Category Archives: Blog

How to Spend your Tax Refund? Don’t!

Tax Day is April 15. It comes every year and with it, our Facebook feeds, Twitter and Instagram accounts are full with everyone updating and showing off friends & family playing with the new “toys” they got with their tax refund!

Some people get a new car every year, or go on a family vacation, or go to an extravagant dinner they couldn’t have otherwise afforded.

For many families, tax season is the best time of year. Soon, they’re taking pictures of the latest Disney vacation, or the latest piece of technology they purchased. What does all this have in common? People are spending when they should probably be saving.

Let’s be real. Saving just isn’t as fun as spending but what if I told you that saving your tax return each year sets you up for opportunities to have more spending money throughout the year? Would you be interested in hearing more?

It’s true that a little delayed satisfaction can go a long way here. Let’s take for example, a family of four and a $1,500 tax refund. Believe it or not, that amount is modest by some standards.

This $1,500 could provide

  • a nice vacation for a family of four including hotel lodgings, fun and meals, OR
  • an action packed staycation at local attractions, museums & theme parks OR
  • an elegant night on the town (or two), OR
  • a down payment for a newer, nicer car on a trade-in.

But what if, instead, that same $1,500 was used to pre-pay your family’s electric bill (average $150/month) for 10 months? That would provide instant cash access of $150/month for 10 months!

Think of all the fun your family could have each month with that extra money. You could go to a museum, or go to the movies and dinner, or save a couple months and go to the local attractions. You could eliminate a bill that you pay each month, freeing up room in your regular budget and allowing you to create a new budget item of “FUN!”

Alternately, you could choose to pay off a debt, freeing your family of the burden of monthly payments and opening up that money for spending. You could also save or invest that money and see real dividends! That same $1,500 saved, or better yet, invested, could provide you with some real earning potential over the course of just a few years.

For a relatively conservative example, let’s say that your family invested the $1,500 in a return that yielded 4% compounded annually. The first year you would have $1,560.00. Doesn’t sound like much, does it?

Let’s say you decided to do the same again with your return (each year being $1,500) for an additional 3 years. In a matter of 4 years, your family would have $6,369.70. Doing this for 10 years in would leave you with a comfortable $18,009.16. Now THAT is something to get excited about! Think of all the ways you could spend all that money.

I think you might agree it was worth the time and energy spent saving. Sometimes the best way to spend your tax refund is not at all!

You Got a Tax Refund?

People sometimes get the silly notion that a tax refund is a GOOD thing. They think of vacations, cars, new phones, new toys, new gadgets, savings and more. But think again.

There are a lot of people that plan on their refund each year for certain items (see aforementioned list) and they treat it like a “savings account.” They just LOVE tax time and think a refund is a good thing.

However, a tax refund is really NOT a good thing. Let’s delve into this thought pattern a little more and see just how many silly mistakes you are making when you get an annual tax return.

A tax return means you over-paid the government in your taxes and they owe you money. Essentially, you have lent them money from January of the year before to April (or whenever you file your taxes) interest free. In other words, you’ve thrown away money from interest AND been unable to spend your money for a year or more.

Let’s discuss the interest losses we take on a tax refund. When you consider that a savings account or CD with a modest 1 or 2% interest rate would yield an annual return of $10 or $20 per $1,000 of return, you’ll agree that stuff adds up. A return of $2,000 would mean losing out $40.

If you don’t think that’s a lot then go ahead and take out 2 (two) $20 dollar bills from your pocket now. Go… I’m waiting…. Got them? Good. Now go throw them in the nearest garbage can and leave them there. Hurts, right?

Or, next time you’re at the bank get forty $1 bills and as you’re driving to work each day, throw out $1 every day right out the window… 40 days later, let me know how you feel about it! Obviously, when we see cash loss, it makes the point drive home. If you wouldn’t throw away cold hard cash, then why throw it away in other forms?

Finally, we must realize the loss of use associated with the government holding our money hostage until we file a return and then up to 6 weeks after for processing payment. Have you ever been a little short on cash?

Perhaps had the thought, “I could sure use some extra cash today?” Next time that happens, think of the government holding your latest tax refund in their hand while you scrounge for change in couch for your next coffee. Not such a good idea anymore, is it?

Now you see the light. But now what can you do about it?

In cases where you are an employee, you simply need to file an adjusted W-4 with your employer. This is the form your employer uses to withhold your taxes. It’s super easy- request one from your employer or simply go online to the IRS website (https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw4.pdf) and print a form.

To accurately determine how much you should have withheld, use the IRS withholding calculator. This will tailor your tax withholdings to your particular situation and ensure that you are withholding just the right amount. (https://apps.irs.gov/app/withholdingcalculator/) For self-employed situations, you will want to consult a professional tax expert to be sure that your estimated tax payments are correct.

In any situation, you want to make sure that you are withholding the correct amount, not too much or too little. Trust me, you do not want a refund even when you think you do.

How To Avoid Getting Fake Car Insurance

The following is a guest post by Thorsten Gohde

Ever since the dawn of civilization of civilization fake products have existed in the market. Fakers haven’t stopped. This time, it’s not only products that are being faked – services are being faked too.

Providers and regulators never stop informing the public about fake services. Yet there are still people who fall for these fakes over and over again. Some con artists are so adept at making their services look real.

The automobile industry is no exception. Sketchy car insurance websites are out there selling fake policies and deals. If you use a car or van for business purposes, you must make sure the insurance on it is up to date so you don’t get in trouble, even if you’re hiring it. In the UK, you can click on this site for more information about hiring a van. But back to fake insurance: in this article, we will discuss how you can avoid falling for such counterfeit services.

Understanding mandatory car insurance

You need car insurance to avoid financial loss in case of a car accident. It saves you from shouldering the repair cost. The law mandates liability insurance to protect other people from you and your car. This will cover paying for damages and injuries done to others. It helps to get insurance from a reputable source, for example, somewhere like car insurance by Insurance Quotes, to help you with your policy.

Understand the insurance policies

The two basic insurance types are liability insurance and comprehensive insurance. The liability insurance pays for damage you’ve done to others. Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car due to natural causes, or in case of theft and accidents. You can learn more about this when you consult insurance providers.

Agents

First-time car insurance buyers often talk to insurance agents suggested by car dealers. Or sometimes, the car dealers offer you insurance too. If you are dealing with an agent, be sure to run a background check. This will help you avoid con artists.

You need to check and read the documents the agent gives you. Sometimes you might find sketchy clauses in your contract. Clarify what these means first before signing. You can always ask to see their license.

Car insurance companies

Scam artists have adapted and started getting into new technology. If you want to make a purchase with your insurance company, it’s safer to go to their branch office instead of going online. However, the downside is that it can be quite an inconvenience.

If you can’t go to the physical office, there’s another way to make sure the website is not a scam. Look for the customer service contact number and call it. If there is none, it is probably fake. If they don’t answer or is answered by a suspicious-sounding person, be wary.

Online aggregators

Some online aggregators can find insurance deals for you online. If you visit their website and avail of their services, they will do the comparing of premiums for you. Keep in mind that you should make sure their website is secured. To do this, look for the green padlock icon near the search bar where the website name is located. Keep in mind that you should check coverages too and not just prices. It certainly is possible to do a Cheap car insurance comparison of many different insurers.

You should make an informed choice

It doesn’t really matter where you choose to purchase your insurance. You have to make sure that you are making the right choice. Keep in mind the tips in this article and seek to further understand how getting an insurance works. If you master what each coverage does and how to get them, you won’t fall for fake auto insurance.

Please visit my new Blog: Click here!

Neesh or Nitch?

The following is a guest post by Bill Davis

I admit, I don’t know how to say niche. Some say “neesh” and some say “nitch.”

Does it really matter? No.

What does matter is that a) you pick a niche that has the potential to earn revenue and b) you research it really well.

Today, I want to talk about niches, or more specifically, choosing a niche.

This is very important: The niche, or topic, you choose to blog about will determine success or failure, as measured by earnings, traffic, engagement, and satisfaction (yours).

The most important aspect above is your satisfaction, in my humble opinion. You will not be able to continually write about and update your site if you hate it.

But that’s a given, right?

Many expert bloggers will tell you to choose a niche you’re passionate about. Others will tell you to pick a niche that has earning potential above all else.

I will tell you this: You need BOTH.

Let’s say you choose a topic that has high earning potential (think health, wealth, relationships, and hobbies). You begin blogging about it, making affiliate sales, earning advertising revenue, and maybe you even make your own product to sale.

Things are going well. You’re satisfied with your results. But you don’t really like the topic. Maybe you don’t even know the niche well.

You can sustain for a while. But eventually, you’ll grow tired of writing about something you don’t really like. You’ll stop writing, traffic will dry up, and you’ll abandon the project.

All earnings will eventually subside and vanish.

But hey, it was a good run.

Alternatively, let’s say you chose a niche that you’re passionate about. You’re an expert and you love talking about it at cocktail parties. Your niche friends love it, too.

You begin the project gung-ho. You write and write and write. You guest blog and you get your stories featured in industry blogs and newsletters.

Maybe you even get speaking gigs!

But you chose a niche that had little earning power (say, teen dental hygiene–I made that up).

Eventually, your passion for the project (the blog) will subside. Your passion for the topic may never die. But you will stop blogging.

It’s best, in fact, if you find this out sooner rather than later.

Let’s face it: You’re here because you want to earn money blogging and “internet marketing.”

You’re not here because you want to write blog posts that nobody reads.

You want the moolah!

So, I say to you, you need to pick a niche that you’re passionate about and that has earning potential.

As I alluded to before, focus on niches in the health, wealth, relationships, and hobbies areas.

But dive deeper than that. You need to find out where people are actively spending money in those niches.

How do you do that? You research!

Here’s a great primer on niche research. Read that whole series. It will give you great insight on how to choose a niche that will satisfy you and your readers (and hopefully, your BUYERS).

Are Unsubscribes a sign of the end of the world?

The following is a guest post by Scott Lichau

You send an awesome email with amazing subject line, follow all the best practices, and they still click on unsubscribe — a wake up moment for any email marketer.

It’s not expected to have a zero unsubscribe rate, but you can do something about your unsubscribes. A good unsubscribe rate is less than 0.5% (0.2% is within the norm). An unsubscribe rate above 0.5% indicates you need to work on the issue.

Negative and positive reasons for unsubscribes

According to MarketingSherpa, the top reason why your audience unsubscribes from emails is that they get bombarded with them from many sources. Receiving irrelevant emails was the second most frequent response, while volume of emails from the company was the third most cited reason.

Reason’s for Email unsubscribes: 1. Too many Emails in their inbox 2. Not Relevant 3. Too many Emails from one company.

Unsubscribes actually mean that they are leaving because maybe they are the wrong target for your niche, the posts are not relevant for them or they just don’t like what they are reading.

Look- This is NOT all bad news- Keep reading!

Let’s check out the up side of Unsubscribes.

You are maintaining your reputation. An unsubscribe means the subscriber chose not to hear from you but didn’t mark or report your email as spam. But you can find out why people unsubscribe. Send your unsubscribe requests to an unsubscribe page where they can choose what made them want to unsubscribe from your list.

Use this to become better at Email marketing- It’s what all Smart Marketers are doing!

Avoid having them unsubscribe without finding out why.

Here’s an example of Travelocity’s Unsubscribe page:

Source

 

You can also get the information from customers by asking why they’re unsubscribing from your emails by offering a drop-down menu of options (BUT don’t require them to give a reason to unsubscribe). This information can help with a periodic check of your overall results. It also acts as a motivator to create more relevant emails.

If your list contains only qualified contacts then unsubscribes can be like a bad pill to swallow. If your unsubscribes include prospects who are not that interested in your products or services it’s easier to accept them leaving. Therefore, Your list will become higher quality when they go. Remember, you’re paying a price for every email you send. Why not send it only to targeted prospects?

While unsubscribes have some benefits, your goal likely still is to reduce the number of recipients who opt out. Here are some ways to do that.

Segmentation

Segment your subscriber list based on things like age, gender, educational qualification, job designation and purchase history. Segmentation helps you to send tailor-made emails according to the interests of your subscriber. Segmentation reduces the likelihood the recipient will think of the emails as irrelevant to them.

Attention: Send personalized offers that give a feeling of exclusivity to the subscribers and makes them feel special and not just a number in the crowd.

When it comes to email marketing, knowing your buyer’s journey is half the battle. Gather subscriber information through lead-nurturing campaigns and use it to map the content based on their buying patterns.

TIP: Use an Excel spreadsheet to categorize this information and get the right content for the each subscriber.

Be careful and test the frequency of the emails you send. Use a unique frequency for every segment. As you take different approaches, watch your response rate. This trial-and-error strategy can help determine a more ideal number you should send.

Follow a consistent email schedule so subscribers know when to expect them. Consistency Matters!

Include social media icons on your unsubscribe page so they can continue to connect with you on those platforms. Check out this example from Blurb:

Source

TIP: Add a “take a break” option on your unsubscribe page.

Use the feedback shared on the unsubscribe page

Write an interesting subject line and preview text that conveys the purpose of the email right at the outset. Then, focus on creating copy and visual elements that will grab their attention.

Remember- The Only way to reduce Email unsubscribes is to deliver consistent value to the subscriber!

 

 

Starting a New Morning Routine

by Charlene Burke, Contributor (full article can be seen at MindfulPortal blog)

Starting a New Mindful Morning Routine

The way you begin your day has a significant impact on the way the rest of your day goes. If you start your day on the wrong foot, it’s easy to allow everything to bother you, make you feel down, and it can create a negative mood that changes the course of your day.

Days when you wake up in a good mood, everything just goes right, and you’re happy, you find yourself more positive and happier. It’s all about mindfulness and using mindfulness to create a healthy morning routine that starts your day just right.

Prepare Ahead of Time

A morning routine is made much easier when it’s calm, and it’s calm when you take a few moments the night before to prepare. Choose your clothes, get your coffee cup out and ready to go, and put whatever you can in the car to take with you in the morning. The less you have to do in the morning, the easier it is to start your day on a positive note.

Wake Early

Being mindful means being aware of what makes you feel good in the mornings. Do you feel good when you’re woken up by the kids who are begging for breakfast, need their lunches packed, and have forms they forgot to give you to sign?

Or do you feel good when you wake up before they do so you have time to enjoy a shower, a cup of coffee, and a little peace? Most people feel better when they rise early enough to enjoy the peace and quiet before the day begins, so it helps to be aware enough to rise early.

Stay Quiet

It’s tempting to turn on the television or log on to your phone to check out social media or the news when you wake up, but don’t do it. Stay quiet for 10 minutes or so. Drink your coffee. Read a book. Watch the sun come up.

Do something you enjoy that’s quiet. It allows you to focus on what is so good about life and all that’s going on around you.

Starting slow and easy in the morning is the best way to ensure you wake up in a good mood with a good attitude. No one wants to feel rushed or overwhelmed within five minutes of waking up. You’re going to feel that way, but you’re better equipped to handle it when you’ve already had peace, quiet, and time to focus on what’s good in life before the chaos ensues.

Mindfulness means making deliberate decisions to focus on you and what’s good for you rather than what’s required, what’s necessary, and what’s on the list of things to do.

While these are great ways to add to your morning mindfulness, if you’re having difficulty because you want to do too much or simply want to have a morning ritual that you can master, there is a low-cost program available to guide you to morning ritual mastery >>>Morning Ritual Mastery<<<

A Quick Look at the New Coastal Living Home Collection

The Coastal Living Collection of Furniture is now available at Matter Brothers Furniture in Florida. #Ad

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Coastal Living Home Collection furniture launch party at Matter Brothers Furniture in Sarasota, FL. While this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

Coastal Living Home Collection – Magazine Inspired Home Decor

I have long been a fan of Coastal Living Magazine. Thumbing through the pages of their magazine and books transports you instantly to chic coastal destinations, and the decor they feature is always so well, beachy!

It’s enough to make you want many of the furniture pieces and accessories they feature in your own home. That’s why it just makes sense that the company has added their own line of furniture to their brand.

Related: Tips for Garage Organization and Storage

As they put it on their website: “The Coastal Living Collection is inspired by Coastal Living magazine and the joy of life by the sea. The furniture and rug collection celebrates the allure and beauty of the beach, the natural coastal landscapes, the marine life, and the casual and relaxed mood that can only be found at the shore.

From sea-inspired color choices to carefully selected materials, the Coastal Living Collection brings the magazine’s pages to life by balancing nature’s elements in unique and beautiful ways. “

Coastal Living Home Collection – The Matter Brothers Furniture Launch Party

I was so excited to attend the Coastal Living Home Collection launch party at Matter Brothers Furniture in Sarasota, FL. I got to see many of the stunning pieces up close and personal.

What I love the most about them is that they are beach inspired, but not in your face beach furniture. They are seaside chic rather than tacky palm prints and seashell lamps that look outdated and gaudy. In other words, these are the pieces you want in your home. Subtle beach themed with comfort and flair.

Okay fine! They are the pieces I really want in MY home. LOL! And, can you blame me?!? I mean just look at some of these pieces from the Coastal Living Home Collection, and tell me you don’t want them. I’m betting you can’t.

Related: 3 Simple Ways to Decorate Your Home on a Budget

Check out some of the pics I snapped at the launch party below. Note: They aren’t as nice as the pro photos that the company has taken, but it doesn’t change the fact I’d be so ecstatic to have any of these pieces in my own home!



Related: 5 Ways To Add Storage To Your Home

How awesome are these pieces?!? Don’t they just feel relaxing? I am betting that having pieces like this in my home would transform it into a peaceful setting that I’d never want to leave.

Here’s hoping that when I move into my dream home in the future, I can have furniture as beautiful and comfortable as this.

The Coast Living Home Collection is now available at Matter Brothers Furniture. AD

Healthy Can Be Tasty – Oriental Glazed Pork

If you love pork, you’ll surely love this recipe for oriental glazed pork. This succulent pork in a sweet and tangy fresh-tasting sauce is in a league of its own. It’s like having your favorite pork barbecue only better. Serve this with riced cauliflower, veggie noodles, or stir fried veggies, and you’ll surely be everyone’s best friend.

How To Make Oriental Glazed Pork

This post may contain affiliate links that provides this blog with a small commission if you purchase through them, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Ingredients You’ll Need:

• 2 pounds pork with the bone left in (best cuts to use are shoulder or pork legs)
• 1 ounce piece of fresh ginger root, sliced thinly
• ½ cup soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• ½ cup vinegar (cane vinegar or white wine vinegar works well)
• 2/3 cup water
• 1/3 cup brown sugar
• 2-3 pieces star anise

Instructions – Let’s Cook Up Some Juicy Glazed Pork!

1. Wash the pork pieces and place in an unheated heavy bottom pan with 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Turn up the heat to medium-high and sear the pork pieces until some parts are fully browned. This technique gives the finished dish so much flavor!

 

2. Once the pork has been seared, add in the ginger slices and allow the ginger to infuse with the oil for about a minute.

 

3. Then add the soy sauce.

 

4. Followed by the water.

 

5. Next add the vinegar. Cover and cook on medium heat until only about half a cup of the liquid remains.

 

6. Add in the sugar and star anise.

Make sure the sugar gets dissolved in the sauce. Coat the pork pieces with this mixture and then cover.

Simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes until you can really smell the aromatic flavor of the star anise.

 

7. The finished dish will be glossy, delicious, and oh-so-tempting!

 

8. Serve with plenty of vegetables. This dish is good for 4 to 6 generous servings.

If you love pork, you’ll surely love this recipe for oriental glazed pork. This succulent pork in a sweet and tangy fresh-tasting sauce is in a league of its own.

Check out a couple of my other recipes:

This dessert has the consistency and texture of a softer apple pie. Don't be frightened by the name. It's delicious. Click through the image for the recipe!

This Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps are perfect for those busy nights! They came together in minutes, are low carb, and keto friendly!

 

 

 

How To Make a Simple BBQ Chicken Pizza

Don’t you just LOVE BBQ chicken? I mean don’t you just LOVE pizza? Scratch that too…Hmmmm…is there a way to combine the two loves? Well, yes! Yes, there is! Make a BBQ Chicken Pizza and combine these two all-time favorites together. Whether it may be
for a hearty dinner, or for game night, this BBQ chicken pizza is always a grand slam.

Don’t you just LOVE BBQ Chicken Pizzas? When made at home, they can be a heatlhy spin on a delicious treat. Below is how to make it!

Pair it with a delicious salad for even more of a HEALTHY twist!

Simple BBQ Chicken Pizza

This post may contain affiliate links that provides this blog with a small commission if you purchase through them, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!

 

Ingredients You’ll Need:

• 1 medium sized frozen, prepackaged, or homemade pizza crust
• 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
• 1.5 cups cooked grilled or roasted chicken, homemade or from the deli, sliced into cubes
• 1.5 cups shredded smoked mozzarella or regular mozzarella
• 1 large red onion, cut into rings or half rings

Lets Make This Delicious and Simple BBQ Chicken Pizza!

1. Preheat the oven to 200C (about 390F) and gather everything you need.

2. Mix up the sliced chicken with the BBQ sauce.

3. To help the pizza crust not get soggy, bake it in the oven by itself for 5 minutes until it is just starting to be lightly browned. (Note, this step will not be necessary if you are using a pizza crust that is prepackaged – a.k.a. already partially baked)

4. Place the chicken and sauce mixture over the baked pizza crust, making sure to spread everything as evenly as you can..

5. Sprinkle half the mozzarella on top of the chicken and sauce mixture.

6. Load up the red onions.

7. Top with the rest of the cheese.

8. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the pizza has browned and the cheese has fully melted. Start checking it at about the 7 minute mark however, as oven temperatures may vary and you don’t want a burnt pizza!

9. This simple bbq chicken pizza can easily serve 2-3 people as a full meal. But remember, to give it an even healthier twist, only have one slice and pair it with a large salad!

Enjoy.

Check out a couple of my other recipes:

This dessert has the consistency and texture of a softer apple pie. Don't be frightened by the name. It's delicious. Click through the image for the recipe!

This Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps are perfect for those busy nights! They came together in minutes, are low carb, and keto friendly!

 

 

An amazing business productivity hack for getting things done, fast!

The following is a guest post by Francoise Jeanes

Whether you run your own business or your household, or even both, then the Pomodoro Technique is for you! If you struggle with focusing on tasks or find yourself putting things off, it won’t take you long to turn that around.

It’s been reported that the average American worker in the workplace only gets 2 hours of pure productivity done – which is not good news for employers! By using this technique you should easily be able to equal, if not surpass two really productive hours in your day.

The simplicity is really what makes this Getting Things Done strategy work. Eliminate all distractions – silence your phone, turn off notifications on your computer, hide the remote control if you work from home…

Concentrate on a task/s for 25 minutes then take a 5-minute break where you do something completely different. After that 30 minutes, you’re ready to ‘rinse and repeat’ until you’ve done four cycles.

I have consistently used this technique to get things done in my marketing business and I recommend it frequently to fellow entrepreneurs who are having a hard time scratching items off their to-do list.

This short video will give you an overview so you can see how simple yet powerful this productivity tip really is. All you need is a timer and some tasks!

Give it a try. I’d love to hear from you about how that has worked for you.

If you’d like to get more business and productivity tips then sign up for my newsletter.