Category Archives for "Kids and Money"

Solo-preneuring™: Get Paid to Do What You Love to Do

I just ran across a web site called the Idea Lady. In this site, Cathy Stucker, aka the Idea Lady, has various articles about business, one of which is reprinted immediately below in its entirety.

Solo-preneuring™: Get Paid to Do What You Love to Do
by Cathy Stucker, IdeaLady.com
Copyright 2003, Cathy Stucker

Do you look forward to going to work every day? Do you enjoy your work so much that you can’t imagine doing anything else? If so, don’t read any further. But if you’ve noticed that Monday through Friday the clocks seem to run slower than they do on the weekends, read on to learn how you can get paid to do work you love.

It is generally believed that you have only two choices when it comes to earning your living: you can be an employee of someone else, or you can start a business and have others working for you.

As an employee, you have to perform up to the expectations of others — your bosses. That means working the hours they set, and doing the work they give you, in the way they tell you to do it. In exchange, you get the security of a regular paycheck. Of course, we’ve all seen in the last few years that there is nothing secure about anyone’s paycheck.

Entrepreneurs work on their terms, but that doesn’t mean they have it easy. Launching a business requires a commitment of time and money, and may take all of both that the entrepreneur can scrape together. Often, the entrepreneur has not gone from slave to master, but has merely traded one master (the boss) for another (the business).

There is an alternative–Solo-preneuring. The Solo-preneur chooses the work he wants to do. She decides what hours she will work. He is not faced with the pressures of making a payroll, nor does he have to go, day after day, to the same old job. Most importantly, the Solo-preneur controls her own destiny. No other person decides her fate.

Solo-preneuring is getting paid for doing what you love. It is taking control of your work and your life. Solo-preneuring is a form of self-employment, but it is much more. It enables you to integrate your work and your life so that you feel good about what you do for a living.

The Solo-preneur has the best of both worlds–freedom from corporate bondage, without taking on the shackles of responsibility required to run a traditional business. Imagine waking up in the morning excited and happy. And doing work that is so in tune with your talents and interests, that it hardly seems like work to you. That’s what Solo-preneurs do.

The Solo-preneur finds ways to make money doing the things he enjoys, while minimizing or eliminating the tasks he doesn’t want to do. As a Solo-preneur, you may choose to do only one type of work. Or, you may combine two or more related functions (e.g., a desktop publishing business and a mailing service). You may even combine two or more completely unrelated pursuits.

My own experience is a great example. I enjoy teaching and speaking, so I conduct seminars and deliver speeches through my own company, and as a contractor for other companies. Writing is another favorite activity, so I write books and magazine articles.

Most of my traditional business experience is in insurance, and I am a licensed agent. Instead of selling insurance, though, I do contract enrolling. It allows me to use my insurance background as well as my public speaking skills, and I can accept work when I want it.

It’s important to remember that there aren’t a lot of rules about Solo-preneuring. The key is flexibility. Your enterprise can be as big or as small as you wish. You may start out small and grow to a large enterprise employing many others, or you may keep it small enough that you remain the only “employee”. You can pursue it full-time or part-time, or even in your spare time for extra income while you work at a traditional job.

The secret to success is starting small (without a lot of up front expense) and adding new profit centers to build your income.

In every other area of your life it seems that people will advise you not to “put all of your eggs in one basket”. No financial advisor would recommend putting all of your savings in only one investment. But when it comes to the key to providing financial security for you and your family, everyone from friends to a guidance counselor to your mom will tell you to go find a good job and stay with it. If that’s not putting all your eggs in one basket, then what is? We’ve all learned that the days of getting a job right out of school, staying there for 40 years, then collecting a gold watch at retirement are over. The work force is changing rapidly. And many people have found themselves pushed out of a company just when they need the job most.

The answer does not lie in the advice given to entrepreneurs, either. The entrepreneur is told to take all his time and money and put it into one concern. Think of nothing else, work on nothing else, and focus completely on making that one venture a success. The reality is that, even with that dedication, a large percentage of entrepreneurial companies do not succeed. So the entrepreneur is left with nothing after working night and day.

And whether you are an employee, an entrepreneur or a Solo-preneur, you will find that business cycles impact you. Various types of businesses are impacted differently by these business cycles. If you operate more than one venture, each will react differently to change. One may slow down while another picks up. In this way you are not going to lose all of your income because of changes in the economy.

Don’t tie your success to one job, one customer, or even one line of work. Be flexible and follow your wishes and dreams. Start one venture, get it rolling, then start another. The time and energy to manage multiple ventures will be there for you, because the work itself will energize you.

Do you remember The Ed Sullivan Show? Ed often had performers who balanced spinning plates atop high sticks. These performers could keep ten or more plates spinning at a time by following a couple of simple principles: Start them one and a time, and tend each one as necessary. Think of Solo-preneuring that way. Start small, then build on your successes. Keep the whole thing in motion by tending whatever requires your attention today.

If your goal is to make $30,000, you may think that there is nothing you can do that would generate $30,000. That’s probably not true, but instead of looking for one thing you can do to earn $30,000, why not look for three ways to make $10,000? These enterprises may be related or not, you may do all of them part-time throughout the year, or you may do each one for only a short time each year. Whether you want to make $30,000 a year or $300,000 a year, the principles are the same.

Virtually anyone can be a Solo-preneur. The key to your success is having an interest in something and a way to make money with it. Most of us can easily identify our interests, so the next step is to determine how to make money with them. Once you start, the problem will not be coming up with ideas to generate income, it will be finding the time to put them all into action!

What Can You Do?
You have skills and abilities that others do not. We often undervalue the things we know and what we can do, thinking, “If I can do it, anyone can.” Well, “anyone” can’t. Maybe you are an excellent cook, or a Civil War buff, or you know all about computers. Whatever your knowledge or skills, they are of value to other
s. All you have to do is figure out how to package and market them.

Ask yourself:
What do I know that others don’t?
What can I do that others can’t?
What will I do that others won’t?
What can I do for others less expensively than they can do it for themselves?

Be open-minded and creative. You may not immediately see how to turn your interest into a profit center, but try looking at it from a different perspective. If you know how to make the world’s best cheesecakes, one option would be to bake and sell your cheesecakes. But how else could you use that skill to generate income? You could write and self-publish a cookbook of cheesecake recipes. Or you could teach a class on making the perfect cheesecake. There are probably many other ways that you could think of once you open your mind to the possibilities.

Get Started Now!
The best time to start is always now. Stop saying that “someday” you will take charge of your life and do what you have always wanted to do. Get out your calendar and look at every page. Do you see anything labeled “someday”? I didn’t think so. “Someday” is a code word for “never.” Don’t wait for the kids to go to school, or finish school, or move out. Don’t wait for the day when you have more money, or more time, or more whatever. And don’t think that you are too young or too old, not smart enough, or creative enough, or somehow not good enough to do this. There will always be more to learn and do, so don’t think that everything has to be perfect when you start.

How can you get started? An ancient Chinese proverb says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Take that single step today. It might be as simple as making a phone call to get more information about something that interests you, or you might sign up for a class, register a business name, create a flyer to promote your services, etc. Just pick a step, do it, then go on to the next step.

Want to know more about Solo-preneuring? This article is excerpted from the manual, Solo-preneuring: The Art of Earning a Living Without a Job, the self-help guide for those who want to escape corporate bondage and find success doing work they love. For more information, go to http://www.idealady.com/solobook.htm

NWA’s Top 101 Money-Saving Tips for the Workers It Fired

Below is a list of 101 ways to save money. The ironic thing is that the list was compiled by Northwest Airlines and handed out to the (former) employees the airline just fired. Now, I don’t know about you, but this stunt really seems like it’s rubbing some salt into some really fresh wounds.

Nevertheless, is the list below a viable set of money-saving tips? Some tips seem sound, others not so sound, still others depend on context. What do I mean by context? Take Tip #1. First, context: Taken in winter, this tip seems mostly right. 60 is a bit chilly, but one could wear sweaters, right? But in the summer, this is downright frigid. Actually, one could turn the tables in summer. For example, in winter, you might keep your thermostat at 66 and turn it down to 62 at night. But in winter, you might want to set your thermostat at 78 and turn it up to 82 at night.

The thinking is that you’re asleep and won’t notice the difference. The concept is to save money while sleeping. This means that you do whatever makes sense depending upon the season. In spring, it may not make any difference, since the temperature at night may not fall appreciably enough to make the thermostat/heating/cooling system do anything. Make sense?

Now, take #46. Don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash. Okay, besides being really unpalatable, how many people will be willing to do this? Living in the Bay Area (California), I see people poring through trash every day, looking for a bit of coffee, a piece of bread, a cigarette. But I’d have to get really desperate before I started looking through the trash to nourish myself. I mean really desperate.

Not to mention the filth. Who knows what kind of sludge has touched this scrap food? It’s not only impractical to go through the trash, it’s also very potentially unsafe. Leave this tip to the NWA execs that lose their jobs over offering up this stupid “tip.” (Here’s a tip for you, Mr. CEO: Go dig through your own garbage for food.)

We’ll be sure to revisit this list frequently. There are some good tips in here, many of which can form the basis of a sound money-hacking lifestyle. Also, many can be expanded upon with real money-hacking modifications, such as switching to VOIP (like Vonage or Skype) to save money on phone service.

NWA’s Top 101 Money-Saving Tips

1. Set your thermostat to 64 and turn it down to 60 at night.

2. Use the phone book instead of directory assistance.

3. Use coupons at the grocery store.

4. Carpool.

5. Ask for generic prescriptions instead of brand name.

6. Do your own nails.

7. Rent out a room or garage.

8. Replace 100 watt bulbs with 60 watt.

9. Make long distance calls at night and on weekends, instead of mid-day, mid-week.

10. Throw pocket change in a jar and take it to the bank when it’s full.

11. Always grocery shop with a list.

12. Buy spare parts for your car at a junkyard.

13. Go to museums on free days.

14. Quit smoking.

15. Get hand-me-down clothes and toys for your kids from family and friends.

16. Meet friends for coffee instead of dinner.

17. Request to get interest on a security deposit for your apartment.

18. Take a shorter shower.

19. Write letters instead of calling.

20. Brown bag your lunch.

21. Make your own babyfood.

22. Use public transportation.

23. Drop duplicate medical insurance.

24. Buy old furniture at yard sales and refinish it yourself.

25. Apply for scholarships and financial aid.

26. Exercise for free-walk, jog, bike, or get exercise videos from the library.

27. Form a baby-sitting cooperative with friends and neighbors.

28. Buy your clothes off season.

29. Go to a matinee instead of an evening show.

30. Share housing with a friend or family member.

31. Hang clothes out to dry.

32. Do not use your calling card.

33. Volunteer two hours a month for reduced cost food through the Share Program.

34. Change the oil in your car yourself regularly.

35. Get pre-approval from your medical insurance company before undergoing any procedures or tests.

36. Buy ‘no frills’ vitamins.

37. Take a date for a walk along the beach or in the woods.

38. Make ca
rds and gifts for friends.

39. Shop in thrift stores.

40. Have your water company do an audit so you are not charged sewage fees for water used in your garden.

41. Refinance your mortgage.

42. Grocery shop on double coupon days.

43. Trade down your car for a less expensive, lower maintenance one.

44. Convert your cash value life insurance to term.

45. Shop around for eyeglasses.

46. Don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash.

47. Recycle.

48. Move to a less expensive place to live.

49. Use low flush toilets or water saving devices in the tank.

50. Drop unneeded telephone services like call forwarding or caller ID.

51. Buy fruits and vegetables in season.

52. Avoid using your ATM card at machines that charge a fee.

53. Bicycle to work.

54. Shop around for auto insurance discounts for multiple drivers, seniors, good driving records, etc.

55. Ask your doctor for samples of prescriptions.

56. Borrow a dress for a big night out. or go to a consignment shop.

57. When you buy a home negotiate the sales price and closing costs.

58. Turn the hot water heater down and wrap it with insulation.

59. Never grocery shop hungry.

60. If you qualify, file for Earned Income Credit.

61. Shop around for prescriptions including mail order companies (Medi-Mail 800-331-1458, Action Mail Order Drugs 800-452-1976, and AARP 800-456-2277).

62. If you pay for childcare, make use of the dependent care tax credit or your employer’s dependent care flexible spending account.

63. Buy, sell, and trade clothes at consignment shops.

64. Shop around for the lowest banking fees.

65. Caulk windows and doors.

66. Iron your own shirts.

67. Plan your weekly food menu before shopping.

68. Buy a good used car instead of a new model car.

69. Purchase all of your insurance from the same company to get a discount.

70. Cut your cable television down to basic.

71. Go to an optometrist for routine vision tests or to change an eyeglass prescription.

72. Buy pre-owned toys and children’s books at garage sales.

73. Have potluck dinners with friends and family instead of going out.

74. Use the library for books, video tapes, and music.

75. Inspect clothing carefully before purchasing it.

76. Don’t use your dishwasher dry cycle; open the door and let them air dry all night.

77. At the grocery store, comparison shop by looking at the unit price.

78. Make your own coffee.

79. Use old newspapers for cat litter.

80. Shop at discount clothing stores.

81. Skip annual full mouth x-rays unless there is a problem; the ADA recommends x-rays every 3 years.

82. Water your garden at night or early in the morning.

83. Shop around for long distance rates.

84. Hand wash instead of dry cleaning.

85. Grow your own vegetables and herbs.

86. Shop around for auto financing.

87. Donate time instead of money to religious organizations and charities.

88. If you are leaving a room for more than five minutes, turn off the light.

89. Shop at auctions or pawn shops for jewelry and antiques.

90. Keep your car properly tuned.

91. Request lower interest rates from your creditors.

92. Trade in old books, records, and CDs at book and record exchanges.

93. Pay bills the day they arrive; many credit card companies charge interest based on your average daily balance.

94. Buy software at computer fares.

95. Search the internet for freebies.

96. Compost to make your own fertilizer.

97.If your car has very little value, you probably only need liability insurance.

98. Cut the kids hair yourself.

99. Increase your insurance deductible.

100. Buy in bulk food warehouses.

101. If your income is low, contact utility companies about reduced rates.

Site where I found the list.

Personal Finance Basics 101 Part 1

Let’s start with the basics for a sound financial “plan” (plan is in quotes because neither this post nor this site has any hope of addressing a proper financial plan — as done by a professional).

First and foremost, earn more than you spend. Ideally, you would set some money aside each month for a rainy day fund, a retirement fund, a college fund (if you have children or one day think you might), and a maintenance fund (fridge goes on the blink, car refuses to start, bathroom sink springs a leak, etc.). It can be small amounts, either in percentages or in dollar terms, but still, set some money aside.

At the very least, do this:

  1. Put 10% of your gross income in a retirement account of some sort, preferably in a mutual fund family like Vanguard, Fidelity, or T. Rowe Price (many from which to choose).
  2. Have funds available to you equal to 6 months worth of income. Most professionals will tell you to have 6 months worth of income available as liquid cash (i.e., a bank account or money market mutual fund). Some of the more practical professionals will tell you “liquid funds,” which could mean a credit card. This is how I operate. Now, I do have some money socked away in a savings account, but it certainly isn’t equal to 6 months of my income. However, I have way more available credit than that, and I don’t ever expect to have to use it. It’s there for a rainy day.

So, to recap: 10% in a retirement vehicle and have access to the equivalent 6 months of income.

If you don’t do or have either of these, don’t do anything else until you do.

The reason you pay your bills every month and conveniently neglect to save anything is because you put a priority on paying your bills. Change your thinking: Put a priority on paying yourself first. Check out (from the library! — money-saving tip alert) David Bach’s excellent book, Automatic Millionaire for great tips on finding ways to do this by automation.

About Me

My name is Bill and I have been collecting money hacks since 1966.

After getting my degree in Economics, I entered adulthood, out on my own for the very first time. I got a job, an apartment, and a car, racked up some debt, and paid it down. Living in the now didn’t really prepare me for what was to come: My Future.

Fast forward 20 years and I find myself with a mortgage, 3 cars, two kids, what I consider to be a well-paying job, and I can barely make ends meet.

Thus, my entry into finding ways to save, invest, and earn money. I hope to bring you unique, relevant, and useful information. Feel free to contact me at billspaced@money-hacks.com or on Twitter with suggestions for improving the site, questions, tips, tricks, or money hacks you’ve discovered, or anything else that comes to mind on the topic that concerns us all: MONEY.

After all, money does make the world go ’round.

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