1. A dollar is a dollar is a dollar. Why worry about spending $1,000 on coffee every year when you don’t even try to negotiate on things that could save you tens of thousands, like a home purchase or interest rate? — Alex Benke, CFP®, Product Manager
2. Adopt a rescue dog. Smart money isn’t always about how much you’re spending, but the value it brings to your life. For example, I still spend the same amount every month, but by cutting back on dining out to pay for dog care, I’ve created a more enriching experience for myself. — Catherine New, Content Manager
3. Routines, routines, routines. Everything is a subscription, so that when I do shop it’s an event and I can easily track it. — Jon Stein, Founder and CEO
4. A budget has changed my life. It’s always a work in progress, but holding myself accountable has made a huge difference. — Katherine Buck, Marketing and Community Manager
5. Create a ‘fun jar’ when you’re budgeting — and you have to spend it every month. Think of it as a good reward and counter-balance to budgeting elsewhere. –Yuriy Goldman, Lead Engineer
6. Always invest your money — don’t let it sit idle. If you are working hard for your money, your money should work hard for you. — Alfredo Zhou, Software Engineer
7. Learn the ins and outs of your miles and points programs. As long as you’re on top of it — and pay off the balance every month — you can make a profit. — Brandon McFadden, Product Associate
8. Know your market value. Ask for raises and network to keep your job options open. — Dan Egan, Director of Investing & Behavioral Finance
9. I have a budget of $24 per day for food, or $168 per week (hey, I don’t buy groceries). I usually spend less than that, so I keep a running total of my surplus and use it for fun expenses. — Adam Langsner, Software Engineer
10. Accept that you’re going to make mistakes. Even if you overspent today, simply decide that you’re going to do better tomorrow and stay on track. — Sarah Kaufman, Growth Manager
11. Mint’s graph of Net Worth Over Time is really helpful. I added all of my accounts into Mint, and now I try hard to keep that graph going up a little bit more each month. — Andrew Glenn, VP Core Systems
12. I track all our expenses every month in an old-school spreadsheet. I go through it with my wife every month so we’re both on the same page and we both have a good idea of where we stand. — AJ Kramer, Operations Associate
13. Pay your credit card every week. It’s easy to do online and protects you from spending money you don’t see. Huffington Post 8/7/14
If your website runs on a self-hosted WordPress installation or on Drupal, update your software now.
Nir Goldshlager, a security researcher from Salesforce.com’s product security team, has discovered an XML vulnerability that impacts the popular website platforms WordPress and Drupal. The vulnerability uses a well-known XML Quadratic Blowup Attack — and when executed, it can take down an entire website or server almost instantly.
This is a big deal because WordPress and Drupal are used by millions of websites. The latest statistics from the World Wide Web Consortium (WC3) show WordPress alone powers nearly 23% of the web. The good news is that both WordPress and Drupal have released patches for their applications. Users and web hosts simply need to upgrade to the latest version to protect against the vulnerability.
Do some research, and put together a list of your dream companies — whether or not they have openings. I recommend putting 10-20 potential employers in a spreadsheet, with columns to detail potential departments you could work in, contacts you may have (or could get there), and any other potential ins.
Then, for each company, do some digging to determine which may realistically have an open place for you. With a bit of research on social media, sites like Glassdoor, and the company’s blog and press releases, you can determine a lot: Which departments are emerging or underdeveloped? Which companies recently received funding and might be ready to bring on people in all areas? Where are there potential opportunities for your skill set that the company hasn’t thought of yet? (Mashable Share)
“Attitude, to me, is more important than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you… We are in charge of our attitudes.” (David Holt, 2014)
File these six upgrades under wish fulfillment, not value investment.
1. Outdoor Kitchen
The fantasy: You’re the man — grilling steaks, blending margaritas, and washing highball glasses without ever leaving your pimped-out patio kitchen.
The reality: For what it costs — on average $12,000-$15,000 — are you really gonna use it? Despite our penchant for eating alfresco, families spend most leisure time in front of some screen and almost no leisure time outdoors, no matter how much they spend on amenities, according to UCLA’s Life At Home study. And the National Association of Home Builders’ 2013 What Home Buyers Really Want report says 35% of mid-range buyers don’t want an outdoor kitchen.
The bottom-line: Instead, buy a tricked out gas grill, which will do just fine when you need to char something. If you’re dying for an outdoor upgrade, install exterior lighting — only 1% of buyers don’t want that.
2. In-Ground Swimming Pool
The fantasy: Floating aimlessly, sipping umbrella drinks, staying cool in the dog days of summer.
The reality: Pools are money pits that you’ll spend $17,000-$45,000-plus to install (concrete), and thousands more to insure, secure, and maintain. Plus, you won’t use them as much as you think, and when you’re ready to sell, buyers will call your pool a maintenance pain.
The bottom-line: If your idea of making it includes a backyard swimming pool, go for it. But, get real about:How many days per year you’ll actually swim. How much your energy bills will climb to heat the water ($760-$1,845 depending on location and temperature). What you’ll pay to clean and chemically treat the pool ($20-$100/month in-season if you do it yourself; $75-$165/month for a pool service). The fact that you’ll likely need to invest in a pool fence. In fact, some insurance carriers require it.
3. In-Ground Spa
The fantasy: Soothing aching muscles and sipping chardonnay with friends while being surrounded by warm water and bubbles.
The reality: In-ground spas are nearly as expensive ($15,000-$20,000) as pools and cost about $1 a day for electricity and chemicals. You’ll have to buy a cover ($50-$400) to keep children, pets, and leaves out. And, like in-ground pools, in-ground spas’ ROI depends solely on how much the next homeowner wants one.
The bottom-line: Unless you have a chronic condition that requires hydrotherapy, you probably won’t use your spa as much as you imagine. A portable hot tub will give you the same benefits for as little as
Your fantasy: No more climbing stairs for you or for your parents when they move in.
The reality: Elevators top the list of features buyers don’t want in the NAHB “What Buyers Really Want” report. They cost upwards of $25,000 to install, which requires sawing through floors, laying concrete, and crafting high-precision framing. And, at sales time, elevators can turn off some families, especially those with little kids who love to push buttons.
The bottom-line: If you truly need help climbing stairs, you can install a chair lift on a rail system ($1,000-$5,000). Best feature: It can be removed.
5. Backup Power Generator
Your fantasy: The power in your area goes kaput, but not for you. You were smart enough to install a backup power generator. While the neighbors eat cold hot dogs by a flashlight beam, you’re poaching salmon in your oven and pumping out Red Hot Chili Peppers tunes.
The reality: Power outages may seem to go on forever, but they don’t. Fifty dollars worth of batteries can power portable lights, radios, and TVs; a car adaptor will charge your cell phones and iPods; and some dry ice will keep freezer food cold for at least a couple of days.
The bottom-line: If you live in areas where power shortages are the rule, not the exception, spend the money for reliable backup power: Your still-frozen steaks, home office fax, and refrigerated medicine will thank you. But if the power goes out rarely, then installing a standby generator is overkill. Nationwide, homeowners recouped 67.5% on their average $11,742 investment in a backup generator — one of the lowest ROIs on the annual Cost vs. Value Report. If you need occasional emergency power, a gasoline-powered portable generator ($200-$650) probably will suffice.
6. New Windows
The fantasy: Brand new windows that don’t stick, and slash energy bills.
The reality: A $10,000 vinyl window replacement project will recoup about 70% of your investment at resale, and if they’re Energy Star-qualified, they can save you around $300 in energy bills per year. So, plan to live in your house about another 10 years to recoup the cost of new windows.
The bottom-line: We get it — new windows are sturdy, pretty energy savers. But unless old window frames are thoroughly rotten, most windows can be repaired for a fraction of replacement costs. And if you spend about $1,000 to update insulation, caulking, and weather-stripping, you’ll save 10%-20% on your energy bill.