Job Qualifications for the Future

Unemployment rates are falling in the United States, and average earnings are on the rise. This should give all job seekers a new level of enthusiasm to pursue their job search aggressively. However, there is still a lot of competition out there, and even many who already have jobs are looking to strengthen their knowledge and skill sets. Let's consider what job qualifications will be important in the future. Academic Qualifications The cost of higher education has been climbing at a much higher rate than inflation for many years. This is a significant cause for concern because there are questions as to whether the job market can support the higher costs that are being imposed upon students. Recent studies show that people with degrees in the arts and humanities are experiencing lower salaries and more difficulty finding employment than those with other majors. Many employment experts consider health care and the supporting fields to be the new core of the US economy. So this doesn't just include doctors and nurses, but also scientists, business people, biostatisticians, engineers, pharmacists, and more. Software, computer, and internet related fields are also expected to continue to grow. Notice that these careers largely consist of education and training specific to certain specialties. A person majors in engineering to become an engineer, or nursing to become a nurse. If you're heading back to school, specific training and certifications might be what you want rather than just a general degree. Other Training Specific training can really add something worthwhile to your resume. For example, 6-Sigma statistical training is always very popular. There are new food safety requirements that have been imposed on food and beverage manufacturers, so ISO-22000 knowledge is in high demand right now. Computer skills specific to internet marketing are very hot and will continue to be. If you can build a web page and do simple online marketing tasks, it can make you far more attractive to prospective employers. Look at the jobs that are hot right now and think about associated training that you can receive to improve your value. Health care, business services, computer science, and financial services are expected to be the leading fields through 2022. Core Skills Certain skills never go out of style. Public speaking and basic computer skills are always a good thing to have. The ability to work well with a wide variety of people is more important now than it has ever been. Did you know that the average office worker only spends about 1.5 hours/day actually doing constructive work? Imagine how valuable you would be if you could focus well enough to work 6 hours/day. One of the most valuable things anyone can offer his or her employer is simply being a good employee. Conclusion The job market continues to change, just as it always has. While the US economy has historically been based on manufacturing, for many years it has been shifting toward a service-based economy. Health care is expected to be the new core of our economy, and those that can support that field should find themselves gainfully employed. If you have the opportunity to go back to school, it would be wise to focus on training toward a specific career, such a nurse, engineer, or software engineer. But less formal training can also really set you apart from the masses. Finally, remember to work on your basic skills and strive to be a great employee. The world is always changing, and you can be left behind or take great advantage of these changes. It's your choice - make the one that best supports your dreams and desires for the good life you deserve!

The Stay At Home Moms Guide to Making Money With eBay

Being a stay-at-home mom isn't easy. There are meals to cook, dishes to wash, clothes to clean, kids to control, and a whole host of other challenges to deal with. It can be quite nerve-racking. But sometimes, when the kids are at school and you have the house to yourself, you might feel a little restless. There are several ways for stay-at-home moms to generate a decent amount of income without a significant amount of work. In fact, there are ways to make money without leaving the comfort of your own home. It's all about making money online. Does this sound a little bit too complicated for your tastes? Well, it's easier than you think. Making money via the internet doesn't require any particular set of technological skills. One of the easiest ways to make fast money is with eBay. All you need is a bank account and PayPal. Follow these simple steps to create your own eBay business while taking care of your family:

1. Decide which eBay business path fits your personal preferences. There are several different types of businesses that can be created on eBay. For the sake of simplicity, it can be narrowed down to two options: sell items you already own or sell something from a different website. * The first option (sell items you already own) is a solution for fast cash. You would be surprised what people are willing to purchase through the internet. However, this will be a short-term business idea because eventually you'll run out of stuff to sell. * The second option (sell something from a different website) is a more valid, long-term business idea. People all around the world have been using this business model to generate thousands - if not millions - of dollars in revenue.

2. Find a product in demand. The next step is to find a popular product that others will want to purchase. Think about what internet shoppers might want to buy. * If you check out various online marketplaces, you'll find that most of these websites have a section for the products that are selling like hot cakes. * Go to eBay and look at their popular searches. This shows what's in demand. * This step is a little tricky and requires some research. Many give up when they encounter this issue.
3. Examine sellers and offer a better deal. Chances are that others are selling the same product you're interested in. Stand out from the crowd and create a more attractive deal. Find a way to spice it up. * Consider including a free item in the package. This is often called "bundling" and it's a highly effective technique to smash the competition. * Reduce the price, but increase the shipping and handling fees. * Examine the reviews on other sellers' products, take note of the complaints, and provide a better service. It isn't difficult for a stay at home mom to make money with eBay, but some research is required. It's helpful to examine the competition, create attractive offers, write intriguing sales descriptions, and order products from different suppliers for a cheaper price. The e-commerce world can be tricky and competitive, but it can also be highly profitable. Selling on eBay is the perfect business for stay-at-home moms because it can be done at random times without leaving home. Sell what you want, work when you want, and your storefront is open 24/7 without the worries of running a website yourself! What could be better?


Questions to Ask Yourself Before Accepting a Job Offer

When times are challenging, it's easy to tell yourself that you'll take any job you can get. However, it's generally wise to be prudent. Accepting a job offer can alter the course of your life. You may have to move to a new city and adapt to a new work environment. Your future is also at stake. An unwise decision can be harmful to your finances, career, and happiness. Ask yourself these important questions before accepting a job offer:

1. Can I be happy here? This is a very general question that takes all factors into consideration. It can also be a gut-level decision. There are companies that just "feel right" for some unknown reason. Others just feel wrong. Ask yourself if the overall culture and feel of the company are a good match for your preferences, needs, and personality.

2. Where is the company going? Even companies headed for bankruptcy can have positions to fill. Educate yourself on the past and projected future for the company. Is it in a dying industry? Is the company suffering financial problems? What are the prospects for the company over the next 10-20 years?

3. Is my pay fair for the job description and my abilities? This is the most important factor for many job seekers. While money isn't everything, it's the primary reason 99% of us work. * Most jobs pay fairly, but this isn't always true. You should know what you're worth and what the market is willing to pay. Is your job offer in line with the industry? Is the salary sufficient to meet your financial obligations?

4. Do I have room to grow? Smaller companies and departments can have limited opportunities for growth. This might be fine if you're a younger, single professional with the ability to move every three years. It might not be as feasible if you have school-age children that need more stability to thrive.

5. Are the benefits adequate? Avoid only considering the salary. How much is the medical insurance? How good is the coverage? Is the 401(k) program attractive? * How much vacation will you receive? How many years will it take to earn another week of vacation? Consider all of the benefits before signing on the bottom line.

6. Do I like my supervisor? A new job can be great in every other way, but a bad boss can make your life miserable. The best managers are clear in their directions and grow their employees for the next level. Ensure that you can work effectively with your new boss.

7. Do I like my coworkers? There are few positions that don't require interacting with your coworkers. Ask to meet with the people that you'd be working with on a daily basis. Does it seem like a place with friendly, helpful people? You should already have a feel for the Human Resources department, too.

8. Will I enjoy living in this area? $50,000 a year might be enough to live like a king in rural Iowa, but you might find yourself struggling in Southern California. How do you feel about the climate and the people? Is there enough to do? If you love the city, living in the country might be difficult. A new job offer is an exciting event. Few things can change your life more than a new job. Proceed cautiously and avoid focusing solely on the salary. There are many other factors to consider. Ask yourself the important questions before signing on the dotted line.


How to Use Social Media to Find Your Next Job

Social media is all the rage. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and more seem to be everywhere. In social media like these, we get constant updates about the relevant and not-so-relevant aspects of everyone's lives. Here, we'll consider a practical application of social media: finding your next job.

Social media gives you great tools for sharing information electronically with a potentially very large audience.

Try these strategies to help you land a great job:

1. Focus your attention on people instead of companies. For instance, if you're interested in a particular company, look at blogs and on Facebook for people who work there. You're likely to also see the other people they know. Maybe you share an acquaintance or two. You can submit resumes to them, ask for advice, and get more contacts.

* You'll want to be subtle; people are unlikely to be happy about being bombarded with job requests on their own time. By starting out with a few non-intrusive messages, you should be able to make in-roads toward your goal.

2. Start your own blog. By putting out content that showcases your knowledge and expertise, people will begin to see you as an expert. Blogs are easy to start, and many websites will host yours for free. Other than the work involved, it's free advertising for your skills.

3. Use Twitter. It's becoming common to hear stories of people getting laid off, sending out a few Tweets proclaiming their new unfortunate job status, and ultimately finding a new position as a result of their Tweets.

* With Twitter, word spreads quickly.
* Companies are beginning to use this tool as well, for this same reason. Recruiters use Twitter to announce positions and give updates.

* Here's a quick Twitter tutorial:

- Go to and fill out your profile completely, including a professional photo of yourself.
- Follow everyone you know. Also follow everyone who seems like they might be able to help you find a position.
- Tweet away.

4. Take advantage of video. In addition to more usual social media tools, video is becoming increasingly relevant. Upload a video resume to YouTube and let the world know what you can do and what you're looking for. Check out other video resumes to get a feel for how it's done.

* When creating a video, keep brevity in mind. Explain your background; describe what you're looking for and why you'd be the best person for the job. Take your time and get it right - you can rerecord as often needed.

5. Consider Paid Advertising on Social Media. Also, consider Google AdWords and Facebook advertising to put the word out that you're in job-search mode. To do this, you'll need to make a landing page with your resume. Adding a blog, video resume, and any publications you authored would be helpful as well.

Social media is here to stay, so you might as well use it for something constructive. Finding employment is never enjoyable, but utilizing social media can really make a difference.

Never before has the average person had so much capability to reach so many people. Craft your message and get it out there every way you can think of.


Create Financial Independence With 5 Dollars a Day

Creating income streams of just $5 per day is a great way to secure your financial future. Maybe $5 doesn't sound like very much, but if you do the math, you'll find it's over $1,800 a year. Think about what would happen if you could set up one of these income streams each month in your spare time. It can be intimidating to create and implement an idea that can make millions, but no one is intimidated at the prospect of making $5! Following this process will get you well on your way to additional income streams: 1. Make a list of ideas that will allow you to make $5 a day online. It's important to maintain a list of good ideas. Make an initial list of at least 25 items and attempt to add a few more each day. That way, you'll always have a source of ideas that you can immediately put into action. A few examples include: * Write an eBook and sell it on * Make a video showing how to do something. It can be as simple as how to prune a rosebush. Post it on and make money via YouTube's advertising program. * Build a website about your favorite movie star and make money selling related items on or your own selling platform. You can sign up at to make commissions on any items your leads buy from them. * Sell your world famous apple pie recipe on a site such as * The list of possible ideas is nearly endless. Try to come up with ideas that require little time and not much initial expenditure. The whole idea is to get a bunch of these $5 streams going simultaneously. * Continuously ask yourself, "What do I know that might be valuable to someone else? How can I monetize it?"

2. Grab the best idea from the list and get busy. In most cases, it should take roughly 20 hours of work to put a single idea into action. That might take a week or two, depending on your schedule and level of motivation. * Some ideas will take longer to implement than others. And some ideas might require more marketing time than others. * Avoid spending too much time. You never know for certain what's going to work and what isn't. Many ideas will fail to produce a single dollar. But several of your ideas will produce far more than $5 per day. The $5 average isn't difficult to attain.

3. Stay focused on one project until it's 100% complete. Many people think they must have a spectacular idea to make a decent amount of money. You actually just need a decent idea and effective implementation. Someone somewhere is making $1 million a year retreading tires and someone else is doing just as well selling paperclips. * See your $5 project through until it's fully implemented. Then start another and do the same thing. * Create a schedule for yourself. Avoid the mindset of just throwing whatever free time you have at your projects. Schedule your project time.

4. Occasionally consider how you might adjust your completed projects that are already successful. A simple tweak might cause the project to do even better.

5. Think about some simple ways you can save $5 every day. Saving $5 is just as good as earning $5. Then, take that $5 and invest it. It doesn't require a million dollar idea to become financially comfortable. You simply need several five-dollar ideas that you can implement quickly and leave on autopilot while implementing additional ideas. That "measly" $5 a day really adds up. If you could implement 25 ideas that average $5 per day for each, it would total $125 a day. That's over $45,000 per year of essentially passive income! Get started on your $5 ideas today.


Become a Self-Made Millionaire by Following These 9 Practices

If you aren't lucky enough to inherit a million dollars, you'll have to create wealth on your own. Relatively few millionaires inherited their wealth, so you're in good company. Most millionaires didn't become wealthy by doing anything spectacular. They simply have a useful set of habits that they stick to religiously. Start on the path to becoming a self-made millionaire:

1. Deal with uncertainty. Most millionaires don't have a "regular job" and are forced to deal with more uncertainty than average income earners. Be comfortable with uncertainty.

2. Pay yourself before you pay your bills. Save at least 10% of your paycheck before you sit down and pay your bills. If you pay yourself first, you'll adjust your spending to accommodate your bills. If you pay your bills first, you'll spend the remainder and save nothing. Save your money before you have a chance to spend it. * The average millionaire saves over 20% of his income each month. * When you get a raise at work, attempt to save 100% of that new income.

3. Live beneath your means. Most millionaires aren't big spenders. They buy used cars and avoid luxury brands. They live in more modest homes than they can afford. * Becoming wealthy is most often the result of a moderate lifestyle, aggressive saving, discipline, and time. These are all things that anyone can do. Consider the results when someone does the opposite of these things.

4. Fire your boss. Roughly 70% of millionaires are self-employed. Working for a big company can be comforting, but it's also expensive. You're selling your time at wholesale prices. When you work for yourself, you have more opportunities to make a big salary. Start a small business on the side and make that your hobby.

5. Spend time with other millionaires. Spend time with wealthy people if you want to become wealthy. You'll be provided with more opportunities and learn how millionaires think. Their approach to money and the world is very different from those of the average person.

6. Avoid debt that doesn't increase your income or net worth. Millionaires avoid debt like the plague, unless it provides financial opportunities. A millionaire might get a loan to purchase an apartment building or build a business, but she wouldn't borrow money for a vacation. * Avoid borrowing money unless it will strengthen your financial situation down the road.

7. Have financial goals. Most impressive things are accomplished by those with goals. Saving a million dollars is too big to happen by accident. Wealthy people that created their wealth have goals. What are yours?

8. Get a mentor. The vast majority of millionaires state that a mentor was a major factor in accumulating their wealth. Everything is easier when you have a guide that has already accomplished your goal. Find a mentor and follow their advice. Networking is the key to finding an appropriate mentor. Put yourself out there.

9. Avoid wasting time. Every minute you waste could've been spent on earning more money or learning something relevant. It's important to have hobbies and interests outside of building your wealth. But time spent on television and surfing the internet is neither beneficial nor satisfying. Use your time wisely. You can adopt the most important behaviors of self-made millionaires. Is there anything in the list above that you can't do? With patience and the right habits, you can become a millionaire, too. With persistence, there's nothing you can't accomplish.


Earn Extra Income by Freelancing on the Web

Who isn't looking for additional cash these days? Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can make extra money by offering your services on the internet. Ranging from full-time to piecemeal freelance gigs, the array of online job choices is staggering. If you're optimistic and confident, prepare to make plenty of extra money by doing some online freelance work. Try these ideas to pick up some quick cash:

1. Consider your skills. Focus your efforts on your unique talents when looking for web work. * For example, if you're a fast typist, look for data entry jobs online. If you can spin a good yarn, try a writing job or two. If you're a skilled web surfer, find research jobs to fill the coffer. * Try and other popular freelance portals to find work.

2. Use social networks for meetings. With the advent of social media, you can converse with prospective employers. Ensure that others see your qualities through your social networking efforts.

3. Be brave. Diving in can be challenging and perhaps intimidating. To protect yourself, research the websites you're interested in. If a website passes your criteria and appears to be reputable, sometimes it's a great idea to simply jump in and accept your first online gig. * When you do, you'll be rewarded for your courage with some extra money.

4. Learn to do transcriptions to earn steady, incoming wages. Transcribing is an exploding online career. If you're a competent typist, you're more than half-way along the path to earning extra dollars by typing out interviews, dictated books, and other info.

5. Contact local businesses to offer them help posting on their social media accounts. If you're an avid Twitterer and Facebooker, you could be paid to post regularly for business owners who don't have the time or skill to do it themselves.

6. Look for websites who offer cash to endorse their products. Become an affiliate of popular companies like Amazon and post their ads (coded with your affiliate number) on your Facebook page. Whenever someone clicks on your ad and buys the product, you earn a commission. * If you have a lot of friends who enjoy a particular hobby, find a vendor of supplies you can all enjoy. Become an affiliate, post their ads, and earn commissions on their products.

7. Utilize websites that reward you for shopping on their sites. It's wise to be careful with this tip. You could spend more with your shopping than you make through the gift card reward. But if you're planning to purchase a gift anyway, you could earn a few extra bucks this way.

8. Find a "micro-gig" at the website called "Fiverr." What will you do for five dollars? Post it on the Fiverr website and you might get a few takers. Explore the website to get an idea of the tasks people want done. Then, offer to do those tasks. * Think about what you can do easily and quickly.

9. Serve on a mock online jury. At, you'll be paid to serve on a mock jury. Discover the experience of making a real difference with the other online jury members.

10. Do you have an endless thirst for knowledge and trivia? Put your curiosity to work and make a few bucks at Cha Cha. Seek out correct responses to people's questions and get paid for each answer. If you're a tip-top researcher or web surfer, Cha Cha's for you. If you have a computer and know how to type, you have a gold mine right in your own house. Achieve your financial goals by bringing in extra money from online sources.


How to Develop a Budget for Your Grant Proposal

Developing a budget for your grant proposal is an important part of the grant application process. It can be intimidating, but it's doable provided you strive to be accurate and complete. Simply work through it step by step until it's completed. The agency providing the grant will require that the budget be based on a 'good faith estimate' of all the expected costs. All this really means is that you're not intentionally providing false or misleading information. It also means that your numbers need to be based on something other than your best guess. Research what your budget items actually cost. There are several budget categories that are commonly used, though some agencies will supply a specific budget form. These are some of the main expenditures you'll be including in your grant proposal budget.

Direct Costs

1. Personnel. This includes all salaries and benefits such as vacation, insurance, sick pay, and more. Ensure your salary predictions are accurate. You'll be in a tough spot if you plan on a particular salary of $20k, but the going rate for that position is $70k!

2. Printing / Copying. This is the cost of having an outside source provide these services.

3. Postage. Calculate the expected cost of all bulk and first class mail.

4. Travel. This is domestic travel. Travel expenses, including expected costs for hotel, food, and transportation, need to be itemized. Tips and parking are also part of this category. Be reasonable in your estimates and don't round your figures too much; $1,280 looks better than $1,500.

5. Foreign Travel. This is usually set up as a separate category from your domestic travel. Itemize your expenses the same way as in the previous category, but only estimate travel out of the country. Again, avoid rounding your figures too much.

6. Equipment. This must also be itemized. Be sure that the grant allows the purchase of equipment; some do not. Rental of equipment might be allowed. Maintenance costs might be allowed. * This category is heavily scrutinized. Make it clear in the application why the equipment is needed and what it will be used for. Support your cost predictions with real data.

7. Professional Services: This will be for costs related to consultants, accountants, lawyers, and other professional services.

Indirect Costs Indirect costs are the overhead costs related to the facilities that will be used.

1. Building Costs. Includes rent, purchase, or construction costs.

2. Insurance. This includes all types of insurance for your facilities, such as liability and flood insurance.

3. Utilities. Include expected costs for all utilities, including electric or gas, water, trash, and Internet service. There are many other categories, but this gets your thinking headed in the right direction. The specific grant for which you are applying will have all the details you need. Be sure to follow their format. This is not the time to strike new ground; follow the requirements perfectly. A good first step is to consider all the people, materials, equipment, and other costs that will be required for your proposal to be successful. Simply work your way through all the categories required by the grant application. It can really help to have someone with experience look over your budget before you submit it. Experience is useful in this case. A grant budget can be a large undertaking, but it's really no different than your home budget. There are more items to consider, and you'll probably have to do some research to find accurate numbers, but other than that, it's the same concept. Be accurate, complete, and organized, and that grant can be yours!


8 Steps to Becoming a Top Earner in Your Field

In most fields, whether medicine, law, business, consulting, or accounting, there are a select few that make far more money than the rest. There are steps you can take to become a top earner in your field of employment. Is it luck? Do you need to be extremely charismatic? Do you require some special talent? No, no, and no. Consistently being a little bit better than your peers and focusing on success is all that's required. Separate yourself from the rest in these ways:

1. Have a goal. Achieving exceptional results requires a goal or luck. Luck is uncontrollable, so focus on creating a goal instead. Have a specific goal in mind that includes a specific dollar amount and deadline. Wanting "a lot of money" isn't an effective goal.

2. Keep money in mind when making decisions. When choosing a career, consider the earning potential. A personal trainer could choose to focus on bodybuilders or high school athletes. One that works with famous actors, executives, or professional athletes has far more opportunities to earn a large income.

3. Find a mentor. A suitable mentor is someone that has accomplished what you wish to accomplish. It would also be advantageous if they had a genuine interest in providing guidance and advice. * Following in the footsteps of someone that's already successful can save a lot of time.

4. Spend time with those with similar goals. There are others with the same goals and aspirations as you. Seek them out and become friends. Find those that are already successful at the level you hope to attain. You'll learn things you're unlikely to learn from your current crowd.

5. Seek to enhance your performance each day. There are a few fields where the participants regularly attempt to enhance their performance. Musicians, artists, and athletes regularly spend time getting better at their craft. * How often have you seen a lawyer or a manager set aside time to boost their skills? Rarely, if ever. * If no one else is striving to become more skillful, how much competition do you have?

6. Increase your knowledge each day. Gaining more knowledge will allow you to apply your skills more effectively. * Thirty minutes each day is enough to get ahead. Spend this time reading books or researching your field online to seek a higher level of understanding.

7. Get used to being uncomfortable. As you stretch yourself to think and do new things, you're going to feel that uncomfortable twinge we've all felt. It's just a physical sensation, like a sore toe or a hand that's fallen asleep. There's no reason to let it control your thoughts and actions. * Why would you quit because of a slight queasy feeling in your stomach? Your subconscious knows which buttons to push to encourage you to quit. Avoid giving in.

8. Persevere. If there's one trait found in all top earners, it's perseverance. It's not difficult to be incredibly successful if you'll keep getting better and refuse to quit. In fact, it's just about impossible to fail. Some days are more promising than others, but great days are on the way. Becoming a top earner is well within your reach. Have a goal and keep it in the front of your mind. Find a successful mentor. Continue to learn and increase your skills and knowledge. Persevere until your goal of becoming a top earner has been reached.


6 Mistakes That Can Bring Disaster to Your New Business

Starting and running your own business can be very lucrative and fulfilling. It's also very challenging. Most small businesses fail. It's necessary to avoid the common pitfalls of small business ownership if you want to experience success. Most small businesses face considerable financial challenges at first. There's little room for mistakes in the early days. Ensure that you're not making avoidable errors. Educate yourself before taking the plunge. Small business owners can avoid many of the mistakes that lead to disaster:

1. Failing to listen to customers. Find out why customers buy your product or service and why they don't. Customer feedback is imperative. * Too many small business owners are so in love with a particular idea that they refuse to change to accommodate the market. Your customers are your best source of information. Conduct surveys or ask informal questions. Be flexible and change your approach when the feedback dictates it.

2. Weak leadership. It isn't necessary to be Attila the Hun, but small businesses require strong leadership. The typical employee in a small business often isn't considered qualified by larger firms. You'll frequently be faced with employees with limitations. Your leadership is necessary to drive and inspire them.

3. Hiring the wrong people. Every company is disgruntled regarding the availability of good help. Even the most popular companies are plagued by hiring mistakes. However, big companies can absorb poor hiring decisions and keep on running. * A small business owner can be severely harmed by a poor hire. Think about the lost time and headaches one bad employee can cause. * If you don't have a human resources department, you're on your own. Take the time to ensure that you're hiring people that are effective in their job. Consider the job requirements and the temperament and background of any potential employees. It's much easier to avoid a mistake than to fix it.

4. Undercapitalization. When you barely have enough money to keep your business afloat, any small mishap can be disastrous. You're also forced to do anything you can in the short-term to pay your bills. That's a poor way to run and grow a business. Ensure you have the funds you need to get your idea off the ground.

5. Not understanding the importance of marketing. New business owners are often convinced that their idea is so amazing that marketing is secondary. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most businesses need to spend around 15% of their annual revenue on marketing to survive. This amount can drop as the business gains traction. * Small businesses need a marketing budget. When planning your business, ensure you have the funds necessary to let the world know that you exist.

6. Failing to recognize your competition. There might not be someone nearby offering llama burgers, but not all of your competition is direct. You're also competing with other restaurants of all types within your price point. * Consider the other alternatives your customers have for their money. Your customers can always spend their money somewhere else. This is significant. * Make a list of your closest competitors. How can you provide your product or service in a way that causes customers to favor your business? Running a small business requires a wide range of skills. With so many hats to wear, mistakes are common. It's not necessary to be perfect, but the biggest mistakes can be avoided. Making a critical mistake can spell the end for your company. Learn about the critical errors business owners make and make plans to avoid them.


Making Money in Your Spare Time

Making money can be very difficult for some people. Even if you have a good job, you may not have enough to pay all of your bills and still have money left over. There's a way around that, though. You can make some extra money in your spare time.

You don't need to dedicate all your leisure time to making money, either. Just a few hours a week would be enough. You could use your evenings after dinner or a day on the weekend. It's not about getting rich or replacing your day job - it's just about having a little extra. Even fifty or a hundred dollars a week might make the difference between paying a bill or not.

Where Do Your Talents Lie?

Everyone is good at something. Even if you aren't sure what kinds of talents you have, think about what you like to do. Do people compliment you on your singing voice? Your cooking? Your handy work? The compassion that you have for children or the elderly? You have the potential to make money from your passions, interests, and skills! It's not as hard as a lot of people make it out to be.

What kinds of hobbies do you have? Do you write? Take pictures? Paint or draw? Can you teach or tutor others? Are you handy? Make a list of what you're good at and what you enjoy doing - sometimes, these aren't the same things.

Choose an activity from your list and then try these strategies to use this talent to produce income:

* Advertise your services in the newspaper so you can find people who need help.
* Post your information on Craigslist, Kijiji, and online classified ad sites where people hire others.
* Start a website or blog where you can offer your talents and services.
* Network with others who do the same things, so you can get ideas and advice.
* Attend community events and hand out business cards.
* Create a portfolio of your work and start showing it to others.

You never know when you might be able to make a connection that leads to something great. If you're not prepared, that chance could slip away. Rather than wait for that moment, be ready in advance.

Start preparing now, knowing that making money in your spare time could take a little while. It may not happen overnight, but it will happen when you remain committed to it.

Yes, Attitude Does Matter

Remember that how you act can make a huge difference in whether someone hires you to do something. Even if you're the best in the business, a bad attitude won't get you very far. Stay positive, even when you get turned down for work.

Keep your head up and continue to improve. When people see that you're committed to making money in your spare time and you're actively looking for work, you'll find people who will buy from you or hire you to do something. Get letters of reference from people who hire you and use them in your portfolio to show future customers.

Word of mouth is also vital, so do your best job every time. If you make a mistake, admit it, and then work to make it right. People appreciate honesty, and you'll get more work from those who see that you're a quality person with the right mindset. These attributes can actually help you go farther than the actual level of talent you have.

So let your talents inspire you, rev up your can-do attitude, and you may be surprised how easy it really is to bring in some extra money in your spare time!


Top 8 Tips for Making Money From Your Artistic Creations

Is it possible to earn a living as an artist? Actually, it's entirely possible. After all, many others have done it. While the starving artist cliche might be more common than financially comfortable artists, it certainly can be accomplished. For an up-and-coming artist there are many challenges to be met, but all of them are solvable. Those that become successful apply effective solutions. Using these tips will help you make a living from your artistic endeavors:

1. Realize that talent alone is insufficient. We all know incredibly talented people that have nothing to show for it. There is a business aspect to any type of art that must be managed if you want to be successful.

2. Choose your art and money beliefs with care. What do you believe about money and art? Are those beliefs going to support you in earning money? If you have the following beliefs, it would be wise to work on changing them: * All artists are starving artists. * The only artists that make money are sellouts. * Money corrupts art.

3. Find other artists that are successfully making money. Successful artists are generally quite agreeable about giving advice and support. * Why start from scratch when you can get the inside scoop from a true expert? Use other artists as valuable resources!

4. Create art that people want. If you look at the art that sells, it's not necessarily the most original, super-beautiful piece of work that's ever been created. It's simply art that people enjoy. Look at popular movies and books. They're not always great, just enjoyable.

5. Get your work out there. The starving artist has 100 things uncompleted, or completed but not visible to the general public. You have to publish your art in some fashion if people are going to be able to buy it. Give them something to see. Remember that "art" comes in many forms. * If you're a writer, consider writing a book for Kindle. * If you're a painter, take your work to the local art fairs. * If you make movies, get something on YouTube. * If your art is making wedding cakes, take some pictures and put them on your website.

6. Seek to be visible and then seek to be paid. If necessary, this might even mean giving your work away for free until you become better known. * Show-off your work to anyone that you think might have an interest. * Once your art is visible and has reached a sufficient level, start charging for the privilege of enjoying your creation.

7. Most mediocre artists are poor artists, so be excellent. Most artistic fields are competitive. The good news is that most artists aren't truly committed. There is a lot of mediocre competition. * Persistence is enough to enjoy more success than 90% of the people in your chosen field.

8. Be a consumer of art. When you find something you really like, purchase it. If you would like others to support your artistic endeavors, you should do the same for them. Supporting others will help you believe that you deserve to be supported as well. So get out there and become well known in your field. That means getting some excellent work completed and feeding it to the masses. Find a great mentor and spend as much time with them as possible. If you're persistent, you're likely to succeed. Enjoy a healthy income while doing what you love to do!


Unique Ways to Make Money on a College Campus

Most college students have one thing in common: a lack of money. While you might think your only options are to work fast food, retail, or in the college bookstore, you're missing out on other huge opportunities. College is a unique place with a unique population. With some creativity and a little work, you can find a way to make some real money quickly and easily. Let's look at a few possibilities:

1. Do laundry for others. Offer to do laundry for others. Either use their detergent or charge enough to make it worthwhile to use your own. Aside from throwing the clothes in the washer and dryer, there's really no work or time involved. Study while you wait.

2. Clean. Many dorm rooms are filthy; everyone is used to mom cleaning up after them. For a small fee, you could sweep and pick up. This can be a lucrative service for a few minutes of work. Don't forget to talk to the fraternities and sororities. They need all the help they can get.

3. Tutor. Tutoring can be a great way to pay the bills. Everyone has a subject in which he excels. Find someone that needs your expertise and charge him for it.

4. Be a designated driver. Offer to give inebriated students a ride home from parties and bars. Charging three people $5-10 apiece comes out to a nice chunk of change for 20 minutes of work. You're also providing a valuable service and potentially saving lives.

5. Write a blog about your school. If you can write well, you might be able to create a blog that becomes popular on campus. All you have to do is monetize it by selling products on it or charging for advertising and you can potentially make money in your sleep.

6. Recycle. College students go through a lot of cans and bottles. If you can figure out a clever way to collect them, all you have to do is drive them to the recycling center and pick up your check.

7. Be a personal trainer. Lots of students want to stay or get into shape, but not all know how to use the equipment at the student recreation center. You could be a personal trainer and make some easy money.

8. Deliver newspapers. A newspaper route can be pretty good money for the amount of time it takes. If you're a morning person, this might be a great job and it fits in well with school.

9. Be a model. College art programs are always looking for models, and in most cases, you can keep your clothes on. All you have to do is sit still for an extended period of time.

10. Sell your notes. If you take excellent notes, consider starting a little business where you sell your notes to your fellow students. You might even consider sitting in on some of the larger classes, even if you're not enrolled. A larger class means more potential customers.

11. Help students move. Students are always struggling to move to school or back home. You could offer to help carry stuff either to or from the moving truck. It can pay well and you'll get some exercise, too. These are just a few of the many possibilities available to you. The key to being a successful entrepreneur is to notice what people need and then provide it to them in a way that makes financial sense for both of you. A college campus has a lot of unique opportunities; take advantage of them.


Where to Find Financial Support for Your Brilliant Startup Idea

Your amazing business idea may need funds to be successful. However, it's not easy to finance a startup in a sea of competitors. Consider many sources for your startup funds:

1. Use your own finances. Instead of getting a loan or borrowing from others, see if you can finance your startup with funds you save or gather. * Do you have savings that can be used to fund your new business? * Do you have items or services you can sell to raise money? This may take awhile, but you might feel more comfortable delaying the launch of your company a bit while you earn the money to get it started.

2. Ask friends and family to help. Do your family and friends think that the startup idea is a good investment that will bring high returns? If you have support from these sources, they might be interested in loaning you the startup funds or investing in your new business. * Your friends or family members can become lenders, partners, or investors in the startup. * They can contribute to the financial side, but they may also want to be involved in other areas. It's important to negotiate an arrangement that you feel comfortable with.

3. Use crowdfunding. There are multiple online crowdfunding platforms, such as Peerbackers, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, RocketHub, and others, that can help you raise money. These websites let you share your startup idea with the public. Then, the public can donate money in return for items, services, or a share in the company, * One key to success on a crowdfunding platform is to have a unique story. * You can raise money for your startup and introduce your product or service at the same time. * Keep in mind that these platforms are filled with competitors, and it's not easy to get all the funding you need. A successful campaign on these platforms usually includes social media and marketing efforts.

4. Enter startup contests. Big brands and investors sometimes have contests for startups. These contests put you in front of big names who are interested in investing. * They help you get recognition while you learn from other startups. You also have the chance to fine-tune your ideas to make them more appealing to investors.

5. Seek angel investors. Angel investors want to help new companies and make a profit in the long term. They have large sources of money, so your startup may be able to get all of its funding in one area. * Angel investors tend to ask for a portion of your company or shares. They may ask to be partners or have control over startup decisions. * Because of their financial commitment, they have a vested interest in your success and want to ensure that your new business brings in high returns.

6. Consider financial institution loans. Banks, credit unions, and other sources may offer you a business or personal loan to fund your idea. They may require collateral and ask detailed financial records and other information about the startup. * Small business loans are a popular choice among startups. * Before you get a loan, consider the fees and interest on the loan. * What if your business doesn't bring in enough profit to repay the loan? How will you repay it? It's important to have a Plan B. Launching a startup is an exciting time! Follow a profitable business plan and keep your eye on the profits so your new business can repay the startup funds as soon as possible and move on to providing you the returns you deserve.


Creative Strategies for Starting a Profitable Side Business

If you're finding it difficult to stay ahead of the game in this tight economy, you're not alone. Your day job may not even be enough to keep your balance sheet in the black! With that in mind, it's probably time to take action. Instead of hoping for another salary increase, why not try to figure out another option? Helping yourself is the best course of action if you want to get your bankbook looking rosy again. While dedicating time to your day job is crucial to taking care of bills, look for profitability elsewhere. Following these essential strategies can put you in a better financial position:

1. Capitalize on your skill set. You know what you're good at, don't you? So how about applying your skill set and capitalizing on prime earning opportunities? How can you get a business started using your natural abilities and as little financial capital as possible? * Your first step is to write a list of all the things you're good at. * Next, strike the ones off that may not present lucrative business opportunities. * From your shortlist, come up with business ideas and start researching ways to get those businesses started. * Finally, just do it!

2. Investigate common consumer needs. People everywhere have everyday needs. What are those needs and how can you best fulfill them? Facilitation is a great way to make good margins. You may not necessarily be providing the exact product or service they want, but you can certainly find it and facilitate it! * Have quick one-on-one chats with people at work. Try to understand what they need, but can't seem to find the time to get done. Develop a plan that helps people get what they want. Then add a markup for your time. That's straight profit! * Watch trends in the news or on social media to see popular topics. Try to figure out how you can get in on earning opportunities by helping to address any of those trending issues.

3. Advertise via social media. You can do this one yourself or with a partner. Market yourself around your community and see how you can help other community members or support local activities. Use popular social media sites to advertise your services. * Design your Facebook page and provide relevant details about your service offerings. * Does your community gym have a Facebook page? Like their page and share your business ideas with them. For example, let everybody on the gym page know that you sell exercise mats and other accessories. * What about babysitting? Does your day job allow you enough time to babysit in the evenings? Send an email to the community database and make yourself available to assist parents from the area.

4. Take an investment risk. Seek an investment worth your time and money. * Maybe you can find a struggling business that you feel confident you can turn around. * Perhaps your investment could be in creating a product that you know consumers want. The onus really is on you to turn your situation around so you can start to see positive activity in your bank account. It's your future and your well-being on the line. Show how much that future means to you by developing creative money-making ideas.


Wow Your Interviewer and Get the Job

The interview stage is so exciting! It's the final step to landing that job you've been wanting. You've convinced someone via your resume and telephone interview that you might be the person they've been searching for. Basically, you've done a great job of marketing yourself so far.

Now comes the most important part: You have to complete the final sale of yourself and your talents. However, interviewing ability doesn't come naturally for most of us. This makes a lot of sense; after all, you probably haven't practiced with lots of interviews in your lifetime.

For an impressive interview, focus on these three keys to a great performance:

1. Preparation is critical. Great performances require great preparation. And great preparation requires time. The interview room isn't the place to try to remember your responsibilities at company XYZ.

* Higher-level managers frequently ask potential employees, "What were your three most critical tasks?" You should be prepared to answer a similar question without hesitation.

* Sit down and go through the last 10 years of your employment. List all your responsibilities and accomplishments. Have your answers ready. If you have to pause and think hard during the interview, it may seem like you're inventing a story.

* Reflect on answers to these questions: What successes did you have? How many people reported to you? You will certainly be asked about what challenges you had, so be prepared to list a few and how you overcame them.

* Also, research the company to which you're applying. They want to know that you're interested and that you're making an educated decision about what you're potentially getting yourself into.

2. Be authentic. One thing interviewers like to see is someone who is genuine.

* Let go of the idea that you have to be perfect. Interviewees frequently twist and contort the truth in an attempt to appear more favorable. This is extremely difficult to pull off successfully in a high-stress environment like an interview.

* Be honest. Coming across as authentic is largely a function of being consistent. This is easy when you're honest. Interviewers will frequently continue to pursue a line of questioning when something doesn't seem right.

3. Practice selling yourself. What are your strengths? What are you good at? And more importantly, how can you convey those in an interview? Selling yourself without bragging is a fine line, but the interviewer needs to see the things at which you're great.

* Pull out the video camera and record yourself while a friend or family member interviews you.
* Solo, you can record yourself going over your resume and work experience.
* Consider joining a Toastmasters club. You can get a lot of practice and feedback.

* Confidence and comfort come from practice. Give yourself the opportunity to be successful and practice daily.
Interviewing is a necessary final step to getting the job you desire. Following these tips will go a long way towards preparing you.

Don't worry if you're not a great interviewee. Few people naturally are. But with some preparation, you can become very good, very quickly. That practice will really give you the upper hand against your competition.


8 Tips for New Graduates Still Looking for a Job

Finding a job may be the toughest job you'll ever have. The failure rate is quite high. You will hear many "no's" before you get a "yes". Looking for your first professional job can be daunting. If you're a recent graduate and still looking for a job, you might not be taking advantage of all the available opportunities and resources. One small change in your approach could allow you to move out of your parents' home. Take advantage of these job-search tips:

1. Make the most of your university's services. It's important to your school that you find a great job. All colleges and universities advertise their placement rates. Smart high school students look at job placement figures when choosing a school. * Just because you're out of school doesn't mean you can't still avail yourself of your school's career services department.

2. Spend the necessary time and money to create an effective resume. While there are many instructional resources dedicated to constructing an effective resume, many graduates still struggle to put their best foot forward. If you're unable to create an impressive resume on your own, get help. Consider paying for a professionally written resume if necessary.

3. Create a profile on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool. This website is constantly searched by recruiters. Networking activities on LinkedIn fill many of the available jobs. Many of these jobs never even appear in public.

4. Do a little housekeeping on your social media accounts. The photo of you drinking beer while standing on your head might bring a smile to your face, but it won't bring any job offers. You're an adult now. Many professionals avoid making social media accounts. * Consider closing your accounts. If you choose to keep them, consider what you're willing to show the public. Keep in mind that many potential employers are insisting on seeing your social media accounts from the inside. These requests have been held up in court.

5. Practice your interviewing skills. There's more to preparing for an interview than reviewing common interview questions and contemplating your responses. Find a friend or family member that regularly interviews job candidates to conduct mock interviews with you. Your school's career placement services department can also provide assistance.

6. Build a website. A personal website is another useful tool. You can provide much more information that a typical resume will hold. It also provides positive information if a potential employer searches your background.

7. Get on the phone. Many job-search gurus believe that you're not doing anything to find a job if you're not making at least 100 phone calls per week. * Call potential companies and ask the appropriate people for advice on finding a job. Asking for employment will put them on the defensive, but everyone likes to give advice. Look on LinkedIn to find the ones to call.

8. Contact alumni for advice. It varies from school to school, but some alumni groups are very active and loyal to each other. You never know who will want to help you. Facebook and LinkedIn are searchable by school attended. Reach out and see what happens. Avoid losing hope. It can take time to find the right employment opportunity. Take responsibility for your job search and spend time searching each day. Until you find a job, consider your job search to be your full-time job. The perfect employer is searching for you right now. Ensure they can find you as quickly and easily as possible.


Get More Retirement Income: Avoid These 7 Social Security Mistakes

Social Security may be an important part of your retirement future. It's crucial to avoid common mistakes that can cost you money during retirement. Consider these strategies to avoid common mistakes:

1. Avoid claiming benefits too early. If you have other income coming in and can afford to wait, then you may want to delay claiming your benefits. Your benefits grow every year you wait to claim them. * By claiming benefits early, you reduce how much money you will receive for the rest of your retirement. * However, it's important to note that sometimes claiming early benefits can be more advantageous than waiting. For example, if you're expecting a shorter lifespan, you might want to start receiving your Social Security earnings early. Also, if you have children under 18 years old when you're 62, you may get more by claiming early. * It's always good to check your estimated benefits on the calculators at the Social Security website at

2. Consider the tax implications. Are you aware that Social Security benefits can be taxed? * It's a common mistake to forget the tax implications of Social Security benefits. Experts call this issue the Social Security Tax Torpedo. Your benefits can be taxed at a high rate, and it can last for your entire retirement. * Your total income affects the tax rate you'll be subject to.

3. Consider the total years you've worked. Social Security looks at 35 years of earnings to determine benefits. Have you worked for 35 years? They use the income from your highest-earning 35 years, indexed for inflation, to figure out what your average yearly income was. * Generally, the longer your record, the higher your benefits.

4. Check your records each year. As you work on your taxes, you may want to use this time as a reminder to check your Social Security records. * It's possible for your records to have missing information or errors. Social Security gives you 3 years to fix an error on the record. After this time, it may be impossible to fix.

5. Consider your partner's income. Have you considered your partner's retirement and Social Security benefits? If your partner earns significantly more than you do, you might be able to collect higher benefits based on your partner's earnings.

6. Consider the maximum benefit. Each year, Social Security has a cap on the amount of income that you pay Social Security taxes on. If you earn a high income, some of your income-producing years might exceed the limit, and the excess income won't be used in figuring your average income amount. You can find these limits on the official website.

7. Pay attention to the COLA. The COLA refers to the cost-of-living adjustment. * The cost-of-living adjustment is essentially inflation protection for your Social Security benefits. It's created to adjust your earnings, so your benefits keep up with the cost of groceries, gas, rent, and other services. * Retirees can make the mistake of assuming that the cost-of-living adjustment will be enough in future years. Based on the current trends, experts warn retirees to be careful and not make assumptions. The COLA is linked to the federal consumer price index amounts. * The cost-of-living adjustment tends to be very small, so retirees shouldn't expect this to change in the future. Social Security can be an essential part of your retirement plans. Use these strategies to avoid mistakes that can cost you money in your retirement. A little planning now can pay off big in your future.


Freelancing and Finances: Maintaining Your Income

Being a freelancer is a challenge for many. You have to deliver a product or service, handle invoices, market your business, and keep things running all by yourself. But things get even more hectic when your only employee comes down with a little more than just the sniffles.

Be strategic with your approach when running your freelance business and try to nurse yourself back to health. When you do, you can minimize the loss of income and the effect your illness has on your business.

Follow these tips to keep your business running and your income coming in while nurturing yourself back to health:

1. Prioritize your time. Figure out items that deserve top priority on your schedule. Give the energy you have to the top items on your list, that way the most important things get done.

* Make a list of the tasks that need to get done, exactly in the order they need to get done. Keep it close to you and, when you find that you have energy throughout the day, cross items off of your to-do list.

* It's okay if you need to work in random spurts. If you find that you can only work productively for 30 minutes at a time every three hours or so, do so. You'll be surprised how much you complete within a short amount of time when it gets down to crunch time.

2. Use a laptop. As a freelancer, owning a laptop may seem like a given, but the number of independent professionals without one is astounding. If you can't afford to purchase one, borrow one from a friend while you're sick. You'll be able to work from bed and rest your body at the same time.

* Only work from bed when you're sick. If you get into this habit when you're perfectly healthy, your productivity is likely to suffer because a cushy bed is often too casual of an environment to inspire workflow.

* If you're on a budget, consider purchasing a netbook. A netbook can cost as little as $300 and it's often free when signing on for a contract with an internet provider. However, keep in mind that a netbook is substantially smaller than a standard laptop. Many times, the screen can measure as little as seven inches.

3. Focus on less intensive tasks. If you're a freelance writer or designer, your work often requires great attention to detail. But when you're sick, that attention to detail is more than your system can handle. Unless you have rigid deadlines coming up, put paying work on hold and focus on behind the scenes tasks.

* Consider marketing your services by sending a pre-made email or postcard template to prospective clients. Next, contact your past clients to let them know that you have open availability in the following month.

If you're feeling sick for longer than you originally anticipated, it's best to contact your clients to let them know that you're feeling ill. Most will be very understanding. If you find yourself in this situation, it's a good idea to spend your sick days trying to recuperate and booking work for the following month.

You can keep your freelance business afloat while recovering from an illness. Use these three productivity tips to keep things moving until you feel like yourself again and can return to a normal workload.


Turning Your Hobby Into An Income Stream

If you're like most people, you probably dream of having a job that's enjoyable and fulfilling. Maybe the solution is to turn something you love into a way to pay the bills. You may be thinking, "There's no way I can make money from my hobby." But you might be surprised! Just think how great it would be if you could make money from the one thing that you actually choose to do when you have free time. What could possibly be better than that? You might not be able to fully replace your regular job right away. However, you could earn a few hundred dollars a month or more for something you would be doing anyway. And that can make a big difference. The two basic routes to making money from your hobby are:

1. Teach. Someone out there would like to learn what you know. Don't make the mistake of believing that you have to be one of the world's top ten leading experts on something in order to make money at it. Nothing can be further from the truth! If you know more about something than anyone on your street, you can certainly make money teaching others.

* Some ways to teach include:
o Giving seminars (online or in person)
o Selling articles related to your hobby
o Writing and selling a book or e-book
o One-on-one coaching
o Setting up a website that provides educational information and sells related products and services.

2. Sell a related product or service. Hobbies require supplies. Other people may as well be purchasing those supplies from you. If your hobby is collecting something, you can buy and sell whatever it is you collect. Or think of businesses related to your hobby. For example: * If you love animals, you could sell your services as a dog sitter. * If you love boats, you could sell boat plans or rent boats to vacationers. * Do you love design and interior decorating? Do you like to watch design shows on TV? You might not be on television anytime soon, but you probably know more about decorating a house than the average family does. Certainly you could charge a few hundred dollars for a consultation. * What if fishing is your passion? How about owning a bait and tackle shop? You could be a fishing guide. You could sell fishing lures online. * Do you love to travel? Take lots of pictures and write about your adventures. Travel magazines and websites are always looking for good content. You could also start your own travel website. The real key is to take time to think about all the ways you could possibly make money related to your hobby. Then you can choose to do so in the most enjoyable way possible. The hardest part of getting started for most people is marketing; you must market yourself and your business to get clients or customers. So be bold. Tell your neighbors and family members about your plans. Post an ad on Make a website. People have to know you're out there so they can hire you or purchase from you. Imagine the excitement you'll feel the first time you cash that check for doing something you used to do for free! Once you make a little money from your hobby, the wheels will really start turning, and you'll be surprised at all the other ideas that come to mind. Start today by making a list of all the ways you could possibly make money at your hobby. Have fun, and good luck!


Tips for Selling Items to Accumulate Extra Cash

Experiencing periods of financial strife has happened to almost everyone. When it happens, it can bring on feelings of worry and anxiety. But one way to make some quick money is to sell some belongings you don't use or no longer want. From big ticket items to clothing and tchotchkes, you might be surprised what you can sell to thicken your wallet. As they say, "one man's trash is another man's treasure." Follow these strategies to make the most from your sales:

1. Consider selling almost everything. Make a list of the items you'll sell room by room and jot down reasonable prices to ask. Don't worry; you won't miss them once they're gone. * Are your rooms over-stuffed with too much furniture? Sell your least favorite pieces. * Sell that extra recliner in the back bedroom that's piled with junk. Sell the junk on it, too! * Consider selling your SUV that eats too much gas. * You don't use your bread maker anymore? Sell it to someone that will. * What about wrong size clothes or those you dislike? If you don't wear them, sell them. * Remember to sell those long-unused items in your garage as well.

2. Create ads. For larger items worth more money, write quick ads to sell them. * Take a look at how ads are written on Craigslist and in your local paper's "For Sale" section. It won't take long to create several. See these examples for Craigslist: o 1997 Ford F250, automatic, good condition, $3,500 o 60 Foot ladder for sale, $150 o Nicole Miller strapless dress, $25 * On Craigslist, you'll be given the opportunity to select how you prefer interested people contact you, either by phone number or e-mail. Also on Craigslist, you can upload a picture of the item for sale, which will help the item to sell more quickly. * In the event you're writing ads for your local newspaper, you'll be required to keep to a certain number of words, particularly if the newspaper offers free "For Sale" ads. Here are some samples of "For Sale" ads for the newspaper: Sofa & chair, black leather, 3 tables, excellent condition. $325, 555-0100 o Queen bed with white wicker headboard, great condition $300, 555-0100 o Pool table, regulation size, American Heritage Classic, $1,000, 555-0100

3. Have a yard sale for the smaller items. For your items that are too small for Craigslist or newspaper ads, put together a yard sale. If you don't have enough items for a sale on your own, get together with your neighbors to share in one.

4. Gather your gold. Look through your old jewelry and separate out pieces you don't like or wear anymore. Cufflinks, tie clasps, pierced earring backs, bracelets or the like can bring in some cold, hard cash. Take your items to the local gold exchange to see what you can get for them. * Follow safety protocol: avoid allowing anyone to leave the room with your jewelry. If a staff member at the gold exchange says the scale is in the back, go to another shop or state you'll not let the gold out of your sight. If the place is reputable, this will not be an issue as the scale will be located on the counter for all to observe.

5. Collect cash in a large envelope. Obtain a large envelope and label it "Sales Profits." Accumulate the money from your sales into it and then deposit the profits into your bank account. This way, you won't be tempted to just use up the cash as you receive it and you can designate it for whatever purpose you need. Selling items you no longer want or need is a great way to pave the way for your new and improved financial life. Make your list, post ads, gather your gold, and get that envelope ready to save toward a bright, shiny financial life.


Why Mass Media Advertising is Killing the Profitability of Your Business

Congratulations on operating a successful business! You're likely eager to start seeing great returns from your investment. As such, you're trying to find the best ways to advertise. There's absolutely nothing wrong with trying to help your business gain popularity. After all, that's how you'll start making money. But have you given enough thought to whether you're taking positive steps? Sure, mass media advertising seems like the quickest, most effective way to spread the word. But is it worth the expense and giving you the returns you need? Unless you're a conglomerate with an established brand, mass media may not be for you. You may be doing more harm than good to your business by spending too much money on television and radio advertising. Take a look at how mass media advertising can actually kill your business's profitability:

1. Advertising costs and bottom line. If you're pursuing mass media advertising, you'll quickly realize how expensive it is! There's no getting around the cost of huge billboards and fancy graphics. * Shop around and get quotes for some mass media advertising options. On their own, they're likely pretty pricey. Consider how they impact the last line on your monthly profit and loss statement! * The term "return on investment" has to be a determining factor in the direction you take for your advertising. Is your bank account really feeling the benefit of this huge advertising expense? * Always tie your income to your expenses. If you find that your expenses aren't having a positive impact on your income, it's probably time to start trimming the budget!

2. Non-responsiveness from target market. Some products and services do well with mass media advertising. But is your business the type that can get the attention of your target market through huge campaigns? * Who is your target audience? Do they typically respond well to mass media advertising? Or do they prefer targeted marketing efforts? * If your audience is within a community, a city, or even a state, consider localized campaigns to get better responsiveness. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of money on campaigns that aren't effective at getting the attention of your market. * Consumers like to feel considered. Sending a message that's way above the heads of your target market could amount to commercial suicide!

3. Ineffective message with lukewarm returns. Even if you spend a lot of money on mass media advertising, there's no real guarantee the campaign will solicit the interest you want. Sometimes, a minor flaw in the message spoils it all! * Spending money on a mass media campaign is a long term investment. Can your business afford to make a mistake with the message being sent? * It's likely that a misrepresented message can lead to lukewarm feedback from your market. As a result, you'll see diminishing margins. * Being creative with your advertising budget can sometimes produce better results. As you can see, there are so many ways that mass media advertising can negatively affect your business. Especially in these unstable economic times, there's little or no room to make spending mistakes. Be fair to yourself and to your business. Profitability sometimes means starting small and seeing positive returns. Thereafter, you can slowly work your way up as your business starts to produce higher margins. Before you know it, you'll be in the perfect position to take on mass media campaigns if they are the right fit. But until then, try to keep it simple!



A Case Study: Monetizing a Hobby Online Many of us dream of finding a way to make money at our hobby online.

Wouldn't making money at something you really love be a thrill? Plus, if you set your business up properly, maintenance may take very little work. For example, Monica turned her love of dolls into a part-time business with a full-time income. Monica has always loved dolls. Even as she got older, this never changed. She collected them and even had several antique dollhouses. Her husband eventually got a little irritated at the cost of this hobby. Monica decided she would show him. She brainstormed for a couple of days and decided she would finance her hobby by making money with it. Monica thought this might actually be fun. Plus, she already knew a lot about her hobby, so she wouldn't have to learn much. She did have a lot to learn about putting a business online, however. Here are the steps Monica took, in order, to get her business going:

1. She made a website. Monica knew nothing about web design, but a friend told her that she could use to make a professional-looking web page. There are tutorials on the site.

2. Monica found some products to promote for a commission. First, she went to and signed up as an affiliate, which is free. This provided Monica with specific links to various doll-based products she could advertise on her site. She also found products to promote from a variety of other places.

3. She put those affiliate links on her website. Monica worked the affiliate links into her website text wherever it was logical. If she posted an article about a specific type of doll, she would include an affiliate link for where the reader could purchase that doll. If a reader bought the doll, Monica received a percentage of the purchase price.

4. Monica wrote her own manual. Because of her extensive knowledge, Monica was able to write a how-to for doll collecting. She did all the work in a word processor and then converted the document to a .pdf file. * Monica then sold her manual on her site, too. She really liked this, because she got to keep 100% of the money!

5. She marketed her site. This is most important! After all, if no one knows the website exists, no one can buy anything. * Monica started her marketing campaign with a Facebook fan page, a twitter account, and some written articles. She posted the articles on over 50 free article directories, including and * In the author's resource box for each article, she included a link back to her website.

6. She signed up for Google Adsense. Adsense provided advertising that Monica could put on her website. Every time a site visitor clicked on an ad, Monica received some money. Over time, with a lot of visitors, this money really began to add up. Eventually, she was making several hundred dollars a month just from Adsense income. While this is not an all-inclusive list, these are the basic steps that Monica and many others have used to start a business online. You can do this too! You will always need a website, a product or service to sell, and a way to get people to your website. Getting a consistent stream of visitors to your site can take time, but with persistence, you'll get there. Start thinking today about how you can make money online with your hobby. What products and services can you offer? What unique ways can you drive traffic to your website? The sooner you get started, the sooner you can spend your work-time doing something you love.


Get Creative With Making Money at Home

Have you lost your job or suffered reduced hours (and pay) because of the sluggish economy? As the person responsible for putting food on your table, you might not have the luxury of waiting for a lucrative full-time job to come your way. Instead, start the process of finding other sources of income. Use your resolve to come up with creative ways to earn an income at home. How to Identify Alternate Earning Opportunities Use these ideas for identifying creative ways to make money at home:

1. Survey your neighborhood. Sometimes, answers to your challenges are closer than you know! There could very well be a need for your knowledge or skills right there in your own neighborhood. How could you tap into these needs to earn from your abilities? * Did you play sports while you were in school? Perhaps one of your local schools could do with an assistant coach to help expand one of their sports programs. This could provide you with some extra income. * Since you already have a car that's sitting idly most of the time, why not start a car pooling service to take community kids to and from school or their after-school activities? It's very likely that parents will feel reassured knowing that their kids are in the hands of a trustworthy neighbor.

2. Re-purpose one of your skill sets. At your last job, you were likely called upon to do different tasks that were aligned with your skills. Take a minute and think about whether some of those skills could be applied to other areas. * Were you the resident letter writer because of your way with words? If so, it's possible that you could take your skill to a content writing website, newspaper, or publishing house. * Did you ever get involved with training new staff members because your boss felt you were an effective communicator? Offer your services to a skills training institution. You could even offer online training in various skills for a fee.

3. Consider consultancy. Some employers, while unable to hire new employees due to the instability of the economy, may still need valuable input from people like you in the field. Hence, many companies are going the route of hiring consultants, instead. * When companies hire consultants, they don't have to worry about employee expenses like health insurance, clothing allowance, and more. They can get what they need without the costs and commitment of hiring an employee. * That's where you come in! Offer your consultancy services and enable them to save money while you make money. * You might be able to provide valuable input to the company right from your home computer. Those who will remain afloat throughout this employment slump are people like you who are willing to think outside the box to make things happen. Take advantage of earning alternatives like these and turn things around. Use these tips as a springboard to more ideas of your own. Who knows? You might just find your next great career!


Career Options in Finance

Have you ever wondered if a career in finance is fitting for you? There are so many fields to choose from within the financial sector. Perhaps you're already majoring in finance and wondering about your options. Choosing a suitable career is a big decision and finance offers more possibilities than most fields. The sooner you can narrow down your field, the more successful you're likely to be. Preparing for a career in investment banking will require a different plan than one for a career in financial planning. If you're interested in portfolio management, taking a corporate job is likely to be a mistake. It's not always easy to change fields in the world of finance, so it will be worth your time and effort to thoroughly research the areas that interest you before you make a decision. Deciding if finance is the right field for you:

1. The requirements and qualifications can vary widely. Professional designations are required for some positions. These designations can include Chartered Financial Analyst, Certified Financial Planner, and even licenses issued by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. MBAs and PhDs are quite common. * Investigate the requirements for your chosen field. Some of the requirements can require significant time and expense to attain.

2. Investment banking is lucrative and competitive. Many different types of organizations offer investment banking services. Some specialize in investment banking, but most large banks also have an investment banking division. * There are many fields within investment banking, including mergers and acquisitions, private equity, underwriting, and venture capital. * The hours are very long, but the compensation can be spectacular. However, the competition for these jobs is incredible. * MBAs from prestigious business schools dominate this area of finance. You can be successful with lesser educational credentials, but it will be even more challenging.

3. Trading jobs typically consist of buying and selling stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments. These positions are commonly found in commercial and investment banks, brokerage firms, mutual funds, and hedge funds. Even though those in trading positions are very well paid, the job itself can be quite stressful. * The regulatory requirements for holding these jobs are constantly changing. Most traders typically buy or sell, but not both. Excellent math skills and quick thinking are required. * You could come across some traders who are doing it without a college degree. But many traders also have an MBA or a PhD, especially in the more sophisticated fields.

4. Analyst positions are among the most common. 'Analyst' is a very general term without an accepted definition. Typically, financial analysts research investments and provide opinions about their quality to customers. * A college degree is usually required, and this position is commonly held by those just out of college.

5. Corporate jobs are also common. Any large corporation also employs finance employees. In this setting, the main role is determining and maintaining a profitable financial structure for the corporation. This includes the amount and the structure of the company's debt. * Knowledge of accounting and being a master of spreadsheets is helpful.

6. There are numerous other options. Financial advising, portfolio management, and financial media positions are a few of the other options in this field. Finance is one of the largest employment fields with a huge amount of variety. * If you have the correct educational background for the role you prefer, you can almost certainly find a position that appeals to you. There are numerous jobs available in finance depending upon your interests, experience, and education. As with any other field, the best paying positions tend to have the longest workday and the most competition. For example, it's not uncommon for a beginning investment banker to work 80+ hours a week, every week, for the first couple of years. Consider your options carefully, pick a position that allows you to get your foot in the door, and find your success in the finance industry.



How To Cash In On Your Old Electronic Devices

Electronic devices eventually become obsolete as we replace them with newer models. In many cases, the old items aren't worth a lot of money. But getting something for them is often more desirable than just giving them away or throwing them out with the trash. Before dismissing those old electronics to the closet or kitchen drawer, consider selling it. Someone else might be thrilled to own it. There are a number of options for receiving some value from those old devices:

1. Trade it into Amazon. Amazon Trade-In is a program that will give you credit for your electronic item. * After providing Amazon with an accurate description of the item, they will present you with an offer. If you accept it, you then send the item to Amazon at their expense. After inspecting the item, they give you an Amazon gift card.

2. has a similar program. The basic logistics are the same, but you have additional payment options. You are able to choose between a check, receiving money in your PayPal account, or a Target gift card. * In fact, if you'd rather not go through the hassle of shipping your item, you can drop it off at your local Target store in exchange for a gift card.

3. EBay Instant Sale. EBay provides a fast and easy way to get rid of your items. The items can even be non-functioning. The process is similar and you'll have the money in your PayPal account within 5 business days of eBay receiving your item. As common as PayPal has become, a free PayPal debit card is worth consideration.

4. Sell your item locally or with an eBay regular sale. This method of selling to another individual is likely to put the most money in your pocket. Keep in mind that selling your item to a business means that they're going to resell it for a profit. There are plenty of additional websites that provide a means of getting some value out of those old devices. Gazelle is probably the most well known.

Consider these tips to get the highest possible price for your electronic items:

1. Sell your item at the best time. The best time is as soon as possible. Once you have replaced the item, immediately get rid of the old one. Letting the item sit in a drawer for six months will only result in getting less money.

2. Keep all the accessories. You'll get considerably more money if you can provide the charger, box, instructions, and any other items that came with your device. * Get in the habit of keeping all those extra items together in the closet, starting from as soon as you first purchase the electronic product.

3. Name-brand items tend to hold their value better. For example, an old iPhone is worth quite a bit more than the vast majority of other cell phones. It's something to consider when purchasing your electronic devices.

4. Be accurate in your descriptions. If you're not accurate, the item will ultimately receive a lower offer or be rejected altogether. Before shipping or selling any electronic device, ensure that all private information is wiped clean from the item. Many of these items, particularly cell phones, can hold an extensive amount of personal information. Avoid letting those old devices gather dust. You could be getting a significant amount of money for some of them. Even a few dollars is better than ultimately throwing them in the trash.


7 Strategies to Increase Cash Flow in Your Small Business

Would your small business benefit from a higher rate of cash flow? It's possible to increase it through several business strategies. Try these strategies to increase your cash flow:

1. Reduce your spending. Decreasing your spending is one way to increase your small business cash flow. * The first step to implementing this strategy is to carefully analyze all of your business spending. How much do your office supplies and electrical bills cost every month? How much do you pay for insurance, employee salaries, and other bills? * After analyzing your spending, look for areas that can be reduced. However, it's important to approach spending cuts carefully because pay cuts can drive away employees. In addition, if you try new services to save money, the quality may not be the same.

2. Extend discounts for fast payments. If you're trying to encourage your customers to pay faster to increase your cash flow, then discounts for fast payments may help. * The discount doesn't have to be large, but customers may appreciate a small amount of savings. Try several payment plans with different discount levels to reach more clients.

3. Watch your inventory. Are you investing a large portion of your cash into inventory? * Inventory may be the lifeline of your small business, but you don't want it to destroy your cash flow. The boxes of shirts, candles, or other items you sell shouldn't sit in warehouses for decades. * Find a balance between having enough inventory to satisfy customer needs and having too much.

4. Raise your prices. Are you keeping up with inflation? You might be able to raise prices on your products and services to keep up with the market. * Higher prices can lead to more cash flow, but they may also scare away customers. Find a balance that works for your business and your customers.

5. Consider collection agencies. Do you have a large number of customers who haven't paid their bills? * Collection agencies can help you recover a portion of the unpaid bills. They charge a fee and take a percentage of the money. However, you may not have the time to pursue the customers who haven't paid.

6. Consider court. For larger amounts, you may have to get a lawyer and take your customers to court for unpaid bills. This is one way to make your cash flow higher because it can force them to pay their overdue bills.

7. Offer prepayment rewards. You can offer a variety of rewards ranging from discounts to extra products. You can make a special rewards program with gift cards or other items. * Customers who prepay for large packages, services, or multiple items could receive extra rewards. These rewards can encourage them to stay and keep buying your products or services. Your small business may benefit from more cash flow. Creating a customer rewards program with sales, discounts, and other special rewards is always a good idea to expand your customer base and gain loyalty to your business. Incorporate several of these strategies into your business operations to discover what works best for you.


How Much Money is Enough?

If you ask a billionaire, he'll likely respond that no amount is enough. Others might reflexively say, "One million dollars." Those that are more thoughtful might have a different number. There comes a point that there might be a better way to spend your time than chasing more money. You'll never know if you've reached that point if you don't define it. Studies have shown that happiness doesn't increase beyond an income of $70-75k per year. That's a comfortable living in most parts of the country, but it's not enough to drive a new Mercedes every three years and vacation in Europe with the family every summer. It would be tough to send your child to Harvard on a $70,000 salary. How much is enough? It depends on you and your circumstances. Consider how much you need to live fully:

1. How old are you? How much longer do you expect to live? If you're 90, you probably require less money for the rest of your life than someone that just turned 30. There are actuarial tables that can tell you how much longer you're expected to live. Plan to live longer than expected!

2. How much are your monthly expenses? What would your expenses be if you were living the life of your dreams? Let your imagination run wild. What expenses would you have? A new bowling ball each year or a second house in Vail? A housekeeper? A thoroughbred? It's your life. Determine how much it would take to finance your ideal life.

3. Who are you responsible for? Do you have three children that will attend college in the next 10 years? Do you have a spouse that doesn't work? Do you care for an aging parent? For how long do you expect to financially provide for others?

4. What is your current debt situation? Do you have 20 years left on a mortgage hanging over your head? Significant medical bills? Credit cards?

5. When would you like to retire and how much do you need each month to live comfortably? How would you like to spend your retirement? Do you want to travel regularly? Play golf every day? How much would a typical month in retirement cost? * Maybe you value your free time above all else and would be happy living a simple life with a Labrador retriever and a large vegetable garden, reading books all afternoon.

6. What toys do you want to own? A plane? A Porsche? A boat? A second home? Swimming pool? Motorcycle? There's no set answer to the question, "How much money is enough?" It's completely dependent on your desires and circumstances. The number might be quite small or very high. It's your number. If you've never considered how much money you need, take the time to think about it. Money is great for a couple of things: primarily, solving problems and providing choices. It has limited value beyond those two purposes. It's a mistake to use money for establishing status. To be worried about impressing your peers is best left to your teenager. Needing money for the wrong things is limiting. It requires working longer and harder than necessary. You could be doing other things with your limited time on Earth. Think long and hard about what is most important to you. Ensure that you develop an income, savings, and net worth to acquire the possessions and freedom that will allow you to live your life in the way you desire. Spend time addressing this important issue. You might be able to quit working sooner than you think.


9 Ideas for Boosting Your Income

There are plenty of opportunities to boost your income if you're willing to hustle. A few hours each week can add significantly to your discretionary income. You'll find a few ideas listed below, but come up with a list of your own ideas. With enough creativity, you might discover an untapped source of secondary income. Boost your income starting tomorrow:

1. Be a part-time personal assistant. You can make phone calls, run errands, mow the grass, have the car washed, or pick up the kids. Think of all the things you wish you had help with. You can provide that to someone else. While there aren't too many people that can use an assistant full-time, there are many people that could use an hour or two of help.

2. Rent your car. How much time do you actually spend driving it? The rest of the time it's just sitting in the driveway dripping oil and serving as a target for birds. There are apps that will allow you to list and rent your car. Parkingspotter and Relayrides are two examples.

3. Knock on doors. A variety of organizations are looking for people to canvas neighborhoods and solicit donations or spread information. You can brush up on your social skills, too.

4. Buy and sell things on Craigslist. People have traded their way from a used cell phone to a Porsche without spending a dime. Look for things selling at a low price. Purchase it and resell at a higher, more reasonable price. * There are always good deals to be found. You must be knowledgeable of the item, however. Do you know the typical price for a 1988 USA Peavey Predator guitar? Know the market value of what you're buying and look for someone willing to do something silly. A little extra income never hurts anyone. Think of other ways to boost your income. If you're willing to work, you can create a second income that makes a big difference in your life. Find something that interests you and you'll enjoy yourself more. Many of these tips can be put into action immediately.

5. Clean houses. Some people actually like to clean. If you're one of them, you're in luck! Some people are too busy to clean and have the financial resources to pay someone else to do it. All you have to do is find each other. A few basic cleaning supplies are enough to get started.

6. Housesit. If you spend your evenings in front of the TV or playing on your computer anyway, do it at someone else's house and get paid for it. There's not much to do besides getting the mail.

7. Teach. Do you know yoga, algebra, or how to play the violin? Share your knowledge for a price. Use online classifieds or hand out a few fliers. Just a couple of students can provide a nice boost to your income.

8. Get a roommate. Split the rent and utilities. That can easily be upwards of $1,000 per month. All you have to do is give up some privacy and half the refrigerator. Be sure to take a shower before the hot water is gone.

9. Pet-sitter or dog walker. Pet sitters make around $25 per day. If you're lucky enough to get a good dog, it's an easy job. Dog walkers earn around $15 per 30-minute walk. A few clients can add to your income nicely. Look at



5 Ways to Make Money While You Sleep

Who doesn't want to make money while they sleep? If you want to really make a lot of money, it's easier if you can do it 24/7. Any stream of income you can create that doesn't require your regular attention will take you a long way towards your goal. Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking:

1. Hire an assistant. The idea here is to get the contract for some work that pays reasonably well and then simply hire someone else to do the work. You pay them less than what you're getting paid and keep the rest. If you can get enough work, you won't have to do much and you can really make some money, all while you sleep.

* For contracts involving offline work, bookkeeping, landscaping, and many other service businesses work well with this concept. Your work would be in meeting with current clients and getting new clients while your assistant does all the service work. Picking up ongoing, monthly contracts is where you make the most money.

* For contracts involving online work, such as programming, design, or graphics for websites, the least expensive virtual assistants are typically found in foreign countries where a day's pay is considerably less than it is here. There are many qualified and skilled people all over the world that would love to help you out. o Look at marketplaces like and others to obtain your online contracts. There are also marketplaces specifically for workers in foreign countries. An Internet search will lead you to all the marketplaces you could use.

2. Create a blog. If you can get readers, you can make money. With a high traffic site, you can make a lot of money from advertising revenue. Pay per click ads can really amount to a significant income on a popular site.

* With that regular audience, you can also sell products and services to them. The products and services don't even have to be your own! There are probably products related to your blog content that you could sell and take a cut of the proceeds.

3. Buy a small business. Most people focus on the Internet when trying to make money while they sleep. Any small business where you can hire other people to run it will work. Do you think the owner of 10 McDonald's franchises is in there flipping burgers? Your own bricks-and-mortar business might be the answer.

4. Create affiliate websites. This is similar to the blog idea, but an affiliate website is commonly dedicated to selling a single product. Maybe it's for a diet product or a dating strategy product. By creating a website with worthwhile content, you can attract people looking to spend money on the type of product that you're offering.

* You can find products on websites like and There is no shortage of products and you're sure to find something that you can sell.

5. Write a book. Specifically, write an eBook and sell online. makes it extremely easy to sell your eBook and they take care of everything. It's not likely that you'll make a ton unless you really strike a chord with people, but you might be surprised.

* Create a mini-empire. If you have an eBook on raising chickens, why not have a website and a blog about raising chickens? You can establish yourself as an expert and have a lot of cross advertising going on. Sometimes 1+1+1 = 5.

* Pick something that a lot of people are willing to spend money on. Things like money, love, and health are goldmines. Who isn't interested in these things? There's more competition for sure, but that's where the big money is located.

* Choose a topic you're passionate about. If you love it, then it's not really work. Can you come with some more ideas? Making money while you sleep can create the additional income you crave. Imagine if you spent your spare time creating passive income instead of watching TV every night. You'd be wealthy before you know it!


Money for Your Junk: A Guide to Selling on Facebook

Most of us simply have too much stuff. This extra stuff gets in the way, costs you time and money, and causes stress. If you think about the things that you really love and use regularly, you'll probably find that you have a lot more stuff than you really need, right? It's probably too late to take all of your extra possessions back to the store, but you can always sell them. While you might have sold items at a yard sale or on Craig's List, you probably haven't used Facebook to unload your junk. That's unfortunate, considering how many people are on Facebook each day. Use the following tips to leverage Facebook and sell your unwanted items:

1. Find the active local sales groups. Even fairly small areas will usually have a yard sale group or other similar group with a few thousand members or more!

* Everyone knows how committed both yard sale lovers and Facebook people can be.

* A lot of eyes will see your item within 24 hours.

* The more people that see your item, the more likely you are to get rid of it quickly.

2. Follow the rules. Different groups have different rules. For example, some require pictures. Follow the rules and use them to your best advantage.

* Some have rules about who has the first chance to purchase the item.

* There are usually rules about when an item can be bumped back to the top of the list.

3. Take good pictures. Get a friend to help if you have trouble taking pictures. Be sure the pictures you post are in focus with good lighting.

* Let buyers see what they need to by choosing a good angle for your photo.

4. Post at just the right time. Be smart about when you post your items. The ideal time to post is when people are perusing the listings, but not a lot of things are getting posted.

* If you post your item when everyone else does, yours can get lost in the shuffle.

* Try to take note of when people are claiming items and when items are posted.

5. Write an accurate description and take care of your own needs. The group may have a policy that whoever claims the item has 48 hours to take the item away. But if you want it gone today, put that in the posting.

* It could be problematic if someone took 48 hours to show up and then decided against purchasing the item.

6. Be available. Those that are interested are bound to have questions. Keep your phone and computer handy and reply promptly to inquiries.

* People will move on to other items if they can't get their questions answered in a timely fashion.

7. Stay organized. This is especially important if you have several items for sale. It can be helpful to keep a post-it note on each item. You can list the buyer's name, contact information, expected pick-up date, time of pick-up, and the price. Most people never consider selling items on Facebook, but it can be a quick, easy, and free way to get rid of the items cluttering your life. Everyone could use a little extra money and more elbowroom. So clean out the garage, attic, and closets. Facebook is a hugely popular website with a very active user base. Your unnecessary items will be gone in a flash. Why not give it a try?


Self Employed? How to Effectively Increase Your Hourly Rate

If you work for yourself, your income naturally depends on your hourly rate. Of course, you'd love to make a better hourly wage. But how do you know if you're being fairly paid? Here are some tips on when you should (and shouldn't!) raise your rate. When You Should Raise Your Rates

1. Your skills or service have improved. If you can provide more value, raising your rates to reflect that is reasonable.

2. Supply and demand have changed for your service. If you're booking yourself solid and turning away new clients, then you're in an excellent position to charge more. Simply raise your rate until you're getting the number of clients you want without having to decline new business.

3. You're testing a new rate to gain information. Just be sure you have a plan if the higher fees don't pan out.

4. If you want to reposition yourself. There's nothing wrong with positioning yourself as a high-end consultant, but be sure you can deliver that type of service. You won't last long if the quality of your work doesn't match the prices you're charging. When Not to Raise Your Rates There should always be a legitimate business reason for raising your rates. You might just want to earn more money, but that's usually not justification for charging your clients more. Before making any rate changes, always look at your skills as well as supply and demand.

Frequently Made Mistakes

1. Never raising your rates. If you never raise your rates, then you'll eventually be undercharging. Over time, that's a lot of money that's not making its way into your pocket.

2. Not testing. New clients are the best place to try out new rates. Keep your old clients at the old rates while you're testing; you can always bump them up later. If the new hourly charge doesn't work out, you'll still have your old clients to fall back on.

3. Raising rates beyond what's reasonable. If you're just starting out, you can't expect to charge the same as an expert. You'll generally be more effective if you start at the lower end with your price until your client base is sufficient. Then you can start testing higher rates.

4. Changing too frequently. Your clients can't plan your services into their budget if you're always changing your rates around.

How to Increase Your Rates

1. Improve your services. You should constantly be trying to add value without significantly increasing your costs. The better your service, the more you should be able to charge.

2. Always over-deliver. Not only do you get great word-of-mouth advertising, you'll have a much easier time raising your rates when the time comes.

3. Get testimonials. Anytime a client is obviously happy, ask for a testimonial. Put those testimonials on your marketing materials.

4. Truly care about your clients. When your clients can tell how much you care, you're much more likely to keep their business and get referrals. Their referrals can bring plenty of new clients to test out your new rates. Ultimately, rates are determined by the marketplace. Your job is to position yourself appropriately within that marketplace and then test higher rates when the time is right. However, within what the marketplace will bear, the sky is the limit when setting your own rates. This is one of the best parts about working for yourself. Use these tips to raise your income as your expertise becomes more valuable. You deserve it!


Top 10 Job Search Tips for Recent Graduates

Getting your first job in your chosen career is the hardest. You lack relevant experience and interview skills. Employers view you as part-child. Plus, there's a lot of competition because of all the others who have just graduated. However, this competition is ill-prepared for finding a job. Knowledge and preparation can lift you above the competition and land you the position you desire. Find your first job through intelligence and diligence:

1. Avoid limiting your search to the internet. You're searching for a job online for the same reason everyone else is. It's easy, and you can do it in your favorite t-shirt while eating a pizza. That's why jobs posted online have so much competition. It's also much more difficult to stand out. Use other resources while searching for a job.

2. Network like your life depends on it. This is the surest way to get a job. If you can get a recommendation from someone that matters, half the battle is won. * Target a short list of companies and reach out to everyone you know. All you need is one good contact to land a great job.

3. Take advantage of the career services department of your university. Those people are staffing that office for a reason. They'll look over your resume and cover letter, help with your interview skills, and hook you up with alumnae. You'll also be made aware of any upcoming career fairs or potential openings.

4. Tailor your resume and cover letter to the position. It might be convenient to use the same resume and cover letter for each job opening, but you're seriously hurting your chances of securing an interview.

* Think about what each company needs and show that you're the person to fill that need. This will help you stand out from the competition.

5. Appear professional. This doesn't just apply to your clothes. Get an appropriate haircut for the job you're seeking. Clean up your social media presence and voicemail greeting. A prospective employer won't be impressed by your, "Yabba dabba doo, peeps" voicemail greeting.

6. Stay in touch with your classmates. One of your friends might find a great job and put in a good word for you. Continue to build your network. This holds true throughout your lifetime.

7. Create a website. Everyone should have a website. Post your resume and present yourself to the world. Remember to be professional and focus on your strengths. Keep your contact information up to date.

8. Consider an internship. Internships are low-risk for the company and provide a great way to get your foot in the door. The pay might be quite low, but you're likely to receive a permanent job offer if you do a good job.

9. Put your social media accounts to work. Instead of using them for socializing, use those accounts for something more useful. Reach out to everyone you know.

* LinkedIn is proving to be an effective way to market yourself. Many jobs have been filled via employers and recruiters searching the profiles.

10. Volunteer at your favorite charities. Although volunteering doesn't pay anything, the contacts you make while helping out the charity could be instrumental in acquiring a job. Looking for a job isn't fun. It can even be intimidating if you've never been through the process before. Finding your first professional position is important because it sets the baseline for the rest of your career. If you can land a good job now, you can have an even better job in a couple of years. Being underemployed can limit your career progress for years.


Get Paid to Clean Up Real Estate Properties

Although the economy is providing us all with a bit of a rough, unpredictable ride, the good news is that the housing industry is undergoing a gradual process of bouncing back. Luckily, this good news about the housing industry also opens up some interesting ways for you to earn money. Consider these options:

1. Clean out trashed houses and properties. Start a side business during your off-work hours to clean out bank-owned houses or homes purchased by investors who want to flip them. Be specific about what you'll do.

* For example, you could advertise that you'll remove all trash in the home, down to the walls and floors. Your job would be to carry out all the debris, load it into your truck, and take it to the dump. You can charge per property or by the hour. * Prior to bidding or accepting the job, meet with the owner at the property for a walk-through. This way, you'll see exactly what you'd be dealing with so you can name a price you're comfortable with. Before you know it, banks or contractors will be calling you for your services.

2. Take care of the lawns of properties for sale. Contact the realtors or banks to let them know you're skilled in lawn maintenance and have the necessary tools to keep up their properties.

* Particularly if the properties are in your own neighborhood, you stand to make some decent cash without traveling too far from home.

3. Phone local building contractors and offer your "gopher" services on the weekend. Offering to pick up needed tools, building supplies, and even lunch for over-worked builders on their weekend work days could grow to some pretty lucrative occasional work.

4. Paint the interior or exterior of homes for sale. If you enjoy painting, why not sell that service to banks or home "flippers?"

5. Perform the final cleaning prior to going on the market. Final cleaning may include scrubbing floors, polishing wood floors, vacuuming carpets, scouring sinks, and shining up countertops. Nearly anyone can do this. Plus, it's very rewarding.

6. Poll your prospects and offer your services. Contact bank representatives, realtors, and property owners to inquire what kind of work they need done on their properties. Give them your name and number and have them call you with their needs.

* When you demonstrate you're eager and ready to go to work, someone may very likely take you up on your offer. Show your motivation.

7. Apply for work at banks or other lenders. If you have stellar office skills, consider checking to see if local financial institutions require additional assistance to process paperwork and make phone calls on short sales, bankruptcy properties, and the like. Use your creative nature to put the current housing recovery to good use. You have the power to fill your bank account with extra dollars right now. Think of every step from property clean-up to putting up real estate for sale. You'll be surprised at the money you can make!


How to Structure Your Business for Maximum Sales Value at Retirement

Many entrepreneurs have amazing and highly profitable businesses. However, that doesn't necessarily translate into a business that can be sold to someone else. For example, a consultant that works alone has nothing to sell. In this case, "their expertise" is the entire business. As you work hard to build your business, ensure that you're building it in a way that permits you to sell it at retirement. If you currently own an unsellable business, there may be things you can do to change that. It's wise to create a business that will sell for the best price in the future. Take advantage of these strategies and structure your business so it's attractive to potential buyers in the future:

1. Ensure your skills aren't the only value in your business. If you're the only income stream, you're drastically limiting your ability to sell your business. This may mean hiring others to provide value as well. * For example, if you're a consultant, build a business large enough to permit the hiring of other consultants.

2. Over time, attempt to remove yourself from the income producing activities. Many business buyers are looking to purchase a company that allows them to create a full-time job for themselves. However, many other buyers would rather just be investors. They're looking for a business that can be run from afar, with minimal time demands.

* Making a million dollars a year with 60 hours of work per week isn't bad. Accomplishing the same with 30 hours of work is much better. Keeping the other items in mind, how can you effectively reduce your workload?

* Imagine if you could only work 20 hours a week. What changes would you make to your business? What about 10 hours a week? How could you restructure it and still be profitable?

3. Project possible income. Potential buyers are interested in the amount of income they can expect to earn. Many businesses sell for multiples of the expected annual income. The exact factor varies, depending on the type of business.

* Keep in mind that anything that can be done to boost profitability will increase the sales price of your business.

4. Consider your risk. Buyers also want to know how much risk is involved in earning that income. Is the business in a field with growing competition? How long have the most lucrative clients or customers been on board? How much debt is the business carrying? * Consider what you can do to minimize the risks involved.

5. Assess the business's potential. What are the long-term prospects for your company? Is it a business that can grow in the future? Is there a limit? The more potential your business has, the more you can get for your company at the time of sale.

6. Seek expert advice. Business brokers are generally willing to give advice for a small fee. After all, they stand to make a lot of money if you decide to use them in the future. Find a business broker with experience in your type of business and get advice on what potential buyers are looking for.

* A few hundred dollars spent here could mean thousands in profit later on. With a little work, you might even find someone willing to help you for free. Position yourself and your business for the future. With some planning, your seemingly un-sellable business could be worth a lot of money when you retire. Get some expert advice and structure your business and value-producing activities to make your company attractive to buyers. When it comes time to retire, you'll be glad you did!


Selling Your Household Items Online?

Read This First! Are you interested in creating extra income by selling some of your household items online? Listing them on the internet can be a creative way to generate money, but it's important to do it safely. Use these techniques to protect yourself and your family:

1. Research sales websites carefully. Each website has different policies for the types of items that can be listed. Pay attention to fees for using the website and selling an item. Shipping or delivery rules can also vary.

* Niche websites that are geared toward specific audiences or markets can help you sell some items. Do you have a rare antique doll you want to sell? Consider using a website that only sells antiques or dolls. This may help you sell the item faster and find legitimate buyers.

2. Post photos carefully. As you post photos of your items online, avoid using pictures of yourself or family members.

* Your children may look adorable playing with the toys you're selling, but as a safety precaution, it's wiser to avoid images of your family in the photos.

* Avoid posting images of your home, other belongings, or pets as well. Criminals can track things easily, and any of these images can provide clues about you or your belongings.

* Be careful with the background you use in the photos because it can provide information about you or your family. Find neutral backgrounds such as bare walls or clean tables.

3. Find a safe spot for business transactions. If selling your items online involves meeting the buyers in person, then seek out safe spots where you can meet.

* It's popular to use public parking lots and other public locations to do business. However, you may also want to check with your local police department. Departments around the country are starting to create safe havens for online transactions.

4. Choose safe payments. If the website you selected allows for safe online transactions that don't require meeting the buyer, then you may want to consider this option. Some websites allow the use of an escrow service that protects you from fraud.

* Online sales can be a target for scams, so it's important to carefully consider how you'll accept payments. You may not feel comfortable with checks, debit cards, or credit cards. Money orders and cashier's checks might be forged, even if they look identical to the real versions.

* Cash is one of the most popular payment methods for household items. You can make sure the money is real by going to an ATM with the buyer to withdraw it.

5. Watch out for common scams. The type of item you sell may attract specific scams. It's important to research them and be aware of the tactics.

6. Notify friends or family about meetings. If you plan to meet the buyer in person, notify your friends or family first. They should be aware of the meeting location, time, and purpose. They can call and check in on you during the meeting.

* Better still, bring a friend or family member to the meeting for safety purposes. Selling items online can help you increase your income and pay your bills. Be safe with your transactions, so everyone benefits.


15 Legitimate Ways to Work From Home

The "work from home" field is filled with scams and empty promises. However, there are ways to legitimately make money from home. The key is to leverage your strengths and ensure that any companies you're working with have a good reputation. Avoid doing too much work until you're paid for the first time. Then you should have an idea of whether the offer is legitimate or not. Stay at home and pay your bills:

1. Be a consultant. Many small businesses don't have a need for a full-time whatever-you-are. But they might need someone with your skills and knowledge for a short period of time.

2. Transcriptionist. This type of work is available and can be worth your time if you can type quickly. There's software available that can transcribe with reasonable accuracy. You might be able to make a decent hourly rate without working too hard.

3. Freelance work. Writing articles, creating videos, performing search engine optimization, or creating graphics are just a few examples of freelance work that's waiting for you.

4. Work for a call center. Some businesses want to take your call, but are too small to have bodies dedicated to answering the phones 24/7. You can work at home for a call center and receive those important calls.

5. Teach a language. English is in high demand, particularly in Asian countries. Italki is one website that will allow you to take advantage of your English ability and make $20+/hour.

6. Virtual assistant. The creativity of your employer will determine your tasks. You could be making travel plans, balancing the books, or researching chocolate cookie recipes.

7. Rent a room in your home. There are several websites that will connect you with renters, both long-term and short. If you have space you're not using, consider monetizing it.

8. Be a juror. Lawyers will pay you to review a case and give your opinion. Think of it as a practice trial before heading to court. Ejury is one such company that will pay your for your jurist skills.

9. Test and review websites. User Testing is the most popular company. You're paid $10 for a 20-minute task. That's $30 per hour if you stay busy.

10. Take surveys. This field is full of scams, so be sure to check out the company before wasting your time. Never pay to join a survey organization. A few companies with good reputations include: Harris Poll Online, Pine Cone Research, and Swag Bucks.

11. Sell vegetables from your garden. At times, your garden is providing more than you can consume. Visit the local farmer's market and sell your excess.

12. Mechanical Turk. This is a service provided by You can perform small tasks for money. Most of the jobs are very quick and easy. The pay is very low per task, but you can complete multiple tasks per hour.

13. Tutor at your home. $25/hour isn't out of line. There are also places to tutor online. Check out Chegg Tutors.

14. Affiliate marketing. You can sell someone else's product online and get paid for each sale. For example, has an affiliate program. There are many more.

15. Pet sitting. It's possible to earn $25/day or more for watching someone else's pet. Unlike daycare laws, most areas don't have a limit to how many dogs you can keep in your home! is a popular option to connect with pet owners. If you find yourself between jobs or need to make some extra money, working from home can be both convenient and lucrative. Many work at home offers aren't worth your valuable time, but others can provide a full-time income if you're willing to work hard. Consider working from the comfort of your home.


Does Going Back to School Make Good Financial Sense?

Going back to school is a big decision, but it can be a viable solution if you want to increase your job opportunities and salary. It's important to determine if going back to school makes good financial sense. It takes longer to earn back the cost of tuition and lost wages than you might think! Looking at the numbers will help you make a smart financial decision. Going back to school makes financial sense in several situations:

1. If your degree is nearly complete. Those extra couple of classes can open a lot of doors. There are many positions that require a college degree. If you're almost there, it makes a lot of sense to finish your degree and reap the rewards.

2. If your employer is willing to pay for it. Many well-established companies offer tuition reimbursement. Ensure that you understand what is and isn't covered under your company's plan. Remember that it can be challenging to work and go to school. Can you take paid time off from work to attend classes?

3. If you can find grants and scholarships that support you and pay for school. Apply for as many grants and scholarships as you can. You may qualify for enough of them to allow you to go back to school. Grants and scholarships don't have to be paid back.

4. If you can work and go to school. For example, many universities have online or weekend classes, so you can get your degree outside of working hours. Taking advantage of this type of degree program allows you to keep a job, and income coming in, while you study.

5. If you're prepared to do the work, your job prospects improve, and you're able to take full advantage of your degree. Are you prepared to attend classes and study? Can you still work while attending school? Do you have the financial resources to pull off your plan? Do you have enough time to earn back the lost income and the tuition costs? * Are you able to move after completing school to pursue new career opportunities? Would you want to? Going back to school can be financially wise if you fit into one of these categories.

However, going back to school doesn't make financial sense in many situations:

1. You're happy with your current position and don't wish to leave. The financial advantages of earning a degree are limited to your ability to increase your salary. If you're content with your current position, going back to school doesn't make good financial sense.

2. You're too close to retirement to realize the financial benefits. The age limit is much lower if you have to quit working to attend school. The lost wages can be insurmountable given the number of working years you have left before retiring. Consider the following math:

* Current salary: $35,000/year at 50 years of age. Likely outcome after completing school: $55,000/year for 13 years. * If you stop working for four years, you'll lose $140,000 in salary.

* Suppose your school tuition is $15,000/yr. That's another $60,000. You're starting your new career $200,000 in the hole.

* After working for 13 years at $55,000, you'll have earned $715,000 - $60,000 = $655,000.

* If you stayed at your old position, you'd earn $35,000 for 17 years = $595,000 and barely be behind your school plan. After all that work, you only managed to earn an additional $60,000 over 17 years. That's roughly $3,500 per year. One small promotion, a good raise, or a side business would cover that.

* Perform the same exercise with your best-guess numbers. How long will it take you to break even? Is it worth it? Do the math before making a decision to head back to school. On the surface, going back to school seems like a smart financial move. However, you have to work for a long time to make up for the salary lost while you're in school. If your degree is nearly complete, or someone else is willing to foot the bill, continuing your education can be an excellent choice.


6 Tips for Becoming an Entrepreneur Later in Life

Entrepreneurs aren't limited by age, and you can start a successful business at any stage of your life. However, becoming an entrepreneur later in life has its own unique challenges. Consider these tips for starting a business as a senior:

1. Avoid allowing others to limit your goals. As you get older, you may have more people in your life who try to persuade you away from the entrepreneur lifestyle.

* Your family and friends may have good intentions, but they can also limit your dreams.

* They may remind you that it's more difficult to start a new business as you get older because you have other responsibilities. Children, aging parents, and others can take up a lot of your time and present challenges when starting a business. However, knowing that these challenges exist can also help you make contingency plans for when time is tight.

2. Ignore your age. Dreams don't have expiration dates, and entrepreneurs don't have age limits. As they say, "you're only as old as you feel." So if you feel like taking on the rigors of starting a new business, let your age be the last thing on your mind as you move forward with your business plans.

3. Be open to learning from others. The most successful entrepreneurs are open to learning new ideas.

* Stay up to date on new advancements in your field, either by keeping in the loop yourself or by hiring employees or contractors that incorporate this into their tasks.

* Finding a mentor with successful business experience in your field can help your new business see profits quickly and plan for successful growth.

4. Get your family involved. Successful entrepreneurs often have their family members involved in the business.

* Do your children want to help you build a business? Does your spouse have interesting ideas and want to collaborate with you? Your family can help you make your dream come true.

5. Consider the impact of the business on your personal life. How will the business affect your family and ability to continue working your regular day job?

* A new business venture may be exciting, but it has consequences.

* It's important to consider the full impact of the new business on your personal life. Will you be able to spend time with your children and spouse as you launch the business?

* Your personal finances are another area that can be deeply affected by a new business. How do you plan to pay for the business? If your plan involves draining personal finances or getting new loans, then this can affect your entire family. It's important to discuss the changes with them before you take action.

6. Consider the impact of your parents on the business. As your parents age, they may become dependent on you. Can you handle the complexities of being an entrepreneur and caring for your parents?

* Younger entrepreneurs may have decades before they have to worry about caring for their aging parents. However, as an older entrepreneur, you don't have this luxury.

* You may have to handle multiple roles at the same time. How will you balance your lifestyle and finances to manage everything? Can you afford to start a new business if your parents need your help?

* Your parents can have a serious accident or health issue that makes you responsible for taking care of them. The expense of this situation can be detrimental to your efforts with your new business. You can become a successful entrepreneur and build a strong business at any age. However, it's important to stay aware of the challenges that come with being an entrepreneur and make plans that will help you overcome these challenges.


Tips to Negotiate a Higher Starting Salary

In life, everything is negotiable and starting salaries in a new position are no exception. As a knowledgeable professional, you have experience under your belt and other valuable skills that employers should be charged a premium for utilizing.

Give yourself your worth by negotiating your starting salary within a new company. Not only will it put you on a better financial footing, but it'll also make you seem like an ambitious businessperson.

Follow the tips below in order to confidently and successfully negotiate a higher starting salary:

1. Mum's the word. If you're too forthcoming about your salary requirements, you may come off as desperate. Desperation is something that turns an employer off - big time.

* Furthermore, you may lock yourself into a lower starting salary simply because you've given too much information about your salary requirements before the employer has even had a chance to assess your value.

* If your interview is truly impressive, the person interviewing you may give you their absolute highest salary offering immediately simply to ensure that you'll take the position.

2. It's not about you. Companies hire employees based on what the candidate has to offer the company, not the other way around. Yet, so many candidates choose to exaggerate the fact of how they've always dreamt of landing this job, what the position will mean to them, and more.

* Excitement is good. But, acting too exuberant can cause the interviewer to perceive you as immature. Rather than focusing on what a life-changing experience this is for you, make it known that you're right for the job because you have a proven track record of saving money, increasing profits, improving employee performance, or some other benefit for the company.

* If the interviewer can see you as an equal counterpart, rather than a giddy newbie, only then will the discussion of salary requirements be pertinent. Also, your assertiveness in this high-pressure situation gives the interviewer a glimpse as to how you will handle high-pressure situations in the workplace.

3. Don't jump at the first offer. Unless you've blown the socks off of the employer, it's unlikely that the first offer you're presented with is their absolute best. It's possible, but not probable.

* If an employer says they're ready to offer you $45,000, keep cool, calm and collected - even if the offer is much lower or higher than you were expecting. Wait a few seconds to see if they adjust the offer, and if not, counter with a higher figure.

* There's no need to play hardball, just be firm in your approach. If you're offered $45,000 and you know you're worth $55,000, ask for $55,000. The worst that can happen is that you'll be told that $45,000 is their absolute maximum budget. You can still take the offer as long as it's on the table.

4. Take the offer. If all of your negotiation tactics have failed and you needed the job yesterday, take the offer. But ask the employer to analyze your performance within six month in order to possibly negotiate a raise.

* With an offer like this, the employer has nothing to lose. If you are truly as good as you think you are, you'll be able to slash their costs, improve staff productivity, or increase sales, and he will be able to afford to offer you a raise.

Negotiation is all about the legwork. Do your research on the company, their current salary offerings, and the average salary in your locality.

If this is your first time negotiating a salary, it can be daunting. But, you have nothing to lose. If the job is being offered to you anyways, why not try to make it as profitable as can be?


How to Negotiate a Job Offer for Maximum Financial Benefit

Getting any job offer is an exciting time. A new job can change your life and your circumstances. Whether it's your first job out of college, your first management position, or your first executive role, you're entitled to be excited. However, the process isn't completed yet. Negotiating your salary and benefits is important. It's also very lucrative. At no other time in your life can you earn so much for so little time. A few minutes of your time could lead to higher salaries for the rest of your life! Negotiate wisely and effectively:

1. Take a hard look at the offer. Ensure that you completely understand it. Insist on a written offer. It's okay to take a couple of days to review the offer. Spend the time needed to make a wise decision and clarify any confusing points.

2. Compare your salary. A little research will tell you all you need to know. Consider your job title, geographic area, and industry. For example, a Quality Manager in the furniture industry in Kansas probably pays less than a Quality Manager position in the pharmaceutical industry in New York City.

3. Consider the other benefits. Vacation and sick leave, 401(k) matching, life insurance, medical insurance, maternity/paternity leave, and bonus structure are just a few examples. Determine what's most important to you.

* Great insurance and paternity leave might be critical factors in your job search. Someone else might be enchanted by the prospect of driving a company-provided car.

4. Remain likable. This is the first step in your negotiations. Remaining likable can be challenging under the circumstances. You run the risk of upsetting your potential employer and boss. Being too assertive can have disastrous results in the long-term.

* Stand up for yourself, but not at the risk of alienating anyone.

5. Be able to justify your requests. It's not very effective to state, "I'd like another $10,000 per year." A more effective request might be, "Similar positions in the city are paying $10,000 more. Would you be able to match that?" If you cannot justify your requests, you may appear unreasonable. No one wants to work with someone considered unreasonable.

* Bring your proof with you to the negotiations. Back up your claims with real facts. Have a reasonable explanation for all of your requests.

6. Understand the situation. In spite of being likeable and providing evidence to support your requests, the other person's hands may be tied. There's a limit to how much can be provided for a particular position. There may be constraints beyond your awareness.

* Ask yourself what the company really needs. What are they trying to accomplish by filling this position? How difficult would it be for them to find someone else? How valuable are you to them?

7. Always remember that a job offer is more than just a salary. The other benefits, work environment, and coworkers are also important. Avoid focusing on just the salary number.

8. Have integrity. It's easy to fall into the trap of posturing, or claiming you have another offer when you really don't. These tactics can easily backfire and put you back on the street looking for another position.

* Accept the position if all your requests are met. It would be a huge mistake, and unethical, to up the ante and increase your demands.

* If the position and original offer are acceptable to you, you might consider not negotiating at all. Remember that the perfect negotiation is of little consolation if the job isn't a good fit. Understand the average salary and benefits for your prospective job title within that industry. Go into the negotiations armed with relevant data and ensure that you're able to justify your requests. This advance preparation will pay off for you.


5 Legitimate Ways to Make Money Online

The internet offers numerous opportunities for you to make money online. Unfortunately, the internet can also be a minefield of scammers. Because of this, many who have dreamed of earning a part time or full time income from home have given up. If you're dreaming of a way to supplement or replace your income at home, you can do so if you know where to look.

Try one or more of these ways to make money online:

1. Freelance your expertise. If your specialty lends itself to freelancing remotely, take advantage of your scheduling flexibility and begin seeking paid work online. If possible, ask your current employer or existing clients if they'd be comfortable allowing you to work from home.

* Careers that often work well with freelancing include writing and editing, consulting, marketing, transcription, medical coding, web/graphic designing, voiceover work, and programming.

* Find clients by optimizing your website for the search engines, contacting local businesses, applying for gigs on Craigslist, and applying for freelance job openings on bidding sites.

* Some of the most popular bidding sites for freelancers are,,, and

2. Affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is selling the products of others online for a commission. If you're inconsistent and sporadic with your efforts, you'll be lucky to make $100 in a year. But if you're consistent and diligent with your efforts, the sky's the limit on your earnings.

* Affiliate marketing is all about doing your research before you begin trying to make money and most of your money will come by planting seeds. In this industry, "seeds" are affiliate links. The more affiliate links you have on the net, the more money you'll make.

* It can take months to see serious income as an affiliate marketer. It's common to earn just $10 for the first few months of your affiliate marketing career, and then all of a sudden to start earning $2,000, $4,000, or more per month.

3. Virtual assistant. A virtual assistant is essentially an office or personal assistant that serves their clients from home rather than a traditional office setting. You'll likely answer emails, set appointments, and spend time making various types of spreadsheets.

* Essentially, being a virtual assistant is like being a freelancer. You can have multiple clients at once. Generally, the pay rate ranges from $10 per hour as an entry-level assistant, to about $40 per hour for highly experienced ones.

* Like most freelancers, you can also find virtual assistant jobs on freelance websites and Craigslist.

4. Blogging. As a blogger, you're totally your own boss. But with this freedom also comes great responsibility. You're in charge of creating daily blog posts, driving traffic to your blog, and sourcing advertisers for your blog. For greater success, you'll also want to build a list of targeted subscribers.

* The income for a blogger varies widely. You're paid by advertising revenue, rather than on a per project basis. Plus, you can make money from selling your products or the products of others for a commission through your blog and newsletter. Your income is directly correlated with your skills, efforts, and likeability.

* Keep your day job for at least a year. It takes a while to build up income in a blog. Some blogs can take two years or more to build up revenue that's equivalent to your current salary.

5. Selling your own product. The classic method of making money online is selling your own product. Whether you make aprons, clothing, and kitschy décor or you're selling manufactured cell phone accessories, there's a place for your business on the internet.

* To make money online by selling products, you must market your business diligently. Employ search engine optimization tactics, start a blog for your business, ensure that your website is easy to navigate, and embark on an advertising campaign to attract buyers.

While there are still many scams on the internet, a bit of legwork can help you find legitimate ways to make money from home. Seek forums for like-minded people online that can guide you in the right direction and help you steer clear of scams.

Remember that no legitimate work at home opportunity asks you to pay in advance to work for them. Above all, use discretion and proceed with caution. Give the above opportunities a try for a legitimate way to put more cash in your pocket and more freedom into your schedule!


Top 8 Signs That Your Business Opportunity Might Be a Scam

Many opportunities to build a small business are scams, clearly disguised as legitimate offers. Many that aren't scams fail to mention the risks or potential downsides involved. The key to finding a legitimate offer is to keep your guard up and investigate the claims being made. If it sounds too good to be true, you probably have a good reason to be suspicious. Avoid taking anything at face value and investigate all the costs. Many times, there are considerable start-up costs that are only mentioned in the small print, if at all. Whenever you're dealing with a considerable amount of money, proceed with caution. Watch out for these signs that you might be dealing with a scam:

1. Anything that claims to be 'turnkey,' 'easy,' 'automatic,' or claims to be little or no work should be examined with skepticism. If it were that easy, wouldn't they just set up several income streams for themselves and keep it a secret? * If it's easy and actually works, everyone would be doing it for themselves. * That would make the competition fierce, which would destroy any profits very quickly.

2. Vagueness is a warning sign. If the offer is vague enough that you don't even really understand what is involved, that's usually a sign to stay away.

* Companies with legitimate offers want to give you all the details. They are proud of what they have to offer and want to tell you about it.

3. The revenue stream doesn't make sense. How does the company making the offer make money? Do they primarily make revenue by charging you for training, advertising, a website, and other fees? If they're not profiting, then they wouldn't be making the offer.

4. The warranty is riddled with loopholes. You might find warranties that use words like "possible," "can," "may," or "potential."

* Companies with legitimate products and offers wouldn't require a weasel clause in their warranty.

* You want to associate with a company that has an iron-clad warranty.

5. The people offering the opportunity are located in some obscure country. Legitimate opportunities can come from anywhere, but if the company in question is located in someplace like Liberia, there's reason for additional caution.

6. An offer talks more about the magical marketing than the magical product. A great business opportunity has a great product, exclusivity, or a great brand behind it. The marketing should come second.

7. Be especially weary of opportunities that cost less than $20,000 and involve an out of state company. It's too costly and difficult to sue an out of state company with the current commerce laws.

* Federal prosecutors typically won't look at anything less than $30,000 because they are simply too busy.

8. Ads in newspapers and magazines that have little information besides outrageous claims and a toll-free number. Just because the ad is in the Wall Street Journal doesn't mean it's legitimate. Always protect yourself. There are several ways to check on the legitimacy of the company in question. You can contact your state's Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau. Just remember that a lack of complaints isn't a guarantee that you aren't being scammed. If you feel that you were taken advantage of, ask for your money back. If that doesn't work, let the Attorney General's office know what happened. Provide any relevant correspondence. When faced with a business opportunity, move slowly and be cautious. If you are pressed to make a quick decision, that's probably a good reason to say "no." Keep an eye out for the warning signs and protect your money.


Want to be Wealthy? Stop Swapping Your Time for Money

Many of us were taught to do well in school, get a great job, work hard, and you'll eventually make a lot of money. This may be true, but there is a great limitation to working for someone else. Time. There are only so many hours in a week. No one can buy or create more. Even doctors suffer from this limitation. The average physician makes a large salary, but there aren't many that make a million dollars a year. Even a physician is swapping his time for money. He only gets paid while he's seeing patients. He can't see more than one at a time and he can't see them while he's asleep. The clock ultimately limits his income. This is also true for consultants, dentists, lawyers, and CEOs. If you want the opportunity to make a tremendous amount of money, it's important to find ways to earn without your presence being necessary. Free yourself from the clock and your ability to earn is unlimited. There are better ways:

1. Get paid more than once for the same work. Think about artists, authors, and musicians. In their respective businesses, they're able to get paid repeatedly for the same work.

* An author can write a book and then sell a million copies over the next 10 years. During that time, she may have written 20 more books. What could be better than getting paid multiple times for the same work?

* What are some other businesses that can utilize this same strategy?

2. Do something that allows you to receive recurring payments. Leasing office space or other real estate to others keeps money coming in while you do other things. Building a website and leasing it is a similar strategy.

3. Be an investor. The great thing about stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and similar investments is the ability to make money with little work on your part. You're essentially making money while you sleep. You could also loan money to others.

4. Outsource / arbitrage. Many people set up businesses and then outsource all the work. This is especially true online. For example, there are people that sell website building services. These same people then hire someone else at a reduced rate to do all the work.

* Ghostwriters write many of the e-books sold on sites like The listed author paid someone else to write the book. If you can successfully buy something for $X and sell it for $X+Y, you can potentially make money with little work.

* Can you think of ways to make money from the work of others?

5. Create passive income. A website that sells an affiliate product can make money while you sleep and is a form of passive income. It's not difficult to build a website that makes a mere $5/day, but keep in mind that's over $1,800/yr.

* Make a list of other ways you can make money passively. Time is a limitation for all of us. So far, no one has lived forever. But time doesn't have to limit your income. Doctors, lawyers, and CEOs are paid well, but you have even great financial potential if you can break free from swapping your time for money. Uncertainty stops many people. If you write a book or create a website, you're not guaranteed to make any money at all. If you go to your job, you can expect to get paid on a regular basis. Courage and persistence are required. Get started today and build an income stream that isn't dependent on your time or presence. You'll enjoy getting paid while you're not at work!


From Hobby to Home Business in Five Steps

Do you ever feel trapped in a job you don't find rewarding? The key to living a more fulfilling life is to go after your passions. Being someone's employee often requires you to put these passions aside so you can work towards their vision - not yours! Becoming an entrepreneur is not for everyone. There are many obstacles between you and your dreams, including coming up with the willpower to get started on your project, finding the confidence to get through multiple mishaps, and devoting many hours of hard work to building your vision. Being an entrepreneur is hard work and can be disheartening at times - but owning your business can be a very fulfilling and freeing experience. Follow these steps to follow your passions through your own business:

1. Find your calling. You could base your business on a talent you have, a hobby you love, or your desire to make a difference in people's lives.

* There is a popular belief that it takes 10,000 hours of work before one can be considered an expert in any field. This belief may not be true, but it shows that expertise requires time and hard work.

2. Register your business and apply for necessary licenses. Registering your home business is a very simple process.

* All you need to do is register your business name through the U.S. Small Business Administration and apply for a tax ID.

* You will also have to register your business through state agencies. Applying for licenses is necessary if your field is regulated - for instance, if you prepare food, work with dangerous chemicals, or provide services that require special qualifications such as legal advice or accounting.

3. Create your business plan. Creating a business plan is a systematic process that provides a blueprint for your business and will help you obtain funding for your project. * Start by explaining what the purpose of your business is and how you'll achieve it.

* Explain what kind of products you want to sell or list the services you'll be providing.

* Define your target audience in as many details as possible.

* Create an outline for your marketing strategy and include your expected prices as well as how much profit you expect to generate.

4. Explore your financing options. Go over your budget and business plan carefully to assess how much money you require.

* Look for investors among your friends and relatives, or angel investors through local business associations. Borrowing money is usually your best option if you cannot find investors for your project.

* The U.S. Small Business Administration is a great place to get started with financing, but you could also contact your financial institution to learn more about the business loans they offer.

5. Get to work! Becoming a successful home business owner requires time, hard work, and real dedication.

* Besides spending some time on developing your products or services, promoting your business, and providing excellent customer service, it's also important to work on acquiring more skills that will help you become a better business owner.

* Divide the large goals from your business plan into smaller goals you can accomplish on a weekly or daily basis. This division will also help you assess your progress.

* Keep in mind that your goals might have to shift if your market changes. The best way to launch your business and achieve financial stability is to put together a detailed plan with a series of small, manageable steps that will lead you to your goals. Use these five steps as a broad template for your project and add any additional steps that are relevant to your business.


Is Working From Home a Good Choice for You?

Do you fantasize about waking up in the morning, walking sleepily down the hall to your home office with a steaming Cup of Joe, and plopping down in your chair to start working? Imagine the amount of money you'll save on gas, clothing, and childcare working from home. With today's technology, it's possible to make your fantasy of working at home a reality.

Consider the following as you decide whether you're a good candidate for working from home:

1. Do you work for a national or international company? The larger the company, often the more flexibility you'll have to work from home.

2. Is your company progressive? If the owners and management think out of the box and embrace change, you're in a great position to inquire about working at home.

3. Do you have a computer-oriented job? If most of your work is on the computer, present a good argument as to how you can remain productive working from home. As long as you have a computer at home, you can get the proper software to perform your job at home.

* You'll have less co-worker interruptions when you work at home. If your house is quieter than working in a buzzing, lively office setting, you might be able to get more work done each day.

4. Can you obtain the special supplies your job requires? For example, a design architect will need a drafting table and various drawing tools, plus a computer to work from home. The nature of your work is a huge determinant as to whether you can work from home.

5. You'll need a designated workspace. Nothing fancy, a desk and chair devoted to work will suffice, along with a computer and internet connection.

6. How flexible is your boss? Supervisors and managers who demonstrate more flexibility in the work setting are more likely to agree to a trial period where you work at home. If your supervisor knows you well and understands your work, then they might be more willing to allow a trial work at home situation.

* During the trial period, you have an opportunity to demonstrate how well you can perform in your own home setting.
* When speaking with your supervisor, remember to mention that companies that promote more flexible work schedules benefit from less absenteeism and have reduced turnover.

7. Can you motivate yourself to get your work done? If you want to work from home, it's important for you to possess certain personal and professional characteristics. Are you a self-starter? Can you diligently follow a work schedule?

* If you're self-motivated and super-responsible, it's likely you'll be able to work from home with great success.

8. Can you prevent distractions at home? Think about everything that could interrupt or disturb your work efforts at home. It will be necessary for you to take steps to ensure your work won't be disrupted.

* However, if you live alone or with a partner that works away from home full-time during the same time you'll be doing your job, you're already ahead of the game in terms of creating a productive work environment.

Depending on your company, the type of work you do, and your motivation, working from home might be a perfect solution. Think through these considerations to help you determine whether working in a home office setting is right for you. In the end, it just may pay off for you and your employer in terms of productivity and employee satisfaction.


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