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Entrepreneur Series – Lesson 6 – Poor Staffing Decisions

One of the first things I heard when I got into management in my career is the phrase “you have to put the right talent on the bus”. While I understood its meaning, it took many years to realize how important hiring decisions are to grow an organization the right way. I also felt the pain of making poor hiring decisions, and how much time and productivity you can lose from just one bad hire. No entrepreneur lives in the panacea of having zero turnover as sometimes they might like to make it seem, but certainly making the right staffing decisions by putting people in the right roles can allow your start up venture to get off on the right foot. One of the critical questions to ask yourself early in your venture is what role do you (the CEO/owner) play in your firm. If I was to use a baseball analogy, what jobs are you going to be a ...

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Should I Refinance My Mortgage?

These past couple of years many clients have asked about whether or not they should refinance their mortgage.    Along with people who have never refinanced, those that did even 18 months ago may be licking their chops to do the tango for another refinance in 2012.  For the week that ended December 23rd, the 30-year mortgage rate fell to 4.05% which was the lowest in 60 years according to HSH Associates which is a mortgage data firm.    The rates have gotten better in the jumbo market for those with a mortgage above $417,000 as well, but if you are below that number here are some considerations about whether a refinance is right for you. 1.) How long will you live in the home? –   One of the first questions you need to assess is how long you think you will stay at your current residence.  Or, if you leave the residence will you decide to use it as a rental ...

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5 Tips To A Successful Garage Sale

If you need some extra cash, one thing to consider during the holiday season (don’t wait til’ it warms up) is to have a year end garage sale.   Garage sales can be really profitable or just end up being a day outside getting rid of a few pieces of junk you don’t want in the house anymore.   If you are seriously thinking about making your garage sale a money making day, here are five of my tips to a successful garage sale. Place Like Items With Like Pricing On The Same Table –  It is really important to use a Sharpie and clearly mark the pricing on each of your tables.  You don’t want people to come up to your house and have to ask you every five minutes what items cost at each table.   If you have items you are going to mark for $1 or $5, it will be much easier to put them together at one table ...

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5 Ways To Save Money On Thanksgiving Dinner

According to a report from the American Farm Bureau Federation, you’ll spend 13% more on Thanksgiving groceries than you did in 2010. The report also mentions how the average cost for a Thanksgiving dinner to feed 10 people in 2010 was $43.47 and this year, it’s expected to be $49.20.   I’m not sure what town the Farm Bureau got this data from, but I don’t think I’ve ever been able to pull off a Thanksgiving dinner for $4.92 per head.  Of course if you’re drinking two buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s than it possible to hit this number as long as nobody gets second helpings of stuffing.    With the rising costs of milk, turkey, and other consumer staples, you are likely to pay more this year if you are hosting Thanksgiving Dinner.   Here are a few tips that might save you some money and still pull off a nice meal. Go pot luck with your relatives or friends–  Ask each ...

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Personal Finance 101: Generation X Series – A kid’s birthday party for $500 (or more)?

Generation X is classically defined at people born between the years 1965 and 1979.    Pretty much those of you in your early 30’s to the mid 40’s.  However, having given personal financial advice to thousands of people, I can tell you that many of you who were born 1960 to 1964 fit within the Generation X type of financial and personal attitude.   Since I am 42 and have had a good deal of financial success, I’ve noticed some big mistakes that I see my generation making with their money and how they think about money.    This week I wanted to discuss the mistake parents make that have two, three, or four children, and the crazy amount of money they spend on birthday parties. As a Gen X parent with a 14, 12, and 10 year old, I got caught up making some of the mistakes other Gen X parents make.   As you compete with your neighbors and friends for which ...

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Should You Watch The Misery Index?

They say that misery loves company.  The misery index was initiated by economist Arthur Okun, an adviser to President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960’s. It is simply the unemployment rate added to the inflation rate. It is assumed that both a higher rate of unemployment and a worsening of inflation both create economic and social costs for a country. A combination of rising inflation and more people out of work implies a deterioration in economic performance and a rise in the misery index. (source: www.miseryindex.us) When things are going well like they were in the mid 2000’s, we saw our discretionary income rising and it made it feel like we could afford anything that our hearts desired including real estate, cars, and fancy vacations. When we are in the midst of economic times like those of the mid 200’s, it can really feel like nothing can wrong.  Then we saw the downturn of the market in the late 2000’s, stock ...

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Personal Finance 101 – Funding Your Buy-Sell Agreement

Part of any good business plan is an exit strategy if the unexpected happens.  A good Buy-Sell Agreement should anticipate certain unfortunate but foreseeable events, and make sure a fair and reasonable plan is in place. When a triggering event occurs, everyone should be fully comfortable and prepared to move forward with the plan. The most critical detail of the Buy-Sell Agreement to the company’s survival is how to pay the purchase price for a departing owner’s interest.  If the company or other owners do not have adequate assets, cash reserves, or credit available to fund the payment obligations, then they cannot fulfill their side of the agreement.  This isn’t good for anyone – the departing owner (or his estate and family), the company itself, or the remaining owners. Insurance. Since death and disability are two of the most basic triggering events in any Buy-Sell Agreement, life and disability insurance can be the most attractive methods for funding the payment ...

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Some look to “The Stock Trader’s Almanac” to develop their investment strategy.

Growing up in Iowa “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” provided planting charts for those who lived on the farm giving advice as to when to plant as well as information about weather forecasts for that years growing season. Equity traders generally have their own version “The Stock Trader’s Almanac” to provide educational information on investing.  According to “The Stock Trader’s Almanac” over the past thirteen and a half years, starting in September of 1997 through February of 2011, if you has bought the Dow Jones Industrial Average at the end of the last trading day of each month and sold it at the end of the first trading day of the next month, you would have ended up with a total gain of 6,021 points for just 162 days of exposure to the market.  Additionally, if you had traded on the 3,215 other days, you would have lost a combined 1,604 points over the same period.  However, we do not recommend ...

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