A quiet night in: an exercise in frugal saving.

image1As much as any couple, family or group of friends might like going out, it’s never cheap. Whether it’s fine dining or going out to your local bar or restaurant, these are costs that add up all too easily. They may seem cheap once in a while but once you start doing it on a weekly or semi-regular basis, it becomes a larger and larger chunk of your expenses.

In contrast to this, understanding the benefits of a quiet night in can prove useful. More than offering something different and relaxing it can demonstrate a way to stay cheap and cost effective whilst still enjoying the usual perks of life.

Food

If you go out to eat, you should know how much this can cost. Cooking for yourself is usually the cheapest but there are still other options. For instance, if you have the urge for Chinese food, it may be cheaper for everyone to pool money together for chinese takeaways than visit your local restaurant. It’s much cheaper and doesn’t have the added costs of additional drinks and restaurant prices and other service charges that are often forgotten about.

Entertainment

Likewise, if you’re not going out, there is nothing to stop you from being social. Your home can prove entertaining enough with the right company. Cheap entertainment can be anything from a movie rental (if you’re only going to watch it once, don’t buy something you don’t need) to various games, which offer entertainment again and again. These are all cheap, whether you use it once or buy it to use again and again. This is another lesson to be learnt in saving, by understanding the real value of something.

If you come across some movies that you and your friends love, it makes sense to purchase the DVD so you can all watch it whenever you like. Luckily, you can save money by ordering your DVDs online, so you do not have to worry about breaking the bank. To make things more interesting, consider having each person purchase a DVD online and then choosing between your favorites every time you gather.

Additional expenses

Hopefully the two areas above should highlight how easy it is to cut down on those little costs for every social occasion but there are always other areas to look at. Take your appearance, for instance. If you don’t go out to an expensive restaurant you might not need to risk your best shirt or shoes. It can also save on other expenses, such as getting a taxi home late if you’ve been drinking or other travel costs.  So, next time you think you might go out, suggest staying in to the others and see how much can be saved.

Great Ways to Get Noticed in Corporate America Part 2

Business of SoftwareCorporate America is a tough beast to conquer, but with a little patience and persistence, it can absolutely happen. In order to give yourself the best chance at consistent promotions, be sure to follow these five tips to get yourself noticed at work.

This is part 2 of the series, with hopefully more to come! Everyone wants to get ahead at work, right?

 

3)      Show Your Skills

Everyone has a certain skill set that few others have. Perhaps you’re amazing in Excel and can help others become more efficient around the office.

Don’t be afraid to hold a class that will teach others how to do a v-lookup or a pivot table. It will most likely save them a ton of time, and it will certainly increase your value around the office.

4)      Increase Your Network

Sometimes it is challenging to meet new people, but if you want to move up in the company it’s in your best interest to get to know everyone.

That means you should make friends with everyone from the janitor to the president of the company.

First of all, it’s just nice to be friendly, but you never know where that next opportunity is going to come from. If you’re friends with a large network of people, then your chances of getting that next promotion are pretty good.

5)      Come Early, Stay Late

Unless someone is staring over your shoulder watching you work, they have absolutely no idea what you’re doing on your computer.

If you come to work early and browse Craigslist for an hour, they’re assuming that you’re really putting some effort into your work.

The same story applies for staying late. Of course, while you’re at work you do actually have to get some stuff done. If you don’t, then your boss and coworkers just think that you’re extremely slow at what you do and might give you the boot.

Put some solid work in and consistently arrive early and stay late, and you might just be on the list for the next promotion.

 

How are you trying to get noticed?

Great Ways to Get Noticed in Corporate America Part 1

Business of SoftwareCorporate America is a tough beast to conquer, but with a little patience and persistence, it can absolutely happen.

In order to give yourself the best chance at consistent promotions, be sure to follow these five tips to get yourself noticed at work and in your career.

This is part 1 of the series, with hopefully more to come! Part 2 will be next week and hopefully this is an endless series 🙂

1)      Dress to Impress

If you dress the part, then you’ll most likely be in line for it.Dress for who you want to be. Of course don’t look like the crazy person if you are wearing a suit and work at a retail store. That might be overdoing it…

On the other hand, if you dress like a slob, then you’ll either remain in your current job or you might even get kicked out the door. Of course, your boss won’t kick you out because you wear a T-shirt to work instead of a dress shirt, but your wardrobe says a lot about you as a person.

If you’re sloppy, then your work is most likely sloppy as well. Confidence is key here.

If you wear crisp, clean, sharp clothes, then it’s perceived that your work will reflect that same standard. Trust me!

2)      Pick Up the Pace

I have a friend that often gives me terrible advice, but I did get one gem out of him the other day, “Put something in your hand and walk fast.” Dale Carnegie actually advises that you do the same thing.

If you walk with purpose, people will think that you’re off to do something important and are a very busy person.

Whether you are or not, having that perception is definitely a good thing.

 

How are you trying to get noticed?

Start Your Own Business for Less Than $500

If your friend announces that they’re going to start their own business, what is your immediate thought? If you’re like most, you probably imagine them opening up shop in a building downtown and selling something to customers that walk in the front door.

This is certainly one way to start a business, but in today’s world I certainly wouldn’t recommend it. The building itself would cost $200k or more, and then you would most likely have to buy a bunch of inventory to stock the shelves, and then you would have to hire someone to sell it! It’s an expensive way to do business and it fails more often than it succeeds.

Since the internet has come along, starting a traditional “brick and mortar” store is most often for broke thinkers. It costs way too much to start and the potential for profits is extremely slim.  Self-employment and working online is possible as well.

 

Two Factors For Your Business

If you’re thinking about starting your own business, you must at the very least take into consideration to factors: (1) how much are the start-up costs, and (2) what are the potential earnings?

If you open up a baseball card shop downtown, the initial costs will be astronomical and even if you sold thousands of baseball cards each month, what are the odds that you’ll earn enough profits to stick around for the next 20 years? The odds are incredibly slim. This model has high start-up costs and low earnings potential.

Now, what if you took that same baseball card store idea and decided to make a virtual store instead? The initial cost of your website would be $100 or so and the potential sales wouldn’t just be to one neighborhood, but to the entire world! Your earnings potential is now through the roof!

 

Related posts: 

Building your Reputation as a Freelancer

Finding Private Health Insurance When You’re Self-Employed

Work From Home Opportunities

Freelancing Options

Advantages of Becoming a Virtual Assistant

 

Start-Ups for $500 or Less

So what businesses can you possibly start for less than $500? I can think of quite a few actually. Pretty much any business online will cost you almost nothing, but in case you’re interested in doing something that doesn’t force you to use your laptop, here are some other ideas:

1)      Lawn Care – All you need is a lawn mower and a weed whacker and you’re in business! If you already own them (which many of us do), then your start-up cost is practically nothing.

2)      Spring Clean-Up – Nobody like to pick up rotten leaves and sticks. You could make a business of this and clean-up! All you really need is a wheelbarrow and a pair of working gloves. Now that’s a cheap start-up.

3)      Detailing Cars – People very rarely clean their cars inside and out and would much rather pay someone else to do it for them. You’ll have to buy a few supplies, but in total, this really shouldn’t cost you more than $100.

4)      Vendor – If you have a lot of parades and events in your area, you might want to try your hand at being a vendor. The cart could get a little pricey, but with a deal, I bet you could keep it under $500.

5)      Build Cabinets – All you need is some lumber and a few tools. If people like your work, this business could really turn into something!

6)      Mechanic – If you know how to repair cars today, you could be in pretty high demand. If you already have the tools, then this start-up will cost you absolutely nothing and it has a tremendous upside!

 

Are you thinking about starting your own business?

 

Work Space Organization (For the Terminally Disorganized)

Some people love organization. It comes naturally to them. They wield inboxes, date books and file folders as if they were born with labelers in their hands. If you’re that kind of person, this article isn’t for you–unless you want to slap it up on your cube-mate’s wall. No, this piece is intended for people who haven’t seen the top of their desk since the day after they hired in. Fifteen years ago.

If you’re one of those people, you know how an organized work space could help you. You realize you waste countless hours looking for things that “ought to be here somewhere,” privately fretting that you’ve accidentally thrown them away. You’re aware that an organized office leads to increased productivity,  your boss’s confidence–and even promotions. And it’s not like you haven’t tried. It’s just that, no matter which system you implement, or how good your intentions, within a week or two, you’re back to the same old clutter. You may, of course, have a break-through one day. You may become just like all the neat people surrounding you, who effortlessly put things in order and…keep them there. Until then, however, here are some tips to help you maintain some control over your work areas.

1.  Be Excited

Imagine how thrilled you would be if you could redecorate your home just the way you want it. Now look at your latest desk organization effort as redecorating, but on a much smaller scale. Obviously, you’re going to do a lot of sorting, some tossing, dusting (air compressors!), and unearthing dubious treasures from the recesses of your desk. This may seem like drudgery. Reward yourself by purchasing office supplies that fit your personal style, and imagine how you’ll feel once the organization project is done. [Read more…]

Tick Tock, Tick Tock. Try These Time Management Tips to Control the Clock

If you’ve attended any time-management seminars, you’ve heard the old saw “everyone has the same twenty-four hours,” and been made to feel guilty that Thomas Edison spent his inventing 70 bazillion things, while you can’t get one stupid presentation done. You start work every morning positive you’ll accomplish great things–only to find, when five o’clock arrives, you’re no closer to finishing anything than you were at eight. That means another late night, either at your desk or on the couch at home, struggling to stay afloat while other priorities (family, friends, housework) dangle, neglected. This isn’t how you thought your life would turn out.

The thing is, everyone starts the day with twenty-four hours but (sorry, Ms. Inspirational Speaker), we don’t have the same twenty-four hours. Our ability to apportion our time is affected by our circumstances and our work styles. Some of these are changeable, while some aren’t. The trick is to find a time management system that works for you. So, rather than a one-size-fits-all program, here are some hints you can use to take control of your own twenty-four.

1. Find Your Prime Time(s)

You’ve no doubt heard of circadian rhythms–the rhythms that govern all natural functions, including our own. You’re probably aware of your own “body clock”–whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, or in-between. But did you realize you can make those rhythms work for you?

[Read more…]

Stop Procrastinating… Now!

It’s easy to spot a procrastinator. The day after, anyway. They’re red-eyed, irritable, and anxious, having subsisted on coffee for the last 36 hours while they worked frantically to get that presentation done. Their voices are raw from screaming at the printer, then the copier. They sport a bump on the forehead, where the desk hit it as they struggled to stay awake.

Of course, all you may need to do to find a procrastinator is look in the mirror.

Why Do You Procrastinate?

If you procrastinate, you likely come off an adrenaline-fueled work session wondering just why you do this to yourself. There are as many reasons as there are procrastinators, but here are some common ones:

  • Perfectionism: Some people believe they must do something perfectly for it (and by extension, themselves) to have any value. At the same time, they realize their efforts are going to fall short of the ideal. As a result, afraid of failure (or success), they wait until the absolute last minute to complete a task, the minute where the fear of not finishing something eclipses the fear of a less-than-perfect result.
  • Thrill-seeking: Many people have some early experiences with procrastination, often in high school or college. For some, a couple of failures, or simply the stress, is enough to persuade them to manage their time more effectively. For others, however, the charge they get out of pulling something off at the last minute becomes habit-forming. They may even believe that they “perform best under pressure.”
  • Lack of Self-Control: Other procrastinators simply have not learned the self-disciplinary or administrative skills they need to get work done calmly and reasonably. It’s incredibly difficult for them to forgo instant gratification (computer games, TV shows, a good book, going out with friends) to achieve something of greater value (work project), which is, at the same time, difficult or unpleasant to reach.
  • Difficulty Making a Decision or Commitment: Some are leery of making decisions, because they then bear the responsibility if those decisions are poor. In the case of a work project, they may avoid the task because they fear the inherent responsibility.

Why You Should Stop

[Read more…]