By Lina Martinez
The holiday season is a time for friends, family and good food but for some, it also means a big Christmas bonus. Some of that money is inevitably going to go on gifts but what do you do with the rest? That lump sum of money gives you a lot of opportunities and if you just spend it all on stuff for yourself, you’ll regret it in the long run. But when it’s burning a hole in your pocket, it’s difficult to know what to spend it on. Don’t waste it, try some of these ideas instead.
Public Domain Pictures
Buy Precious Metals
Investing the money is always a sensible choice but if you don’t know that much about the stock market, it’s risky. You can always get a broker but then you’re paying them fees and the whole thing can be a bit too stressful. But if you buy silver or gold with that money and sit on it, you could sell it for a big return in the future. If not, it’s a good financial investment to pass on to your children. The benefit of buying silver or gold is that the market is nowhere near as volatile as stocks. There will be some ups and downs in price but those precious metals are always going to be valuable.
Most people are sitting on a big pile of debt these days, it’s become the norm for a lot of us but it shouldn’t be. When you’ve got high interest debts from credit cards or loans, you’re just burning money every single month. Clearing them as quickly as possible is the best way to avoid that but most people just can’t afford to pay more than the minimum amount. If you’re in this position, you can use your bonus to pay it all off, or at least clear a big chunk of it. People are wary of doing this because it seems as though the money’s all gone just like that but the thing is, you’ll have more money left over at the end of every month if you aren’t making hefty interest payments.
Save For Retirement
Building a healthy retirement fund should be at the top of your financial checklist. Even if it seems far away, it’ll soon come around and if you haven’t put enough aside you’ll regret it. It’s difficult to save when all of your other expenses are stretching your salary to the limit, but if you put your entire bonus into a high interest savings account, you’ll get a good head start. Having a big chunk in there already encourages you to add to it and you’ll start building interest on it from an early age. Compound interest is one of the best ways to secure your financial future so getting as much in your savings account as early as possible is vital.
These are three great options for spending that Christmas bonus but it’s worth remembering that the holiday season is a time for fun, so don’t be afraid to spend a little bit on yourself. Just don’t go overboard.
By Nigel Hilton
The overwhelming opinion, especially in the gaming community, is that mobile gaming is a waste of time; the games are no good and many are so bad that they’re only played by bored housewives and little kids. Basically, its value is totally dismissed, and some pretty unfair assumptions are made about it to the point that mobile gaming rarely gets any coverage at all.
Of course, there ARE lots of bad games available on mobile platforms, but that’s true of PC and console gaming too! However, what is also true, but a great many people aren’t willing to concede, is that there are some pretty good titles available in the mobile apps stores too. Sure, they’re a bit different than PC and console games most of the time, but at the end of the day, a good game is a good game.
Still not convinced? Here are some things that might change your mind:
You Must Accept that Mobile Gaming is Different
Of course, you’re going to dismiss mobile gaming if you hold it to the same standard as your favored method of gaming, whether that be PC or console because they are not the same. Mobile gaming, by its very nature – smaller devices, touchscreen, different hardware- combined with the fact that a wider range of the population have cell phones and tablets than consoles, means that mobile games will be a little different, and yes, many of them will be filler for people to play on for a few minutes when they’re standing in line at the bank or whatever. However, just because there are some low-quality titles out there, doesn’t mean you should dismiss the medium as a whole.
There is Something for Everyone
Contrary to popular opinion, mobile gaming isn’t all about simple side-scrollers and Candy Crush style-time sucks – there are as many different genres of mobile game as there are PC games. Yes, it might take you a while to separate the wheat from the chaff, but isn’t that true of the Steam store or your local video game store too? From MMOs like Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire to great mystery/puzzle-based titles like Layton’s Mystery Journey and the ever popular Minecraft – whatever you’re into there’s a mobile game for you. You just have to be willing to give them a chance.
They’re Extremely Portable
Of course, there are a few consoles, like the recently released Nintendo Switch that allow you to take your gaming on the go, but no device is quite so convenient as your phone or tablet, which you likely carry with you everywhere and can do a whole host of other things like make calls, enable you to work, draw, play etc. all in one tiny little package. If you’re the kind of person who likes to be able to play anywhere and everywhere, you really should give mobile gaming a chance.
They are Good for Killing Time
In a similar vein, mobile games are good at killing time. Despite as I said above, some people dismissing them all as trash that is created solely to make money and keep people occupied while they stand in line, this is a definite benefit of mobile gaming. Whenever You get bored and away from your PC, you can whip out your phone and play something for a few minutes and play something, and it doesn’t have to be Angry Birds or Candy Crush – no it could be Ragnarok Online, Age of Empires, Minecraft or any number of other interesting titles.
The Medium is Only Going to Improve
With augmented reality, virtual reality, ever improving mobile hardware and the increasing popularity of mobile gaming amongst ordinary people, you can bet your bottom dollar that mobile gaming is only going one way – up.
It Increases Reaction Times
If you are a dedicated PC or console gamer, then you might find in switching it up a bit and playing a fast-paced mobile game, which allows you to use your hands even more in ways you might not be used to will improve your reaction times, so that you can play more effectively on all platforms.
You Have the Device So Why Not Use iI?
Chances are you have at least one mobile device, so why not use it to play a game or two now and again? Even if you think they’re mostly trash, you can play chess, Scrabble, and all kinds of fun games that aren’t too taxing and which will give you a break from the more serious gaming you do.
To the app store!
By Brian McKay
So you’ve been working hard and now have a decent sized pot of savings, and you’ve decided that you want to invest it to gain some extra income or give yourself a nice nest egg for retirement. Excellent news. But as a beginner, you’re flooded choice and are not sure where to start or how much to invest. You’ve read so many blogs and articles, but they all seem to be talking about investing sums that seem a bit out of your price bracket. Here are three things to consider before you make your first investment that should simplify the process a little bit for you. (Source)
Do You Know What You’re Doing?
This isn’t a question designed to put you off, but it is a question you should answer honestly to yourself. Some people just aren’t financially savvy, and that’s fine. Knowing where your weaknesses are and seeking help is an important skill to have. Hiring the skills of a financial planner may seem like a good idea then. However, most companies will not take on any clients with small investment portfolios, and they may charge a lot for their services. We trust technology with a lot in our lives, why not trust it to advise us? Some of the best robo-advisors are completely free, and most are considerably cheaper than the human alternative. There are also books and websites dedicated to helping you understand the market and how to increase the chances of your investment growing.
Where Are You Going To Invest?
There are a staggeringly large amount of options when it comes to this decision. Should you invest all your money in one place? Or should you invest in several places? How many is enough, and how much should I invest into each company? You’ll have heard people talking about having a ‘diverse portfolio’, and all this means is that they don’t have all their eggs in one basket. In order to do this effectively, you will need to do a lot of research. It also helps to have a sizeable investment in each individual company. So what happens if you only have a few thousand to invest, not tens or even hundreds of thousands? If that’s the case, it might be worth investing somewhere that has done the ‘diversifying’ for you. You can buy shares in holdings companies that have ownership, or a controlling share, in many businesses across multiple markets. This way, if any of the businesses it owns fail for any reason, the holding company is safe due to its diverse business model, and so is your investment.
What Will You Do With Your Profits?
Now that you’ve decided how to invest, you should consider what you’re going to do when that investment starts to grow. You could take your profit and initial outlay to reinvest it elsewhere, you could keep it invested in that business and treat yourself with any dividends it pays you, or you could reinvest those dividends right back into the company using a DRIP.
These three questions should have given you plenty to think about, and hopefully, you’re a little more sure about how you’re going to break into the world of investing. Whatever you do, remember to do plenty of research and invest wisely.
Photo courtesy of Flickr
By Jason M
Selling homes is one of the best ways of generating full-time income throughout the year. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a real estate license to sell homes. As a real estate investor, you can buy and sell homes for profit at will.
How can I buy and sell homes without a real estate license? This is the first question that’s typically asked by people who would like leave their full-time job and secure financial independence. In this article, we will take a look at two real estate investing strategies that can help you do real estate deals without a Realtor’s license.
There’s a strong possibility that you have seen signs stating, “We buy houses for cash.” These signs are posted by wholesalers. Wholesalers are real estate investors that specialize in searching for distressed properties.
Distressed properties fall into the following categories:
-The home owner is behind on property taxes
-The home owner is facing foreclosure
-The home owner lost their job
As a wholesaler, you get the property owner to sign an agreement that gives you the legal right to buy their home below its market value. In this instance, you will not buy the property. You will sell or assign your contract to another investor for a fee. With wholesaling, you can get into a deal, and out of a deal without any long-term commitment to the property.
Wholesaling is an easy way for you to make $2,000 to $5,000 per deal. Please keep in mind that you must leave the lion’s share of the profit to the investor taking over the deal. If you work hard, you can do several wholesale deals per month.
Here’s a simple wholesaling formula that can help you excel with this real estate investment strategy:
-Market Value of the Home x 70% – Rehab Costs = Your Offer to the Property Owner
Rehabbing (Fix and Flip)
Rehabbing is one step above wholesaling. This is where you buy a home below its market value, fix it up, and sell it at its market value. You can make $10,000 to $25,000 per deal. It’s more lucrative than wholesaling, but it requires more work.
You need a team to be successful with the fix and flip strategy. You need a mortgage broker, a good title company, and a reliable contractor. Let’s look at the role of each team member.
Mortgage Broker – You cannot rehab homes without capital. Your mortgage broker will give you direct access to hard-money loans and private money.
Title Company – The title company will take care of the paper work and transaction when you find a buyer for the home.
Contractor – The contractor’s crew will rehab or fix up the home.
You must be patient and prudent while doing a rehab project. It could take three to six months to find a buyer for your home. You can hire a Realtor if you would like to speed up the process. The Realtor will market your home and list it in the MLS.
Real estate investing is a sure-fire way of becoming financially independent. Fortunately, you don’t need a license to become a real estate investor. Real estate investing is not a get rich quick scheme. You must work hard if you want to be successful.
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by Lina Martinez
If you’re in the software startup game and are slowly creeping up to your launch date, the chances are you will be feeling a weird mix of incredible excitement and intense trepidation. All that work you have done in the past, the pain and suffering you have been through, and the countless sleepless nights spent as a startup owner, it’s all going to come to fruition – or not.
There is a lot to do in the pre-launch phase, and unless you are incredibly organized, you are likely to be worried about getting things wrong. So, you look online and find some articles with 50, 100, 250-item checklists – and you start to panic. Well, this post is designed to help you feel much better about your launch. The truth is there are only a few things you need to worry about on the whole, and today we’re going to go through them to ensure your software product is ready to roll.
Build. An. Email. List.
The most important thing you need to do before getting anywhere close to your launch date is to start building an email list. Ultimately, when that time on the calendar arrives, and you don’t have an email campaign ready to go, your launch party is going to be a damp squib. You need to attract, maintain, and engage with the right audience if you want to make sales, and all the time you spend cultivating your list, the better results it will give.
Check your market’s trends
Unless your startup is ready to launch a couple of weeks after you had the idea, you need to be keeping a close eye on market trends – even in the build-up to your release day. Even if your overall target market doesn’t change much, you will need to have a unique value proposition for each of the customer segments you intend to target. And these smaller segments tend to change a lot faster and more dramatically than an overall picture, so, what was the case a year or 18 months ago might not be the same now.
Are you a perfectionist? If so, you could be stopping your product from succeeding. A lot of software developers postpone their launch dates time and time again, pushing the release day and trying to create the ultimate product rather than the most viable. It’s a huge mistake. As pointed out over at Exceptionless.com, bugs need to be found and ironed out, but as long as you understand what your customers actually find valuable about your software, there’s nothing wrong with launching an imperfect product. No technology is launched without any problems – don‘t expect yours to be any different.
If you make a date for launch, commit to it – unless you have an exceptionally good reason. You will also need to commit to other things, such as your pricing structure, level of customer service post-launch, and training up employees. According to knowtechie.com, you might want to record a few series of webinars to help new customers iron out any common problems experienced by your early adopters or focus groups. Ultimately, the sooner the product is out there, the sooner you will know how viable it will be – and what changes you need to make as you move forward. Good luck!
Lina Martinez has her B.S. in Journalism and a regular contributor to our Politics, Life and Money sections. She once admitted over drinks to singing “Careless Whisper” in the shower. We are still trying to get her to sing it at karaoke.