reviews http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4829/all en-US 5 Costly Pitfalls of Hosting on Airbnb http://www.wisebread.com/5-costly-pitfalls-of-hosting-on-airbnb <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-costly-pitfalls-of-hosting-on-airbnb" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/when_the_party_is_over.jpg" alt="When the party is over" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Renting out your spare room or property through Airbnb can be a great way to supplement your income. For example, New York City hosts earned a median income of $5,474 from the service from June 2015 to June 2016, according to Airbnb data. Other home-sharing services such as VRBO, HomeAway, and FlipKey all work in a similar way to connect property owners with renters through an online platform. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-11-best-websites-for-renting-your-extra-space?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Best Websites for Renting Out Your Extra Space</a>)</p> <p>Unfortunately, hosting on Airbnb or one of its competitors isn't just puppies, rainbows, and profits. While there is money to be made, renting out a home, an apartment, or even a room requires a lot more skill &mdash; and patience &mdash; than many realize. There's a lot that can go wrong any time you're working with the public at large. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-things-i-learned-from-renting-out-my-home-on-airbnb?ref=seealso" target="_blank">13 Things I Learned From Renting Out My Home on Airbnb</a>)</p> <p>We reached out to several Airbnb hosts to find out the biggest hassles, the most annoying downsides, and the worst things that can go awry. Their insights provide some valuable lessons on what you should really expect if you get into this business.</p> <h2>1. Rude and unruly guests</h2> <p>Renting a home or room to an Airbnb guest is a lot like running a hotel. You'll get your share of polite and courteous renters who want to enjoy themselves without making their presence a hassle. But you'll also get people who will never be happy no matter what you do.</p> <p>Airbnb host Zeona McIntyre owns properties in Boulder, Colorado and St. Louis, Missouri, and says she's experienced both the good and the bad. Some have even made her cry.</p> <p>&quot;Most guests are friendly, excited for their vacation, and really grateful that you are opening your home to them.&quot; says McIntyre. &quot;A very small group of them are entitled, rude in exchanges, and unrealistic.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I have had guests message me at all hours of the night, expecting an immediate response and I've had guests make me drive over in a snowstorm to change a light bulb.&quot;</p> <p>If you ask any Airbnb host, you'll find that none of this is rare. In fact, dealing with an occasional bad egg is really just par for the course for any Airbnb host or landlord. Before you decide to rent a room or your home, make sure you're prepared to deal with whatever &mdash; or whoever &mdash; comes your way.</p> <h2>2. Bad reviews</h2> <p>One of the major components of any Airbnb business is customer reviews. While good reviews can help attract new renters, bad reviews can cause the opposite reaction. Either way, the review system is an integral part of the equation since it's the only way for new renters to learn what your rental experience is actually like.</p> <p>As McIntyre notes, however, the review system can be a tough pill for a new owner to swallow &mdash; especially if you're transitioning a long-term rental into an Airbnb. With a long-term rental, your tenants tour the property ahead of time and know what they're getting into. With Airbnb, this is not the case.</p> <p>&quot;People all of a sudden feel empowered to critique your design sense, mattress choice, and even cleaning products,&quot; notes McIntyre. Occasionally, even simple choices like these cause renters to leave bad reviews when it's completely unwarranted.</p> <p>&quot;Constructive criticism makes us better, but it does not need to be hurtful or exaggerated,&quot; says McIntyre. But whether you like it or not, becoming an Airbnb host means learning to deal with negative feedback. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-rent-your-place-on-airbnb-and-succeed?ref=seealso" target="_blank">This Is How You Rent Your Place on Airbnb &mdash; And Succeed</a>)</p> <h2>3. More work than people realize</h2> <p>Too many people jump into their new Airbnb business with the false idea they're going to have it easy. List your Airbnb property for a profit, hire staff to keep it clean in between renters, and you can sit back and collect the checks, right?</p> <p>Wrong. According to Airbnb host and real estate expert James Carlson, renting a home or even a room can be a lot more work than people realize. And, Carlson should know. Not only is he a realtor, but he runs several properties of his own and teaches classes on becoming a profitable Airbnb host.</p> <p>Unless you hire out all the grunt work, you'll be doing laundry, cleaning kitchens, and making beds every few days. Not to mention being responsive to future guests and to your current guests' needs. &quot;Remember, they don't have a concierge service,&quot; says Carlson. &quot;You're it, so you need to be available.&quot;</p> <p>Depending on the number of units you have, you end up putting fires out a lot, says McIntyre.</p> <p>&quot;If a unit is not as clean as it needs to be, you need to get another cleaner there right away. If a toilet plugs up and a guest is only in town for the weekend, they need it to be functioning,&quot; she says. &quot;The key is not to lose your head.&quot;</p> <p>Most of all, be prepared for an array of inconvenient situations. It's not a matter of &quot;if&quot; they'll happen, only &quot;when.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Basic logistics</h2> <p>While unruly tenants and late-night calls can put a damper on your experience, sometimes it's the normal everyday logistics of running an Airbnb that cause the most hassle and stress.</p> <p>Landlord and Airbnb host Elizabeth Colegrove, who owns multiple properties and blogs at TheReluctantLandlord.net, says some of the hardest problems to solve are the ones that should be simple but aren't.</p> <p>&quot;One of the biggest pains in the beginning was figuring out trash,&quot; notes Colegrove. &quot;Tenants don't take the trash out to the curb and get really upset when there is trash left over from other people.&quot;</p> <p>But, since her properties are mostly single family homes, there's no dumpster and turnovers aren't always around the time of trash day. To avoid miscommunication with tenants about the trash, Colegrove added a notice to her welcome packet so tenants knew they were required to take trash out to the outside bin. She also upped the fee she paid her cleaning company so they would take the trash to the curb on trash day.</p> <p>Then, there are logistics that have to do with tenants themselves &mdash; for example, some tenants want to stay a single night but need to check out at 6 p.m. &quot;Basically they want to pay for one night but get two days, which does not work for same-day turnovers with cleaning,&quot; says Colegrove. &quot;We have had to get very strict on turnover and are even thinking about imposing a fine if not out by turnover.&quot;</p> <h2>5. Tax consequences</h2> <p>Abby Eisenkraft of Real Life Tax Advice is a tax professional who helps new Airbnb hosts prepare their taxes every year. She says that, especially the first year, Airbnb hosts are rarely prepared for the tax implications of running their business.</p> <p>Eisenkraft says she's seen a few different scenarios play out over and over. First, many Airbnb hosts never set aside money to pay taxes on their Airbnb income. Unfortunately, this can mean owing more in taxes than they planned for. &quot;They are always surprised &mdash; and many are tearful &mdash; when they see their tax bill,&quot; she says.</p> <p>Second, new Airbnb hosts tend to be confused about what they can write off, so they try to write off personal expenses that have nothing to do with their Airbnb. Eisenkraft's job is explaining what they can and can't write off, and her answer doesn't always please her clients.</p> <p>Lastly, new Airbnb hosts are typically surprised when they receive a Form 1099K in the mail showing their Airbnb income. Many falsely assumed their Airbnb business was &quot;under the radar&quot; and thus, not subject to taxes.</p> <p>Obviously, assuming any of these things can be costly. Knowing about them in advance can help you decide whether you really want to have a short-term rental on your property, with your eyes wide open to both the costs and benefits.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F5-costly-pitfalls-of-hosting-on-airbnb&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F5%2520Costly%2520Pitfalls%2520Of%2520Hosting%2520On%2520Airbnb.jpg&amp;description=5%20Costly%20Pitfalls%20of%20Hosting%20on%20Airbnb"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20Costly%20Pitfalls%20Of%20Hosting%20On%20Airbnb.jpg" alt="5 Costly Pitfalls of Hosting on Airbnb" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-costly-pitfalls-of-hosting-on-airbnb">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/13-things-i-learned-from-renting-out-my-home-on-airbnb">13 Things I Learned From Renting Out My Home on Airbnb</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/5-easy-ways-to-make-good-money-from-airbnb">5 Easy Ways to Make Good Money From Airbnb</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/9-easy-ways-retirees-can-earn-extra-income">9 Easy Ways Retirees Can Earn Extra Income</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-turn-your-home-into-a-moneymaking-star">How to Turn Your Home Into a Moneymaking Star</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-ways-to-earn-more-money-without-working-more-hours">6 Ways to Earn More Money — Without Working More Hours</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Extra Income Real Estate and Housing AirBnb customer service downsides guests pitfalls rentals reviews side gigs taxes Fri, 08 Sep 2017 08:30:05 +0000 Holly Johnson 2017191 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Hire Your First Employee http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-hire-your-first-employee <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-hire-your-first-employee" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/tell_me_more_about_yourself.jpg" alt="Tell me more about yourself" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Hiring your first employee is exciting! And also pretty intimidating. You don't need a complicated system in place to make your first hire, but you <em>do</em> need to take a few essential steps along the way. Here are some ways to simplify the process of hiring your first employee.</p> <h2>Decide what your employee will do</h2> <p>First things first: You know you're busy and you have more on your plate than you can accomplish alone. However, do you know exactly what your employee will take off your hands? Before you write an ad or think about a salary, make a list of the tasks and responsibilities you'd like to hand off to an employee. This list will help you hire the right person, and will also help you know exactly how to get them to full productivity quickly.</p> <h2>Write that employee handbook</h2> <p>Writing an employee handbook sounds like an overly complicated, formal process. It doesn't have to be! An employee handbook can be direct, casual, whimsical, full of pictures, and even interactive. It can also be a simple document of a few pages that covers the important values and rules you need to have in place for all employees, present and future. The U.S. Small Business Administration has a thorough guide to <a href="https://www.sba.gov/starting-business/hire-retain-employees/employee-handbooks" target="_blank">writing a handbook</a>, or you can find free templates online.</p> <h2>Set up a payroll service</h2> <p>In hiring an employee, what's most important to you is getting work done. What's most important to your first employee is getting a paycheck. Take some friendly advice: Hire a payroll service to handle the paycheck part of the equation. You will save yourself countless dollars in time and headaches. A good payroll service will provide necessary tax withholdings according to federal and state rules, keep accurate documentation, allow customizable withholdings to be set as needed, and ensure that your employee gets paid on time. All you have to do is go through the initial setup process and put a salary in place.</p> <p>And for the record: It's a really, really good idea to pay yourself through a payroll service, too. Missing tax documentation will always come back to haunt you.</p> <h2>Advertise for a great employee</h2> <p>Now you're ready to start seeking your first employee. Start by writing a great job listing ad. How, you ask? The keys to a great employment ad are specificity and authenticity.</p> <p>Specificity means that you'll list the exact tasks and responsibilities that your employee will take on. Don't use a vague term like &quot;Office Manager&quot; or &quot;Production Assistant&quot; without stating exactly what that means in your business. By making your ad specific, you will automatically filter out the applicants who aren't qualified or interested in completing the work you actually need done.</p> <p>Authenticity means that your employment ad should be like you, and like your business. If you're a casual, mom-and-pop kind of place, don't write an ad with formal language and overblown requirements for employment. Use first-person language, for example: &quot;We're looking for someone to work at the front counter.&quot;</p> <p>On the other hand, if your business is a more formal establishment with a dress code and high-end clientele, reflect that accurately in your advertisement. Use a more formal tone: &quot;Bobkin, Bobkin, and Butters, LLP, seek a qualified office assistant.&quot; The language and tone you use in your initial ad help you attract the type of applicant that will fit well and work well in your business.</p> <h2>Provide initial training</h2> <p>While you're waiting for the pre-filtered applications to roll in, thanks to your stellar employment ad, get your training materials in place. Do this by going back to that list of tasks and responsibilities that you want your first employee to handle. For each major task, write down the step-by-step process to complete it, well, completely. For each responsibility, list the tasks to be completed and, as appropriate, the timelines, resources, contacts, and other pertinent information.</p> <p>When you make that first hire, you'll have the information to start their training. As a general rule, it's a good idea to do two things: First, provide a copy of the complete training material to your employee, so they can go over it and get a big picture of the role they're taking. Second, prioritize the tasks and responsibilities and work with your new employee on each one in order of importance.</p> <h2>Set up a system for performance reviews</h2> <p>Ah, the dreaded performance review! Employees don't tend to love them, and frankly, neither do employers. However, when done well and frequently, reviews can create a working relationship that's much more beneficial for everyone involved.</p> <p>Start by letting your employee know that you will provide weekly feedback in their first month, or quarter. This is important as new employees often have no way to gauge if they're doing the job right and meeting your standards, or not. Not knowing leads to anxiety and tension, which leads to more mistakes, and can create an ugly cycle of stress and mess-ups. Provide clear, regular, weekly (at a minimum) feedback for your new employee for at least their first month.</p> <p>Thereafter, feedback sessions on a quarterly, monthly, or even a continued weekly basis are the most effective. Annual reviews are too few and far-between to be effective; they have the fun effect of making employees feel blindsided and betrayed. Don't do that! Instead, provide ongoing, informal feedback to your employee, either in face-to-face meetings or via phone, email, or messaging.</p> <p>You can provide feedback on a scheduled basis (weekly or monthly, for example) or after the completion of a task or project. In both cases, shorter, more frequent meetings tend to be more helpful. For best results, focus less on &quot;what you did wrong&quot; criticism and more on &quot;specific steps to improve&quot; instruction.</p> <p>A last note: It's a great idea to get feedback from your employee, as well as giving feedback to your employee. It's your first hire, but it probably won't be your last. Ask your new employee how you can make the process easier and be a better boss; you'll be even better prepared when it's time for your second hire.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-hire-your-first-employee&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Hire%2520Your%2520First%2520Employee.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Hire%20Your%20First%20Employee"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <div align="center"> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Hire%20Your%20First%20Employee.jpg" alt="How to Hire Your First Employee" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-hire-your-first-employee">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/how-to-grow-your-solo-business-without-hiring-employees">How to Grow Your Solo Business Without Hiring Employees</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/5-ways-to-build-business-credit-when-youre-self-employed">5 Ways to Build Business Credit When You&#039;re Self-Employed</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-smart-ways-to-get-a-small-business-loan">10 Smart Ways to Get a Small Business Loan</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/lessons-we-can-learn-from-blockbusters-demise">Lessons We Can Learn From Blockbuster&#039;s Demise</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/10-hard-truths-about-getting-hired-that-you-dont-want-to-believe">10 Hard Truths About Getting Hired That You Don&#039;t Want to Believe</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship business owner employees employment first hire hiring interviews reviews small business training Fri, 28 Jul 2017 08:30:10 +0000 Annie Mueller 1990725 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Easy Ways to Make Good Money From Airbnb http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-make-good-money-from-airbnb <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-easy-ways-to-make-good-money-from-airbnb" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_backpack_vacation_516895030.jpg" alt="Finding easy ways to make good money from Airbnb" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Airbnb is the most widely known home rental website in the U.S. If you've got a spare room or a whole property to rent out, listing it on Airbnb can provide extra income while allowing you to meet interesting people from around the world.</p> <p>But you're not the only one with this idea, of course. You may be competing with hundreds of other people offering properties in your city on any given date. It goes without saying that you need to keep your home and bedding spotless, and provide comfortable furnishings and amenities such as a TV, strong Wi-Fi connection, and hair dryer. To make sure you stand out and get the best price possible, follow these five tips.</p> <h2>1. Take professional photos of your space</h2> <p>Listings that have more attractive photos will have more success on websites like Airbnb because the layout of the website is visual. The first thing most viewers will see is a featured photo of your listing. I know from my own experience as a traveler that if an Airbnb rental doesn't have good photos, I'll scroll through to the next listing.</p> <p>But unless you're a very skilled photographer, taking attractive pictures of interiors can be difficult. Spaces may be tight and lighting, which can make or break your listing, is tricky. A good professional photographer will have the right equipment and skills to visually open up your rooms, and highlight their beautiful and unique qualities.</p> <p>Airbnb offers <a href="https://www.airbnb.com/info/photography" target="_blank">free professional photographers</a> for hosts in many cities. In a pinch, you can rely on your own skills, but it helps to read up on <a href="https://photography.tutsplus.com/articles/8-top-tips-how-to-photograph-interior-architecture--photo-1702" target="_blank">how to photograph interiors</a> first.</p> <h2>2. Offer an added service</h2> <p>When you are initially getting started on Airbnb, you can make your listing stand out by including a free service that adds value for your guests. Some examples: a yoga class, breakfast (B&amp;B style), or transportation from the airport.</p> <p>Keep it to something that is within reason, of course, and only offer services that you can consistently provide for your guests. This will make all the difference between an average listing and one that truly stands out. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-rent-your-place-on-airbnb-and-succeed?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Rent Your Place on Airbnb and Succeed</a>)</p> <h2>3. Secure good reviews from your first guests</h2> <p>Another critical factor that any potential guests will consider when they are looking into renting your property is the rating that previous guests have left you. In fact, this is one of the most important features of the Airbnb community. Having a high rating (four or five stars) will inspire confidence in future guests, since it is essentially proof of a good track record with your previous customers.</p> <p>Getting a great rating does not have to be complicated. Offer the kind of hospitality you would like to receive if you were traveling to a new town or city. Be helpful and welcoming to your guests. If possible, greet them when they first arrive. That way, even if you don't see them for the rest of their stay, you will have given them a good first impression.</p> <p>As their stay progresses, be sure to check in with your guests and make sure they are comfortable and have everything they need. Also, try to collect the keys when they leave, which can be another good opportunity to make a connection with guests and remind them that you appreciate reviews on Airbnb. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-11-best-websites-for-renting-your-extra-space?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Best Websites for Renting Your Extra Space</a>)</p> <h2>4. Include personal touches in the room</h2> <p>Remember that guests are choosing Airbnb either for its affordability, amenities (like a kitchen), or its unique character. If you want to increase the price of your rental, do your best to capitalize on that third characteristic.</p> <p>Start by thinking of a signature special touch for the room or apartment. Will you provide flowers or a bottle of wine for your guests when they arrive? A welcome package with information about your hometown? An exceptional Airbnb experience often revolves around small details, such as useful pamphlets, a map, or personal recommendations that allow your guests to experience your town like a local. Minimally, you should always have Wi-Fi information available.</p> <h2>5. Regard it as a business</h2> <p>If you want to earn more from your Airbnb listing, it's important that you regard it as a serious endeavor. You can earn a lot from your listing, but you need to be committed to it. Consider how much time you can devote to running this small business and how you can provide exceptional service to your guests to set yourself up for a very successful listing. Like any small business, you have to consider the costs, not just in time but in real dollars, for example, by paying for professional cleaning after each guest or in stocking your pantry and linens.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F5-easy-ways-to-make-good-money-from-airbnb&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F5%2520Easy%2520Ways%2520to%2520Make%2520Good%2520Money%2520From%2520Airbnb.jpg&amp;description=5%20Easy%20Ways%20to%20Make%20Good%20Money%20From%20Airbnb"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20Easy%20Ways%20to%20Make%20Good%20Money%20From%20Airbnb.jpg" alt="5 Easy Ways to Make Good Money From Airbnb" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-gokee">Amanda Gokee</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-make-good-money-from-airbnb">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/got-extra-space-make-money-and-meet-travelers-with-short-term-rentals">Got Extra Space? Make Money and Meet Travelers With Short-Term Rentals</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/13-things-i-learned-from-renting-out-my-home-on-airbnb">13 Things I Learned From Renting Out My Home on Airbnb</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-costly-pitfalls-of-hosting-on-airbnb">5 Costly Pitfalls of Hosting on Airbnb</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/9-easy-ways-retirees-can-earn-extra-income">9 Easy Ways Retirees Can Earn Extra Income</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/does-it-make-sense-to-stay-in-a-hotel-anymore">Does It Make Sense to Stay in a Hotel Anymore?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Extra Income Travel AirBnb businesses increasing value renting reviews services vacation listings Mon, 24 Apr 2017 08:30:07 +0000 Amanda Gokee 1917322 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Get Even More Freebies in Exchange for a Review http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-even-more-freebies-in-exchange-for-a-review <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-get-even-more-freebies-in-exchange-for-a-review" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_lipstick_selfie_000078747697.jpg" alt="Woman getting freebies in exchange for a review" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Who doesn't like to get free stuff? It's even better when the free stuff is actually stuff you want and like. Through the help of a small personal website and my Amazon review account, I have been able to review &mdash; and keep &mdash; over $1,000 worth of goods for free.</p> <p>Here are my simple tips to increase how many freebies you can score each year.</p> <h2>It All Starts With a Good Amazon Account</h2> <p>If you want to be approached by companies, you have to have an Amazon review account that is full of reviews. Not all of my reviews are great, but if you can take the time to write some helpful and detailed reviews for products you already own and love, then you will increase your chances of being seen by a company. Companies will go based off of reviewer ranking and helpful vote counts.</p> <p>I also highly recommend updating your Amazon reviewer profile to include a little about yourself, your email address, and your picture. My profile says something like, &quot;Yes, I will review your product. Just email me.&quot; A few companies have reached out to me through my profile to offer me a product to review.</p> <h2>Have a Small Website</h2> <p>A small website, even one that is on a free WordPress or Blogger platform, can help you get stuff for free to review. Some review sites will have specific requirements, such as X number of Facebook followers or X number of pageviews each month. I have found that most of the Christian publishers I review books for have very easy restrictions, since Amazon reviews tend to be the gold that most publishers are going for.</p> <h2>Try Reaching Out to Companies Directly</h2> <p>Maybe you don't have a website but instead a social media account or YouTube channel with quite a few subscribers. If you are not approached by companies already, try reaching out to them.</p> <p>A few years ago, I ran a site called<em> The Thrifty Wife</em>, which was not popular, but it had about 1,000 views a week. I looked at other sites that were comparable to mine and saw what they reviewed. I then would reach out to those companies asking if they were interested in exchanging their product for a review. This might be out of your comfort zone, but it worked for a few products.</p> <p>Companies usually have a PR or marketing department, and those individuals most likely do not have time to research every social media account. Most of the extremely popular websites and social media accounts are hard to get a hold of or charge companies to review products. This is where individuals with a decent following come into play.</p> <h2>Book Publishers That Offer Review Copies</h2> <p>I review Christian books as a part of Tyndale, Moody, and HarperCollins' book reviewing programs. However, there are several programs available for both Christian and non-Christian books. Check publisher's websites to see if they have a reviewer program or a first look newsletter. Many indie authors are usually more than happy to provide free digital copies for reviews, so don't be afraid to reach out.</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/bethanyhouse/bookreviewers">Bethany House</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.tyndaleblognetwork.com/">Tyndale Blog Network</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.hayhousebooknook.com/">Hay House</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.waterbrookmultnomah.com/bloggingforbooks/">Blogging for Books</a></li> <li><a href="http://tywebbinvirtualevents.com/authors-on-tour/join/">Tywebbin</a></li> <li><a href="http://mpnewsroom.com/">Moody Publishers</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.bookbrowse.com/arc/">BookBrowse</a></li> <li><a href="http://radiantlit.com/">Radiant Lit</a></li> <li><a href="http://vesselproject.com/">The Vessel Project</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.springer.com/book+reviews?SGWID=0-108-12-690404-0">Springer</a></li> </ul> <h2>Other Product Review Sites</h2> <p>Right now, I am a part of <a href="http://www.blueribbonsreview.com/">Blue Ribbon Reviews</a>, which offers free and heavily discounted items to review. I have received a backseat car organizer, reusable baby food pouches, and food containers for less than a $1 a piece, and they were things I could use anyways. So far, their free items I have seen offered have been for sleep-inducing syrup and wallets.</p> <p>The other company I review for is <a href="http://allstarreviewers.com/">All Star Review</a>. The site has offered 100% free items, but you are alerted of the free item a day before it launches, and then it is a first come, first serve basis the day the freebie is live.</p> <p>Obviously <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/vine/help">Amazon's Vine program</a> would be ideal, but I am still waiting for my invite. You can check out these other sites, too. Some are for free products, and others are for deeply discounted items.</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.lucky21.com">Lucky21</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.amz.one/#a_aid=trc">AMZ.one </a></li> <li><a href="http://www.therevieweffect.com">The Review Effect </a></li> <li><a href="https://homeproducttesting.org/">Home Product Testing </a></li> <li><a href="http://productelf.com/">Product Elf </a></li> <li><a href="https://www.snagshout.com/">Snagshout </a></li> <li><a href="https://www.giveawayservice.com/">Giveaway Service</a></li> </ul> <p>I have received several great things for free that have been very useful to me, including many organic food items and books that were on my &quot;to read&quot; wish list. However, there have been times I have been asked to review random things, such as a TV antenna or a refrigerator filter that didn't go with my fridge model. To avoid bringing clutter into my home, I only review products I want or know that I will use.</p> <p><em>What have you been able to review for free?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-even-more-freebies-in-exchange-for-a-review">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/16-amazon-deal-hacks-you-may-not-already-know">16 Amazon Deal Hacks You May Not Already Know</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/5-little-known-amazon-shopping-hacks">5 Little Known Amazon Shopping Hacks</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/the-big-list-of-money-saving-coupon-codes-for-halloween-2016">The Big List of Money-Saving Coupon Codes for Halloween 2016</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-stores-with-the-best-price-matching">10 Stores With the Best Price Matching</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-ways-to-avoid-sneaky-online-price-changes">6 Ways to Avoid Sneaky Online Price Changes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Shopping Amazon books discounts freebies online shopping reviews Tue, 07 Jun 2016 09:00:12 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1725690 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Ways Being Patient Saves You Money http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-being-patient-saves-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-ways-being-patient-saves-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_meditating_at_work_000043979528_0.jpg" alt="Woman learning to be patient and saving money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all know that patience is a powerful virtue. It helps us get ahead in our careers, be better parents and partners, and avoid unnecessary conflict in nearly every area of life. Patience can even save us money. Here are eight ways going zen before you spend can help your budget:</p> <h2>1. You Have Time to Check Consumer Reviews</h2> <p>Informed consumers are smart consumers. Patience gives buyers a chance to compare features and prices, read online consumer reviews, explore product ratings on non-profit sites like Consumer Reports, and get the very best deal possible. It may sound cynical, but some manufacturers have built their livelihoods on selling junk to uninformed &quot;gotta-have-it-now&quot; buyers. Don't be one of them.</p> <h2>2. You Have Time to Decide If You Really Need It</h2> <p>Impatient consumers are led by their hearts and have trouble <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-never-succumb-to-impulse-spending-again">avoiding impulse spending</a>. How many times have you purchased an item on impulse only to later ask yourself &quot;What was I thinking?&quot; Being patient gives you time to consider (and reconsider) if you truly need what you're tempted to buy.</p> <h2>3. You Can Wait for a Sale</h2> <p>Don't you relish that moment when the stars align and something you really want or need goes on sale? Sadly, impatient folks never get to experience that natural high. They simply can't wait and their impatience costs them cold hard cash.</p> <h2>4. You Might Find it Used</h2> <p>There are many reasons <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-why-used-is-better">why buying used is better</a>, and saving money is just one of them. A few years ago, I was dangerously close to forking over $3,000 for a new Tempurpedic mattress. Instead, I took a deep breath and gave myself a few months to find a better deal. Amazingly, I spotted one for sale on Craigslist. A newlywed couple had received the queen-sized mattress as a wedding gift (what an amazing gift, right?) and didn't like it. Though technically second-hand, it was still in the factory plastic wrap. It's the best $1,000 I've ever spent.</p> <h2>5. You Can Explore Alternatives</h2> <p>Several years ago, I was decorating my new condo and stumbled upon a limited edition lithograph that I loved in one of those big chain galleries at the mall. It was out of my price range by several hundred dollars, but I crafted all sorts of justifications for the splurge. Luckily, I hesitated just long enough to be invited to a local art fair where I found an original painting that I loved even more &mdash; for one-third the price. A bit of inadvertent patience saved me hundreds, helped me support a struggling independent artist, and allowed me to discover a wonderful original image that I'll treasure for years.</p> <h2>6. You Might Get it as a Gift</h2> <p>If there's an item you want or need, add it to your holiday wish list or drop a few subtle hints in advance of a birthday, housewarming party, or similar gift-giving occasion. Sure, it's not the most evolved money-saving strategy, but often our friends and family are looking for just the perfect gift and would welcome reasonable suggestions.</p> <h2>7. You Can Wait for the Release of a New Model</h2> <p>Our consumer machine is constantly churning out smaller, sleeker, and faster models of the same product you must have right now. If you're patient enough, wait for the new and improved model to be released and then buy the original version at a deep discount.</p> <h2>8. You Can Save up and Avoid Finance Charges</h2> <p>Putting your impulse purchases on pause gives you time to save up and pay cash. Avoiding interest charges, potential late fees, and overdraft dings makes a patient approach even smarter. In fact, there are loads of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-6-reasons-why-using-cash-only-rocks">reasons why using cash-only rocks</a>.</p> <p>In our act-fast, don't wait, while-supplies-last world, patience is a rare quality. Retailers encourage us to buy now and think later because they realized a long time ago that emotion moves products. Patient people spend less and when we do spend, we make better purchasing decisions. When it comes to my money and my budget, impulse has its place, but patience rules the day.</p> <p><em>Do you consider yourself a patient person? How has being patient helped you save money?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-being-patient-saves-you-money">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/11-ways-to-prepare-for-your-best-black-friday">11 Ways to Prepare for Your Best Black Friday</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/5-excuses-we-need-to-stop-making-about-overspending">5 Excuses We Need to Stop Making About Overspending</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/9-simple-ways-to-stop-impulse-buying">9 Simple Ways to Stop Impulse Buying</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/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste 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/4-common-money-misconceptions-about-women">4 Common Money Misconceptions About Women</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Buy It Now buying used impulse shopping patience reviews sales Fri, 11 Sep 2015 15:00:30 +0000 Kentin Waits 1554811 at http://www.wisebread.com Can a Robot Called Digit Really Help You Save More? http://www.wisebread.com/can-a-robot-called-digit-really-help-you-save-more <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-a-robot-called-digit-really-help-you-save-more" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/momdaughter_saving_piggy_bank_000022124763.jpg" alt="Mom and daughter putting coins in a piggy bank " title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The frugal living world is full of exhortations to save more for emergencies, to save for important purchases, to save for big life goals. Along with that comes lots and lots of advice about how to trim costs, earn more, and to budget and plan. Despite all of that, Americans still don't save as much as they should &mdash; <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/business/personal-finance/62-percent-americans-cant-cover-unexpected-expenses-bankrate-n281796">&nbsp;60% of us don't have enough set aside</a> for even <em>minor </em>emergencies like a car repair or an emergency visit to the dentist.</p> <p>So why don't we save when we know we should? Because even though it seems easy, saving money actually isn't that simple.</p> <h2>Digit Is Designed to Make Saving Easy</h2> <p><a href="https://digit.co/">Digit</a> is a free smartphone app that analyzes a connected checking account and makes periodic withdrawals to a separate, Digit-controlled savings account. The algorithm monitors spending and income habits to determine the size and frequency of the transfers. They are generally small ($15 to $20) and occur once or twice a week. Individual transfers are capped at $150.</p> <p>Most interaction with the service is via mobile text. Every morning Digit sends an account update with details about recent transactions and current balance. Users can send texts to issue commands and check balances, too. There's also a clean and simple website interface.</p> <h2>I've Saved $58.75 in Two Weeks With Digit</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/Peterson_Digit_Screenshot.jpeg" width="605" height="330" alt="" /></p> <p>After I got over some squeamishness about letting a mysterious algorithm connect to my checking account and begin transferring funds, I signed up through the website (it's easy, of course) and waited for Digit to do its thing. The first transfer, for $6.50, came about a week later. A handful of transfers have followed since (they seem to come in pairs, about a week apart), and I've amassed a tidy little nest egg of $58.75. When it reaches $100, I'll transfer it back to my checking account and from there into my savings account. Woo-hoo! An extra hundred bucks in my vacation fund.</p> <h2>What I Like About Digit</h2> <p>Here's why I'll probably keep my Digit account live even after I've written this review.</p> <h3>It's Easy</h3> <p>Setting up an automatic transfer between a checking account and a savings account is easy. Digit is easier, and works alongside my current transfers to help me find extra money to put aside for whatever. Signup is quick and painless. The interface is simple, clear, and direct. The list of commands is short and to the point.</p> <h3>It Sends Me Daily Text Updates</h3> <p>I try to check in with my banking and credit accounts every couple of days to see where my money's going and to keep an eye out for mistakes or erroneous charges. Unfortunately, sometimes life happens, and I may not check in for a couple of weeks. Digit sends me an update every morning with account balance and transaction details. It doesn't seem like much, but it goes a long way toward keeping money and personal finance &quot;top-of-mind.&quot; I'm thinking more about my money, and that's good.</p> <h3>Digit's Designers Are Thinking About Psychology</h3> <p>Digit doesn't ask me how much money I would like to save &mdash; it just does it, based on my financial habits. Compare that with an automatic transfer between accounts. The user has to make the decision to save, the decision to set up the accounts, and finally the decision on the amount of money to withhold. Each of those decisions are &quot;opt-in&quot; moments, which are surprisingly difficult to overcome. The last one is especially difficult because in addition to opt-in, we have to overcome &quot;loss aversion,&quot; which is what psychologists call our reluctance to give up what we have in order to gain something else. When you set up an automatic transfer between checking and savings, you have to decide how much to give up from spending now in order to gain some savings later. That's hard.</p> <p>Digit doesn't eliminate all the &quot;opt-in&quot; obstacles (you still have to click a link and sign up, after all), but it does help us get over loss aversion. Once you're in, you're saving.</p> <h2>What I Dislike About Digit</h2> <p>Digit does a lot of things right, but not everything.</p> <h3>Digit Interacts With My Checking Account</h3> <p>It felt really weird at first to let a third-party service transfer money out of my checking account &mdash; automatically. Digit's designers have recognized that this is a tall hurdle for some people. They insist the algorithm will never cause a user's checking account to become overdrawn, and they offer an overdraft guarantee, just in case. So far, nobody's had to take them up on it.</p> <h3>My Money With Digit Doesn't Earn Any Interest</h3> <p>Funds transferred and held in Digit's savings account do not earn interest. Of course, funds in my checking account and regular bank savings account earn only paltry interest, so maybe that's a wash. In any case, this is how Digit keeps the service free and pays themselves &mdash; they are capturing the interest instead of passing it to users.</p> <p>Also, transferring money out of my Digit savings account and back to my checking account takes about a day. (Meanwhile, transfers out of my PayPal account can take up to <em>five</em>.)</p> <h3>Digit's Psychology Can Work Against Me, Too</h3> <p>Speaking of getting my money out of Digit, the process is more like transferring funds between checking and savings accounts. It's all manual, with some &quot;opt-ins&quot; and a big &quot;loss aversion&quot; moment to overcome at the end. Automatic withdrawals back to my checking account &mdash; or even my savings account &mdash; based on preset goals met would be a nice feature. Maybe they'll add that in the future.</p> <h2>A Few More Details About Digit</h2> <p>If you're considering trying out Digit, you should know a few more things. (There's lots more at<a href="https://digit.co/about/faq"> Digit's FAQ</a>.)</p> <h3>Funds Are FDIC Insured up to $250k</h3> <p>Digit holds users' money at Wells Fargo or BofI Federal Bank, both of which are FDIC insured.</p> <h3>It Works With Most US Banks and Credit Unions</h3> <p>Digit is United States only currently, and while most major banks and credit unions are covered, not all are.</p> <h3>Passwords Are Anonymized and Secure</h3> <p>Digit claims they adhere to industry standards with respect to password and user data security.</p> <h2>Signing Up for Digit</h2> <p>If you'd like to signup for Digit, you can do so, <a href="https://digit.co/">right here</a>, in just a few moments. Once you've spent some time with it come back and share your experience in comments.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lars-peterson">Lars Peterson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-a-robot-called-digit-really-help-you-save-more">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/everyones-using-spare-change-apps-are-they-really-worth-it">Everyone&#039;s Using Spare Change Apps — Are They Really Worth It?</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/the-simple-holiday-budget-anyone-can-follow">The Simple Holiday Budget Anyone Can Follow</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/7-apps-that-make-budgeting-fun-no-really">7 Apps That Make Budgeting Fun — No Really!</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/the-5-best-apps-for-busy-working-parents">The 5 Best Apps for Busy Working Parents</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/10-free-or-almost-tools-and-resources-for-creating-a-new-2015-budget">10 Free (or Almost!) Tools and Resources for Creating a New 2015 Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Technology apps behavioral economics digit reviews saving Wed, 18 Mar 2015 21:00:07 +0000 Lars Peterson 1345891 at http://www.wisebread.com Ask the Readers: Do You Read Product Reviews Before Buying? http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-do-you-read-product-reviews-before-buying <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-the-readers-do-you-read-product-reviews-before-buying" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/6829378917_6439415c2c_z.jpg" alt="Do You Read Product Reviews Before Buying?" title="Do You Read Product Reviews Before Buying?" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Editor's Note: Congratulations to </em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-do-you-read-product-reviews-before-buying#comment-587520"><em>katie m</em></a><em>, Tabathia, and Betty for winning this week's contest!</em></p> <p>Making decisions on big purchases can be difficult! Many people spend lots of time researching prices, warranty info, and other relevant facts to their potential purchase. On top of that, many people take the time to read reviews on their potential purchase before actually buying an item. However, there are some people who buy without taking the time to do research or read reviews!</p> <p><b>Do you read product reviews before buying? </b>Where do you go to read reviews? If you don't read reviews before buying something, how do you decide whether or not to buy?</p> <p>Tell us if you read product reviews before buying and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</p> <h2>Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards</h2> <p>We're doing three giveaways &mdash; here's how you can win!</p> <h3>Mandatory Entry:&nbsp;</h3> <ul> <li>Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</li> </ul> <h3>For extra entries:</h3> <ul> <li>You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:</li> <a id="rc-79857d16" class="rafl" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/79857d16/">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a> <script src="//d12vno17mo87cx.cloudfront.net/embed/rafl/cptr.js"></script> <p><strong>If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.</strong></p> <h4>Giveaway Rules:</h4> <ul> <li>Contest ends Monday, February 4th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after February 4th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.</li> <li>You can enter all three drawings &mdash; once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.</li> <li>This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.</li> <li>You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.</li> </ul> </ul> <p><strong>Good Luck!</strong></p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tell us if you read product reviews before buying and we&#039;ll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card! </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-do-you-read-product-reviews-before-buying">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/ask-the-readers-what-is-your-new-years-resolution">Ask the Readers: What Is Your New Year&#039;s Resolution?</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/ask-the-readers-how-did-you-spend-your-first-paycheck">Ask the Readers: How Did You Spend Your First Paycheck?</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/ask-the-readers-name-your-favorite-moment-of-2010">Ask the Readers: Name Your Favorite Moment of 2010</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/ask-the-readers-share-your-favorite-frugal-holiday-tradition">Ask the Readers: Share Your Favorite Frugal Holiday Tradition</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/ask-the-readers-whats-your-favorite-discovery-of-2010">Ask the Readers: What&#039;s Your Favorite Discovery of 2010</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Giveaways Ask the Readers purchase reviews Tue, 29 Jan 2013 11:36:31 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 967506 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Things Tax Preparers Should Tell You http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-tax-preparers-should-tell-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-things-tax-preparers-should-tell-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/senior-couple-financial-adviser.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="143" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Brought to you by </em><a target="_blank" href="http://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/online/free-edition.jsp"><em>TurboTax Federal Free Edition &mdash; Free to prepare, Free to print, Free to efile</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>With tax season upon us soon, it's helpful to go into the tax preparation process with reasonable expectations and knowledge of how the process will work, what the roles and responsibilities are, and what you should anticipate as an output from your interactions with your preparer.</p> <h3>1. What You Need to Bring</h3> <p>It's not always obvious which documents are even required to complete a tax return. It seems as though we&rsquo;re receiving a tax document per day in the mail, sometimes in a redundant and confusing fashion. Conversely, with the heavy reliance on electronic record-keeping, people are rightfully confused over whether they should always be getting a paper statement for tax purposes or whether they need to print out electronic copies.</p> <p>You should plan to have in your possession all documents related to income, investments, interest, deductions, credits, and anything else that might reasonably result in an entry on your tax return. If you do any sort of investing outside a tax-deferred retirement account, chances are that any transactions will have to be reported. Just holding on to a dividend-paying stock requires reporting of dividend income. Interest from CDs, money market accounts, and savings accounts is fair game as well.</p> <p>On the credit side, if you sought to take advantage of any of the various government stimulus programs like the home energy tax credits, cash for clunkers, the new homebuyer tax credit, or others, documentation related to those transactions should be shared with your preparer. Several such topics are outlined in much more detail in this nifty <a target="_blank" href="http://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Tax-Planning-and-Checklists/Tax-Preparation-Checklist/INF12048.html">tax preparation checklist</a>. If in doubt, bring it!</p> <h3>2. How to Optimize Your Deductions and Credits</h3> <p>Some like to think of tax preparation and advice as an art more than a science. There are various ways to approach how you set up your income and expenses in your personal life, as well as in any businesses you run, in order to optimize your returns by minimizing your tax liability. Your preparer may recommend anything from optimizing your small-business expenses to pulling forward contributions and expenses into the current tax year to beat the clock and realize the larger deduction come spring.</p> <p>The preparer may point out credits and deductions you didn't even know existed. Likewise, he may also warn against being too aggressive with certain tax deduction claims to decrease the risk of generating an audit. An oft-cited red flag is the home office deduction, but there are others as well that seasoned tax preparers may recommend you avoid. (See also: <a target="_blank" href="http://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Tax-Deductions-and-Credits/The-10-Most-Overlooked-Tax-Deductions/INF12062.html">10 most overlooked tax deductions</a>.)</p> <h3>3. How Your Tax Liability or Refund Was Calculated</h3> <p>Rather than just spitting out a number at the end of a session, your tax preparer should walk you through a methodical explanation of both the income side and deduction side, share any notable impacts of various tax rules, and then highlight how and why your ultimate liability or deduction came out the way it did.&nbsp;There should be a full double-check of the information you provided and a chance to point out any omissions or mistakes. While there are ways to amend tax returns later, it may come at additional expense and delay. It's ideal to get it right the first time &ndash; and get that refund on time!&nbsp;</p> <h3>4. When Will Your Refund Arrive</h3> <p>With most tax returns resulting in a refund of some sort, it's helpful to know when your refund will arrive. Many people know they're getting a sizable refund each year and plan to use those funds to do anything from pay the annual tax bill to fund the summer family vacation. Be it days, weeks, or longer, the preparer should be able to give an indication of when to expect a refund based on her own internal timeline for submission and the typical turnaround time from the federal government.&nbsp;It may not be evident at the time, but the initial preparer you meet with may or may not be conducting the actual calculations and generating the return herself. Outsourcing is a common business practice now in the field, so that may add to the cycle time considerably.</p> <h3>5. Ideas to Better Manage Your Taxes</h3> <p>Aside from simply completing your return based on historical information, an adept preparer should be able to make suggestions to better manage your taxable liabilities. Suggestions may include highlighting any <a target="_blank" href="http://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/IRS-Tax-Return/Summary-of-Federal-Tax-Law-Changes-for-2010-2017/INF12041.html">legislative changes that may affect you</a>, new stimulus and tax-credit programs, how to best incorporate a small business, common deductions worth considering that you may not have tracked and documented in the prior year, and some basic investment concepts related to taxable versus tax-deferred accounts.</p> <p>These are just a few of the topics an adept tax preparer should be sharing with you.&nbsp;Otherwise, you may be leaving thousands of dollars in tax-saving opportunities on the table each year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/darwins-money">Darwins Money</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-tax-preparers-should-tell-you">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/5-things-everyone-should-know-about-this-years-tax-changes">5 Things Everyone Should Know About This Year&#039;s Tax Changes</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-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice">6 Great Places to Get Free Tax Advice</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/tax-brackets-explained">Tax Brackets Explained</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-10-red-flags-that-trigger-irs-audits">Top 10 Red Flags That Trigger IRS Audits</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/8-smart-things-to-do-with-your-tax-refund">8 Smart Things to Do With Your Tax Refund</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes income tax reviews turbotax Tue, 25 Jan 2011 16:02:00 +0000 Darwins Money 474241 at http://www.wisebread.com Book Review: The Happy Minimalist http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-the-happy-minimalist <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/book-review-the-happy-minimalist" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/the-happy-minimalist-cover.jpg" alt="Cover of The Happy Minimalist" title="Cover of The Happy Minimalist" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="192" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1436348625?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1436348625">The Happy Minimalist: Financial independence, Good health, and a better planet for us all</a> by Peter Lawrence.</p> <p>Like frugality and simplicity, minimalism is both a means and an end. It's a way of living light on your wallet and light on the planet, and it enables certain choices (such as mobility) that are closed off to most people. The hows and whys of minimalism are the topic of Lawrence's book.</p> <p>When Lawrence lays out his own path, the book is great. The story of how he came to minimalism and of how he lives his life is fascinating and compelling. He provides solid details on the specific choices he has made, in terms of what he finds he needs and how he gets by without many of the things that most people figure are needs.</p> <p>I wish the book had more of that, because that's what Lawrence has to offer &mdash; his own experience told in his own words.</p> <p>Unfortunately, that's only half of this rather short book. The other half is advocacy for minimalism, and that part reads as if Lawrence didn't trust the truth of his own words and his own experience. The advocacy part of the book is larded with quotes from Gandhi, Confucius, Socrates, Aesop's fables, the Bible, etc. There are literally pages of quotes. They're all fine statements of the value of living in accordance with your own values (rather than the values of society at large) and of minimalism as a pathway to doing so &mdash; but they're largely statements that everyone has seen before.</p> <p>Nobody says it better than Thoreau, but rather than yet another repetition of &quot;We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without,&quot; I'd have much preferred more of Lawrence's own insights:</p> <blockquote><p>I don't have a 42-inch flat panel high-definition TV. However, I take pride in my 120-inch high-definition view from my home of the mountain range. I get to see the sun rise every morning and moon rise every month.</p> <p>Is there a danger of oversimplification or trying to minimize something that should not be minimized. Yes. Exercise is a good example.</p> </blockquote> <p>We all live somewhere on the continuum from minimalism to maximalism, but where we are now is an artifact of our own history, social and family pressures, and mere happenstance. Unless we've lived a very thoughtful life, or been very lucky, we're probably not at the best possible point. Getting close to your own best point comes down to a thoughtful examination of your own values and a close look at how your life does or doesn't match them. Where a book like <em>The Happy Minimalist</em> can help is by illuminating one point along the continuum and saying, &quot;Here's what it's like at this point! Here's what's good about it!&quot; That knowledge can then inform us as we make the choices that move us one direction or another along the continuum. Despite its flaws, <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1436348625?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1436348625">The Happy Minimalist </a></em>does that.</p> <p><em>Note: I received a free copy of the book for review. Links to the book are affiliate links.</em></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/book-review-the-happy-minimalist">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/book-review-the-self-sufficient-life-and-how-to-live-it">Book review: The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It</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/book-review-life-inc">Book review: Life Inc.</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/book-review-wabi-sabi-simple">Book review: Wabi Sabi Simple</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/book-review-rich-like-them-by-ryan-dagostino">Book Review: Rich Like Them by Ryan D&#039;Agostino</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/lessons-in-simple-living-from-extreme-minimalists">Lessons in Simple Living From Extreme Minimalists</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle book review books minimalism reviews Wed, 09 Jun 2010 12:00:04 +0000 Philip Brewer 123057 at http://www.wisebread.com Book Review: One Year to an Organized Financial Life http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-one-year-to-an-organized-financial-life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/book-review-one-year-to-an-organized-financial-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/leeds.jpg" alt="One Year to an Organized Financial Life" title="One Year to an Organized Financial Life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="193" height="258" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's a reason we tend to talk about getting our finances in order. More often than not, the first issue we have to deal with is organization. That may mean sorting through stacks of paper for bills and statements we didn't really want to see in the first place, or it may mean dealing with clutter that distracts us from even starting on the paperwork. It's just about impossible to improve your finances if you don't have them organized.</p> <p>That's the premise of <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Year-Organized-Financial-Week-Week/dp/0738213675/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;s=books&amp;qid=1273504633&amp;sr=8-1">One Year to an Organized Financial Life</a></em>, by Regina Leeds and Russell Wild. Leeds is a professional organizer as well as the author of such books as <em>One Year to an Organized Life</em>, while Wild is a NAPFA-certified financial advisor. The two have put together an organized approach to getting organized, breaking down the monstrous task of dealing with financial issues into small steps that can be handled without stress.</p> <p><em>One Year to an Organized Financial Life</em> is not written with the idea of completely fixing your finances overnight, though. It can take months or even years to build up a snarl of financial paperwork and plans, and Leeds and Wild know that it takes plenty of time to resolve such a situation. The book is organized around a calendar, offering a year-long guide. In January, the plan is to start work on the clutter and implement a filing system. With step-by-step instructions and bullet points, the book navigates through taxes, budgeting, credit, long-term savings and other key considerations for your finances. There's even a well-timed section in November on budgeting for the holidays.</p> <p>This book is meant very specifically for readers who are fairly busy. If you've found yourself struggling to actually get specific parts of your finances in order, it's ideal because it's not just general advice, like some personal finance books. Instead, Leeds and Wild have created a resource that explains each action you need to take, along with the steps you can use to keep from having to come back and re-organize in the future. They go much deeper than explaining that a person should save more and spend less, discussing the reasons you may handle your finances the way you do.</p> <p>There is always an emotional component when it comes to money and <em>One Year to an Organized Financial Life</em> takes that fact into account. Leeds brings in her experience as a professional organizer to discuss the symptoms that can go along with financial issues, such as physical clutter, as well as how you can handle those symptoms as you resolve the underlying concerns.</p> <p><em>One Year to an Organized Financial Life</em> is 288 pages long &mdash; a fast read, but a book you'll likely come back to again and again. It's published by Da Capo Lifelong Books and is available for $16.95.</p> <p><em>Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book for</em> review.</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/book-review-one-year-to-an-organized-financial-life">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/book-review-the-only-investment-guide-youll-ever-need">Book review: The Only Investment Guide You&#039;ll Ever Need</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/book-review-the-self-sufficient-life-and-how-to-live-it">Book review: The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It</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/3-steps-to-building-a-financial-safety-net-from-the-economy-of-you">3 Steps to Building a Financial Safety Net From “The Economy of You”</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-ways-being-patient-saves-you-money">8 Ways Being Patient Saves 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/book-review-the-happy-minimalist">Book Review: The Happy Minimalist</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance book review regina leeds reviews russel wild Wed, 12 May 2010 12:00:03 +0000 Thursday Bram 72972 at http://www.wisebread.com Book Review: The Trap http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-the-trap <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/book-review-the-trap" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/the-trap-cover.jpg" alt="Cover of The Trap" title="Cover of The Trap" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="370" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0805088016?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0805088016"><em>The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America</em></a> by Daniel Brook.</p> <p>For more than two years now writing at Wise Bread, my whole thesis has been that frugality leads to freedom &mdash; if you can live cheaply enough, you can choose whatever work calls you, instead of whatever work pays the most. This book thoughtfully presents the case that my view is not just shortsighted but actually harmful.</p> <p>I've always recognized that the lifestyle I advocate has its limits. All sorts of perfectly ordinary aspects of a normal life &mdash; whether positive, such as having kids, or negative, such as becoming seriously ill &mdash; make it a lot harder to live a very frugal life.</p> <p>Brook talks a good bit about the limits of frugality as a way to do whatever work calls you. Many of the examples Brook uses are people whose work requires that they live in a big city:</p> <ul> <li>Activists who need to live where there's a critical mass of others with the same vision.</li> <li>Social workers or community organizers who need to live in the community that they serve.</li> <li>Creative types of the sort who can't just do their work by themselves the way a writer can &mdash; filmmakers, dancers, actors.</li> </ul> <p>It's possible to live frugally even in a big city, but living very frugally requires not only luck and flexibility but also a level of constant attention that makes it hard to focus on the work that was the whole point.</p> <p>Sure, Brook says, it's possible to live frugally enough that you can do whatever you want &mdash; as long as what you want doesn't include expensive things like sending your kids to college or paying for your healthcare if you get sick or living in a big city.</p> <p>But that's really Brook's secondary point. His central point is that the way we've organized society is harmful.</p> <p>Low tax rates were supposed to be good and fair. Letting everybody keep what they earn seems only right, and in a growing economy it wasn't supposed to be harmful for some people to become extremely rich. After all, as long as the poor and middle-class are also making progress, does it matter if some people are super-rich? Brook's answer is that it does matter.</p> <p>Perhaps it wouldn't matter if the super-rich were spending all their vast wealth on Old Master paintings and private islands &mdash; but they aren't. They're spending significant amounts on stuff like college for their kids and healthcare and apartments in the city. Stuff, in other words, that the rest of us need to buy too. And, since they have so much money, they end up bidding up the price of the ordinary necessities of middle-class life.</p> <p>The result of that is that people are pressured into selling out. Even people who are strongly inclined toward service in government or a non-profit find that they just can't do it &mdash; not and pay off their student loans, get married, buy a house, and support a family.</p> <p>The big reason I advocate frugality as the path to freedom is that it's entirely within your own grasp &mdash; it doesn't depend on the government nor on changes to the way society or the economy are structured. But that doesn't mean that society and the economy are structured perfectly. Whether you're with me on the advantages of frugality or disagree, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0805088016?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0805088016"><em>The Trap</em></a> provides a fascinating look at the issues.</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/book-review-the-trap">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/who-really-owns-your-digital-assets">Who Really Owns Your Digital Assets?</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/the-8-classic-personal-finance-books-you-must-read">The 8 Classic Personal Finance Books You Must Read</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/book-review-the-only-investment-guide-youll-ever-need">Book review: The Only Investment Guide You&#039;ll Ever Need</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/the-only-money-advice-youll-actually-listen-to">The Only Money Advice You&#039;ll Actually Listen To</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-audiobooks-about-money-you-need-to-hear">5 Audiobooks About Money You Need to Hear</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance book reviews books reviews selling out Wed, 20 Jan 2010 14:00:05 +0000 Philip Brewer 4738 at http://www.wisebread.com Book review: Life Inc. http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-life-inc <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/book-review-life-inc" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/life-inc-cover.jpg" alt="Cover of Life Inc" title="Cover of Life Inc" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="144" height="219" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400066891?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1400066891"><cite>Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back</cite></a> by Douglas Rushkoff.</p> <p>Corporations were invented a few hundred years ago--created to increase the wealth and power of favored businessmen (and the governments that favored them). They have become such a universal feature of our economy that few people give much thought to their origins--or how our economies are structured to suit them. But exactly that is the topic of Douglas Rushkoff's new book.</p> <p>Rushkoff beings the book with an anecdote: After being mugged outside his apartment, he posted to a local internet forum so that his neighbors would be aware of what had happened. His neighbor's reaction, though, surprised him--how dare he post about such a thing in public? Didn't he know such talk would lower property values?</p> <h2>Maximizing economic value</h2> <p>Property value, of course, is a pretty abstract concept. Unless you're planning to sell (or refinance) your property, its market value should be of little interest--certainly of less interest than the presence of muggers working the sidewalk in front of your home. And yet, Rushkoff's neighbors clearly felt otherwise. Rushkoff's analysis: They were thinking like corporations.</p> <p>Corporations are legally required to try to maximize their economic value. A board of directors that didn't do so would be failing in its fiduciary duty to the shareholders. People, of course, have no such legal obligation--and yet, as Rushkoff's anecdote shows, people often behave in that way as well. How come?</p> <p>That's the story that Life Inc. tries to tell, and a fascinating story it is. He talks about the earliest chartered corporations--monopolies licensed by the crown--and how they were designed to extract value from the periphery (India, Asia, Africa, the Americas) and bring it to the center. With a few exceptions, corporate charters no longer grant monopolies, but by now the whole structure of the economy is designed to favor corporate thinking and to facility its original purpose of drawing the value in to the center.</p> <h2>Local money versus centralized money</h2> <p>One of the most interesting pieces of the tale is the story of money.</p> <p>Over most of history, the things we think of as classical forms of money, such as gold and silver coins, were mostly used by governments and traders. They were used to finance long-distance trade, because they held their value--even when the trader was 1000 miles from home. Close to home, though, they didn't see much use.&nbsp; Peasants are largely self-sufficient, and most of what they can't produce for themselves they can trade for locally.</p> <p>Even locally, though, some form of money is very handy--it's easier than barter for all the reasons that people have always preferred money.&nbsp; Since gold and silver were largely monopolized for governments and international trade, throughout the middle ages local money (in various forms) was very important. Instead of being backed by gold or silver, local money was generally backed by agricultural products such as grain or tobacco.</p> <p>In practice, local money produces a very different result from centralized money. Since agricultural products deteriorate with age, there's no good reason to hoard money. The smart thing to do is to spend it on some productive asset--land, buildings, livestock, tools--or at least on something that can be made more valuable with labor. The result of people following that logic is thriving local businesses, producing goods with local materials, fully employing the local labor.</p> <p>In fact, according to Rushkoff, the period of the middle ages when local money circulated side-by-side with centralized money brought Europe to a peak of affluence it had not seen since the Roman empire, and would not see again until the industrial revolution. It was in this period that the great cathedrals were built--among other reasons as productive assets: as tourist attractions to bring in pilgrims.</p> <h2>Modern corporations</h2> <p>There are many good bits to the book. I particularly liked a couple of great examples of the same thing I was talking about in my article that described <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-modern-company-as-specialized-venture-capital-firm">modern corporations as specialized venture capital firms</a>. He talks about being hired as a consultant by a company that called itself a major American television manufacturer--except that the TVs were outsourced to Korean manufacturers, the design to a design firm in San Francisco, the marketing to a New York agency, and fulfillment and delivery to a major shipping company.</p> <p>I also liked this bit:</p> <blockquote><p>During the famous dog-food-poisoning crisis of 2007, worried consumers called their dog-food companies for information. Were the brands getting their chow from the plant in China responsible for the tainted food? Many of the companies couldn't answer the question. They had outsourced their outsourcing to another company in China that hadn't yet determined who had gotten which food. The American companies didn't even do their own outsourcing.</p> </blockquote> <p>The core of the book is this analysis: The economic structures that worked so well for extracting wealth from the colonies and bringing it to the capitals of Europe are still at the heart of modern corporate structure and modern economies. And, because they were designed to draw wealth from the center, they continue to have that effect. And, since the rules were designed to favor corporations over ordinary people, people come in second unless they act like corporations.</p> <p>The thing is, people <strong>aren't</strong> corporations. When they try to complete on those terms, they lose. The ones who do it better than others might come out ahead of their neighbors, but they still lose to the corporations.</p> <p>There are always two parts to a book like this. First, there's the analysis of the problem. Rushkoff has done well here. He lays out the case that there <strong>is</strong> a problem, and offers a compelling analysis that the economy is structured in such a way that only corporations can win. The second is to propose solutions.</p> <h2>Solutions</h2> <p>Many people have suggested that the solution is simply for people to out-corporate the corporations. After all, corporations are made up of people, and when you get to the bottom of it, people do all the work anyway. Rushkoff says this won't work--when we try, we will always end up competing with one another:</p> <blockquote><p>Instead of working with one another to create value for our communities, we work against one another to help corporations extract money <em>from</em> our communities.</p> </blockquote> <p>The solution, Rushkoff says, is to reconnect locally in our own communities. When we move local interactions <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/opting-out-of-the-money-economy">outside the realm of the money economy</a>--when we interact with one another as friends and neighbors--we deny the corporations the opportunity to extract value.</p> <p>That doesn't mean it's easy, though:</p> <blockquote><p>The psychological hurdle to cross is the inability to accept that ten thousand dollars of one's time spent making a local school better will create more value than thirty thousand dollars of one's money spent on a private school. The money guarantees a great education for our own kid, the time improves the school for everyone's kids. Still plagued by internalized competition and self-interest, most of us are not quite ready to chose the better path, or to convince our neighbors to join us in the effort.</p> </blockquote> <p>The best bits of the book are the stories about the history of corporations and the history of money--which is sad when it's a description of the problem but happy when it's examples of ways things can work better.</p> <p>The stories of present-day efforts to return to interacting with one another as people rather than as corporate-style economic entities are not quite as compelling--largely because their very nature is to be local to a specific time and place and circumstance. They can serve as examples--even as models--but unlike deciding to act as a purely self-interested individual (which an individual can just do), interacting like people requires that others do the same.</p> <p>As I say, the analysis is compelling--and the recommendations are compelling as well, even if it's a bit daunting to see a path to following them. The book is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to know how the economy got to be the way it is, and how we might do better: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400066891?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1400066891"><cite>Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back</cite></a> by Douglas Rushkoff.</p> <p>&nbsp;</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/book-review-life-inc">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/book-review-towers-of-gold">Book review: Towers of Gold</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/in-times-like-these-separate-the-want-from-the-need">In times like these, separate the want from the need.</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/should-george-w-bush-write-for-wisebread">Should George W. Bush write for Wisebread?</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/book-review-happier">Book review: Happier</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/book-review-rich-like-them-by-ryan-dagostino">Book Review: Rich Like Them by Ryan D&#039;Agostino</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Financial News General Tips book review books corporate corporate culture douglas rushkoff economics Economy large corporations monetary history money review reviews rushkoff Tue, 07 Jul 2009 22:24:01 +0000 Philip Brewer 3359 at http://www.wisebread.com Book review: The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-the-self-sufficient-life-and-how-to-live-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/book-review-the-self-sufficient-life-and-how-to-live-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/self-sufficient-life-cover.jpg" alt="Cover of The Self-Sufficient Life" title="Cover of The Self-Sufficient Life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="323" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0789493322?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0789493322"><cite>The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It</cite></a> by John Seymour.</p> <p>In the days when self-sufficiency was simply the normal way of things, you'd learn the necessary knowledge and skills from your parents. (And from your grandparents, aunts and uncles, older siblings, and whatever other adults happened to be around.) Now that most of us work for money to buy what we need, rather than growing or making things ourselves, few of us have the knowledge or skills to be self-sufficient. Few of us even know anybody we could learn from. This book tries to fill that gap.</p> <p>The breadth of scope of this book is amazing. It talks about farming, gardening, and managing a homestead. It talks about hunting, fishing, gathering wild foods, and raising cows, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens, ducks, and geese. It talks about making beer, wine, and hard cider. It talks about spinning, weaving, pottery, tanning leather, and making bricks.</p> <p>It's probably worth thinking about knowledge and skills separately, because knowledge--different kinds of soil and what grows best in each kind--can actually be learned from a book, while skills--how to throw a clay pot on a wheel--really can't be. But that doesn't mean that it's useless to have a reference for those skill-based tasks--quite the contrary. I wouldn't want to live under the first roof that I'd thatched after reading how in this book, but I'm sure it would be a much better roof than if I'd just tried to figure out roof-thatching from first principles.</p> <p>Other good things about this book:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Lavish illustrations</strong>. Any time a picture can help, the book has a picture (eleven little thumbnails, for example, on how to make butter).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Beginning at the beginning</strong>. There are a lot of places where you can learn how to make beer from a kit. This is the only one I've found that covers the whole process, beginning with growing your own barley and hops.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Principles</strong>. Improving your land calls for an understanding of what comes out of it when you harvest your crops, and how those things can be returned (via compost, manure, letting the land lie fallow, grazing animals on it, etc.). In this part of the book--and in many others--Seymour explains the principles rather than just suggesting specific solutions to specific problems.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Encouragement</strong>. Without making things sound easier than they are, Seymour makes it sound possible that you'll be able to gain a mastery adequate to your needs. It can take a lifetime to become a great vintner. But if all you want is to turn a bounty of fruit into a tasty beverage that you can enjoy long after the fruit would have spoiled, the four pages in this book will suffice.</li> </ul> <p>Books of this sort always have two audiences. There are the people who are actually living a self-sufficient life, and there are the people who simply find the topic interesting--and especially those who want the vicarious pleasure of <em>imagining</em> a self-sufficient life. This book is suited to both. It has enough stories of hard-won experience to satisfy the vicarious reader, while being jam-packed with useful information for anyone trying to be more self-sufficient. (And there are a lot of reasons to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-many-reasons-besides-frugality-to-do-for-yourself">do things for yourself</a>, even if you don't aim as high as actual self-sufficiency.)</p> <p>I've written before on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">the self-sufficient life and the trade-offs involved</a>. It takes three things: a willingness to work very hard, some capital (in the form of land and tools), and knowledge and skills. You'll have to come up with the first two on your own. But if you've got those, then <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0789493322?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0789493322"><em>The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It</em></a> will give you a huge leg up on the third. Better if your parents can teach you how to milk a cow or build a hedge. But if they can't, this book can.</p> <p>&nbsp;</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/book-review-the-self-sufficient-life-and-how-to-live-it">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/book-review-the-happy-minimalist">Book Review: The Happy Minimalist</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/book-review-life-inc">Book review: Life Inc.</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/book-review-wabi-sabi-simple">Book review: Wabi Sabi Simple</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/book-review-rich-like-them-by-ryan-dagostino">Book Review: Rich Like Them by Ryan D&#039;Agostino</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/book-review-the-only-investment-guide-youll-ever-need">Book review: The Only Investment Guide You&#039;ll Ever Need</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle book review books reviews self-sufficiency Fri, 17 Apr 2009 15:22:12 +0000 Philip Brewer 3058 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 tips to avoid watching a crappy movie. http://www.wisebread.com/7-tips-to-avoid-watching-a-crappy-movie <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-tips-to-avoid-watching-a-crappy-movie" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2059598643_c8075fb904.jpg" alt="Thumb down" title="Thumb Down" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="333" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>How many of you do your research before you rent a movie or go to the cinema? I usually read a bunch of reviews and ask friends. Sometimes I’ll see a movie without reading any reviews, but those ones are usually adorned with independent film awards. Which makes me wonder…why did I just waste my time on one of the worst movies ever made?</p> <p>It’s something that happens to me once in a blue moon. I’ll go to my local RedBox armed with the two or three movies that I want. If my first choice is not available, my second usually is. But this time, all three of my choices were unavailable. </p> <p>That left me staring at the screen like a dog being shown a card trick, leaving my movie-viewing choice in the hands of the marketers. Trained professionals, like myself, who only show something in its best possible light. They produce the movie trailers that make the most rancid film seem like a genuinely good romp. They include stellar reviews on the front cover, but upon closer examination you see that the review came from the Podunk Weekly Gazette. </p> <p>With this in mind, I decided to forget the fake reviews and phony trailers I had seen and go for actors I really liked. That’s how I arrived at my choice – Strange Wilderness. And after 10 minutes of exhausting, mind-numbingly bad ‘comedy’ I decided to stop the film and check out the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s arguably the best place to check, as it combines all reviews and gives an average score. </p> <p><img src="http://healthcarehacks.com/files/fruganomics/u17/1881112.jpg" alt="SW" title="SW" width="144" height="204" /></p> <p>The average score for <a href="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/strange_wilderness/">Strange Wilderness – 0%</a> .</p> <p>I ejected the movie and threw it back into the DVD case with disdain. I then drove to my local library and decided to rent a movie that I already knew had excellent reviews; <a href="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/city_of_god/">City Of God – average score 92%</a> (94% from the top critics). I wasn’t disappointed, it’s a fantastic movie and one I’ll see again. </p> <p>So, what does this all mean? Here’s my check-list to avoid renting a big bad dud. </p> <p>1) Do your homework. <a href="http://www.rottentomatoes.com">Rotten Tomatoes</a> is a great resource, anything that gets over 60% is considered worth your time and money. If it gets below that, check out the top critics rating. If they give it a much higher score, it&#39;s probably still worth a look. </p> <p>2) Don’t trust the trailers. If you’ve seen a great trailer and think ‘that looks great’ then you may be seeing all the best parts of the movie condensed into 2 minutes. Comedies are notorious for this.</p> <p>3) Read reviews carefully. If a known entity, like a well-known newspaper or reviewer (Ebert) says something like “Best Movie Of The Year” then it’s probably a safe bet it’s a good flick. If you see words like “Outstanding” or “A Must See” then look a little closer to see where that quote came from. If you haven’t heard of the person, publication or website, forget it. And if there are multiple quotes that all come from the same place, that’s also a warning sign. </p> <p>4) Star power and box office numbers don’t mean anything. City Of God did around $8 million total, and has no stars – but it’s an amazing movie. Legally Blonde 2 took in $90 million and stars Reece Witherspoon – <a href="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/legally_blonde_2_red_white_and_blonde/">Average score 38%.</a> </p> <p>5) Known entities don’t mean a guaranteed hit. In my case, Strange Wilderness was a mix of stars I liked and a production company I knew well (Happy Madison). I figured it would contain a laugh or two. I was wrong. </p> <p>6) Ask your mates. They’re your friends because (usually) you have lots in common. Chances are, if they liked the movie you will too. </p> <p>7) Don’t be afraid to walk away empty handed. If the movies you want aren’t in, and nothing looks good, there’s no need to settle. Dig out one of your favorite movies from home, that’s a sure thing. </p> <p>Hopefully, this advice will help you avoid those movie landmines. And remember, RedBox offers free rentals (<a href="/never-pay-for-a-redbox-dvd-rental-again">see my article here</a> ) and the library is a great resource. </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/7-tips-to-avoid-watching-a-crappy-movie">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/9-reasons-alone-time-is-good-for-your-soul">9 Reasons Alone Time Is Good For Your Soul</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-much-should-your-kids-know-about-your-finances">How Much Should Your Kids Know About Your Finances?</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/making-a-good-and-memorable-first-impression">Making a good and memorable first impression.</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/book-review-life-inc">Book review: Life Inc.</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/oprah-asks-a-great-question-what-can-you-live-without">Oprah Asks A Great Question; What Can You Live Without?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs General Tips Lifestyle dvd movie rental ratings reviews tips Wed, 04 Jun 2008 15:59:36 +0000 Paul Michael 2146 at http://www.wisebread.com You Can't Trust Reviews From PC World and MacWorld http://www.wisebread.com/you-cant-trust-reviews-from-pc-world-and-macworld <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/trust_us.jpg" alt="Trust the experts book cover" title="Trust the PC World experts?" width="180" height="240" /> </p> <p>PC World&#39;s Editor-in-Chief Harry McCracken resigned Tuesday because the magazine&#39;s publisher pressured him to &quot;avoid stories that were critical of major advertisors,&quot; according to reports by <a href="http://news.com.com/2100-1030_3-6181075.html">News.com</a> and <a href="http://blog.wired.com/business/2007/05/pc_world_editor.html">Wired</a>.</p> <p>When asked for a comment, McCracken confirmed he had disagreements with the publisher but declined to comment on the nature of those disagreements. </p> <p>However, according to an <a href="http://blog.wired.com/business/2007/05/pc_world_editor.html">inside source from PC World</a>, McCracken resigned after getting undue pressure from Colin Crawford, senior vice president of PC World&#39;s parent company IDG Communications. Crawford allegedly told the PC World editors that: </p> <blockquote><p>product reviews in the magazine were too critical of vendors, especially ones who advertise in the magazine, and that they had to start being nicer to advertisers.</p> </blockquote> <p>Crawford was once the CEO of Macworld, another publication owned by IDG. The Macworld connection might explain this: </p> <blockquote><p>[Crawford] tried to kill a story about Apple and Steve Jobs. The piece, a whimsical article titled &quot;Ten Things We Hate About Apple,&quot; was still in draft form when Crawford killed it. McCracken said no way and walked after Crawford refused to compromise. </p> </blockquote> <p>PC World and Macworld market themselves as the most trusted names in technology review. These descriptions are lifted directly out of their &quot;about us&quot; page: </p> <ul> <li>PC World: &quot;trusted resource for management-level buyers and users of technology products.&quot;</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Macworld &quot;offers the most trusted product reviews and buying advice you can find.&quot; </li> </ul> <p>If these reports are true, and IDG doesn&#39;t end up firing Crawford and reinstating McCracken, then we may conclude that Crawford&#39;s biased editorial policy is the rule rather than the exception at IDG.</p> <p>If that&#39;s the case, here are a list of other <a href="http://www.idg.com/www/idgproducts.nsf/typeform?readform&amp;type=publication">IDG publications</a> and <a href="http://www.idg.com/www/idgproducts.nsf/typeform?readform&amp;type=website">websites</a> you might want to avoid: </p> <ul> <li>CIO Magazine</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Code Vault</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Coming Attractions</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Computerworld</strong></li> </ul> <ul> <li>CSO Magazine</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Demo.com</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Energy-Insights.com</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>GamePro</strong></li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>InfoWorld.com</strong></li> </ul> <ul> <li>IT Careers</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Network World</strong></li> </ul> <ul> <li>Remedies</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Taste for Life</li> </ul> <p><em>Phto by <a href="http://flickr.com/photos/phauly/" title="Link to phauly&#39;s photos">phauly</a></em> </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-chen">Will Chen</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-cant-trust-reviews-from-pc-world-and-macworld">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/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams">How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams</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/7-tips-to-avoid-watching-a-crappy-movie">7 tips to avoid watching a crappy movie.</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/book-review-how-to-be-a-geek-goddess-win-a-copy">Book Review: How to Be a Geek Goddess (Win a Copy!)</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/book-review-life-inc">Book review: Life Inc.</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/customer-service-nightmares-whats-a-good-consumerist-to-do">Customer Service Nightmares - What&#039;s a Good Consumerist to Do?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs computers Macworld PC World reviews technology Thu, 03 May 2007 21:46:40 +0000 Will Chen 591 at http://www.wisebread.com