Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Making Wednesdays the best working day of the week at work

For most of us our most powerful wealth building tool is our income. So excelling at work is essential to accumulating wealth and getting raises. For a long time Wednesday was the hardest day of the week for me to focus, concentrate and accomplish a lot. But I have found a formula that helps me make Wednesdays great.

I work on video projects each week which take a lot of preparation, a few days of shooting and a lot of post production editing. Shooting is my favorite part, seeing the preparation pay off as the camera rolls is a feeling that is hard to describe. I also love the the opportunity to take the current setting and see how I can add creative parts to any video. So I try to shoot on Wednesdays as often as I can. Pre-production often starts on Monday where I plan the shoot.I set up appointments get permission to shoot in certain areas and work with the script writer. Tuesdays I do shoot prep, getting equipment and other essentials ready. Then once Wednesday hits I am ready to do my favorite part and if shooting runs a few days over even better.

So my suggestion is make the day you struggle with the hardest but also most interesting day of the week. If your co-workers have a day they drag see if you can focus on that day and enhances the productivity of your entire office. Working hard brings recognition which leads to better job satisfaction and usually better compensation.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Just do it!!!!

While driving to work the other day I was listening to the No More Mondays podcast and the hosts mentioned a concept that really stuck with me. Every once in awhile we spend to much time looking for answers or lists of things that we can do rather then implementing just one. At some point in time we have to make the decision to just do something. So if their is a goal out there that you have been wanting to implement I am encouraging you to stop reading your blog roll today and just do one thing you have been meaning to do with your finances. 

"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out."
Robert Collier

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Put your tax return to work

Tis the season to get tax returns and I love it. I do not advise giving the Government interest free loans but since you most likely did it this year what can you do with those funds?. If you are like me you have spent that uncollected/ or recently collected tax return three times over in your mind(we bought our first home so we are expecting a much larger than usual return because of the tax credit). It's hard to decide where the money should be allocated. So here are a few ideas that I suggest that will build your net worth.

1. PAY OFF DEBT: Debt is the most crippling aspect of most Americans finances. So pay off a debt in your debt snowball and add that extra minimum payment to your next debt. Decreasing your debt lowers stress levels and builds your net worth overall by decreasing your liability. 

2. Open a Wroth IRA: Planning for retirement is extremely important and its never to early to start. Especially when it comes to compound interest. So open an IRA and start contributing to it regularly it will increase your net worth and help provide a comfortable retirement. 

3. Tired of that dated bathroom or 70s kitchen, remodeling is a great way to increase your homes value which if utilized correctly can be a valuable asset. Here is a list of home improvement projects that you could do with your tax return. The highest ROI is actually an interesting one. 

HomeGain surveyed nearly 600 real estate professionals nationwide and configured a list of the top 10 do-it-yourself home improvements that cost under $5,000 and benefit sellers most when they sell their homes.
According to the HomeGain survey, the top five home improvements that real estate professionals recommend to home sellers based on average cost and return on investment (from highest to lowest ROI) are:
1. Cleaning and de-cluttering – ($290 cost / $1,990 price increase / 586% ROI)
2. Lightening and brightening – ($375 cost / $1,550 price increase / 313% ROI)
3. Home staging – ($550 cost / $2,194 price increase / 299% ROI)
4. Landscaping – ($540 cost / $1,932 price increase / 258% ROI)
5. Repairing electrical or plumbing – ($535 cost / $1,505 price increase / 181% ROI)
Cleaning and de-cluttering continues to rank as the top suggested home improvement (since the survey was originally conducted in 2000), recommended by 99% of real estate professionals, costing less than $300 and returning a value of nearly $2,000 to the home’s sale price, or a 586% return on investment.
Rounding out the top 10 low cost, do-it-yourself home improvements includes: updating electrical systems and/or plumbing, updating the kitchen and bathrooms, replacing or shampooing carpets, painting interior walls, repairing damaged floors, and painting the outside of the home.
The home improvement projects with the highest price increases to a home’s resale value are updating the kitchen ($1,265 cost / $3,435 price increase), followed by painting the outside of the home ($1,467 cost / $2,222 price increase) and home staging ($550 cost / $2,194 price increase).
4. Refinance your mortgage: Interest rates are still incredibly low and getting out of your 8% loan can save you hundreds even thousands of dollars over the long run. So take that extra cash and use it to pay the fees on the refinance. 
5. Invest in yourself: Could a specific certification increase your salary? Are you just a few credits away from that elusive degree you have been working on for the last decade? Use your return to help pay tuition as you go back to school to increase your talents and abilities. Choose things that your current employer suggests or you know will provide value to your resume. 
Last but not least adjust your with holdings so that less is being withheld from each pay check. Having the extra money on a monthly basis can really help you grown your net worth. It's not your public duty to provide the Government with yearly interest free loans. We plan on doing a combination of what I have listed and I look forward to telling you about it. 
I would like to hear about what you have done or plan to do with your return? 

Monday, March 21, 2011

New Years Resolutions update:

So it has been a few months since you set those new years resolutions how are they coming? Do you even remember what goals you set? Have you kept up with your financial goals? Back in January I wrote a post with a few good suggestions on what you could do to change your finances this year. Getting out of debt is not only a goal that we have but many americans have. Here is a great article about a family who paid off more than $70,000 of debt in just two years.

Strategy: Budget!
Advice: Save, save, save before you quit your day job.

A couple years ago, I decided I wanted to have a baby and quit my job. But there was a problem. My husband and I were in debt, and I made two-thirds of our household income. So I couldn't just quit.

I started out by sitting down and adding up all our debt -- which ended up being around $70,000. The first thing I thought was, 'Wow, we really need to start getting rid of this. We should sell our car right away.'

After some prodding, my husband got on board too. We sold his car and were able to immediately get rid of $19,000 of our total debt. After that, we knew we were totally doing this.

Craigslist and eBay became our best friends, and we sold everything from a kayak to a weight bench and a computer monitor.

My husband did some website design jobs on the side to make some extra money, and we printed out a budget each month so we knew exactly how much we could spend and what we would be spending it on.

We saved on gas costs by limiting the amount of driving we did, and we put ourselves on a grocery budget of $300 a month. On top of that, we cut out cable, lowered our phone bill as much as humanly possible and switched our car insurance twice in one year to find lower rates.

By the time I quit my job for good -- which was less than two years after I started the budget -- we had paid off $70,000 in debt and put $23,000 in the bank as an emergency fund.

You can find Jaimes whole story at:

article came from

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Side Hustle update part 3

Building a side hustle has a ton of benefits. It not only increases your ability to earn more cash, but it teaches you new valuable skills and enables you to work on something that you love. But how do you choose what you want to do? Start with your passion or something you are interested in doing. Brainstorm about how you can make revenue with that passion. Maybe you are an expert at something and you can teach others how to do it? Maybe you really see a few products that could make your hobby or passion more enjoyable for others. Develop those ideas and create a product that could fulfill those needs.

My "side hustle" chose me. I was working doing wedding and marketing videos when I created a marketing video for a Photo booth rental company. I had a lot of ideas on how they could expand their business and shared them with the operators. The owner liked my ideas and when the current operator was moving to a different state I was asked by the owner to take over. So I started out as a contracted worker. I found that I really enjoyed the work and saw this businesses full potential. After about a year of contracted work I asked to purchase the booths from the owner and start my own business. We have a long ways to go but we are on our way to positioning our business where we want it. Income is coming in and we hope to replace my wives income by the end of the year with this "side hustle".  I do all of the work for this businesses after hours and between classes at school so things can get a bit hectic. Overall it has been a great experience and the extra money coming in is helping us reach our financial goals. So take time this upcoming weekend to brainstorm about how you can create more income with sometime of a "side hustle"

Here is a link to a article in the local newspaper about my small businesses.

Monday, March 14, 2011

University Weekend

Most of us live around some kind of a University or college. This provides many opportunities for a lot of free or very cheap activities. For example last weekend my wife and I were looking into a few things to do. We found that at the University that I am attending there was going to be dinner and a movie for just $3 a couple. The movie was Disney's Tangled a movie we wanted to see. Rather than watching it in one of our local discount theatres for around the same price per person we headed to the school and got dinner for free. The entire experience was fun and for just three dollars a great deal. Because of the great deal we saw a lot of people who clearly were not students but were just out to enjoy a nice cheap night of fun with the family.

So how can you make the most of you local University or College? Here are a few things to look out for!

Guest speakers: Universities regularly play hosts to dozens of great guest speakers. Attendance is almost always free and you get the chance to hear from someone who is making a big impact on society.

Museums: I have always loved art and museums. I also like supporting students who are looking to display their art. Most Universities have an art museum on campus or an area where student art is being displayed. Check out the Universities website and enjoy a date night talking about the various art pieces.

Sporting Events: I have mentioned before that we really enjoy going to sporting events. Depending on how important the game is or how good your team is, ticket prices will vary. College teams typically have smaller stadiums so sitting on the top row for just a few dollars shouldn't be painful at all.

Expos: My University plays host to dozens of expos each year. Expos are a ton of fun a decent way to network and a great way to spend an entire day checking out new technology or products at a very low cost. The guest speakers are often very informative as well, and I usually walk out with more free gifts than I spent on the ticket to get in. Not to mention I often learn to skills.

International Film nights: Dive into cultural diversity by watching international films. A lot of Universities have movie nights for free or very cheap where you can watch a film from a different country and enjoy seeing how others think and feel.

Skills nights: Often Universities are the host of dozens of after hour classes. You may not want to go back to school to get a minor in sewing but you do want to hone your skills. Look for free or cheap classes and get your hands dirty in a hobby.

The list could go on but take advantage of your tax dollars by seeing what your local College or University has to offer. What is something that you do at local College or University for fun?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thinking outside the box

Think outside the box to save money.

Plant trees that will cast shade on your home: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, shading an air conditioner can boost its efficiency by as much as 10 percent. 

Sell the house and hit the road: Tired of being tied down with a home payment? Home ownership is extremely expensive even if you exclude the mortgage. Insurance,property tax, utilities and upkeep.  RVing can be a great low cost lifestyle if done frugally. Many people who work from home via the Internet or telephone, work seasonal jobs or are retired find living on the road to be refreshing and fun. Who wouldn't love to wake up in Florida in February and Maine in September. 

Toilet brick: Lower the amount of water you are using by placing a brick or other object in the flush tank, limiting the amount of water per flush. 

Park the Car: Walk, bike or use public transit to get to work. At the very least see if there is anyone you can carpool with. This saves money on gas and wear and tear on your vehicle. 

Share: Adults have forgotten how to share. You mow your lawn once a week, maybe even once every other week. So does everyone else. So why do you own a lawn mower for the other 6 days? Why not purchase a mower with a neighbor and just split the days. Once you are done return it to the neighbor so they can have it for their day and switch back and forth.

Cleaning Supplies: Use Vinegar and other natural supplies to clean rather than expensive cleaning products. 

Finding ways to save is a constant process that takes thought and innovation. What out of box ideas have you used to save money? 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Eat great at home for a fraction of the cost.

Over the last few months I have really thought about eating out and how much money it costs. We set a monthly budget for groceries and try our best to stick to it. It's ridiculous to see how easy it is to spend close to as much money on restaurants as our groceries if we are not careful. So we have been trying to find recipes for a few of our favorite meals and re-creating them at home. Here is one of our recent favorites. Total cost was well under getting it at the restaurant and we had enough supplies to have it more than once.
Barbecued Cheddar Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries.

What are a few of your family favorite copy-cat meals?

From epicurious

Barbecued Cheddar Burgers
3 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 cup purchased barbecue sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
12 sesame-seed hamburger buns, lightly toasted
Lettuce leaves
Sliced tomatoes

Mix first 4 ingredients in large bowl until blended. Mix in pepper. Shape half of meat mixture into eight 1/2-inch-thick patties. Shape remaining meat mixture into four 1-inch-thick patties. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill patties to desired doneness, topping with cheese for last minute of cooking, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare 1/2-inch-thick patties, and about 6 minutes per side for medium-rare 1-inch-thick patties. Place burgers on bottom halves of buns. Top with lettuce, tomatoes and upper halves of buns.

Sweet Potato Fries from a
1 - 1 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes (1 large sweet potato)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. sweet paprika

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2.Peel the sweet potatoes. Cut into strips that are about 1/2 inch wide on each side. Place the sweet potatoes into a sealable plastic bag. Add oil, salt and pepper, and seasonings. Seal the bag and shake well to thoroughly coat the fries. Spread the potatoes out onto the baking sheet in a single layer (not touching).

3. Cook for 25-30 minutes, turning at least every 10 minutes. Transfer immediately to a paper towel lined plate and serve warm.