Apr 30 2014

5 Tips for Success on LinkedIn

By |April 30th, 2014|General Personal Finance|Comments Off|

Time is perhaps our most valuable asset. In business, how efficiently we achieve our goals is very important. Business owners must juggle scarce resources to grow their companies. Job seekers must focus their time on relevant targets to get the right offer.

LinkedIn can be a time and cost efficient way to expand your career or business. However, the benefits of this networking platform are also challenges.

Benefits/Challenges of LinkedIn:

  • Broad Exposure:  Pro: You can quickly connect with countless professionals.  Con: Connections may not be as strong.
  • Low Barrier to Entry: Pro: Nearly anyone is welcome to join. Con: This makes it difficult to distinguish yourself from the crowd.
  • Low Cost: Pro: Users can create a basic profile for free. Con: A premium membership is often needed to achieve results. On the positive side, a paid member may be more committed.

So, how can you avoid being another generic profile on this vast network?

Here are tips to maximize your LinkedIn ROI:

Customize Your Profile URL:

A standard URL blurs together with other profiles. LinkedIn assigns a profile URL with some variation of your name and random letters or numbers.

You can build a business or personal brand with a custom URL.  A unique URL may also contain search terms that make it easy for relevant contacts to find each other. For instance, a landscaper may use ‘lawn guy’ in their URL.

How to do it: Privacy & Settings >Helpful Links>Edit Your Public Profile>Customize your public profile URL.

Have a Custom Headline:

Most LinkedIn users simply put their job title as a headline. Unless you work in a small niche, this does not generate interest compared to other profiles. LinkedIn gives us120 words to convey the value of our skills.

As an example, “1st page SEO specialist for all your marketing needs” may be more effective than “SEO Analyst”. A value statement sets you apart. Executive Producer Elliott Broidy brought attention to his film ‘Sugar’ with an eye catching post this past summer. He wrote the film is “Changing hearts and minds about youth homelessness”. The film went on earn a Congressional screening and award at the Manhattan Film Festival.

Consider your industry and target audience when writing a headline. Be confident without boasting. A reserved tone may be appropriate for certain industries.

Choose an Appropriate Photo:

Photos for LinkedIn should reflect your business image. What is an appropriate photo will vary by industry and objective.

T-shirt and jeans may be appropriate for a general contractor but not a CPA. Similarly, photos in a casual setting are more approachable than studio shots. A lawyer may post a smiling photo at his/her office instead of a formal pose at the photography studio. Whatever the choice, choose a photo with high picture quality. A blurry photo takes away from your credibility.

Be Selective with Connection Requests:

‘Cold calling’ is frowned on at LinkedIn. Avoid sending connection requests in bulk to folks you don’t know. LinkedIn detects spam attempts when there are many requests with few accepted invites. Instead, start by targeting contacts with common connections.

Tip: Write a custom message for your connection request. Your invites are more likely to be accepted with a personal message. For example, you can mention common contacts, experience or college alma maters.

Manage Your Settings:

We can unintentionally become pests on LinkedIn. How? Your connections get an email of each profile update.  Excessive updates also distract attention from our substantive posts.

Thankfully, you can adjust LinkedIn settings to stop auto updates. Here’s how: Privacy & Settings>”Turn Off” Notify Connections When I Make a Profile Update

Summary:

Networking is an effective way to build your career or business. You can enjoy more success on LinkedIn with basic tips to improve visibility.

Apr 28 2014

Make Your Money Work for You

By |April 28th, 2014|General Personal Finance|1 Comment|

For those of us that have money to spare, and there are many, many people that do not and struggle day in, day out, there is no point having it sat in a bank account somewhere accumulating more interest for the bank than yourself. No point to that at all! If you have extra cash there are many great ways to make that money work for you and increase it so that you can become more comfortable. The below list are my favourite ways to make your money work for you.

Stocks and Shares

Investing in the stock market is certainly not a get rich quick scheme and when starting out it is likely that mistakes will be made, so some money may be lost. However, once you get over the initial struggles of coming to grips with the stock market and controlling your finances within this market the rewards of this form of investment will far outweigh allowing your funds to sit in a bank account to accumulate minute amounts of interest.

With this type of investing what you should be looking for are sustainable patterns of growth both in the share prices and dividend payments as these provide the best long term income streams that ensure you are staying ahead of the inflation curve. Well established businesses with steady business cycles, such as utility companies, are one of the best places to invest to make your money work for you on the stock market. It will be hard work, but the payoff is more than worth it. Fancy yourself as a bit of an entrepreneur? Why not start your own company?

Special Savings

In the USA it is possible to avail of two different types of specialist saving types, known as Certificates of Deposit and Saving Bonds, and both types are similar to each other and are guaranteed to make you better money than a standard savings account. The Certificates of Deposit, or CD for short, is an account offered by many banks that allows you to deposit a set amount of funds for a specific timeframe and you are offering an interest rate on this. In general, the longer the timeframe you agree to leave the funds for the higher the interest applied to the deposit.

Savings bonds are issued by the US government and can be purchased from most banks or from the Treasury directly at their online website. Once purchased the savings bond is credited with interest each month and once it reaches its set maturity date, usually 20 or 30 years, you receive the full amount. You can cash savings bonds at any time, but you are likely to forego some of the interest on the bond. Both options offer better value than leaving your money in a normal savings account.

Purchases

There are many items that you can spend your money on that will quickly depreciate in value, and do so quickly, but if you have the right eye for certain items then you could be onto making more cash from your savings with the right investments. Classic cars, antiques, art and property are all excellent for spending your hard earned savings on for the opportunity to increase your holdings. For me, it is property that is best with finding the right property in the right area at the right time and then selling it on shortly afterwards for a big profit one of lives great moments. It does take hard work also, but the reward is certainly worth the effort.

Gambling

Are you feeling lucky? If you are a lucky person who likes to take a risk then it is certainly possible to make your money work for you in the gambling industry. Again, you need to do the hard graft with researching your opponents and the teams you are betting upon when playing poker and you are sports betting in order to increase your investments. However, for me if you do not mind risking some cash from a easy return there are set of online slot games available like the Mega Moolah Jackpot that can see a multimillion dollar return for the investment of less than a dollar! I, personally, am hooked on these games and while I’m still awaiting that life changing payout amount, I have cashed well on occasion. Play The Dark Knight and King Cashalot, amongst other games, for your chance to make your money work for you in the quickest and most fun way possible!

Apr 28 2014

How to Save Money When Moving

By |April 28th, 2014|General Personal Finance|Comments Off|

If you are planning a move anytime soon, you probably already know that it is going to be pretty stressful for you as well as for your wallet. Obviously, the most hassle-free method of moving your stuff to a different location is to use the so called drawer-to-drawer service, which means that a moving company packs, moves and unpacks all of your belongings. However, this method is also the most expensive one.

If you are not ready to spend thousands on your move, there are a couple of tips which might help you save a few hundred bucks.

First and foremost, a cheap move is a well-planned move. The sooner you start getting ready, the happier you’ll be during the relocation. Make a list of all the things you possess and want to take to your new place. This way you make sure nothing gets lost or forgotten.

Moving is a great opportunity to reevaluate the things you possess. Moving less stuff is the most basic way to spend less money. If there are some things which you haven’t used for a year or so, then it’s probably time you said goodbye to them. There is really no point in moving the same unused items from one place to another. If you have time, you might organize a garage sale, if not, just donate the stuff which don’t need to charity.

Don’t waste money on boxes, when you can get them for free. Many cities have recycling centers, where they have hundreds of cardboard boxes. There are other places where you can get cardboard for free. The nearest shopping center may provide with boxes of good quality. Try asking in labs, hospitals and pharmacies, because medicines and chemicals are always shipped in sturdy double-wall boxes.

Don’t buy expensive packing materials, like bubble wrap, unless there is something too precious and fragile that you want to move. Clothes, towels and bed linen make for excellent packing supplies. Old newspapers and magazines might also come in handy. Browse through websites like craiglist.com, people who have just moved, might be willing to get rid of their packing materials on the cheap, or even for free.

And, finally, compare all moving companies in your area and find out who has the best rates. There might be companies offering free packing and unpacking.

Take your time to plan every stage of your move, get rid of the stuff that you haven’t used for ages and don’t waste money on packing supplies – that is your key to moving without making your wallet suffer.

Article has been provided by SFmoving.com company in San Francisco.

Apr 24 2014

A Couple of Simple Ways to Spring Clean Your Credit

By |April 24th, 2014|General Personal Finance|Comments Off|

The days are becoming sunnier and warmer. And with this time of the year, many people see it as the perfect opportunity to spring clean their houses. They might go through their closets, basement, and attic and toss items that they don’t need. Or they might head outdoors and give their back and front yard a complete makeover in preparation for spring and summer.

But although spring signals clean up time for the home, it’s also a good time to clean up your credit. If you’re fortunate enough to have excellent credit and no debt, this article might not apply to you. However, if your credit is less-than-perfect, or if you’re struggling with credit card debt, the following tips can point you in the right direction.

Some people with credit issues and debt know that they need to fix the situation, yet they don’t always know where to start. Since credit and debt influences just about every aspect of life, educating yourself is the best way to build a strong credit history — and it’s key to getting loans, credit cards and even certain jobs.

Fortunately, spring cleaning your credit is much easier than you might think. Here’s a look at a couple of possible solutions to get on the right path.

1. Use your tax refund to pay off debt

I recently heard a news report that the average person will receive a tax refund between $2,300 and $2,500 this year. Now, you can probably think of a million things to do with this money; and some people will take their refund and go shopping or buy electronics.

It’s your money, therefore, you can do whatever you please. However, if you want to spring clean your credit this year, using your tax refund to pay off debt is a good start. Let’s be honest, credit card debt hanging over your head isn’t fun. Also, if you’re behind on some of your bills, creditors may harass you day and night.

Using your tax refund not only gets creditors off your back, you’ll save a ton on interest and the less you owe, the higher your credit score. Debt amounts make up approximately 30% of your credit score. Therefore, if you take your tax refund and pay down a credit card or pay off some of your other debts, you’ll ultimately add points to your FICO rating.

2. Use a credit repair company

You can repair credit on your own. Unfortunately, it’s a lengthy and often stressful process. You’ll have to contact the creditor bureaus to dispute erroneous items on your report, and you’ll have to follow up with the bureaus to ensure that they’re actually investigating your claim. This takes a lot of time and energy.

There’s an easier way to do this. If you’re looking to spring clean your credit this season, you’re better off working with a service like CreditRepair.com, a credit repair company.

These services don’t work if there are legitimate negative items on your credit report. However, if there are questionable items on your report, a credit repair company will investigate these items on your behalf and remove any erroneous information from your credit file.

There is a monthly fee for the service. But it’s affordable and there is no contract, therefore you can cancel at anytime. Also, there are other services you can utilize, such as credit education. You’ll learn about your rights as a consumer, and receive tools and resources that’ll  help you make wiser credit decisions in the future.

Repairing your credit and paying off debt is important if you’re looking to save money. Your score and the amount you owe creditors influences your interest rate on loans. Therefore, if you have a low credit score and tons of debt, you’ll pay more when you’re ready to buy a house or a car. But if you can give both an overhaul, you’ll qualify for the best financing rates — a key way to save.

Apr 23 2014

I Lost 10 Pounds During Lent By Drinking Water

By |April 23rd, 2014|Blog, Life|3 Comments|

At the beginning of lent almost 2 months ago, I decided to stop drinking soda, chocolate milk, and anything else that wasn’t water. I laid out four goals for this adventure, and now that lent has ended I am happy to report on my success!

soda

photo credit: poolie

Here are the four goals I was hoping to achieve by drinking only water:

  1. Be More Mindful of Jesus
  2. Lose Weight
  3. Become Healthier
  4. Save Money

Be More Mindful of Jesus – Moderate Success

The goal is to give up something you love or enjoy, and every time you want it and choose not to have it, it reminds you of the sacrifice Jesus made for all of us.

In general I tried to keep this in mind, and I was successful at times. However, there are other times where I just avoided soda and juice because “that’s the rule”. I realize it’s a pretty insignificant sacrifice, but it did make me feel a little closer to God.

In the future, if I can think of a more spiritual Lenten sacrifice, I think I can improve in this area.

Lose Weight and Become Healthier – Great Success!

At the beginning of Lent I weighed 183 pounds. As a 5’11” male, that makes me just slightly overweight according to BMI. I know I have more muscle than a lot of people so I’m not worried about being “overweight” but I also knew I could stand to lose a few pounds.

I got on the scale yesterday and I weighed 174.5 pounds! Over the course of about 7 weeks I lost 8.5 pounds (which is basically 10). I’m now firmly in the healthy weight range for someone my height, and my pants are fitting a lot better.

On a side note, Tag gave up sweets for Lent and she also lost somewhere between 5-10 pounds. We are both going to look great for the wedding!

Save Money – About $100

Of course I probably saved money on this whole exercise. It’s about $2-3 for a soda when you go out to eat, and $1-2 at a fast food place. One drink from the grocery store if you buy in bulk is anywhere from $0.25 to a dollar.

Let’s say I saved an average of $2.50 a day on drinks, which I think is about right. I occasionally get a drink from Starbucks which costs about $4, which sometimes I just drink some milk or cans of soda at home. If I saved $2.50 a day for 40 days, that means I saved $100.

So $100 isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing.

I’m Making Life Changes

Now that I can drink whatever I want again, I’m choosing to continue drinking a lot of water. I certainly don’t want to gain back those 10 pounds I lost, and I like saving a bit of money too.

From now on, I’ll drink whatever I want on Sundays, but be mindful to not have more than one non-water drink per day. I hope to go at least 3-4 days a week drinking only water, and reserve the sodas and juices for “special occasions”.

My goal is to drop another 4.5 pounds before the wedding and get married at a healthy weight of 170 pounds, and I’m going to keep drinking water to help me get there! Wish me luck.

Apr 23 2014

Saving Your Credit After a Job Loss

By |April 23rd, 2014|General Personal Finance|Comments Off|

If your boss calls you into his office, you might believe that he has good news to share. This is especially true if you’re doing a stellar job at work and he’s pleased with your performance.

But given present economic conditions in the world, being called into your bosses office doesn’t always suggest a pay increase or a promotion. The truth is, many companies are struggling; and in order to keep their heads above water, many have had to lay off some of their personnel — including a few top players.

There’s nothing fun about losing your job, and you may immediately think about all of your monthly financial obligations — perhaps your mortgage, an auto loan, student loans and other living expenses. In all likelihood you’ll qualify for unemployment, and depending on your company, you might receive a severance package. However, the money received may not be enough to cover living expenses. To stay financially afloat, you might use your credit card to pay bills and purchase the things you need.

If you’re able to secure another job quickly, using credit may only be a temporary annoyance. But since it can take on average 7 to 12 months to find a job when unemployed, using your credit card to cover living expenses can dig a deep hole. As you watch your debt balance increase each month, you may stress about your credit score and wonder whether you’ll be able to make your payments.

Credit and financial problems are two of the biggest consequences of losing your job. But rather than become discouraged and frustrated, explore different solutions to reverse your situation. Here are four practical way to deal with credit issues after a job loss.

1. Discuss the situation with your creditors

Notify creditors of your job loss to protect your credit score. If you feel that you might fall behind on your payments, speaking with your creditors and explaining the situation helps. If they’re aware of your present economic situation, they may offer provisions to keep your account in good standing. For example, your creditors may lower your interest rate to reduce your minimum payments, or offer forbearance and suspend payments for a specified number of months.

2. Sacrifice and pay the minimum

If your credit card debt steadily increases, paying just your minimums will only put a small dent in your balance. However, paying your minimum is better than paying nothing.

Minimum payments are typically 2% to 3% of the outstanding balance. It’s always smart to pay credit card balances in full each month to avoid debt; yet, paying the minimum is enough to keep creditors off your back and maintain an acceptable credit score.

Depending on your cash flow, affording your minimum payment might require sacrifice on your part. For example, you may have to give up cable, cancel your landline phone, or even reduce your transportation and grocery budget to ensure there’s enough money to pay bills.

3. Work with a credit repair company

If you credit score takes a serious hit after a job loss, working with a credit repair company like Lexington Law can get you back on track. Understand, however, that these companies cannot remove legitimate negative items from your credit report. However, if your credit report has costly errors, such as late payments or a collection account, credit repair companies are highly successful with getting questionable items off credit reports.

4. Use your tax refund

It’s tax season and if you anticipate a sizable refund, there are ways to put this money to good use. You can use this money to cover some of your living expenses while you’re out of work. But if your unemployment check and severance covers the majority of your household expenses, use your refund to pay off debt accumulated while unemployed.

This is undoubtedly a scary, frustrating time. However, panicking will only worsen the situation. If you notify creditors of your situation and adjust your spending accordingly, you can survive this temporary financial setback.