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Monthly Archives: May 2012

7 Safety Tips for People That Sell Things on Craigslist

We finally did it! We sold that old desk that’s been taking up way too much space in our kitchen. We decided to sell it on Craiglist.com because we knew it would be quick and easy. Luckily everything went well, and we added money to our budget. I will admit that I do have mixed feelings about using Craigslist to sell items (especially when they are big). The family that bought our desk was really nice. They even brought their two little girls with them to pick it up, but while we were waiting for them to come I couldn’t help but feel like doing business through Craigslist can be dangerous. I was wondering if we were inviting criminals into our home. I’ve heard stories of people getting robbed, even killed, by Craigslist bandits. While I was sitting there worrying about the people coming to buy our desk I developed a list of things I wish I had done to protect my family from a potentially bad Craigslist experience (better late than never!). If I could re-do it, these would be the precautions I would have taken:

1)      Don’t give the potential buyers information on when you WON’T be home. While talking to the potential buyers on the phone I said, “I won’t be home until 5.” At this point I had already given them my address. If they wanted to rob me they would have known I wasn’t there. I should have said, “I’ll be working on a project at home until 5 so feel free to stop by any time after that.” 

2)      Never hand over your product without being paid first. I was surprised because the family that bought our desk wanted to pay for it that day and pick it up the next day. They were worried about us selling the desk to someone else (apparently they thought it was a very sought after desk!), but I would never recommend trusting someone with things like that. Make it easy and do the trade all at once.

3)      Put the item for sale in front of your house and lock the door behind you. Sometimes the product being sold will be too big to do this, but I don’t like strangers in my home.

4)      Do the sale in a public place if possible. I wasn’t going to haul the desk to Starbucks, but if it was something like selling a movie I would have preferred to meet somewhere public.

5)      Have someone keep any eye out. This way they can call the cops if something goes wrong. Also, they can take down the license plate number of the vehicle the buyers arrived in. The more information they get the better.

6)      Let the buyer know the precautions you’re taking. An honest person will understand the situation, and a thief will probably decide they don’t want to mess with you.

7)      Talk to them on the phone instead of just text messaging. I feel a lot better after hearing someone’s voice rather than just getting a text message. After talking to someone on the phone it will be easier to follow your instincts. If things don’t feel right don’t be afraid to cancel the transaction.

We all like making a little extra cash by selling things we don’t need anymore. All we need to do is take a second to think about our situation to make it safer. I know from now on I’ll be dealing with people through Craigslist a lot differently. Do any of you have more advice for people selling things on Craigslist?

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Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Will Buying An E-Reader Save You Money?

Well it finally happened; I caved in and bought a Nook. I’ve wanted an e-reader for quite some time, and so far I’ve enjoyed it immensely. I told myself that if I was going to indulge in buying a Nook I needed to get the cheapest version. They have flashy ones, but realistically no one really needs those ones (I’m not saying they aren’t nice to have). I held to my guns and bought the Nook Simple Touch. Before I bought it I had some ideas about how having an e-reader would save me money in the long run. My initial thoughts were I would save on gas, on furniture, and on the books themselves. Not to mention they are easy to carry around.

If you’re planning on buying an e-reader (and are late to the game like I was) here is how it will most likely add value to your life:

1)      You no longer need to drive to the book store (Save money on gas).

2)      You won’t need to buy anymore book shelves (Save money on furniture).

3)      You won’t get stuck having to buy an expensive book that only comes in hardback (Save money on books).

4)      You won’t have to lug books around with you. This is especially convenient for traveling.

After giving the points above some more thought I realized that there is a chance that anyone that buys an e-reader could end up spending more money on books rather than saving. If any of you are like me you’ll read a good book within a week. Sometimes we aren’t sure what to read so we might take a break, maybe a few weeks or months where we don’t read at all. Then we find another good book/series and start the cycle all over again.  With the convenience of an e-reader we could end up reading even more (buying more books). Any money we would have saved on 1-3 will be diminished. There goes the whole theory on saving money by buying an e-reader, but all isn’t lost. We will still save time, and sometimes I think time is more valuable than money anyways. The days of browsing the bookstore, waiting for help, sitting in traffic, standing in line, putting together a cheap Wal-Mart bookshelf are over. While the people that don’t have an e-reader are doing those things we’ll be reading our books.

Has buying an e-reader saved you time/money?

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Get That Job- A Fun/Creative Interviewing Tool

I’ve been in school for a long time, and out of everything I’ve learned it always amazes me the things I hang onto and the things I forget. Most classes have a dry, boring side to them. You go through the textbook or have to deal with a lecture that really makes you believe in death by Power Point (That’s what they should use in Guantanamo Bay). Generally I don’t retain that information for very long, but the things I do hold onto are the stories. Give me some interesting real life examples and I’ll remember them forever. I wanted to share a trick with you that my supply chain management teacher shared with us on the interviewing process.

Most of us have gone through the interview process more times then we’d like to admit. I know that every interview I’ve gone through there has been at least one question that I wasn’t quite sure how to answer. We all know that if we say “I don’t know” it might make us look bad. Instead we either sit there in awkward silence trying to think of THE answer that tops all other answers (which usually doesn’t happen) or we blabber something out hoping it makes sense (it typically doesn’t). So what should an interviewee do to hedge their bet against this embarrassing position? All we have to say is,

“I’m not sure how to answer that, but what I can tell you is that I’m the kind of person that does the dishes when we go camping.”

Now, when I first heard this I thought it was a joke, but the more I thought about it I decided it’s a genius idea. No one likes doing the dishes when their camping (not counting a deluxe RV/Cabin). The water is usually a pain to use, and there are bugs everywhere. You have to worry about how you dispose of everything because you don’t want critters attacking you in the middle of the night, and usually there are more exciting things you could be doing. Doing the dishes while camping shows that you’re a team player, and it also shows no job is below you. Not to mention it’s kind of funny and memorable. If you explain it to an interviewer the way I explained it to you it should be smooth sailing from there on out.

Keep in mind that that we never really know when we’ll be interviewed again. Economies are constantly changing, and a key part of keeping your finances in order is to have a job. What do you think of the advice I was given? He swears it’s been the ace up his sleeve for years. Do you have any other creative interviewing advice?

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Procrastinators Never Prosper- Plan Ahead to Save Money

I’m back from my blogging vacation (not that I consider studying for finals a vacation), and I’m ready to help you save money. I wanted to discuss something that I know a lot about. I wasn’t sure what to write about at first, and I kept telling myself, “I’ll just think of something tomorrow”. Tomorrow would come, just like it always does, but I’d neglect to think of a tropic. After a week of this I noticed that I, like many others, procrastinate all the time. A lot of people just accept that that’s the way they are and don’t give it a second thought. We’ve all heard someone say, “I’ll do that later. I work better under pressure!” In some circumstances that can work, but procrastination doesn’t work well with keeping your personal finances in order.

There is one main reason that procrastination equals financial disaster and that reason is things rarely work out how we expect them to. We constantly change our minds based on how we feel at that moment, and there are always problems we need to address that we weren’t expecting. Here are a few examples from my life where I wish I wouldn’t have procrastinated.

1) Refilling My Prescriptions: As some of you may know, I’m a diabetic. This means that I frequently visit the pharmacy. I used to wait until I was completely out of insulin to go get my refill (it isn’t rocket science). The last time I procrastinated on this issue was when I went into the pharmacy and they informed me that I had issues with my insurance, and in order for me to get a refill I had pay full price (which was $180 for a week and a half). The woman working there said, “Just wait a few days and we can get this straightened out. Then you won’t have to cough up that much money.” Apparently my insurance had just lapsed and it was time for me to pay for it again. After I took care of that I could get my insulin for $20. Needless to say I couldn’t wait a few days, and I had to pay full price. I learned that lesson the hard way.

2) Cooking Dinner: In my household I’m usually the one that does the cooking. On nights that I don’t particularly feel like cooking I’ll push it off until later. I generally do believe that I’ll get around to making something we already have; unfortunately, most of the time my mood changes and we end up eating out instead. My $10 home cooked dinner turns into a $20 dining experience. What a waste of money.

3) Buying Books For My Classes: Every semester I have to buy books for school, and every semester they get more and more expensive. I used to wait until I actually needed to use a book for an assignment before I’d buy it. By doing that I needed the book ASAP so I couldn’t look for a cheap one online. Also, all the used books (which are way cheaper) were gone from the bookstore. This meant that I got stuck paying for a brand new book. If I would have thought ahead I could have saved money. Instead I chose procrastination.

I think that putting stuff off that we don’t want to do is normal, but at some point you just have to suck it up and do it. When I think back to the actions that procrastinating allowed me to do, they generally didn’t benefit me more than the money would have. I wish everything always turned out the way I expected it to, but unfortunately it usually doesn’t. That is why procrastinating and having healthy finances don’t mix. Have any of you had experiences like these?

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Are You Inadvertently Giving Bad Advice to Your College Bound Kids?

When I was younger I was always being told that the secret to getting a good job is getting an education. I know that I’m not the only one to receive this advice. In fact, I’m willing to bet almost every parent tells their kids this. It has been getting easier for people to get their degrees, and this means that the significance of a college education has changed. In some ways it’s more important and in other ways it’s less. It’s more important because a college degree is becoming the high school diploma. The majority of people used to graduate from high school then go straight to the work force (which is why a college degree gave you a huge opportunity at a good job). Nowadays a lot more people go from high school to college (which is why we don’t have that guarantee anymore). What this is doing is it is allowing employers to require college degrees for jobs that used to only need a high school diploma. They still pay the same wages, but they want more education. College is less important in the sense that it no longer gives you a leg up in the workforce because all your competition also has their degree. Companies are now putting more emphasis on job experience (wait a minute, my parents didn’t tell me about that). What’s a new graduate to do? We’ve always been told it’s good to be well rounded in your life for college applications, but not many of us were told that you need to be well rounded to be successful in general. As the workforce requirements are changing the advice parents give their children is staying the same. I still hear parents tell their kids, “Go to college to be success.” I feel like they are leaving out some important things:

1)      College doesn’t guarantee anything without hard work.

2)      Try out multiple jobs in college so you can gain experience in different fields.

3)      Getting an A isn’t as important as actually understanding the material.

4)      Even with a degree you’ll still have to start towards the bottom of your field.

5)      Don’t take out a ton of student loans unless you’re going to an Ivy League school or becoming a doctor.

Some of these tips may seem like common sense, but I promise you that kids need to hear these things. We all need to start adjusting out attitudes and advice to match theses changing times.

Being an MBA student I’ve had a lot of opportunities to ask business owners questions. The one I like to ask is, “what problems have you seen when interviewing recent graduates?” I like this question because it tells me what not to do when I’m done with school. Everyone always answers the same way. They basically say that college graduates expect too much when starting their careers. They have always been told go to college to be successful. This has made them think that they are owed something when their done with school. Usually it’s that they will start out with a high paying job and they’ll automatically be a manager. When they get their reality check it usually doesn’t end well for the graduate, and they remain unemployed. They don’t want to start out at the bottom. If they did they wouldn’t have spent the money it costs to go to college in the first place (which goes up and up every year). Unfortunately there is rarely a way to get around starting at the bottom of an organization because the 4 year degree is now equivalent to the high school diploma 20-30 years ago. Another comment I commonly get form business owners is that new graduates don’t want to work as hard as the baby boomers did. They focus more on their balance between work and home (which means they don’t want to work more than 40 hours a week). Business owners don’t like this new attitude because they don’t know how to deal with it. They grew up when people were more than happy to work 60 hours a week because it meant more money. This idea that free time is more important than money is foreign to them. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing, but business structures will have to make this new workforce happy.

I mentioned above about keeping student loans to a minimum, and I wanted to tell you this story from my life that shows why this is important. I knew a girl that refused to work during school, and her parents couldn’t afford to help pay for her education. She also needed to go to school out of state to get the real college experience so her tuition fees were double. Her solution was to take out $50k in student loans. When she graduated college she decided that she wanted to be a teacher! She chooses a teaching salary with $50K in student loans? That was a bad choice, but she didn’t know what she wanted to do until it was too late. If her parent had given her a larger dose of reality there is a good chance she would have made smarter decisions. In many situations parents think it’s OK for their children to take about a lot of student loans because their going to college. I think they, just like their kids, need to realize there are no guarentees. That means that an abundance of student loans might not be such a hot idea. I get that parents are teaching their kids the lessons that they saw working while they were growing up. I respect that they are trying to help make their child successful. I just think it’s also important to watch the world around us and teach them lessons that pertain to here and now. Do you think new graduate feel like they are owed something? Have you seen a change in the workforce? Do you think we as a society should teach changes in the workforce in school?         

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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