Young Money Money: Earn it, Invest it, Spend it Thu, 10 Aug 2017 23:17:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How an Online Master’s in Education Opens up the World Thu, 10 Aug 2017 23:17:14 +0000

To travel? Or to learn? That is the question.

It can be hard to choose between traveling the world or getting an education. Each has their own pros, cons and expenses. If you don’t get an education from the start, it can be hard to motivate yourself to go back to school, leading to the loss of many wonderful job opportunities.

However, if you don’t travel now, you may never have the time to do so again. What if you could have the best of both worlds? It is recommended to travel before you burn out on your career, but what if your career didn’t hold you down to any specific area?

What if you could travel while obtaining the education that allows you to have a career like that? Introducing: an Online Master’s in Education.

Mastering the Land With a Master’s in ESOL

There are many Online Master’s of Education degree programs that can enrich and broaden your experiences. However, a degree in English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) would be most beneficial to you if traveling is on your radar. A degree in ESOL not only considers the academic side to teaching English as a second language, but the cultural aspects as well.

One of the biggest things you will face while traveling and teaching abroad is how different cultures can be. ESOL programs take that into account and educate you on how to best present your lessons when exposed to differing cultures.

Anywhere Is Your Classroom

One of the most exciting things about getting an Online Master’s in Education is that you don’t have to go to a specified, fixed location to learn. As long as you have Wi-Fi, you can study in California or as far away as Cambodia. The choice is up to you!

Going to college online gives you the freedom to travel while receiving an education simultaneously. You don’t even have to wait till you graduate to get a jumpstart on your traveling goals. No sacrifice, no compromise.

It’s a win-win in anyone’s book. Just make sure you have all the necessary travel documents before you go.

Teachers Are Needed the World Over

Millions upon millions of children are born each year, and those children aren’t going to teach themselves. Why exactly, though, should teaching English abroad be your next step? Teaching is one of the most versatile and fulfilling careers anyone could have.

Not only would you have job security, but you would be a part of shaping and changing lives as well. With an Online Master’s in Education emphasizing in ESOL, you are not limited to teaching in just the area you live around or to students that necessarily speak your language. Your travel dreams can still come true while receiving a steady income and making headway on a rewarding education.

If Darwin Can Do It, so Can You

While it’s true that taking online classes as you travel abroad will increase your knowledge, traveling itself will also be one of the greatest teachers you will have. Traveling will make you think outside of yourself as you realize that the way you view the world may not be shared by many others. When you experience all the different ways people live and interact with the world, you will begin to learn more about yourself and form new beliefs and ideas you hadn’t thought of before.

Still need some encouragement? Charles Darwin, the father of our modern evolution paradigm, went abroad to learn more about science and biology. While gaining information on the Galapagos Islands, Darwin formed many of his theories that are still held in high regard today. If he hadn’t made the decision to travel to an unfamiliar land, he may never had made those discoveries that are so important to science now.

So what are you waiting for?

Why pick between traveling and education when you don’t have to? Gaining an Online Master’s in Education (especially one in ESOL) will open up classrooms all over the world to you. You can learn from anywhere, and there will always be a need for teachers no matter where your travels take you.

Darwin decided to learn abroad and look where that got him! Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. The world (and your education) await you.

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4 Smart Ways to Budget For Student Loan Payments Wed, 09 Aug 2017 17:04:37 +0000

I once worked with a person who would complain to me about her student loans and how she could barely live off of what she was being paid. I sympathized with her, as I knew she sincerely did struggle with money and life had dealt her a bad hand in many ways. However, I would often run into her at the grocery store buying giant boxes of beer and wine, and she would exclaim to me that she was going camping. Then as the work week started again she would complain about money, with no thought to the fact that she spent it on alcohol and an out of town road trip.

I’m not saying those things are bad in themselves, in fact I enjoy drinking and camping. But the disconnect in her brain between her financial situation and how often she spent her money this way shocked me. If you want to pay off your student loans, you have to start by making an effort to do it. A big part of that is budgeting correctly, which isn’t as hard to start doing as you think.

Lay Off The Vices

Like my friend with the alcohol, or me with eating out, or me with alcohol (I’m just being honest!), there are things we rely on to make life easier and will happily pay for that we don’t actually need. Last night I had already eaten dinner, and I still went to Taco Bell, for instance, when I definitely need to use my money elsewhere.

Part of budgeting is removing unnecessary purchases. I find that a lot unnecessary things are our worst vices, and we could do a lot for our lives by not relying on them so heavily. But this is not always the case. If you’re really struggling with your loans, you should just ask myself, what do I need and what don’t I? What can I afford to give up, and what would be good for me to give up?

Add It To Your List of Monthly Bills

To prioritize your student loans, make them more of a normalcy than an extra hassle. You have to pay the rest of your bills every month, so your student loan shouldn’t be viewed any different. I’ve spent time before living in the mindset that debt is an “extra” expense, when it should have been viewed as a primary and normal one. What resulted was me procrastinating paying them off because there was always more time, or I just “didn’t have the money,” but I learned that was just an excuse to spend my money unwisely.

So I’ve learned that if I pay my loans with my other bills, which is typically as soon as I possibly can, they get paid off faster and give me less stress. If you’re anything like me, this might be a method to consider. Now of course, how much you pay per payment depends on how much you owe and how much you already pay for your bills. Try this loan calculator to determine your monthly payments for secured or unsecured loans. I promise that once you find a way to pay it on a more routine-basis, you’ll be on the right path.

Find Efficient Ways To Pay Less For Necessities

People seem to get into a rut where they believe necessities have to come in their most expensive form, but I’ve learned most people are just too lazy to look for better deals. Please keep in mind, I’m speaking of everyday things like food and gas.

You should know the cheapest place for gas in your town, and you should have a gas card there if they offer them for free. Keep your coupons and know which grocery stores sell things the cheapest. Be aware of what thrift stores sell the clothing you like, don’t don’t fall into a “hand-me-downs are bad” mindset – you can always get perfectly good and stylish clothing at a thrift store.

Keep a Positive Perspective and your Eyes on the Prize

Remember, this is temporary until your debt is paid off. If you can keep your eyes on the finish line, or at least the next check mark, it might feel less stressful and more like a step in the right direction. Loans will always be there —  after you deal with your student loans (and many times while you deal with them), you will have to deal with a property lien. Debt is usually continual for most of your life. But that doesn’t mean you have to be discouraged.

Mindset and perspective are very important in any kind of personal development. If you have a defeatist attitude, you’re likely to not do as good at the thing you want to be good at. Once you move past a defeatist attitude however, you can start looking practically at each hurdle you have to overcome.

So remember, while student loans may feel like an uphill battle, with a little strategic planning and perseverance you can make it to the top. There are things that you can do to alleviate the struggle. Be on the lookout for them, whether it’s getting healthy, spending less, or taking more time to yourself. At the end of the day it will be worth it!

Budget for Loan Payments got you beat? Tell me more about it in the comments.

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Millennials: Use Your Experience with Technology to Make Good Money Tue, 08 Aug 2017 14:59:38 +0000

This post is from guest author Daphne Stanford. Daphne is a DJ for Radio Boise. She writes poetry, nonfiction, and lyric essays. Other ways she enjoys spending her time include hiking, piano, singing at inappropriate times, and good conversation with friends & family. Follow her on Twitter.

Millennials are transforming communication in the workplace by altering the nature of what is considered typical—typical office environment or remote working location—as well as altering the extent to which technology is becoming an integral part of a typical company’s workday. The flow of meetings, instant messaging, editing, and collaboration are becoming faster and more digitally connected in nature.

Read on to learn about a few ways you can utilize your experience with technology to advance your career—whether it be in the for-profit business world, government, or the nonprofit sector.

Technology Equals Opportunity

Due to the necessity that practically every industry these days—from manufacturing and retail to finance to nonprofit and government sectors—has an online presence, the ability to be well-versed with platforms such as WordPress, Slack, Skype, and Google Docs is essential. Moreover, the typical workplace is rapidly changing, and it’s due, in part, to millennials.

This oft-maligned generation’s fondness for technology and collaboration are fundamentally changing the way we communicate, in the workplace. Whether it be through team communication platforms like Slack or via video conferencing, the increasing speed and preference for convenience is spurring greater levels of motivation—as well as innovation. Tools like video conferencing are critical, allowing participants to feel more prepared and engaged than traditional phone conferencing.

Moreover, according to Elizabeth Dukes, millennials value technology over flexibility—often since smart offices naturally foster more flexible work environments. In fact, Dukes cites a study finding that 60 percent of millennials would feel more productive at home than in a traditional office setting. This enthusiasm for flexibility comes with a caveat, however: personal connections are also placed at a high premium by many younger employees.

Workplace Communication

A new study by business communications provider Fuze found that 69 percent of 15-18 year olds believe it’s important to meet people face to face if you work with them, suggesting that a sense of community and well-structured goals and guidelines are also crucial to motivating employees to work together as part of a successful team. Perhaps the influence of the instant communication, social media, and news-driven culture is part of the reason why it’s so crucial that employers provide consistency in communication and fairly regular check-ins via chats, conference calls, or meetings.

A recent Gallup study seems to back up this theory, finding that 44 percent of millennials who have regular meetings with supervisors feel engaged, and thus happier in the workplace, allowing them to concentrate on developing their roles at their current place of work, rather than looking for new positions with companies offering more advanced technology, in the workplace. This finding also finds, again, that millennials value a structured work environment with key objectives and goals explained clearly and directly—rather than the loose, unstructured environment perhaps more valued by Gen Xers and baby boomers.

If you’re eventually interested in an entrepreneurial or management position, practice your remote communication skills on a regular basis and implement them into your life philosophy, as well. Janet Friday, Director of Environmental Sustainability at Merck and Marylhurst University MBA graduate, argues for the benefit of remote work for both business and the environment: “Remote work offers several benefits—for both the business and for the environment… Because I am not commuting to an office on those days, I avoid having to drive my car (lower emissions) and I have more time to devote to my work activities.”

Continuing Education & Business Sectors

If you’re interested in management but also interested in a career in nonprofit administration, public policy, or government, you may want to look into Master’s level public administration or public policy programs. Increasingly, graduate level MPA programs are beginning to offer different attendance options ranging from part-time to full-time. For working professionals who don’t happen to live in the same area of the country, some have fully online options as well.

This kind of convenience is also highly appreciated by students living outside the college’s metro area who would prefer not to have to make the long commute to the city. By taking classes online, students are able to save both time and money. In addition, numerous programs—Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, for example—now offer dual-degree programs like MPA/MBA or JD/MPA programs that take three years, instead of four.

Furthermore, experience with private sector business can lead to roles in government, public policy administration, or nonprofit management. The possibilities are endless and many overlap in fields like healthcare, public communication, and public policy. You might specialize in environmental law and work as an administrator or grant writer for a nonprofit sustainability group, for example; or you might want to become an entrepreneur and focus on developing an app to address a gap in the healthcare app market.

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The future of work is connected, flexible, and operates at hyper-speed. How do you plan to take advantage of this brave new world? Share your thoughts about how you plan to contribute or utilize your knowledge to change the next generation in the comments section, below.

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Top Careers in Demand and How to Get Them Thu, 03 Aug 2017 00:05:08 +0000

This post is from guest author Melissa Davidson. You can find her on Twitter @madtris

Wouldn’t it be awesome to pay off your car or credit cards, or even your student loan debt? With a great job, it can be done sooner rather than later.

Setting yourself up for a successful career takes talent, hard work and patience. Everything else will fall into place, including earning enough money to live comfortably without a bunch of debt.

What are the top careers in demand right now and what are some necessary skills you need to land them? Here are a few:

Healthcare/Nursing Careers

There are plenty of high-paying healthcare jobs that don’t involve becoming a doctor, according to a report from job site Glassdoor.

“With nearly half the list comprised of jobs in the tech and healthcare industries, this report reinforces that higher salaries are found in America’s fastest job-creating sectors,” says Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist.

Nursing jobs continue to be on the rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, positions for registered nurses are expected to increase 16 percent by 2024, creating 439,300 new jobs for qualified applicants. This is good news for those pursuing nursing, even though these jobs will be competitive.

What skills are required to become a nurse?   

Getting a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing makes someone a more viable candidate. In fact, many hospitals today will only hire those with a BSN. For more than a century, the main focus for nurses in the U.S. has been to treat acute illnesses and tend to immediate injuries. However, because of patients’ changing needs and the evolution of healthcare, medical experts have called for a dramatic increase of nurses with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing – from the current 50 percent to 80 percent by 2020. Researchers are also finding that, to become a nurse, it’s important to have emotional intelligence in order to be able to deliver patient-centered care.

Law Careers

According to Business Insider, the median base salary for an attorney is $94,695 a year. Considering the time and financial commitment it takes to become a lawyer, it makes sense the pay is lucrative.

The bad news is an average student graduates with over $100,000 in debt from law school, and there’s no guarantee of a six-figure salary. The good news, according to Forbes’ annual ranking of the best-paying jobs for women, the position of lawyer ranked 14th in 2015 and third in 2016. The job market for lawyers has improved in recent years – 74,800 jobs will need to be filled by 2022.

What skills are required to become a lawyer? 

Obviously, stellar grades put you above the rest. In a competitive environment, though, one must have many desirable traits. The ability to balance academics with extracurricular activities, teamwork, interpersonal skills, and emotional intelligence make you a more competitive candidate and a top job contender.

Technology Careers

Many technology jobs don’t require a four-year degree or a master’s or doctorate, but still pay well. Computer programmers, web developers, and electrical engineers are a few examples where the pay ranges anywhere from $59,000-$79,000. Highly coveted, high-tech STEM (math, technology, engineering and math) jobs take longer to be filled than others jobs because of the skill-set needed to get hired.

What skills are necessary for STEM jobs?

Success in securing STEM jobs increases with a master’s or doctorate, especially because required skills are “highly sophisticated” and not every candidate can pull off the specific knowledge needed. In addition to specific knowledge in math, science and technology, candidates need good problem-solving, analytical, troubleshooting and, of course, soft skills, including creativity, leadership, and communication skills.

For all of the careers above, you need to be patient, network, research the company, enter the job market right out of college, and create a good resume. Smart interviewing skills and self-development will also set you up to score a great job.

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5 Degrees Well Worth Your Dollar Tue, 01 Aug 2017 19:04:43 +0000

This post is from guest author Logan Randall

There are very few things in the world more depressing than looking at a rough $70,000 of debt, and having no job. This is rock bottom, folks. This is also the average college graduate. Unlike the students who already have college paid for, students who are using financial aid to pay for school must make a sound decision as to what they will get a degree in — something that will pay off in both their time and investment. As of today, here are the best degrees that will pay off long term.

Computer Science

Computer science majors are in high demand across a variety of technical platforms, dealing with both hardware and software applications. Students will learn the essentials of business technology by being exposed to areas like robotics, natural language recognition programs, artificial intelligence, language programming, numerical analysis, gaming technology and more. The overall focus for computer science majors is problem solving, regardless of the specific industry. Those holding a computer science degree can make upwards of $60,000 per year.


Considered as one of the top careers to have, encompassing over 40 different types of degrees and careers, engineering is expected to grow exponentially in the coming decade. According to a salary data chart from the US Department of Labor, some of the highest paying engineering jobs include: petroleum, electrical, computer, aerospace, and chemical engineering; these are all based on a salary data chart from the US Department of Labor along other reputable sources. Those holding an engineering degree will, on average, make upwards of $60,000 per year, though it is common for many engineering jobs to pay well over that amount, into the three-figure income.


There isn’t much stipulation as to whether students should pursue a business degree due mostly to the notion that business majors aren’t pinned to a single career, and this can be daunting to many graduates. Business majors, however, will be prepared to work in a variety of settings including business, government, nonprofit organizations and more. Specific jobs can include: accounting, finance, business management/administration, marketing, and sales. Many business majors pursue a business of their own, encompassing all positions in an office setting. Those that work for an already established company and hold a business degree can can make upwards of $54,000 per year.


Communications is another degree many undergraduates are unsure about when it comes to understanding exactly how it is utilized in a career. Resource teams value communications graduates within businesses to help recruit, train, and keep valued employees from leaving. Depending on the type of business a company conducts, many communications graduates are put to work effectively communicating within customer/client departments such as public relations and marketing.

Digital Communications is also an option. More creative careers are involved, including the world of digital media, and developing social media marketing skills. The average communications major can get paid upward of $43,000 per year.

Maths & Sciences

Obtaining a degree in math and science is about understanding the fundamentals of applied mathematics. This will prepare the graduate for careers in natural science, computer science, social science, and business.

Companies are increasingly adopting new technologies and larger means of research in an attempt to boost business quotas, and office workflow, math and science graduates will be highly sought after. Experts are predicting the math and science field will grow 28 percent over the next few years. The average salary for a math and science graduate can be upwards of $55,000.

Investing in college is more than just a major investment, it’s a gamble, and a decision that will determine a future career. Going blindly into a degree program with little interest and a low-paying job market is unwise. Take charge of your career, and make it a degree that will later be profitable and fulfilling long term.

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How to Lower Your Student Loan Payment Amount Tue, 01 Aug 2017 15:47:03 +0000

The following post is from guest author Jesse Johnson 

As higher education becomes increasingly important to job prospects, more and more people are racking up student loan debt. In the U.S., 44 million borrowers owe more than 1.4 trillion in student loans with an average graduate in their 20s walking away with more than $22,000 in debt. The average student loan payment for borrowers in their 20s is $351, which is a significant burden. With the tough economy today, it’s no wonder so many people struggle to make their minimum monthly payments.

If you’re having difficulty making your monthly payments, you should consider enrolling in a student loan repayment program. A variety of plans allow borrowers the chance to extend their repayment period, lower their monthly payments, and in some cases qualify for loan forgiveness after a certain amount of time. Here are the several of the most common student loan repayment programs.

Income-Driven Repayment Options

These plans are designed to help federal student loan borrowers lower their payments based on how much they earn.


This program can be applied to most federal student loans and caps monthly payments at 10 percent of a borrower’s income. Under this plan, undergraduate loans are forgiven after 20 years of making consistent payments and 25 years for graduate loans. One thing to note about REPAYE is that there is no limit to how high payments can go. This means, depending on your income, you could actually pay more per month than the standard repayment plan.

Pay As You Earn (PAYE)

Similar to REPAYE, Pay As You Earn caps monthly payments at 10 percent of your income, and loans are forgiven after 20 years of repayment. However, this plan is more exclusive than REPAYE in that your outstanding debt must be greater than your annual salary.

Income-Based Repayment (IBR)

Under this plan, payments are capped at 10 to 15 percent of your income and may be forgiven after 20 to 25 years. Using an IBR, it’s possible for your payments to be as low as $0 per month. As with PAYE, the amount you owe must be greater than your annual salary.

Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)

This plan is available to most borrowers and either cap payments at 20 percent of your income or an adjusted rate for a 12-year payment plan based on your income. These loans may be forgiven after 25 years of repayment. This is the only option that can be applied to Parent PLUS loans.

With each of these programs, you will have to pay taxes on any loans that are forgiven. Also, extending your repayment period will often result in paying much more in interest than you would on a standard repayment plan. It’s worth noting that being in debt for an extended period can affect your credit score, making it more difficult to qualify for loans you might use to purchase a car or a house.

Graduated Repayment Plan

Under a Graduated Repayment Plan, student loans are lowered initially and increase over time, typically every two years. This program usually takes place over 10 years and is a great option for recent graduates who are confident their income will increase over time.

Because this plan maintains a shorter repayment schedule, you will accrue less interest than income-based plans and can result in a lower total paid amount. However, this typically results in a higher total cost than a standard repayment program.

Extended Repayment Plan

This program allows you to reduce your monthly payments by lengthening the amount of time you have to pay back your loans. Federal student loan borrowers can make payments for up to 25 years, and these payments can be either fixed or graduated. As with the other long-term repayment plans, this program will result in additional interest and a higher total amount. You will not qualify for loan forgiveness under an Extended Repayment Plan, and you must have more than $30,000 in student loan debt.

Consolidate Your Loans

This process involves combining multiple loans in order to get a lower, fixed interest rate, lowering your regular payments. This has the added benefit of allowing you to make just one payment each month to cover all your debts, and consolidation programs can extend your repayment period up to 30 years. It’s important to note that federal student loans cannot usually be consolidated with private loans or other debts. Also, by consolidating, you will lose benefits like loan forgiveness and the potential for interest rate reductions.

Refinance Your Loans

This is especially useful for private loan borrowers as most of the programs above apply to federal student loans. This allows you to consolidate your private and federal loans into one monthly payment which could be lower if you qualify for a lower interest rate. By refinancing federal loans, you will no longer be able to apply for income-driven plans or loan forgiveness. Refinancing can offer a repayment period of up to 20 years.

Employer Assistance

Though these programs are not widespread, they are gradually becoming more common. As a benefit, some employers offer programs that pay a certain amount or percentage toward an employee’s student loan debt. Any amount your employer pays typically qualifies as taxable income.

One example of this is Aetna, a healthcare company that offers full-time employees up to $2000 in matching student loan payments with a maximum of $10,000. Part time employees can receive $1000 with a maximum of $5000. You must have earned a graduate or undergraduate degree within three years of applying for this benefit in order to qualify.

The terms of these programs vary greatly from company to company. For another example, the technology company Nvidia offers full- and part-time employees up to $6000 per year with a maximum of $30,000 and applies to both federal and private student loans. Employees must have worked at the company for at least three months and have graduated within three years.

It’s easy to see how taking advantage of these benefits could significantly reduce your monthly payments and total repayment amount.

Move to Another State

Some states are offering assistance with student loan payments as a strategy for attracting new talent. For example, Kansas will offer up to $15,000 paid over five years to borrowers who are willing to move to 77 counties designated as Rural Opportunity Zones (ROZ). This program is not income-driven. To qualify, you must not have lived in Kansas for the past five years, you must prove your residency in an ROZ, and you must hold an associate’s, bachelor’s, or graduate degree. These contributions are considered taxable income.

New York and Michigan also offer similar programs with different requirements. Before you make a decision to take part in a state assistance program, consider things like unemployment rates, cost of living, social scenes, taxes, and housing in the area in order to determine if the benefits are worth the move.


Many loan servicers offer interest reductions for borrowers who sign up for automatic payments. This could be as much as 0.25%, which may lower your monthly payment slightly as well as reducing the overall amount you’ll have to pay. It also ensures you will never miss a payment and face penalties.

Whether you have private or federal loans, it’s important to understand the options available when repayment becomes too difficult. As you incorporate student debt into your budget, you can use a loan calculator to get an estimate of what your payments might be under a new repayment plan. While choosing to extend the repayment period of your loans will result in a higher total cost, the benefit of having more money to spend on immediate expenses like food, rent, and transportation is worth it to many people.

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The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Relocating Thu, 27 Jul 2017 22:15:45 +0000 This post is from guest author Jesse Johnson.

So, you’ve reached the point where you need to establish new roots for your business somewhere else. There are plenty of reasons to relocate, such as moving closer to your main clients, pursuing new market opportunities, seeking lower overhead costs, expanding to a bigger space, or attracting a new workforce. Whatever your reasons, this decision is going to come down to a number of factors, including the demographics of the new area, the potential for your business to engage target markets, the cost of living and operations, and the quality of life.

Although relocating carries risks, it can be the best thing you’ll ever do for your business. Here are a few major considerations any young entrepreneur should keep in mind when relocating.

Where Should You Go?

If you can go anywhere, be sure to choose carefully. There are plenty of smaller towns that offer the potential for strong customer relationships and low overhead costs. Lower costs could allow the business to experiment without the steep financial risks present in larger cities. However, anyone looking to engage within a large professional network may find themselves cut off from other industry professionals. Also, depending on your plans for expansion, it can be difficult to find and retain talented employees in smaller towns.

On the other end of the spectrum, moving to a place like San Francisco would offer a surge of culture, industry, and networking opportunities, but you’ll need to make sure you can afford the cost of living, which is among the highest in the U.S. For a better balance of culture and cost, Austin is a young entrepreneur’s paradise, featuring live music, great food and art, and a relatively young population with a median age of 31. Austin is also home to the University of Texas, which means as your business grows, you’ll have access to a steady flow of qualified graduates who are looking for work.

Of course, relocation doesn’t have to involve a cross-country move. You could find plenty of advantages to relocating within the same area. You might find a more suitable space just down the street that offers lower rent, a bigger space, or better parking for customers and employees.

There is also a trend of businesses moving to the suburbs surrounding large cities in order to lower their costs.

Finding the Right Space

If you have a general area in mind, it’s time to scour the place looking for just the right workspace. Early on in the process, you should make a list of all the requirements a new space must satisfy in order to support your business. This could include things like visibility from the street, a break room or kitchen, sensible parking, technological capabilities, plenty of space to work, room to continue expanding your workforce, and the maximum amount you could feasibly budget each month for rent and other costs.

Look for hard facts about the area, such as traffic numbers, distance to major highways and main streets, property taxes, insurance, operating expenses, build-out costs, the landlord’s reputation, and nearby businesses. You can also subscribe to the local paper or read them online in order to get a basic understanding of the cultural context of the area.

As you move forward with any space, pay attention to the length and terms of the lease. You wouldn’t want to sign on for a multi-year lease if it’s likely you’ll outgrow the space within that time or if business doesn’t pick up as planned. In some cases, even if you sell your business, the responsibilities of maintaining the terms of the lease might fall to the original lessee. This could be particularly disastrous if the person who bought your company hasn’t been paying the rent.

Once you’ve found a few spaces that meet your requirements, be sure to visit each location in person. Aside from inspecting the condition of the facility, make note of the traffic and people you see in order to better understand the dynamic surrounding the location. Spend some time exploring the city in order to get a feel for what day-to-day life might be like for you and your employees.

Employee Considerations

You should let your employees know about the plan to move at least 4 to 6 months in advance. If you are moving to another city, your employees may not be willing to relocate, and for more local moves, an increased commute can also put a strain on employees. You should consider the cost of living as it applies to your employees, and you may need to offer a pay raise or the option to work remotely in order to keep your most essential employees.

Quality of life for employees in a new location can have a significant impact on productivity, for better or worse. Take the time to look into nearby recreational opportunities, schools, crime rates, options for health care, and climate in the area. Moving to a safe place with plenty of fun things to do can increase the chance that you’ll retain current employees, attract new talent, and keep them happy in and outside of the workplace.

Financial Challenges

Before committing to the move, make sure you have enough money to safely carry your business through the transition, and be realistic about what is feasible. Even if the move is intended to save money in the long run, there are short-term costs that you’ll need to account for. These include hiring movers, transportation costs for yourself and employees, finishing and furnishing the space, buying new office equipment and technology, and hiring and training new employees. It’s also common to see a decrease in productivity for a while as your employees and customers adjust to the changes.

While some cities offer incentives for new businesses, some also have stricter laws for businesses as well as higher taxes. Thoroughly research all local regulations as you plan your budget.

Making the Move

Once you’ve decided where you’d like to go, there are all new things you’ll need to consider to make the move successful as well as common mistakes to avoid. If you haven’t done so already, create a comprehensive plan for the move and delegate different responsibilities to your employees. No detail is too small. This could include putting someone in charge of packing any leftover kitchen supplies as well as deciding who should update the address listed on your website.

By dividing the work, you can ensure that no one person has to shoulder too many burdens through the process, including yourself. Refer to this plan before the move, during the transition, and afterward in order to make sure you won’t have any unpleasant surprises later on.

Depending on the distance of the move, it might make more sense to quickly sell or donate some office equipment in order to avoid high shipping costs. If you choose to donate these items, you may be able to receive a tax deduction which can help offset moving costs.

Though you might ask for help from employees during the initial packing process, hiring a moving service is likely your best option for actually transporting equipment, furniture, and documents to the new location. You should plan to hire movers at least 1 to 3 months before the move in order to ensure they will be able to schedule your move well in advance.

Final Tips

Start early. It can take years to find the right place and ensure that you have the funds to sustain your business during the transition. If you feel like your business has the potential to expand to a new location, start looking now. It’s better to understand your options ahead of time rather than waiting until it’s too late and having to make a speedy, uninformed decision.

This may seem obvious, but it’s important to let your clients know well in advance that you’re moving. Consider receiving mail at both locations for a few weeks in order to make sure nothing is lost, and station an employee at the new location before the move so clients can begin engaging with the new number and address. This will also make sure essential services like phone and internet are working properly before you’ve fully moved in. It may be worth it to contract additional IT personnel to ensure this part of the transition goes smoothly.

It’s also possible that you don’t need to move at all in order to expand your business. In exploring all of your options, you could look into renting an adjoining space or find a separate location nearby while remaining active at your original site. Either of these options could prevent some of the disruption to productivity that typically takes place during a move and would allow customers who might be put off by a new location to remain loyal.

Even if you find the perfect space, it’s affordable, and everything goes well with the move, there is still a chance that it just won’t work out like you’d planned. Customers may not find the new location convenient, and even if you’ve chosen a location that is closer to your target market, you may risk losing your current customers. You might also find out too late that there isn’t as strong of a demand for your services as you predicted.

Despite these risks, relocation can be the key to expanding your business and creating a powerful brand with a solid customer base and loyal employees. By following these guidelines and creating a detailed plan, you can take the stress out of your move and have a successful transition to your new location.

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Auto Savings: Performance Tuning Makes Good Financial Sense Thu, 27 Jul 2017 13:42:49 +0000

Have you ever wondered when the financial breaks are going to come on newer automobiles? Compared to older cars, new ones are really expensive. For example, an ‘87 Subaru Station Wagon 4×4 costs an average of $2,775, while a 2007 Subaru Outback is nearly $7,000—and for people who don’t have four grand to spare, that’s a problem.

It’s tempting to buy cheap, but an old car will cost you a lot of money in the long term. Those maintenance bills add up fast, and if it’s an automatic you never know when the transmission is going to fail—which will easily cost over a thousand dollars to repair. If it’s a manual transmission, you’re less likely to have issues, but the old manuals can still have transmission problems, such as a dragging clutch or slipping gears. Simply put, they’re old machine parts that wear down over time and need repair.

Seems like there’s no way around either plunking down a big chunk of change on a newer auto and going into debt or spending less on an older model and then becoming good friends with a mechanic.

One reason why newer cars cost so much is they’re basically a lot of complicated machinery packed around an onboard computer, which is called the Engine Control Unit (ECU) or Engine Control Module (ECM). The ECU controls your engine’s air-to-fuel ratio, your idle speed, and all other engine operations, such as ignition.

The good news is there are vehicle modifications you can make to a reasonably priced car that will save you cash. If you do some of these things, such as putting in a new intake and exhaust, you’ll need to tune the ECU to improve performance. Doing so aligns your onboard computer with your modifications, saving you money on gas and enabling the engine to reach its optimal efficiency.

You can do this on your own with software that hooks into the ECU, or a professional can take care of it for you. Either way, once you’ve made modifications and told the software in your car’s computer to maximize fuel efficiency, you’ll get better gas mileage than you thought was possible. Over time, better gas mileage helps offset the price of a newer vehicle.

You’ll get better horsepower and torque, and you’re likely to decrease long-term spend on maintenance, because peak efficiency means the engine is using its resources the way it should. Race cars and police cars are performance tuned, because the people who drive professionally can’t afford not to tune them.

One great thing about this is the potential for savings an ECU tune brings to an environmentally friendly vehicle. Whether you’re running your car on vegetable oil, switching to a diesel engine, or buying a hybrid, a performance tune helps you get even more out of the engine, maximizing your savings. While technical specifications say the Toyota Prius can get up to 50 mpg, it’s actually capable of more. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve seen my Prius get 99.9 mpg. The salesman who sold me my car said he controls his hybrid engine’s efficiency by adjusting the settings through his computer.

Doing a performance tune on a hybrid like the Prius enables it to get the best gas mileage it’s capable of. It will also be able to go from zero to 60 faster. If you’ve ever driven a Prius, you know it can be scary trying to gun it in traffic because the factory settings don’t let it get very much torque. An ECU tune takes care of that problem.

This video shows you how to flash tune a Honda Accord. Be careful if you’re going to mod and flash tune your car on your own. Make sure to check out plenty of tutorial info such as this:

Happy tuning! Be of good cheer—even if you buy a fairly old clunker, if it has an ECU in it, you can make mods to your parts and tune it up for a car that runs like something you spent a lot more money on.













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How to Stay Financially Responsible While Renting With a Roommate Wed, 26 Jul 2017 14:51:44 +0000

This post is from guest author Melissa Davidson. You can find her on Twitter @madtris

Getting a roommate isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. While it may seem like the best decision for your wallet, you could actually be harmed financially in the process if your roommates are terrible. You’ll want to avoid some notorious pitfalls along the way if you want to save money and your sanity. Most importantly, you always want to make sure you choose your roommates wisely by doing a roommate background check, and by working together with your housemates to figure out the finances up front to avoid conflict.

How to choose a roommate

In addition to running a background check, getting a credit report is also a good idea. Also, do they have a job and a good temperament? You want to be sure they are someone you can imagine yourself living with. Are they tidy and can you trust them? These are just a few things to ask to make your decision easier. Below are some pieces of advice on financial matters.

How to split rent

The simplest way would be to divide the rent based on square footage, amenities, and the number of people in each bedroom. There are actual rent calculators out there that help you determine who pays what.

According to Forbes, to get an accurate breakdown, you take the square footage of each bedroom, including the closet or en suite bathroom, and divide by the total square footage of the apartment. This gives you the percentage of space each room occupies. Then take each person’s percentage and apply it to the total cost.

However, there’s an even easier method that just takes into consideration the square footage of the bedrooms. You don’t need to consider the total space that includes the common areas of the house because each roommate has equal access to those areas.

Example from My First Apartment:

Total bedroom area = 500 sq.ft.

Monthly rent = $1,000

Room 1: 250 sq. ft. (includes closet and private bath) = 50%  of area, rent $500

Room 2: 150 sq. ft. (includes closet)= 30% of the area, rent $300

Room 3: 100 sq. ft. (includes closet)= 20% 0f the area, rent $200

There are a number of ways to divide up rent, just make sure every roommate agrees upon the method of splitting, and make sure all renters are on the lease.

How to split utilities

Try to get all renters’ names on each account, if possible. If that’s not an option, collect all of the money up front before paying the actual bill. I once had a roommate who promised to pay me the $300 she owed. The outcome is predictable: She kept saying she’d pay, but never did. I didn’t have the money to cover the entire bill, it went to collections, and I was stuck with the whole thing. Come to find out, she had quite the history of delinquent accounts. Had I dug further into her past (and ran a background check), I’d have known this.

Basic utilities like water and electricity should be split equally. Is it really worth nickle and diming who uses the most? However, if a roommate is being frivolous with utility usage, such as leaving lights on or running the air conditioner all day and night, that warrants a conversation.

Other types of services or utilities could be negotiable, such as cable. Everyone should pay cash to the person whose name is on the bill and that person makes one payment on behalf of the group.

“When I lived with five other roommates under one roof, the best way of keeping track of who owed what was to create a chart each month and keep it on the fridge,” according to an article in Money Crashers. “It listed everyone’s name along with columns for rent and utility costs. As people paid, their names were crossed off. Everyone knew who had paid and who still owed – a great way of keeping everyone motivated to pay on time.”

Everyone needs to be on the same page before slapping up a chart on the fridge, though; no one wants to be caught off guard.

How to buy groceries

It’s probably easiest to each buy your own groceries and keep the food separately. If you all go to the store together, buy your own food and then split the other costs. You could split costs on staples such as milk, toilet paper, bread, butter, cleaning supplies, etc. and design a budget on how much you will each spend a month on these items. The key will be to communicate up front so there are no misunderstandings.

Just don’t eat your roommate’s food without asking. A lot of arguments can be prevented if you just show respect to your roommates and talk about groceries up front.

Use Rent Calculating Tools

Math isn’t everyone’s forte, so try using an online calculator. Some to try include,,, and Even if the space isn’t divided equally, tools can help manage everyone’s finances.

Living with a roommate (or multiple roommates) can be enjoyable, and a good way to save money, especially if you’re not financially in a position to invest in buying your own home. Just be prepared to resolve inevitable conflicts and divvy up necessary expenses, and your living arrangements will be that that much better.

Feature image: Bill Strain / Flickr

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Why Solar Power Is Worth the Initial Investment Tue, 25 Jul 2017 19:13:56 +0000  

Are you buying your first house, or are you already an owner looking for ways to make improvements? Any improvements you do make will increase the value of the house. One option that’s on the table is solar power. But there’s an up-front cost at stake. From guest contributor, Nico Morgan, here’s why that cost is worth it:

After many years of environmental campaigns against the burning of fossil fuels and utilizing nuclear energy to power our homes, the consensus is finally coming through that alternative energy is the way of the future. Of all the available methods for home and business owners alike, solar energy has come out on top of being the most resourceful, effective, and financially advantageous.

While at least 20 states still burn fossil fuels for their electrical grid, solar energy is on the rise across the country. This is not only because of the newer understanding of why alternative energy is so important for the environment, but because ease of installation and overall cost has become more user-friendly; installing panels on your rooftop is no longer reserved for the wealthy or the corporate franchises.

To be more specific, according to the US Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy: “Since 2008, U.S. [solar] installations have grown seventeen-fold from 1.2 gigawatts (GW) to an estimated 30 GW today. This is enough capacity to power the equivalent of 5.7 million average American homes. Since 2010, the average cost of solar PV panels has dropped more than 60% and the cost of a solar electric system has dropped by about 50%.”

Solar energy works in many ways exactly like the burning of fossil fuels — though with some important, and obvious, differences. While fossil fuels and nuclear energy plants are used to turn massive turbines that create electricity that then travels through cables across the country, solar energy works by absorbing sunlight on panels, and cutting out the middle-man of running long cables from energy-production plants to nearby suburbs. Through the use of advanced photovoltaic panels (photo = light, voltaic = electricity), energy is converted on the spot and fed into a net meter, which reads how much energy you’re consuming from the grid vs. your personal solar panels.

With the rise in popularity over recent years, solar panels have become more accessible to the common energy-user more than ever. While the initial installation and utility costs may seem high, they are the only large investment you’ll have to put into installing solar panels. According to, the life of a PV solar panel can range from anywhere between 25-40 years, meaning it’s a lifelong investment. And, with the savings and government tax breaks offered through installing solar panels, you can expect to recoup for the initial cost within a few years of implementation. After that you’ll see regular savings on power bills.

Not only is solar energy the best environmental choice for energy in your home, it can be, and actively is, being put towards other uses. For example, using solar panels for heating an outdoor pool saves money in the colder seasons, when you want to take a dip in the late fall and not emerge with hypothermia.

Because of its long lifespan and positive effects on the surrounding environment, including smog reduction and overall air clarity, solar energy is an environmentally clean, and financially wise course to take. Whether you’re eager to reduce your monthly energy utility bills, or perhaps just want to leave a smaller footprint on the environment, putting solar powered-panels on your rooftop is the first step to take.

Featured image / Flickr 

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