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Friday November 17th 2017

Should You Take on a Weekend Job To Make Ends Meet?

If you’re already working a full time job, adding a weekend job can be exhausting.  While it’s certainly a good short-term fix for temporary financial problems, it’s generally not a sustainable long-term solution. After a while, the never-ending circle of finishing up the work week only to work all weekend, and return to work Monday really takes it’s toll. So much time spent working cuts into things like family time,  your social life, and  psychically wears you down.

weekend moneyCounting on the income from your weekend job for general “cost of living” expenses is not recommended Many people pick up a “second job” to work on weekends as a solution to a specific financial problem, such as catching up on an a sky-high hospital bill, paying off high-interest loans or catching up on credit cards bills. Another common reason people pick up weekend jobs is to save up money for a specific event, like Christmas, rather than to pay off money that is owed. We’ve put together some tips, ideas, and general information for anybody that is seriously considering taking on a weekend job.

  • Consider all your options- Before you begin putting in applications and faxing resumes or building your own side business, consider all your options. What are the pros and cons of each? Do the pros outweigh the cons? If the answer is no, skip that option or cross it off a list. Travel time is commonly looked over, but it’s an important factor too. How far will you need to travel? How are you going to get there? It’s not breaking news that gas prices are high.Find the distance in miles you’ll need to travel, your vehicles mileage per gallon, and the average price for a gallon of gasoline to calculate how much money you’ll spend. If it’s more than what you make in an hour, it’s not worth it. If you’ll be using public transportation, make sure that the price spent on bus fare isn’t taking a large portion of your additional income.
  • First things first- Make sure your primary job is prioritized over your new weekend gig. Ensure that your productivity and performance at your first job isn’t affected by your 2nd job. It’s not worth the risk of losing your main source of income just to pull in a few more bucks over the weekend.
  • Be your own boss-You can always work a traditional job and pick up weekend shifts at a store or restaurant. These positions tend to have very specific hours, and leave little to no flexibility. For this reason, we recommend taking on something where you can easily set your own hours, and make the choice of when you work, versus being committed to a set schedule. Examples might include your own gutter cleaning service, or mulching flower beds in upscale neighborhoods.

Thinking About Going Into Business for Yourself? Maybe You Shouldn’t…

Thinking about going into business for yourself? Maybe you shouldn’t…

Thinking of going into business for yourself? With today’s uncertainties, it’s more appealing than ever. Who wouldn’t want to be their own boss? Having control over one’s own career and no need to worry about downsizing! It may sound glamorous, but it’s not for just anyone. Having your own business is hard work. There are personality traits that can make it even more difficult to succeed. Before embarking on such an undertaking, it’s important to take an honest inventory of yourself. See if any of these traits, as I outline, apply to you. If so, you may want to rethink opening your own business, at least until you have addressed some of these issues.

Indecisiveness

As a business owner, decision making will be part of your daily routine. If you struggle with decision making, because you fear making the wrong choice or of being wrong, then running a business will be more problematic than it needs to be. It’s important to be able to look at the facts, make a call and stick with your decision. You must be able to accept the consequences and make adjustments when necessary. Be willing to act; otherwise opportunities will pass you by.

Playing the Blame Game

Business owners must take responsibility for their business decisions and even those of employees. Being the boss means you are in charge, and that means being responsible. Blaming others when things go wrong doesn’t solve problems. Clients don’t want to hear excuses; they just want solutions. Learn to take responsibility; as the owner, you have to own everything that happens. A particular issue may not be your fault, but you need to step up and work to find answers instead of pointing fingers. Use problems that arise as opportunities to learn. Learning to run the business more smoothly will inspire confidence from both clients and employees.

Looking for Fast Money

If your sole motivation for opening a business is to make quick, easy money, you might want to re-evaluate. Of course every business owner needs to make money, but if money is your only motivation, you will lose heart quickly. All new businesses take big investments of time; you will have to put everything into it. Monetary rewards may not come for quite awhile; in the meantime, you need to be passionate and persistent at what you are doing.

Going to Extremes

If minor setbacks send you for a loop, you will be spinning out of control quite often as a business owner. You will make many mistakes, and things will go wrong. Being flexible, keeping a cool head and being able to “reset” are invaluable tools in owning a business. Most problems can be fixed quite easily if you remain calm and don’t overreact. On the other hand, avoid being wildly optimistic; don’t entertain delusions of grandeur. Be realistic and stay focused on your goals. If you are unpredictable and given to extremes, clients will be leery.

Chronic disorganization

Is your desk a mess? Does your workspace stress you out? If so, this is not any way to run a business. Chaos not only makes your job more difficult, a messy desk looks unprofessional. It also affects your frame of mind; a clear work area reduces tension and helps you focus. The good news is that perfection is not the goal; keeping a neat work station is not as hard as it may seem. You can take classes to help, and sometimes just a little time spent each day working on piles or keeping clutter at bay can pay off.

If you are contemplating owning your own business, a little preparation can save you a lot of grief down the road. Evaluate your characteristics honestly; if you’re not ready now, maybe all you need is a little time and a bit of self-improvement. Anything worth doing takes effort; owning a business is no exception.


Speculation’s Influence on Gas Prices

The weak American economy is receiving yet another blow as gas prices are quickly approaching $4 a gallon nationally. Americans are getting squeezed at the pump while large oil companies have seen a surge of profits. Indeed, ExxonMobil earned $10.7 billion in the first quarter, a 69 percent increase from a year ago. Other oil companies have seen similar increases as well.

This has led much unrest among American voters, forcing government policy makers to take notice of the issue. The person who has been feeling the heat the most has been President Barack Obama, whose poll numbers have been dropping over the past several months. With gasoline prices more than doubling since he took office, some voters have begun to question his ability to take control of the issue.

In order to ease concerns, the President recently announced a task force to investigate possible manipulation in the oil markets by speculators looking to make easy profits. As well, Democrats in Congress have been looking to eliminate $4 billion in subsides to oil companies, although it is not certain whether such a proposal will make it to the Presidents’ desk.

Unfortunately, there is some evidence to suggest that there is not much the government can do, at least in the short run, to significantly reduce oil prices. Despite the massive size of the major oil companies, there is no direct evidence suggesting that they are driving oil prices upward. OPEC, which is responsible for approximately 40 percent of worldwide production, has a much greater effect on oil markets.

As for the speculators like hedge funds and other traders, they may very well be responding to real geopolitical pressures that would lead to higher future oil prices. The unrest in the Middle East has done much to rattle oil markets. In the past six months, there has been a revolution in Egypt, civil unrest in Qatar and Syria, and a civil war in Libya. Many investors fear that this unrest could eventually spread to Saudi Arabia, the world’s number one producer of oil.

China is also having a considerable impact on global oil prices. China is still in the middle of an economic expansion, with much of its growth depending upon capital construction and manufacturing. As a part of this process, they are consuming massive amounts of energy including oil, to further this growth. The result of the Chinese feeling the effects of this economic growth will result in their demand for oil which will only continue to increase.

Given the importance of oil to a modern industrial society, it is not surprising that demand for oil is not very responsive to price increases. Indeed, many economists have estimated that a ten percent increase in oil prices only reduces demand by two or three percent, because of this, some have argued that the United States needs to open up to more oil production. It is true that America is the third largest oil producer in the world and has approximately 20 billion barrels of known reserves, but it is still a small producer in the global market and would likely not have much effect of global prices. The switch to alternative energy solutions may also be a long-term solution, but it will do nothing to affect prices in the near future.

In the end, continued geopolitical instability and rising demand from emerging markets will continue to push gasoline prices higher. In all likelihood, speculators are responding to these pressures rather than spearheading it.


How to Make Your Checking Account Pay You

Banks have always offered special deals for customers who have savings accounts, but very little has been offered to checking customers until now. Free checking has become almost standard at most banks as long as customers meet the free checking requirements. Banks are starting to experiment with the idea of offering cash back for customers in certain situations. The banks are hoping that these additional perks will draw in more customers as people look for new ways to save money.

Better Customer Perks

Traditionally, a bank could maintain healthy customer satisfaction through the return that the customers received on their checking accounts. Recent economic struggles have caused those interest rates to plummet in the last few years, however. At the current interest rate level, there is hardly any incentive for a customer to keep money in the bank. Banks have responded by creating new savings packages that can be accessed through a customer’s checking account. When someone spends money from their checking account, a certain amount of reward money is deposited into their savings account. People can use these programs to grow their savings while making everyday purchases.

Cash Back Checking Accounts

Some banks offer a reward that is a percentage of the money you spend. For example, you may earn up to 2% on all of your purchases for the first 6 months, then 1% on all purchases after the first 6 months. There is usually no limit on the types of purchases that you make, as long as they are made using your checking account with the bank that offers the special program. The cash rewards may not seem like much, but they can add up over time – especially if you spend plenty of money from your checking account.

Online Banking Rewards

Other banks are offering cash rewards as part of their push toward digital operations. With these programs, customers are awarded cash back as long as they agree to shift all of their banking needs to digital formats. Customers who choose to use the ATM rather than the teller and receive all of their banking information through e-mail and the bank website can take advantage of cash bonuses through banks that offer this type of program. Usually the offers include one-time bonus cash rewards rather than rewards that are based on the purchases you make.

Cash Rewards for Checking is a Growing Trend

The number of banks that offer these types of cash rewards for checking accounts is small right now, but interest is growing nationwide. As banks continue to receive a favorable response from these programs, more banks will begin to incorporate them into their checking account packages. Cash back checking accounts are poised to become banking staples, just like free checking accounts swept through the banking world a few years ago. Banks benefit because they gain more customers who may choose to use digital banking options, and customers benefit by pocketing a little extra cash from the bank each year.


Urban Homesteading: Are You Made Out For It?

Due to the current economic crisis, people are being faced with problems on how to pay for their different necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter. Some people try different methods such as cutting spending and not going out as much. While this is a good idea, there are other alternatives such as urban homesteading. What exactly is urban homesteading?

Growing Your Own in the City

Well, urban homesteading is basically a way of saving money. Instead of driving to the grocery store to pick up food, you will be growing it yourself. Growing a garden may seem like a hassle, but you may also find that you really enjoy the process as you learn more and become more experienced. The current place that you live may not allow you to grow a garden; this may seem like a problem, but there are most likely places in your community where you can grow a garden. These places are generally called community gardens.

Community Gardens

People love community gardens because not only can you grow whatever you wish, but you will also meet people in the process. Since others will most likely have the same ideals as yourself, you should have no problems in getting along with your fellow gardeners. Who knows? You might just find one of your better friends or a lifelong partner while gardening. If you don’t, you will still get to know some amazing people and save a ton of money.

Chickens

You can also start raising chickens as well. Like gardening, this may sound like more hassle than it’s worth as well. Urban homesteading isn’t made out for everyone; you must learn to enjoy this way of life. Some people are cut out for it and others are not. You will probably find out right away if you really love it or not. Eventually, it could grow on you though. Also, before buying the chickens, you should check out the area regulations. Some cities may not allow them within certain parts.

Making Your Produce Last

You should also read up on some different ways of food preservation such as canning your foods. This will make it so they last much longer, and you will end up saving money since they won’t go bad as quickly. There will also be risked that you will be faced with when you can foods, so you should make sure you read up on those and realize how to prevent these risks.

Other Ways to Save

If you really want to save money, you can learn to make your own clothes. This is something that may take a lot of time, but you can save a lot of money in doing so. With urban homesteading, you can make the city feel like a country because you will be creating your own food. You will be saving money and not be caught up in the fast-paced city life. If you are a city dweller, then urban homesteading would definitely not be for you. However, it is a great way to save money and it is recommended for anyone.

This guest post comes from LowIncomeApartmentFinder.com, a site that helps locate cheap apartments and low income loans for those in need.


A Gap Year Can Help You Save More for College

A gap year is time that you take off after graduating high school instead of entering college right away. Students can use this time many ways. Some use it for personal enrichment, traveling or volunteering through organizations like AdventuresCrossCountry.com. For some, the concept of a gap year is becoming desirable as a way to deal with disillusionment over the economy and a poor job market. It gives them a chance to decide if they want college at all.

A Working Gap Year

While programs for travel and volunteerism are noble endeavors, some students are deciding instead to use the time to try different trades and make extra money to put towards college. This fruitful approach to a gap year gives students a clearer picture of what studies they want to take once they enter college and it gives them some extra money to help pay for an education. These students can take a few months in a gap year program but spend most of the year in the working world.

An Open Learning Environment

At this time in their lives, many students are still ready to learn, but perhaps not ready for solid structured environments. This makes a gap year an excellent option for high school seniors who are looking to gain new skills by learning new skills at jobs outside of traditional classrooms.

Character Building

A gap year can also give students feelings of pride, accomplishment and independence, all of which will make their college experiences more productive. Many gap year students choose to live on their own and some students will choose an experience that takes them far from the comforts of home. This gives students a glimpse of live outside their comfort zones and prepares them to live independently once they start college. They learn how to become self-reliant, an important skill for later success.

A Safe Place to Fail

Another aspect of a gap year that appeals to students is the chance to learn from mistakes when they will not cause permanent damage to their college records. Not every experience will be successful and students who learn to cope with failure will be better prepared to handle both failure and success in the future. They learn how strong they really are when they see themselves overcoming failures and moving on to new endeavors.

Advantage over the Competition

A gap year also provides students with experiences that most college freshman will not have. In certain highly competitive fields, a gap year can be a clear advantage, showing a student’s ability to work hard and persevere. It can also open other avenues and opportunities to explore while in college, such as studying abroad. Above all, the different jobs they work allow students to mature and become more focused, which are skills that will be to their advantage when beginning their college years. The jobs they work during a gap year will also create a comforting nest egg that can be used for emergencies during college years.


Never Miss Mileage Deductions Again

If you own a small business or are an employee with business mileage, you know that the mileage deduction can save you money on your taxes. The rate is going up in 2011 to 51¢ per mile, making it an even more lucrative deduction. However, keeping track of mileage can be a hassle; forgetting to record trips, having to guess at mileage and keeping up with written logs can be time consuming and stressful. There’s a handy little gadget that can take those problems off your hands; it’s called CarCheckup, and it makes keeping up with mileage virtually painless.

CarCheckup

The device is very small and lightweight; all you do is plug it into the onboard diagnostic port in your vehicle and it automatically records your trips. Any car made in 1996 or later will be equipped with the port. It tells the date, the start and stop time of each trip and miles driven. You download the data into your computer using Excel or the CarCheckup software; from there you can enter a purpose for each trip, whether business or pleasure, and record notes about each trip if you desire. It even allows you to create customized reports. It takes the stress out of providing documentation for the IRS as well; Jennifer Funkhouser, co-founder of CarCheckup, points out that it provides all the documentation necessary.

Other Uses

Besides tracking business mileage, the CarCheckup has other useful features as well – it can be used to monitor teen driving since it tracks time idling, time spent at different speeds, acceleration, hard breaking, etc. It also reads trouble codes in your car’s computer and provides an explanation if your car’s engine light comes on. The $150 price tag for the device seems more than fair for the time and effort you will save and should even pay for itself over time since you will not miss mileage deductions anymore.

Write Offs May Not Last Forever

Take advantage of this and other deductions while you can, though. If the Obama administration has its way, many tax deductions may be reduced or phased out in an effort to reduce the nation’s spiraling deficits. President Obama recently announced that he wants to limit itemized deductions for the wealthiest 2% of Americans; he also wants to reform the tax code. He wants tax reform, both individual and corporate, “that closes loopholes and produces a system which is simpler, fairer and not rigged in favor of those who can afford lawyers and accountants to game it.”

The president supports his Fiscal Commission’s recommendations, one of which would eliminate all deductions and credits. Another option being tossed around is setting a trigger to limit popular tax deductions until Congress can get legislation enacted to reform the code. The administration has stated that everything is on the table with regards to fiscal reform, so it’s likely that we could see reductions or eliminations of such deductions in the future. Until then, continue to take advantage of every tax break available before they disappear.


Do it Now: Five Steps You can Take Now to Fix Your Broken Finances

When you find yourself in a financial hole, it can be overwhelming to dig your way out again. These five tips can get you past the initial sense of hopelessness and in motion toward erasing your debt and living within your means once again.

1. Create a Daily Spending Journal

Dieters who are serious about dieting write down everything they eat in a day. If you are serious about correcting your finances, you need to write down everything that you spend in a day. You may be surprised how much you are spending for small, incidental items. If you spend a couple of dollars every day on a snack from the vending machine, that adds up to ten dollars in a regular work week. Write down everything you buy for at least a week so that you will be able to see where your money is really going.

2. Write Down a Budget

It sounds simple, but writing down your budget is the best way to track your spending. Begin by listing all of your regular bills and the dates they are due. Then give yourself spending money for other thngs that you buy regularly, like groceries and gasoline. Make sure you give yourself some extra cash to spend on fun things as well as the necessities. Your budget should also include a certain amount toward savings every month, even if it is a small amount.

3. Check Your Credit Report

Everyone is allowed to check their credit reports once a year through three different services. Take advantage of the opportunity to see where your credit rating is and why. Look through the listings to make sure that all of the information is accurate. Understanding your current credit rating will help you make changes that will improve your numbers.

4. Stash Some Cash for Different Purposes

Keep some envelopes or jars in your house where you can keep cash that you might need during the week. One stash could cover unexpected expenses from your kids. Another stash could be kept for play money that you can use to eat out or go to a movie. Having these separate stashes ensures that you will have the money you need for certain purposes without needing to stray from your budget. Sometimes just knowing that you have a little money set aside for a fun activity will make you feel less urgent about going out, so you might actually save that money for another day.

5. Clear the Clutter From Your Home Office

Go through your home office or computer and clean it out. Keeping your files organized will help you keep your finances organized. If your paperwork is a huge stack on the edge of your desk, bills and other important documents can get buried or lost. Create a place where you can keep bills that need to be paid, and put your bills in that place as soon as you bring them in from the mailbox. If you make it a habit, it will be easy to stay organized.


How Much Car Can You Handle?

When you start shopping for a car, it is important to remember that there are more expenses involved in car ownership than just the initial sticker price. Once you pay for the car, you will need to purchase the title, pay the state taxes, and deal with regular maintenance costs. The amount of insurance that you carry on your vehicle may depend on what kind of car you purchased and how you paid for it. Many lien holders will expect you to carry full comprehensive coverage as long as the car is being paid off. Because of the various expenses involved in car ownership aside from just the sticker price, you must consider all expenses before you understand how much you can afford to pay for a car.

Factor in Tax and Registration Costs

The tax and registration costs can vary depending on the age of the car and the state you live in. The older the car is, the less expensive it will be to purchase and the lower the tax rate will be. Usually the tag and title is less expensive on an older car, as well. Make sure you remember to factor in the possible costs of registering your car when you are building your car shopping budget. You can get an estimated tax and title cost for any car by calling your local tag agent or looking the information up on the state department of motor vehicles website.

Monthly Maintenance Budget

Once you own your car, you will need to keep it running in good condition. There are several parts that will wear out eventually due to the normal operation of the car. Create a savings account or space in your budget to cover regular maintenance, like oil changes, tire rotations, and fluid checks. Car tires can be expensive, and the kind of car you buy will make a difference. Remember to look into the tire size and the typical costs for replacing tires on the models that you are interested in.

Planning for Insurance Payments

Your insurance costs are based on several factors. Some of those factors are directly related to the kind of car you purchase. A brand new car should be covered with a comprehensive policy to make sure that the car can be repaired or replaced if it is involved in an accident. Comprehensive coverage can be more expensive, but it is a necessity on a new car because repair work on new vehicles is also very expensive. If you plan to purchase your car through a loan, you may be required to carry full comprehensive coverage. Make sure you can afford to make those insurance payments once you have purchased the car.

You can lower your car insurance costs by purchasing slightly older vehicles. Look into the types of cars that are stolen most often in your area and avoid buying those cars. You can find information about local crime rates online, or you could contact your local police department to find out where the information is compiled. Some research into the safety ratings of the cars you are interested in can also save you money on your car insurance. The safer your car is, the less you will need to pay.


Negotiating the Best Deal on a Used Vehicle

One of the most daunting aspects of buying a new car is usually the idea of having to negotiate for a decent price. Many consumers dread the confrontation and the haggling that goes into buying a car, so they will agree to the first price offered by the salesman. Avoiding the negotiation process might get you in and out of the dealership quickly, but you will pay for it with an inflated price that could have been much lower with a little more preparation on your part.

Do Your Homework First

Research the car you want before you visit the dealership. Create a file folder full of information that you can print from the internet. Collect the prices for the type of car you are shopping for from several dealerships in your area. Go to the manufacturer’s website and choose the features you want on the model you want. The most important piece of information that you can find is the invoice price. The invoice price is different than the retail price, and it is the price that you need to base your initial offer on.

Stay in Control of the Conversation

When you arrive at the dealership, speak with the salesperson in a clear, concise manner. Don’t give them the opportunity to begin making suggestions about the cars on the lot. Explain that you have already researched the models available, and you know exactly what kind of car you want and which features you would like included in that car. The salesperson needs to understand that you are not interested in a different car, and that you are an informed shopper. You will earn some respect this way and possibly avoid some unnecessary time looking at cars you don’t want to look at.

Use the Invoice Price as a Guide

When you sit down to discuss a price with the salesperson, bring out your printed copy of the invoice price for the car. It is entirely possible that your salesperson may not be aware of the invoice price for the car you are buying because many dealerships do not share that information with their sales staff. Before you go to the dealership, decide how much you are willing to pay over the invoice price. Begin your negotiation with a price that is about $100 or even $200 below your preferred price so that the salesperson will have some room to pull you up from your initial offer.

Don’t Be Manipulated

The salesperson may tell you that they need to take the offer to their manager for approval. They may really just want to leave you sitting alone in the office long enough to begin to change your mind about your offer. If you are left alone, get up and walk around. You could even go out onto the lot and browse among the cars. When you are moving around, the salesperson will be anxious to get back to you as soon as possible rather than risk losing you as a customer.