Business Owner or JOB Owner?

 

Hey everybody, excited to have Steve Richards on the show today! Today, we are going to talk about something that we are both very passionate about and that is how to run and own a business, not a JOB. Some of the real estate investors end up in that J-O-B and they get stuck there and it’s not a good place to be.

Resources and Links from this show:

  • Investor Fuel Real Estate Mastermind
  • FlipNerd Professional Real Estate Investor Network: Join for Free!
  • The CEO Nation
  • Steve Richards on Facebook
  • Investor Machine Real Estate Lead Generation

Listen to the Audio Version of this Episode

FlipNerd Show Transcript:

[00:00:00] Mike: [00:00:00] Professional real estate investors are different.

We’re not afraid to go all in and take educated risks to build stronger businesses and help our families live better lives. This is the FlipNerd professional real estate investor show. And I’m your host Mike Hambright each week. I host a new episode live and bring you America’s top real estate investors as guests.

Let’s start today’s show. Everybody excited to be here with you today. Uh, today I am talking to Steve Richards and we’re talking about something that we’re both very passionate about, which is how to run and own a business, not a job. So many real estate investors end up in that job and they get stuck there.

And it’s not a good place to be. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. Steve, welcome to

Steve: [00:00:43] the show. Thanks, man. Thanks for having me. Yeah. Happy to see it. It’s

Mike: [00:00:47] funny. We were talking a head of time here. In fact, we, we can talk about like a half hour, so that’s honestly, I do all these podcasts. We’ve done over 1500 podcasts over this last, like almost seven years coming up on seven years.

For me, it’s just, it’s the ability to [00:01:00] just kind of hang out with you and network. And, you

Steve: [00:01:02] know, we usually talk for a

Mike: [00:01:03] half hour ahead of time. We’re talking afterwards and all this stuff. So it’s, it’s always fun, but you said some things and I even told you. What you just said could have just as easily come out of my mouth.

Right. Which is we, you know, we, we, we think the same in regards to actually running a business. And it took a long time for me to get there because I was just in the weeds so far and making more money than ever. So it was kind of like, well, I’m working harder than I want to, but I’m making a lot of money.

And then at some point you’re just like,

Steve: [00:01:29] ah, I just

Mike: [00:01:30] like, I don’t want to make less money, but I’m okay. I gotta get out of my own way. So I know you’ve felt the same way, right?

Steve: [00:01:36] Yeah, absolutely. It’s a trap. It’s like the curse of successful businesses. Now you’re now you find out that it actually does suck.

Mike: [00:01:46] Yeah. And the truth is isn’t, it, it hasn’t happened to me. I’m a knock on some wood here, but it happens to a lot of people when something bad happens. Right. They get sick. Family member gets sick, something happens

Steve: [00:01:58] where their

Mike: [00:01:59] time [00:02:00] has to go somewhere else. It has to is not an option. And then the business suffers and then they’re like, This, isn’t a business.

This is a job right now. So, uh, so I think what we want to talk about today is to tell folks

Steve: [00:02:12] that

Mike: [00:02:13] let’s be proactive about it. Let’s let’s get to that point. So before it becomes an issue for you and we all, nobody got in this business of real estate investing, you work 80 hours a week

Steve: [00:02:26] and be

Mike: [00:02:26] trapped where they are.

Right. So, uh, they did it to own a job to not to own a job, to own a business, but. That’s not how it usually works out. So, Hey, before we kinda jump into this, tell us your background. You’ve got a, a lot of great success, a lot of war wounds. I can see some scars on your knuckles there and stuff. So tell us a little bit about that.

Steve: [00:02:47] Yeah. So yeah, so much of the stuff, it’s funny, how it all it, to your point, a lot of the experience and you just learn and will tell people if you guys are watching this today and you’re newer to the business or [00:03:00] newer to business in general. A bunch of you guys are gonna be like, yeah, you’re, you’re probably 25 and making more money twice, as much as your parents ever made or three times as much together.

And it doesn’t really matter that you’re working all the time kind of, and you’re probably not going to listen to some of this. And then when your old guys like us, like I can, now you’re going to be like, Oh man, those guys were right. But, um, you know, I I’ve got, I know my kids are older, mine are teenagers now.

So I just have this different perspective on things, but, um, No. My quick story is I came out of business school in mid nineties, and then I

Mike: [00:03:36] started consulting

Steve: [00:03:37] in the tech world. And so my first clients were.com clients. And I was like, Oh, I just thought you had to like sneak it. So to a napkin with a business plan, and someone gives you five bucks.

I have to make a product to make a prototype, to go to a dog and pony to try to raise a hundred million dollars. And then everybody lies and just says how it’s going to be a a hundred million dollar company. And. In five years or whatever. And

Mike: [00:03:59] so

[00:04:00] Steve: [00:03:59] it was just really, it was an interesting time to come out.

There was also a lot of, uh, I worked for a big company called EDS. It was actually Ross Burroughs and being in Texas, you know,

Mike: [00:04:07] not, not too far from, uh, where I live actually. Yeah, five miles. I lived

Steve: [00:04:12] in Plano for three months when I started there, the pod, the, uh, Plano headquarters, you know, getting out was interesting during that time, because we had, we had clients that were crazy.com clients.

And then we had the defense department was one of our clients. Like literally, you know, the $10 million toilet seats that are probably paying for in other countries and stuff, there was all this like super, extra secret comply, uh, secret, uh, like trying to get compliance and everything to be in the building.

It was, it was kinda interesting, but, um, it was a cool time because I learned so much, but I had this business degree that I didn’t pay a lot of attention. You know, I was more into my fraternity and intermural sports and things like that. But. I had this business law classes, accounting and strategy classes, and I didn’t really pay a lot attention.

And that’s now all I really care about. Um, [00:05:00] and I had the foundation of business and then I went out and I was consulting for companies who really didn’t care. Like the government didn’t listen to anything. We said like, literally as a consultant for them, they just, it was so bureaucratic. It was crazy.

And then the startups would listen to everything we said, no matter how stupid it was, there was no oversight. It was like two totally weird. And I’m 25 and no, no one should have been listening to me anyway. But, um, but that was my entree into the business world. So it was interesting. And I had a front row seat in 98, 99, 2000 for the.com bust.

And, um, you know, everybody found out you can’t make money on the internet. At least that’s what they thought until you know, now Zuckerberg and everybody’s come around Amazon, you know, Bezos. Luckily they figured the internet out, but. Yeah, that was crazy. And then on the back end of that, there was a lot of Y2K projects in that tech business where they thought all the computers were going to shut down when it turned, you know, 2000 and January 1st, whatever.

And, um, you know, I, I went through all that. I didn’t even [00:06:00] realize it was a recession. Then I had no idea. And I just was getting kind of promoted up through the ranks and growing and doing different things. Um, you know, nine 11 kind of extended that recession a little longer. But when he came out of the back end of that, I continued to grow in my.

In the business world, but I had gotten bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, like pretty early. Um, and so I would say by 2003, two or three, I was getting out a startup that I got involved with and I really wanted to do something. Um, so for about a year, I was just kinda like try thinking of all these different ideas.

So I started reading a lot of different things that led me into stuff like. Think and grow rich and rich dad, poor dad. And I don’t have this story where rich dad, poor dad turned me on to real estate or whatever. Actually, I was just a guy that I played pickup basketball with at the gym was like my dad.

And I just got done. You might know some of these guys, Chris Kershner if you remember that guy. I know that name. Yeah. He was a sell houses on lightening. He was all subject to and, um, Ron Legrand and [00:07:00] then. We actually the first, anyway I met, so I met this guy and he’s telling me, I’m like, Hey man, I’ve got to start a business.

I’m sick of being in the corporate world. He’s like, well, my dad and I just dropped 30 grand going to all his real estate courses and we’re dropping mail, but now my dad was going to retire and do this and he’s not doing it. So now I’ve got 30 grand invested in bootcamps. We have three ring binders with CDs, by the way, back at that time.

And, um, he

Mike: [00:07:26] didn’t say eight tracks.

Steve: [00:07:28] No. I know. I’m sure that, you know, that was pretty bad.

Mike: [00:07:30] I definitely remember in my family, we had, uh, the, uh, cause it was like cassette tapes and it opened up this big, like plastic binder and I like six or eight cassette tapes.

Steve: [00:07:40] I had some of those too back in the day, but, um,

Mike: [00:07:43] Carlton sheets.

Steve: [00:07:44] Yup, absolutely. So anyway, kind of condensed that down, you know, he was sending out postcards then you know what to do. And I’m like, I don’t know. I mean, I. Worst cases, we’ll buy some rentals. He’s like we can get really good deals. I’m like, all right, I didn’t even want to flip a house. I was like, I’ll own some rentals.

That’s cool, but I’m going to start a [00:08:00] business. So my head was all around

Mike: [00:08:02] a business

Steve: [00:08:03] and what’s funny is I shifted. And then I saw real estate. I’m like, Oh, well, at the time, this was 2004. When I got in, um, when I started and within that first year, I quit my corporate gig, which was pretty good. And I went full time in it because you could just fog a mirror.

Like I didn’t made 15 grand every time I bought a house. Yeah, it would appraise for a hundred. I’d buy it for 80, you know, get a 90% loan on it. And I take, put 10 grand my pocket and it’d be on a three, one arm with Washington mutual. And my pain, you know, my payment would be like all in, it was like 400 bucks a month or something crazy stupid, but it was on an adjustable rate mortgage, but, and I was like, man, we could just, if I just to buy one house a month, I can make six figures and then I’ll flip a little on the side.

And so I kinda got into this and it just. Literally to what we were talking about a minute ago to kind of preface that as all I want to do is start their business. And I ended up like literally jumping into a hustle. And then when I got in, I literally committed to the hustle because I’m like, Oh, I can just hustle around and like [00:09:00] trade my time for, you know, dollars.

And I’ll just flip it up and chase money. And anyway, so, you know, I D I, we ramped up to doing up to five rehabs a month that after that first year, when I was full time and. Owning several rentals. Within a couple of years, we had 35 40 rentals. And, um, that was about the time when we saw things slow down with the market.

And so. I shifted to do rent to owns instead of flipping to from bank owns to selling to homeowners that were going to live in the property, a traditional flip, you shifted to doing rent to owns. And then within a year that subprime blew up and then it was rent rent. There was no, it wasn’t part of the deal anymore.

And so we had to too high basis and all these houses compared to the reds, you know, we had nice houses with fake 30 grand equity that we were going to get as a 30 grand pop on the back on all of them. But when we shifted her into, um, Oh, and we didn’t really care about cashflow. We just cared about the equity and I learned that rentals are a little different.

So, [00:10:00] um, during that time we started focusing differently. And once I learned that I started doing bus tours with some out-of-state RIAs and they started bringing people in and they’re like, well, find deals for me. Like you find them. And so we got into, I guess, kind of wholesale, but now I didn’t know what wholesaling was.

Mike: [00:10:16] Um,

Steve: [00:10:16] but I was just finding deals for them and they would buy them off me. And deals. I didn’t, I kinda would rather make quick money on. And then they’re like, well, if it was rehab, it’d be a lot nicer, you know, if I didn’t have to rehab it and when you’re already managing your rentals, can you manage mine?

And so like many turnkey operators, probably some people that are watching

Mike: [00:10:33] this,

Steve: [00:10:34] somehow it turned into, Oh, I can make money on the rehab. I can make money on a

Mike: [00:10:38] sale. I’ll

Steve: [00:10:39] make 10% arrests. It seems like all these revenue streams is what people talk themselves into, but it’s such a slippery slope. And I literally have watched over the last, you know, 16 years I’ve watched so many good people get destroyed on once, either as a client or the actual person in the turnkey business.

I’m sure you have too. Yeah, it is a tough, [00:11:00] tough business. Yeah. And, um, I got heavy into that. I did three, four, 500 of those, like. We do about 500 deals in a three or four year timeframe. Not all of them are turnkey, um, but they were all part of that. Um, but we really cut our teeth and we got a couple of clients out of it.

And then somehow I came up for air in 2013 and I’m like, man, we’re managing 350 houses. We’re doing 20 rehabs at a time. We’re not really wholesaling as much as we used to. Um, one reclaim, we made 600 offers for it. In that year and we got 110 houses, maybe on all those that all I’m a less offers. We had a whole team of agents.

Oh, wow. I mean, we had an office full of people, like 30 subs that worked for me in the construction. I had two different project managers that made like 50 grand a year salaries on top of like, it, it was the most silly thing. And Mike, I’m a super deep visionary. If anybody watching this as a, you know, us kind of person, I’m not an integrator.

[00:12:00] And now I can pretend to be one in spurts because I understand what it means to my bottom line and my sanity. But

Mike: [00:12:06] you have to have that. Yeah.

Steve: [00:12:07] Yeah. I just, um, it’s crazy. I looked up one day, we had a construction company, a brokerage property management company and the investment company. I was running a Rhea.

You know, it was the first year we did seven figures of business. It was literally like the most miserable year of my life. And. EOS traction. I got introduced to that actually at, um, I was at an Infusionsoft, um, conference in 2013 and some girl there who was her and her mom owned a bunch of, um, Keller Williams franchises.

And she turned me onto the book and I started reading it and I couldn’t get back to the core values. I read the book like three times, and then I made every one of my management team read it. And then we kept sitting down and trying to do the first chapter of core values. And every time they’re like, no, we don’t like what you came up with.

Here’s what we think our clients would like. And I’m like, I hate all that stuff. And then one day at lunch, I was like, the only way I can see [00:13:00] this is going to work is if we quit doing construction, quit managing houses. It’s like the core tenant of what we did. And I set it out of frustration and they all looked at me like, Oh yeah, right.

And then I’m like, wait a minute. It’s like, like the light bulb went off, you know? And I’m like, maybe we need to quit doing all that. And. I had gone from being a strategic visionary guy that everybody wanted to come get information from. And they want to know about my strategy and what I think about the market and who I like and network with me and get to know me and all this stuff.

And it turned into the only time I talked to clients anymore was, Hey, why are the reports late this month? Or my maintenance I’m getting screwed on maintenance or this tenant left too early, or your leasing is taking too long. It’s like, Oh, this horrible toilets, tenants, contractor.

Mike: [00:13:44] Yup.

Steve: [00:13:44] It was junk and, um, it was really hard.

And so I hit a reset button in 2014 and that started, um, at the end of 2014, I started a whole like 2015 was a big transition. Your form is really hard. Um, in fact, in 20, the second half [00:14:00] of 2015 to the middle of 2016, during that year, I am positive. I spent more money than most people make on therapists, coaches, counseling, uh, psychological tests.

Like I had a trainer at the gym. I had a, uh, um, a nurse practitioner. I was taking guitar lessons with my kids golf lessons. I was like, I’m going to go do all this stuff. And I’m going to like re-engage. And I, it was just interesting. Um, and I really kind of just reinvented. I didn’t even reinvent. I finally came back out of who I thought I wanted to be, and I really got to really know myself.

And, um, you’re coming out of that. We got heavy into wholesaling. And we kind of screwed around with it. Um, this will resonate with some of you guys that are watching probably, but we paid Joe McCall and one of his buddies, Peter,

Mike: [00:14:50] um,

Steve: [00:14:51] it was some stupid, like 15 grand to just set up our Podio. I mean, it was literally remember my, my, the guy that I met that that’s now my [00:15:00] business partner, Brian who’s literally like my sole business mate integrator.

I remember trying to convince him why we were going to wire them 15 grand. He’s like for what? He’s like Podio it’s free. And I’m like, Yeah, but they said they set up your carrot website and he’s like, but that’s 99 bucks a month. Like why? It was just funny, but you know, that commitment we made to spending money with somebody like that much, like why we use you as a disclaimer, I’m a client of Mike’s everybody with investor machine is

Mike: [00:15:30] literally

Steve: [00:15:31] in spite of our own issues.

We paid Joe’s office a thousand bucks a month, uh, to, to just throw mail out for us. Plus plus the spend or whatever it was. And I think it was only like 750 postcards every, every two weeks. So it’s 1500 postcards a month that was always sent. And so literally after 10 months of that, we would forget we weren’t using Colorado back then.

We used a number of years. We used number. Remember I

[00:16:00] Mike: [00:15:59] haven’t used it, but I’m familiar with it. Yeah. Like

Steve: [00:16:01] every couple of weeks we’d be like, Hey, we better go look at that and we’d go look into leads and we’d be just like, no, no, hang up, hang up. Oh, here’s a voicemail. And that really motivated, hang up, hang up voicemail, not very motivated.

We get like 20 calls in and be like, Oh, here’s one where they said they got sell tomorrow. Let’s call him back.

Mike: [00:16:17] And so some of you

Steve: [00:16:18] guys are probably laughing watching this, but like, I know you do that in your business. And if you don’t, your lead manager does and your acquisition guy does, but you’re just totally seeing we were sandbagging.

But in, in that, in that year, um, actually it was 2016 was when we did this. We spent 10 grand on marketing that, that year basically, and we did 229,000 revenue, like screwing around, like I was selling off houses still. And then my business partner was flipping some houses and we were just kind of like loosely partnering on this wholesale thing.

And we were like, gosh, I mean, what if we did that full time? You know? And of course we thought that it would all just magnificently, like. Quadruple and all that kind of stuff. But, [00:17:00] um, that was the beginning of it, man, at that point. But I was bound to build things differently and also know who I am and then have the right people around me.

But, you know, we went on from there to, um, build a team, the neck. So we went into build it. Right. But then the next big learning lesson for me was that we built a team really, really poorly that next year. And we had to dismantle all that at the end of 2017. And. Um, well, middle of 2017, it start to rebuild using cognitive testing and personality testing.

And you know, we’ve talked about this. One of the businesses I own is it helps people do that kind of stuff, but, but, but literally hiring the right people makes all the difference in the world. No. We started using vendors in 2016. I got my head straight about what I really wanted in life, which is probably the number one thing.

Most people have wrong. We started using vendors to do the things we needed to support our business. Then we started hiring the right internal people and then like in 2017, it kind of, it’s not all been roses, but it started to click. And [00:18:00] so, um, we’ve been able to run this business now and we have, we flips and wholesales and Indianapolis market.

I spent a couple hours a week in it. Probably sometimes not even that much. I mean, one of the, our dispositions guy is the direct report of mine. And we do a weekly call at noon on Wednesdays. And like, sometimes that’s the only time it’s like an open live coaching call for people. Sometimes that’s the only time he gets to talk to me.

So he’ll be asking me, Hey, can you, uh, look at your email or something on that call in front of everybody else? Cause he, like, he just can’t even, I don’t even put time into it. So. Um, anyway, I got super long winded there, but I, but I wanted to take that chance, Mike, to start to talk about some of the pivot points too.

So it’s been a weird road for the last 20 years for me, but, um, but there’s some component I started just gonna say, there’s some components we’ve learned that aren’t even about real estate. It’s literally about business. And so my current heart is, is just helping people understand how to run a business instead of on a job, which is what you started out by saying.

Mike: [00:18:57] Yeah. Yeah. Let’s talk about that for a moment. [00:19:00] So now, like, you know, it’s, it’s easy. To look back over 10 years, 15 years, a long time and say, well,

Steve: [00:19:08] now with what I know, I could have

Mike: [00:19:10] figured that out in like six months. Right. But that’s hindsight. Right? So, but the key is, is what I hope people, some people that are listening probably have gone through this as

Steve: [00:19:19] well.

You get to a point where you,

Mike: [00:19:21] you either, you know,

Steve: [00:19:23] di like proverbially, like from,

Mike: [00:19:25] well, hopefully not literally, but

Steve: [00:19:27] proverbially from like.

Mike: [00:19:28] I, this isn’t for me, I just need to go get a job or work for somebody else or whatever, if your goal is to be an entrepreneur and, um, and have your own business, like, hopefully

Steve: [00:19:37] you get to a point where you learn

Mike: [00:19:38] how to do it better, just like you did.

I’ve I have a lot of experiences like that too. But for those that are

Steve: [00:19:46] earlier in their career, not kind of where you want to be at, and you feel like

Mike: [00:19:49] you’re at a job, like maybe it will take a couple minutes to talk about like how to jump that learning curve because. You can do that by surrounding yourself with people that have been through that before.

And basically [00:20:00] just it’s a quantum leap forward, right? It’s like, I don’t have to go through all those things. I don’t have to touch the hot stove to learn. I shouldn’t touch a hot stove. It’s like, no, let me just tell you don’t touch a hot stove. Right. And so, uh, But some people, some people are, and they just have to learn.

Like, my son is 13 and my wife talks about it all the time. He’s, you know, he like stuck his finger awhile back in, uh, you know, it was just it’s, they’re not like cigarette lighters in your car anymore. It was just like a power Jack, but apparently you can still get burned from sticking your finger in there.

Cause that’s when I saw it, it’s just like that he has to learn. He has to smell his own burning flesh before he. I told him not to do it and he did it anyway. And it’s like, that’s just how he is. He just has to experience it, to learn what not to be wished. Some people are like that. I’m probably like that in summer yards, but you know, if you surround yourself with the right people, if you listen to people that have been through this before, um, you can jump in.

Let’s talk about that a bit. How can folks, what are some of the kind of key lessons that you’ve learned about treating, do like a business, um, and not getting stuck in a [00:21:00] job cause so many, most. Get stuck in a job at best might be if they do well, maybe they’re a high paid, they have a high paid job, but it’s still a job, right?

Steve: [00:21:09] Yeah, for sure. Um, so I could talk on this for years, so I’ll try to keep it concise, but I do have to start with something funny that I have twin boys and they’re a 14, so about the same age as your son, but, um, I remember. Getting kind of annoyed at my wife being so diligent about one, all those plug covers in the plate.

You know what I mean? When a child proof things. Yeah. I remember telling her one time, like those are so stupid once the kids get a little older, but like when they’re toddlers and run around, I’m like, you ha you would have to have some small little metal object that could shove inside of it. At least like half an inch to actually get shocked.

I’m like, it’s so dumb. And then one day, somehow one of my boys found some metal thing and had to shut up, short it out. Uh, I mean, that’s incredible. I was like, it will never happen. But anyway, you have teenage boys, like when they’re young, anything will happen

Mike: [00:21:58] by the way.

Steve: [00:21:59] You know, [00:22:00] I think Mike, to answer your question.

Um, so yeah, there’s four, there’s four pieces. And so one of the businesses you are talking about, you know, one of the places where I spend. Um, the business I spend the most time in, which is maybe five to 10 hours a week is the CEO nation. And then we have a, this four pillar model in there. And so I’ll kind of answer it that way to keep myself on track or else I’ll talk for an hour again.

But, um, I’m going to go in reverse order because we teach them in a certain order because I think they’re easier to implement, but you’re going to go in order of importance, starting with the most important. Is the alignment in the business is personal alignment. Like having the business set up to give you what you want.

And here’s the problem. I don’t think setting the business up to give you what you want is the hard part. I think most people fail at it. Um, but it’s actually pretty easy. It’s not so it’s, I’m sorry. It’s pretty simple, but it’s not very easy, but actually the hard part of that is the other side of the equation of setting the business up to know what you want to give [00:23:00] you what you want.

It’s actually knowing what you want. I w if we do this thing, um, if you’re keeping score at home, you guys can do this exercise. We won’t have time to do it on here, but in our, when we do mastermind events or different live events, there’s a couple of things we do that are really cool. So one of them is the four questions and it’s more powerful if I took time, but I’ll just run through it.

So it’s, what do you want, what are you doing to get it? How’s that working for you and what are you going to do next? And when you ask them slowly and meticulously and be like, pick one area of your life, what do you want? Most people have don’t even know what they want. A lot of what they want is. And I’ll just share this with you guys, especially, um, if, if you’re young, it’s hard to have a lot of perspective.

I’m not slamming anybody. Who’s not married with kids yet, but you get a lot of world’s perspective. Once you have kids and you get married and then other people’s lives, like I’ve got two dogs, a cat, three teenage kids, and a wife. And literally they will all die. If I don’t do my part to take care of them, I guess I could probably [00:24:00] die.

They wouldn’t die, but you know what I mean?

Mike: [00:24:02] They might thrive, you know, somebody

Steve: [00:24:05] like to

Mike: [00:24:05] believe that they would, uh,

Steve: [00:24:07] they might be like, pretty sure couldn’t get out, but, uh, but when they’re babies, right? Like you gotta take care of it. It’s so funny. You just get this different perspective. But my point is you get a lot, you get a lot of what, what.

You when you’re forced with these decisions about marriage and kids and life and owning the business for years and taxes and all, all of a sudden you start to really hear differently about life. And you’re like, Oh, I have an opinion on things I didn’t think I used to care about. So it’s hard when you’re young.

It’s also hard when you get stuck in a rut, which a lot of us have, which is like, go to school, get a job, put, pay your dues work, you know, Work hard, get promoted, you know, whatever, um, jumped jobs, but only do it every year and a half. Cause it doesn’t look as bad or whatever it is, but you get stuck in this rut and then it’s like, this is the best way I can explain it.

When you go to a [00:25:00] superhero movie, you don’t sit there the whole time and get pissed because well Superman’s flying and people can’t fly. So I don’t want to watch this movie cause that’s not real. Like you suspend reality when you’re watching a movie, but. We don’t do that when we dream anymore. When we get old, especially when you have kids and a family and a corporate job, you start thinking about what moves you could like.

Well mean, I make 150 grand a year salary plus benefits. So you start thinking how much I got to hit that exact number, right? Like if you just, or my wife, because of this, or my husband, like, I need to be here for this, or I couldn’t work weekends or whatever it is, but you, you get caught in like the expectations of the people around you.

Right. And what you think you’re good at what you don’t think you’re good at. And so you don’t dream openly anymore with being detached from reality. So

Mike: [00:25:51] one,

Steve: [00:25:52] one big segment of people in business that are younger, don’t have a lot of life perspective to really know what matters to them yet, because they just don’t know.

I mean, and it’s fine. [00:26:00] I don’t know what’s possible. Yeah. And they don’t know what they care about or they haven’t got to know themselves. Um, And another set of people that get older that find entrepreneurship later in life are kind of already stuck in it. Right. And so they, they start formulating they’re there, they have blinds, massive blind spots like, or got our blinders on.

Right. And, um, those two things suck for helping you dream to create a business that will give you what you want. And what it really sucks for is deciding what you want. And so that was the biggest epiphany for me and the other ones all fall into place. After that, I mean, Once you really know what you want.

When you’re honest with yourself about what you want, then you just have to know how much money and time do I need you do that stuff. And it’s not like I want to make a million bucks. If I want to make a million bucks, I’m going to use it for where my kids are going to go to school. Where do I vacation?

How many homes do I? What kind of car do I drive? How much do I give to my church? How much time do I work out? What do I eat? Like getting really clear about what you want out of [00:27:00] life is the number one thing. And then after that you said some key lessons and they fall into place where it’s like, okay, well, what business model can give me that?

And then after that there’s businesses business, like, like you said, I just pay cash. I mean, I don’t have to figure anything out anymore. I can pay somebody. I can pay a coach or I can hire an operator or I can pay for a training. Whatever, like the tech part of it is what so many people I’m sure in coaching, because you’re so much, you’ve done so much more coaching than me.

I can’t imagine how many times you’ve been asked all these technical questions. Like people think that they need to learn how to wrap a subject to deal and do a double closing and they want to know all that stuff and that’s not really their problem. Right. And so I just think that’s the big setup is knowing what you want.

And then after that, going out and finding a business model that can give that to you. I mean, those are the two big pieces. Then everybody misses. Cause they get inserted right in behind the business model and they just start doing deals. Right. [00:28:00] You really pick the model, you know, and they didn’t pick the model cause they knew what they wanted.

They just got inserted and they started making money, like you said, and they’re just like throwing money off and now they’re like stuck in the middle of something. Yeah.

Mike: [00:28:10] There’s a couple of things. I think people, especially if you left corporate America,

Steve: [00:28:14] you’re,

Mike: [00:28:14] you’re used to being this employee mindset.

Like I, I

Steve: [00:28:18] work right. And

Mike: [00:28:19] I don’t, so I don’t know how to not work. Cause I just that’s that’s I like to work. I’m a hard worker, you know, work ethic from my family that, um, has carried me a long way, but it’s hard for me to do nothing, but which I don’t ever do. Cause I can’t do it. Can’t do it. Um, but uh, I think when you have that employee mindset, like sometimes people are like, well, I can hire somebody to do my first off.

We either think, well, nobody else could do my job, which is. Not true for anybody, like literally not

Steve: [00:28:50] in real estate. Um,

Mike: [00:28:52] cause you’re not as good as you think you are. Uh, and by the way, you don’t want, you don’t want that to be the case. Like you want to be able [00:29:00] to hire somebody to replace you and take you out.

Right. And so, or people say, well, when I, when I’m, when my business starts to do better, I can afford it. Right. And it’s like, well, what if you can’t afford not to do it? Right. So one of the things that’s interesting about, um, Ben David Richter is in our investor people group and been spending some time with him talking about the profit first model.

Cause he’s, he’s actually kind of licensed profit first

Steve: [00:29:23] for,

Mike: [00:29:26] and you know, it’s just this idea of, well, how much are you worth? Like what should you pay yourself? And start to think about what that seed is worth, not you, what is the seat worth? What’s the role worth? Because once you develop that role, it’s like, okay, well that’s that job pays 60,000 a year or whatever.

It’s like, okay, But then you’re going to find out that you’re sitting in a seat half the time. That’s like a $10 an hour job. It’s like, okay, I need to replace myself there because I’m worth more than that. And even the $60,000 job or 80 that whatever, whatever it is, like find a way to do enough business to offset that because that’s, that’s what you do as a business owner.

You’re [00:30:00] not, that’s how you get out of the employee kind of rut, right. Start to think of. I kind of advise people there. Here start to think about every job in your company, every seat, whether it’s an admin or acquisitions manager, disposition manager, lead generator, whatever it is, lead manager, like what, what does that job pay and what job, what seats are you sitting in and how do you get yourself out of those seats?

Cause you know, you should believe in your mind that you’re way too expensive for any of those seats. No,

Steve: [00:30:27] absolutely. Yeah. Working on your business versus ENA is no joke. I mean, there’s a reason to work in it. Hustling grind is not a business model or a strategy, but if it’s done correctly, it’s, it’s part of mastering your business and innovating and creating best practices.

And then you do that to study it and master it and be able to hand it off and know how long it takes and knowing what to do. The leading activity metrics are. And you understand as you, but you don’t do it just to get done and make money, but you do it so that you’re making money while you’re learning as they can train somebody.

Right. There’s a means [00:31:00] to an end there. Yeah. Right?

Mike: [00:31:01] Yup. Well, let’s talk real fast about, um, you know, sometimes we build a team to do stuff. Sometimes we

Steve: [00:31:06] bring

Mike: [00:31:07] in vendors or we outsource stuff to somebody that’s virtual assistants on it’s call centers, lead generation stuff. There’s a number of ways that you can.

You know, if it’s, this is how I kind of, how I think about it. If it’s not a full time job for somebody in your business, or even if it is like, I know for a lot of people that I hire, I’m

Steve: [00:31:24] like, we could figure

Mike: [00:31:25] that out, but we’re going to be playing catch up with somebody that does that professionally forever.

Like if that’s all they do, we’re never going to be as good as them. So why not just hire them? And so, but just talk about, you know, how you think about what parts to outsource versus what parts to kind of build internally.

Steve: [00:31:40] Yeah, absolutely. Um, I put some notes here too. I want to. I’ll answer your question, but I want to start, cause I know we don’t have a ton of time.

I want to circle back to something on, on employees I think will tie in really well. Um, but here’s the key like, think of it this way. I like to think of an analogy is I think this will help people. So when we w w well, this, this is what [00:32:00] predicates it. So when we did the turnkey business, all the time, guys would be like, well, I just want to buy the house off you, and then I’m going to manage it.

And I’d be like, okay, why do you want to manage it? I already know it’s cause they think they’re going to save 10%. Right? Think they’re going to say money. And they were like, Oh, it’s cause I want to learn. I want to kind of get my feet well that I want to understand. And I’m like, all right, if that’s really your philosophy, like literally the only reason you would ever do that because you want to become a property management company.

Like that’s literally like going to back to school for five years to get an accounting degree and then sitting for the CPA exam and passing it. Just so that you know, what the account is going to do when he did it as your taxes like that is no. Nobody could do that. Your point. I mean, one of the reasons we hire several vendors in, I mean, just like for instance, you guys were the investor machine.

I, I can buy list source stuff, dirt cheap. I can skip trace probably in a very similar way, dirt cheap. We have spent years accumulating all this access to do things, and it is a fricking nightmare to deal with it. And then one of the things I said about John [00:33:00] McCall, when they were doing our mail and what, what, what did I love about you guys now?

All these years later, we look at it as a, um, we plugged you guys into a need. When I did it with Joe, all those years later, I didn’t know what I was doing. But like, we would get busy with our lives and no matter what, all of a sudden we’d be like thinking team, Oh, nail hit. Because like all of a sudden we’re getting all these notifications.

So in spite of our busy schedule, it was like, we still had leads. And that’s a big key you guys with, with these vendor relationships and things, whether it’s like building a website or, or like with investor machine with you guys, that’s the way we use you guys for that. Or. Um, just, we do several things with title and there’s other pieces of components where just to do all that, just like that property management example, people think I’m saving 10%, but there’s two real costs.

One of them is a physical cost of spending your time doing stuff.

Mike: [00:33:56] Yeah. And secondly,

Steve: [00:33:58] there’s a huge opportunity cost, [00:34:00] not only of spending your time, not doing something else, but there’s an opportunity cost of sucking management. That’s right here to property manager and your vacancies are twice as long.

And your maintenance projects go out of hand and you don’t know how to proactively look around the corners cause you haven’t done it. Right. And you don’t get economies of scale. Like with printing with PR with, with mailers or whether it’s your property manager, that’s doing mow and yards. Cause there they’re more than 400 of them.

It’s, you know, it’s just crazy that people are constantly tripping over dollars to pick up pennies in the business. And we’re kind of wired that way as real estate investors. We think we’re getting a deal, but just because something the cheapest or we’re in control of it, it absolutely doesn’t. It’s not part of owning a business.

If you’re a street hustler and you want to get the best deal. Cool. But my dad used to like drive halfway across the city to fill his gas tank up because it was like 3 cents cheaper. And I’m like, right. Yeah. I’m like quite positive. That’s not worth your spot. [00:35:00] Yeah. But

Mike: [00:35:00] you know, what’s funny is, uh, and I’m still, you know, when you’re a real estate, you’re always kind of frugal, right.

I I’ve always been a cheap ass, so, but, uh, I’m getting better. What I’ll say now is I appreciate like services and stuff. That’s like gonna save my time. I used to, like for many, many years, I w if I was going to buy something online, I always like sort, and. Usually it’s sorted by like price lowest to highest or whatever.

And so now there’s a whole bunch of stuff that I, the first thing I do is filter. What’s the highest price thing. It’s weird, but it’s like, I’m trying to buy my time back. Like I

Steve: [00:35:31] don’t, if it’s time-related or I don’t,

Mike: [00:35:34] I don’t really buy a lot of like junk. I mean, I buy some junk. My wife says every day is Christmas for me.

Cause I get an Amazon package when it’s usually like mosquito spray. I’m just like buying stuff on it. It’s not like I’m like. Buying myself gifts every day. I’m buying stuff that we think we need and I saved my time going to the store, but I often look at like, what’s the highest price thing. It’s not that I always buy that, but I’m

Steve: [00:35:54] like,

Mike: [00:35:54] I want, what’s the best.

I don’t want it to break. If it’s a service, like tell me what the best is [00:36:00] because I’m trying to buy my time back,

Steve: [00:36:01] you know?

Mike: [00:36:01] So not everybody’s in that position and I’m not saying that to brag because I’m not talking about, you know, I’m not looking at like the most expensive cars, like necessarily, right.

But.

Steve: [00:36:12] I just value

Mike: [00:36:13] quality, like the product and time, uh, over anything else right now,

Steve: [00:36:19] you know, young that way too. I mean, I just, I overlap the user ratings or consumer ratings out high price. So I do the highest price funds and the consumer ratings. I look for the highest rated. Highest price one. I like the balances there, you know, but it’s funny.

I don’t, I don’t have fences. She watches like now I’m sure I have a more, I don’t want to watch him

Mike: [00:36:44] 15 years. I mean, I don’t, I don’t it’s it’s right here on my phone. Like, why do I

Steve: [00:36:48] need that? Exactly. But I’m the same way as you, like, if I go anywhere VIP or upgrade or like, I mean, when I go the airport, I just, I always valet park [00:37:00] because.

It’s an extra hundred bucks. If I’m gone for three or four days to like literally have my car dropped off at the door that I walk in and it’s running for me, either warm or cool, what I need to do it. But like, you know, that’s convenience is a big deal and that’s, but, but, but getting back to something that we were talking about to drive this point home, I think is that when you really understand what you want and you and I have decided that.

Having crap that breaks that’s cheap. Like I’m going to exactly the same way you are. Like, I get pissed when my wife will buy stuff and it’s always like, she’s like I was trying to save money and I’m like, but now we don’t have whatever it is. Cause it broke or it wore out or I would’ve much rather got something that was nicer.

But, um, Hey, I want to say, I know I’m probably breaking a flow a little bit. We’re probably short on time, but I think this would be super helpful for your people. If I can, can I throw three things in really quick?

Mike: [00:37:46] Let’s

Steve: [00:37:46] do it. Okay. So we recovered something that I wrote notes down. Like while you were talking, I was like feverishly.

Cause you really reminded me of something important when people are hiring somebody, there should be a return on investment that’s with a [00:38:00] vendor or a person. And so when you’re bringing a vendor on, you would look at, don’t look at it as an expense. This is, I wrote it down when we were talking. I appreciate it too.

Right. But I want you guys to think about this. Um, Because it goes for vendors or employees. And I think this is there’s three reasons that what we found with the CEO nation, you know, the research and stuff we’ve done is what people get limited, why they don’t outsource stuff and why they don’t hire people.

Um, number one is they don’t, they think it’s an expense, but it’s really an investment. And the typically you’re going to get a three to five X return on a good employee or a good vendor. Hmm. I don’t have time to break that down to. I know we’re trying to stay on time. Just realize. The money you put in should have a three to five X bottom line effect into your business over the coming months, or it could take a year.

Sometimes it just depends on what it is. Um, but, but even if you hire a $30,000 a year admin, I mean, That person should be freeing up. Somebody who frees up somebody who frees up your sales guy [00:39:00] that goes out and does a hundred grand more business. You know, it should, that three X is legit and we’ve seen it time and end time out is what you should be looking for.

Um, another thing is just think about it this way. If you don’t think someone’s as good as you, like, you can, you can do your magic. They’ll do better than anyone in the world or whatever. You have a screws, first of all, but, um, or you can do acquisitions better than anybody. So even if you’re 120% good, like you’re a hundred percent is great.

You’re 120% of that activity, but you’re doing five things at any given time, right?

Mike: [00:39:30] Let’s call it six things

Steve: [00:39:31] for easy math. You’re 120% good, but you only do it 20% of your time. That’s effectively. If I make up my Steve math, that’s 24% effectiveness cause I did. It’s 20% of time, 120%. Good. But if I found someone who an employer and a vendor is even only 80% good, but they do it a hundred percent of their time.

I mean, I’ve literally got like a triple that’s that three times X, like literally they’re 80% effective. Cause their 80% is good, but they’re 100% of their time. Right. And so [00:40:00] that’s how that comes into play. So they don’t have to be as good as you. Right. And the second and the third thing, um, people don’t think they can afford somebody else.

But if you bring someone on, especially like an employee, like hiring a 2000 or $36,000 a year, employee, girl, or gal to work in your office is three grand a month. It’s not $36,000 check. Right. And just like, when you hire a vendor, if you’re going to pay five, 10 grand, or 20 grand a month for a vendor, some of our marketing vendors are expensive.

Um, our VA’s are people. We look at like that, right. But they have an immediate return on the bottom line. And so all we have to do is affordable. We call it runway. So like when you hire someone, you just have to know when the break, even point of that person, that circus usually going to take about a month to find out about a month, you get them in trained in about a month or ramp up.

So about nine 90 days, they should be paying for themselves by effect on your bottom line. Same with the vendor. It’s not overnight. So you can’t bring someone on for a month and quit or hire someone to fire them two months later. But I know I want to, I [00:41:00] know we’re running on time and I wanted to, I say those Mike, because I just think if, if we wanted to leave people with really important stuff on how to own a business, instead of a job.

I think thinking that things are expenses thinking nobody’s as good as me and thinking I can’t afford things are literally three of the worst, like cancerous thoughts that you can have in your head. And it’s, they’re so normal for people to have, especially when you’re entrepreneurial and you’re smart.

Yeah, I know. And nobody works as hard as me and they’re just all lies that we tell themselves and not even lies. It’s just, we don’t have the right perspective. So anyway, go box.

Mike: [00:41:34] No, you’re good. You’re good. Hey buddy. Yeah, I know. You’re, you’ve got to run here shortly and we’ve been going at this for a while, so we could probably talk all day about this stuff, but I’m real fast that folks wanted to connect with you.

You’ve got a number of things going on. You’ve got your own podcast now, where do they go to kind of connect? I want to be able to share some links. Yeah,

Steve: [00:41:49] appreciate that. Um, so just. Steve Richards on Facebook. That’s a great way to go.  DMA if you want to chat, but I’m the CEO nation. So our podcast is iTunes or [00:42:00] Stitcher.

Wherever you listen. The CEO nation, we have a Facebook group, thus CDO nation. And I’m the CEO nation.com. It’s okay. Anywhere around there is where I’m my heart. Is there the team architect? Yeah, we have that helps people, teams kind of filter through their real estate business. We do some coaching. We do all kinds of different things, but everything.

For me filters through trying to create impact for entrepreneurs. And it all starts with the CEO nation. So you have me on it’s been

Mike: [00:42:27] cool. Absolutely. And I was on your show here for the reason. I think he just publish that one. So, uh, um,

Steve: [00:42:33] you and your twin. Yeah.

Mike: [00:42:36] Does it Dave?

Steve: [00:42:37] Yeah.

Mike: [00:42:42] yeah.

Steve: [00:42:43] Yeah. So I’ve

Mike: [00:42:44] been called, I always say I’ve been called worse.

Steve: [00:42:47] Yeah.

Mike: [00:42:48] Cool, man. Well, Hey, appreciate you spending some time with us. We’ll have links for a bunch of these things down below in the show notes here. For those of you, uh, by the way, were,

Steve: [00:42:55] I could say we were

Mike: [00:42:56] recording the show live. Of course we record every show live.

We’re actually broadcasting [00:43:00] live when we recorded this and, uh, our Facebook group, which is called the professional real estate investor network long name. But if you go to flipnerd.com/professional, we’ll redirect you there. So we’re shooting about one show a week, the professional real estate investor show on average about one show a week, live in the group.

And if you joined the group, we’ll notify you when the shows are coming up and. You can join live. We can do a little Q and a when we have time. So go to flipper.com/professional to join our group and, uh, and learn more. And it’s, it’s, it’s not a huge group. It’s whenever going to be a group of tens of thousands of people, because, uh, again, professional as the name sounds is not a new beast.

We love newbies. If you’re new, that’s great. We were all new ones too, but there’s a lot of other groups that service you guys, and not a lot that really focus on professional folks that are doing a lot of volume and have a lot of questions. So, um, Steve, thanks again for joining us today. Great to see you, my friend.

Steve: [00:43:49] Yeah, I just want to enclose it and say it, the reason why I’m here for any show you do or asked you to be on my podcast or connect with, you know, this Facebook group, I’m excited for it to grow [00:44:00] because everything you do is top notch, brother. I appreciate everything you do. And anyone

Mike: [00:44:03] less than 10

Steve: [00:44:04] words should be check out anything Mike’s dealing because, um, I think very highly of you and what you’ve done.

So I appreciate it. I appreciate that, man. I appreciate

Mike: [00:44:11] that. It means a lot. Sometimes you wonder, what were you doing? Podcasts? I’d be like, is anybody listening? Right. Well, that’s a,

Steve: [00:44:17] anyway, I appreciate those kinds of words. And everybody

Mike: [00:44:19] we’ve been at this for a long time. This jazzes me up just to get, to spend time with friends and bring you folks that can share some, some great insights and knowledge and wisdom.

And some it says for sure. So you can check out all of our podcasts on flipnerd.com and again, go to  dot com slash professional to join our professional real estate investor group. So everybody have a great day. We’ll see you on the next show. Thanks for joining me on today’s episode, there are three ways I help successful real estate investors take their businesses and their lives to the next level.

First, if you’re in search of a community of successful real estate investors that help one another, take their businesses to the next level and a life changing [00:45:00] community of lifelong friends. Please learn more about my investor fuel real estate mastermind. By visiting investor fuel.

Steve: [00:45:11] If

Mike: [00:45:12] you’d like a cutting edge solution for the very best done for youth lead generation on the planet

Steve: [00:45:18] where we’re handling the lead generation

Mike: [00:45:20] for many of America’s top real estate investors, please learn more@theinvestormachine.com.

And lastly, if you’re interested in them, Free online community of professional real estate investors that isn’t full of spam solicitations and newbie questions. Please

Steve: [00:45:39] join my free

Mike: [00:45:41] professional real estate investor Facebook group by visiting flipnerd.com/professional. [00:46:00]

 

 

Source: flipnerd.com

The Frugal Mom’s Guide to Meal Planning on a Budget

Meal Planning Can Help Save You $1,600 a Year on Your Grocery Budget!

Hmmm… donuts, pizza & mojitos OH MY! Isn’t it amazing how one stray sentence can totally take over your mind! Food is tasty, a treat, and can be downright mesmerizing! It can also be one of our biggest budget busters! We want what we want and when we want it (sometimes we hate wanting it (I’m talking to you brownies!) This gets us into trouble with our waistline as well as our wallet!

I have my fingers crossed that one day there will be a resurgence in renaissance body love, all curvy & pale 🙂 Yet, I know that eating healthy needs to be a top priority. I know this because I tell myself this almost daily. You too? We want to do what’s best for our bodies and our wallet, yet sometimes those two things don’t always align. I mean, 1 lb organic strawberries in February can be $8.99! (don’t choke!)

So how do we align saving money on food while eating healthy? The answer is simple, yet kind of intimidating at first glance. It’s meal planning on a budget! DON’T WORRY and don’t get overwhelmed; it can be a lot easier than you imagine. I’m going to walk you through the main points to nail this piece of the grocery budget puzzle. So you never have to worry about hearing, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” ever again!

frugal mom guide to meal planning

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more info

Feeding our body healthy foods has been a long time passion of mine. Previous to Money for the Mamas, I taught kids how food grows at combo learning farm & CSA. For 90 minutes, we talked about soil, farm animals, water quality, and most importantly, how our food grows and why fruits & vegetables are so important. I also did a stint with the State of Oregon and the national level, Farm to School movement, which helps schools create programing around healthy foods. Fantastic work, which is both heartbreaking and hugely rewarding!

With that experience, I know that meal planning can be a great solution, as moms, I know how we want to do our best to provide healthy foods for our family. Yet, rising food costs do not make this easy for us.  

The Street reports that in 2018, the average American household spends $7,729 per year on food, which is about 12.8% of our after-tax income. Yet, with our current situation (August 2020), costs are rising. “April of this year food prices had the largest monthly increase in 46 years!” says ABC News.

There are many different ways that you can save money on groceries, but today we’re just going to talk about one specific element, meal planning on a budget! Which can still be healthy family meals, you just need to plan things out (and plan for the days when you “just can’t even” think of cooking)!

Now, I’m not going to say that an occasional frozen pizza doesn’t sneak into my freezer (and my belly), but I try really hard to balance those not so healthy items with better for you options.  

Meal planning to save money on groceries

Let’s get down to specifics on exactly how meal planning can save you money in your grocery budget.

Saving money by not buying foods that you won’t eat

I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve bought veggies with the best intentions of eating them! And then that sad and guilt-ridden sound of the “thunk” as the jicama falls into the trash. Arg!

When you meal plan, you decide what you are cooking and eating and when, there is a “plan”, not some vague intention. When you know that on Tuesday it’s spaghetti squash & meatball night, you can be dang sure that the veggies are getting eaten and will not go to waste!

Speaking of food waste, you all know the squishy, greeny brown scenario at the bottom of the produce drawer. But what does this look like to our wallet? According to Marketwatch, “As much as 40% of food goes uneaten in the U.S! Americans throw away $165 billion in wasted food every year.” According to Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council, some 160 billion pounds of discarded food also clogs up landfills.

What that means is roughly, “219 lbs of food per person is wasted a year” quotes RTS (waste experts), and that’s $1,600 a year for a typical sized family!

Think of taking your grocery budget, pulling out 40% of the money, and just throwing it in the trash! Oh. Hell. No.

That’s crazy! Yet, we don’t intend to do; it just happens. And meal planning is one of the best ways to combat this by buying only what you know you will use for that week (or however often you go to the store).

meal planning is so you never hear "Mom what's for dinner?" again!

Know your food costs  

You can still buy most of the same foods but know which of your local stores have the best prices. For example, there are two stores of the same chain, maybe 4 miles apart, and one of them has consistently lower prices than the other. So I always go to the cheaper one.

Also, when you sit down to do your weekly menu, you can look at store flyers to see who might have chicken breasts on sale, or who has digital coupons for your favorite brand of cheese.

You may go to a Kroger store for chicken and then go to Target for sale on frozen burritos (a favorite late-night snack of my husband). Yet, for this to be a genuine savings, you need to consider the cost of your time & gas driving to multiple stores. If you’re spending 45 minutes driving to a store to save $.40 per pound on beef, that’s not saving! Your time is valuable, so absolutely count that into the equation.

Many times stores will have loss leaders (items they sell at a loss just to get people into their store”. Did I mention that I worked in a grocery store for six years? No? Well, I did. It is a fantastic, socially conscious store (B-Corp certified) that helped bring healthy and local food to the communities they serve.  

Yet, they weren’t cheap. Even with a staff member discount, I was paying a lot for my groceries. Yet I knew that certain times of the year, they would offer boneless skinless chicken breasts at $2 off the regular price (that was basically at cost for the store), $4.99 vs. $6.99. I bought enough chicken to last a long time. We’re talking like 20 breasts. Then I would take them home, portion two breasts into a freezer bag and boom, chicken for months!

I knew about these times, so I planned it into my budget. Other times of year stores have a sale is their anniversary day (or founder days), or holidays. Each chain is a little bit different, so don’t be shy. Ask them when their big sales are!

Go the extra mile and ask them which days they mark their items down. For example, canned goods may go on Tuesday, boxed goods on Wednesday. Or they may go by the department, dry grocery on Monday, and perishable grocery (dairy and such) on Friday. Ask them what time of day they start and when they finish. Then see if you can go in near to the time that they are wrapping up.

Meal planning saves you time

As a super duper busy mom (aren’t we all?), one of the things I hate most is standing in front of the fridge trying to decide what to fix. When this happens, my mind immediately goes blank; nothing in the refrigerator looks good to eat. In the past, I would waste maybe 10-30 minutes a day just trying to decide what to make. What a waste!

By meal planning, you always know because you posted the weekly menu on the fridge! And what’s better is that your family never needs to ask you, “what’s for dinner?”

free saving money printables

Resources to meal planning on a budget

Luckily, many women have masted the art of meal planning (hey, no reason that we need to reinvent the wheel!). So let’s dive in to see how others have meal planned on a budget.

The Healthy Meal Planning Bundle

If you’re a one-stop-shop kind of mom (me!), then you’re going to love this fantastic resource! It’s a bundle of 58 products all around meal planning, tied up in one neat package! You just buy it once (for a crazy low price), and you have access to all 58 items!  You need to act fast, as it’s only on sale for the week of August 17th – 21st!

There are 11 Cookbooks, 15 Meal Plans, 11 eBooks, 9 eCourses, 10 Printables, 1 Membership, and a Summit. (Plus some great free bonuses and an early bird buyer special thank you gift!)

health meal planning bundle

The Healthy Meal Planning Bundle is a great option because it’s all around this very specific topic of healthy meal planning (not all are low cost specific). Still, the bundle as a whole is very cost-effective, so you can meal plan on a budget (and there are a few resources around being budget-conscious).

Here are the main categories that the bundle covers…

  • Budgeting
  • How to get started meal planning
  • Kid-friendly
  • Meal organization
  • Quick & easy
  • Real food & nutrition
  • Specialty diets
  • Weight loss

Now, you may be wondering why you would ever need 58 items all around the same topic? Totally fair question by the way. Let’s just say it like it is; we won’t vibe with everyone we meet or learn effectively from one particular teaching style. So in the bundle, some information may overlap, but that’s a good thing!  

So many times, I read about a topic that I already know a lot about. Yet, one person says something in a specific way, or in a particular tone where it just “clicks” for me! The lightbulb goes off, and I suddenly “get it”! I am thrilled when this happens as it could have something that I didn’t quite understand, or never really knew why it was a big deal.

The great thing about this bundle is that they are giving everyone a free jumpstart by hosting a free Meal Planning Bootcamp starting August 11th. Yes, that’s coming up soon! Here, you can get a taste of some of the information, and get geared up to start your own meal planning journey.  

The best part is that it’s a challenge, so you are participating right alongside other women just like you! Going through things together, so you can bounce ideas off of each other, learn from those who tried XYZ, and help others with your own experiences. Don’t forget that it’s free! Yup, zero cost to join in and participate!

Now don’t worry, if you’re reading this after August 11th. The bundle still exists, but it’s only available for a limited time. However, they bring it back annually, and sometimes they even do a flash sale after a few months (no guarantees though). So still sign up with your name and email, and then you will be on the list to get notified once it becomes available again!

Ultimate Bundles also offers a phenomenal resource on learning about all things personal finance! Check out their Master Your Money Super Bundle right here!

Struggle Meals

If you haven’t watched Frankie work his magic in the kitchen, then you are missing out! He doesn’t do meal prep, per se, but his expertise is in cooking cheaply, using leftovers, AND he’s damn entertaining too! Check out one of my favorite video’s down below (hint – save this video for after Thanksgiving!)

Grab some meal planning printables to help meal plan on a budget

Oh, organizing… did you ever know that you’re my hero? Everything that I would like to be? For you are the wind beneath my wings.  Or something like that. Yup, organizing makes my heart happy!

That’s why I am such a huge fan of my Organized Home printables, and I created one specifically for meal planning! This packet has…

  • weekly menu planner 
  • food inventory tracker (so you never lose steaks under the frozen spinach again!)
  • family favorite meals list (that are easy go to’s when short on time & energy)
  • grocery shopping list, broken up by department (no circling back to aisle 7 five different times!)
meal planning printables
Let me at ’em!

This meal planner & grocery list is an instant download so you can print it in just 2 minutes from now! (save it to your hard drive so you can print as many copies as you want!)

Freezer meals are essential to meal planning on a budget

One of the very best things that you can do is plan on failing! 

What?

Yup, I freely admit that somedays I am a Hot Mess Mom! I am frazzled, I am running 54 errands, going to the eye doctor and end up getting my eyes dilated for what seems like forever, and on and on the tragedy of life turns into a comedy! And I am DONE!

That means I need to plan on things not going great, so on those days, I need something up my sleeve because I know that going to the drive-thru isn’t all that cheap, nor is it healthy!  

There are two options for us Hot Mess Moms…

One – Frozen Meals – pizza, burritos, corndogs & tater tots (yum), etc. Now, these aren’t the healthiest, but they are cheap. Besides, who doesn’t like tater tots! So I am fine with doing this a few nights here and there.  

Two – Freezer Meals! These are my secret weapon for when times are tough. For example, before I gave birth, I did a whole day of nothing but freezer meal prep, as I knew once the baby came, I would need all the help I could get!  

A great resource that I have found is My Freeze Easy! It’s a freezer meal planning & prep plan, where you get access to new monthly freezer recipes! There are some great customizations too; gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, instant pot, etc.!

My Freeze Easy

Now not only are these designed to save time, but they stem from the $5 Meal Plan program, so all the recipes are budget-friendly!  

If you’re not quite sure about diving into freezer meals, Erin (the founder) has a great free workshop to introduce you to freezer cooking, so you can feel it out and see if it’s something you might like. Again don’t worry, it’s not a 90-minute life or death training. She’s a mom; she knows you’re busy! It’s three videos for a total of approx 20 minutes. easy peasy, right! (Pssst… you get three free recipes & shopping list, nice!)

Some of you may be a bit wary of freezing meals, especially produce. I mean, does freezing take away all the good vitamins & nutrients? Answer: Not at all! According to Healthline, “Frozen fruit and vegetables are generally picked at peak ripeness (while fresh is picked before it’s ripe). They are often washed, blanched, frozen, and packaged within a few hours of being harvested. Frozen produce is nutritionally, similar to fresh produce. When nutrient decreases are reported in frozen produce, they’re generally small.”  

They mentioned that most of the nutrient loss happens with extended periods of storage in the freezer, like two years or more. So generally speaking, frozen fruits & vegetables are a great way to get your vitamins!

The Healthy Meal Planning Bundle does have a freezer meal cookbook, but it’s not as customizable as My Freeze Easy plan! BUT, I know that the thought of buying 58 items, like the bundle, can cause your brain to shut down from overwhelm. So here’s one great resource. Easy Peasy!

Look to Pinterest for inspiration

So this is a love/hate relationship. Everything looks great, yet it can be overwhelming. Simply put in the search bar “Meal planning on a budget”, or “easy dinners”, “crockpot dinners,” or “frugal foods”. So many options will come up.  

I have a secret board just for “dinners to try”, and then maybe once a month I’ll go in and pick a few to try during the next month, and I work those into my meal plan. I may find a new favorite, or it may be a dud.

Oh, and don’t forget while you’re on Pinterest checking out meals, head on over here, and follow me for lots of budget-friendly inspiration!

Know your grocery budget (and stick to it)

If you want to do meal planning to save money, you need to know your grocery budget! Better yet, if you’re stocking up on things at a low price, then you need to know how much of your grocery budget is for regular food, and how much is for stocking up. You can’t blow everything on your stockpile, and you can’t spend every last dime on your weekly veg.

A good place to start is 75/25 split. So 75% of your grocery budget is for everyday shopping, while 25% of your grocery budget is for stocking up. Initially, you may find you’re spending a bit more on your stockpile, but it will taper down as you go on and build up your pantry.

Some things that I stockpile when the prices are good…

  • Cereal (I only buy if it’s $1 a box)
  • Granola bars
  • Frozen foods
  • Meat (buy in bulk and divide into 1 lb portions then freeze)
  • Canned goods
  • Paper goods (paper towels, TP)
  • Health & beauty – soap, shampoo, deodorant, etc

In talking about budgeting did your stomach do a little flip? I know you’ve been meaning to get back to budgeting, so here’s a great resource! It’s my Ultimate Guide on How to Budget Series, and it goes through everything you ever wanted to know about it!

Tip for Meal Planning on a Budget – Leftovers are your friend!

Don’t forget to plan on having a leftover day for dinners! Make it one day at the end of the week to clean out your fridge before the next week’s shopping trip.  

Make it easy!

Have Leftover Day be as easy as possible for your family by getting some great clear glass meal storage containers! That way, you can easily see what’s in there to eat, and by buying glass containers, you can reheat these directly in the microwave without worry. It’s known that microwaving food in plastic containers isn’t the best choice.  

Harvard Health states that “When food is wrapped in plastic or placed in a plastic container and microwaved, BPA and phthalates may leak into the food. BPA and phthalates are believed to be “endocrine disrupters.” These are substances that mimic human hormones, and not for the good.”

Now, I’m not a scientist, nor am I a fearmonger. But if I don’t need to take a risk, and can easily avoid it, I will. So I bought glass containers for my family. 

I love these Pyrex containers. They are a perfect size (3 cup) and stack great in the fridge! So after dinner is over, if there are leftovers, I immediately portion the items out into meals in the containers. So all my husband has to do is grab one, take off the lid and heat it up and BAM, full dinner/lunch!

Pyrex 3-Cup Rectangle Food Storage

  • pack of 4 or 6
  • Glass is pre-heated oven, microwave, fridge and freezer safe, & dishwasher safe
  • Non-porous glass won’t absorb stains or odors

Make leftovers new & different!  

If your family doesn’t love the idea of leftovers, then you can easily shake things up! All you need to do is change how it’s served. For example, get some tortillas to make items into a wrap, or add on soup & salad to make small amounts of leftovers stretch into a full meal.

Here are some other ideas to give your leftovers a makeover with a different presentation

  • make it a wrap
  • turn it into soup
  • add a grain and have a buddha bowl
  • make a frittata or an omelet
  • use leftovers as fillings for a quesadilla
  • or as a topping on pizza

Just Google “what to do with leftover ________”, and you should get some fun ideas! Or just go to Big Oven’s Use Up Leftovers feature! You add in your three main ingredients, and it gives you a bunch of tasty options!

At the end of the day

Our Mom List never seems to get shorter, does it? You cross four things off, and then two hours later, you add seven more things! ARG! Yet, there are some things (like meal planning) that can reduce your mental and physical load over time. Meal planning may take a few rounds for you to work out the kinks, but overall you will save so much time and money!

Imagine what you would do with 40% more of that grocery budget? (as you won’t be throwing away rotted out lettuce, or wait, was the broccoli? Yesh, it’s hard to tell now that it’s a squishy stinky blob.  

Meal planning on a budget can give you that 40% back! Remember, RTS estimated that it was $1,600 on average, a year per family! What would you do with an extra $1,600 a year? Use it to fund a family vacation? Revamp your back patio living space? Use it to help offset the cost of braces for your youngest? There are so many things!

  • How to Motivated While Saving Money
  • Your Ultimate Guide on How to Budget Series
saving money free templates

Tell me in the comments, If you started meal planning on a budget, what would you do with the $1,600 that’s back in your pocket?

The post The Frugal Mom’s Guide to Meal Planning on a Budget appeared first on Money for the Mamas.

Source: moneyforthemamas.com

Moving Stressing You Out? Here Are 5 Move-Planning Apps to Make Your Life Easier

PeopleImages/iStock

What can eclipse the excitement of moving to a new home? The headache of packing and unpacking, deciding what to toss, and actually transporting all of your prized possessions, that’s what. It’s a big job, and someone has to do it—but that doesn’t make the impending stress of moving any less overwhelming.

What will help take the pain out of preparing to relocate are move-planning apps. Like other productivity apps that can be downloaded on your smartphone, move-planning apps will help you keep everything organized.

“Move-planning apps work great for preparation and organization, because they help you break up your move into small, actionable steps, so you can be prepared on your move day,” says Jason Burroughs, founder and CEO at Able Body Moving and Delivery in Birmingham, AL. “This can greatly save you on the cost of your move, because the less the movers do, the more money you keep in your pocket.”

Below are five of the best move-planning apps to help make moving day as hassle-free as possible.

1. Sortly

move-planning apps
Sortly is an app that helps you keep inventory for your move.

Sortly

The beauty of this app is its attention to detail; it allows you to compartmentalize every inch of your house. You can create a moving checklist (which can be exported for movers), photograph items and categorize them by location (room, closet, box, etc.), and you can add value and condition for specific items (i.e. your prized dolphin painting).

For $3.99 a month, one user can catalogue an unlimited number of items on three devices. The $25-a-month plan allows three users to catalog unlimited items, with the option of adding users $3 a month per user. The app also has a two-week free trial and a free version that allows one user to catalogue 100 items on one device.

Sortly is available on the App Store for iPhones and iPads, and the Google Play Store for Androids.

2. Unpakt

move-planning apps
Find a moving company with Unpakt

Unpakt

This app helps you find a moving company. Enter basic details—when, where, and what you’re moving—and you’ll see real prices (not estimates) from verified firms. Unpakt offers a price guarantee that only changes if you add or remove an item or service.

Booking a service is simple: Just select a mover, enter your billing information, and your move is reserved. Your credit card will be charged two business days before the day of the move. Unpakt guarantees that moving companies are screened to ensure that they’re reputable; you can also read reviews from other consumers on the app.

Unpakt is free and is available on the App Store for iPhones and iPads and the Google Play Store for Androids.

3. MakeSpace

move-planning apps
MakeSpace is a great storage solution.

MakeSpace

If you’re downsizing or moving to a home short on storage space, MakeSpace will come in handy. “We take care of the hauling and heavy lifting, at a price that’s comparable to traditional, DIY self-storage,” says Amory Wooden, VP of brand at MakeSpace.

The app makes the process as simple as possible: Just book an appointment, and its team of professional movers will come to pick up your stuff and haul it off to storage. When you want your items back, schedule a delivery, and the team will return your goods.

As an added bonus, Wooden says MakeSpace will bring complimentary supplies, like bubble wrap and free MakeSpace bins.

When the items arrive at the storage facility, the company sends photos of everything—and the photos can be used to request specific items that you want to get out of storage.

The storage plans range from $69 per month for a 2-foot by 2-foot unit, to $469 per month for a 10-foot by 20-foot unit.

The MakeSpace app is free and is available for download on the App Store for iPhones and iPads.

4. Flying Ruler

move-planning apps
Flying Ruler will help you measure anything in your home.

Flying Ruler

Not sure if that sofa will fit in your new living room? Is it too large to come through the front door? Flying Ruler can help you be sure. This app is a tape measure, ruler, protractor, and a goniometer (otherwise known as an angle-measurer).

After you calibrate your phone—a simple process that the app walks you through—you can take measurements merely by moving your phone from one point to the next. The measurement is then displayed on the interface in either inches or centimeters. You can also take a photo of the measurements. The Flying Ruler app has a high accuracy rate, but the company recommends that you measure more than once.

FlyingRuler costs $1.99 and is available for download on the App Store for iPhones and iPads.

5. Dolly

move-planning apps
Hire someone to help you move with Dolly.

Dolly

Dolly helps you find vetted and insured pick-up truck owners to help you with moving, furniture pick-up, and even hauling off your trash. Found your perfect sofa at a store that doesn’t deliver? Dolly can help you hire someone to transport your purchase home.

In addition, Dolly can match you with someone for a “labor-only move,” if you need some extra muscle to move stuff around your home.

The app is extremely simple to navigate: Enter your details (what/where/when you need something picked up and delivered) and receive a quote for the service. If you agree to the price, simply book the Dolly. You can book a same-day delivery, or schedule the delivery for the next day, or even the next month.

You can ask for almost anything to be moved, with the exception of a few items, such as gun safes, pianos, and alcohol.

Dolly is free. It is available for download on the App Store for iPhones and iPads, and the Google Play Store for Androids.

The post Moving Stressing You Out? Here Are 5 Move-Planning Apps to Make Your Life Easier appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

How to Save Money on Your Heating Bill

How to Save Money on Your Heating Bill

Radiator Hack

If you use radiator heat, make them work harder without spending an extra cent. Wrap a very large piece of corrugated cardboard in aluminum foil (shiny side out), and place it behind your free-standing radiator. The foil will reflect the heat, and make the room warmer.

Stuffed Animal Draft Dodgers

Do your kids have lots of stuffed animals? This winter, put those they play with less often to good use: Line them up in front of their bedroom windows to prevent drafts from coming in underneath.

See Also: 5 Ways to Take Care of Your Home During Winter

Keep It Humid

It’s true that it’s not the heat that makes you feel warm, it’s the humidity. Humid air feels warmer than dry air, so in the winter, instead of cranking the heat, run a humidifier. This allows you to turn down the heat, save energy, and still feel comfortable. Live, leafy plants also help raise humidity levels.

A Ceiling Fan Can Keep You Warm Too

Don’t let your fan go to waste just because it’s no longer warm outside. To stay toasty during the frigid days of winter, hit the reverse switch to push hot air down into your room.

Plug Up Leaks

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a well sealed home can be up to 20 percent more energy efficient. Most leaks occur in the basement or attic—look where you feel a draft or around wiring holes, plumbing vents, ducts, and basement rim joints. You’ll be able to seal lots of leaks with a simple caulking gun, but for instructions on how to plug larger holes, check out this guide at EnergyStar.gov.

Lock Your Windows

In the winter, don’t just keep windows closed, make sure they’re locked for the tightest possible seal. This could greatly reduce drafts.

Winterize Your Door

If you have a sliding glass door that’s rarely used during the winter, seal the top, bottom, and sides with duct tape to keep cold air from coming in. Or, cut the sleeve off an old sweater or sweatshirt, then fill it with uncooked rice and knot the ends. Place in front of drafty doors and the rice will absorb the cold!

See also: Your Fall/Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

Dust Buster

Make sure to vacuum your heating and air conditioning vents regularly. When they get caked up with dust your furnace or air conditioner has to work much harder! For the best energy efficiency, make sure to keep them dust-free.

Close Some Vents

Close the heating and air-conditioning vents in rooms in your home you don’t frequently use, like a guest room or laundry room. If your vents don’t have closures, simply seal them off with duct tape.

Slow and Steady with the Thermostat

When it’s time to turn on the heat, be patient. Your house won’t heat up any faster if you crank the thermostat way up, but you are likely to forget to turn it down, which can be a huge energy waster.

Follow us on Facebook for our Who Knew? Tip of the Day! 

Image courtesy of Who Knew?

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

Expert Home Security Tips and Tricks

Expert Home Security Tips and Tricks

Purchasing, updating, and decorating your home was a big investment. It is your family’s refuge and holds both treasured memories and valued possessions: in short, all things that you want to protect. We talked with several security experts to discover and share their top tips for home protection.

Their advice was varied, but they all agreed that using a smart combination of the right tools, techniques, and safety measures is the key to protecting your home and family. And you might even save a bit of money in the long run!

First Line of Defense: Securing Your Home Exterior

The first step in improving your household safety is to evaluate the exterior of your home. If burglars or other criminals can’t get into your home, they can’t do much damage. This is why taking a look at access points like your doors and windows is essential.

Roman Zrazhevskiy is the Co-Founder and CEO of Ready to Go Survival, a company that creates custom survival kits. As a former EMT and lifelong outdoorsman, Zrazhevskiy understands the connection between facility security and your personal safety. He says the best place to start updating your home security is with the exterior doors to your home. Here are his key points:

  • First, replace all the doors with solid wood or steel doors, and install high-quality deadbolt locks.
  • Ensure the door frames are made of steel or have steel supports for the door, and that all door hardware is a minimum of three inches long. You can also install a steel bar on the inside that can be closed if needed.
  • A great product that helps secure your doors is called the Door Sentinel. It comes with all the hardware to reinforce your exterior door so it will be much more difficult to break into.

Identity theft expert, author, and speaker Robert Siciliano covers all aspects of security as they relate to violence and fraud prevention in both the physical and virtual worlds. Here are his top home security tips for way that you can use your doors, windows, and even your landscaping to keep you and your family safe.

  • Make sure nobody can see inside your windows at night, and be choosy about which drapes to leave open during the day, especially if you have expensive items that can be viewed through windows.
  • Keep your shrubs and trees manicured so that burglars can’t hide near them.
  • Do a door and lock inventory to make sure they all work—the only time a door should be unlocked is when someone is using it.
  • The only time a window should be unlocked is when it’s open while you’re home, and even then, be extremely judicious about this, including for second-story windows that can be climbed up to.

Quick and Easy Home Security Tips

There are also many quick, simple, and inexpensive ways that you can keep your home safe that won’t break the bank, including a few tips for home security while on vacation. Siciliano further suggests these three inexpensive, easy, and creative ideas.

  • When traveling for long stretches, arrange to have someone mow your lawn and park their car in your driveway.
  • Get a beware of dog sign even if you don’t have a dog. Get a big dog food bowl. Place it near your front door.
  • Go to an Army/Navy store and get a pair of men’s boots, put them near your front or back door.

Justin Lavelle is the Chief Communications Officer for BeenVerified, a leading source of online background checks and contact information. Lavelle encourages you to make a few easy, little or no cost changes to your home (and your habits) that can protect you and your family.

The lived-in look is a great deterrent. Many hardware stores sell timers that can run lights in your house. These can be lamps or hardwired fixtures. These timers are easily installed as a do-it-yourself project. It is recommended that you have outdoor lights timed as well. You can set lights inside and out to come on at different times during the evening and morning, giving your home an occupied look even if you are gone. Keep a car in the driveway if possible and keep the radio on. Be sure you remove your mail and any newspapers dropped off on a daily basis.

A big billboard that says you are not home is unattended packages. If you are gone all day at work, consider sending your packages to a trusted neighbor you know will be home during the day. You can also have packages shipped to a P.O. Box and pick them up at your post office. Another option is to have items shipped to the nearest brick and mortar location and pick them up there in the evening or [on the] weekend.

Smart Tech to Keep Your Home Safe

Now that you have considered the physical and structural aspects of home security, it’s time to think about ways that digital and virtual tools can help you. Rob Caiello, Vice President of Marketing at Allconnect, helps movers with the purchase and setup of home utilities and services, including finding the right home security system and service. As a security system expert, he encourages all homeowners to take a look at the new technologies available.

Home security systems aren’t what they used to be. With the explosion of home technology, home security systems have gotten much smarter. With smart home security systems, you can receive real time alerts to your smartphone if an emergency takes place in your home. Plus, you can also receive texts or email notifications about potential security threats, like a window or door left open for too long.

These systems often require an initial up-front investment, but the benefits of peace of mind are priceless. Plus, adding monitored safety and security devices can often help homeowners dramatically lower their home insurance premiums. As a final security and technology tip, don’t post your vacation plans on social media: You don’t want the world to know your home will be left unwatched.

New technology has made everything from public data collection to home security quicker, simpler, and more affordable. If your finances are tight, you might consider a cash-out refinance to obtain the funds for security upgrades. Lavelle also encourages homeowners to look into both traditional security system, as well as new tools like web-based digital intercom systems.

It used to be expensive to have a security system installed, but today many DIY kits are available that work with your home’s internet wifi for connectivity. Some will provide monitoring services and some will allow you to be notified on your smartphone if there is an intrusion detected. Google the many options that are available to find a system that fits your needs and budget. If nothing else, install a camera prop above your front door and other entrance areas. It will deter most burglars.

Unfortunately we live in a world where opening your front door may be dangerous for you and your family. Camera intercom systems used to be cost prohibitive for many residential applications, but today with internet wifi, smartphones, and small digital cameras, having the ability to answer your door without actually opening it is a reality. There are even systems that allow you to appear to be home and answer the door when you are halfway around the world.

Don’t Let Your Castle Be Compromised

Whether you are in town or away on vacation, the world is an unpredictable place so it’s important to take precautions to safeguard your home—your castle. From digital solutions to simple DIY steps, there are many means to bolster protection for every house on any budget. Contact a PennyMac Loan Officer to explore the refinancing options to fund security upgrades for your home.

The views, information, or opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent those of PennyMac Loan Services, LLC and its employees.

Source: pennymacusa.com

2021 means new challenges for mortgage lending

For many of us, the start of a new year is usually synonymous with a renewed sense of professional self, focusing on new goals, new prospects for the year and, of course, the excitement for the upcoming spring real estate market. As we think about coming out of this first month of the year, we’ve quickly realized this year is going to be anything but planned or what we in the mortgage lending industry are used to.

While the mortgage lending industry has always been an ever-changing profession, we as loan originators have entered a very unprecedented market, with a new landscape paved by uncertainty and a level of anxiety that could easily cripple the most seasoned originator.

With the current global pandemic, we have found ourselves in an increasingly volatile financial system and quickly having to learn how to adapt to the changing environment from one day to the next. The current financial state of our country has caused us to now rely heavily on the opening exchanges and the market forecast to determine how our rates will be impacted, thus giving way to a new line of thinking – Where and how can we effectively close loans?

For some, the refinance “boom” has been their bread and butter over the past year and a way to build up their pipelines. But for others, low mortgage rates gave way to pre-approved borrowers struggling in a very competitive seller’s market. It is even more important then ever to stay in front of your borrowers and referral partners so that they understand the changes that ultimately affect us all.

The way we as mortgage lending originators conduct our business has quickly taken on a new form during these times of uncertainty. 2020 proved that we all need to work to find new ways to generate business. While working double time to save the business we had, it was very easy to find ourselves thrown into a game of what to do next? The country was paralyzed amid the current health crisis and many borrowers and sellers alike are frightened to enter purchase contracts and move forward with transactions already in progress.

We found ourselves acting as an empathetic ear to those who are on the verge of potential economic hardship and constantly reassuring those in process that we are all in this together.

Fast forward to 2021 and expanding our mortgage lending business has taken on a new form as the inventory in many markets have taken a sharp downturn during the pandemic, pushing it into some of the lowest availability in history. Buyers are being outbid, above asking price has become the normal in many areas and the trajectory of the market seems to be moving in a much different direction than many are used to.

Even some of the most seasoned real estate agents have had to slow down in their current business model. By acting in accord with our referral partners, we too as originators have had to find new ways to prospect for new business and remain relevant in a challenging environment. Marketing material has quickly evolved from our traditional “Why Rent When You Can Own” to educating on the effect of the Federal Reserve’s action of cutting interest rates and how this has impacted inventory.

This is now more than ever a time of understanding, patience and resilience.

The face of mortgage lending has changed from the recognition of the big-name banks to the individual brand that we have all built for ourselves. Many have established a presence within their markets by hosting local happy hours, attending networking events, and attending their closings. Face-to-face coffee meetings are a staple to beginning new relationships among referral partners, causing many loan originators to halt business dealings and struggle to stay relevant during this crazy time.

Zoom meetings have spiked across the country and even the most seasoned sales professionals have been taking advantage of the short face-to-face time to ensure their partners and clients keep them top of mind.

Business as usual has certainly taken on a new meaning as many of us try to keep up on borrower demands and field questions during the day while juggling working from home, which sometimes involves the occasional screaming child in the background.

It is a great time to revamp our CRMs, organize our past and current clients, and more importantly, try to find ways to slow down and reconnect with family and friends. The mortgage lending business has never been for the faint of heart, but I believe this will certainly separate the lions from the cubs. Buckle up lending community — this may be only getting started!

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of HousingWire’s editorial department and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Tracy Chongling at tracy.chongling@rate.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Sarah Wheeler at swheeler@housingwire.com

The post 2021 means new challenges for mortgage lending appeared first on HousingWire.

Source: housingwire.com

Things Break. How to Make Sure Your Emergency Fund Can Cover Them

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Your washing machine. Your car. Your front tooth.

If any of those broke right now, would you be able to get it fixed immediately? Or would you have to walk around with a gap in your smile for months until you could get the money together?

If you can’t afford to pay to fix it today, you’re not alone. Most people don’t have $400 saved in case of an emergency either. So before your car breaks down on the side of the road on your way to an interview, make sure you have a solid emergency fund of at least $500.

Don’t know how to get there? Having a budget (that you actually stick to) can help you get there. Here’s one budgeting strategy we recommend, and four other tips that can help you keep your expenses in line.

1. The 50/30/20 Budgeting Rule

The 50/30/20 rule is one of the simplest budgeting methods out there, which is why you’ve probably heard us talk about it before if you’re a regular TPH reader. There are no fancy spreadsheets or pricy apps to download (unless you want to), and it’s very straightforward.

Here’s how it shakes out: 50% of your monthly take home income goes to your essentials — your rent, your groceries, your minimum debt payments, and other necessities. 30% of your cash goes to the fun stuff, and 20% is dedicated to your financial goals. That could be paying more than the minimum on your debts or adding to your investments. And it definitely includes building up your emergency fund!

If you take a look at your budget and realized you don’t have enough leftover to contribute to your emergency fund, here are a few ways to help balance your budget:

2. Cut More Than $500 From One Of Your Must-Have Bills

You’re probably overpaying the bills you have to pay each month. But you can cut those expenses down, without sacrificing anything. Maybe even enough to cover that window your kid just smashed with a ball. Definitely enough to grow your emergency fund a meaningful amount.

So, when’s the last time you checked car insurance prices?

You should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.

A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.

Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of $540 a year.

Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.

3. Earn Up to $225 in Easy, Extra Cash

If we told you you could get free money just for watching videos on your computer, you’d probably laugh. It’s too good to be true, right? But we’re serious. You can really add up to a few hundred bucks to your emergency savings with some mindless entertainment.

A website called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. One minute you might watch someone bake brownies and the next you might get the latest updates on Kardashian drama.

All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward. Brands pay InboxDollars to get these videos in front of viewers, and it passes a cut onto you.

InboxDollars won’t make you rich, but it’s possible to get up to $225 per month watching these videos. It’s already paid its users more than $56 million.

It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately earn a $5 bonus to get you started.

4. Ask This Website to Pay Your Credit Card Bill This Month

Just by paying the minimum amount on your credit cards, you are extending the life of your debt exponentially — not to mention the hundreds (or thousands) of dollars you’re wasting on interest payments. You could be using that money to beef up your emergency savings, instead.

The truth is, your credit card company is happy to let you pay just the minimum every month. It’s getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates — some up to nearly 30%. But a website called AmOne wants to help.

If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.

The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.

AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.

5. Get a Side Gig And Make More Money

Let’s face it — if your monthly income is less than what your monthly expenses are (and you’ve run out of things to cut), you need more money.

Well, we all could use more money. And by earning a little bit extra each month, we could make sure we’re never taken by surprise when an ER visit tries to drain our savings.

Luckily, earning money has never been easier with the rise of the “Gig Economy”. Here are 31 simple ways to make money online. Which one could you do to pad your emergency savings?

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How to Cancel A Trip or Vacation

No matter how thoroughly you plan your trip, last-minute changes to your personal schedule can still happen. If you need to alter or cancel your travel plans it can be a serious headache—and a lot of lost money might be next. Still, in many cases, cancelling a trip is unavoidable. A sudden family emergency may come up, your work may need you for a huge assignment, or you or your travel companion might unexpectedly fall ill. Life happens — coronavirus pandemics happen. While some cancellation fees are unavoidable, there are a few simple things to keep in mind when these things happen. 

If you need to cancel an upcoming trip, don’t panic. There are steps you can take to mitigate your losses, reduce your money stress, or even secure a rescheduled vacation. Check out these tips that can help you avoid paying full cancellation fees the next time you need to cancel a trip.

  • Know the policies
    • Cancelling a Hotel or Rental
    • Cancelling a Flight
    • Cancelling a Rental Car
    • Cancelling a Tour or Excursion
  • Cancellation Tips: Boosting Your Chances of a Refund
    • Cancel as Early as Possible
    • Just Ask, You Never Know
    • Call, Don’t Email
    • Seek Alternatives to Money
    • Keep that Code
  • Booking Travel Insurance

Know the Policies

First things first: when booking big ticket items for travel, it’s important to make sure you read the fine print. Ideally, you should make sure you know the ins and outs of the airline, hotel, or travel agency’s policies before you enter any credit card info. This includes their cancellation policy. 

Cancelling a Hotel or Rental

For hotels, I usually book with Hotels.com or a similar service—that’s because their cancellation policy often includes general refunds at most hotels if you cancel before a certain date, and sometimes a voucher for a future stay for cases where refunds might not be available. 

If you’ve rented a vacation home from a site like Airbnb, always check the trip cancellation policy listed on the rental profile. While the service might have its own general cancellation policies, individual property managers likely have their own set of requirements and deadlines for cancellation too. 

I also usually go a step further and always make a note on my calendar on the last day it is free to cancel.

Cancelling a Flight

For flights, you should know that federal law states you have 24 hours to cancel your trip from the time you book your flight if you book it at least seven days before the departure date without having to pay a fee—you can check Transportation.gov for further details. Bear in mind that this only applies to flights booked through the carrier itself, not flights booked through third-party websites. Some airlines, like Southwest, have much more generous cancellation policies than others. Though, in many cases, you’ll at least be able to put the money you spent on your flight toward a trip in the future. This varies significantly from airline to airline, so checking trip cancellation policies ahead of time is a must whenever you book a flight.

Cancelling a Rental Car

If you have booked a prepaid rental car at your destination, you should be able to find their cancellation policy on their company website. Most—like Avis and Hertz, two common rental car companies—will charge a fee for cancellations more than 24 hours after you’ve made the booking, and might charge even greater fees if you cancel your tip within 24 hours of the day you’re scheduled to pick up the car.

Cancelling a Tour or Excursion

Tours and excursions that you’ve booked in advance can also be cancelled, but whether you get a full, partial, or no refund will largely depend on the company you’ve booked through. It’s a good idea to pick up the phone and call the agency to see whether there is any flexibility in their trip cancellation policy.

Cancellation tips: boosting your chances of a refund

Cancellation policies imposed by large companies can sometimes be set in stone—but sometimes they might not be. Especially for smaller companies and hospitality services, there might be a bit of wiggle room you can take advantage of if you need your vacation cancelled. Here’s what I usually do to increase my odds of a refund when I need to cancel a trip. 

Cancel As Early As Possible

Just like most industries, time is money in hospitality—so if you do suddenly find out that your trip must be cancelled, don’t put it off. The minute you know you can’t go, start making calls to cancel all your plans. Begin with the big-ticket items, like flights and hotel reservations, and work your way down to smaller things like tours and restaurant reservations.

Often, travel services are hesitant to offer refunds because they might not have time to sell your spot to a new customer. That makes it important to start early because if the hotel, resort, or cruise line has time to resell your tickets, you have a higher chance of receiving a refund.

Just Ask, You Never Know

Even if you think a reservation is hopeless, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Once, I had to cancel a trip due to a vaccination error (that was completely my fault). I had to cancel my entire trip and found out the night before! Instead of giving up, I called and explained the situation. 

The hotel gave me a full refund because they received tons of walk in service and, since it was high season, they knew they would find a new customer for the room immediately. That was a pleasant surprise that I didn’t see coming! Not bad for cancelling a vacation last minute. Ultimately, you don’t know what kind of customer service and travel deals are available unless you actively seek them out.

Call, Don’t Email

Notice I said start making calls, not sending emails. Talking to a person, and especially the right person, can make a huge difference in getting a partial or even full refund. Often, it helps to speak to someone in management, as high up as possible. Remember, a manager is much more likely to waive a cancellation fee or refund your money than an hourly employee. 

When you first call it’s likely someone at the front desk will answer the phone. You can then ask to speak to managers and slowly move your way up the chain of command—just be sure that you’re polite. It’s not the front desk employee’s fault that they have to enforce whatever vacation cancellation policy the hotel or airline has in place. 

Seek Alternatives to Money

If a vendor can’t refund your cash, your next inquiry should be about any sort of alternatives they can offer other than money. This is often something like a voucher for future service, or some portion of your money put toward a later booking. On the trip I mentioned before, where I had to cancel because of missing vaccinations, I had tons of tours booked. Although I wasn’t able to get a refund for them, they did promise to reschedule all the tours when I did get a chance to take my trip. 

If you do get any offer for future service, be sure to have them send it to you in writing. I kept the emails from the tour companies, and when I finally did go a couple of months later, I conveniently rebooked all the tours!

Keep That Code

If you manage to score any sort of refund or voucher for a future booking, write down any confirmation code they send you and keep it somewhere safe. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your bank accounts or credit card statement and make sure that the money has been refunded after a couple of days. If it’s not, you’ll have their confirmation email and code in writing so you can call and inquire after your refund. It’s also wise to look into using a travel card, which might be able to offer you some protection against difficult refund situations.

Booking Travel Insurance

One of the best ways to avoid the hassle of travel cancellations is to purchase a travel insurance policy. Travel insurance is generally fairly inexpensive—around 5% to 10% of the total cost of your trip, depending on a few details like your age, the kind of trip you’re taking, and how many people you plan on adding to the policy.

Travel insurance can also be helpful to have even if you do end up going on the trip, but something goes wrong, like an airline losing your luggage, or getting injured while abroad and needing emergency medical insurance. The expense might seem like a hassle on top of all your other bookings, but the more you stand to lose from a sudden cancellation, the smarter it usually is to invest in protection for your plans. And even budget-friendly vacations might benefit from being insured. After all, you never know what might happen.

When traveling, you want to make every dollar count. Make sure you know your travel companies policies, you’re diligent about calling and speaking with managers, and you insure trips if you can. With the right planning and foresight, even an unexpected trip cancellation doesn’t have to be a disaster. 

The post How to Cancel A Trip or Vacation appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

Employment Resources: Five Steps for Finding a New Job

A woman reads various employment resources and books at a large white desk in front of a window.

The Congressional Budget Office believes the unemployment rate will hit 16% during the summer of 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus. With so many people on the hunt for a new job, landing an interview and getting hired is going to prove difficult for many. But the truth is that getting a new job isn’t always easy even in the best of times, which is why using all possible employment resources is important.

Follow these five steps to leverage employment resources to help make your job hunt success more likely.

1. Set Yourself Apart with New Skills

If you find yourself unemployed for any reason—especially during an economic downturn such as the one related to the COVID-19 pandemic—you might not be able to find a job right away. It’s a good idea to turn to unemployment benefits if you qualify to help you cover expenses while you hunt for a new job.

Then, consider finding ways to make yourself
more attractive to potential employers. During times when the unemployment
numbers are particularly high, you can bet that your resume is going to be
competing with many others. If you’re able to demonstrate a skill that others
don’t have, you can set yourself apart during the application process.

Consider using your time during unemployment to learn skills that complement your existing ones—especially if other people with similar education and experience backgrounds might not have those skills. One way you can do this is to sign up for online courses through a service like Coursera. You can add skills such as data analytics, coding languages, spreadsheet use, or business analytics to your resume.

Learn New Skills with Coursera

2. Add Your Skills to a Well-Rounded, Engaging Resume

Once you have those new skills, you need to find the best way to work them into your resume. If you’re looking for a job at the same time everyone else is, your resume must be high-quality and engaging to capture the attention of hiring managers. But it also has to have all the right words and phrases to get past applicant screening software. That’s technology many employers use to filters out resumes that don’t meet the job qualifications.

Balancing all of that within a short document that must also convey your education, experience and passion for the job can be daunting. Many people turn to online templates to help them create a resume. But that tactic can leave your document looking exactly like everyone else’s. Instead, you might consider using a resume service such as Monster.com to ensure your resume is as powerful as possible.

Improve Your Resume with Monster

3. Upload Your Resume to a Job Site

Armed with new skills and a killer resume, you next need to put yourself out into the job market in effective ways. Consider uploading your resume to a site such as ZipRecruiter. ZipRecruiter lets you search for job openings by region, niche or keyword. You can apply directly for open positions, but you can also upload your professionally written resume so recruiters and headhunters can find you.

Find a New Job on ZipRecruiter

4. Use Networking Resources

Letting people know that you’re looking for a job is a critical step in finding out about as many options as possible. Uploading your resume on ZipRecruiter is a great step, but don’t forget to let friends and family know you’re looking. Sign up for LinkedIn and post on your other social networks that you’re on the job hunt. You never know when someone in your circle will know about a job that hasn’t been posted yet.

5. Don’t Give Up

Getting a new job can be hard, especially if you really want to hold out for something that you’re passionate about or works with your lifestyle. If you’re looking for a job during the COVID-19 pandemic, consider some ways to make money while you’re waiting for the right position to open up. And even in good economic times, don’t expect a job to fall into your lap the second you put your resume out there. Modern hiring processes are complex, and it can take time even if a company is interested in your resume.

Find Your Next Job

Whether you’re a new grad just entering the job market, a seasoned vet looking to make a change, or someone who has lost their job due to economic issues, hunting for work can be stressful. Make sure that you’re using all the employment resources available to you as you work to find a new job.

And if you’re dealing with financial struggles related to COVID-19, check out our coronavirus resources to learn more about assistance options that might be available to you while you’re looking for employment.

The post Employment Resources: Five Steps for Finding a New Job appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com