Thursday, April 27, 2006

Improving your situation at work. Part One

I'm going to write a little series (probably only 2 or 3 parts) on improving your situation at work, including respect from colleagues, respect from your boss and improving your salary. I have experienced quite a few problems throughout my career so far but have over come them and wanted to pass on a few things I learnt.

Fact

You will have felt at some point in your life that you are not being paid what you deserve, you will have felt that you are working harder than your pay check says you are and you will felt undervalued in your job.

If you haven't felt any of the above then you are either early in your career, working for your family's company, own your own company or have been very lucky.

A few Points that may be of interest:
  • Your boss will not know exactly how good you were until you have gone.
  • Your boss will probably not appreciate the amount of work you put in.
  • Your boss will more than likely never offer you a wage rise.
  • Your colleagues think they are better than you.
  • Some colleagues who are older think they have an authority over you because they have worked in the company for 20 years (even if you are their boss).

Taking steps in the right direction

Always, always, always keep your eye open for appropriate or similar jobs! This is a very important factor, keeping your eye open to your options will make you feel much more confident of how to approach things. If you know you have options else where it can give you the confidence to speak to your colleagues or boss.

Get to work on time. If anything ever arises if you are late more than once or twice every quarter, it will be brought up and used against the case you are putting forward whether it is for a wage rise, to have your ideas put forward or to get a promotion.

Make tea and coffee. Have office juniors or apprentices where you work? Do they always make all the tea and coffee? I realize that you might be busy but once in a while do a round and make the tea and coffee. If the juniors and apprentices respect you then they are more likely to help you out when they need it.

If you are the junior or apprentice don't get into the routine of making everyone's tea and coffee. If you are already in that rountine, next time someone asks you to make the tea, refuse to do it immediately, say for example "Sorry, do you mind if I just get these faxes sent out to close that deal you wanted?". They should respect that and if you do it two or three times in a week they might even get the picture and make YOU one. TIP: If you say you are working on something, make sure you are and make sure you are working hard!

If you have a problem, talk about it. If you have a problem it will not get any better by leaving it alone. Speak to the person about the problem, bring it up in a meeting. If it is because someone is doing something wrong, don't embarrass them and do it infront of them. Take them to one side and have a word and SHOW them how to do it.

World Cup 2006, cray money making ideas.

With the impending Football (Soccer for the US) World Cup what crazy ideas can you use to make a bit of extra cash. I'm gonna fire a few ideas down here and see if any of them take your fancy. I know I will probably pick a few out and try and cover the cost of drowning my sorrow's when England get knowcked out :o(
  • Selling your nations flags where the games are being shown on big screens.
  • Face painting the kids faces on the day of a big game.
  • Offering to give lifts to and from the bars so they can have a drink.
  • Selling your countries memorabilia.
  • Baking cakes and ice them with your countries flag, sell them.
If you are interested in tracking Englands build up and progress through the World Cup, check out my England World Cup Campaign blog.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

When renting is a better idea.

I came accross this interesting article on MSN discussing when renting is better than buying. It is aimed at first tmie buyers but is an interesting read either way. It goes on to discuss costs of buying a house, then it goes on to discuss the costs of living in your own house.

It is a very useful article to work out the costs of living etc if you haven't done it before. It also discusses the possibility of having negative equity and all the additional costs of getting a mortgage.

Read the article in full here

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Free stuff, offers and review vista print.

You may be aware of the free offers from vista print, I wanted to post my case study and review of the service they provide. If you are not aware of them or are not aware of their deals then you are in luck because they have some really great deals.

WHAT IS IT?

Vistaprint is basically a printing company based in Europe who ship their products worldwide. They have been made famous for their "250 business cards free" deal and often have different offers each month. At the moment they have a few free offers on.

CURRENT FREE OFFERS:

TOP TIP:

You will pobably see something that you want to actually pay for on their website. If you do then don't do it straight away, create an account, order your free stuff and click out of the website. Load it back up and click on the product your wish to order. Now close the browser and a pop-up should appear with something similar to this on it "Stay and save 20%", shop away! (doesn't work with any other offers though).

CASE STUDY

A couple of years back when I first really got stuck into setting up business (I had been interested for ages but never had the guts to do it) I had no money, and no clients to make money. I needed money to make stationary to advertise and I needed clients to make the money to get stationary. Dead end, you would think so, but I came across vistaprint. I ordered my free business cards, got some free postcards and then they gave me some free magnets on top of that, I had to pay postage but figured it was a small fee to pay.

I was well chuffed, when it all came through the post I started writing letters and sending post cards to companies from the phone directory and included a couple of business cards in each one. I got my first client and with that money went straight back onto vista print. With £50 I got myself letterheaded paper, more postcards (free), more magnets (free), some thank you for your business cards (free), more business cards (free) and a load of leaflets printed. I don't know what it is like for printing in your area but to me this seemed pretty damn good.

The second package came through the post and I was gutted, the cards were bent and the letter headed paper was messed up on one corner. I rang them up and they said "no problem, we'll send some more straight out", at no additional cost they sent more out because their courier had bent them and if I remember rightly they sent me another "free offer voucher" in the post.

The only other things I have ordered from vistaprint are free stuff, the essentials I still have plenty of. Although the business became a side earner when I got a promotion at job (more hours) all the stationary is still used, it's all good quality and still looks great now.

OVERALL

Great service, great offers - if they don't have a FREE offer they will have a good deal for it, you can design your stuff on their web based application or upload your own design (they also have a design team which I haven't used). They have cheap delivery and a wide range of products. Overall - Highly recommended, perfect for start-up or small businesses.

*NB This post contains affiliate links. This does not, however, affect my review. I have reviewed vistaprint as unbiasedd as possible, I take my opinions from my own personal experience.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Free stuff experiment, results.

*Tried to post yesterday but blogger wasnt letting me. Anyone else have problems with blogger?

A brief summary of the experiment can be found in the post below, or by clicking here.

N.B. There was one product I was excluding from my experiment since I already know about it, that was VistaPrint, of which I will post a review of soon.

Method

Time: 30 mins
Equipment: My PC with internet access.

My method was going to be simple, use a search engine (google in this case) to search some key words and try to find free stuff. I knew that it was highly unlikely I would find any free stuff without having to register first, I knew that this was going to be where I spend the most time, filling in the boring registration details. In preparation for this I filled out the details I thought I would need in a word document and split my screen so I could easily copy them over where needed.

Search terms used:


  • Free products
  • free products UK
  • get free stuff
  • find free samples
They were fairly random but they were quick fire searches, I wanted to get a variety of companies. I found the best places to find the giveaways were the websites designed for this purpose, finding free giveaways!

Results

What I got:

Although I haven't received any of the following I have been promised them. I found loads of free samples, one pashmina for referring a couple of emails and a kerrang car sticker.

Comfort creme sample, free pashmina - I'm sure my g/f will be most pleased.
Aveeno sample - As above.
Andrex Colour wheel - Wow, now I can work out which colour toilet roll to use.
original Source Sample - It smells so gooood.
Hugo Fragrance sample (on a postcard) - I might get one day if I rub it on my neck :-/
King of Shaves Sample - Great! I use this, it will come in most handy.
Kerrang Car Sticker (asked for loads) - errr I asked for loads so I can give them away...anyone want one?

250 free business cards - I cheated a bit with this one since I already knew about it. :oD (review coming soon)

N.B. Although most of these were offers for the UK, many had offers for the US aswell.

A Key website in this experiment: FreebieList.

Evaluation:

You CAN get free stuff, just not very much. As you can see from my results I got lots of free samples of health products, I believe if I had given myself more time I could have got more but I wanted to see what I could get for nothing and time isn't nothing.

You can't seem to get expensive products for nothing, I found that the best giveaways often had catches once you registered such as, "now sign up to one of our affiliate programs and we will send your free product", as you can imagine, they cost money. Another possibility for free products is a referral program, one such program was simple, sign up, refer friends and then receive gifts. Since I thought this would take too much time I didn't attempt this one.

What I learnt:

I think there are free gifts and great offers out there for everything. If you are about to buy something or if you want to register for something do a "free stuff *product*" search and I bet you can find that you can get free products or money from it. I came across deals for practically everything but you have to part with something to get them.

NEXT EXPERIMENT:

I want to expand on this experiment, I need more time. I think there may be more oportunities to get better stuff for free or at least very little. Next experiment shall be to try out the referral program, anyone up for being a referral drop me an email David walker 24 %at% hot mail &dot& com.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Can you really get free stuff?

I often hear and read people say that you can't get something for nothing. I often wish that I could get more free stuff. I now think with the internet it may be that free stuff is more available. Well it's time to find out.

The FREE STUFF Experiment:

RULES:
  • Can be done over 30 minutes only.
  • Cannot enter competitions to win free stuff.
  • The most work I must do is fill out a registration form in.
  • Cannot spend anything other than my 30 minutes of time (which is most valuable ofcourse) to get the free stuff.

I will post the results of this experiment on Monday. Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Why are you so secretive about our salaries?

There is an interesting post on the BBC website which is worth a read regarding our secretive attitudes about our salaries. It is talking about the typically secretive Brits in particular but I am sure it is a similar situation wherever you come from in the world.

Read the article here.

There are also some interesting comments at the bottom, please note that none of the various "daves" that have commented are myself...makes me realize how common my name is. I wonder if all of those davids are as "beloved" as me. :-D

My views:

I may have mentioned this before but I think it comes down to your own take on whether you want to disclose your own salary. It is down to your own opinions and views. I don't disclose my salary and I feel a bit awkward when someone asks me unless I am close to them and they have asked me nicely. I don't really mind people knowing my salary but given the choice I would probably have them not know.

I work very hard in my job and do my job well (hope I do anyway). I will ask for a wage rise or promotion if I feel I deserve them but when I get the job I don't show off, brag or gloat to my colleagues, many of them would be disgruntled by the fact someone a lot younger was being paid more than them.

Although these are my views I don't know why, possibly the way I was brought up, my parents don't like discussing their wages.

I don't mind someone who doesn't mind disclosing their salary to people as long as they don't pressure other people who are less willing to do so. I don't like people who show off about their wages and brag to people who earn less than them.

I have some friends who do this, they disclose their wages regularly and although they would never admit it, it is to brag and make themselves feel better than others. They see themselves as better people because they earn more which is one thing I wholeheartedly disagree with, someone who earns more is not a better person. If they do think that the biggest salary makes the best person then perhaps they are not as good as they think. Bill Gates is a very rich man and as far as I am aware quite a generous one aswell but does that make him a better person than mother Teresa was?
So, as you can tell, I don't think it matters whether people reveal their salary or not. It is their choice and should remain their choice.

What are your opinions, do your flaunt your wage, does having a large salary give you bragging rights because you worked hard for it? Or do you disagree with revealing your salary full stop? Whatever you think, WHY do you think it?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Cheap ways to chill out and relax...

...because sometimes you have bad days!

You have all been there, whether it is because you have had a horrible day at work, or because you stubbed your toe this morning and things didn't get any better from then on.

The classics;

  • You could take a relaxing bath with a glass of Champaign, or for the guys to feel manly, a relaxing bubble bath with a 'pint ah larga'.
  • Sweat it out down at the gym!
  • Or you could take a walk in the countryside!

By now you probably aren't very impressed with these, they can become less effective as they get old. Ofcourse there is the obvious but expensive ones;

  • You could indulge in a bit of retail therapy
  • A weekend away
  • A trip to the spa, or for me and the rest of the guys a trip down the football match.
  • Or go for a meal at a fancy restaurant.

I can hear it now, the moans and groans of the pf bloggers now, how they would enjoy but don't want to break this months good bank balance.

So what are your options? Well here are a few things you could try;

  • Take up a new sport (extreme if you can find a cheap one).
  • Kick the kids out for the night (preferably at a friends not on the streets, but if necessary do so ;-)) and have a quiet night in with a home cooked meal and a DVD.
  • Play a game of chess, take up art or play a game of Sudoku.

What do YOU normally do? have you any ideas for relaxing without breaking the bank? How often do you indulge in expensive things to help you relax?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Combine your search for deals online and offline

The following is a brief summary of the process I go through to find the best deals I can for something such as car insurance.
  1. Ring my current provider and get a new quote.
  2. Run an online search, preferably with a website which will run quotes through lots of companies.
  3. Run more online searches, change details slightly each time (I don't lie just different senarios, for example, insurance for myself, insurance for my girlfriend - myself as a named driver etc etc).
  4. Get best quote and ring back current supplier and explain what you have been quoted, if they can match it, get something in writing.
  5. Go back to the best quote provider and explain you have beaten their quote, if they can match or beat the quote get it in writing.
  6. Find a provider who promises to match the quotes and give money back. - In a lot of cases you can find a provider who offers to match all quotes and give you money back. E.g;

IN the UK at the moment Barclays is offering to match your car insurance quote and give you £50 back if you find it cheaper else where. (obviously there may be conditions which should be checked first).

This might seem extensive (which it is) but I did this in less than 30 minutes last weekend and it ended up saving me over £200. :o)

Walking with purpose...

...is a phrase Boston Gal has come up with in her new mission to do more walking and less driving. With the increases in petrol (or gas) prices it is the perfect time for all to start walking to the shops or into town.

With an eye on what it might do for your health aswell it is a top idea. I will be joining the mission to "walk with purpose" over the coming months.
Hopefully the rewards of my "thinking before walking" will be saving money by
spending less on gas, supporting my local neighborhood businesses, and improving
my health by taking longer and more frequent walks.

Check her post out here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Setting financial targets and giving yourself economic goals

Until quite recently I had been opposed to do the above, I figured that I was financially savvy enough to be able to know what to buy what to aim for and when not to buy something without really setting anything in stone. Well, I was wrong.

I'm not talking about giving yourself a 10 year goal or even a yearly goal (although I would recommend that too) I am talking about a month to month or even a week to week goal (maybe even a day to day if you are spending too much on your breaks at work for example).

So how do you go about it?

First thing you need to do is evaluate a month (or a week if that is how you are going to do it), take a notepad everywhere you go and note down everything you buy, you need to do it practically as you buy it otherwise you will forget bits and pieces. Keep the receipts so you can refer to your notepad, staple them in if you prefer to do it that way. Every evening go back and look over your notepad and do a total for the day, now go back over the day and do a total for the essential things (e.g. petrol, food, cloathes etc). You now have two totals and with a little mathematical genius you can have three totals;
  • Total money spent in one day
  • Total money spent on essentials in one day
  • Total money spent on luxuries in one day

Build this notepad up until you have a week, evaluate your week and do the same thing. Great! Now you don't have to do a lot more work to set yourself a target for next week. Just shave a bit from the luxuries column and next week keep track again and see if you can beat it, with a target in mind you will more than likely do it!

It doesn't stop there

You may think next week when you beat your target, job done! No not job done, I reakon that you can have four weeks at least (if you set your targets reasonably) of target setting before you are somewhere near.

Your essentials, ok so you put it in the essentials column, did it deserve to be there, if it did is there a cheaper alternative. Your targets then for the essentials column could be as follows;

  • Can you take £10 (or $10 as the case may be) off the cost of food.
  • Can you save £15 petrol by sharing lifts with a colleague or catching a bus.
  • Did I NEED that buy two get one free cake offer, especially as I only ate one and the other two went out of date!

Since starting to set short term targets I have been very motivated towards reaching my goal. I have always set long term goals but now setting these short term goals I find that I am getting closer to my long term goals much faster than previously.

A few random tips to do with targets;

  • Put a chart on your wall, colour a bit in each time you get closer to it.
  • Keep a table of your weekly outgoings and put it on your fridge.
  • Calculate your targets, everything you save is somethinearnednt, put 75% towards investments/savings or another useful cause, use the other 25% to take yourself and your partner out to dinner.
  • Write it down.
  • Share your targets with friends and family, make joint targets and help to motivate each other.

Blog carnivals and festivals

Top job throughout with this weeks carnivals and festivals (links updated to the right) but a special mention must go out to Nick from Punny Money who has put on a fantastic festival, great layout, easy to understand and his personal comments for each.

Visit Festival of frugality 19 hosted at Punny Money.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Ideas to make money from Easter.

With a holiday always comes more money making ideas! So here are a few ideas for you to try next Easter!

Sell Easter Chocolates!

If you have a nack for baking, make some chocolates and get down to the market in the weeks leading up to Easter. It doesn't just have to be chocolates, bake some cakes and put some Easter bunny icing on or a picture of an Easter egg.

Make Easter baskets

If you can't bake, don't worry you don't have to. Buy some big bags of chocolates and make little Easter baskets with a few chocolates in each. Wrap them up with some easter paper or plastic and get them sold at the market or around your local nabourhood. This would work well in conjunction with the above.

Host an Easter Egg Hunt Party

Buy a few large easter eggs and a couple of bags of small chocolates and get hiding them! Invite people around to join the hunt, if people can find ten small chocks, they win a large Easter egg. Then at then end it's great fun trying to go round and find the ones that they haven't found!

If you have any more Ideas let me know!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Tips for saving while on holiday!

As you will know I held a fudgy competition last week. Well I am going to follow up this one with all the results and a few new ones of my own.

Jim of Blueprint for Financial Prosperity submitted:

My best tip is to leave all your credit cards behind, bring no plastic and bring all cash. Between being worried you'll run out of money for some unforeseen emergency and the actual act of pulling out real cash to pay for something, you'll definitely spend less than you otherwise would.

He also advised that this should be done at your own risk!

I did this (at my own risk) and was most satisfied, I was indeed worried about running out of cash and was more reluctant to hand over cash. Although, having said this I still didn't scrimp on things, I bought what I wanted it just seemed that the money went a lot further.

Blaine Moore of Run To Win submitted:

Don't buy a lot of alcohol. If you are going to drink, buy something like a Guinness and sip it rather than buying 4 or 5 buds that you drink in the same amount of time. Then you avoid the hangover, as well.

If you can walk, it is cheaper than taking a cab.

I took a lot of notice with this one as I do like to have a beer or two when on my holidays so I did as he said and bought drinks which took longer to drink. It had the desired effect!

Nick from Punney Money had this to say:

Bring food! Pre-made lunches, a box of cereal, microwaveable food, etc.

You save about 50-90% with every meal you "prepare" yourself.

I did indeed do this, infact the whole family did my brothers and I took it in turns to prepare meals and not only did we save money we thought each other a trick or two in cooking!

Finally a post from Financial Fruition mentioned that when you only take cash it will make you think before you purchase anything because you have to make it last.

Setting a limit as mentioned really did work and it did make me think about purchasing things before I did and stopped some of the impulse buying of things I would only ever use once.

I have one more tip I found very useful while on holiday:

Find the local markets! If there is an every day market use it! If there isn't then there will more than likely be one on while you stay there if you are going for a whole week. They usually have everything there at cut down prices, you may have to search a bit harder to find the best quality but you will be able to find it. Not only this but in a market you can haggle a bit and strike a great bargain!

Thanks for all the tips it certainly helped me save whilst on holiday!

Competition Winners!

Well, it's been a week since I said I was giving away some fudge.

The first competition was to see if anyone knew how to get wine out of wallpaper, well, I'm afraid no-one came up with any suggestions for this one. I guess you just gotta paint over it! Or move the sofa. That's one box of fudge for me :o)

The next one was for the strangest (un related) search referrals to your website. I grabbed two entries from the Money Blog Network Forums for this one but it has to go to the entry from My Money blog (sorry dont have a name) for his entry, you can see it here. Nice one.

Finally, the last one (the most important and actually relevant one) was for the best tips to save money while on holiday. I'll do a follow up post with all the entries on this one as I think they are well worth sharing. The winner for a very good tip about cash was Jim from Blueprint.

Winners drop me an email with some details and you can enjoy some delightful fudge David walker 24 !!!### a t ###!!! hot mail --^^do t^^-- com.

Sorry for my over protection on the email but the spam bots can now recognize the dots and the ats written down. Thanks to all who entered.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I'm back and I still have money!

Well I am now back from my long weekend away and after taking some of the advice given on how to save money while on holiday I have actually come home with money left.

It was a good weekend away and great fun, most of all it was cheap! Yet again proof that you can have a good time without spending a ship load of money. The most expensive item through the weekend was easily the money spent on beer and wine.

So, back to reality and the competitions will remain open until friday. Use the links in the top right to find the competitions. (Boxes of fudge are at stake!)

A few notes, Money Ideas features in this weeks
carnival of debt reduction hosted at Wandering Indian Monk, also the new festival of frugality is up hosted by Canadian Capitalist (links updated on bar).

Friday, April 07, 2006

I'm going away, so here's a givaway!

I'm heading away for a long weekend and probably won't be posting again until Thursday, Wednesday if I'm lucky.

SO, in an attempt not to lose the small following I have gathered over the last month or so I have posted a few competitions (with crap prizes but as most of my money will be going into wining and dining it has to be small, they say it's the taking part that counts!!).

Here's a summary of the posts:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank those readers that have browsed by, I would also like to take this opportunity to all those great bloggers out there from whom I have learnt so much!

Totally Random search referrals!

Ok so the other day someone found my blog by searching on google for

"I spilt wine on my wallpaper"

Well I am afraid I can't help much with that one, however, the knowledge within the personal finance network is much wider than just finances! Although budgeting babe (:oD) can't sew a button and single ma can't draw (:oD) there is loads of knowledge kicking around the personal finance blogs. Have a surf around these personal finance websites (if you come back) and maybe someone will drop a post for you and maybe you'll learn a thing or two about your finances aswell!
Competitions:
  • If anyone has a top tip on saving wallpaper that has a wine stain on it (other than put your sofa infront of it) then drop a post and lets see if we can help this person out. The best suggestion again will get some fudge or rock or something.
  • If anyone can beat my random search referrals, then drop a comment here and again, the best one will win some fudge or rock. I am going to drop in two submissions already (hope you don't mind guys) from the MBN Forums.

Submissions for random search referrals:

Five Cent Nickel had:

"Is my wife obsessive compulsive"

My Money Blog embarrassingly admitted having (don't read if offended easily):
"gnikcus fles" (read backwards)
Good luck to all who participate.

Saving tips when on holiday

Ok so I am a away for a long weekend and I need your tips on how to cut down on expenses while on holiday. I realize that I am on holiday and I need to spend a bit of extra cash to make sure I have a good time but I don't want to spend so much that I go home regretting what I have spent.

So, it's a call out the the Personal Finance Bloggers!!

How do you prevent spending your life savings while on holiday!?

The person who gives the best tip will win some rock or fudge from my little trip!

.eu domain name opens to public

Today the .eu domain names went on sale to the public for the first time. The initial 3 month period was reserved for companies to reserve their trademarks. However, only 300 000 of these were reserved, although it sounds a lot I am sure there are probably thousands more unregistered.

Legal Battles

Given this I would highly doubt it if there are no high profile court cases over the registration of trademarks with the .eu domain. It also brings me to question another aspect, if a European citizen sets up a website using the trademark of a company outside of the EU with the European domain, will they still get sued?

So what do you think about people who register the domains knowingly breaking trademark laws. Companies had their time to register, is it their own fault? Is it wrong for an individual to register the trademark? Or are they just using their initiative and should the companies have to buy back the domains?

Ofcourse there are those who unintentionally register using trademarks for their legitimate personal use or for their business use. A good example of this is JLP AllFinancialMatters, he used the name All Things Financial and with his success came a letter from a company of whom he is supposedly breaking trademark laws. This brings me onto the next question, have trademark laws gone too far? When is it going to stop, will it come to the point of not being allowed to use sayings or even words? It seems the large companies don't bother until there is something in it for them.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Don't rule out offline marketing!

Most companies nowadays have an online presence of some kind, if they don't they are thinking about it and if they aren't then they probably should. There are more and more internet only based companies springing up every day. Most companies spend large amounts of money advertising online and less offline.

Do these facts suggest we should faze out offline marketing altogether?

No, is the simple answer. Many people still don't use the internet, some people use the internet but use it purely for research, some people refuse to follow ads online.

All online marketing efforts should be followed up with a strong following of offline marketing campaigns, this not only makes them work stronger in conjuntion with each other but it means you reach a much wider audience. If your marketing budget will be blown away purely on online advertising then I would say cut down and put in some offline efforts aswell. Offline marketing (if your not looking to advertise on TV at prime time) can be relatively cheap and potentially reach a wider audience.

One of the best offline marketing methods I have ever had (not saying it is THE best, it has just worked best for me in the past.) is leaflet drops. It is relatively cheap, especially if you already have all logo's, slogans and don't go over board on the colour (it doesn't help, a bit of coloured paper with bold black writing on it works equally as well). It is also something you can do yourself, not only this but if you throw an "online only offer" into the equation then it will push more traffic through, more online recommendations, more links and subsequently a higher search ranking, which again helps your online marketing.

So, to summarize, make both methods of advertising work together to yield better results. Offline marketing can help to increase your online presence, online marketing can help your offline campaign by putting the deals into the back of the customers mind. Make sure that you work the marketing methods together, don't contradict, stick to one logo and one slogan for both.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Borrowing or investing with family.

Is it a good idea?

I would like peoples opinions on this one. If for example as I am looking into investing in the housing market but could only raise 50% of the funds needed is it a good idea to borrow from family or invest with them or is it just a bad idea?

As I see it I think it is a good idea, but I have heard of problems borrowing from friends and family. Here are some reasons for:
  • It can save you money on having to borrow more.
  • It can help you invest the money sooner therefore avoiding any increases you may otherwise miss.
  • It benefits not only yourself but your family member.

I would love to hear of some real examples and any opinions.

Investing in the housing market.

There is a good little post on the front page of MSN.co.uk this morning Top ten tips to profitable property. It is for the UK but I think the basics are the same in real estate investing in the US.

The best point for me is this:
Be an individual thinker. Letting agents know what they can let properties for
and know about collecting rents, not about making money. If an agent says you'll
never let a property in that area, don't believe him. There is a housing
shortage in this country.

People who are experts in their field can often make mistakes with things closely related to their field. This is what is so great about entrepreneurs, they have a wide knowledge of business in general and the best entrepreneurs could make business in any field.

The post is worth a read if you are interested in investing in the housing market.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Hobbies into Cash Part Three

If you haven't done so already it might be an idea to read Hobbies Part One and Hobbies Part Two.

So you have come up with the perfect idea to turn your hobby into an extra few quid a week and you have spread the word and already have some interest from friends and family. What do you need to do next?

Preparing
  • First thing is first, get all the equipment you need to carry out the service. Or alternatively you probably have all the equipment, you need it to sparkle like new for someone to be paying you to use them.
  • Get the space ready, if it is a service and it is being done in your house, get the room ready, give it a clean put some nibbles out if you like.
  • Make sure you have tea and coffee, and put out a spare magazine if you are cutting hair or something similar.
  • practice! If you are doing a service, e.g. cutting hair, doing make-up or even baking cakes, practice a few times and get into the mood, decide what you are going to do before you carry out the service.

Watch the news channel

  • You need to be chatty, this probably won't be a problem if it is a friend or family member but if it is a friend of a friend you need to have something to talk about!

Carry out the service

  • Always be nice, carry out the service with a smile.
  • Offer them a tea or coffee, if you decided to put out nibbles, tell them to help themselves.
  • Don't rush, do a good job and ask them if they are happy with it.

Remember to keep your customer happy at all times, remember, the best method of marketing is viral marketing. If your customer is happy, they will tell their friends and family, the word will spread and you will get more business.

Finally, as they leave, give them a leaflet or business card and thank them for coming.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I actually made a profit!

This weekend, unfortunately, was an expensive one. Me, my partner and our mates went away for the weekend to let off a bit of steam. One of the things we did was to hit the arcades for a few hours but unfortunately another of my weaknesses, however, I had a plan!
  • Go with only £10
  • Don't take my cash card
  • Go on machines that last a long time
  • Avoid betting machines
  • Play for fun rather than to win money

Equipped with my new plan I went in and had a great time. I only went on a few money winning machines, I played just for fun. As we were running out of our allocated money I went on a bingo style money and won £6! Then I drop my last few 10p coins into the slot machines and won another £2! I then managed to fluke a cuddly toy from a claw machine and hey I left with £10.50 and a toy!

I've only ever left the arcades with a profit once before, purely out of luck as I didn't know what to do with the bandit and it ended up dropping £20 in one go.

So this is now a new crazy way I made money, I reakon the toy is worth about £2, in fact I may even sell it on Ebay and see what my percentage outcome was! I will post an update when it is sold.

If I was to calculate my overall percentage loss for the arcades for every time I had been in I would be down hundreds of percent, which brings me to the whole point of the post. Arcades can be great fun but it is so easy to put money in and not realise how much you are spending! I have been caught out a few times (before I became so financially strict with myself), please don't let yourself be caught out.