Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Crowdsourcing in Your Neighborhood

Crowdsourcing is when a bunch of people contribute to one project or one monetary goal.  Usually we do this online.  But there's no reason you can't take the concept local.  Really local.  In-your-neighborhood local.

Think about all the things you spend money on to maintain a home.  You probably have quite the list, and odds are your neighbors have an eerily similar list.  While crowdsourcing in your neighborhood works best when you have congenial neighbors that get along, it can be a great way to not only save money, but build community.

Let's look at some examples of things you can crowdsource:

1.  Fencing:  Why It's Good to Be on Good Terms

In most cases, both neighbors are required to contribute to the cost of maintaining fencing as it provides mutual benefit to both property owners. These obligations only go to the point of the need for urgent repair.  If you want to update for the state of aesthetics, your neighbor doesn't have to contribute 50%.  In fact, if you update and they don't pay, they still have joint ownership of the fence as it's partially on their property.

If both of you agree, or if you're both committed to putting up a fence on land that has never had one, it's a good idea to get the commitment in writing.  Even if you're on the best of terms now, neighbors have gotten into quite the dispute over many a property boundary issues before.

Whether you want to build or update, being on good terms before hand is more idea and will save you a bunch of paperwork.

2.  Lawn Tractors: Taking Care of Your Community

No one wants to live next door to the person who doesn't mow their lawn.  It's not a fun chore, but it's something you have to do whether you use a lawn mower or lawn tractor.  It's kind of silly that every house has one.  It really is a material good that a bunch of people could share.

Before making your purchase, ask around and see if there's anyone who would like to share both the use of the tractor and the money required to buy it in the first place.  If you'd like to, you could even crowdsource time, rotating with purchasers who will mow which lawn on which date.

3.  Movie Projector:  Building Your Community

Getting a movie projector can be such a fun way to change your media viewing experience.  Instead of keeping it all to yourself, you could open up your new joy to the community by hosting viewing parties for the whole neighborhood.

Before you implement this by yourself, see if there's anyone else in contributing to your efforts.  If so, you can split the cost of the projector.  You can also split the cost of the projection screen if you like, or you could just hook a sheet up to the side of your house to make your outdoor theater even cheaper.

Community can be a very good thing.  Make sure you trust the people you make joint purchases with.  Make sure you understand local laws.  And then go out and build your community, one crowdsource at a time.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

6 Ways for Kids to Earn Money That Aren't Lemonade Stands

When a kid has a big savings goal, sometimes an allowance isn't enough to help them bring their dreams to fruition.  Giving them the money wouldn't do either, as it would be denying them a great, financial lesson.  But you can encourage them towards finding innovative ways to bring in more themselves.  If you find yourself in need of some inspiration, check out these non-cliched ideas:

1. Resell Free Things On Gumtree

Gumtree has listings for free items that people are just trying to get rid of.  Your child could take it off of their hands, and then resell it on Gumtree for a profit.  This should always be done under parent supervision.  They'll probably need you to help transport the item, anyways.  This method is pure profit.

Unless, of course, you really want to give them a lesson.  You could charge them for petrol in order to teach them about overhead costs.

2.  Sell Graphic Design Services

It's amazing to me to see kids who can do effortlessly what my peers had to go to college to learn, simply because they've grown up with technology.  Graphic design is one of these areas.  Photo editing, logo design, and more can be done completely on-line by freelancing or selling their services on a site such as Fiverr. 

3.  Program an App

Much like graphic design, this is another field that amazes me.  I wouldn't even know where to begin on this one, but so many kids do, armed with the technological know-how and the creativity of youth.  Like the Sydney teen Ben Pasternak whose popular app Impossible Launch now has him job shopping in Silicon Valley.  

While Ben's path is impressive, he isn't alone.  Teens who are getting a head start on their careers by building something with technology are bringing rise to ethical questions.  Should they immediately enter the workforce?  Should they be encouraged towards college even though they're already making a ton of money?  Those who would see them attend university argue that while they may have the tech know-how, they lack the training in business that will help them continue to make money for the rest of their lives, and avoid getting raked over the coals on a deal that takes advantage of their skills.

4.  Tutor Younger Children

Does you child have a subject that they rock at?  Or are they experienced and old enough that they feel confident teaching first grade math?  Have them look at tutoring a younger child.  Parents pay tutors big bucks, so even if you child lowers their rates because of their age/experience level there's a real opportunity to make some real money.

5. Set Up an Art Stand

If your child has an affinity for the visual arts, they could set up an art stand somewhere where people congregate.  They can set their rates to charge to paint or draw a picture of passerbys.

I'm not going to lie to you; if your child isn't talented at art, this will probably still work.  People are suckers for kids who get out there and try.

6.  Recycle for Cash

Scrapping metal is killing two birds with one stone.  On the one hand, you're saving the environment, and on the other you can make some money for your efforts.  Aluminum is one of the most important metals to recycle, as it takes very little energy to reform.  Not only is aluminum staying out of dumps when you take it to scrap, but your little one will walk away with a little more money in their pocket.

To really make this one profitable, set up a collection with neighbors and friends.  Once they know your kid is hustling, they'll likely be more than happy to hand over their recycling.

7.  Make Your Own

With a little creativity, your child can find something they can do that will net them money.  Whether it's something they are passionate about, or just a lesson in hard work, earning that money themselves will make achieving their ultimate financial goal that much sweeter.

What have your little ones done to make money?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Go Green, Save Money

The "green" fad comes in and out of style, and with it products and advertisements for things that may or may not be good for the environment, and  usually aren't any good for your wallet.  The planet does, in fact, need our help, though, and there are ways to do just that while also saving money rather than spending it.

DIY Your Home

Not every last thing needs to be done yourself.  To do so would be exhausting and unrealistic.  But two areas that are fairly easy to DIY and can save you cash over store-bought alternatives are bath and cleaning products.

A lot of bath products use things like parabens, formaldehyde, and other chemicals that are harmful to your body.  Making them yourself out helps your body and the environment.  Many of them are so simple to make with low-cost ingredients that you can whip up things like body scrub, lotion, and even shampoo for pennies on the dollar.

Household cleaners can be replaced for pennies on the dollar, too.  It's amazing how far some bi-carbonate of soda and vinegar can go, cleaning floors, walls, bathtubs, toilets, and so many other surfaces in your home.  There are all types of recipes out there for DIY household cleaning products, and they're worth doing a quick internet search for.  They can save you a ton of money while making your home safer, and most of them don't call for anything out of the ordinary.

Think Before You Purchase

Before you buy any major energy-sucking appliances, do due diligence.  Check out the product's Energy Rating Label.  (There's now an app!)  These are available for clothes washers and dryers, refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, computer monitors, dishwashers, and televisions.  By researching the product before you buy, you will be saving money in the long-run by not buying an appliance that you'll have to pay to suck down copious amounts of fossil-fueled energy.

Don't Change Anything, Except Who You Pay

As an Australian, you can choose who provides your electricity and gas.  Some supplier options are cheaper than others, and some are more energy-efficient.  When those two collide, it's a beautiful thing.  You can use tools such as Yahoo!7's Moneyhound to compare providers on both of these metrics.  After selecting the cheaper provider, you shouldn't notice any difference except a lower energy bill.

While being "green" may be sometimes be a marketing fad, being energy and cost-efficient is a smart move long-term, not just for your budget, but also for the expendable resources on our planet.

What planet-saving tactics have you put into place that have saved you money?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Things I've Done to Make Money In a Hurry

There have been times in my life where I was tight on cash.  This has happened for two reasons: either life happened, and I therefore wasn't able to meet my basic needs with the income I had, or I had some goals in mind that needed a quick cash infusion.  In either circumstance, I searched out some ways to make extra money quickly.  They weren't long-term or sustainable, but they were enough to help me get to where I wanted to be short-term.

Selling My Stuff

Oftentimes I've turned to Craigslist, the American equivalent of Gumtree.  It's amazing how much stuff you can find around your house that you don't need or want, but is still sitting there taking up space.  I compare prices of similar items currently selling on the site, and price competitively in order to get rid of it fast.  Usually when I'm in hustle mode I get rid of a bunch of small stuff, but this also works if you suddenly don't need a larger item.  Instead of setting it out with the trash, try listing it first.  What seems useless to you  may be worth a decent amount of money to someone else.

Mystery Shopping

Mystery shopping was great when I first discovered it.  I felt like an actor and a spy all in one.  I went into stores and asked about products, secretly taking note of product knowledge and courtesy of employees as I pretended to be interested in buying them.  I got paid decently for my time, and it served its purpose of filling my tills quickly.  I didn't stay with it long-term, though.  It was a pain logging into the system at just the right time to get the best compensated shops, and what was leftover were stores that were either terribly inconvenient or terribly hard for me to go on pretending about.

Medical Studies

Participating as a subject in a medical study can be very lucrative.  Sometimes they want to study the effects of medication on humans, but sometimes they just want to see what makes certain people sleep poorly, or run a psychological questionnaire on a targeted demographic.  All of the studies I've participated in have offered a smaller sum just to come in for the initial interview to see if you're a good fit for their study, but they also allow you to see if the study is a good fit for you.  If I decided I wasn't comfortable with what they wanted to test out on my body, I still had the option to back out while still being rewarded with the pay for the initial interview and my time.

Turking and Surveys

For a short time when money was really tight, I tried turking and taking surveys for a little while.  Amazon Turk is a program that has you do menial tasks that only human brains can accomplish; computers are as of yet incapable.  So I looked at pictures and decided if they looked pretty.  I captioned a video clip or two.  (Some voice recognition software out there might be amazing, but most of what's widely used is still far from being acceptable.)  I even wrote a few articles.  It ended up being time consuming, and I was usually getting paid pennies or dimes for my effort.  I quickly gave this one up.

I stuck with surveys a little bit longer.  I was making a few dollars for each one I did, and the payout for the company I was using was very low.  I felt great about the $8 thresh hold, but I started getting qualified for fewer and fewer surveys, and started questioning if 20 minutes of my time was worth $2.

What make cash quick strategies have you used in the past?  Would you consider them successful?


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How to Build Confidence

Confidence is an attribute needed by many, yet sometimes it seems it's achieved by few.  Want to start your own business?  You'll need some confidence to sell it and believe you can make it happen.  Want to become a great investor?  You'll need confidence to ride the waves of economic cycles without losing your mind.

Building confidence doesn't just make us better with building money sources; it's also often a co requisite of a happy, fulfilling life.  So how do you get there?

1. Recognize the amazing things you've done.

While humility is a noble attribute, taking some time to sit down with yourself and put to paper the things you have accomplished in your life can do you a world of good.  Your accomplishments don't have to be what the world would consider monumental.  Have you helped someone get through a hard time?  Have you ever felt like you nailed a project at work?  Have you made a difference in the life of a child?  Or worked well on a team?  This list is not exhaustive.  You have done great things in your life, even if you've marginalized them to this point.  Brainstorm and recognize them.  You are awesome, and knowing that will plant the seed of confidence.

2. Talk to Yourself in the Third Person

That sounds silly doesn't it?  But studies show that it works.  We say things to and about ourselves that we would never say of others.  But when we talk to ourselves, we somehow feel we don't have to be nice and kind and observe proprieties.  

When people use "I" and they're feeling negative, they tend to say things like "I can't do this." They go on to list all their flaws that support that argument.  But when they switch to "(insert your own name here)" they tend to say things like, "You can do this.  You're amazing, and you've overcome much worse." And they go on to list all the reasons why the task at hand is possible.

You may think you'll sound crazy, but at least you'll be crazy and confident.

3.  Get Prepared and Educated

Self-talk is great for building confidence.  But I'd never advise that someone give themselves a third-person pep talk in the mirror, and immediately commence to throw money in investments they knew nothing about.  A huge part of actually doing anything is learning how to do it, though it's a step we'd like to forget or use as an excuse for forward progress.  It's time-consuming and sometimes difficult, but learning about whatever it is you'd like to accomplish will help you become successful at it, which in return will instill some hard-earned, well-deserved confidence.

4.  Fake It Until You Make It

Sometimes even after we've done all of these things, we still feel trepidation as we stand on the cliff of action.  At these times, we just have to fake it.  Don't feel like you can run a company, despite your market research, education on the subject, and belief in your product?  Act like you do as you walk into that investor's meeting.  One great way to do this is by practicing power poses before you start an activity you're feeling nervous about.  They work not because others see you posing like Superman in front of a mirror in the bathroom, but because you see it, you feel it, and you end up exuding belief in yourself in front of others.  Acting confident makes others believe in you, and, eventually, you'll learn to believe in you, too.