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Archive for March, 2011

8 Easy Ways to Make a Couple Bucks

March 30, 2011 5 comments

money pocket jeans dollar bucksMy last post, 6 Easy Ways to Save a Couple Bucks, seemed to be quite popular, so I decided to build upon that post by talking about ways to make a couple bucks.  Making a couple extra bucks, like saving a couple bucks, adds to your own personal bottom line.  Here are some suggestions:

1. Sell Things Online.

Have some junk that’s been sitting in your garage for years?  Sell that stuff online.  The most popular sites to sell items online are eBay, Craigslist, and Amazon.  Certain items sell better on different sites, so take a look at this article to figure out where to sell them.

2. Sell Services or Products.

We all have unique skills right?  Why not leverage those skills and sell them online.  If you’re an amazing photographer, feature your photographs on the Internet and get people to hire you.  If you can build birdhouses, try building an e-store to sell them on.

3. Find a Credit Card with Cashback Bonus.

Most credit cards these days offer cashback bonuses.  For example, my Discover Open Road card earns 5% cash back on gas and auto purchases.  You can use the cash back as a credit on your bill or you can redeem it for a cash card.  Not only that, but you can redeem your cash back bonus for vendor gift cards and get even more for your money.  What I mean by this is you can redeem $40 worth of cash back bonus for a $50 gift card, so you just made an extra $10, for free!

4. Online Surveys.

I was invited to a survey website a few years ago called u.talk.back.  Every once in a while, they send you an email with a link to a survey for a specific amount of rewards points.  Once you reach a certain amount of points, you can redeem them for gift cards.  Since I started using u.talk.back, I earned a total of three $50 gift cards.

5. Babysit.

If you love children, babysitting can be a great way to make some extra money.  I’ve heard babysitters making anywhere between $10-15 per hour.  If you babysit for 4 hours, that’s $40-60.  Do that twice a week and you made about $100 in a week.  Multiply that by 4 weeks and that’s $400 per month!

6. Invest in the Stock Market.

The nice thing about investing in the stock market is you can make a decent chunk of money in a fairly short amount of time, if you know what you’re doing.  If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can lose a bunch of money.  I advise not to invest large amounts of money in the stock market if you’ve never done it before.  In the future, I plan to share some strategies for making money in the stock market, so stay tuned for that.

7. Certificate of Deposit.

If you’ve got some extra money laying around that you don’t plan on using for a while, why not put that money in a Certificate of Deposit.  A CD is like free money in exchange for time.  Think of it as loaning money to a bank and charging them interest.  For example, Ally bank is offering a 1-year CD at 1.24%.  So if you give the bank $1,000, they will give you $1,012.40 back a year from now.  I know it doesn’t sound like much, but its better than keeping the money in a checking account that doesn’t earn any interest.

8. Donate Plasma.

I haven’t personally donated plasma myself, but I have heard you can make some extra money by doing it.  If you’re deathly afraid of needles or have a very busy schedule, I wouldn’t recommend this option.  Fro what I’ve heard, it’s painful and requires a couple hours of your time.  For more information, visit DonatingPlasma.org.

Image Credit

Related Content:

23 Ways For Teens to Make Money

26 Ways To Make Extra Money And Keep You Day Job

25 (Unusual) Ways To Make Quick Money

Webpage Credit:

eBay.com

Craigslist.com

Sell on Amazon

eBay, Craigslist, or Amazon? Where to sell your stuff…

Discover Open Road Credit Card

u.talk.back Opinion Panel

DonatingPlasma.org

6 Easy Ways to Save a Couple Bucks

March 24, 2011 15 comments

In these tough economic times, everyone is looking for ways to save a couple bucks.  Because the more money you save, the more wealthy you are right?.  By saving money, you’re adding to your own bottom line.  Saving money isn’t always a matter of “cutting” things out of our lives, but rather taking the extra time and effort to make saving possible.   In order to do that, you have to have a good idea of where there is money to be saved.   To help you out, I’ve identified six simple ways you can save a couple bucks:

1. Coupons

I know what you’re thinking.  “Coupons are ridiculous, you barely save any money by using them.”  You want to bet?  Have you seen that new show called Extreme Couponing?  Well if you haven’t, I’ll give you a little synopsis.  There are little tips and tricks that people use to get everyday items nearly free using coupons.  These extreme couponers walk out of grocery stores, with six or seven carts full of groceries, paying only dollars for the entire bill. Still don’t believe me? Now’s the time to play the video below…

2. Yelp

Yelp is my new favorite social media platform.  Yelp is a business review network where everyday people submit reviews for local businesses, such as restaurants.  Well, Yelp has a cool feature for iPhones or other app-enabled devices called Check-In Offers.  A check-in occurs when someone is visiting a business, say a restaurant, and “checks-in”, notifying people that they are there.  A Check-In Offer is a deal offered by businesses for using this Yelp feature, for example, $10 off your meal of $30 or more for checking in.

3. Discount Stores

Have you ever been to a store like Ross, Marshalls, or T.J.Maxx?  If you haven’t, I encourage you to go.  These stores offer items you find in big, expensive department stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom at a discounted price.  There’s nothing wrong with the items and you can usually find some really good name brands.  You can also take it one step further and head straight for the clearance rack (often times up to 80% off regular price).

4. Programmable Thermostat

Before my Fiancé started student teaching, she stayed home most of the day in our new house cleaning it up and painting while I was at work.  Now that she’s started student teaching, she too is gone for most of the day.  When she leaves to go to school, she turns the heat down about 10 degrees and back up when she gets home.  We noticed that since she started student teaching, our energy bill has gone down a little over 23%.  Now, we manually turn down the heat when we leave and back up when we get home, but most thermostats allow you to program a schedule so that it turns down automatically after you leave and back up just before you get home.  If you don’t already do this, take the time to learn your thermostat and program it to your schedule to save you some money.

5. Pack A Lunch

Before I bought a house and started living on my own, I would go out to lunch every day of the week.  I would try to give myself a $5 budget, but I usually went a little over that.  This means I was spending between $25-30 per week on lunch.  Multiply that by the four weeks in a month and I was spending $100-$120 per month on lunch.  Now my Fiancé packs me a lunch.  Yes, it costs an extra $15 dollars at the grocery store every week to buy a week’s worth of lunch, but that’s saving me $40-60 per month.

6. Do I Really Need That?

Next time you’re considering buying something, whether its a $2,000 TV or a $2 bag of potato chips at the store.  Ask yourself if you really need it.  Most of the time the answer is no.  You can save yourself a good amount of money simply by practicing frugality and self-control.

I hope this list can help you save some money and increase your wealth at the same time.  If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Video Credit

Webpage Credit:

TLC – Extreme Couponing

Yelp

Are You Friends with Your Boss on Facebook? 5 Tips to Help You Make That Decision

March 22, 2011 Leave a comment

facebook employee boss exchange fired hate my jobLast week, I walked by my boss’s office and heard him say something along the lines of, “Oh yea! I’m friends with that guy on Facebook.” At first I didn’t think anything of it, but about 4 steps later I smiled to myself and may have chuckled out loud. “My boss is on Facebook?” I thought to myself, “That’s weird…” By the time I got back to my desk, a number of thoughts ran through my head. “I wonder what kind of stuff he posts on Facebook. I wonder who he’s friends with at work. I wonder if he knows that I have a Facebook. I wonder if he’s seen my Facebook.” But the most intriguing question that crossed my mind was, “Should I send my boss a friend request on Facebook?”

Your online presence can be a very valuable tool for your career, but it can also be extremely detrimental. One wrong word or one bad picture can ruin your online presence and even your career. Here are 5 tips for keeping your Facebook “boss-friendly”:

    1. Get rid of those party pictures.

    So you’re a party animal? That’s fine. But you’re boss doesn’t need to know that. What’s off limits when it comes to Facebook pictures? Alcohol is typically frowned upon. If you have a picture of yourself holding a beer bottle, untag it or delete it. I would say it’s okay to have a picture of yourself holding a Styrofoam cup filled with Pina Colada, because that could be anything in there. Any obscene clubbin’ pictures (you know what I’m talking about) should probably go. Like everyone says, if you have trouble explaining a picture to your grandmother, it probably doesn’t belong on your Facebook.

    2. Restructure your friends list.

    Remember that when a friend posts something on your wall, anyone can see it. So if your friend posts something like, “Yo bro, we gonna get dirty this weekend at the club ahhhhhh,” even though you’ve never gone to the club with this person in your life, everyone thinks that’s what you do. Removing these people might hurt your friendship, but it will positively impact your online presence.

    3. Think about your status updates before you submit them.

    Why are we so inclined to post status updates that are completely ridiculous? For example, the lyrics of a dirty rap song without quoting the artist or the song. So instead of me reading it and saying, “Oh yea, I know that song,” I think “Did he really just say that?”

    4. Consider implementing a friending policy.

    What is a friending policy? Well, a policy is simply a rule, so a friending policy is a rule that guides your friend making decision on Facebook. I have a very strict friending policy because my Facebook is meant for close friends. One, I typically don’t send friend requests to other people. I wait for people to send me a friend request. Two, I don’t accept friend requests from people I’ve never met in person. If they are a professional connection, I will ask them to connect on LinkedIn. If they are anyone else, I might follow them on Twitter.

    5. Don’t ever talk about work on Facebook.

    This is one of the quickest ways to get yourself fired. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen complain about how they hate their job and how their boss is a “five letter B-word.” Companies monitor what their employees are doing on Facebook, so don’t be surprised when you’re cleaning out your desk the next day.

My last and final tip on Facebook is this. If your boss asks to be your friend on Facebook, complete steps 1-5 above before accepting (assuming you’ve kept your entire profile private to non-friends, meaning they couldn’t see what was going on before hand). If you find your boss on Facebook, by all means send them a friend request, but make sure you’ve addressed these 5 tips before doing so. Remember, once you’ve friended your boss, there’s no turning back. Changing your Facebook strategy can be extremely challenging, but I promise you it will pay off in the long run.

Thanks to Dr. Bret Simmons and his Personal Branding class, I have no problem sending my boss a friend request because I know my Facebook is “boss-friendly.”

Image Credit

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Should your boss be your Facebook friend?

Befriending your boss on Facebook

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Categories: Career Life Tags: , ,

What Does Your Car Say About Your Success?

March 18, 2011 20 comments

I want to start by saying that I’m a huge fan of cars and trucks. I know a lot about cars, like what type of engine a car has, whether it uses gas or diesel, whether it’s turbocharged or supercharged, about how much horsepower it has, about how much it costs, and its approximate gas mileage. Yes, I know, it sounds a little obsessive. Even my Fiancé thinks I’m a freak.

But one day, as I was driving from work to school on a Thursday night, I got to thinking about what our cars really mean. Let’s be honest, we all judge people in one way or another and what’s the most common asset that we judge people by? I would like to think it’s our cars. When “Billy Bob” showed up to work in his brand new Camaro, what did you say to yourself? Did you find the time that day to tell Billy Bob how much you liked his new car? How do you think Billy Bob felt when you told him you liked it? The point is: cars stir up a lot of attention and people like talk about it.

2011 BMW 535i 5 series silver grey gray luxury speed fast expensive

There are two reasons why I wanted to bring this up in my blog. One is because I like cars (but I already told you that). The other is the social dilemma that what we drive measures our success. My opinion on this issue is this: Yes, our cars might measure success, but they really shouldn’t. For example, if you drive a 2011 BMW 535i, does that mean you’re rich? Not necessarily. It could mean you just acquired a huge amount of debt that you probably can’t pay back because you wanted people to think you had a lot of money. On the other hand, if you drive a 1998 Toyota Corolla, does that make you poor? No. It could mean you are debt free, have tons of money saved up, and are in the market to pay cash for a really nice house.

1998 toyota corolla tan quality beater

So, what are your opinions? What do you think about the cars we drive? Do you judge people by what they drive? Do you choose a car based on what you think your friends or coworkers will think? Do you want people to judge you by the car you drive?

My opinion? If you’ve got the money, feel free to buy a nice car. I know I plan to when I can afford it. Not because I want people to think I’m rich and successful, but because I just really like cars.

Image Credit:

2011 BMW 5 Series

1998 Toyota Corolla

Categories: Success Tags: , , , , ,

Go Back to School? You’re Joking Right? 10 Reasons Why Continuing Education is Good for Your Career

March 15, 2011 6 comments

study books desk stress man encyclopedia library school graduate undergraduate MBA PhDWhether you’re currently an undergraduate student or you graduated years ago, I’m sure we can all agree that education is important. When I was nearing completion of my undergraduate degree and everyone around me was celebrating the last few weeks of their educational lives, I was applying for the MBA program. I knew that if I let myself even think for a minute about being done with school, I would never want to go back. I’ve spoken with a number of people who encountered this very dilemma. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard say, “I wanted to take a year off and enjoy not having to worry about homework, tests, studying, and actually going to class at night.” I’m sure you can imagine what I’m going to say next. One year, five years, ten years later, those people still never went back to school like they said they would. So for those of you who are nearing completion of your undergraduate degree, take my first piece of advice, DO NOT WAIT!

For those of you who did wait and never went back, take my second piece of advice, GO BACK! To give you some encouragement, here are 10 reasons why you should go back to school:

    1. Fancy Letters

    You can’t tell me it’s not cool to be able to put MBA, MD, JD, or Ph.D. after your name.

    2. Resume Booster

    If you’re looking for a job, having additional education on your resume makes you look more desirable (on paper) and shows ambition and diligence.

    3. Instant Salary Increase

    Sometimes employers pay their employees more simply because they have more education. Companies will pay employees based on experience tiers (i.e. Production Manager III) and will often take related education into account.

    4. You Will Actually Learn Something

    That’s why we go to school isn’t it? To learn. You will actually learn things that will make you more valuable in the workplace.

    5. It Truly Makes You Smarter

    All those lectures, reading assignments, projects, papers, and exams help you think about things in a different light. This intensifies the learning process and makes you smarter in more ways than one by encouraging your brain to think.

    6. Internal Professional Opportunities

    Having a Master’s or Doctorate level degree can open up opportunities within your company that you couldn’t qualify for without. I’ve seen a number of job descriptions that require a Master’s degree and if you don’t have that, they won’t even consider your application.

    7. External Professional Opportunities

    This goes along with #5, but applies to job opportunities outside the company you work for. Maybe you’ve hit a ceiling with your current company and it’s time to start looking elsewhere for opportunities.

    8. Unemployment Gap Filler

    If you’ve been laid off and just can’t seem to get hired, going back to school can fill the gap until you find someone to hire you. Employer’s do not like to see long periods of unemployment on a resume, but if you throw in an MBA during that time, they are more likely to hire you (and pay you more).

    9. Networking

    Universities are an amazing place to meet students, professors, and local business people who share similar interests. Often times, Universities will host networking events where local recruiters come to campus looking for people like you. Take advantage of these opportunities.

    10. Because Your Boss Said So

    Sometimes your employer will ask you to go back to school. Maybe they have big plans for you as an executive level manager, but want you to gain additional knowledge outside of the work environment first. It’s also not uncommon for companies to pay for your education with tuition reimbursement. If you have an opportunity like this, you better jump on it.

As you can tell, I am a strong believer in continuing education. I enjoyed my undergraduate studies, but I’m finding that I’m enjoying my MBA even more. Continuing education isn’t always right for everyone, though. I’ve referenced some related articles below that will help you decide if continuing education is even right for you.

Image Credit

Related Articles:

10 Reasons Adults Should Go Back to School

8 Questions to Consider Before Going Back to School

What Are Your Fortunes Trying to Tell You? Interpretation of 6 of My Own Fortunes

March 10, 2011 4 comments

diamond silver gold fortune cookie expensiveA couple weekends ago, my Fiancé and I met my family at PF Changs for lunch on a Sunday afternoon. My parents have been following my blog posts since I started blogging and are probably the ones who promote my posts the most (thanks Mom and Dad). Everytime we get together, my parents always tell me how much they love my blog posts and it’s good to know that at least someone is reading them.

Well that Sunday afternoon, after everyone finished their meals, we got our fortune cookies. We all read them to ourselves, threw them on the table and said what everyone says, “Psh…that was stupid…” Of course, with that reaction, everyone wanted to know what each other’s fortunes said. So, we picked them back up, went around the table, and read them off. Some of them were actually pretty good and immediately my parents said, “You should blog about these.” So here it is.

It’s important to remember that fortunes are nothing more than some inspirational sayings printed on a piece of paper and magically inserted into an odd shaped cookie. Just because your fortune says you’re going to make a lot of money in the near future doesn’t mean you should quit your job and hope your fortune comes true. Fortunes, like many other things in life (and our careers) are what we make of them. With that being said, here are our 6 fortunes from that Sunday afternoon and explanations of how you can make the most of them:

    1. You will soon be honored by someone you respect.

    First off, think of the people you respect. Maybe it’s your mom and dad, your significant other, your boss, another coworker, or a professor. Look for opportunities to impress these people and you will be honored in one way or another.

    2. Speak less of your plans – you will get more of them done.

    It’s great to talk about what you’re going to do, but as the saying goes “talk is cheap.” Put your words into action and start doing the things you say you’re going to do.

    3. Your nurturing instincts will expand to include many people.

    This one was especially relevant for my Fiancé who is an aspiring 1st grade teacher (a damn good one at that) looking to run her own classroom in the near future. We may not think we’re nurturing, but we are. Look for opportunities to prove it.

    4. You will do better in real estate than in stocks.

    This may very well be true. I pay very close attention to the stock market and I can say this is probably one of the most volatile markets since the Great Depression. On a similar note, the real estate market has taken a huge hit, but I do think we’ve come very close to the bottom and things will get better in the next few years. I know I recently bought a house because I wanted to take advantage of the current situation.

    5. Your talents will prove to be especially useful this week.

    This goes back to identifying our skills. Were all uniquely good at something, so find somewhere to apply your skills this week. Trust me, you will get noticed.

    6. Your goal will be met in two months.

    Again, we’ve discussed goal setting in the past. Now it’s time to figure out which one you think you can accomplish in the next two months and really strive to achieve it. You can do it!

So next time you get a fortune, take it seriously and remember to make the most of it. Who knows, maybe your fortunes will come true!

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Categories: Success

Are You About to Get Fired? 7 Ways to Help You See It Coming

March 8, 2011 7 comments

fired laid off layoff office clean out boss managerOn my way to work this morning, I was listening to Chris Payne on our local alternative radio station.  In between songs, Chris updates his listeners on recent breaking news.  This morning he discussed in detail the University of Nevada, Reno’s proposed $26 million budget cut.  He ironically followed this discussion with the following questions: “Has your boss’s behavior towards you changed recently?  Has your boss stopped praising you for jobs well done?  Does it seem like your boss favors other coworkers now?  Watch out!  You’re probably about to get fired!”

Hearing this made me think of this whole idea of Professional Diversification and preparing for uncertain times.  In order to help you prepare, you have to be aware of the warning signs that you might be weeks or even days away from being laid off.  Some organizations announce layoffs, downsizing, or restructuring, which should immediately perk up your ears.  But other times, the warning signs can be very subtle and are often times overlooked.  Why?  Because we don’t want to believe it could happen to us.  The fact of the matter is it’s better to start preparing for the next step before you get fired, so the amount of time you spend unemployed is minimal.

I looked up the article Chris Payne was referring to during his morning show and I wanted to share the list with you and some questions that might help you decide if you might be next on the list:

    1. There’s been a “change” in your boss’s behavior towards you.

    When you walk by your boss in the morning, does he/she make eye contact or say good morning?  Did he/she do this in the past?

    2. One-on-ones are consistently canceled.

    Is your boss becoming harder and harder to get a hold of?  Does he/she never seem to have time to discuss things with you anymore?

    3. Your boss has a new attention to detail.

    Is your boss all of the sudden interested in the way you do your job?  Does he/she check up on you throughout the day to make sure you’re getting your work done?

    4. No more talks about planning and the future.

    When you first started, did you talk with your boss about your goals and what his/her plans were for you?  Have those conversations ceased?

    5. The “insider” stops talking to you.

    Has “Mr. Know-It-All” stopped talking to you?  You know, the person that knows everything that’s going on with your boss.  Do you feel like office rumors are last to get to you or never get to you at all?

    6. HR doesn’t have time for you.

    Do your requests go unanswered?  Is it hard to get a hold of HR?  Was it any different in the past?

    7. Your complaints get answered with, “You’re right.”

    Have you ever gone into your boss’s office to express distress with a situation?  Maybe your job isn’t challenging enough?  Maybe you’re having trouble with some of your coworkers?  Does your boss try to convince you otherwise or help you out?  Or does he/she agree, hoping you’ll just quit before they have to let you go?

Scary right?  Don’t worry though, by engaging in Professional Diversification, we can overcome the possibility of being fired.  And as someone commented on the original article, “…when one door closes, another one opens.”

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Webpage Credit:

Chris Payne (@deftonesfreek) on Twitter

Alternative Radio – 100.9 KRZQ

Facebook – The Biggest Little Morning Show

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Signs You’re About to Get Fired

Categories: Career Life