down payments than putting food in my mouth or gas in my car, but an increasing income doesn’t come without its own unique issues. Transitioning from ‘frugal bachelor’ to ‘upper middle class husband’ is a pretty big change. One that I like to share here on the blog. Please forgive me, however, for focusing on the things that stress me out about the transition, when I should be writing more about the joy and gratefulness I feel.

I’ll do better. Pinky promise 🙂

Some condo owners are crazy….

So Girl Ninja and I continued “Operation Don’t Be Homeless” yesterday. We looked at two different rentals. They both had great potential, but one of them really won our hearts. It is a 1br/1bath condo 100ft from the ocean. It has brand new stainless steel appliances, granite counters, a great layout, a dishwasher, and a washer/dryer (which is pretty rare in small rentals here).

The asking price for the unit is $1,500, which as you know, is the maximum rent amount I’m comfortable with. For those of you who just pooped your pants ’cause $1,500 for a one bedroom seems crazy expensive, please read this article. The condo has been available since April 1st, which means it’s been vacant for almost two months.

Most of the places we have looked at become occupied within a week of being advertised. It seems a little odd that this place hasn’t followed suit. It concerned me so I called my Realtor friend who is familiar with the area. She looked at the place and thought it was about $100/month overpriced.

I gave the property manager a call and told her Girl Ninja and I would be happy to fill out an application if we could rent the unit for $1,400/month. The manager basically said the price is firm and the owners aren’t willing to reduce the rent. I left the conversation frustrated. This lady must be crazy. It has sat vacant for two months and she’s not even willing to negotiate a little? WTF?

Well, being the PF dork that I am, I came home and started crunching the numbers. I’m convinced our offer was completely fair and needed to be reconsidered. You all know I’m a huge advocate of “putting yourself out there” so I decided to send the property manager an email asking her to reconsider our offer. Here’s that email…

Hi-

This is Ninja. I talked with you a few times today about the condo you have for rent. I know when we spoke earlier, you indicated the condo owners are not willing to negotiate. Girl Ninja and I are hoping you will reconsider our offer.

We both graduated from (insert college here) and have lived in San Diego for the last six years. I’ve worked for the Federal Government as a Special Agent for the last 2.5 years and Girl Ninja is an elementary school teacher. We would be the perfect tenants as we both have extremely stable careers and would never have a problem paying the rent on time. We take our financial situation very seriously and have excellent credit (mine is 760 and Girl Ninja’s is over 700 as well). We will be debt free on July 1st, when I send in my last student loan payment. Neither of us smoke, drink, or even party. We are extremely clean and quiet. Furthermore, we have excellent track records as far as renting is concerned. I have lived in my current apartment (which is a month-to-month lease) for the last 31 months and Girl Ninja has never lived in one place for less than a year.

The condo has been available since April 1st which means next week it will have sat vacant for 2 months. That’s a $3,000 loss of rental income for the owners. Sure, our $1,400/month offer may sound low at first, but if you run the numbers it really isn’t.

If the owners rented to us at $1,400 for a 6 month lease, they would be agreeing to take a $600 loss during that time. Again that may seem like a big loss, but it is a lot better than remaining vacant.

If you multiply $1,500/month by six months you get a total rental cost of $9,000. If you divide the total cost ($9,000) by the total number of days in those six months (182) the condo’s daily cost is $50.

I’m breaking the numbers down to make this point: If the condo goes unrented for another 12 days ($50/day x 12 days) the owners would incur a $600 loss of rental income, and potentially much more. With our offer they guarantee only a $600 loss. By waiting for a full price offer they risk losing thousands in rental income.

If they think they can get the condo rented within 12 days, then that is in their best interest, but if it remains on the market any longer, it would have been better financially for them to rent to us. The question is not “Is our offer too low”, but really “How long until they will find someone willing to pay full price?”

Girl Ninja and I would be more than happy to help minimize their losses by becoming the tenants, but we have to do it at a value that we feel comfortable with.

If you could at least look over the numbers and speak to the condo owners about our offer, GN and I would be forever grateful.

I’d love to talk this over with you.

Thanks,

Ninja

There you have it peeps. It’s really hard trying to communicate financial information in an email without sounding condescending and/or redundant. How do you business folks do it?

If the condo had only been vacant for one or two weeks, I would totally understand why they’re not interested in negotiating, but it’s been available for 2 months now. I don’t expect them to accept our offer, but I personally think they would be CRAZY not to? Hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask…right?

If you were the landlord how would you handle the situation? Am I overlooking something here? Or are they as stubborn as I think they are? Any advice? Do you have any negotiating stories (good or bad)?

I’ll be sure to let you know if I get a response 🙂

WTF is a budget?

There is one thing that always reigns true in the world of personal finance: Everyone does things differently, especially when it comes to budgeting. I’m convinced, no two budgets are the same. Here are a few of the different budgeting methods I’ve observed…

The anal envelope:

This method is no joke. It’s not for the faint of heart as it requires some serious discipline. Essentially you create a different envelope for all of your various expenses (rent, food, car, etc). After you’ve categorized your expenses, you put in a predetermined amount of cash in to each envelope every pay period. For example, if you allow $50/month for entertainment, you’d put $50 in cash in your entertainment envelope. Pretty straightforward. The hard part is not wanting to spend more than what you put in the envelope. Once you’ve spent the $50, it’s gone. No going to the ATM or using your credit card. Not even if that camera you really want is on sale. There is very little flexibility in the envelope system. Let’s just say it’s not for me.

The guess and check budget:

Ahh, this is my kind of budget. All you have to do is get out a piece of paper (or use excel) and itemize all of your monthly expenses. Instead of putting the budgeted allotments in envelopes each month, I use a guess and check method as I go about my spending. For example, if I feel like I’ve spent a lot more on dining out than I normally would, I cut back for the rest of the month and survive on PB&Js. This method is definitely more flexible than the envelope system, but it also allows for overspending if you aren’t careful. I generally stay within my allotments for each category, but every now and again I’ll get a little crazy and spend some money I probably shouldn’t have. If you don’t have some solid discipline I would not subscribe to this method.

The “WTF is a budget” budget:

Unfortunately, this is probably the most popular budgeting method in our culture. The people who use this method couldn’t spell budget, let alone live on one. They are usually broke, stupid, and stupidly broke…. but hey, at least they have 786 pairs of shoes they never wear. They don’t keep track of their money at all. They often don’t know how much they make and they definitely don’t know how much they spend. This is not a good plan. It’s financial suicide. If you’re a member of the “WTF is a budget” club, you better figure something out quick ’cause a financial disaster is brewing.

What kind of budget are you rockin’? Do you set aside a predetermined amount each month and stick to it religiously? Do you have an idea of what you’d like to spend, but don’t follow it to the “T”? How do you budget for the irregular expenses like car maintenance or haircuts? I’ve never really figured out a good way to set aside money for things that don’t occur on a monthly basis. Any budget tips, tricks, and helpful hints are always appreciated.