Everyone is under a great deal of pressure throughout the holiday season. Our waistlines get thicker while our wallets get slimmer. All this occurs at warp speed as we stress about gifts for friends and family and attempt to cook the perfect feast. Despite it all, the Holidays do not have to be that stressful on you or your pocketbook. With a few helpful tips, you can be well on your way to a pocket full of cash and a few less worry lines on your forehead.
Sell Your Junk
Whether you prefer to use eBay, craigslist, or a good old fashioned garage sale, selling your old stuff is a great way to make room for holiday décor and profit from it too. People will buy all manner of items such as clothes, gym equipment, and books. There is literally a market for everything. If you choose to use a website to post your goods, be sure to title them with something that is attention grabbing. When it comes to the old fashioned garage/yard sale, utilize modern day technology like your local classifieds’ website to advertise the event for a better turn-out.
Utilize Your Talents
It doesn’t matter whether you are crafty, notably intelligent, or gifted with children. All of these are bankable talents. Did you subjects in school easy? Try tutoring students in your local community. Are you a gifted DIY specialist? Make crafts and sell them to your family and friends for their holiday shopping needs. Better yet, you could even host a small Santa’s workshop for the neighborhood kids that get them creating gifts for family members. For this, you could charge a small fee per child. By doing so, you could combine both a knack for crafts and a gift with kids. Advertise such services at the local schools and churches/non-profits.
There are so many great things about donating during the holiday season. Besides lining your wallet a little, you also get that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with doing something good. Whether you decide to donate your blood or your plasma, there are local collection sites and banks across the country. These are excellent resources for quick cash within minutes. Some plasma centers pay as much as $50 for a withdrawal that can take as little as 30 minutes. It is simply a matter of being in good health and meeting primary prerequisites.
[The following is a guest post]
If you are selling your home, you may want to keep the cost of doing so as low as possible, especially if you have decided to do so for financial reasons rather than because you want to relocate, or move somewhere bigger or smaller.
There are multiple ways that you could choose to sell your home in today’s market. A person might decide how to proceed on the basis of how much money that can afford to give over to the process of selling their property, the speed at which you need to sell, or how much free time you have in your daily life style to spare dealing with house viewings and estate agents and so on.
Here are a few ways that you could try and limit any extra costs when selling your home:
Haggle with the estate agent
The way that many estate agents work is that they will often take an overall percentage of the money from selling your house as a commission for helping you to do so. Get multiple quotes and deals from a range of estate agents in your area, and tell each one about all of the ones that you have had to see if they will be willing re-evaluate to keep your business.
Do it yourself
Another alternative to getting an estate agent to help you sell your home is that you could attempt to sell it privately without using one of them. You will not have to pay their commission fees, although you will not benefit from their industry knowledge that could help you. You will also have to take on a lot of the work that they would often do for you yourself. This includes things like dealing with house viewings and advertising your home in their shop.
Using a house buyer
While this may not strictly save you money, using a house buying company like those such as The House Buyer Bureau, can help you to sell your house if you need to sell it within a few weeks rather than a few months, whether this is because you need cash quickly for your finances, or because you need to move quickly for work reasons or because you are ill. It can also help you to sell your home, sometimes no matter what the condition it is in from situations of damage or disrepair. They are not likely to pay the full market value of the house so that is something to keep in mind when choosing a company. If you decide to choose this option, you should look into the companies and see what they will offer you, and what the conditions of using them will be.
Before you decide which method you want to use to sell your home, weigh up the pros and cons of each one and figure out which one will best suit your needs and your lifestyle. Ask people who are used each one and get their opinion on the process.
When it comes to wealth optimization one problem which comes up is finding a foolproof strategy for increasing your bottom line. Strategies like investing in stocks, radical budgeting and savings, or starting a small business all work for some people, but not for others. This aside, one thing which is likely to act in your favor is reducing your investment expenses. Investing costs, whether they are transaction costs for buying or selling securities or management fees for holding mutual funds, should be minimized.
Why? There are at least two reasons.
Investing Fees Reduce Returns
Every dollar paid for management fees or trading commissions is simply a dollar less you have invested. This holds true for real estate transactions, loan brokerage fees, stock commissions and mutual fund management fees.
Lets take an example from the stock markets. There is lots of good stock market data, so this example holds some water. Assume you start by investing $100,000 in two different funds. The first fund has an expense ratio of 0.25%. The second fund has an expense ratio of 0.90% (which is the approximate asset-weighted average expense ratio for U.S. stock funds as of December 31, 2012). The impact of expenses over a 30-year horizon with 6% annual compounding is huge. At the of 30 years the low cost fund gives you $532,899 whereas the high cost fund yields only $438,976. The difference here is almost $100,000 (coincidentally, the portfolio’s starting value) between the low-cost and high-cost funds.
Costs Are Controllable
The key point is that—unlike a lot of things—costs are largely controllable. The stock or bond markets may decide to hiccup and you could lose a substantial portion of your investment. Acts of god, like hurricanes, earthquakes or incidents of civil disturbance are also beyond your control. Most assets are also subject to some sort of political risk, typically politicians seeking to impose regulation or increase taxes on markets which your investments are part of. The point here is that you can’t easily do much about these sources of risk to your portfolio. That said, you can control costs – that is by choosing mutual funds which have lower expense ratios or by selecting brokerage houses which have low or no transaction fees at all.
So, just to recap: a good way to optimize your finances is to control costs. Cost control works for everyone. Costs eat into your returns and reducing costs puts you in the drivers seat, which is great because anytime there is money on the table you’ve got enough risk to worry about.
P.S. Hat Tip to the Vanguard Group for the example figures (clicky).
Americans are great at a lot of things, but some things that we are great at, like wasting money, we should not be proud of. The average American wastes thousands of dollars each year on purchases that they do not need to make and on fees that they could have easily avoided. This results in many households not saving as much as they should to ensure a secure financial future. Here are some of the most common ways that we waste money and what we can do to change these habits.
Unnecessary Banking Fees
Americans can pay hundreds of dollars each year in unnecessary banking fees. These fees can add up quickly and range from $3.50 for using an out of network ATM to $35 for causing an overdraft on your checking account. Most of these fees are fairly easy to avoid if you are aware of them and actively take steps to ensure that you will not trigger any of these additional charges. Make sure that your bank account always has more money deposited than the minimum amount required, keep track of your transactions so you always know how much is in the account, and only use ATMs that will not charge you a fee.
When it comes to convincing people to buy more than they need, retail stores are experts. The retail stores have been so effective at encouraging people to spend that there are now television shows dedicated to helping people get rid of the ridiculous amounts of stuff that they have accumulated throughout the years. In many cases, the extra items that were purchased were never taken out of the packaging. Whenever you plan to go shopping, make a list of the things that you intend to purchase while you are out and stick to this list so you are not buying things that you do not really need.
Another area where people tend to waste a lot of money is on convenience purchases. Nothing demonstrates this more than the proliferation of fast food and fast causal restaurants across the country. Instead of paying a minimal amount for ingredients at the grocery store and taking the time to prepare a meal ourselves, we spend more going to one of these restaurants and paying someone to prepare our food for us. Some people eat at these places nearly every day, not realizing that they could make many of the foods they are eating at home themselves for half of the price they are paying now. To save a significant amount of money each year, cook at home as much as possible and be mindful of the price of the ingredients you are buying.