How to Cut Your Electric Bill in Half

With more people working from home than ever before, it is even more important to find ways to reduce energy costs. If your children are also attending classes online, that means even more household energy consumption. Spending more time at home also means higher utility bills, especially during the extreme summer and winter months. However, there are several things you can do to cut your electric bill in half.

How to Cut Your Electric Bill in Half

Energy Audit to Save Time and Money

The first thing you should do is contact your energy supplier and request an energy audit. They provide this service to their customers for a small fee, averaging around $100. In addition, you may receive coupons and discounts for large ticket items or recommended upgrades.

During the energy audit, a technician will do a walk-through to spot issues. It takes about an hour depending on the condition of the house. At the end, the technician will hand you a checklist of items you can address to cut your electric bill in half.

Although there is a small fee, an energy audit can save you time and money in the long run. Rather than guessing at the problems or wasting time to find them, the technician pinpoints the issues. They can also offer professional advice about things that need to be immediately attended to and guide your towards the best solution.

Free Things You Can Do to Cut Your Electric Bill in Half

Even if you do not have the finances to replace and upgrade your home, there are still things you can do to reduce your energy bills.

Shop Around for Deals

As with any purchase, you should always shop around for the best deals. The same is true if your state allows deregulated electricity. You can use dedicated sites to shop around and compare prices between electric suppliers. You receive the same service, but at more competitive rates. A little research can save you a bundle on your utilities costs.

Reduce Your Energy Consumption

Another easy way to reduce energy consumption is to identify which appliances pull the most electricity, and use them less. These usually include your heating and cooling units, dryer, water heater, refrigerator, and electric stove. However, you can also use a Kill a Watt device to see what other electronics and appliances are the worst culprits.

Once you know what is causing the energy spikes, you can find ways to use these appliances less. Here are a few ideas that can reduce your monthly bills.

Heating and Cooling Costs

    • Use your windows to regulate the temperature in your home. Open them during the day to warm your home in the cold months. On the other hand, close them to block out the summer sun to stay cool.
    • Set the thermostat to a cooler temperature during winter months. You can wear more clothing or use blankets while your body acclimates. After a few days, your body will adjust and your savings will increase.
    • There is no need to heat rooms you don’t use, so close doors and vents to conserve heat.
    • Be sure to seal up your home to make sure air does not escape. Use caulk or weather stripping around doors and windows to stop drafts.
    • Insulate your windows with plastic wrap or a plastic insulator kit to keep air from seeping out.

Cutting Costs with Laundry

    • Use cold water to wash clothes, especially if your home has an electric water heater.
    • Add dryer balls instead of sheets to help your laundry dry faster. They help separate the clothes resulting in less dryer time.
    • On sunny days, line dry clothing outside. During inclimate weather, you can hang items inside or get a clothing rack to avoid the dryer completely.

Turning Off and Unplugging Appliances

  •  Turn off the lights when you leave a room. This also includes outdoor lights that are often left on overnight.
  • Use a power strip to help you remember to unplug electronics when not in use. Many devices still pull energy even when turned off.

Cutting Costs in the Kitchen

  • Try to use your electric oven less, especially during the summer months. Instead, grill or cook with other lower energy appliances.
  • Hand wash your dishes and save electricity by not running the dishwasher. Even a few loads less per week can save you money.

Energy Efficient Products to Reduce Your Electric Bill

If you are ready to invest in upgrading your home, there are many energy efficient products that will help you reduce your energy consumption.  Cleaning and regularly maintaining your home greatly impact the long term energy costs. However, there are also smaller improvements you can make that will also help reduce your electric bill.

  • Change incandescent lighting to LED bulbs. Not only are they more energy efficient, but they also last longer so you will not have to replace them as often.
  • Using a smart power strip will ensure you completely turn off all electronics. A smart device will automatically cut power so they are not left in standby or power-saving mode. Even if they appear turn off, they may still be using electricity.
  • Install an energy smart thermostat. You can program it around your schedule so you are not running the heating or cooling system when the house is empty. It automatically adjusts to set temperatures and makes it easier to control. Some even have apps you can use from your phone.
  • Install ceiling fans to circulate air. They are especially useful to cut air conditioning costs on hot summer days.

For those considering more expensive home upgrades, you may qualify for government tax credits and rebates. Although there are significant upfront costs to purchase energy efficient appliances, these can make it more affordable. Furthermore, it increases the resale value of your home. Whatever your reasons for wanting to reduce energy costs, there are many options to get you there.

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New Year’s Traditions to Improve Your Finances

New Year's Traditions to Improve Your Personal Finances

The New Year is nearly upon us. For many of us that means closing out the books and wrapping up our affairs for the fiscal year. If you are like me, then you may be creating New Year’s Resolutions to help you set financial goals for the coming year. However, this holiday is also steeped in rich cultural traditions and superstitions. Many of the customs are thought to bring luck and good fortune. This year, why not give into a little whimsy and observe some of the New Year’s traditions to improve your finances?

New Year’s Traditions and Superstitions to Improve Your Finances

1. Start the New Year with money in your wallet.

If you have made a New Year’s Resolution to save more money next year, this tradition can help get you started on the right foot. According to tradition, you should greet the New Year with cash in your wallet. This signifies that you will receive a steady flow of income over the next 12 months. Some go so far as to see that every wallet in the house has money in it to bring prosperity to the entire household.

Even if you do not give credence to the superstitions, paying for things with cash makes it easier to stick to a budget. It helps you track your spending with each visit to the ATM to withdraw money. Furthermore, it helps you avoid using credit cards and accruing more debt. This tradition sets a great precedent for the year ahead in helping you reach your savings goal.

2. Clear your debts before the New Year.

Although this custom is more closely associated with the Lunar New Year, it is still an excellent example of New Year’s traditions to improve your finances. In many Asian countries, people prioritize paying debts among family and friends. The tradition holds that if debts are not paid before the arrival of the New Year, then the debt will continue for life.

Becoming debt-free is one of the most common New Year’s Resolutions. However, paying off all your outstanding debts will likely require a longer time line. So, do not let these New Year’s traditions bring additional stress if you are unable to pay off all your debt right away. Simply making debt repayment one of your primary financial goals can help you improve your finances.

3. Eating certain foods will bring you good luck and fortune during the New Year.

Several cultures around the world believe that have traditions and superstitions relating to food. For example, eating particular foods or dishes on New Year’s Eve will bring you good fortune and wealth in the coming year.

One widely known tradition comes from Spain and other Latin America countries. When the clock strikes 12:00, you must eat 12 grapes, one with each stroke of the hour. This is to ensure good luck and prosperity during the year ahead. In many Baltic and Scandinavian countries, pickled herring is the dish of choice. In Greece, they have added excitement to see who will receive additional blessings and find the coin baked into a loaf of bread. During Lunar New Year feasts, it is more important to leave meat on the bone and food on your plate to ensure abundance for the next year. Another tradition that is a little closer to home comes from the American South. They eat collard greens and black eyed peas simply because they resemble money and symbolize good fortune.

While many people consider such practices to be silly or superstitious, there is no harm to indulge during some of the fun and unusual customs to bring you good luck and wealth. And honestly, who couldn’t use a little extra luck?

4. Offer gifts to give blessings of wealth and good fortune.

Many people offer gifts and blessings during important festivals and gatherings. So, it makes sense that the custom also extends to the New Year’s celebrations. For example, the Scottish New Year, known as Hogmanay to the locals, it is the highlight of the holiday season.

In a ritual known as “first footing,” the first visitor to cross the threshold your home after midnight should be a dark-haired man bearing gifts. The gifts usually include symbolic items like coal, salt, shortbread, black bun, or a dram of whisky. They represent essential household items needed to sustain you in addition to bringing luck and prosperity in the New Year.

Although many Scots are still enthusiastic participants in these celebrations, most people view it as an amusing superstition. However, the tradition is a humble reminder of our reliance upon our neighbors. Even during the lean times, we can offer advice and support to those in the community to help each other prosper.

5. Give yourself a fresh start and forget the troubles and concerns of the past year.

We have all made mistakes and poor decisions in the past. This also holds true when it comes to matters of personal finance. However, the Japanese tradition of Bonenkai is held at the end of the year to forget your financial woes. The word Bonenkai literally translates to “forget the year party.” So, why not give yourself a break and a clean slate for the coming year?

Bonenkai parties are usually sponsored by companies for their employees. Coworkers come together to eat, drink, and revel in the opportunities the New Year may bring. As the alcohol flows and inhibitions disappear, people tend to let their guard down and speak more freely. While Japanese are generally more reserved about sharing their opinions, the casual atmosphere enables people to discuss their concerns and try to improve issues.

We could all take a lesson from the New Year’s tradition and learn to let go of the past. It is better to use these mistakes as learning opportunities rather than dwelling on things that cannot be undone. Instead, apply the knowledge you have gained to making better financial decisions in the future.

New Year’s Traditions and Resolutions

New Year’s a good time to reflect upon the past 12 months and set new goals for ourselves. Even if you do not achieve everything you set out to do, making a resolution gives you something to work toward. Observing some of the New Year’s traditions and customs is a fun and festive way to start you on your path to improving your finances.

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How to Find an Angel Investor

Obtaining funding for your business venture is one of the first and most challenging obstacles you will face. It often determines the make-or-break point for most new entrepreneurs. In order to support your fledgling enterprise, you will need enough capital to support your startup through the beginning phases. Angel investors are an important part of the “startup ecosystem,” especially to those going through it for the first time. If you are interested in connecting with possible backers, here are some resources to help find an angel investor.

How to Find an Angel Investor

What Is an Angel Investor?

An angel investor is a wealthy individual who uses their own money to fund a new project or idea. This is a person who has a high net worth and can help startups gain the capital they need for their ventures. Unlike venture capitalists who require immediate returns, angel investors may accept equity in the company until the startup posts a profit.

Angel investors come from a variety of backgrounds with varying expertise and interests. Since they are investing their own money, many take a personal interest in causes closely aligned with their own. Look for investors who share the same ideals or support the same ethos that you do. An angel investor maybe more willing to take a chance on riskier ventures they believe in. New startup companies often seek an angel investor to provide the funding they need to get off the ground.

Where Can I Find an Angel Investor?

Finding an angel investor is now easier than ever before. You no longer need to rely solely upon word of mouth. There are thousands of online forums, blogs, and websites out there to connect angels with entrepreneurs. Many angels have also formed groups and organizations seeking out new proposals and ideas to invest in. With a little online research, you may find someone who shares a specific interest in your company or cause.

Online Groups and Syndicates to Find an Angel Investor

Angels tend to create their own communities and network within them. In the digital age, there are several online forums where you can directly connect. AngelList is a valuable resource that links entrepreneurs with angel groups and syndicates. If you can find an investor with similar views, you may be able to sell them on your idea.

Although it is not technically an angel investor, the Small Business Association has a wealth of knowledge for new businesses. It was founded to give assistance and offer advice to people navigating their roles and responsibilities. Local offices provide one-on-one counseling and assistance writing applications for loans as well. Their entire mission is to help you grow and expand your business.

The Angel Capital Association will also offer industry insights from an entire network of angel investors. Hosting over 14,000 angels who actively invest and discuss trends, you have a unique view into their world. You can also access the profiles and articles written by leading investors and company executives. Although it is not a funding source, it can give you a view into their world.

Angel investor Websites to Follow

You should also follow their websites to learn more about the investors themselves. Understanding what appeals to a potential backer improves your chances of receiving the startup capital you need. Here is a list of the top 25 sites and blogs from 2020. However, these two sites seemed especially helpful to new entrepreneurs and business ventures still in their infancy.

On Startups

Many websites like On Startups center around new ideas in the tech industry. What makes this site so helpful is that it collects posts from several blogs. It discusses various angel investors and the startups they invest in. On Startups is particularly great for young entrepreneurs since they can learn from the experience of others in the industry.

Hyde Park Angel Network

Another excellent place to start looking is the Hyde Park Angel Network.  This network specifically focuses on helping early stage startups to grow their business. They are currently most active in the Midwest, work primarily with health services, financial services,  information technology, and industrial technology. It also provides advice about fundraising and guidelines to support growth. This community offers extensive support in the most crucial stages of establishing your business.

Sponsored Events and Annual Conventions

Lastly, do not underestimate the power of face to face interactions. In the business world, networking is just as important as having a great idea. Meeting potential angel investors in person gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself and your project. Sometimes angel investors buy into a venture because they believe in the person behind it.

While many sponsored events and conventions have been delayed due to social distancing measures, you can be certain they will return in the future. Annual conventions like Funding Post bring entrepreneurs, angels, and investors together.  In the meantime, work on your elevator pitch and look for announcements of sponsored events near you.

Reasons to Find an Angel Investor

If you are struggling to bring your project to life, an angel investor may be the answer to your prayers. Not only do they provide financial relief, but also breathing room to expand your business or make a project viable. When you have already exhausted all your personal resources as well as those of family and friends, it may be time to consider finding an angel investor.

Making the right connections, you may find a backer who can give you a significant lump sum to cover overhead costs of your business without expecting immediate returns. Often times, they will take equity in the company as payment until the company succeeds. Since they have a vested interested in your success, they may also offer advice and guidance along the way. With the supportive backer, it is possible to take your idea and make it a reality.

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How Working from Home Increases Productivity

How Working from Home Increases Productivity

Now that many people are working remotely, businesses are questioning whether working from home increases productivity or reduces it. If it increases productivity, this could help transition more people out of the office to work from home. Although employees have more freedom in how they manage their time, studies suggest this has a positive effect on overall productivity. Contrary to what you may have thought, people actually waste less time at home. While this may not be true for all of us, it may have an impact on how companies structure their workforce.

What the Research Says About Working from Home

Prodoscore, a California based software company, conducted research to examine the workforce trends as more people work remotely. Their analysts compared data from 30,000 of its users to from March/April 2020 to the same time frame in 2019. According to the statistics, they found 47% increase in workers’ productivity. There were several data points they compared to draw these conclusions. For example, the number of phone calls went up 230%, email activity increased 57%, and messaging chats on internal platforms rose 9%.

However, it is important to remember that several variables impact the numbers to determine if working from home increases productivity. For instance, time of day and the day of the week greatly affect performance. On average, people’s average start time was 8:32 a.m. and end time 5:38 p.m. However Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are most productive for workers, in that order. Productivity decreases drastically on Fridays and Mondays. The window of time between 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. is when workers are the most active.

Another Airtasker survey from 2019 interviewed 1,004 full-time workers, approximately half of whom were remote workers. They discovered that people worked 1.4 more days each month from home, largely due to no commute. Over the course of time, it adds up to 16.8 more days a year. Workers felt they had more free time without the daily commute. Many also said they would be willing to make concessions to continue working from home in the future.

How Working from Home Has Affected My Productivity

Like any major change, it took time to adjust. Although I have been working from home for years, the transition was not a smooth one. In the beginning, my productivity severely decreased because I was easily distracted. I had become used to supervisors or managers checking in on my progress. Working from home, no one was there to keep me on task. So, I could easily flit from one household chore to the next, or lose time scrolling through social media.

Once the decreased productivity affected my income, I took measures to improve. My greatest challenge was focusing on my work. It was hard to focus without a dedicated office space and constant foot traffic. To fix this major obstacle, I set up a desk space and began working late into the evenings when everyone was sleeping. Although I miss workplace collaboration and socializing with coworkers, I would likely also make concessions to continue working from home. With a few minor tweaks in my work environment and my schedule, I also found that working from home increases my productivity.

How to Increase Productivity Working from Home

One of the hardest parts of working from home is maintaining separation between your work and home life. Trying to do too much at once means your attention is divided. Therefore, the overall quality of the work is compromised. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to focus and prove that working from home increases productivity.

Maintain a Separate Work Space

The first thing you must do is find a quiet spot to set up your home office. You need to create boundaries to manage your time at work and at home. Maintaining a separate work space is vital for a professional environment. Get into a routine and condition yourself to do certain tasks in designated areas. While you want to be comfortable during the work day, you should avoid working from bed or the couch.   Scientists have long warned us of the negative effects of working from bed. So, it is better to create good habits in the beginning that promote productivity.

Keep to a Regular Schedule

Keeping a regular schedule also assists in the transition out of the office. It also let’s your family know when you are available to take care of things at home. Furthermore, it defines time when you need to focus on work responsibilities. Plan your day strategically, utilizing the hours you are most productive to take on more difficult tasks. Some people, like me, find it is easier to do the boring, more mundane tasks during busier times of the day. Following a schedule also makes it easier to confine work stress to hours you are on the clock, and make the most of your personal time when you are not.

Take Breaks to Increase Productivity

You should also schedule and actually take your breaks during the work day. Your mind and body need time to recharge and decompress. Since you have more flexibility when working from home, step away from your desk. Break up the day and get outside for some fresh air. Short breaks boost overall productivity by preventing burnout. A simple change of environment can reduce tension when problems arise and help you approach them with a new perspective.

Stay Connected to Your Coworkers

Human resources are an under-valued asset in many companies. The way people communicate and cooperate in the professional atmosphere builds cohesion. The bonds we create with our coworkers have boosted both efficiency and productivity.

However, one aspect that we have lost while working from home are social interactions with our coworkers. We are no longer able to catch up around the water cooler or vent to your work place bestie over coffee. But, it is still important to engage face to face interactions as often as possible. It’s easy to use technology to recreate these social interactions and make us feel less isolated from one another. Although you may not be able to meet in the conference room, you can schedule Zoom calls with your team. Another option is to reach out through in-house messaging, schedule a daily phone call, or Facetime during one of your breaks. One reason working from home increases productivity is the convenience of digital connections.

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Time Over Money: Reasons Why Time Is More Valuable Than Money

Time or Money: which is more valuable? This has been a hotly debated topic throughout human history, yet the question still remains. Although, it seems pretty clear that the answer should be time over money. I would even argue that time is the most valuable resource. If you are money-poor but time rich, you may feel otherwise. However, people find many reasons why time is more valuable than money.

Why You Should Choose Time Over Money

7 Reasons to Choose Time Over Money

1. You can’t buy more time.

You can use time to make money, but money can’t buy you more time. It is impossible to create additional hours in the day, no matter who you are. Time is the great equalizer. Everyone receives 24 hours in a day, no more, no less.

However, the difference lies in how you spend it. Someone who accomplished a great deal in their lifetime likely spent it learning and mastering new skills. One thing is for certain, though. Success requires time and hard work in order to achieve your ambitions. These things simply cannot be bought.

2. In the end, people ask for more time, not money.

When people enter their final days, you rarely hear them ask for more money. Most wish they had more time with the ones they love or doing things they never got to do. While money can greatly improve your quality of life, it cannot extend it.

Many people even keep a ‘bucket list’ of things they want to do before they die. The entire concept builds upon the idea that you have a limited time to complete them. If you are among this group, you already understand why sometimes you must choose time over money. You cannot put a price on memories and time spent with loved ones.

3. You need time to spend money.

You could have all the money in the world, but you would still need time if you wanted to spend it. While some may want to accrue money just for the sake of having it, most would prefer to splurge a little. The world’s elite have fortunes to support lavish lifestyles to last a hundred lifetimes over. However, it would still require more time than you think to spend $1 billion.

Money holds no value to you after you are gone. Certainly, it can benefit those you leave behind, but it has no use to you personally. Since you can’t take money with you when you die, it further proves that time is more valuable than money.

4. There is more potential with a day off than with a day’s pay.

The hours you spend at work are rigidly defined in financial terms. Your time has a set value when you are on the clock. Although, how you spend your free time is completely up to you. And what you do with that time is only limited by your own desires. Greater things have been achieved in a single day than with what you would take home after an eight hour shift.

Furthermore, who you spend your time with is equally valuable. Being present and enjoying the company of friends and family is priceless. On the other hand, it is just as vital to ensure that you take time for yourself. Your mental health can also greatly benefit from some time alone and self-care. However, time is the essential factor.

5. Only time can heal certain wounds.

Just as time is the great equalizer, it is also the great healer. Some hurts run deeper than any scan can read. Modern medicine and technology are ineffective to treat these wounds. Even time cannot completely erase the scars. However, time does help the pain fade from memory.

Time also grants us the gift of perspective. It also grants us more objectivity as time passes. We can look back through new eyes to analyze and reflect. This distance can make it easier to identify our strengths and weaknesses, allowing us to grow as people. These kinds of lessons can only be gained through life experience.

6. You can’t regain lost time.

Losing money is a terrible thing. However, given enough time and wise financial planning, you can earn it back. Once time slips passed you, there is no way to regain lost moments. No amount of money can recreate missed holidays, birthdays, and other important milestones. When you view time from this perspective, time becomes an invaluable resource.

Time is certainly not a resource I want to waste either. This point should also make you evaluate how you spend your time. Wasting time in front of a TV or with toxic people may not be the best use of it. Consider what you really want from life and who you want to spend it with. After re-evaluating, you may have a new set of priorities.

7. Choosing time over money promotes greater long-term happiness.

A recent study investigated the correlation between time and happiness. Specifically in relation to the survey question in which 80 percent of working adults wish they had more time with their families. Many participants responded that they constantly felt rushed due to the demands of their professional and personal lives. The term “time famine” describes the overwhelming feeling of these pressures.

Those who said they felt time scarcity were less happy and also more prone to depression and anxiety. Focusing on time over money can relieve this stress and promote greater long-term happiness. The key is in time management. While these obligations will always be there, finding ways to save time can help us spend more of it with those we love.

Prioritizing Time Over Money

These are just seven reasons why time is more valuable than money. In truth, you likely already have more money than time remaining. Perhaps you will feel the same once you realize that when the sands of time slip through your fingers, it’s gone. It may have you reprioritizing so you can maximize the sand still left in your own hour glass.

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Record Setting Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Record Sales

Most households this year likely came home to a similar scene after the annual shopping event of the holiday season. There was stack of boxes neatly piled and waiting beside the door when we arrived home Tuesday afternoon. Each one contained deeply discounted merchandise bought online during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Each purchase also contributed to the record breaking sales set this year.

While these two shopping days have always seen a spike in sales, this year’s spending eclipsed all previous years. What caused this uptick in numbers? And how much more revenue is now generated through online sales? These are both interesting questions that are being closely watched by both retailers and analysts alike.

Online Shopping during Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving is a high holiday for those who love shopping. Since the birth of the internet, Cyber Monday has also been added to this list. People who love a good bargain would line up for hours or even camp out the night before the store opened. They would do all of this just to snag the best deals on their holiday purchases. However, 2020 has been a year of many changes. While most headlines report one depressing story after the next, retailers are celebrating record setting sales from online shopping.

Black Friday

This year’s spending far exceeded all previous Black Friday sales. Americans spent $9 billion, which is up 21.6% from last year according to data from Adobe Analytics. Analysts calculated that online shoppers in the U.S. spent $6.3 million per minute. That equates to about $27.50 per person. If you do the math on all your own purchases, you might be surprised how conservative this number is in comparison.

One of the most important numbers to look at though is where purchases are being made. Roughly $3.6 billion came through purchases on smart phones or mobile devices. This figure rose 25.3% from the year before. Overall, these purchases accounted for 40% of all sales this year.

Cyber Monday

Following Black Friday, Cyber Money superseded even these numbers. This shopping day broke the record as the largest internet shopping day ever in the U.S. American shoppers spent a shocking $10.8 billion on things like smart phones, electronics, and toys. Cyber Monday spending rose 15.1% from last year.

These spending habits and record numbers make more sense when you look at the current conditions in the U.S. Most of us are spending more time at home in general due to social distancing measures. Whether it is because you work remotely or simply because fewer places are open, it means you are likely spending more time online.

Biggest Winners from Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals

Calculating total sales this year will be a bit more difficult due to the extended sales throughout the holiday season. So far, Americans have spent $106.5 billion. However, Adobe Analytics estimates this figure to reach more than $180 billion in online sales this year. So, the nagging question is who are the biggest winners from Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2020?

Amazon is continuing to see huge gains in the fourth quarter. According to an analyst from Truist Securities, Amazon earns 42 cents on every dollar spent equating to billions of dollars in profits. Other companies like Costco, Etsy, and Target each hit all-time trading highs on Black Friday. Many stores have spread out their promotions for longer period to capitalize on the trend of current online shopping as well.

Even though many large retailers closed on Thanksgiving to prevent large crowds, some hot ticket items were still hard to come by. For example, the Xbox One X and PlayStation 5 consoles sold out early and likely won’t be available until next quarter. Even online people were kept waiting to buy Lego’s. It seems like limited hours and heavy online traffic cannot keep seasoned shoppers from their prize.

Factors Affecting Online Shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Greater Online Presence

Online studies show people are spending more time at home during the pandemic. This is a golden opportunity for online retailers to boost their profits. Many larger retailers have been advertising deals since October to draw more online traffic. Since most people are avoiding public places, they must depend upon online sales to compensate. According to the numbers, many retailers surpassed their expected profit margins.

The Convenience Factor

Another factor that added to the success of Black Friday and Cyber Monday was ease of accessibility. Now that people are able to shop online, they can avoid the crowded malls and stores which everyone dreads. Many stores also offered curbside pick-up to ensure shoppers’ safety. Not only was there less hassle, but also prevented in-store conflicts that have incited violence in the past.

Extended Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals

Furthermore, most retailers have extended their timeframe so people can take advantage of holiday deals. This strategy has been especially effective with special savings only available online. Many retailers kicked off the holiday savings to coincide with Amazon Prime Day as well. With the bombardment of discounts and advertising, it is hard to resist the urge to impulse to buy.

How Black Friday and Cyber Monday Impact Personal Finances

Increased advertising and targeted marketing made it even more likely that you participated in Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year. However, this does not bode well for your monthly budget. I always get slightly nervous and more conscious of my finances before the holidays. The pressures to host friends and family and find the perfect gifts are not kind to your credit cards.

As someone with a history of credit card debt, you can easily understand my hesitancy to buy anything during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. To resist the urge, I removed all the shopping apps and avoided my smart phone as much as possible. This year, I planned ahead and made a list. I intend to stick to it instead of splurging on things I don’t need just because they are on sale. This mindset helped me stay within my budget and prevent overspending during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. However, if you are someone who continues to struggle with debt, contact a debt relief counselor to help you get back on track in the new year.

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People Who Made Their Wealth Later in Life

People Who Made Their Wealth Later in Life

When Do People Make Their Wealth?

We all know the success stories of prodigies and young billionaires who made their wealth at an early age. However, the compiled research shows that it takes approximately 32 years to become a billionaire. This means most billionaires did not find immediate success. In fact, the average age of business founders is about 40. So, if you are still hoping to join Forbes’ list of billionaires, there is still time. Here are 10 people who made their wealth later in life.

10 People Who Made Their Wealth Later in Life

1. Donald Fisher (37) – $3.3 billion

Donald Fisher claimed his success as the founder of Gap Inc. after a career as a real estate developer. At 37, he launched the company in San Francisco by selling music and clothing. Eventually, he branched out across the United States and introduced affiliated stores Old Navy and Banana Republic. At the time of his death in 2009, his net worth was $3.3 billion.

2. Vera Wang (40) – $270 million

Vera Wang

This former figure skater turned fashion icon made her wealth later in life as well. After Vera Wang failed to qualify for the Olympics, she started at Vogue after college. She eventually became editor-in-chief of the magazine. Not only did she maneuver her way to the top of the corporate world, but also became a highly influential voice in directing fashion trends.

However, she made her fortune after she started designing her own gowns at age 40. Today, Vera Wang couture and clothing are highly sought after by the Hollywood elite. Moreover, they regularly appear on runways around the world. According to the Forbes list, Wang is currently worth $270 million.

3. Martha Stewart (40) – $400 million

Martha Stewart

In her early years, Martha Stewart was a stockbroker on Wall Street. After she discovered her true talents, she began building her brand. First, she owned a catering business, then published cookbooks, and founded her own magazine. Martha Stewart became a billionaire when her company went public in 1999.

However, things quickly went south for her. She served 5 months in prison for obstruction of justice and making false statements. Since then the company has been sold twice. However, she has rebuilt her reputation and her brand since then. According to Celebrity Net Worth, she is estimated to be worth about $400 million today. Martha Stewart is an unusual example of someone who made their wealth later in life, lost it, and managed to reclaim success.

4. Sam Walton (44) – $15 billion

Sam Walton

Everyone knows the Walmart name, but not many know that Sam Walton didn’t strike it rich until well after 40. He claimed his spot on this list for founding the retail giant in 1962. After a successful career at JC Penney, he left to manage his own store at 44. One thing that set him apart from his competition was his emphasis on logistics. He took a single sporting goods store and created a global empire. Today his family is among the wealthiest people in the world. Their net worth far surpasses Sam Walton’s $15 billion when he died in 1992.

5. David Duffield (47) – $13 billion

David Duffield is the creator of several software companies including PeopleSoft, Integral Systems, and Information Associates. He made his fortune when his company grew to one of the largest software application companies worldwide. Eventually, Oracle bought out the company in 2005. Duffield is currently estimated to have a net worth of about $13 billion.

6. Henry Ford (49) – $200 billion

Henry Ford

Henry Ford founded Ford Motors and became one of the richest men in history. He began as an engineer for Edison Illuminating Company where he met Thomas Edison. When he discussed his idea, other engineers encouraged him to build the automobile. He eventually started his own business in 1899 introducing the Model T car. Since then, the Ford empire has expanded exponentially. At the time of his death in 1947, he had accumulated a fortune equivalent to about $200 billion today.

7. Charles Darwin (50) – $400 million

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin is one of the most revered names among the scientific community. As a famous biologist and geologist, he had several significant contributions to academia. Although, the moment he set sail on the HMS Beagle his life changed forever. His findings during his voyage led to the theories of evolution and natural selection.

However, he didn’t make his fortune until he published the “Origin of Species” at the age of 50. Charles Darwin is also among the people who made their wealth later in life. He was worth approximately $16 million when he died in 1882, which is valued at slightly more than $400 million today.

8. Taikichiro Mori (51) – $13 billion

Before Taikichiro Mori became a real estate mogul, he served as Dean of Commerce at Yokohama City University. Once he retired from the university, he used his knowledge to become a real estate investor. He went on to found the Mori Building Company which became wildly successful. Between 1991-1992, Taikichiro Mori was the richest man in the world. When he died, Mori’s net worth was estimated to be about $13 billion.

9. Ray Kroc (52) – $600 million

Ray Kroc

When Ray Kroc saw his golden opportunity, he was selling milkshake machines. After he met the McDonald’s brothers, he joined their company in 1954. There is much controversy surrounding his rise to success. However, no one can deny Ray Kroc’s influence in making McDonald’s a household name.

When he gained the company, he took it to heights that had never been imagined. McDonald’s is now worth more than $33 billion today and has locations in nearly every country. Ray Kroc was pivotal in launching the brand and was amply rewarded for his efforts. At the time of his death in 1984, Kroc was worth approximately $600 million.

10. Arianna Huffington (55) – $100 million

Arianna Huffington

Our last person on the list of people who made their wealth later in life continues on an upward slope. Arianna Huffington began her career as a successful author, columnist, and political commentator. Some have even called her one of the most influential and powerful women in the world because of her media platform and global reach. She founded the news publication Huffington Post which later sold to AOL for $315 million. Since then, she has been heavily involved in other successful companies such as Thrive and Uber. Today, her personal worth is about $100 million. However, her new endeavors could launch her to even greater heights.

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How to Live Below Your Means

With rising prices and ever increasing consumer demands, it becomes more challenging for many individuals to live below their means. Credit card bills, keeping up with the Joneses, and other unnecessary expenses are among some of the reasons it is exceedingly hard to stick to a budget. Some find themselves unable to spend less than the amount of money they are able to make each month. Here are a few suggestions to help you live below your means and improve your financial health.

Living Below Your Means
Living Below Your Means

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How to Plan for Retirement When You Lost Your Savings

The sad truth is that most Americans are not properly prepared for retirement. According to a 2019 survey, 64% of Americans expect to retire with less than $10,000 in their accounts. Whether this is a result of medical expenses, poor investments, or outstanding debts, you must remember it is never to late to plan for retirement. It is also possible to start over and rebuild your nest egg. Here are five things you can do to get back on track when you have lost your savings.

How to Plan for Retirement When You Lost Your Savings

5 Ways to Help You Plan for Retirement

1. Ramp Up Your Savings Plan for Retirement.

While it may seem obvious, the first step to plan for retirement after you have lost your savings is to begin again. You must also be realistic and admit that your current savings plan is likely not enough to rebuild your nest egg. It will require a great deal of sacrifice, discipline, and lifestyle changes to regain what you lost.

First, carefully evaluate your monthly budget and see what you can do without. This means cutting out unnecessary expenses like entertainment expenditures, buying the latest electronics, and going out to eat. Create a minimum budget where you are only spending money on what you need to survive. Once you know what you need to meet your monthly bills, put every extra penny towards your retirement funds. Additionally, utilize employer-sponsored 401k plans and max out your IRA contributions. This includes catch-up contributions for those over 50. Make no mistake; it is difficult to do without the things you enjoy. However, supporting yourself after retirement is a much more important goal.

2. Delay Your Retirement.

Another option is to delay your retirement date. Not only does it allow more time to save, but also to see more gains on your investments. If you are still living off your wages, it will postpone when you must begin drawing from your retirement funds. Furthermore, it reduces the number of years that your savings must sustain you. Working a few more years may  prevent you from running through your savings too early.

Prolonging your retirement also increases your Social Security benefits. You are able to claim retirement benefits from 62, but you can maximize the amount if you work until 70. Your monthly check increases approximately 7-8% every year you hold off retiring. The income you earn during those years is also calculated into your monthly benefits which could increase the amount you receive. Unfortunately, there are no increases beyond age 70. Keep in mind that most workers retire sooner than expected due to layoffs, health issues, or caring for a family member or spouse. Although this is a good strategy to help plan for retirement, don’t bank on working till 70. You never know what surprises life may throw you that could put your savings plan off course.

3. Adjust Your Retirement Lifestyle.

Another hard pill to swallow after losing your savings is that you may not be able to live as lavishly as you had planned for retirement. You must create a new retirement budget by trimming the fat. This means tightening the purse strings and finding ways to lower monthly expenses after you retire. Some suggestions would include downsizing your home, eliminating travel plans, or moving to an area with a lower cost of living. Living on a restricted budget will help you stretch your savings and catch up to your retirement goals.

4. Understand How You Lost Your Savings.

Another important step when starting over is to understand where things went wrong. Some matters are beyond your control, but other lost their retirement savings due to poor investing decisions. If this includes you, you should evaluate your investing strategy and examine why your portfolio suffered such extensive losses. If you invested too heavily in one area, diversifying will reduce future market exposure and personal risk. Many are tempted to invest more aggressively to regain their savings, but this could backfire and cause a second major loss.

5. Seek Professional Advice.

The most important thing is to remember there is always hope. However, if you are unable to find your own solution it is very easy to fall into despair. If you feel like there is no way out, seek professional advice from a financial planner. They will assess your situation, explain the options available to you, and find solutions you may have overlooked. Also, choose someone who is fee-only. This means they only earn a commission if you make money. It may eliminate any concerns over conflicts of interest or doubts that they are making the best decisions for you. Even when you must go back to square one, there is always a path forward.

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