Category Archives: Uncategorized

Six Reasons You’re Not Productive In The Morning (And How To Fix It)

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If you feel tired and demotivated in the first half of your day, you’re not as productive as the morning person in your workplace. Even worse, you may end up taking work home or working overtime as a result.

Thankfully, there’s no need to envy morning people because a change in your habits will lead to you feeling productive and energized in the morning as well. Here are six reasons that contribute to lack of productivity in the morning and what you can do to fix them. Continue reading

Why Most High School Graduates Can’t Manage Money

High school graduation hats high

As a teacher who has worked throughout the educational system I have witnessed the lack of financial instruction provided in our schools. The inadequate financial education that most young people receive, unfortunately, doesn’t always manifest itself until years down the road. Market Watch states that more than 60 percent of American adults have less than $1,000 in savings and no cash for emergencies. An insufficient understanding of basic money management principles is having a profound impact on the long term financial stability of millions of Americans. The following information discusses why financial classes are generally not being offered, the impact this is having on America’s financial practices, and solutions to this growing problem.

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Business Insurance: What You Need to Know

Destroyed building remains from a fire blaze

 

25% of businesses that encounter a disaster—whether it be a fire or a lawsuit—never reopen their doors. It’s a sobering statistic, and one that should leave business owners questioning their own insurance coverage. Whether you run a small business or a large corporation, having business insurance is a must for protection and added peace of mind in the event of a disaster. Unfortunately, many business owners lack an understanding of this type of coverage and don’t know the first steps to protecting their own businesses.

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3 Common Financial Mistakes Businesses Make and How To Avoid Them

 

Female Stall Holder At Farmers Fresh Food Market

Starting a business is exciting.  Suddenly, you are pursuing your dream and hoping to make money in the process.  But according to Bloomberg, eight out of ten entrepreneurs who start businesses fail in the first 18-months.  What can be done to prevent your own failure?  Here are three major pitfalls business owners find themselves in.

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A Parent’s 5-Step Guide to Keeping Kids Safe Online

Surprised boy with tablet against a grey background  ** Note: Shallow depth of field

By MJ Plaster

Remember when having “THE Talk” meant telling kids about sex? The last time that happened was probably around the time you were a kid. Today, your child will learn more online and in school than you ever wanted to know about sex, starting as early as kindergarten. The 21st century version of “THE Talk” is about how to stay safe online. It’s up to parents to inform their children of the dangers and to steer them away from danger.

It’s no longer sufficient to move computers to common areas. Kids have phones, tablets, etc. Smart TVs are computers. Wii and other game boxes are computers. There’s no escaping cyberspace now that everything in sight is a computer, so what’s a parent to do to keep their children safe?

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Four Tips For Saving Some Money On Your Next Vacation

7956463764_ee8a14ac1b_zVacations don’t have to break the bank, and with a little planning and organization you can enjoy yourself while saving money.

The extra money you save on your vacation might even allow you to extend your stay a few extra days or buy extra gifts for friends and family for when you return.

Most people lose money on a vacation through a lack of planning. The most expensive aspects of a vacation are transportation, booking hotels, tours and food. If you can employ some basic tips to cut costs on these areas, you’ll have more money to spend on sightseeing activities.

Transportation

If you’re driving your own car, you can save a substantial amount of money on the cost of a taxi or other forms of transportation. Unfortunately, driving a car in a big city also means high parking fees and the hassle of trying to find parking in busy tourist areas.

One way to cut fees is to use your car to get you to the destination and visit remote attractions only. Once you arrive, go to the train or bus station and inquire about an all-day pass to get you easily around town during your stay.

Avoid taking taxis as much as possible and you can save enough money for an extra meal each day.

Booking Hotels and Tours

The real secret to booking a hotel is to simply book early enough. Hotels fill up the closer you get to the reservation data.

While most people know that you can save money by booking in advance, if you purchase all of your airfare, tour packages and hotels in one package, you stand to save a significant amount of money.

For example, mid-April is a prime time to visit Kyoto in Japan. If you try to book a hotel for those dates, you’re going to end up spending a hefty sum of money if you can find accommodations.

The Shinkansen is a bullet train that travels at super-high speeds across Japan. If you book a package through a tour company that sells Shinkansen tickets, you can often get your transportation costs, a one- or multi-day sightseeing package and a hotel for less than what you would pay for the hotel by itself.

Envelope System

Before you leave for your vacation, create envelopes for all your money. It may sound silly, but create an envelope that has the money for your lodging, transportation, souvenirs and any attractions you wish to see.

Create separate envelopes for your food and miscellaneous budgets, and make sure to create one for each day. On each day of the trip, pull out the money from your food and miscellaneous budget and put it in your wallet or purse.

If there is left over money at the end of the day, you can put it aside or add it to the next day’s funds. This will help you stay on budget and control your spending.

Never Take the First Offer

When you visit an attraction, or a sight-seeing event there are often booths and other stores lined up waiting to take your money. If someone offers you a discount on their product, the chances are good it’s because they know further on down the road is another store that sells their product for less.

Don’t take the first offer on anything you see, and you’ll likely save money. Remember that most people lose money on souvenirs and purchases simply because they don’t know what’s available.

If you take the time to look around and don’t get pressured into buying anything, you can make the right decision about how to spend your funds.

Photo: Kevin Dooley / CC 2.0

12 Killer Tips to Slay the College Debt Monster

One Hundred Dollar Bills

By MJ Plaster

To finance a college education today requires a paradigm shift. Parents and students have to work together to combine as many opportunities as possible to save money on college. If you have a teenager, you probably earned a significant portion of your tuition when you were in college. Today’s minimum-wage jobs hardly make a dent in the cost of a bachelor’s degree, but “easy money” has made student loans available to anyone who wants them—at a cost. If this isn’t what you have in mind for your child, keep reading because we’ll look at a combination of techniques to reduce the cost of a college education. Before we dive into cost-cutting measures, let’s look at the true cost of higher education.

The Sky-High Cost of College

Average annual costs for tuition and fees for the 2014–15 academic year published by CollegeBoard.org:

  • Public, two-year college (local) – $3,347
  • Public, four-year, in-state institution – $9,139
  • Public, four-year, out-of-state institution – $22,958
  • Private, nonprofit, four-year private institution – $31,231

Room and board runs an additional $7,700–$11,000 per year.

What Does a College Education Buy?

Not enough apparently: In a recent CNBC article, “Why Johnny can’t write, and why employers are mad,” we discover that some employers have to provide remedial education in basic communication skills to new hires. When high schools changed their focus from education to training, common sense, critical thinking and communication skills got lost in the shuffle. Coincidentally, those are the skills required to advance beyond an entry-level position in today’s workplace—with or without a degree.

Employers want competent employees they don’t have to train in the basics, not graduates with transcripts filled mostly with classed such as “Getting Dressed,” Princeton; “Philosophy and Star Trek,” Georgetown; and “Cyberporn and Society,” State University of New York at Buffalo.

12 Tips to Finance College Without Breaking the Bank

Pick and choose the tips that work for you. All roads lead to savings, and by combining them, you’ll stretch your college dollar further.

1. College credit for high school AP courses

Encourage your child to enroll in high school Advanced Placement (AP) classes. AP classes earn college credits and cover a broad range of topics.

2. Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA)

Whether you help your child apply for a loan, a grant or a scholarship, it all starts with filing a FASFA form. This financial statement enables the federal government to calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) toward education for students who qualify for federal assistance.

3. Grants and scholarships

Combine need-based scholarships and grants such as the Pell grants, Hope scholarships, etc., with merit-based and nontraditional scholarships and grants to help finance the remaining tab. Start your search at CollegeScholarships.org. Apply for need-based opportunities even if you think you don’t qualify because the calculation formulas are obtuse and largely undecipherable.

4. Community colleges and fee waiver programs

Every state has a different name for their free, fee-waiver or means-tested community college programs. Type “free community college [your state]” into your favorite browser. Many states also have guaranteed acceptance into four-year schools upon completion of a two-year community college program. Again, the names vary, so search for “guaranteed acceptance to four-year college [your state].”

5. Online courses

Many colleges and universities offer online courses, which eliminate room and board and/or reduce commuter costs. Some offer degree courses entirely online. I have a friend who is earning a Ph.D. through distance learning.

6. In-state tuition for out-of-state colleges

States have formed regional alliances to offer in-state tuition to neighboring states. Qualifications vary widely; learn more by visiting your regional alliance:

7. FREE college

Check out Time magazine’s article on 22 free college opportunities. Some of the schools require students to work for their room and board, some offer mean-tested free admissions to students who qualify academically, and some offer free tuition for talented students.

8. MOOCs

There’s a new sheriff in town, and her name is MOOC (short for Massive Online Open Courses). These courses are the same ones taught in the most hallowed halls across the globe, but MOOCs do not offer traditional degrees. Classes are taught as self-paced eLearning or as interactive experiences. MOOCs are offered in most areas of study including science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses. The most popular MOOCs offering bona fide college-level courses include:

View a comprehensive list of MOOC sites at Top5OnlineColleges.org, and combine this tip with the next one.

9. Tests for college credits

For a small fee per test, students can rack up more college credits by taking CLEP and DSST exams. Some students eliminate two years from their four-year degree programs. Before students take a CLEP or DSST exam, they must ensure their college or university grants credit for the test. Ask the admissions office what additional tests the college or university offers.

10. Internship programs

Earn a stipend and/or college credits for internships. Search for “paid internships programs” “college credit internship programs” to find internship portals on the Internet. Even more important, internships provide an easier entrée into a job right after graduation due to the experience gained.

11. Tax deductions and tax credits

Tax deductions reduce taxable income, and tax credits reduce the amount of taxes paid on net income (gross income minus deductions). Alltuition.com explains the options in plain English.

12. Military service

Military members and veterans are eligible for a host of military education benefits.

Need More Help?

Between AP classes, MOOCs, CLEP, DSST, state programs, waivers and community college, no one earning a bachelor’s degree should have to pay for more than two years of an undergraduate degree. Grants and scholarships can chisel away more of the expense, leaving student loans as a last resort rather than the first, easy option. Edvisors.com can walk you through myriad options for college financial planning.

If you can’t finance a college education outright, you can reduce the cost of student loans by combining the techniques above. Further, free eLearning is opening doors that were once closed to those without a degree. Nothing lasts forever, so take advantage of these tips while the getting’s good.