Life Hacks Baby Edition: Part 2

“We must consult our means rather than our wishes.”   – George Washington


Hi Everyone, and welcome back to Life Hacks Baby Edition: Part 2. In case you missed Life Hacks Baby Edition: Part 1, we discussed some investment strategies on how to pay for the big ticket items in your child’s life such as college, their first car, etc… using investment methods such as index fund investing and real estate investing. Today in Part 2 we’re going to discuss how to save on some expenses during the day to day journey of raising a child. We’ll provide some helpful links and hopefully some out of the box ideas of how you can reuse some of your resources to see some steady savings while raising your little one:


The Cell Phone Baby Monitor –  Just doing a quick search on Amazon I found baby monitors ranging from $20.00 to over $300.00! Each monitor has different bells and whistles for your young padawan; but for something that will likely only be used for a few years, is $300.00 worth the expense? One creative idea I saw to alleviate the expense of a baby monitor (or security camera) is reusing old smartphones. Essentially through baby monitor apps, or video teleconferencing apps such as Skype, you can download, mount, and run real time footage of the area that you want to monitor. For more information or how to learn how to set up your own baby monitor using an old smartphone or tablet be sure to check out resources like this article or the video below!




What To Wear – When I was growing up, cheap clothes definitely meant hand-me-downs, the Goodwill Store, and Salvation Army; all of which are still viable options today for any family on a budget. Yet, one trend that is catching my eye is the ever growing rental business of clothing. I see it for adults all the time and now there are multiple businesses that offer affordable clothing for children. Here are the top three companies I’ve come across:


Kidbox – Kidbox offers clothing for the day to day. Whether its back to school shopping or even the essentials like undergarments and socks, this company seems to offer  wide range of styles and clothing for your children. What is really great about this company is that you only pay for what you keep; which is a huge bonus.


The Borrowed Boutique and Rainy’s Closet – What I liked about both of these companies is that they are perfect for those “special occasions”  such as baptisms or weddings. Both companies offer a simply business model and the clothing they offer seems very elegant and well made. For your children you simply pick out a nice outfit, got to the event, and then return the outfit. This can certainly be much more cost efficient than buying a dress or suit and only having your child wear it once or twice for a special occasion.


What To Eat – I think at one time or another every parent has probably wondered “will this kid stop eating already!?” Growing kids are hungry, and… well… food costs money (you can put two and two together) No, I’m not proposing to starve the little meatballs, but instead map out some healthy and affordable meal planning. I’ve personally found the best way to feed a group of people in general is to make one big dish during the week and have leftovers for lunch or dinner for the rest of the week. It saves not only the most money, but time as well. Here are some recipes and resources you might find helpful when it comes to preparing dinner or cooking a dish up for the week that everyone in the family can enjoy:


Kidspot Recipes – This link will bring you to 12 quick and easy recipes anyone can accomplish while on a budget or strapped for time.


98 Cheap and Easy Foods to Make – In this article you will find, well…. 98 cheap and easy foods to make.., above all in this article the author lays out alot of quick and healthy dishes to make while on a budget.


Adult Hack –  I found this article actually pretty interesting and wanted to include it in this blog. It’s actually for how adults can watch their calories by ordering from the kids menu at many chain restaurants. Some of the restaurants mentioned aren’t the healthiest choice; however if you’re on the go this is an option worth exploring to save a little bit of money.

Conclusion –
There are ways of saving money all around us, sometimes we just need to get a little creative. What I’ve found the most helpful during my time writing these blogs is doing honest research. There are so many businesses and services out there to take advantage of, that you would never even know existed if you haven’t looked for them! How do you save money on the day to day expenses for your kids? Do you have any good recipes or tips on how to save money? Let us know in the comments below!

Life Hacks: Baby Edition Part 1 (Saving for College)


“Financial peace isn’t the acquisition of stuff. It’s learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can’t win until you do this.” – Dave Ramsey

A few weeks ago, I was going through my facebook feed and I came to the realization that I never really realized how many of my friends have children, or are expecting to have children! Since The Thrive Vine is a family blog I wanted to address kind of a misunderstanding about kids and finances. I think many people, to some degree or another, believe that kids are expensive; and that if you’re going to have children, your run at financial independence is just about over.


Sure you have the big ticket items like college, vacations, maybe even future medical expenses such as little Timmy breaking his ankle jumping from a jungle gym in elementary school (#sorrymomanddad) But what we forget are that children are just mini adults (and some adults are big kids) so if you can fiscally take care of yourself there is no reason why a child should break the bank for you and your family. Today in Life Hacks: Baby Edition Part 1, we are going to be addressing the all elusive college fund and how you can starting investing (not saving) for your baby’s future:


College Fund –  I remember any Birthday, Christmas, or Graduation money I got as a kid went into one fund: the college fund. In today’s world  things aren’t much different. In fact, many millennial parents are still paying off their own student loans while saving for their children’s education. I think what many people fail to realize is that college is no longer something that can be saved for; but something that needs to be invested towards.


Here’s what I mean: I remember my father telling me when he went to college back in the 70’s his tuition was $700 a semester (I believe this was including books!) I know personally, when I was in college, I spent more than my father’s total semester tuition in books alone almost every semester.


What I’m getting at here is that $700 is a very feasible goal to save towards. However what if your child’s tuition is 10k-20k a semester!? There’s a very little likelihood that you are going to save enough money for one semester never mind an entire college education in 17-18 years. However there are two main options that I’d like to share with you for investing towards your child’s college fund:


The Real Estate Method –  As you know I’m a real estate investor, and believe that real estate is probably the fastest way to grow your wealth. However what if just one rental property could pay for half if not all of your child’s college education? Here’s a scenario:


Say you purchase a rental property on your baby’s first or second birthday for 100k, you put down 20k, which leaves you with an 80k mortgage. Over the next 17-18 years you rent out the house and your tenants pay down another 20k of your mortgage which leaves your mortgage at 60k. Keep in mind the beautiful thing about real estate is appreciation; you purchased a house almost 20 years ago and as the market appreciates in value, so does your home. Lets fast forward to 17-18 years later and your home is now worth 210k due to appreciation and of course any work you put into the house.


This means by owning just one rental home for almost 20 years and having your tenants pay down your mortgage you now have 150k in equity! (210k appraised value – 60k your mortgage). So you might be asking how is this going to help with my child’s college fund!?


Well you are going to tap into that equity to pay for your child’s college! There are many options for this scenario including Home Equity Loans and HELOC’s however for this scenario let’s use a cash out refinance. In this scenario using a cash out refi you can walk away with 97,500 by refinancing your house. Here’s how:


210k (Appraised Value of your home) x 75% LTV (loan to value typically what a bank will lend you) = 157,500k


157,500k – 60k (Mortgage) = $97,500.00


With any luck $97,500 will hopefully be more than enough to put a dent in any college debt your child might have. Additionally you still have a rental property where your tenant will continue to pay down your mortgage.


The Index Fund Method – Believe it or not the greatest asset a parent has when investing for their child’s future is time (if you start early) It just so happens that is what index fund investing is all about; accruing compound returns over a period of time. Here at The Thrive Vine we aren’t exactly financial advisors I can’t tell you which funds to invest in, however from my own experience and readings I can share with you some funds and resources worth exploring.


Being a real estate guy I truthfully didn’t know much about index fund investing until I read the Simple Path To Wealth by J.L Collins. In his book, Collins strongly suggests the fund VTSAX (Vanguard Total Stock Market Index) What index funds do is track the stock market. What does that mean? It means that while many investors will gamble on individual stocks to provide stellar performance, by investing in a U.S total stock market index you are betting on the United States Economy as a whole. VTSAX alone is made up of about 3,600 publicly traded companies including tech giants such as Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.


One thing that I didn’t like about VTSAX is that Vanguard requires 10k to start investing, because of this I started investing in SWTSX (Schwab Total Stock Index). While the Schwab index is made up of fewer companies than Vanguard, it doesn’t require a minimum to start trading; additionally if you have a Schwab account you get free trades. Still like Vanguard? No Worries you can invest in VTSAX in EFT form using the ticker VTI.


So all of this information might be useful but how is this supposed to help you invest towards your child’s college fund? The great thing about index funds are that they grow! When the market increases your index fund goes up in value. If you continue to invest on a regular basis (whether the market is up or down) your earnings can grow quite a bit. In fact VTSAX has a average 5 year return of 12.83% which isn’t too shabby.


The scariest part about index fund investing is when the market goes down. Keep in mind all markets, whether real estate or the stock market go down. The whole mantra behind index fund investing is that you can’t time the market; and you’d be foolish to do so. By investing steadily in your fund and keeping to your game plan you will eventually see gains.


When investing for your child’s future the greatest asset you have is time. Although 17-18 years might not seem like alot of time to accumulate a massive amount of money for your child’s education; once your money starts compounding you will certainly be in good shape for your child’s educational future.

Conclusion – How do you plan to save for your child’s college fund? What tips or strategies are you using that you might be able to share? In Part Two we are going to dive a little more into life hacks on how newer parents can save money  (which in turn they can invest) and continue on their journey to financial independence while bringing their little one along for the ride!

Two Methods on Real Estate Investing… and How to Choose Which One Is Right For You

“Don’t wait to buy real estate. Buy real estate and wait.” – Will Rogers

One thing I’ve learned being a real estate agent is that when it comes to our homes most of us want the best. Why shouldn’t we? Our homes are the places we build our memories, relax; our own private oasis’. However real estate can be much more than a place to build memories; for centuries it has been one of the greatest builders of wealth known to humanity. Yet with all the HGTV shows and hype that surrounds real estate there still lies the heavy debate of how to go about investing in it. The two trains of thought surrounding real estate investing are simply cash flow vs equity. Is it worth being house rich and cash poor?(I’ll explain this later) Or simply keep saving until you can buy a home in cash which you’ll have maximum equity and cash flow? But how long would that take? Is it even worth investing in real estate if you don’t achieve the maximum cash flow?  In today’s blog I’m going to dive a little deeper into the debate of cash flow vs equity and how you can choose which approach might be right for you.

It’s All In The Numbers – Cashflow is defined as “the total amount of money being transferred into and out of a business, especially as affecting liquidity.” In layman’s terms, cashflow is the amount of money left over after all your expenses are paid. Many believe that your mortgage is your only expense when investing in real estate; however it’s important to also calculate for vacancy, maintenance costs, and capital expenditures. Capital expenditures are  “big ticket items”, such as a new roof, furnace, septic, etc… For example, say you can rent a home for $1,200.00/mo however your mortgage is $600.00, and you allocate $400.00 towards your capital expenditures, vacancy, and maintenance costs. That means that you cashflow $200.00/mo for your unit. So the answer in all of this is that it’s important to run your numbers so you can make the maximum amount of money. The great thing about investing in real estate is that your costs and expenses aren’t fixed. What do I mean by that? I mean that if your taxes go up and effect your mortgage, which in turn decreases your cash flow, you could shop around for cheaper homeowners insurance which might offset the increase. Is your water or sewer bill cutting into your profits? Check the home for any slow leaks, or install more water conscious devices such as toilets, dishwashers, etc.. In real estate investing there are many challenges but there are also many answers to the challenges you will face.

House Rich But Cash Poor – Being house rich but cash poor means that you have more equity tied up in your home than actual liquid cash. What the heck does that mean? In the real estate world it means you have a ton of equity in your home; but your cash flow sucks. The next question is, is having alot of equity in your home a bad thing when investing? The answer is, certainly not. Many investors don’t realize that you can tap into that equity to leverage and expand your portfolio. So how do you do that? The best ways to extract equity from a home are a Home Equity Line of Credit (this is easy to do if you have equity in your primary residence) or the ever impressive cash out refinance. When applying for a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) you would go to your local bank or financial institution. The bank would then appraise your home, see what you owe on it, and lend accordingly. For instance say your home is worth 300k but you only owe 190k on it so you have 110k worth of equity in your home! From there you could ask for a specific line of credit such as 25k-50k or the bank will lend up to a specific amount. This is a great way to have access to liquid cash to use as a downpayment on an investment property or even use to absorb some of your monthly expenses. Something to note about HELOC’s are that most are at variable interest rates and, as any line of credit, you need to pay back the money borrowed on you HELOC eventually. Most HELOC’s have payment plans of paying interest only for a certain number of years and then paying back the principal for the later half of the line of credit. Before agreeing to the terms of the HELOC it is always import to understand the terms of the line of credit and to make sure you do not over extend yourself. Another aspect to mention are that all banks have different rates and even introductory rates for HELOC’s; so it’s important to show around for the most competitive rates.

Another wonderful way to tap into your home equity is using what is known as a “cash out refi.” To apply for a cash out refinance simply go to your local bank or lender and they can walk you through the process. Basically the general gist of a cash out refinance is to pull the equity from your home,  in return for a new loan on your home. So what does all this mean? In our previous example say you have a home worth 300k but you only owe 190k on it. So you have 110k in equity that you have in your home! Traditionally a bank will lend up to 80%; that means if you refinance your home you could potentially take up to 88k from your homes equity to anything you’d like with (80%x110k). This includes buying another investment property, putting that money towards your child’s college fund, or even purchasing a new car. The great thing about this cash out refi process is that you do not need to pay back the money that you take from your home’s equity.  The next question is: what happens to your monthly mortgage when you do a cash out refi? In some instances your monthly mortgage might go up, however in an ideal situation your monthly mortgage would go down and you would be locked into a lower interest rate than you previously have; it’s imperative your mortgage professional runs the numbers beforehand.

Also noteworthy, are that cash out refinances do come in handy for those of us who used an FHA loan on our homes. With FHA loans most of us are required to have PMI or private mortgage insurance on our homes. However a great way to avoid this is to purchase a home using an FHA loan, create some equity in the home such as renovating a kitchen, bath, or new floors, and then eventually refinance into a conventional mortgage which could then drop the PMI from your monthly mortgage. This would ideally decrease  your monthly mortgage. Eventually this pays off because when/if you go to ever rent out your home; your cash flow will increase as your monthly mortgage would decrease. Yet the best part about refinancing into a conventional mortgage from an FHA loan is that you then get your FHA loan back! So then you can pick another property and use your FHA loan again; which allows you to invest in real estate with a lower down payment as low as 3.5%.

Conclusion – So how do you determine which is right for you cashflow or equity? It really depends on your goals. In my opinion if you are trying to obtain a cushion or a basis of financial independence you need some sort of “passive” income stream to absorb the income coming in from a 9-5 job. In this instance I would say you need to get a few good cash flowing properties under your belt and want to focus on properties that will allow you to either pay them off fast; or properties that you can see a good amount of cash flow from. However with all that said using an equity approach is also extremely powerful and can also buy time/years of freedom from a 9-5 position. For instance say you have 1 rental property and can do a cash out refinance where you would receive 80k. If you already know that your expenses for 1 year total about 35k/yr, by just refinancing that one house you buy yourself almost 2 years of time. During that time you could focus on creating a new business, traveling, or just taking time for yourself and step away from a traditional “job” for a few years. There are powerful lessons to be learned using real estate to purchase your time. Cash flow vs equity is just one approach; it’s ultimately up to you to explore the many options and opportunities real estate investing can open up to you. What aspects of real estate investing interest you? Would you go with cash flow over equity or vice versa? Let us know your thoughts  in the comments below!

Three Strategies To Give Yourself A Raise

“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” 
― Tim Ferriss

Hello to all my fellow Thrivians out there! I hope you are well and I wanted to start this blog off by doing a little recap of what I’ve been up to. Everyone needs a break and I currently took about a 4 month hiatus from blogging. Why? You might ask? Well I’ve been pursuing exactly what today’s blogging topic is about. For those who might be seeing this as the first blog; the Thrive Vine has become almost a documentary of the journey of becoming financially independent; or close to at least, by the age of 35. In 1 month I’ll be 30 years old, so I figured that leaves me 5 years to buckle down and start making some moves. One of those moves was to make more income; something which I think many of us try to strive for. Below are not only the observations and success I had on my journey; but also 3 different strategies you can take to give yourself a raise:

Get a new Job – There are honestly two ways main ways you can give yourself a raise. By either cutting spending and making a lifestyle change; or by generating more income. For me, I took the later path of trying to generate more income by changing jobs and making an upward move in my career. Here are how the numbers worked out for me. I was previously making $43,600 at my old position after being there for a little over 5 years. I’ll admit it was a nice place to work; however the income change wasn’t happening as quickly as I wanted/needed it to, to continue on my path to becoming financially independent. After applying to numerous positions and going through the hell that has become job searching (more blogs on that to come) I landed a job in about 2 months time. The starting salary was 55k with a 5% bonus so we’re talking about 57k/year. Which isn’t too shabby and is more than enough for me to speed up the process of saving/investing…So you can say in a little over 2 months I gave myself about a 14k raise. However is getting a new job always the answer? The answer is a big HELL NO; in fact I would suggest changing jobs for two reasons: If you genuinely don’t like it; and the work you do doesn’t give you fulfillment. Or reason two, if you really feel that you can’t go anywhere further and you’ve reached your max at that company. My reason was the latter.

Create Your Own Position In The Same Company– Recently a friend of mine had an amazing success story of increasing her income by a little over 20k/year through the art of promotion. The uniqueness of this situation comes in the reality that the position she was promoted to never existed and she essentially convinced managers and VP’s of the work and title that she was doing. So the underlying question is; how can anyone do this? The answer here is leverage. When you prove that you are an asset to a company your company is more inclined to give you the opportunity to move up the ladder. In my friend’s situation she went from a regular technical coordinator position to an Executive Assistant which allows her to support not only her manager but VP’s of the company as well. When all else fails remember to look at your manager or boss and think “what tasks can I take off their plate” as a result, a promotion might be in your future along with additional income.

Get Another Offer – Another good friend of mine also went through the process of getting an over 30k raise! In his situation he didn’t get a new job or even get a position title or promotion. He went out and interviewed with another company and after being granted the position from that company, he took the offer letter to his current manager and from there his company decided to match the competitors offer. So again how does one do this? The answer again is that you need to be an asset to the company that you work for. From my experience I’ve found companies are ok with letting some people go; however if you make yourself a resource to them they’ll reward you; and in turn will help you give yourself a raise.

Conclusion – Lets review: There are a bunch of ways to give yourself a raise at work by staying at where you currently work or by moving on. In any of the above situation one thing does hold true; you need to be really good at what you do in order to move up. If you feel that you are the backbone of your department or organization speak up and get the pay you deserve for your hard work! What you do you think? What are some other ways you give yourself a raise and gain more income? Leave your comments below!

Three Things I Wish I Knew About Personal Finance In High School

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” – Albert Einstein

If I had to define High School, I’d define it as a weird time where you’re discovering who you are on a personal level, what you want to do with the rest of your life, and oh yea and at the end of your tenure in the school system you’ll be making one of the biggest financial decisions of your life by choosing a college to go to… no pressure. It’s already been 12 years since I graduated high school and at the time there were zero personal finance classes; like seriously nothing that would remotely prepare you for a financial future #Iwastoobusysolvingforx. Thankfully some high schools are now teaching personal finance, yet, I certainly feel there should and can be much more emphasis on the topic of our schools to prepare our youth for not only responsible financial decisions, but a prosperous life. In today’s blog we’re going to be going back to highschool, so please find your assigned seats and get ready to review Three Things I Wish I Knew about Personal Finance in High School.

Gambling Is Not the Same as Investing – This one goes out to all my crypto maniacs out there. It seems obvious however there is a huge lack of education about what investing is; especially when it comes to the stock market. Many of us, myself included, started dabbling in stocks with frankly little to no clue with what we are doing. We take a few shares of Amazon, maybe some of Apple, and then always look for the home run company; you know, the company that is the next Facebook or is going to be the next big thing. For years I did this; and looking back I lost more money than I had to because I didn’t know the secret to investing. Investing requires a massive amount of education, patience, and discipline. Gambling on the other hand is essentially the exact opposite #anotherbitcoinplease. Investing requires a plan; now there’s nothing wrong with reading the prospectus of a company, and investing and believing in that company. However if you blindly choose individual stocks or speculate the next big thing; you might be a gambler. To date, many who have achieved FIRE suggest the best investment strategy is to invest heavily in a total stock market index such as VTSAX (Vanguard Total Stock Market index) or SWTSX (Schwab total stock market index, I personally use this one). Some of these market indexes track the S&P 500 and NASDAQ and have been proven to see better gains than picking individual stocks. If you aren’t already investing or are hesitant about investing, the total stock market indexes are really a great way to get into investing; as the historical data that backs up the indexes shows consistent gains over time. 

Choose Your College Wisely – I don’t think I’ll ever agree with leaving the biggest financial decision of their life up to an 18 year old. When you’re 18 you want to fit in, you want to pursue an interesting and impressive career, and you also have an absolute zero understanding of debt or how to manage it. Education is an incredibly powerful tool; however college can also wreak havoc on your financial future for years to come. At the end of the day college is an investment. Although the experience of college life might set the illusion or mirage of being appealing; no one should base their decision of attending a college based solely on social or party aspects of an institution. I think all too often it’s easy to associate a “party school” with a wonderful “networking” opportunity. However, don’t let the temptation of partying overshadow the return you will receive on your investment. It’s important to choose wisely. If you don’t know for sure what you want to do; there is no shame in attending a community school while you figure it out. Still don’t know what you want to do with your life? Start interning (yes working for free) at local small businesses. There are so many businesses out there that need help and if you’re unsure of what you would like to pursue, it’s a wonderful idea to speak with people in your community and trying different jobs. You’ll find what you like, what you don’t like, what you’re good at etc… Give yourself the gift of developing your passion and finding your “why” in life before making a financial decision that can be with you easily for the next 10-20 years. 

Additionally you want to educate yourself on debt and how to manage it. The way to eliminate debt is to get ahead of the interest rate so more of your payment goes towards the principle of the loan. Before heading to college run how much of a loan you will need, the interest rate on the loan, and what your monthly payment might look like. Furthermore factor in additional payments, and how you can budget to get ahead of the interest rate. If you keep chipping away at the principle of the loan by making additional payments you will pay it off incredibly faster than making just minimum payments. 

You Have More Time Than You Think – I think there’s a weird stigma that once High School and even College is over people seem to think adulthood begins. Well I’m gunna shine a little wisdom. Whether you are 18 or 65 years old “adulthood” is kind of a mindset. Will you have responsibilities? Of course you will. However I also think it’s important to always keep learning and growing. The last item I wish I new about personal finance in High School would be to continue to invest in yourself. This could be in the form of education, educating others with your experience, or investing in your health. I think it’s important to realize that it’s ok to go off on different ventures through life; whether they be business related or personal journeys. Although you don’t need money to make things happen; as we grow older we learn that money buys time. The more money you have, the more time you have bought back. Setting financial goals are important; however rewarding yourself and staying creative and ambitious is also equally important. 

Conclusion – High School taught me alot of things; however personal finance wasn’t one of them. Truthfully, Personal Finance doesn’t really require many crazy formulas or for you to bust out your TI-83 graphing calculator and map your way to success. It requires discipline, patience, and a willingness to be adaptable to market conditions. Most importantly it requires education. Always keep learning, educating yourself, and above all keep striving towards your goals. What are some things you wish you learned about personal finance in High School? We’d love to hear your thoughts; share in the comments below!

How I Learned Web Page Design From a Plumber


“Believe in yourself, your abilities and your own potential. Never let self-doubt hold you captive. You are worthy of all that you dream of and hope for.” – Roy Bennett


Lately I’ve been getting alot of compliments on the new look of the site. It was a big move for sure, and so much was learned during the site migration. It wasn’t until recently that one of my friends asked how I knew so much about web page design, site layout, reading source code, yada yada yada. I started thinking about how to answer this question and thought this would make a really empowering blog topic.


You see, from the job descriptions we read, to the tasks we only “wish” we could achieve; it becomes apparent that we put some major limitations on ourselves. However, today’s blog is going to be my story of how I learned web page design; not from college, or even webpage design classes, but from a Plumber. Without further adieu here is the story of how I learned web page design…


The Plumber’s Story –  Everyone loves a good story, and this one picks up on one summer day in my Mother’s kitchen of all places. She hired a plumber to fix her kitchen sink and as he was just finishing up and heading out, I came home from my college classes. He asked me, “hey I’m starting a webpage design company, your ma says your good with computers. Wanna come work for me?” Now, this guy was like Mario straight out of Nintendo. Before me stood a sicilian Plumber in overalls with an italian accent that persuaded me just enough to say yes. I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little scared of being “whacked.”


On my first day with the Plumber I met him in a little office in Greenwood Lake New York. When I say the office was little, I mean my bedroom closet was bigger… Nonetheless I came to work and learn, and that’s just where we started. It turned out the Plumber had a dream of his own, starting a giant database of all the master plumbers all across New Jersey, and building these plumber’s websites.


After a few weeks of hands on training I learned to not only design websites but read and create source code. Some of it was absolute monotonous work, copy and pasting the same code over and over. However it taught me the importance of everything being uniform. Everything had to be linked, meta tags inserted, and the page completely SEO’ed (search engine optimized) so people could find us on google. The amount of attention to detail was crazy to me; but taught me to always double check my work.


But Why –  After a year of working for the Plumber, I finally asked him “when did you come up with this idea, and why is it so important?” He then explained to me that in just a few years it was planned that he would go blind due to macular degeneration. He had already had several operations on his eyes and would no longer be able to rely on plumbing to support his family. His goal was to get his website design business started and be able to create some sort of income for his family. He taught himself web page design by reading books, and watching youtube videos. He, like me, never took one class on web page design.


The Takeaway –  Whenever I get really down on myself I think about the lesson the Plumber taught me. There are too many times in life where credentials are over weighted. We convince ourselves that we can’t do things because we don’t have MBA’s, 10+ years experience, or don’t have “advanced” skills in excel or SAP. The biggest truth in life is that any skill can be learned.


The next time you’re challenged, connect to the scenario “what if I had to.” What if you had to learn a skill so that you can go deeper in your career, to bring in more income for your family, or even so you can be happier? If a Plumber can teach himself web page design, if a real estate agent (such as myself) can blog about personal finance and career advice; there’s certainly no reason you can’t do anything that your heart desires. The key takeaway I really want to drive home in this blog are that the only limitations that exist are the ones we set upon ourselves.


What do you think? How do you overcome your obstacles and stay focused on your goals? Share with us in the comments below!

Three Tech Savvy Tools That Will Help You Save Time And Money This Summer

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

Here’s a small confession: I’m a bit of a tech geek when it comes to new apps and gadgets. Here’s another confession: I’m admittedly in love with saving money, which of course if you’re reading this blog, I hope you are too! I recently had the chance to try out some different apps and sites; and wanted to share my findings with you. Below are the ones I found that not only saved me time but saved me money as well!


GasBuddy – As the old saying goes “Gas prices are as fickle as the heart” (#thatsnotarealsaying) and indeed they are. With gas prices expected to soar over $3.00 a gallon in New Jersey this summer I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll walk to work if I have to. Luckily with GasBuddy, I don’t have to! GasBuddy is an app that simply shows you where the cheapest gas is in your area.


You simply put in your location and how many miles you’d like to travel and GasBuddy does the rest. The app is always being updated constantly by other users driving by and reporting what price they are paying for gas. Although I mostly use this app for finding the cheapest gas stations in my area, GasBuddy also has a feature where you can put in what type of car you have and it will alert you of any recalls. Overall I thought it was a really cool app and has saved me quite a bit of money already.


Project FI and Republic Wireless –  I’ve been following Google’s Project FI and Republic Wireless for some time. Both apps work towards cheaper cell phone service. Having a cell phone bill that is $15-$20 will certainly beat my $67.00 verizon bill every month for sure!


So how do Project FI and Republic Wireless work? Both apps are only compatible with certain phones sold mostly by Motorola; here is a complete list of phones for Project FI and Republic Wireless. The way you get service through both service carriers, is essentially through switching between various networks and wifi. Both services tap into T-Mobile and Sprint networks which allow you access to hotspots and networks virtually anywhere. Need data? You can also purchase additional data from both services. If a $15.00 phone bill means not streaming netflix from my phone, and just using my phone for regular functions; well that sounds like a win to me!


JobScan Are you going to be looking for a new job this summer? If so, you’ll need to dust off your resume and JobScan is just the tool for the job. JobScan is honestly revolutionary in that you can upload your resume and it will tell you which positions your resume is targeted towards. You can also copy and paste the job description you are looking for and it will help you find your highlighted skills.


JobScan also helps will coverletters, highlighting your skills, and above all getting your resume seen through search bots and filters that companies use to view resumes. If you’re planning on job hunting this summer, JobScan is a must! It’s a huge time saver and probably the most efficient way out there to get your resume seen.

Conclusion – Well there you have it folks! 3 tech savvy ways to save some time and money this summer. I hope that you find some of these links and services useful; I know I have! Do you have an app or website that has helped you out? Let us know in the comments below and share with the community!

How Debt Can Set You Up For Financial Success




“I like the night. Without the dark, we’d never see the stars.” – Stephenie Meyer


Usually the words debt and financial success are never used together, nevermind in the same blog title. Yet, I wanted to write a blog about what I learned from being in debt and the biggest lessons and habits that helped me. While being in debt is certainly something most financial professionals (and me) would never advise, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel; and there are some life changing lessons to be learned by being in debt and getting out of it. Without further adieu here is how debt can set you up for financial success:


The Background Story – Back in 2011 I was the ripe old age of 22 and fresh out of college. My total student loan debt was a mere 45k;  childsplay compared to what many college graduates face today. Yet, as they say, timing is everything and after graduating just 3 years post the Financial Meltdown, the unemployment rate was 9%; which really sucked. After getting off to a rough start in the job market I found myself with two bachelor degrees working for $12.00/hr; not exactly what I was envisioning. However, it didn’t really matter how much I was making, I had 45k to start paying off.


The Habits –  I’ve always been a pretty frugal person so having enough money to pay off the monthly statement on my student loans really wasn’t an issue. It wasn’t until I started understanding interest rates that I was able to step up my game and start aggressively paying down my debt. Soon every spare penny I had went towards those loans and I eventually paid off the 45k in about a year and a half, thanks to $12.00/hr and more overtime hours than anyone would need in a lifetime.


Although most would say paying down the loans was a great accomplishment; it wasn’t until the debt was satisfied that I realized the habits formed by repaying my debt were attributing to my financial journey and success. If you’ve made it this far, you might be asking “what the hell is this guy talking about!?” Stay with me..


You see, it hit me that when you are actively paying back debt you are always on a budget; afterall, you know that you have a loan payment coming up and will budget your finances appropriately to make that payment. However when you pay that loan or debt off, you still have the power to put away money as if you were still paying off your debt. For example, say after you pay off your debt you continue to allocate that loan payment in your savings account or a retirement account.


By formulating this habit, you learn the art of not only saving but paying yourself first. Paying yourself first is really one of the most important rules of personal finance. It’s important to not increase your expenses by spending your money on expensive lunches and nights out at the bar everyday; but take that extra money and invest in yourself and your future.


Credit – Another way that debt has the potential to increase your financial success is through your credit. I remember after paying back my student loans my credit score soared to over 800. What did this do for me? It was because of a good credit score that allowed me to lock in a stellar 3.3 percent interest rate on my first duplex; without question this wouldn’t have been possible if I wasn’t set up by the habits that were created by paying off my debt.

Conclusion – Not very often will you hear to appreciate debt. However, when the habits used to pay back debt are used towards savings and investing; financial success is almost inevitable. What do you think? Do you think the habits caused by debt can later help you on your financial journey? Let us know in the comments below!

How Quitting Your Job Can Save You Money

“There are many things money can buy, but the most valuable of all is freedom. Freedom to do what you want and to work for whom you respect.” – J.L Collins


Reading the title of this blog you might be thinking “this guy is way off his rocker.” I mean you don’t need to be a financial guru to know that you need money in order to live. But you see, that’s exactly it! You need money to sustain a lifestyle of your choice, not necessarily a job. Whether your idea of comfort is a 6 bedroom house with a courtyard, or a 2 bedroom home nestled away in the woods; that part is up to you. When most of us think about how to get money we think, we need a job. However in today’s blog I’m going to propose that in some instances we can actually save money by quitting a job/profession we dislike and replace it with something that is much more flexible and purposeful that we do like. Here is how quitting your job can actually save you money:


Commute – Let’s face it gas prices aren’t going down, in fact according to the U.S Energy Information Administration “the United States consumed 143.85 BILLION gallons of gas in 2017 that’s a daily average of about 391.40 million gallons of gas.” With a demand like that, oil companies have the upper hand with fuel prices, plain and simple. So what can we do about this? And what on earth does this have to do with our jobs? Well.. since you asked… one of the first things I ask people when they say they do not make enough money is: what does your commute look like? Are you driving an hour, or two hours to work everyday? After bringing awareness to this it’s extremely easy to see where our paychecks are going.

So there are a few options here: Either you can get a more fuel efficient vehicle, find a job that is closer to you, or limit your commute all together. Now you might ask, how do I limit my commute altogether!? I’m glad you asked! We are witnessing a revolution when it comes to positions and employers that allow employees to work from home/ or freelance. Sitting at home blogging and writing content is amazing! The best part about it is that you can get paid to do it and you don’t need to sacrifice your hard earned money to your gas tank! This ties into our next point:


Working From Home –  Does your employer offer the option from home? If your employer is like mine, they probably don’t! (#didn’tseethatcoming) so how can you work around this. Well take a look at your position and figure out how maybe you can work from home. Think about it; even if you could swing working from home two days a week, that still saves money on items like gas, vehicle maintenance, and even items like possibly child care. But most importantly it saves you time. How does it save you time? Well every 30minute, 45minute, or hour commute add up! What could you be doing in that time aside from driving or sitting in traffic?

I know what you’re thinking – How the heck am I going to convince my boss to allow me to work from home, even for a few days a week? The best advice I can give is that you have to establish yourself as an absolute linchpin and incredible asset in your company first. What I’m saying is after 3 months on the job to not ask your employer if you can work from home; but maybe after 3-5 years when you’ve proven yourself and your employer knows what an asset you are to the company. People have much more leverage than they realize and this could be a wonderful option to keep your same pay and cut down on your expenses.

Time –  Only you know the best use of your time. But like I discussed in the previous point, I know it can be used better than sitting in traffic. The thing about time is that it’s the only resource that we can’t get more of. If you might be thinking about leaving your job or thinking about “what’s next” think about how you can make things easier on yourself. From all the time that you spent sitting in traffic what could have you been doing to make yourself profitable or happy? What’s the opportunity cost? What is your time worth and can you use it better to create results that can yield income that you’re missing out on by commuting?

Conclusion – So what do you think? Is it possible to actually save money by quitting your job and exploring a career like blogging/freelancing or working from home?  What if you didn’t have to pay for as much fuel, possibly save on child care, drop to a one car household, and didn’t have to sit in traffic for an hour? Most importantly what would you to do with the time or money that you could potentially save? Tell us what you think in the comments below!

Three Not So Obvious Interviewing Tips

“Charm was a scheme for making strangers like and trust a person immediately, no matter what the charmer had in mind.” – Kurt Vonnegut


It’s been awhile since I’ve wrote a blog and I’m certainly due. A recent conversation with a friend of mine jarred my senses about interviewing and the interview process. Everywhere you look I feel the same approach is being said: be strong and confident, bring two or three copies of your resume with you, and of course have your resume memorized to the tee, blah, blah, blah. But there is so much more behind what goes on in an interview. Trust me, I’ve been on countless interviews and it wasn’t until I started to think of some non conventional ways of interviewing, did it finally sink in. Take a look at my top 3 not so obvious interviewing tips, I hope you find them as useful as I did when interviewing:


Double Down On Your EQ – There are still many people (including interviewers) who have no idea what EQ is. EQ stands for emotional intelligence. Ever hear the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” well your EQ is responsible for “who ya know.” It’s the ability to tap into not only your emotions but read the emotions of other people. When you are interviewing, pay attention to the interviewer’s body language. Are they sitting back? Are they on the edge of their seat? What ever they are doing with their body language mimic just that; you may do this without even realizing it. However EQ isn’t just about mimicking body language; it’s about listening. When you are on an interview I always like to take a 80/20 approach. Where the interviewer does 80 percent of the talking and I talk for 20 percent of the time. Of course it’s tough to hold back nerves but being able to listen and respond accordingly is a big part of any position


Dive Into Your Roots – Now I’m not exactly an anthropology guru but there are some deep seeded traits all humans have. The number one thing to realize when interviewing are that all interviewers are 100% human. What does this mean? Well it means you need to establish who has the dominant upper hand in your relationship with the interviewer. Look at it this way: For a moment pretend you’re a chimp (I know what you’re thinking, hear me out) you are now entering a new chimp tribe that you want to become a part of. In order to get into that tribe the alpha’s henchmen (the interviewer) must approve of you. So what are you going to do to make them like you? You are going to play the part of the submissive chimp. Let the interviewer guide the conversation, speak in a calm slow voice. To some, this might seem incredibly natural. To naturally dominant people it might be tough to play this part. Understand you’re joining a new tribe and once you are part of the new tribe your journey to become alpha (if you want to become alpha) can begin.


Show Your Superpower – If you’re like me, you really hate talking about yourself. When someone asks me what I’m good at (#doeseatingcount?) I usually don’t reply with confidence. However, I’ve recognized a few super powers in myself; work ethic, humility, and empathy are my biggest powers that I over emphasize on any interview. What are yours? Recognize your superpowers, tune into them, and then use them to your biggest advantage during an interview. Note being great at pivot tables isn’t really a super power (I mean I guess it could be?) but really dive deep into yourself and think what excites you or what keeps you going. Think of specific traits that separate you from every other candidate out there and and why you are the best candidate for the position. Use those super powers to leverage yourself. I’d love to hear what some of your super powers are, and how you’re going to use them to drive yourself forward!


Conclusion – I hope these tips have helped you identify ways that you can make yourself stand out in a non conventional way during your next interview. Keep in mind interviewing is nothing more than becoming a part of another tribe. Whether it’s friends, meeting a significant other’s family, or on the job search we’ve all been interviewed before. Tap into your superpowers and share your personal tips, successes, and experiences with the community!