How-To Guide http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/12013/all en-US New Credit Card Rules: Who Really Benefits? http://www.wisebread.com/new-credit-card-rules-who-really-benefits <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/new-credit-card-rules-who-really-benefits" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/navigating_small_business_rewards_cards_photo.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>By the time you imbibe these words with your eyes it will be easier to pay your credit card bill, easier to run up your bill, and easier to absolve yourself the responsibility of charging your card to the max.</p> <p>As a preface, some of the <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOFKXu7F37w&amp;feature=player_embedded">new credit card reform rules that passed</a> earlier this week did eliminate some very annoying and predatory business practices designed to line the pockets of credit card companies, and that&rsquo;s a good thing.</p> <p>Practices such as randomly increasing interest rates on outstanding balances, double-cycle billing, or carry-over balance billing are shady at the very least and outright usury at the most.</p> <p>That said, it's a misnomer to, for lack of a better term, bill this as a victory for the people, to label what is essentially a passive bailout, reform. Yes it&rsquo;s a misnomer &mdash; not quite a farce, but the word reform is not quite accurate either.</p> <p>Let&rsquo;s look at some of the fine points of the ruling, which at the end of the day is really meant to encourage you to go back into the store to get the GI Joe with the Kung-Fu grip; or take that vacation that you can&rsquo;t afford to take; or go ahead and charge that engagement ring because after all, the best things in life are free and diamonds are forever.</p> <p><strong>Credit card issuers can&rsquo;t randomly or just up and slap new interest rates on you.</strong> This is good because you can pay your bill and budget when you can pay and how much you pay without having cartoon eyes in the next billing cycle.</p> <p><strong>Credit card companies must give at least a month and a half (45 days) notice of any changes in card terms.</strong> This is positive because cardholders who don&rsquo;t like the new terms should do what they should in most cases do anyway &mdash; pay off the balance and cut the card up.</p> <p><strong>Cardholders cannot be charged over-credit-limit fees unless the cardholder authorizes an over-limit transaction</strong><span style="font-weight: bold;">.</span> Unless it&rsquo;s literally a matter of life or debt, this shouldn&rsquo;t apply to you. You don&rsquo;t need those new Jet Skis and it won&rsquo;t kill you to keep <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-em-this-season">paragraph-paragraph</a> passing that Kindle until the price comes down.</p> <p><strong>Credit card companies must state their rules clearly and tell customers how long it will take to pay off their balance.</strong> This is good in spirit but any cardholder who says they read fully the terms of their card contract &mdash; that is unless they&rsquo;re a lawyer or a scholar in the ancient language of <em>Bureaucratese Latin</em> &mdash; is fibbing, maxed out, or both. Nonetheless, the closer to plain English &mdash; probably won&rsquo;t say &ldquo;do not use this plastic card unless you produce more than you consume&rdquo; &mdash; the better for &ldquo;victims&rdquo; who find themselves in the hole.</p> <p><strong>Card companies can&rsquo;t push up rates in the first year.</strong> This leaves room for 45 days notice on increased rates and room for interest rates to go up in the second and third year to push interest up after you charged that electronic step ladder and later decided to hire a roofer.</p> <p><strong>Credit card payments that are more than the minimum must now to be charged to senior debt.</strong> This has nothing to do with High School, College, or Grand Slam breakfasts at Denny's. What it means is that the older or most pressing consumer debt with the highest interest rate will be where your $30 bucks on your $2700 balance goes, instead of just paying for interest and late fees. Like the &ldquo;over-limit transaction&rdquo; rule, if you&rsquo;re a beneficiary of this you&rsquo;ve already done way too much.</p> <p><strong>Credit card companies cannot charge interest if debt is paid on time.</strong> This is the most sensible rule of all, and shame on credit card issuers who were doing otherwise.</p> <p><strong>Issuers must get the signature of a parent or guardian when extending credit to consumers under the age of 21.</strong> This is a great idea but probably still won&rsquo;t stop college kids from going to the ATM with their credit cards or using branded cards.</p> <p>In the end, the Obama administration will get a pat on the back for fighting for the little guy, but these are new rules encourage you to come back once again and spend what you don&rsquo;t have. They also don&rsquo;t apply to what you&rsquo;ve already spent, which you didn&rsquo;t have.</p> <p>Unfortunately, credit as originally intended, used to be a financial tool for the industrious, used for business growth, as a promissory note against gold or something tangible. This credit model is no more. There are credit markets where you can trade debt for debt ,even trade based on the probability that a third-party will be a deadbeat. Face value for face value is no more in this system of credit.</p> <p>It used to be that credit was used as a deferred payment through promise designed to spur risk and motivate borrowers to produce. Now as our unemployment, savings rates, and consumer debt levels suggest, credit has in more modern times been used by the upper class to hold everybody for ransom. The upper middle and middle class have used credit to pay off other debt and laugh heartily at the neighbor who has the Range Rover 4.0 instead of the Range Rover 4.6. The lower middle class and working poor has used credit to float ourselves as we look for better opportunities or pay our way through college or look for a new job but still want to fell &ldquo;alive&rdquo; via our purchases and in some cases, unemployed nights on the town.</p> <p>To be sure, these new rules may be a good crusade, but what many or perhaps not enough are wondering aloud, is whether the new rules will encourage the same behavior that made them necessary in the first place.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jabulani-leffall">Jabulani Leffall</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-credit-card-rules-who-really-benefits">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-your-credit-limit-raised">Getting Your Credit Limit Raised</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/need-a-game-to-learn-to-manage-your-credit">Need a game to learn to manage your credit?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-get-taken-by-the-latest-secure-credit-card-scam">Don&#039;t Get Taken by the Latest Secure Credit Card Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-you-determine-someones-creditworthiness-by-his-or-her-looks">Could you determine someone&#039;s creditworthiness by his or her looks?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Credit Cards consumers credit How-To Guide interest rates Wed, 24 Feb 2010 15:00:02 +0000 Jabulani Leffall 5426 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Prevent Identity Theft http://www.wisebread.com/identity-theft/prevent-identity-theft <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/identity-theft/prevent-identity-theft" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000006931489XSmall.jpg" alt="Secret" title="Secret" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="169" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Identity theft is a growing concern: with surprisingly little information, a thief can do lasting harm to your <a title="Wise Bread's Guide to Credit Scores" href="http://www.wisebread.com/debt/credit-scores">credit score</a> and bank accounts. However, there are steps that you can take to both protect your personal information, as well as handle a situation of identity theft. It's important to be vigilant about your financial privacy; taking steps to protect your information now can save you hours of repairing damage down the road.</p> <h2>Keep your personal information personal</h2> <p>There are certain types of information that identity thieves specifically target:</p> <ul> <li>Social Security numbers</li> <li>account numbers</li> <li>passwords</li> </ul> <p>It's a matter of common sense to be careful who has access to these sorts of information, but it's also worthwhile to take steps to protect them. On the most basic level, that can mean controlling who has access to your personal information.</p> <p>A mailbox can be a prime target for someone interested in obtaining your account numbers, as well as a trash can. Using a locked mailbox can help reduce the number of people with access to the bills and other sensitive paperwork you receive on a regular basis. Shredding any paperwork you throw away is a good next step. It isn't enough to just shred those documents you consider sensitive, however. Someone with time on their hands can reconstruct shredded papers. If you make a habit of shredding extra papers, like junk mail, you can make it harder to put your pages back together again. It's also important to keep paperwork like your vehicle registration and insurance forms safe. While you may keep such papers in your car, keep your car locked when you are not in it. Keeping your computer secure is equally important: keep antivirus, spyware, and firewall software up to date and only provide information online to sites and individuals you trust.</p> <p>It has become somewhat common for people to write down passwords and PINs, or store them in their cell phones. This practice can endanger your personal information. If an identity thief was to get your cell phone or any written down passwords, he could breeze through the protections on your accounts meant to limit access only to you. Choose passwords that you can remember &mdash; preferably longer passwords with combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols that cannot easily be guessed.</p> <h2>Don't give out financial or personal information</h2> <p>Many identity thieves make a point of trying to get you to give them your personal information.</p> <p><strong>Phishing scams</strong> are among the most common methods: you may receive emails that look like they're from your bank or another company you do business with. These emails ask you to log in or confirm your information and typically take you to a website that looks identical to the one operated by your bank. In fact, though, it's a scam meant to collect login information in order to get access to your account.</p> <p>There are scammers who also makes phone calls, claiming to be from your bank or other financial institutions, as well as scams run by text messages.</p> <p>Be absolutely sure that you're connecting with the correct company before you enter personal information. Enter website addresses by hand, rather than clicking on links, and only use listed phone numbers when communicating with banks and other financial institutions.</p> <p>Your protective efforts should include your medical insurance. A growing number of scams make use of unauthorized access to health insurance information to get procedures done on someone who is not insured or convince insurance companies to pay for procedures that were never performed.</p> <h2>Keeping an eye out for identity theft</h2> <p>While it's important to take steps to protect yourself against identity theft, it's also important to keep an eye out for signs that your personal information may have been compromised. Because of the increasing frequency of leaks of information on the parts of banks and other companies, it's possible for the wrong person to wind up with your information even if you do everything right.</p> <p>One of the best steps you can take is to go over your credit report and bank statements on a regular basis, checking for any incorrect information. Dispute anything that is incorrect; you may even catch the first sign that someone has stolen your identity this way, which will make the matter a lot easier to clean up.</p> <h2>What to do if your identity is stolen</h2> <p>If you discover that your identity has been stolen, there are steps you need to take immediately in order to repair the damage. The first step you should take is to make a report to the local police in your area. Depending on your state, you may also be able to file a report with your state's attorney general. Because many identity thefts are not actually a local matter, you will need to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which maintains <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/">a page dedicated to identity theft</a>.</p> <p>Once you have filed reports with the appropriate authorities, you'll need to close each account that the thief had access to. Keep track of each conversation you have with the companies that hold those accounts &mdash; you'll need to contact them first by phone and then by certified letter in most cases. You should receive written notification once fraudulent charges have been removed from your accounts. If you do not receive verification, you may need to provide further proof to the company in order to have the charges erased.</p> <p>You should also go through your credit report and dispute any incorrect information or fraudulent accounts opened by a thief. It can take time to do so, but waiting makes them harder to dispute. You can order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, as well as place a freeze on your credit reports. A freeze makes it impossible for anyone to request a copy of your credit report which, in turn, means that no one (including you) can open an account in your name while the freeze is in place.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-bram">Thursday Bram</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/identity-theft/prevent-identity-theft">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-your-own-identity-what-to-do-when-yours-is-stolen">Get Your Own Identity! What to do when Yours is Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debt/credit-scores">Credit Scores</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-credit-report-mistakes-that-could-be-costing-you-big">4 Credit Report Mistakes That Could Be Costing You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-unexpected-benefits-of-secured-credit-cards">6 Unexpected Benefits of Secured Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-to-never-keep-in-your-wallet">5 Things to Never Keep in Your Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs credit history credit report How-To Guide identity theft Fri, 08 Jan 2010 04:33:47 +0000 Thursday Bram 6320 at http://www.wisebread.com Stretch Out a Small Space http://www.wisebread.com/stretch-out-a-small-space <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stretch-out-a-small-space" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000010097320XSmall.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You&rsquo;ve finally found the space of your dreams, only it&rsquo;s not as spacious as it ought to be and now you don&rsquo;t know how you&rsquo;re going to fit all your goodies into the digs. In fact, the more you look at your space, the more you wonder how you even imagined you could fit everything into it, including yourself. Have no fear. There are tried and true design tips that work, regardless of the size of your room or apartment.</p> <h3>Pare down to just the basics</h3> <p>Deciding what you can&rsquo;t live without in your room and then working around that is your first step to pepping up a little space. It&rsquo;s especially important in small rooms to stick to the basics. In a bedroom, that would include the bed and probably a dresser. In an office, that would be the desk and a bookshelf which could double as a printer and photocopier stand. You might need to find different furniture or sell your old furniture to make it work.</p> <h3>Lighten it all up</h3> <p>The simplest thing to do is to brighten up your room. Keeping your curtains open and light streaming in creates the illusion of more space. Adding lamps helps too. A few here and there create focal spotlights at night. Another great trick is to add brighter bulbs to the room. General Electric, for instance, offers a great line of bulbs called Reveal that filter out the yellow rays and filter in clean, bright light, which is great for winter months in darker places.</p> <h3>Arrange furniture on a diagonal</h3> <p>You can create a visual distraction by arranging furniture on a diagonal. It breaks up the monotony of furniture lining the walls and creates a cool storage space right behind the furniture. I once stuff all of my unpacked boxes, sporting stuff I didn&rsquo;t need, behind a dresser I put on a diagonal in my studio apartment. You couldn&rsquo;t even see them unless you looked behind the dresser.</p> <h3>Pick a focal point</h3> <p>This is one of my favorite aspects of interior decorating: finding the perfect centerpiece for a room. What&rsquo;s the most eye-catching, in a good way, piece in your living room? Making that the focal point will liven up your space. If you have a stellar view of the mountains from your dining room, point the table in that direction. Similarly, if you have an amazing painting in your bedroom, put the bed right across from it. It gives you something to look at and makes the room pop.</p> <h3>Vary the textures in a space</h3> <p>All wood floors with all wood furniture makes for a dull room. But tossing a few Oriental or Mexican rugs on the floor can jazz it up. In a bedroom, you can add some solid colored pillows on top of a patterned comforter to break things up. Or silk pillows on top of a cotton bedspread. If you have a lot of pottery on the bookshelves as decoration, maybe you want to add some interesting photos in handmade frames in between pieces. The idea is to break up the monotony and add variety to the space. There are lots of options. Play around with them until you find the ones you like the best.</p> <p><em>These simple tricks can make your space feel like more and add some flair to your room. What are some ways you've managed to make the most of a small space?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sasha-a-rae">Sasha A. Rae</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stretch-out-a-small-space">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheap-ways-to-display-your-art">How to Cheaply Display Your Art</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/off-the-wall-21-clever-uses-for-leftover-wallpaper">Off the Wall: 21 Clever Uses for Leftover Wallpaper</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-kids-room-look-awesome-for-under-100">How to Make Your Kids Room Look Awesome for Under $100</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-online-resources-for-the-design-impaired">Top 5 Online Resources for the Design Impaired</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-awesomely-fun-toys-you-can-diy">15 Awesomely Fun Toys You Can DIY</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY home decorating How-To Guide interior design Thu, 17 Dec 2009 15:00:14 +0000 Sasha A. Rae 4084 at http://www.wisebread.com College Financial Aid Options http://www.wisebread.com/college/financial-aid <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/college/financial-aid" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000006052290XSmall.jpg" alt="College graduation" title="College graduation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>College financial aid is money that students can use to pay for their college tuition, books and supplies, and living costs. With millions of parents and college students being financially unable to pay for college &mdash; especially in these difficult economic times &mdash; financial aid can be the only way to a college education.According to <em>The College Board</em>, more than $140 billion was given to students in financial aid between 2007 and 2008.It&rsquo;s important for parents and students alike to be familiar with the kinds of financial aid available.</p> <h2>FAFSA</h2> <p>The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, can be found in the high school guidance counselor&rsquo;s office or online. This application is the first step toward finding federal financial aid to attend college. The government, as well as the student&rsquo;s prospective college, will review the application and determine the student&rsquo;s eligibility.</p> <h2>Borrowing Money for College</h2> <p>There are a lot of resources available for parents who need to borrow money for college. Certain types of loans created specifically for this type of need can be applied for, and are easier to repay than personal loans.</p> <h3>Perkins Loans</h3> <p>The <a title="Perkins Loan Program" href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/perkins-loans">Perkins Loan</a> is available for low-income families and students with no other option for attending college. A 5% fixed interest rate is applied, and students don&rsquo;t have to start repaying for nine months after completing college. Students who enroll in certain teaching, military, or public service jobs may be able to have their loans canceled completely, thus obtaining their college education for free.</p> <h3>Stafford Loans</h3> <p>The <a title="Stafford Loan Program" href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/stafford-loans">Stafford Loan</a> comes with a fixed interest rate as low as 5.6%. Low-income students can receive subsidized loans that do not accrue interest until six months after graduation, or the student leaves school. Students can also receive unsubsidized Stafford loans, but interest on the loan accrues immediatelyt. As with the Perkins loan, the FAFSA determines eligibility for low-income students.</p> <h3>Parent PLUS Loan</h3> <p>The <a title="Guide to PLUS Student Loan" href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/parent-plus-loans">Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students</a> (PLUS) is available to families who are not considered low-income, but must have good or excellent credit. The loans pack a fixed 8.5% interest and repayment must start within 60 days of receiving the loan. Some parents may be able to defer the loan until after the student completes college.</p> <h2>Scholarships</h2> <p>Many different types of scholarships are available for students who wish to attend college, but it&rsquo;s important to find the ones you're eligible for. Certain organizations have scholarship money available, such as churches, unions, employers, high school clubs, government organizations and even corporations.</p> <p>Consider scholarships that require minimal effort to apply for, and provide larger amounts of money. Some scholarships will decrease the amount of financial aid students are available to receive, so it&rsquo;s important to choose wisely. If certain prestigious scholarships are within reach of a student, it may be more important to apply for these as opposed to any type of scholarship.</p> <h2>Grants</h2> <p>Grants are sometimes available to certain students, such as minorities, Native Americans, women, and exceptionally talented students. Grants may be available through government organizations or private organizations and citizens. <a href="http://grants.gov/">Grants.gov</a> is a great place to find available grants and apply for them.</p> <h2>Tax Credits</h2> <p>There are two important tax credits parents and students should know about if their adjusted gross income is less than $58,000 a year for single individuals and $119,000 a year for married individuals.</p> <h3>The Hope Credit</h3> <p>This credit can allow individuals to deduct $1,800 from taxes owed, and the credit can be used against student loans that are being paid on. Individuals must have at least $2,400 in college tuition expenses in order to use this credit.</p> <h3>The Lifetime Learning Credit</h3> <p>This credit allows parents to deduct $2,000 for each student attending college and $4,000 for students in midwestern disaster areas. This credit cannot be used if the Hope Credit is being used for the student already.</p> <p>Tax credits are different from deductions in that deductions reduce the amount of taxable income one owes the IRS while tax credits reduce the taxes owed &mdash; dollar for dollar.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s important that parents or students fill out the FAFSA and any financial applications as early as possible. While some deadlines may be in the middle of the year, many types of financial aid are highly competitive and if the applications are not filled out quickly enough, the money can be lost to other students. By understanding the different types of financial aid available to college students, parents and students can determine the best types of aid for their situation.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/staff">Staff</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/financial-aid">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/saving-for-college">How to Save Money for College</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/stafford-loans">Federal Stafford Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/federal-student-loans">Federal Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/parent-plus-loans">Parent PLUS Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/perkins-loans">Federal Perkins Loans</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income college education financial aid How-To Guide student loans Tue, 24 Nov 2009 23:32:48 +0000 Staff 6309 at http://www.wisebread.com Can You Buy Your Way Out of the Rat Race? http://www.wisebread.com/can-you-buy-your-way-out-of-the-rat-race <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-you-buy-your-way-out-of-the-rat-race" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/piggy-bank-saved-for-a-rainy-day.jpg" alt="Piggy bank saved for a rainy day" title="Piggy Bank Saved for a Rainy Day" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="285" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/track-your-spending-or-not">tracking your spending</a>, you know how much money it takes to live on. If you're tracking your investments, you know about how much return you're getting from your capital. With those two numbers, you can get a pretty good estimate of how much money it takes to buy your way out of the rat race.</p> <p>In its simplest form, the cost to buy your way out is just your annual spending divided by the return on your investments. I used to do that calculation a lot. When I got my first job interest rates were in double digits, so I could imagine getting $30,000 or even $40,000 a year &mdash; plenty of money to live on &mdash; from an investment as small as $300,000.</p> <h2>A simple theory</h2> <p>Of course, that model is over-simplified. For one thing, you have to account for the possibility that in some years spending will be higher. (What if you need a new car or a new roof or to send the kids to college?) I knew how to handle that one, though: The same way I was already dealing with it when my income came from a regular job &mdash; covering major expenses by cutting other spending.</p> <p>More fundamentally though, the simple model doesn't account for inflation. And, at the time when interest rates were in double digits, inflation was similarly high. It wasn't a problem you could just handwave away.</p> <p>I spent way more time than it was worth trying to construct a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-do-i-need-to-retire-how-much-can-i-spend">mathematical model for living off capital</a> &mdash; a model that accounted for taxes, provided for reinvesting enough after-tax income to keep me even with inflation, and still paid out enough money for me to live on. All this, mind you, while my net worth (after a student loan) was probably negative.</p> <p>Anyway, that was my first guess at my number: a capital sum of $300,000, properly invested, would yield enough that I wouldn't have to work. That's what it would have cost me to buy my way out of the rat race. Other people have done the same sort of thinking and written whole books about it, and come up with better-researched models for accounting for taxes and inflation. I've written reviews of a couple of good ones: Bob Clyat's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-work-less-live-more"><em>Work Less, Live More</em></a> and Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-your-money-or-your-life">Your Money or Your Life</a>.</p> <h2>The less simple reality</h2> <p>In practice, though, for most people, buying your way out doesn't work out.</p> <p>First of all, it's really expensive. Unless you're extraordinarily frugal, it's still going to cost you tens of thousands of dollars a year to support your household. And (as you can't really count on double-digit returns on your investments), it turns out that you need around a quarter million dollars to stand behind each $10,000 of annual income.</p> <p>More fundamentally though, no amount of capital provides complete security. Your money can be lost any number of ways. The economy could turn down. Even if the economy goes up, your investments could go down. You could lose your money to theft, natural disaster, lawsuits, or government seizure (not to mention simple overspending). You can try to protect against any of those things through a combination of due care and proper insurance, but there's no such thing as perfect protection.</p> <p>Your real protection against those things is your own productive ability &mdash; which is something that can't be stolen, taken in a lawsuit, or seized by the government.</p> <p>Buying your way out of the rat race is a suboptimal strategy. It can work &mdash; people do it all the time, although not very many of them &mdash; but it's hard. It also doesn't leave you so very much better off than you were &mdash; you may be able to quit worrying about losing your job, but you have to start worrying about low interest rates.</p> <p>Now, accumulating some capital is a great idea. In fact, I think everyone should have a medium term goal of accumulating enough capital that the income from their investments could cover their <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emergency-belt-tightening">bare minimum expenses</a>. Once you get beyond that, though, adding more capital starts yielding diminishing returns.</p> <h2>The real way to escape the rat race: Refuse to race with rats.</h2> <p>So, what do you do instead? Basically, invest in your own skills.</p> <p>Improving your skill at the job you already have can help you earn more (important if you don't yet have that basic level of capital), but <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-investment-yourself">developing skills</a> at entirely new things gives you a whole new layer of protection against economic downturns and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-hate-my-job" title="&quot;I Hate My Job&quot; Guide">incompetent managers</a>.</p> <p>Broaden the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/find-work-worth-doing">kinds of work</a> you look for. Don't focus only on finding the highest pay &mdash; look for work that's interesting and that's useful. It's more fun. It's also more secure &mdash; there's only one job that pays the most.</p> <p>Beyond that, learn how to <strong>do</strong>, <strong>make</strong>, <strong>grow</strong>, and <strong>find</strong> things for yourself. To the extent that you can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/opting-out-of-the-money-economy">directly provide</a> the things your family needs, you're not dependent on either your capital or your job.</p> <p>Each of these things improves your security. Taken together, they can give you as much security and freedom as a human being can achieve.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-you-buy-your-way-out-of-the-rat-race">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seven-tips-for-the-newly-unemployed">Seven Tips for the Newly Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-1-losing-a-job">Getting by without a job, part 1--losing a job</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-society-of-fear">A Society of Fear</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/laid-off-what-to-do-before-plunging-into-the-job-search">Laid Off? What To Do Before Plunging Into The Job Search</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Career and Income freedom How-To Guide rat race security Tue, 03 Nov 2009 14:00:01 +0000 Philip Brewer 3785 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Get Laid Off: A Step-By-Step Guide http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-laid-off-a-step-by-step-guide <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-get-laid-off-a-step-by-step-guide" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/907575_56607736.jpg" alt="The Axe" title="The Axe" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It seems ironic in this economy, and with a high unemployment rate, that anyone would want advice about getting kicked from a job. But last week a question was posed to me, and it was genuine &mdash; &ldquo;How do I get laid off?&rdquo;</p> <p>When I dug below the surface of the question, I realized that the person in question was just done with the job (<a href="http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1883614,00.html ">like this</a>), but didn&rsquo;t want to quit outright. Instead, being laid off was a <a href="http://dir.salon.com/story/tech/feature/2001/02/26/can_t_get_laid_off/index.html">more favorable option</a>, with reasons including severance pay, vesting for stock options, contractual obligations, and a much more fitting job opening up soon in another company. Some people even call this the &ldquo;<a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/economy/story/74721.html">no job vacation</a>.&rdquo;</p> <p>In this obviously rare situation, quitting is not ideal. Being <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lost-my-job-tips-for-the-recently-laid-off">laid off</a> is a better solution, but believe it or not, being let go or even &ldquo;fired&rdquo; can be difficult if you&rsquo;ve been doing everything right. You need to change the dynamic. As someone so tactfully explained to me, it&rsquo;s like purposely acting like a jerk in a relationship so that the other person breaks up with you.</p> <p>So, if you&rsquo;re in the awkward position of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-hate-my-job" title="&quot;I Hate My Job&quot; Guide">looking for a way out</a> of your current job, here are some tips I have received from different industry professionals and HR websites that give you a way out without destroying your career. Some are perfectly ethical, others, well you decide for yourself.</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.sxc.hu/pic/m/b/bt/btafly/1051811_exit_sign.jpg" /></p> <p><strong>To start with, the ethical list:</strong></p> <p>1. First and foremost, check in with HR to see what kind of severance pay and other benefits your company offers. You need to know where you stand.</p> <p>2. If all looks well, let HR know that you&rsquo;d volunteer to take redundancy if there was downsizing at the company. Not only are you making life a whole lot easier for HR, you&rsquo;re also planting the seed that you&rsquo;re not 100% committed to the job.</p> <p>3. Let other people take credit for your good work. And, adversely, you can take some of the blame for projects that went wrong. Even if you weren&rsquo;t actually working on it, people love a scapegoat.</p> <p>4. Nurture your own replacement. If you see a bright, shining star with serious ambition, you can let everyone know that they&rsquo;re perfect for your role. A few comments here and there like &ldquo;wow, that Brian kid is one amazing worker&hellip;he&rsquo;s even teaching me a thing or two, and I earn way more than him!&rdquo; OK, well choose your own words, but you get the idea.</p> <p>5. Start using up your remaining vacation time. This is free money and it&rsquo;s also a good way to get noticed for being absent a lot.</p> <p>6. Have a computer? It&rsquo;s time to become a web surfer. Employers really don&rsquo;t like you using the Internet at work to do your shopping and watch movie trailers. Don&rsquo;t be blatant about it, but if Ebay is on the screen whenever your boss walks by, it won&rsquo;t make you look like employee of the month.</p> <p>7. Sleep at your desk during your breaks. Not every day, but dozing off once in a while can certainly help you stand out as a mediocre employee. If you don&rsquo;t have a desk, use the break room or another public place. Remember, there&rsquo;s nothing that says you can&rsquo;t take a nap during your breaks&hellip;it just doesn&rsquo;t look great.</p> <p>8. Renegotiate your salary. It&rsquo;s usually a delicate subject but now, you have nothing to lose. It can give you the confidence to ask for more and you may just get it, giving you a reason to stay. If you have a new job offer, why not take the terms you received at your new job and ask your old job if they will match it?</p> <p>9. Look into employee benefits and start asking thoughtful, insightful questions. For instance, why doesn't your company have a day care program? What&rsquo;s the paternity leave policy? Can I get reimbursement for professional conferences? Start circulating this discussion among other employees. At the very least, you will stand out as a hero to them and, possibly, a thorn in the side of HR.</p> <p>10. Start enjoying every available company perk. If you have employee discount programs, use them often and in large amounts. If you get reimbursed for further education, take lots of classes.</p> <p>11. Talk enthusiastically about additional education and training in a field completely unrelated to your job. For example, if you work at a tech company, talk about how excited you are about getting your new real estate license.</p> <p>12. The most important rule, and the simplest: Do the minimum. Be less than you can be. You should never be exceeding expectations if you&rsquo;re looking for a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-re-fired-20-signs-that-a-pink-slip-is-coming">pink slip</a>. As I heard once, &ldquo;she had delusions of mediocrity.&rdquo; So should you. This is a surefire way to place your head on the layoff chopping block, and when used with another tip from above, it could get you the pink slip and severance package you&rsquo;re looking for.</p> <p>Now, I also got a whole lot more tips that were phrased as &ldquo;more sketchy&rdquo; ways to get laid off or fired. I would say some of them are unpleasant, others just plain rude. I would also say that this is a list of <strong>things you should avoid</strong> in your quest for the pink slip. This may get you fired, but you don't want to burn a bridge completely that may affect your career later down the road.</p> <p><img src="http://www.sxc.hu/pic/m/b/ba/baikahl/238129_hands_thumbsdown.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>13. Take a look at the code of conduct for your office and begin to bend a few rules, or even break them. Start to mess around with the dress code. Play your music a little louder.</p> <p>14. Create your own, more flexible hours. Turning up five minutes late, taking longer lunch breaks and leaving early shows a nice lack of commitment.</p> <p>15. Redirect your efforts to the wrong places. Spend 8 hours on a pointless task that should take 30 minutes. Rush a job that needs more attention. You&rsquo;re still doing your job, but you&rsquo;re doing it poorly.</p> <p>16. Get noticed for all the wrong reasons. If you have a lot of meetings to go to, don&rsquo;t feel afraid to make comments that are completely inane or make no sense at all. You can also say nothing, and spend the whole meeting doodling and staring out of the window. Put you phone on extra-loud and get people to call you all day. Let your appearance go, stop brushing your hair, allow a stain or two to appear on your shirts.</p> <p>17. Be annoying. A great way to do this is to start cornering people with pointless questions that are a waste of time. Spend 10 minutes discussing something that should take 10 seconds. Ask the most obvious questions that you should already know the answers to. Hang around in the coffee room and start long conversations. When people start to avoid you, you&rsquo;re on your way.</p> <p>18. Become the biggest naysayer in history. Now, every idea is a bad idea. Nothing will work. The coffee tastes bad. The boss sucks. No one wants to work with someone so negative, and it puts you at the top of the lay-off pile.</p> <p>19. Stop smiling. Be miserable. Act depressed. Remove yourself from conversations. Use one word answers. If you can&rsquo;t annoy people with your loud music and silly comments, you can get under their skin by being about as much fun as a funeral.</p> <p>20. Start forgetting things. Small things, big things, just have a memory like a cargo net. From meetings you should be at, to vital tasks, this is another surefire way to raise the red flag that your time has come.</p> <p>21. Interrupt people, often, and with nothing more to add. That guy who keeps butting in when you&rsquo;re talking, only to basically repeat what you just said, well maybe he&rsquo;s looking for a way out of the door.</p> <p>22. Memorize a bunch of useless quotes and start repeating them whenever possible, especially if they&rsquo;re out of context. You can make quite an impression in a meeting if you&rsquo;re asked for projected sales figures and instead come back with &ldquo;Like all dreamers, I mistook disenchantment for truth.&rdquo;</p> <p>23. Send emails &ldquo;accidentally&rdquo; to the wrong people, revealing facts and figures that should not have been revealed. If the boss gets an email from you that was clearly meant for someone else, and the contents are less than flattering, that will certainly be a red mark against you. You can also send pointless or personal emails to the whole company instead of just friends, like a funny youtube video or your own ad for a garage sale.</p> <p>24. Be messy. Stop cleaning up after yourself in the break room. Miss the trash can when you throw things away. Leave your office or cubicle looking like the aftermath of a twister. Untidy is one thing. Being a slob is quite another.</p> <p>25. Use the office equipment for personal use, including job searching (obviously not the actual one you&rsquo;re going to). It may even be prudent to leave your resume in the photocopier. And make plenty of personal calls, preferably talking loudly while doing so.</p> <p>26. Do not keep secrets. If the boss tells you something private and personal, and asks you to keep your mouth shut, you may want to let that one slip out.</p> <p>27. Start parking in the reserved spots. It will really bug those people who think a reserved car parking spot is important, and they will most likely be in charge.</p> <p>28. Become a prankster on a daily basis. Whoopee cushions under chairs in the meeting rooms. Fart gas. Glue on the phones. Once is enough, but when you keep doing it you become a disruptive pain.</p> <p>So there you have it; some advice to follow, and even more advice to avoid. Do you have any more tips? Do you think anyone trying to get laid off is just asking for trouble? Let us know. And remember, this is not advice for most of us &mdash; just the few people who desperately want an exit strategy.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-laid-off-a-step-by-step-guide">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-reasons-you-deserve-to-get-fired">12 Reasons You Deserve to Get Fired</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-re-fired-20-signs-that-a-pink-slip-is-coming">You’re Fired! 20 Signs That a Pink Slip is Coming</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-important-signs-that-your-job-sucks">10 Important Signs That Your Job Sucks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-good-reasons-to-become-a-contractor">8 Good Reasons to Become a Contractor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fired-heres-how-to-keep-it-from-hurting-your-career">Fired? Here&#039;s How to Keep It From Hurting Your Career</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building benefits downsizing fired How-To Guide hr pink slip severance Fri, 23 Oct 2009 15:00:03 +0000 Paul Michael 3746 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Save Money for College http://www.wisebread.com/college/saving-for-college <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/college/saving-for-college" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000006195039XSmall.jpg" alt="Saving for college" title="Saving for college" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="223" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The <a title="Calculating the Cost of a College Education" href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/cost-of-college">cost of attending college</a> continues to rise. In order to handle those costs, you may be considering saving for your child's college education long before he or she is ready to enroll in school. There are several different options for building a college fund that will cover part or all of a student's college expenses. It can be confusing to sort through the different savings and investment options. Deciding between alternatives like a prepaid tuition plan or a savings bond isn't always a clear choice.</p> <p>In order to make that decision, it's crucial to understand the options you have, as well as how each option affects your finances now and your child's financial aid when he or she is ready to start college. Section 529 plans, Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, UGMA / UTMA custodial accounts and savings bonds can all be good options when it comes to saving for college, but it's important to find the best option for you and your family.</p> <h2>Section 529 Plans</h2> <p><a title="All About Section 529 Prepaid Tuition and College Savings Accounts" href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/section-529-plans">Section 529 plans</a> offer a way to save money for future college expenses with some very significant tax advantages. There are two types of Section 529 plans. You can choose a prepaid plan, which allows you to purchase tuition credits at today's rates, or you can use a savings plan, which allows you to invest your savings in mutual funds. In either case, when your child is ready to withdraw money from the 529 plan, the withdrawal will not be subject to federal income tax, as long as the money is spent on college expenses.</p> <p>A prepaid plan can be a more useful option if you're taking a long-term approach to saving for college. By saving money through a prepaid Section 529 plan, the biggest benefit comes if the cost of tuition rises significantly. Tuition costs do tend to rise every year, but in the short-term, they may not rise enough to make prepaying tuition the best option. In contrast, a Section 529 savings plan allows you to invest in a mutual fund &mdash; your savings earn money as long as the market is doing well. However, many investments can earn more than those chosen for Section 529 plans. Section 529 plans have low risks associated with them, but also have lower earnings.</p> <p>That low risk comes out of the fact that both types of Section 529 plans are usually run by state governments. Any money you save through a Section 529 plan is generally considered very safe &mdash; the state running the plan would have to go bankrupt for your savings to be in danger. The only safer savings option is a U.S. government bond. Many states offer other incentives for choosing a Section 529 plan, as well. Some states go so far as to offer to match your contributions to your child's Section 529 plan, while others offer deductions or credits on your state income tax return.</p> <h2>Coverdell Education Savings Accounts</h2> <p>Another savings account option is a <a title="All About Coverdell Education Savings Accounts" href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/coverdell-education-savings-account">Coverdell Education Savings Account</a> (also known as a Coverdell ESA or an Education IRA). A Coverdell ESA can offer you more flexibility in saving for college than a Section 529 plan, although there are some limitations. With a Coverdell ESA, you are limited to contributing $2,000 each year to the account. However, you can use money saved in a Coverdell ESA for far more education expenses, including tuition while your child is still in elementary school, middle school, or high school. If you have two or more children, you may find a Coverdell ESA ideal: in the event that one of your children does not need the full amount you've saved for his or her college, you can transfer money to the Coverdell account of another family member.</p> <p>If you plan to save more than $2,000 per year for your child's savings, a Coverdell ESA may not be the best option. However, it does have certain tax advantages that can make it more useful, despite the limits on savings. Any money that you invest grows tax deferred until you're ready to withdraw it &mdash; at which time, you can take it out tax free to use on education expenses. You can also choose investments for your child's Coverdell ESA from a much wider list of choices than for a Section 529 plan. Investments can include stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, which may provide an opportunity for a better rate of growth.</p> <h2>UGMA / UTMA Custodial Accounts</h2> <p>In the past, <a title="All About UTMA and UGMA Custodial College Savings Accounts" href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/utma-ugma-custodial-accounts">Uniform Transfers to Minors and Uniform Gifts to Minors custodial accounts</a> were a popular method to save for college. In order to create an UGMA or UTMA custodial account, you or another relative can open an account in your child's name. You can save money in your child's name and invest it so that it will continue to grow until he or she is ready to begin college. However, there are now few tax advantages associated with using a custodial account, compared to a Section 529 plan or a Coverdell ESA. Until 2006, accounts in a minor's name were taxed at the minor's rate, rather than his or her parents. Now, however, children cannot take advantage of their lower tax rates until they reach the age of 18. You may also face taxes on any earnings from investments in a custodial account, which is not true of other college savings options.</p> <p>There is another drawback to using an UGMA or UTMA custodial account. While colleges do not count Section 529 plans or Coverdell ESAs as assets of a student applying for financial aid, custodial accounts are considered assets. That means that your child would receive less financial aid than may be necessary if the bulk of his or her college savings is in a custodial account.</p> <h2>Series I and Series EE Savings Bonds</h2> <p>While savings bonds do not necessarily provide the largest return on an investment if you're looking to increase the amount of money your child has available for college, they are one of the safest savings options out there. <a title="All About U.S. Savings Bonds for College" href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/college-savings-bonds">Series EE and I bonds</a>, in particular, can be useful in saving for college. When you cash a Series EE or I bond and use the money to pay for college expenses, the money you've earned on the bond is tax exempt, from both federal and state taxation.</p> <p>Buying bonds is one of the simplest ways to save money for college. You don't need to open any kind of investment account in order to purchase a U.S. savings bond. In fact, you can buy them online through <a href="http://www.treasurydirect.gov">TreasuryDirect.gov</a>. If simplicity is important, Series I and Series EE savings bonds may be a useful option for you.</p> <h2>Making the Decision</h2> <p>According to the College Board, the current average cost of a year at a private college is $25,143. That number is projected to continue to rise &mdash; but that doesn't mean that you need to plan to pay all of it. Depending on your child's educational plans, options like attending a public university can bring down the price tag dramatically, as can starting at a two-year school and making the switch to a four-year school later on.</p> <p><a title="College Financial Aid" href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/financial-aid">Financial aid</a> is also available for most families. Currently more than $143 billion is available in financial aid. While it's probably not a good idea to assume financial aid can pay for the full costs of college, it is reasonable to save what you can for your son or daughter's college expenses with the expectation that some student loans and other financial aid options will be available for your child.</p> <p>However, colleges do take any college savings accounts you've used to save money for your child into account when determining how much financial aid to offer him or her. Each school can choose how to handle specific types of accounts. Section 529 plans and Coverdell ESAs are often listed as parental assets, which does allow students to receive more financial aid. UGMA and UTMA custodial accounts are usually considered to be student assets, however, reducing financial aid far beyond what a parental asset might. If you purchase saving bonds in your child's name, those bonds may be considered student assets; however, you can purchase Series I and Series EE savings bonds in your own name and still receive the tax advantages offered by using them for college expenses.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-bram">Thursday Bram</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/saving-for-college">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/coverdell-education-savings-account">Coverdell Education Savings Accounts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/financial-aid">College Financial Aid Options</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/college-savings-bonds">Series I and Series EE U.S. Savings Bonds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/section-529-plans">Section 529 Plans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/utma-ugma-custodial-accounts">UTMA/UGMA Custodial Accounts</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income college education How-To Guide saving for college Wed, 21 Oct 2009 22:49:29 +0000 Thursday Bram 6293 at http://www.wisebread.com Wise Bread's How-To Guides http://www.wisebread.com/guides-book <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's How-To Guides Library. Find tips and resources for personal finance and frugal living.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Get all the personal finance and frugal living resources and tips you need. </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/webmaster">webmaster</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/guides-book">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-important-signs-that-your-job-sucks">10 Important Signs That Your Job Sucks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-laid-off-a-step-by-step-guide">How to Get Laid Off: A Step-By-Step Guide</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-small-businesses-that-are-free-or-cost-little-to-start-up">10 Small Businesses That Are Free or Cost Little to Start Up</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheap-ways-to-display-your-art">How to Cheaply Display Your Art</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-weird-things-people-sell-for-cash">6 Weird Things People Sell for Cash</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> How-To Guide Wed, 21 Oct 2009 22:39:53 +0000 webmaster 3740 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Online Tools to Help You Land a Job http://www.wisebread.com/5-online-tools-to-help-you-land-a-job <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-online-tools-to-help-you-land-a-job" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/55025940_ca38f4e5f2.jpg" alt="networking" title="networking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="200" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Growing up, there seems to be a standard progression from year to year that makes up the path of your childhood into the beginnings of your adult world. Sure, some stray and create their own paths, but the majority of us hold on to the security blanket that is the path.</p> <p>The path I am referring to is from education to job: Elementary school to middle school, then high school, then <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/timeless-tips-for-college-students">college</a>, and finally on to job. This path has been embedded in our mindset growing up, but with the recession in form and the unemployment rate tingling just below 10%, the security of this path from education to job has been threatened and has a lot of college aged kids worried.</p> <p>College graduates of the past year expected to enter the job market in open arms. Instead, many are fishing for any type of corporate job just to start-up and get going, even if they are qualified for better and deserve more money. But despite the times, these students should not be worrying.</p> <p>In fact, they should be blessed with the opportunities they have to land jobs, and they actually have a better chance of landing a job than those of past generations in this situation.</p> <p>How can this be, you ask? There are social media tools out there that &mdash; when utilized properly &mdash; are a great resource to build a personal brand and online portfolio, as well as to network for a job (unlike the traditional practice of submitting a resume to a generic contact form, which will most likely get stacked with the hundreds of others in some big pile somewhere).</p> <p>What if you could directly contact a specific person in the company? Or even better, what if they came to you? Here are some tools that can help you network and build your online portfolio so you can land your next job.</p> <h2>Blogs</h2> <p>Building and maintaining a blog is like running your own small business. You play many different roles such as editor, designer, maintenance technician, customer support, and PR/marketing all in one. It takes time and commitment, and starting one (especially in college) is a huge resume boost and a great online portfolio of your work and skills. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-start-your-own-blog">Start a blog</a> revolving around content in your major or start one about a hobby you have a passion for. Either way, you will learn a lot of valuable skills, develop experience, and have so much to talk about during an interview.</p> <h2>LinkedIn</h2> <p><a href="http://www.linkedin.com/">LinkedIn</a>&nbsp;is a business professional's network where you can show off your skills in an <a href="http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/predict-the-end-of-the-traditional-resume-here/">online resume format</a>. You can also get recommendations from others which could attract companies. More companies are using this network to look for potential job prospects, so having an up-to-date profile that enhances your skills could give you the edge. There are also groups where you can participate and engage with others offering help and showing your expertise. This networking could lead to you receiving a job opportunity or a contact. If you know the company you want to work for, find people who work there and try to connect with them. Send a message and maybe they will respond to you with the correct person to contact or set a time to talk further. By doing this, you are bypassing the generic contact form and are showing initiative.</p> <h2>Twitter</h2> <p>Maybe some people strictly use it to follow what their favorite celebrities do, but <a href="http://www.twitter.com/">Twitter</a> is a great networking tool. Begin to help others within your industry and connect with those you want to try to build relationships with. After being active and engaging, you may be able to learn of a job opportunity from networking through Twitter.</p> <h2>YouTube</h2> <p>Create a short 1-2 minutes elevator pitch on <a href="http://www.youtube.com/">YouTube</a> about who you are, what you are looking for, and why you deserve it. You never know who may find it and pass it along.</p> <h2>Online Resumes</h2> <p>Buy your domain name if you can. Include all the links to the social networks you belong to, video resume, written resume, and any articles, projects, or videos that you have worked on. Developing this centralized online portfolio is an added bonus for job seekers. When prospective employers search your name in Google, they will find you easily and most likely will be very impressed. This can help give you the edge over other people.</p> <p>Job hunting isn't easy, especially now. It takes time, patience, and a little bit of luck. But with these tools, it puts finding new opportunities or contacts in your court, making it easier to land that next job.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This guest post is by Craig Kessler, marketing director at <a href="https://www.budgetpulse.com/">BudgetPulse</a>, a free personal budgeting software.</p> <p>Links to more articles on BudgetPulse:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://blog.budgetpulse.com/2009/09/07/reusable-shopping-bags-how-much-can-you-really-save/">Reusable Shopping Bags: How much can you really save?</a></li> <li><a href="http://blog.budgetpulse.com/2009/10/06/preparing-for-fall-finances/">Preparing for Fall Finances</a></li> <li><a href="http://blog.budgetpulse.com/2009/09/22/how-to-saving-money-eating-out/">How To: Saving Money Eating Out</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/craig-kessler">Craig Kessler</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-online-tools-to-help-you-land-a-job">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-fatal-assumptions-of-job-seekers">5 Fatal Assumptions of Job Seekers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-use-technology-to-upgrade-your-career">6 Ways to Use Technology to Upgrade Your Career</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-career-advice-sites-you-should-know-about">15 Career Advice Sites You Should Know About</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-answer-23-of-the-most-common-interview-questions">How to Answer 23 of the Most Common Interview Questions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-gadgets-every-work-at-home-professional-needs">6 Gadgets Every Work at Home Professional Needs</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building Technology How-To Guide jobs networking resumes Wed, 21 Oct 2009 14:00:04 +0000 Craig Kessler 3733 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Cheaply Display Your Art http://www.wisebread.com/cheap-ways-to-display-your-art <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/cheap-ways-to-display-your-art" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/frramed.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Custom framing your art is often more expensive than the art itself. How weird is that?</p> <p>There are so many places nowadays to find good, cheap art, but framing said art can be one of the most expensive aspects of decorating your home. Unless you have your own equipment or some killer coupons, professional framing can easily set you back $60-$200 per 8x10 piece of art. If you're like me, and have an eclectic collection of paintings, drawings, and collage, you probably also DON'T have the kind of dough it takes to professionally frame your whole collection.</p> <p>Well, there are plenty of ways to display your art that don't involve thumb tacks or poster putty (or pricey custom framing) that are still funky, fun, and cheap.</p> <h2>Framed Art</h2> <p>Oil paintings (and often acrylics, for that matter), aren't typically framed behind glass. They can be, but the glass has to be set off of the painting, because if it comes into contact with the paint, even if it's dry, the paint might stick to the glass. Oil paintings are typically made on canvas, and are stretched onto a wooden frame that gives them shape. You can add a frame to the outside or just hang a stretched canvas without a frame &mdash; my point is not to invest in a big heavy piece of glass if you don't need it.</p> <p>Similarly, posters can be mounted onto posterboard and framed with a simple poster frame that may or may not include glass &mdash; the less glass you use, the cheaper (and lighter) the end product is. Matting is always optional. The larger the matting, the more expensive the project, so for bigger pieces, you might want to avoid matting. However, pre-cut matting is fairly inexpensive and can really make a difference in the quality of a framed piece of art.</p> <h3>Premade frames</h3> <p>This isn't the cheapest option, because even premade frames aren't cheap, but they are easy to deal with and involve minimal effort on your behalf. Frames come in many different sizes, so you can find something to fit most any piece of art. When buying a frame, take the piece of art with you so that you can see how it will look in the frame. There are many different types of frames available these days: you can buy wooden or plastic frames, frames with or without glass or plastic covering the art, frames with or without matting, and even frames without frames (essentially a piece of glass and a piece of particle board that you stick your art between). Generally, the more ornate the frame, the more expensive it will be.</p> <p>You can buy frames at stores like Target or Walmart, although selection may be limited. Better options include art supply stores or frame stores &mdash; check your local paper for coupons or ask a store associate when the next big sale is in order to find the big savings. A simple frame for an 8x10 picture may be $20 on a normal day, but a sale day will knock that down to $10, easy. Aaron Brothers and Michael's (both stores have great selections) have amazing sales in which frames are reduced up to 75% off. Always keep your eyes peeled for coupons in your local paper or Valu-Pak. Also, in addition to the art and frames section of these stores, you may want to check out the wood projects and kids' sections. I've found thick, unfinished backless frames for $1.50 each. The frames were meant for kids to decorate with glitter and sequins, but they looked <em>amazing </em>framing some 4x4 color prints I had purchased on <a href="http://Etsy.com">Etsy</a>.</p> <p>If you are a good bargainer, it never hurts to befriend your local frame consultant to see if you can't buy some of the cast-offs or rejects &mdash; the frames that other people order, and then decide they don't want for whatever reason.</p> <p>By far the most consistently affordable place to buy ready-made picture frames is IKEA. If you happen to have a Swedish mega-maze somewhere near you, check out the frame selection on your next day-long venture.</p> <h3>Damaged frames</h3> <p>A smooth black picture frame is just about the easiest thing in the world to scratch or scuff, so frames with dings and divots are frequently tossed in the bargain bin as soon as they are unpacked. Lots of stores have their bargain section in a back corner, so always check there to see if there is something you can use. Most minor imperfections can either be easily fixed with some nail filler and black marker, or improved upon by &quot;distressing&quot; the entire frame with sandpaper so that it has that shabby chic look that is so desirable these days.</p> <h3>Buy pre-framed art and throw away the art</h3> <p>Department stores have more than their fair share of hideous pre-framed art. If you find a piece of pre-framed hideous art with a good frame, there's no need to keep the art. Just toss it out and insert your own awesome blacklight unicorn poster. Ross is particularly good for this.</p> <p>Used frames featuring all kinds of horrible art can be found at thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets, and next to dumpsters all over the country. You can keep the existing art or throw it away.</p> <p>Making an ugly frame look amazing doesn't take much effort &mdash; just some acrylic paint or a <a href="http://www.digsmagazine.com/lounge/lounge_spraypaint.htm">rattle can in an amazing color</a>, a well-ventilated area, and a good drop-cloth, and you've got yourself a snazzy, incredibly hip frame for your art. I've actually seen some pretty cool-looking rooms that are decorated entirely using empty picture frames that have all been painted the same awesome color, or <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/portal/site/mslo/menuitem.3a0656639de62ad593598e10d373a0a0/?vgnextoid=4ea2b0a6e9074110VgnVCM1000003d370a0aRCRD&amp;vgnextfmt=default">simply matched</a> according to a general sense of aesthetics.</p> <p>Of course, if you have an entire tool shed just bursting with state-of-the-art miter saws and bevellers, you can always <a href="http://www.knottyplans.com/index.php?page=200421">make your own frames</a>.</p> <h3>Frameless frames</h3> <p>There are plenty of glass or Plexiglas &quot;frames&quot; that consists of a clear cover, a solid back, and small clips that allow you to protect and hang your art <a href="http://www.quadroframes.com/Products/Clip_Frames_Datasheet.htm">without a traditional &quot;frame&quot;</a>. I buy these in bulk at my local art supply store. Gallery-style frames are another option &mdash; a very thin plastic frame that barely shows allows you to place art inside and press a piece of <a href="http://www.photoframes.us.com/photo-frame.asp?ID=6124">glass or plastic into little grooves </a>in the front of the frame. Gallery frames are cheap, but do significantly limit the thickness of the piece you are displaying.</p> <h2>Hanging Art</h2> <p>Hanging framed art is an art in and of itself...or is it a science? In any case, there are many different ways to get the look that you want.</p> <p>If you want to hang frames in a gallery style, <a href="http://www.doityourself.com/stry/hangpicturehelp">take some advice</a> from the pros, like an <a href="http://www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/home_journal_news/4215826.html">actual curator</a>. Or, you may find it easier and more cathartic to cluster your framed art in a <a href="http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/sf/inspiration/displaying-artwork-039890">more unique and devil-may-care manner</a> that <a href="http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/sf/inspiration/inspiration-mismatched-frames-059384">doesn't depend on straight lines</a> and perfect corners.</p> <p>There are many different ways to hang framed art. Some people like to use eye-hooks/staples and wire across the back of the frame. The wire can be kept short, and tucked behind the picture so that the nail is hidden when the picture is hung, or long, so that the picture hangs down from a nail. I've seen really pretty hangings done using silk ribbon that is attached to the top back of the frame using strong staples.</p> <p><img alt="" style="width: 388px; height: 258px" src="/files/fruganomics/u14/hanging.jpg" /></p> <h2>Unframed Art</h2> <p>Of course, you can save a bundle on framing costs by simply skipping the frames altogether, There is plenty of art out there that doesn't have to be matted and framed; in fact, almost anything that is displayed with a certain amount of flair becomes art, like a wall covered in a <a href="http://www.designspongeonline.com/2009/04/diy-idea-paint-strip-wall-decoration.html">rainbow of paint chips</a> from Home Depot.</p> <p>For more traditional 2D art, like posters, paintings, and collages, you can either leave the art as-is, or have it mounted on a poster board to give a little more heft and to keep it from getting damaged. Posterboard is fairly inexpensive, and you can do the mounting yourself or have it done at a frame shop for a steal.</p> <h3>Wire and clips</h3> <p>This method is my favorite because it's easy, breezy, and slightly edgy. Take a long piece of wire (thinner gauges are better), some small nails, and a hammer. Pound the nails into your walls at whatever locations you feel are appropriate, and string the wire taught between them. It helps to angle the nails AWAY from the direction that the wire will be pulling. You can create a single horizontal line, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/molly_orangette/2187860221/">many horizontal lines</a>, zigzag lines, vertical lines, or spider webs &mdash; it really doesn't matter. You can hang the wire up high and string it across a room, or stick to one wall or small area. Whatever <a href="http://www.curbly.com/alttext/posts/74-easy-photo-wall-on-a-shoestring-er-wire-budget">floats your boat</a>.</p> <p>Next, take a handful of clothespins (the newer kind works better than the old fashioned style) or binder clips, and attach your art wherever you like it. I like to hang concert posters high up on horizontal wires, and clip vintage postcards along vertical wires. A series of black and white photographs evokes a darkroom or photographer's studio. You can hang letters from your grandma, childhood mementos, potholders, jewelry or even air plants, if you want. Mixing up colors, sizes, and shapes is fun, or you can choose one particular style and stick with it. Variety is the spice of life, but not everyone likes as much spice as I do (for examples of both ways of thinking, check out <a href="http://www.designspongeonline.com/2009/09/sneak-peek-kevin-oshea.html">this apartment</a> featured on design*sponge).</p> <p>With a bit more effort, you can use clips sans wire to create a <a href="http://chicago.timeout.com/articles/home-living/27909/hang-art-without-a-frame">gallery-like arrangement</a> of unframed art. This method doesn't afford you as much flexibility with rearranging your collection, but looks clean and unencumbered.</p> <h3>Clothing hangers</h3> <p>A slightly less flexible way to show off your unframed pictures or posters is to hang wire clothing hangers from a nail in a prominent location, and then use clothes pins or binder clips to hang the art from the clothing hangers. Hangers are frequently used to make <a href="http://www.ehow.com/how_4886191_make-wire-hanger-mobile.html">mobiles for 3D art display</a>, so you can move the medium to the 2 dimensional for a new take on a common household item.</p> <h3>Clipboards</h3> <p>If you have lots of smaller pieces of art that you want to display, try hanging a series of clipboards on your wall. Art can be neatly pinned to the center of the clipboard, and the back of the board provides a frame in which to show off the art. A clipboard can be had for as little as $2 (I've seen them for $0.88 on some websites, but you have to consider shipping). Buy a couple dozen of them, and hang them in neat military lines or in a more random fashion. If the dark brown background of the clipboard doesn't suit you, you can always paint the clipboard white, yellow, or any hue that makes you smile and offsets your art collection.</p> <h3>Magnets</h3> <p>If you enjoy rearranging your collection, but have a morbid fear of nails and the damage they cause, you can turn a huge space into a magnetic board of your own with magnetic paint. Assuming you have the ability/right to paint your walls, you can create art spaces with a roller and a can of Rustoleum brand magnetic paint (runs about $30). Add some snazzy, <a href="http://www.kjmagnetics.com/proddetail.asp?prod=D4A">modern-looking magnets</a> for about $20. While $50 isn't a drop in the bucket, it's cheaper than framing your entire poster collection. A whole wall (or room) becomes your personal art gallery on which you can arrange your drawings, newspaper clippings, posters, collages, or anything else you can think of. The best part is you don't have to refill and touch up holes in the wall every time you want to rearrange your artwork.</p> <h2>The Art of Leaning</h2> <p>Whoever said that art had to be hung? One of my favorite ways to display my favorite large oil paintings is to set them on top of dressers or low bookshelves, or even rest them on the floor, leaning against the wall. The look is casual, you don't have to mar the walls with nail holes, and you can move stuff around without having to worry about busting out the measuring tape or level.</p> <p>&nbsp;<img alt="" style="width: 376px; height: 282px" src="/files/fruganomics/u14/leaning.jpg" /></p> <p>*This advice doesn't necessarily apply to art that you consider highly valuable or a collector's item of some kind &mdash; for those, do consider a professional framing job to protect the artwork from light and time.*</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheap-ways-to-display-your-art">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-a-crafty-airbrush-out-of-old-junk">Make a crafty airbrush out of old junk</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/decorating-a-living-room-for-you-and-your-money">Decorating a Living Room for You and Your Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/free-or-cheap-wall-art">Free or Cheap Wall Art</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/but-is-it-art">But is it ART?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stretch-out-a-small-space">Stretch Out a Small Space</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> art Art and Leisure cheap decoration custom frame frame art home decorating How-To Guide interior decorating paintings Fri, 02 Oct 2009 15:53:30 +0000 Andrea Karim 3321 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Small Businesses That Are Free or Cost Little to Start Up http://www.wisebread.com/10-small-businesses-that-are-free-or-cost-little-to-start-up <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-small-businesses-that-are-free-or-cost-little-to-start-up" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/1319595286_0d37d2f4c2.jpg" alt="Calculator" title="Calculator" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Tough economic times call for drastic measures. With unemployment rates reaching an all-time high, job security is a concern for even the most seasoned worker. Rather than face an untimely layoff, why not join millions of savvy entrepreneurs and start a business of your own? For little to no start-up costs, you, too, can be your own boss and have the option of working in your pajamas! Here's how someone with no capital can create their own schedule and run a successful business venture in their living room. Here are 10 businesses you can start with little to no money today.</p> <h2>1. Freelance writing</h2> <p>Websites like <a href="http://www.textbroker.com/">Textbroker</a>, <a href="http://www.demandstudios.com/">Demand Studios</a>, <a href="http://www.qualitygal.com/">Quality Gal</a>, <a href="http://www.mahalo.com/">Mahalo</a>, and <a href="http://www.edubook.com/">EduBook</a> pay a nominal fee for the articles that you write. Free to join, you can earn anywhere from $1 to $15 for the content that you produce for these sites. Working as an independent contractor, it is your responsibility to complete and submit a W9 form for each business that you write for. If you are really ambitious and feel like you can command a higher wage, check out <a href="http://www.craigslist.com/">Craigslist</a>, <a href="http://www.indeed.com/">Indeed.com</a>, and <a href="http://www.ed2010.com/">Ed2010</a> for better paying gigs.</p> <p><em>Advice to Live By:</em> &quot;Keep a copy of all of your published articles in a digital portfolio that you can email to potential clients.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Stock photography</h2> <p>Share your love for taking pictures by making them available to a larger market. A number of websites pay for stock photography. A few of the most popular include <a href="http://www.bigstockphoto.com/forphotographer.html">BigStockPhoto</a>, <a href="http://www.fotolia.com/Info/Contributors">Fotolia</a>,<a href="http://www.istockphoto.com/sell-stock-photos.php"> iStockPhoto</a>, and <a href="http://submit.shutterstock.com/">ShutterStock</a>. For those of you who want to make more money off your photography, check out <a href="http://www.constant-content.com/">ConstantContent</a> and set your own prices.</p> <p><em>Advice to Live By:</em> &quot;Make sure to watermark your photos before posting them online to share with friends and family members. Dishonest people will use your photography without permission if you don't take the time to do this simple act right away.&quot;</p> <h2>3. Web and graphic design</h2> <p>If you create web pages or know a thing or two about graphic design, you will find more work than you can handle on the internet. Individuals and corporations need designers like you to drive business to their websites. Put your skills to use and start looking for gigs on <a href="http://www.getafreelancer.com/">GetaFreelancer</a>, <a href="http://www.odesk.com/">oDesk</a>, <a href="http://www.elance.com/">Elance</a>, and <a href="http://www.scriptlance.com/">ScriptLance</a>.</p> <p><em>Advice to Live By:</em> &quot;Do not cheapen the quality of your services by bidding too low on a project. Ask a fair price and forget about the gigs that are not willing to pay you what you're worth.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Artwork or handcrafted items</h2> <p>Websites like <a href="http://www.etsy.com/">ETSY</a>, <a href="http://www.artbreak.com/">Artbreak</a>, and <a href="http://www.boundlessgallery.com/">BoundlessGallery</a> provide creative types with an outlet to sell their handmade stationery, bedazzled clothing, and altered art. Frequenting craft fairs and art shows can also give you an advantage over your competitors. <a href="http://www.eventlister.com/">Eventlister</a> is a service that lists upcoming events in your area. Registration is required to access full listings on the site but only takes a few minutes to complete and there are numerous ways to earn free membership by referring friends, updating listings, and sending in applications for events.</p> <p><em>Advice to Live By:</em> &quot;In addition to the cost of materials, add in labor to the price of your artwork and handmade wares.&quot;</p> <h2>5. Tutoring</h2> <p>Are you good at Math? A born leader with a knack for instructing others? If you possess a certain level of expertise in a subject, by all means, share it with struggling students! Parents and college kids will pay good money for a patient, dedicated tutor. A number of websites help match candidates with paid work. A few of the more reputable ones are <a href="http://www.wyzant.com/">WyzAnt</a>, <a href="http://www.kaplan.com/">Kaplan</a>, <a href="http://www.esylvan-online-learning-centers.com/">eSylvan</a>, <a href="http://www.growingstars.com/">GrowingStars</a>, and <a href="http://www.brainfuse.com/">Brainfuse</a>.</p> <p><em>Advice to Live By:</em> &quot;The more websites you sign up for, the greater your chances of tutoring full-time. If paying a percentage of your wages to a third party doesn't appeal to you, print out business cards and rely on word-of-mouth advertising to launch your business.&quot;</p> <h2>6. Caretaking</h2> <p><a href="http://www.caretaker.org/">The Caretaker Gazette</a> is a valuable resource to have on hand for anyone interested in housesitting. Containing information and caretaker listings in the 50 states as well as Canada and Mexico, the bi-monthly publication costs $29.95. In addition to taking care of properties nationwide, people can use <a href="http://www.sittercity.com/">SitterCity</a> or <a href="http://www.care.com/">Care.com</a> which are free services that matches up babysitters, elderly companions, and pet sitters with clients in a number of locations.</p> <p><em>Advice to Live By:</em> &quot;Do not give out contact information to a person until after you have done some research on them. A criminal background check on a client is a small price to pay in terms of your safety.&quot;</p> <h2>7. Mystery shopping</h2> <p>Do you love to shop and have a keen eye for detail? Companies from around the world are looking for people just like you to evaluate the level of customer service that you receive when visiting their stores or places of business. An easy way to make money, mystery shopping offers more than just a steady paycheck. Some companies have been known to foot the bill at extravagant restaurants and on luxury cruises. Others will pay top dollar for you to test drive a car or reimburse you for the purchases that you make. Sign up today with <a href="http://www.jancyn.com/">Jancyn</a>, <a href="http://www.strategicreflections.com/">Strategic Reflections</a>, <a href="http://www.shopperjobs.com/">Shoppers Inc</a>, and <a href="http://www.mysteryshops.com/">Corporate Research International</a>.</p> <p><em>Advice to Live By:</em> &quot;Do not expect to get rich by secret shopping one location. The key to success is to register with multiple shopping companies and to check your email frequently.&quot;</p> <h2>8. Online teaching</h2> <p><a href="http://www.universalclass.com/teachonline/index.htm">UniversalClass</a>, <a href="http://craftedonline.com/">Craft Ed Online</a>, and <a href="http://www.teachstreet.com/">TeachStreet</a> are a few of the places where your knowledge can be put to the test. All three websites are looking for teachers from all backgrounds to instruct students on a variety of subjects. From personalized guitar lessons to test preparation and bellydancing, men and women can build their businesses by setting up a profile and registering as a teacher on these sites.</p> <p><em>Advice to Live By:</em> &quot;Avoid paying astronomical fees to list your services on websites. Opt instead to choose places that allow you to post ads for free.&quot;</p> <h2>9. Virtual assistant</h2> <p>Type away while sitting in the comfort of your home office. Companies like <a href="http://www.capitaltyping.com/">Capital Typing</a> and <a href="http://www.virtualassistantjobs.com/jobs.html">Virtual Office Temps</a> make it easier for you to find legitimate work-from-home opportunities. Searching sites like <a href="http://www.careerbuilder.com/">CareerBuilder</a> and <a href="http://www.indeed.com/">Indeed</a> on a regular basis will also help you locate individuals and corporations needing your assistance.</p> <p><em>Advice to Live By:</em> &quot;Set up shop in a quiet part of your home that is free from noise and distractions. Invest in a good headset and pick a home phone plan with unlimited long distance calls.&quot;</p> <h2>10. Product demonstrations</h2> <p>Remember those people you see handing out samples at the supermarket? Why not become one of them? The pay is good and your only expense is a folding card table that you can be taken with you to other gigs. <a href="http://www.southernexposure.us/JobOps.html">Southern Exposure Marketing</a> and <a href="http://www.studio1castingservice.com/">Studio 1 Casting Service</a> provide opportunities to demo at tradeshows, mass merchant retailers, and supermarkets.</p> <p><em>Advice to Live By:</em><b> </b>&quot;Wear a comfortable pair of shoes because you will be standing on your feet the whole time that you are working.&quot;</p> <h2><strong>The Knowledge to Succeed</strong></h2> <p>Before you travel down the road to sole proprietorship or independent contracting, you may want to do some research. Being well-informed can prevent stress and keep your business running strong for years. In fact, it is important to do the following things before putting any time, money, or energy into an endeavor.</p> <h3>1. Assess your skills.</h3> <p>What are you good at? Do people tell you that you make a mean apple pie or compliment your handmade jewelry? Have you been paid to write cover letters and resumes for friends? Are you the first person to receive a call when a family member's car breaks down? Although insignificant to you, these types of skills have the potential of making you big bucks.</p> <h3>2. Look for a niche or untapped market.</h3> <p>If you have a great idea and no one else in town is doing it, by all means, develop your idea. The first doggie bakery in your city can prove to be more than just a novelty. This is especially true in small towns where traveling to another city to purchase hard-to-find goods can be stressful.</p> <h3>3. Know your competitors.</h3> <p>Before putting your blood, sweat, and tears into a business, learn more about your competition. Who else offers personal training sessions with a twist? How much do they charge and who does their advertising? Where are they located at? Did you get a good first impression upon meeting them or calling them on the phone? The more you know, the better the chance your business will grow.</p> <h3>4. Freelance.</h3> <p>Don't wait for customers to come to you. Find a way to network and get your name out there. A significant amount of time freelancing is spent finding new clients. Send an email introducing yourself and highlight the services that you provide. Include a way for people to get into contact with you and a sampling of your rates.</p> <h3>5. Do-It-Yourself.</h3> <p>Cut out the middle man by doing as much of the grunt work as humanly possible yourself. Low overhead costs mean more profit for your business.</p> <h3>6. Make Social Media work for you.</h3> <p>Digg, Tweet, and post on Facebook and MySpace regularly. Talk up your business as much as possible. Create a blog or website and refer people to it. Ask them to pass on the news, as well.</p> <h3>7. Negotiate a price.</h3> <p>Set a price according to your expertise, the money that you need to survive each month, and the competition. Raise and lower your prices as times change. Don't be afraid to ask for more money as customer demands grow in size or number.</p> <p>Through trial and error, you can build a small business from scratch simply by taking advantage of the resources that are made available to you. From peddling your handmade wares to building a client base of students to teach and tutor, there is money to be made by getting online.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p> <meta content="text/html; charset=utf-8" http-equiv="Content-Type" /><br /> <meta content="Word.Document" name="ProgId" /><br /> <meta content="Microsoft Word 12" name="Generator" /><br /> <meta content="Microsoft Word 12" name="Originator" /></p> <link href="file:///C:%5CUsers%5CAmy%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CTemp%5Cmsohtmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_filelist.xml" rel="File-List" /> <link href="file:///C:%5CUsers%5CAmy%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CTemp%5Cmsohtmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_themedata.thmx" rel="themeData" /> <link href="file:///C:%5CUsers%5CAmy%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CTemp%5Cmsohtmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_colorschememapping.xml" rel="colorSchemeMapping" /> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles 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UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List 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Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading" /> </w:LatentStyles> 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Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 9" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 7" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 8" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 9" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="35" QFormat="true" Name="caption" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="10" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Title" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="0" Name="Default Paragraph Font" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="11" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" 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UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading" /> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><style type="text/css"> <!--{12542764059265}-This isThis</style><p> This is a guest post by Charissa Arsaoui, a freelance writer with a love for arts and thrift-related topics. </p> </style></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.buzzine.com/2009/04/ultimate-hendrix/">Ultimate Hendrix</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.studentstuff.com/2009/08/31/confessions-of-a-global-nomad-how-one-woman%e2%80%99s-love-for-travel-became-her-profession/">How One Woman's Love for Travel Became Her Profession</a></li> <li><a href="http://chickspeak.com/blog/2009/05/09/college-perks-smart-chicks-cant-miss/">College Perks Smart Chicks Can't Miss</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/charissa-arsaoui">Charissa Arsaoui</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-small-businesses-that-are-free-or-cost-little-to-start-up">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-important-signs-that-your-job-sucks">10 Important Signs That Your Job Sucks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-laid-off-a-step-by-step-guide">How to Get Laid Off: A Step-By-Step Guide</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-tax-deductions-for-bloggers-and-freelancers">101 Tax deductions for bloggers and freelancers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/create-a-business-plan-by-answering-4-simple-questions">Create a Business Plan by Answering 4 Simple Questions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-boost-your-odds-of-retiring-early">5 Ways to Boost Your Odds of Retiring Early</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship How-To Guide money from home Wed, 30 Sep 2009 12:53:24 +0000 Charissa Arsaoui 3658 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Fatal Assumptions of Job Seekers http://www.wisebread.com/5-fatal-assumptions-of-job-seekers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-fatal-assumptions-of-job-seekers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/train%20tracks%20neon.jpg" alt="train tracks with neon look" title="train tracks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="237" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Many people are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lost-my-job-tips-for-the-recently-laid-off">job hunting</a> these days. I have worked with job seekers for many years and have found that these five common assumptions frequently&nbsp;derail a job search.</p> <h3>1. Being open to anything will increase my chances of landing a job.</h3> <p>The search ought to have a focus: you should be targeting opportunities in a certain discipline or function; or you should have identified the strengths you'd like to leverage and then uncovered positions that match these strengths. The resume should convey that focus; otherwise, you can't differentiate yourself from other candidates because you're not really great at anything but rather average at many things.</p> <p>Hiring managers don't want to spend training and payroll dollars on a so-so candidate, especially in an environment where money is an extremely limited resource and a more qualified candidate is sure to surface soon.</p> <p>However, it is true that job seekers need to be flexible when pursuing a new position. Depending on your current situation and long-term goals, you should be open to opportunities in a new industry, a smaller rather than larger company (or vice versa), and even a change of locale.</p> <p>And, it's also true that job seekers snag jobs that are not perfectly in sync with their original targets. In these cases, here's what the hiring manager is thinking:</p> <ul> <li>tap into skills that the job seeker didn't realize were valuable (for example,&nbsp;a client seeking a sales position was selected by a state agency for a position requiring client advocacy capabilities, which she possessed from years of volunteering in a similar role)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>hire &quot;fresh&quot; talent with no preconceived notions of how to approach a new market, reach a different kind of customer, etc.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>recruit people with a certain background because past, similar hires have been successful</li> </ul> <h3>2. No one could possibly possess all of the qualifications required by the employer.</h3> <p>I've seen job postings that seem to be an impossible-to-get wish list created by an optimistic hiring manager. For example, a sourcing position might list the following requirements (this is a partial list of requirements taken from an online job board posting):</p> <ul> <li>MBA<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>experience in supply chain management, purchasing, and contract negotiation<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>working knowledge of SAP<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>professional designations, such as a CPM (Certified Purchasing Manager)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>fluency in Mandarin Chinese</li> </ul> <p>Stay focused on pursuing opportunities that match your qualifications. Build and leverage your professional network. At the same time, consider boosting your skills through classes at the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-frugal-resource-the-community-college">community college</a> or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/translating-volunteer-experiences-and-skills-to-workplace-credentials">volunteer experience</a>.</p> <p>So, while it's true that the perfect candidate may not appear for many job postings (or, more likely the company is required to advertise for an opening that is probably going to be filled by an internal candidate who does have these credentials), going for multiple long shots is probably not going to increase your chances at winning a fantastic job.</p> <h3>3. I can elaborate during the interview rather than including valuable information on the resume.</h3> <p>The defense of the extremely brief resume is often that hiring managers won't read a long one. But there needs to be enough information to allow the reader to judge whether the candidate has 1. minimum qualifications and 2. enough talent and proven experience to contribute to the hiring organization. Otherwise, the sought-after interview will never happen.</p> <p>Even if a resume is two (or even three) pages, a well-designed format that allows quick&nbsp;scanning for critical information can get the document placed in the &quot;maybe&quot; pile for further evaluation. Compelling accomplishments and deeper-than-average descriptions of position duties may actually aid the screening and selection process, ultimately saving time for the hiring manager.</p> <p>Certain topics though (for example, why you left a job after a couple of months) are best discussed in the interview rather than detailed on the resume.</p> <h3>4. The people who will hire me will understand my resume.</h3> <p>It's true that hiring managers will often have a better, more complete grasp of the industry and discipline-specific lingo that's on your resume than your neighbor or even your best friend.</p> <p>But the resume will most likely be screened by a recruiter or human resources manager who may not have expertise in your field; and possibly scrutinized by higher-level staff and potential coworkers who may participate in the selection process. So, using understandable language is important to communicating your qualifications to as many people as possible (see my <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-online-job-boards-can-actually-help-a-job-search">post on online job boards</a> for ways to identify common terms and keywords). To appeal to a broader audience, mention collaborative abilities and team contributions; and emphasize accomplishments that not only helped your department improve but also boosted the company's overall performance.</p> <h3>5. A hiring decision will be made in a reasonable time frame.</h3> <p>One of the most common mistakes is to assume that a hiring decision will be made according to a reasonable timeline and therefore (here's the dangerous part), you should wait before pursuing other opportunities. If you are happily employed and really want a particular position and no other position, then it is reasonable to wait until you learn of the decision. But very often, decisions are delayed for long periods of time for reasons such as:</p> <ul> <li>position hasn't been officially approved by the corporate office<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>economic conditions and company's needs have changed since recruitment began<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>no great candidates have emerged with interest in the position<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>hiring process requires multiple levels of approval and rounds of interviewing<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>decision makers have been traveling on business for a few months</li> </ul> <p>Even when hiring managers provide a timeline to a candidate, they very often don't adhere to the schedule. And, in some cases, they choose a candidate but are not able to extend an offer.</p> <p>Some job seekers seem to have a fear of having to make a difficult choice among more than one employer. But the savvy seeker keeps pursuing any and every opportunity, and even leverages salary negotiations by getting multiple offers. (See <a href="http://www.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2008/09/15/how-to-play-the-post-interview-waiting-game.html">How to Play the Post-Interview Waiting Game </a>for more insights.)</p> <p><em>What do you think?&nbsp;Have you reversed your assumptions since starting a search? </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-fatal-assumptions-of-job-seekers">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/resumes-for-recent-college-graduates">Resumes For Recent Grads: Translating Campus Experiences Into Real-World Skills</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/professional-resume-services-are-they-worth-paying-for">Professional Resume Services: Are They Worth Paying For?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-online-tools-to-help-you-land-a-job">5 Online Tools to Help You Land a Job</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-important-signs-that-your-job-sucks">10 Important Signs That Your Job Sucks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-laid-off-a-step-by-step-guide">How to Get Laid Off: A Step-By-Step Guide</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building How-To Guide job search resumes Fri, 11 Sep 2009 19:29:45 +0000 Julie Rains 3587 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Weird Things People Sell for Cash http://www.wisebread.com/6-weird-things-people-sell-for-cash <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-weird-things-people-sell-for-cash" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/chicken%20poop.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="190" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When the recession began to really hit home, there was plenty of chatter about <a href="http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/SaveMoney/SellingBodyPartsForCash.aspx">selling your plasma</a>, undergoing <a href="http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/15.05/feat_drugtest.html">paid medical tests</a>, and even cutting off your lovely <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-sell-your-hair-for-cash">locks for a profit</a>.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Here are some of the more off-the-wall commodities we found, and they are making some people a bit more comfortable these days.</p> <h3><o:p></o:p><b style="">Breast Milk&nbsp;</b></h3> <p class="MsoNormal">As a mom who nursed three of her four children, I completely understand the benefits and time commitment of breastfeeding.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>When situations prevent a mom from being able to do this herself, however, there are some options to keeping the milk flowing, even if it&rsquo;s not her own.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Thanks to the hard work and dedication of mothers nationwide, milk has been made available to those who need it via milk banks and other donation centers.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>The <a href="http://www.hmbana.org/">Human Milk Banking Association of America</a> is a good place to start learning about the guidelines for donation, storage, and transport.<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">So how do you go about making cash from your breast milk?<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Unfortunately, in the <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">U.S.</st1:place></st1:country-region> at least, finding a legal, organized place to sell your breast milk to others is very difficult.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>That&rsquo;s not to say that it hasn&rsquo;t been done, however.<span style="">&nbsp; </span><a href="http://www.craigslist.com/">Craigslist</a> ads have been notorious for offering milk for sale, and if you head over to this &ldquo;<a href="http://www.ehow.com/how_2072789_buy-breastmilk.html">How to Buy Breast Milk</a>&rdquo; article at eHow.com, you&rsquo;ll see people offering their milk for sale in the comments.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>The going rate for buying milk from a milk bank is $2-3 per ounce, which professionals claim is only a portion of what it costs to collect, screen, and store the milk.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>(There is also a &ldquo;<a href="http://www.ehow.com/how_4618755_money-selling-human-breast-milk.html">How to Make Money By Selling Human Breast Milk</a>&rdquo; article, as well, but the author acknowledges that the one of the best ways to get a legitimate buyer &ndash; Ebay &ndash; is also not allowed.)<span style="">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">In addition to the growing number of mothers who find a qualified stranger&rsquo;s breast milk to be a lifesaving alternative, there are a few other &ldquo;commercial&rdquo; uses for breast milk:<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Certain fetish groups have always paid for milk on the black market, and a few pharma companies pay a small fee for milk that will be turned into supplemental products for premature infants.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>(And let&rsquo;s not forget the potential for an increase in demand for milking moms when <a href="http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=36349">Ben &amp; Jerry&rsquo;s was approached</a> with the &ldquo;opportunity&rdquo; to incorporate human milk into its production line.)<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Whether you buy, sell, or just want to learn more, I recommend this enlightening article from <a href="http://www.breastfeedingsymbol.org/2007/09/02/thinking-of-donating-your-breastmilk-read-this-first/">breastfeedingsymbol.org</a>.<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <h3><b style="">Dog Hair&nbsp;</b></h3> <p class="MsoNormal">For those of us who have been struggling against the constant shedding of our pups, armed with Swiffers and lint rollers, the news that dog hair is a commodity may be too good to be true.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Apparently, dog hair spun into yarn (or &ldquo;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiengora">chiengora</a>&rdquo;) is an old art form that dates way, way back.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>(Before sheep wool was the thing to spin in the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">U.S.</st1:country-region></st1:place>, people would use the hair of a dog.)<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Fans of the stuff claim that it holds in warmth and repels water better than other fibers.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>(When found for sale, however, it is usually combined with sheep&rsquo;s wool.)<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Believe it or not, fans of spinning dog hair are a very helpful group (just check out <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312152906?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisebread03-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0312152906"><em>Knitting With Dog Hair</em></a>, a book that shows you how to cut, collect, spin, and use dog hair for everyday knitting projects). There has been some question as to the legality of selling dog hair (big surprise), and states like <st1:state w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">New Jersey</st1:place></st1:state> actually have language forbidding the sale of dog or cat fur.<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">So how do you go about selling (or even buying) dog hair?<span style="">&nbsp; </span>The verdict on this one is similar to other items on our list.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Ask around, place ads in places that don&rsquo;t specifically prohibit it, and make sure that the state you&rsquo;re listing it in allows it.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>If it&rsquo;s not possible to sell the dog hair straight out, you may be able to spin it first and offer it as a yarn.<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <h3><b style="">Chicken Poop&nbsp;</b></h3> <p class="MsoNormal">If there&rsquo;s one thing I&rsquo;ve learned by living on a farm most of my life, it&rsquo;s that people will drive many miles and offer most anything for a pickup truck full of crap.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>That&rsquo;s no lie.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>The amazing benefits that come with the use of natural (or &ldquo;organic&rdquo;) fertilizers on anything from rose bushes to potato plants is fairly common sense.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>What most people don&rsquo;t realize, however, is where that fertilizer comes from.<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Since most commercial products are simply a mixture of aged chicken poop and other organic materials, it&rsquo;s possible to mix up your own batch with little effort. (See this article on <a href="http://my-garden-tips.com/2009/05/chicken-manure-fertilizer-using-manure-on-the-garden/">how to use chicken poop effectively</a>.)<span style="">&nbsp; </span>To sell chicken manure, which can be done via online ad, small local newspaper, or through your local farm or garden supply store, you&rsquo;ll need a good amount of chicken manure and a way to bag it or haul it effectively (which is what people are <em>really</em> paying for).<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Pricing will be minimal and may vary by region.<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <h3><b style="">Cardboard Boxes&nbsp;</b></h3> <p class="MsoNormal">As someone who deals with daily deliveries from UPS, USPS, and FedEx, I can understand the cumbersome nature of the cardboard box.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Generally, I have been pretty good at the art of recycling, using them in everything from moving, composting, reshipping, and even <a href="http://www.parentingsquad.com/4-really-cool-green-and-blue-and-red-art-projects-for-kids">art projects with the kids</a>.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>While I also strongly support sharing used boxes with the community for free, we all understand that sometimes it&rsquo;s necessary to try to recoup our costs &ndash; especially if we need to cut business or home office expenses.<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">While many companies offer to buy bulk lots of boxes in the same size and shape, there are a few places that currently buy boxes in good condition with a minimum of 3 or more boxes.<span style="">&nbsp; </span><a href="http://www.boxcycle.com/main/learn">BoxCycle</a>, for example, takes the work out of selling your boxes by listing them for you, communicating with the buyer, and handling all payment processing.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>All you have to do is list your boxes with them, wait for a seller, and cash out when your payment totals $25.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>(While you won&rsquo;t get rich from this, it is a great way to get rid of wasted space caused by bulky boxes, and it puts a few bucks back in your pocket.)<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <h3><b style="">False Teeth, Braces, and Prosthetics&nbsp;</b></h3> <p class="MsoNormal">So these aren&rsquo;t exactly in a category together (but they are most certainly in one all their own).<span style="">&nbsp; </span>As the market clamors for more gold commodities, and places like <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/so-will-cash4gold-offer-me-cash-to-kill-this-story">Cash4Gold</a> keep turning consumers off from the idea of selling their jewelry for extra money, consumers are getting creative with how to make a quick buck via another buyer.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Pawn shops, however, have eagerly reported an increase in the amount of business they get for items containing gold &ndash; any items &ndash; and this includes caps and crowns made from precious metals.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>What else are they boasting?<span style="">&nbsp; </span>False teeth (dentures), braces, and prosthetics have all been (sometimes) reluctant purchases by pawn brokers over the years.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>They won&rsquo;t get you rich, but if you happen to have them lying around, and don&rsquo;t feel comfortable putting them in your next yard sale, it doesn&rsquo;t hurt to ask.<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <h3><b style="">Pig Ears and Bull &ldquo;Sticks&rdquo;&nbsp;</b></h3> <p class="MsoNormal">This is a niche market that most of us wouldn&rsquo;t be in a position to tap, however, I felt it was worth mentioning.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>While most pet stores carry starch-based alternatives to the popular pig ear dog treat, some still offer the old-fashioned variety, made from 100% authentic swine ears.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Another interesting item for dogs to chew on?<span style="">&nbsp; </span><a href="http://shop.bullystickdirect.com/main.sc">Bull sticks</a>.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Touted as a healthy and fun for dogs of all breeds, these treats are made from bull &ldquo;parts.&rdquo;<span style="">&nbsp; </span>The owner of company who makes them doesn&rsquo;t buy them directly from <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">U.S.</st1:place></st1:country-region> suppliers (the hormones and antibiotics are a big no-no) but rather imports them.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>(Does this mean that the first person to meet the market here in the States could be in the next best &ldquo;bull market?&rdquo;)<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><i style="">Do you represent an exclusive niche market that sells unusual wares for profit? Care to share it with the rest of us?<span style="">&nbsp; </span>We&rsquo;d love to hear about it!</i></strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i style=""><o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p></o:p></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-weird-things-people-sell-for-cash">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retail-job-lessons-learning">Seven Lessons Learned from Working Retail</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-finding-legitimate-work-at-home-opportunities">Tips for Finding Legitimate Work at Home Opportunities</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-six-figures-really-that-much">Is Six Figures Really That Much?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-write-a-resume-12-steps-to-your-next-job">How To Write A Resume: 12 Steps To Your Next Job</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seven-tips-for-the-newly-unemployed">Seven Tips for the Newly Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income How-To Guide Making Extra Cash making money weird things people sell for cash Mon, 20 Jul 2009 20:00:12 +0000 Linsey Knerl 3405 at http://www.wisebread.com When to Use Savings to Pay Off Debt http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-use-savings-to-pay-off-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/when-to-use-savings-to-pay-off-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/ambulance_0.jpg" alt="Emergency vehicle" title="Emergency Vehicle" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="190" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of the most common questions over on the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/forums/">Wise Bread forums</a> is some variation on, &quot;I have $X in savings but $Y in credit card debt. Should I use the savings to pay down the debt?&quot; The answer, of course, depends on your situation--and there's a reason why the question keeps showing up. Here's how to do the analysis.</p> <p>The first step toward answering this question is to ask another: <strong>do you have an emergency fund?</strong></p> <p>That's because figuring out the <em>cheapest</em> thing to do is easy--just compare interest rates. If your savings are earning you less than the cost of your debt, then you'll save money by paying off the debt. But that's only the right choice if you have an adequate emergency fund.</p> <p>Of course &quot;adequate&quot; is a tricky question for emergency funds. I've written a whole article on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/figuring-the-size-of-your-emergency-fund">figuring the size of your emergency fund</a> that breaks down the reasoning behind the rule of thumb that you want at least 3 and preferably 6 months spending in your emergency fund.</p> <p>For people with debt, though, the calculation changes. You still need at least a minimal emergency fund, simply to manage little glitches in cash flow (such as a payroll or banking hiccup that delays your direct deposit over a holiday weekend). But once you go beyond that minimum--maybe $1000, maybe one month's take-home pay--any extra emergency fund cash is probably costing you bunches in interest on your debt while earning almost nothing.</p> <p>A lot of people seem to think that having extra debt means they need to have extra in their emergency fund--so that they have cash to cover their debt payments during a period of unemployment. Sadly, I can't say that's definitely wrong: If you can't cover your minimum payments and start racking up late fees, those charges will totally swamp any interest payment savings.</p> <p>The analysis has to come down to your best guess on what the future might look like. My take is that getting the debt paid off sooner rather than later improves your situation so much that it's worth taking a small risk. After all, even a large emergency fund will go pretty quickly if it has to cover large debt service payments.</p> <p>So, my general advice is:</p> <ol> <li>Establish a small emergency fund--something like $1000 or 1 month's pay--to cover the ordinary cash-flow mismatches that always show up between income and outgo.</li> <li>Once that's done, aggressively pay down any debt (with the possible exception of long-term debt where the interest rate is both <em>low</em> and <em>fixed</em>, such as some mortgage and student loans).</li> <li>Once you're debt-free, bring your emergency fund up to the 3 to 6 months standard.</li> <li>Once you've got a healthy emergency fund, direct future money to investments. (Don't neglect <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/non-financial-investments">non-financial investments</a>, which will often return more than financial investments.)</li> </ol> <p>As I&nbsp;said, there's a reason the question shows up over and over again:&nbsp; There's no way to know the right answer. The more aggressively you pay down your debt, the cheaper it will be--unless you run your cash down so low that an interruption in your income means that you're unable to cover your debt service expenses. Since you can't know the future, any choice that you make will have to be based on your best sense of what the future may bring.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-use-savings-to-pay-off-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-14"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-life-is-amazing-with-an-emergency-fund">11 Ways Life Is Amazing With an Emergency Fund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-prevent-an-emergency-from-driving-you-into-debt">10 Ways to Prevent an Emergency From Driving You Into Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/managing-your-short-term-money">Managing Your Short-Term Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-your-emergency-fund-costing-you-money">Is Your Emergency Fund Costing You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-mistakes-to-stop-making-by-50">5 Money Mistakes to Stop Making by 50</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Debt Management debt emergency emergency fund How-To Guide paying off reducing debt savings Fri, 10 Jul 2009 12:00:02 +0000 Philip Brewer 3368 at http://www.wisebread.com How To Write A Resume: 12 Steps To Your Next Job http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-write-a-resume-12-steps-to-your-next-job <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-write-a-resume-12-steps-to-your-next-job" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2654393745_d19eb468a4.jpg" alt="hire me" title="hire me" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="313" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoPlainText">Self-promotion is not easy. Whether you're a high six-figure consultant, or earning $10 an hour in retail, you still have to talk about yourself in the right way. And one of the key ingredients of self-promotion is the resume. Nail it, and you get your foot in the door. Blow it, and you blow your chances at a better job, better career or even a better life.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">As a professional advertising copywriter, I've been asked many, many times to help friends and relatives with their resumes. And while I don't claim to be an expert on resumes, I have helped a lot of people <a title="Help - I Lost My Job!" href="http://www.wisebread.com/lost-my-job-tips-for-the-recently-laid-off">get jobs</a>. So, I thought it was long overdue to share some of the things I've learned about writing resumes over the years, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-answer-23-of-the-most-common-interview-questions">especially after writing an article on interview questions</a>.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Now, I'm not promising that this article will guarantee you a new job. Obviously, your own experience and background is, at the end of the day, the deciding factor. But I can give you advice that will at least get you noticed for all the right reasons. Ready? Then let's begin.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>1: Use a word processing program </strong><br /> Employ a program like Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, MS Works or even a professional design application (e.g. InDesign or Adobe Illustrator) to layout your resume. In the past, it was OK to use a typewriter or, in some cases, write it by hand, but no-one will take you seriously if you can't demonstrate basic computer skills. However, try and avoid a standard resume template.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Your resume should include:</p> <ul> <li><em><strong>contact information</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong> an objective</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>employment history</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>education</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong> a summary, including any other pertinent information or affiliations</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong> references (it's permissible to say &quot;references available on request&quot;)</strong></em></li> </ul> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Lay this out neatly in your own way, and your resume will not look like a carbon copy of everyone else's resume. Remember, you are selling YOU as an individual. Your resume, even the way it looks, is a reflection of who you are.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>2: Use good (but not perfect) grammar</strong><br /> You don't need to go out of your way to make your resume read like an&nbsp;English term paper, but use good judgment. A resume is a professional document and should be treated in that way. Just as you wouldn't start a business letter with &quot;Like hey dude, how's it going?&quot; you shouldn't be as lax with your resume.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">However, these are modern times and you can use a little conversational verbiage, coupled with a few grammatical rule-breakers. It's OK to end a sentence with a preposition, it's even OK to have a one or two word sentence. If you work in a very creative industry, you can break even more rules (I once saw a great resume that was written as a poem...but that was a huge exception to the rule). In general, make it respectful, polite and something you would be happy for your bank manager to read.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>3. Practice the art of concision</strong><br /> Mark Twain once wrote &quot;I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.&quot; It's not easy to be concise, but a resume is an essential place to practice restraint. In these tough economic times, employers are inundated with hundreds of applicants for every one job opening. They don't have the time or inclination to read your life story over a five or six page resume. ONE PAGE is ideal, but it is acceptable to go to two pages. Any longer than that and you may as well mail your resume to the nearest paper recycling plant. Some of you may say that I could use a lesson in concision myself, but this blog gives me the luxury of limitless writing space and an audience that is looking to read, and be entertained as well as informed. An employer's time is valuable; the information is paramount.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>4. Don't include pointless and obvious information</strong><br /> I have lost track of the number of times I have read about hobbies that include movies, reading, sports, eating out and spending time with family. While you're at it, why not put &quot;breathing, sleeping a minimum of six hours per night, and eating three square meals per day.&quot; If you have something stellar as a hobby, and it has some relevance to the job, by all means put it down. But if you have nothing out of the ordinary to say, don't say it. Your collection of antique teapots may mean the world to you, but it won't to your average human resources manager in an accounting firm.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>5. Never, ever lie</strong><br /> Don't ever be tempted to lie, or embellish your resume. The problem with lies is that they will catch up with you sooner or later. You will either be discovered before you are hired, or even worse, get found out when you're doing the job. Be honest and give the right dates, places, numbers and facts about previous employment. Don't make up education you don't have, and don't say you're a whiz on Photoshop when you can hardly even open your email.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>6. Custom-build your resume</strong><br /> Every job is different; therefore, every resume should be different. When I talk about concision, it also applies to the kind of information you include, or don't, on your resume. If you have some great experience in marketing, you obviously push that on a resume for a marketing or advertising job. If you're applying to be a bartender, you may want to put a focus on something else. Tailor your resume to fit the job you're applying for.<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>7. Don't be shy about major successes</strong><br /> Be specific about your past and current achievements and accomplishments. Employers love facts that back up your story, so if you increased productivity in your department by 125%, don't by shy about saying so. If you tripled sales, let people know. If you were promoted in record time, make a note of it. This is the perfect time to blow your own trumpet.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>8. Don't make assumptions</strong><br /> Although concision is vitally important, make sure you don't cut so much information that the employer becomes confused. For instance, you may know all too well what &quot;Scrambunkle &amp; Son&quot; did as a company, but your future employer may not know them from Adam. And although you know what an acronym stands for, it may not be as famous as N.A.S.A., so spell it out once. Basically, be brief, but clarify important points.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>9. Big words won't impress most people</strong><br /> I've seen a few resumes come across my desk that looked like a page from a Dickensian thesaurus. Sure, you may feel proud of yourself for using words like floccinaucinihilipilification (which is, for those of you not in the know, the &quot;estimation of something as valueless&quot;); but your average employer will appreciate it if your resume is not like reading War &amp; Peace. There's no need to hide your intelligence, and again you should tailor it to the job, but use common sense. Write well, write clearly, write concisely, and write without trying to prove you're a smartass.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>10.<span style=""> Good spelling is not optional</span></strong><br /> Speaking of writing well, this one is paramount: please, please double-check the spelling and then ask someone else to double-check it for you (they may catch something you've become blind to). And DO NOT proof it on-screen; print it out, it's much easier to catch errors that way. A typo in your resume is one huge fly in the ointment. It's the equivalent of turning up to an interview wearing a ketchup-stained t-shirt. Your resume is the first impression you will give to your interviewer; what do you think they will do with a resume that has not even been spell-checked? Yep, it's lining the cat's litter box.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>11. Consistency is important</strong><br /> This is another exercise in putting your best foot forward. If you start each heading in 12pt Helvetica Bold Italic, do them all that way. If you italicize a heading, italicize them all. If the first section of your resume is indented, all of them should be. The age of email and instant messenger has made many of us lazy, but a resume is no place to be careless. And choose a readable font too, preferably a classic serif font like Times 11pt. With consistency, you make your resume easier to read. Without it, your potential future employer won't know what to make of the various formatting choices.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>12. Don't be cheap with paper choices</strong><br /> This is one of the rare occasions that I will advise you to splurge. A beautifully formatted, perfectly spelled, amazingly concise resume is not going to look as impressive on crappy paper. Pop down to the local Kinkos and ask them to print out some copies on a good quality paper, perhaps one with a watermark or slight tint to it. Alternatively, buy some good paper and print it out yourself on your home-printer's highest setting. Either way, you will have something that looks and feels like a quality document worthy of consideration.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Those are my 12 steps to a good resume. I'm sure many professional resume writers can add to the list (and please, use the comments area for additional advice) but I believe this is an excellent list for anyone taking on the task of writing their own resume.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Next time, I'll give some advice on writing a cover letter. I don't see it as being as important as a resume because it's not always required. But when it is, you need to get that just right as well. Good luck. <o:p></o:p>&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></p> <!--EndFragment--><!--EndFragment--><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-write-a-resume-12-steps-to-your-next-job">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-15"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-interview-lessons-learned-from-horrible-interviews">Five Interview Lessons Learned from Horrible Interviews</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lose-your-job-without-losing-your-identity">Lose Your Job Without Losing Your Identity</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-important-signs-that-your-job-sucks">10 Important Signs That Your Job Sucks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-finding-legitimate-work-at-home-opportunities">Tips for Finding Legitimate Work at Home Opportunities</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-1-losing-a-job">Getting by without a job, part 1--losing a job</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income Life Hacks Career Building General Tips career employment hire How-To Guide interview job resume Wed, 01 Jul 2009 20:42:59 +0000 Paul Michael 3338 at http://www.wisebread.com