I find it somewhat ironic that I’m writing about “making and saving cash” these days. I was not always a good saver in my younger days, but I am reformed. Believe me. My new book, by the way, is called Ideas for Making & Saving CASH Now! and I think the title is rather self-explanatory. As a real estate agent I have been blown away by the impact the current recession has had on so many of us. It’s put so many people in a catch-22, that is, they have been looking around at homes and have found some tremendous values, places that are selling at a significant price reduction from what they were asking just a few years ago, but these buyers don’t have the cash on hand to put 10% or even 5% down. And for many, the equity they thought they had in their home has dwindled alarmingly. First time home buyers, by the way, can still get 100% financing in many cases, if their credit isn’t in too bad a shape, but that’s another story I’ll save for later.
So who’s getting rich (I should say “richer”) in this economy? I think we all know. It’s the people with cash in their pockets who are having a feeding frenzy.
The point of my book, and maybe the point of life, is that living a frugal life has it’s rewards. A penny saved is, indeed, a penny earned. Those pennies add up, and that is never more apparent than in challenging times like these. Those who have the ability to take advantage of this buying cycle will be rewarded when the cycle runs its course.
There are so many ways to save money in our daily lives, but we all become creatures of habit, and habits can become expensive. Look at all the things we pay for now that were free or low cost in the past. TV, radio, cellphones, water, Internet, and coffee are just a few of the things that we’ve been brainwashed into paying big bucks for. Can you get by without cable TV or Starbucks coffee, or what about your high-speed Internet connection? Well the answer is yes, you can get by, but maybe life might not be as sweet. We get used to these conveniences in an alarmingly short period of time, l and doing without them is a drag.
You can, however, cut back on the level of service you’re paying for, or re-shop the service to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Cellphone plans are a lot like airplane tickets. What you pay depends a lot on how well you shop.
So how do you get down to the serious business of saving money. There are ways to save on practically everything and anything. Let’s take vegetables. Grow them, don’t buy them. Summertime can be a windfall of grocery savings if you take the time and effort to grow some of your own food. You can even take a page from your grandmother’s history book and can, freeze, or dehydrate your excess crops for later in the year.
Try making your own bread. It’s remarkably easy and the ingredients are only flour, salt, yeast, and water (with a few added ingredients for variations). Have you ever made your own pizza from scratch? It’s ridiculously easy, and once you master that, you may want to try apple pies, yogurt, ice cream, beer, and wine. So many of the products we buy from the grocery store can be made at a fraction of the cost you pay, and I won’t say all of your homemade versions are going to be just as good, but with a little trial and error, you may never go back to the commercially made products.
I am a big believer now in creating as many income streams as you can. Those that provide monthly or quarterly payments to you are ideal for finding and maintaining independence. This might include stock dividends, royalties, and other fees. Working independently from your employer can provide another income stream. There are a lot of jobs that allow you to contract as a freelance worker. Services that freelancers may perform include:
• Web Design / Internet marketing
• Graphic Design / Presentations / Multimedia
• Illustration / Cartooning / Painting / Sculpting
• Marketing / Advertising / Sales / PR
• Engineering / CAD / Architecture
• Networking / Hardware
• Legal Services
• Fashion / Interior / Landscape
• ERP / CRM Implementation
• Programming / Software / Database Development
• Writing / Editing / Translation
• Sales / Telemarketing
• Management consulting
• Photography / Videography
• Finance and Accounting
Job aggregator sites gather lists of job postings from other Web sites you can link to find job. They often center on a particular discipline, such as Web design, writing, or graphic, but not always. They can be helpful in saving you time jumping from site to site. Here’s a short list of freelance job aggregators:
CareerJet.com: Just type in freelance on the job aggregator for results.
FreelanceWritingCareer.com: Writing jobs that are offered on Craig’s List, Elance.com,
GetACoder.com, Getafreelancer.com, GoFreelance.com, IFreelance.com, Indeed.com,
Monster.com, ODesk.com, Project4Hire.com, RentACoder.com, Scriptlance.com, Yahoo Jobs,
AgaveBlue.net, AuthenticJobs.com, BloggerJobs.biz, ContractedWork.com, CoroFlot.com,
FreelanceSwitch.com, JournalismJobs.com, Krop.com, ProBlogger.net, VirtualVocations.com,
Jobagg.com: Aggregating Web design and development job boards from various sites.
JobPile.com: Job boards from Authentic Jobs, 37signals Jobs, FreelanceSwitch Job Board, Krop, Metafilter Jobs, FreshWebJobs, Slashdot Jobs, AllWeb Jobs, Coroflot Jobs
Joblighted.com: A single page “jobs aggregator” with jobs from Joel on Software Jobs,
37signals Job Board, CrunchBoard, Slashdot Jobs, Authentic Jobs Full-time, VentureBeat
JobBoard, TechGigger Jobs, MetaFilter Jobs, Python Job Board, Krop Jobs, Coroflot Jobs,
Job Board, nPost Startup Jobs, Jobs on the Wall, Boxes and Arrows Job Board,
Read/WriteWeb Jobs, Hidden Network, RealWebJobs, Wired Jobs
MostHired.com: Jobs from Jobs and Giggs, 37 Signals Jobs, RealWebJobs, 37 Signals Gigs,
Krop, Venture Beat, Authentic Jobs, GigaOM Jobs, Joel On Software, Crunch Board, MeFi
Jobs, FreshWebJobs, Slashdot, CSS Beauty, MinistryCamp, Boxes and Arrows, Design
YoSumo.com: Jobs from Joel on Software, Authentic Jobs, Gizmodo Jobs, 37signals, Slashdot, FreshWebJobs, Vitamin Jobs, CSS Monster
Then there is also an unlimited number of consulting, contracting, and other special skills that you can trade on, some of which can produce a good steady income. Often, however, it’s a lot like being a real estate agent, and once you finish the work, you have to go look for another client.
Making your money work for you is, as any devotee of the Rich Dad books knows, going to put you in a more desirable place in life. My personal favorite investment vehicle is still real estate. You can make a lot of money investing in real estate, and I don’t just say that because I’m a real estate agent. The sad thing is, most people never even try to invest in real estate, but they’ll throw their money away on lousy stocks that lose their value overnight. Even if you don’t like the idea of being a landlord, there are other options. Tax liens, for example.
When someone doesn’t pay the taxes on their real estate, the local government, usually the county, places a lien on the property for the amount owed. Investors buy these liens and earn interest on them. The interest can be as high as 50% per year, but a good average return is between 8% to 18%. 90-95% of all liens are paid, with interest, by the owner, but it’s a good short term investment for you. Not bad in this economy, and the county government handles the entire transaction. Worst case scenario is that the lien is not paid by the deadline, in which case, you may be first in line to foreclose on the property, which you then own free and clear. It may cost you some additional cash to tie up the deal and gain a clean title, but bottom line is, you can end up with an asset worth a heck of a lot more than you put into it.
Other means of producing income outside of your job include creating a Web site which you then use to earn money through an affiliate program such as Google’s AdSense, sell something through an online auction site like eBay, or through a free classified ad on Craigslist, or promote your own product online.
I hope this will get you started, or at least get yu started thinking about getting started. If you want more ideas, go to Amazon.com and check out Ideas for Making & Saving CASH Now!