Archives For tips

Some of these tips for saving money may not be new but they are definitely worth repeating.

1. Save money - Pay cash!

By paying cash you will eliminate any potential interest you may be charged from your credit card company. Do you like getting a discount? Yes? How about paying 30% more? I hope you said no! When you pay by credit card you are more likely to spend 30% more because of interest. Unfortunately, that is just the nature of the beast. Think of your credit card as a tool. If you don't know how to use it (ehhem.. by paying it in full every month), then stick with cash only.

2. Ask for forgiveness of late fees

I cannot tell you how many times I have been hit with a late fee from one of my credit cards. Life is busy and, quite honestly, paying my credit cards isn't my number one priority. (Sorry, Amex, but I have 4 kids!) So, occasionally, I will get a friendly reminder - a late fee on my bill. Don't get me wrong this might happen once every 2 years. I'm not that bad. 🙂 But, when it does happen, I do the same thing every time. I call the credit card company and ask if they would please forgive me for missing my payment and waive the late fee. Exactly 100% of the time they have said, "Yes".

3. Make eating at home the norm

Going to dinner at Taco Bell for my family of 6 can easily run around $25... that's just for fast food! If we step it up to an Applebees or Red Robin we are looking at a bill with a tip for anything from $60-90. While it may be an easy choice for a busy family it isn't as healthy and it will add up over time. My wife and I have committed to eating out for special or planned occasions only... not because we failed to plan. Our children are really starting to see "going out to eat" as a treat. In my book (and pocketbook) that is awesome!

4. Cancel Cable/Satellite TV

When we first moved into our house it had no cable TV or satellite hook up. Long story short, it took them 6 months to finally figure out how to install it. No joke! It was a blessing in disguise. It made watching a DVD movie something special and it got our kids outside. I liked it so much that I canceled our TV service for the next few Summers. I wasn't under any contract and there wasn't anything to watch anyway.. a win-win! The best part is I saved a bunch of cash. Paid TV is expensive. If you are struggling or want to pay down your debt then get rid of the cable.

5. Turn off the TV

Okay, so you've decided you can't go without your cable/satellite TV. That's totally understandable. You can still potentially save yourself some money. The easiest way to do this is to record your favorite shows and then skip the commercials during playback. Sounds simple.. maybe even unnecessary? If we didn't buy things we don't need then the world wouldn't be drowning in debt right now. Marketers are very savvy. Skip their sales pitch by fast forwarding the commercials.

6. Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

We love our coffee.. Guilty as charged. You can save a bundle by making it at home. A bag of good coffee could last you 2 weeks. That's only $8 or less. Compared to the tall (small) coffee I had at Starbucks today which ran over $4. (It was a treat, not the norm!) Both taste great but your wallet will like the home brew better.

7. Cancel the Newspaper

I used to work for a newspaper and I love some of the old school aspects of it but realistically you can get everything (besides coupons) from the paper online now. If it's really newsworthy then rest assured you will hear about it. The newspaper company will miss collecting your check however. Afraid you might miss something big? Sign up for Twitter or Facebook.

8. Limit your time on the Internet

We only have so much willpower to use so make the most of it. Think about when you make most of your purchases online then block it out. By eliminating your peak hours of potential spending you should have enough strength to resist the urge the rest of the day. Save money!

9. Don't make that Huge Purchase!

Are you penny wise and dollar dumb? I know I can be. I have chosen a glass of water with lemon over a $2 soda at a restaurant many times. I have also burned thousands of dollars on cars. I saved $2 and wasted thousands, hence, penny wise and dollar dumb. Luckily I have learned my lesson. If I want to make any type of big purchase I sit on it for at least a week. If I still have a burning desire to buy it (and I have the cash) then I go for it. Usually (99.9% of the time) after a week I'll pass on the item. I save my money and have no buyer's remorse.

10. Go for a Walk

Get up, go outside and just walk. The change of scenery will stimulate your muscles and brain cells making you more creative and alert. Bonus money saving tip: Try walking as an alternative to joining the gym as well. The majority of people who buy gym memberships go just once a month after the first 30 days. That's another reason not to lock in for the entire year.

Concluding Thoughts
In keeping with the 5 minutes a day philosophy this list was meant to be short and to the point. This article didn't and wasn't intended to talk about the ideas of "saving" versus "investing" money. What you do with all that extra cash you save is a great topic for another discussion.

Saving money can be fun. What *simple* ways do you use to save money? Share your money saving tips below!

If you follow any marketing expert blogs you will hear ‘target your niche’ over and over again.  The question is what is your niche and how do you find it?

How a computer programmer found a niche

The other day I had a local landscaping company deliver 4 yards of triple shredded mulch for my flower beds.  When I was writing him the check he asked me how I found his business.  I told him that I did a search for mulch on the Internet and his name and number came up. 

The mulch man went on to tell me that his son-in-law created a website for him and since then he has been getting a lot of business from the search engines.  I never actually saw his website but it was obviously driving some traffic to his business.

In our brief conversation he went on to tell me that his son-in-law had a side business in computers.  He told me how he (the mulch man)  worked on a farm and that he and a lot of other farmers had issues with connecting all of their computer networks together.  His son-in-law, Jake, was on alert enough to see the need and fill it.

He (the son-in-law) has since created his own company and has a very nice side business.   Very specialized just for farmers.  He found a niche.

Tip #1:  Listen - Be On The Alert

Everyday I am on alert for new topics for marketing and business tips.   When I heard the mulch man tell me the story of Jake I knew right away I had to share it. 

The same goes for your profession or passion.  Listen to the crowd.  What are they asking for?  What are they complaining about?  As a user, what is on your wishlist?  Is it a simple fix or something that could be helpful for years to come?  Write your ideas down.

Tip #2: Research - Is there room for you?

After you have found an area to focus on you should do some research. 

Years ago when I started my web hosting business it was new and exciting.  Even so, the market place was full.  It wasn’t until I decided to concentrate only on Microsoft ASP web hosting that my company took off. 

Even with a niche like I had, things are different today.  The market is over saturated even in niche areas. 

Starting a web hosting business today would be a huge uphill battle.  I’m not saying it’s not doable but you would definitely be starting with a disadvantage.

Ask yourself a few questions.  Is there room for my niche in the marketplace?  Does it matter to me if it’s already over saturated?  Who will be my competition? 

Tip #3 - Choose A Niche That Will Last

This tip has two different parts.  The first is, will you still enjoy talking about this topic for months or years to come? 

Are you still going to be excited and passionate about this niche down the road?  Picture yourself in 2 years.  Do you want to be involved with or even be talking about this at that time?  A lot of things seem great at first but they grow old quickly.  Make sure this niche isn’t one of them.

The second part of this tip is, will this need still exist in the future? 

For example, Twitter just bought Tweetdeck.  Tweetdeck is basically a Twitter client application.  Twitter has mentioned several times in the last year that they don’t want developers to concentrate on developing ‘client’ applications.  Now would not be a good time to create your own custom Twitter client.  There’s a good possibility that Twitter will wipe your entire business out if they turn off the switch (your connection to Twitter).

Conclusion

Listening, researching and finding a niche that will last are just 3 small pieces to finding a niche.  The most important thing is that you need to find something that you love doing. 

Making money is great but if you don’t enjoy it then it just becomes a job.   Nobody wants a job.  Jobs suck.  Athletes don’t have jobs.  They get to “play” the games.  Musicians don’t have jobs.  They get to “play” gigs. 

Take 5 minutes today and start.  Find your niche so you can start “playing”.

Related blog posts:

How to Blog in 5 Minutes (find a niche) - http://goo.gl/V9JI6

5 Minutes a Day (getting started) - http://goo.gl/pvBR5

My wife jokes with me a lot that I use every minute of the day.  It’s true, I’m non-stop.  I don’t like to waste time.  There are so many things that I like to do.  I know I can’t spend all day on just one thing so I break everything down into smaller manageable pieces.

One of the things I enjoy doing is writing.  I look forward to sharing my thoughts on this blog.  So, I dedicate 5 minutes a day to it. My time turns into more than 5 minutes but I know that I’ll get at least 5 minutes and that’s enough for me to get started.

To get started writing or optimizing your own blog incorporate these simple tips.

Find a niche

A niche, as defined by Dictionary.com, is a ‘distinct segment of a market.’  What is it that you are most interested in? 

When I first started my web hosting company I tried to cater to everyone.  I thought that I had to offer every type of web hosting available to the entire world.  What a waste of my time!  Eventually, mostly out of discouragement, I decided I was just going to offer what I was passionate and cared about.  Very specifically, Windows ASP Web Hosting.  I updated my website to target those keywords and my business went through the roof. Amen! I learned a lesson.

Listen to people

This blog post is the direct result of me listening to my friends and followers on Twitter.  One of the biggest challenges for websites, regardless if it’s personal or business, is fresh content.  Original content drives traffic to your website.  It’s vitally important. 

The hardest part of blogging is not writing the blog post itself.  It’s coming up with what to write about. Listen and you’ll hear exactly what the next topic is on your list.  Write it down.

Don’t worry about the length

Most people have the misconception that you have to write a book every time you sit down to blog.  That’s not the case at all.  One of the keys to blogging is just doing it.  With that said, here is a good formula for how long your blog post should be. Don’t be disappointed when you see how simple it is.

Frequent (3 or more per week) = shorter posts

Less Frequent (4 or less per month) = longer posts

Don’t worry about the word count.  Posts can be short and sweet if you do it more often or longer if you post less frequently.  A nice mix would be optimal.

Give 5 minutes a day to others

There is an incredible thing that happens when we share with others.  So often we hold on to things like our time, money and talents because we’re afraid that they’ll run out and we’ll be left empty handed.  But the truth is that you gain so much more when you give of yourself to others. 

A blog post a day seems very ambitious but it’s possible and you can do it.  Start with just 5 minutes a day.

Will you do 2 favors for me?

If you find my posts helpful please share with your friends.  Also, please click here to Like me on Facebook. (I’m trying to get a username on Facebook and they won’t give it to me unless I have a bunch of likes.)  Thank you and happy blogging!