Liz Weston: How to ‘Death Clean’ Your Finances

FILE – This April 2017 file photo provided by NerdWallet shows Liz Weston, a columnist for personal finance website (NerdWallet via AP, File) The Associated Press

The phrase “death cleaning” may sound jarring to unaccustomed ears, but the concept makes sense. It’s about getting rid of excess rather than leaving a mess for your heirs to sort out.

“Death cleaning” is the literal translation of the Swedish word dostadning, which means an uncluttering process that begins as people age. It’s popularized in the new book “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” by Margareta Magnusson.

Magnusson focuses on jettisoning stuff, but most older people’s finances could use a good death cleaning as well. Simplifying and organizing our financial lives can make things easier for us while we’re alive and for our survivors when we’re not.

This task becomes more urgent when we’re in our 50s. Our financial decision-making abilities generally peak around age 53, researchers have found, while rates of cognitive decline and dementia start to climb at age 60. As we age, we tend to become more vulnerable to fraud, scams, unethical advisers and bad judgment, says financial literacy expert Lewis Mandell, author of “What to Do When I Get Stupid.” Cleaning up our finances can help protect us.

Some steps to take:


Fewer accounts are easier to monitor for suspicious transactions and overlapping investments, plus you may save money on account fees. Your employer may allow you to transfer old 401(k) and IRA accounts into its plan, or you can consolidate them into one IRA. For simplicity, consider swapping individual stocks and bonds for professionally managed mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (but check with a tax pro before you sell any investments held outside retirement funds). Move scattered bank accounts under one roof, but keep in mind that FDIC insurance is generally limited to $250,000 per depositor per institution.


Memory lapses can lead to missed payments, late fees and credit score damage, which can in turn drive up the cost of borrowing and insurance. You can set up regular recurring payments in your bank’s bill payment system, have other bills charged to a credit card and set up an automatic payment so the card balance is paid in full each month. Head off bounced-transaction fees with true overdraft protection, which taps a line of credit or a savings account to pay over-limit transactions.


Certified financial planner Carolyn McClanahan in Jacksonville, Florida, recommends her older clients keep just two credit cards: one for everyday purchases and another for automatic bill payments. Closing accounts can hurt credit scores, though, so wait until you’re reasonably sure you won’t need to apply for a loan before you start dramatically pruning.


Identify whom you want making decisions for you if you’re incapacitated. Use software or a lawyer to create two durable powers of attorney — one for finances, one for health care. You don’t have to name the same person in both, but do name backups in case your original choice can’t serve.

Consider naming someone younger, because someone your age or older could become impaired at the same time you do, says Carolyn Rosenblatt, an elder-law attorney in San Rafael, California, who runs Grant online access to your accounts, or at least talk about where your trusted person can find the information she’ll need, Rosenblatt recommends.

Also create “in case of emergency” files that your trusted person or heirs will need. These might include:

?Your will or living trust

?Medical directives, powers of attorney, living wills

?Birth, death and marriage certificates

?Military records

?Social Security cards

?Car titles, property deeds and other ownership documents

?Insurance policies

?A list of your financial accounts

?Contact information for your attorney, tax pro, financial adviser and insurance agent

?Photocopies of passports, driver’s licenses and credit cards

A safe deposit box is not the best repository, because your trusted person may need access outside bank hours. A fireproof safe bolted to a floor in your home, or at minimum a locked file cabinet, may be better, as long as you share the combination or key (or its location) with your trusted person. Scanning paperwork and keeping an encrypted copy in the cloud could help you or someone else recreate your financial life if the originals are lost or destroyed.


Family Immigration Led To John Tu’s Billion Dollar Company

Immigrant entrepreneur and CEO John Tu co-founded Kingston Technology after his sister sponsored him for immigration. Tu and fellow immigrant David Sun rewarded their U.S. employees with large bonuses after the sale of 80% of the company. They later bought back the 80% share of Kingston. (INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

John Tu created wealth, shared that wealth with his employees and demonstrated people can achieve the American Dream while also fulfilling the dreams of others.

Immigrant entrepreneurs possess relatively few options for starting a business and remaining in the United States. There is no startup visa that allows individuals to receive permanent residence specifically for starting a business. Once someone acquires permanent residence (a green card) he or she has the freedom to start a business in America. That is why the stories we hear about successful foreign-born entrepreneurs come almost exclusively from individuals sponsored by an employer or family member. John Tu is a great example of this.

John Tu was born in China in 1941, where he lived with his parents and sisters. He describes himself as a mediocre student unable to attend the best Chinese colleges. He was denied a visa to the United States and instead applied to a college in Germany, where in 1978 he earned a degree in electrical engineering.

“My dream of coming to the United States persisted,” said John in testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration. He recalled visiting his sister, who was living in Boston. She had come to America as a student and married a U.S. citizen born in Taiwan. That trip reignited his dreams. “My experience brought me to the conclusion that in the U.S. one can be anything he wants. I decided right then that I would find a way to make my home in America.”

His sister, who became a U.S. citizen, sponsored John for immigration through the immigrant preference category for the siblings of U.S. citizens.

As someone willing to take a chance on a new country, it’s not surprising John Tu quickly became an entrepreneur. He started a one-man gift shop in Arizona, where his sister had moved to, and sold collectables imported from China. A few years later, John ventured into commercial real estate, eventually buying a condominium in Los Angeles.

In California, he met David Sun, his future business partner, who also was born in China. In 1982, John Tu and David Sun started a computer hardware company called Camintonn Corporation. They later sold the company to AST Research, with each man earning about $1 million.

But a year later, John and David lost almost everything. Their broker, a trusted friend, invested poorly, which caused their savings to be nearly wiped out in the October 1987 stock market crash.

John Tu and David Sun picked themselves up and did what entrepreneurs do best – they started another business. Their new company, Kingston Technology, sought to fill a niche in the marketplace for computer memory products. “Kingston soon began developing memory products for a variety of PCs and thriving beyond either of our expectations. It is ironic that from the biggest financial failure came my most successful venture,” said John.

The company grew to over 500 U.S. employees and by 1996 was valued at $1.5 billion. Not surprisingly, this attracted the interest of buyers. That year, John and David sold 80% of Kingston to Japan-based Softbank Corp.

While the sale initially made news, it is what John Tu and David Sun did with the proceeds that generated worldwide attention: The two men set aside $100 million in profits from the sale and awarded bonuses to their American employees, something virtually unheard. In many cases, the bonuses ranged from $100,000 to $300,000.

This decision changed the lives of those working at Kingston, allowing many to fund dreams for themselves and their children. “The bonus meant a great deal to the employees, for some it meant ridding themselves of debt, for others a down payment on a house, and for one person the opportunity to return to college and finish his education,” said Kingston employee Gary McDonald. He decided to use the bonus money to fund schooling and assistance for his four children, two of whom had special needs, including one with autism. “Without the bonus it would have been much more of a financial struggle,” he said.

Fate intervened and in July 1999, for business reasons, Softbank decided to sell its 80 percent share in Kingston back to John Tu and David Sun for less than half of the original sale price.

Today, Kingston is “the world’s largest independent manufacturer of memory products,” according to the company. Kingston employs more than 3,000 people around the world and maintains its headquarters in Fountain Valley, California. It has garnered a number of awards, including Fortune magazine’s list of the “Best Companies to Work for in America.” John and his company Kingston contribute to many charitable causes.

John Tu remains CEO of Kingston Technology. I met John back in 1997 when he came to Washington, D.C. to testify at a Senate hearing on immigrant entrepreneurs. He was accompanied by a number of people from Kingston and I was struck by the mutual affection and respect between John and his employees.

When I listened to stories about the bonuses and the impact they had on the lives of the employees it made me suspect that economists underestimate many of the benefits of immigration. Further confirmation of that came a few minutes later when John had to excuse himself. Upon returning, he told me that the next day was April 15th and his accountant needed authorization to pay the capital gains tax on the sale of the company. Think for a moment about the size of the capital gains tax paid by immigrants John Tu and David Sun on the sale of a company they started from scratch and that had become valued at over $1 billion.

In December 2017, the Associated Press reported, “The White House is embarking on a major campaign to turn public opinion against the nation’s largely family-based immigration system ahead of an all-out push next year.” However, inciting the public against foreign-born individuals is not a rational economic policy, nor does it conform to America’s tradition as a nation of immigrants.

Reducing legal immigration by prohibiting U.S. citizens from sponsoring for immigration close family members, such as siblings and adult children, would reduce both U.S. economic growth and labor force growth, according to a recent study from the National Foundation for American Policy. If such policies had been in effect years ago, John Tu would not have made it to the United States and the many Americans who have worked at his company, as well as their families, would have been much worse off.

“The reason I’ve been able to do what I’ve done is because of my sister,” John told me in a recent interview. “She became a citizen and sponsored me . . . If my sister was not allowed to sponsor me for immigration none of this success at Kingston and the many jobs we’ve created would have happened.”

John Tu does not consider himself unique. “I’m just one example of a family immigrant success story. Look at Silicon Valley and one can find many similar examples.”

At the end of his Senate testimony, John reflected on his and America’s immigrant journey: “I would have never had the opportunity to become so successful had I not come to America. I can tell you that I feel the founding fathers of America had the right idea: immigration has made this rich culture, this great environment of what is often called the melting pot.”

John Tu credits his success to America’s system and its society. “America gives you the opportunity to be who you are, to maximize your talent and achieve your dreams. I appreciate so much what this country has given to immigrants like me.”


Is Uber a Taxi Company or Not? The EU’s Top Court Will Decide

Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

Uber Technologies Inc. is set to reach the end of the road in a legal battle over a question that’s reached the European Union’s top court — is the world’s most valuable startup a taxi company or not?

Uber has argued that it’s a technology platform connecting passengers with independent drivers, not a transportation company subject to the same rules as taxi services. The decision is being closely watched by the technology industry because it could set a precedent for how firms in the burgeoning gig economy are regulated across the 28-nation bloc.

“The judgment will either promote the digital single market or lead to more market fragmentation for online innovators,” said Jakob Kucharczyk, of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which speaks for companies like Uber, Inc., Google and Facebook Inc. “The court should make a clear distinction between the online intermediation and the underlying service it facilitates.”

The case centers around UberPop, an inexpensive ride-hailing service in several European cities that allowed drivers without a taxi license to use their own cars to pick up passengers. Legal challenges have forced Uber to shutter its UberPop services in most major European countries in favor of UberX, which requires drivers to get a license.

A loss for Uber would mean countries in the EU will have to classify Uber as a transportation service. While Uber adheres to many taxi laws in countries where it operates, the case could lead to new regulations and fees.

“Any ruling will not change things in most EU countries where we already operate under transportation law,” Uber said in a statement. “However, millions of Europeans are still prevented from using apps like ours. As our new CEO has said, it is appropriate to regulate services such as Uber. We want to partner with cities to ensure everyone can get a reliable ride at the tap of a button.”

Gig Economy

The question of whether Uber is a transport service has long vexed regulators and lawmakers across Europe. Uber has faced roadblocks, real and regulatory, in the region, amid complaints brought by taxi drivers who say the company tries to unfairly avoid regulations that bind established competitors.

Start ups argue that their apps offer flexible hours to workers. Regulators, governments and unions allege that companies are profiting on the backs of people without benefits such as overtime pay or vacation time.

Without the pressure from regulators, companies in the gig economy will force rivals to employ similarly aggressive tactics, said Andrew Taylor, who earlier this year was commissioned by U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May to come up with recommendations to regulate the new business types.

“There’s a danger of a race to the bottom,” Taylor said. “Major American companies are treating national norms, culture, regulators and tax systems in a cavalier way.”

Status Quo

Mark Graham, professor at the Oxford Internet Institute, said the scrutiny represents a shift against companies that have avoided regulations facing more traditional businesses in the markets they are trying to disrupt by classifying themselves as technology platforms.

Uber isn’t the only business model being questioned by policymakers. In Paris, regulators are clamping down on Airbnb, whose home-rental service has drawn complaints from hotels that are subject to a different batch of rules. Deliveroo, the food-delivery service, is also facing scrutiny over its treatment of workers in the U.K. and elsewhere.

The EU court’s decisions in this and a pending case may bring clarity for Uber’s continuing battles in national courts. London has become a lighting rod for all of the company’s problems. The car-service provider is fighting regulators and drivers in court as it tries to protect its hold on its busiest market outside of the US.

London’s transport regulator banned Uber in September, citing safety concerns, and an appeal will be heard as soon as April. Two drivers successfully sued the company over vacation and overtime in a suit that would force Uber to radically change the way it treats its drivers.

The case is: C-434/15, Asociacion Profesional Elite Taxi.

— With assistance by Jeremy Hodges


Cable companies are looking for ways to limit password sharing

Cable companies are over people sharing logins with all their friends and family. As first spotted by Bloomberg, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge said at the annual UBS conference this month: “There’s lots of extra streams, there’s lots of extra passwords, there’s lots of people who could get free service.”

Charter has made cracking down on password sharing a priority during negotiations with channel providers. Bloomberg reports that the company requested Viacom help limit password sharing by reducing the number of simultaneous streams allowed on its apps. Rutledge tells Bloomberg that channel owners bear most of the blame for the current cable situation. They don’t secure their apps and, he says, “they devalued their own product in a dramatic way.”

Meanwhile, ESPN tells Bloomberg it wants to work with channel distributors to verify subscribers whenever there are a large number of people streaming through the channel’s app.


Cryptocurrency: The Dark Side Of Investing

Disclosure: The author and American Dream Investing own shares of Disney, but have not invested in cryptocurrencies at the time of this writing.

Like the characters in the latest Star Wars film, I’m grappling with an inner struggle.

Do I stick to my core investing values and principles and ignore the cryptocurrency craze? Or, do I succumb to the “dark side” and buy some Litecoin or Bitcoin, hoping that demand keeps rising and prices continue to soar?

I know the reasons why I bought Walt Disney DIS -1.12%shares three years ago and why I’ve held onto them: they have an unparalleled collection of entertainment properties like Star Wars and Marvel, strong management, growing free cash flow and a history of raising their (admittedly paltry) dividend. It’s been a mostly solid, albeit unspectacular stock in my portfolio, despite the fact that its year to date performance is significantly trailing its broader index.

On a fundamental level, Disney passes my litmus test for an investment. Cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, do not. Despite that, I’m still tempted to make a calculated play on cryptos and their potential long-term future after careful consideration and due diligence.

I understand that there’s a basic concept of supply and demand at work here that’s driving prices so high. There will only be 21 million Bitcoins mined and afterwards, no more will be added to the circulation.

But I can’t pay my rent using Bitcoin or buy health insurance with Ethereum (not yet, at least). There’s a high risk of fraud, market manipulation and account hacking. The volatility of the crypto market is enough to make a professional rollercoaster tester queasy.

Still, the money keeps pouring in and prices continue to rise. CNBC spends half the trading day discussing the markets and the rest of the time talking about Bitcoin.


The Next 10 Things Small Business Owners Should Do For Social Media Success

10 Actionable Social Media Tips for Small Business Owners

Social media is a tricky business. It seems so simple on the face of it and you may have launched your business profiles thinking that everything would take off if you only started posting. Sadly, that is rarely the case and many small business owners have hit their head against the wall trying to make headway, without any real results.

Don’t worry, it isn’t nearly as mysterious as you may be fearing. While social media has a tendency to change and adapt to new trends and features, not to mention shift with the way that users themselves choose to use it, there are some actionable social media tips that you can put into play right this second to begin seeing results.

Actionable Social Media Tips

Hire a Social Media Manager

This may seem like trite advice but it is actually a really good strategy. Not to run your social media campaigns, but to teach you how to do it. Here is what you do: put out an ad for a temporary social media manager.

Set the contract for as long as your budget allows and specify that part of the job will be setting up a campaign and showing you how to continue it once the contract ends. Watch the steps carefully because that is how you will learn.

Use a Productive Social Media Scheduling Solution

Yes, you need to be there interacting with your social media community on a regular basis, but there’s other work to be done too! You cannot quit everything and just socialize (especially if you cannot afford to hire a social media manager just yet).

So what you do? Scheduling social media updates is the answer. You can even schedule social media updates 6 or 12 months ahead: Think about holidays, for example! You’ll be busy but you need your social media account to remain active, so use the slower seasons to schedule social media updates for the holidays.

There are a few solid social media scheduling solutions out there.

Get a More Comprehensive Dashboard

Once you are ready to launch your campaigns, you will want a solid dashboard where you can schedule posts, watch analytics, etc. There are plenty of options right now for a social media dashboard. I’m currently using Cyfe.

Set Smaller Goals and Build From There

When you are talking about a big business it is good to look at long term goals and then set milestones and plans to meet them. For small businesses that don’t have an entire marketing team and millions in the budget on hand, making smaller goals and focusing on those is a far better idea.

Set little milestones to work on and monitor your progress. For example, instead of saying, “I will have 10,000 followers by the end of the year on Instagram” try “I will grow by at least 100 followers per month.” If you overshoot it, hey… good for you.

Go To Where Your Customers Are

Guess what? The platform you chooses matters… a lot. Facebook, for example, is popular with people over the age of 30, particularly those over the age of 40. But if your target audience is under 25 you have next to no chance of reaching them there. They are almost entirely on Instagram and Snapchat.

The same goes for Twitter, which is becoming more a home of influencers than normal users. Where are the highest concentration of women? Pinterest. Where can you launch potentially viral content? Reddit. The list goes well beyond the basics and if you don’t know where your audience is hanging out then you won’t be able to reach them.

Quality Over Quantity (But Quantity, Too)

Striking a balance here can be really hard. On one hand, you want to be able to post often enough that your profile grows. But on the other, crappy content is still crappy content.

If you are just churning out useless posts like inspirational quotes or jokes, especially if you don’t have a fair amount of original content, you are nothing more than a glorified bot account. You may have noticed the best brand social media sites out there are the ones that manage to really engage with their customers. So post often, post consistently, but only post good stuff.

Don’t Get Too Bogged Down In Analytics

Analytics are helpful and most brands use them in order to measure their progress and results, while coming up with new campaigns using that data. They are great to have. But they are also not everything.

The truth is that unless you are a well versed social media mogul, you probably aren’t going to understand the majority of the figures analytics give you. The important ones are the more basic: growth over time and how it correlates with strategies in play at each peak. You may also be able to learn more about your demographic, such as when they are most active.

Learn the Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle is simple: for every 100 percent of your content, 80 percent should be engagement, 20 percent should be promotional.

See? Easy. I won’t even bother going further into it.

Think Visually

Another no brainer, visual content is pretty much the only way to go. It won’t make up all of what you post, but it should make up most of it.

Posts with visual media are more likely to be shared, commented on, saved and reach viral status. All of these are things you want, so invest most of your time in visual forms of social content.

Get Involved In the Community

This is one of the best things you can do. You are a local small business. You have ties to the community where you operate. So start getting involved: go to festivals, reach out to local news, engage with people via geolocation, get involved in local charities.

Have some actionable social media tips for small businesses looking to get into the game? Let us know in the comments!


ZipRecruiter and Square Partner to Help Small Businesses Find Job Candidates

ZipRecruiter and Square Partner to Help Small Businesses Find Job Candidates

Job application aggregator ZipRecruiter and digital payment solution Square (NYSE: SQ) have formed a new partnership which will help small businesses find candidates for job openings.

Under this partnership, ZipRecruiter will be the first and only hiring service in Square’s App Marketplace. The integration is going to give the 225,000 active Square customers, many small businesses, access to the talent available in ZipRecruiter.

Finding the right person for the job is no easy task, and for small businesses, it is even more difficult. When ZipRecruiter formed a similar partnership with Facebook earlier this year, Facebook’s Product Manager for Jobs, Gaurav Dosi, told TechCrunch, “40 percent of US small businesses report that filling jobs was more difficult than they expected, which is challenging when you consider that these small businesses also employ nearly half of the country’s workforce.”

The Integration of ZipRecruiter and Square

Small businesses already using Square or its App Marketplace can now log-on and post an opening to find candidates.

In a post on the ZipRecruiter blog, Director of Marketing PPartnerships Keren Zemer writes, “The App Marketplace is a convenient place where hundreds of thousands of active Square invoice sellers can find trusted and popular business apps endorsed by Square to help with their everyday operational needs.”

As the first and only hiring service to be featured in Square’s App Marketplace, ZipRecruiter will be able to take advantage of the already engaged user base using Square hardware and software. ZipRecruiter brings its technology, including hiring tools for small businesses, to the relationship.

For businesses not familiar with ZipRecruiter, the app will be available for free with a four-day trial. This will let business owners get familiar with the platform, and if they find a candidate within the four days even better, because it will be free.

Benefit for Small Business

Large organizations have HR departments to find the right candidates. For most small businesses, an HR department is not even an option. This partnership is going to help small companies find local help with a simplified process for employees and employers alike.


5 Personal Finance Hacks to Help You Invest

Image result for 5 Personal Finance Hacks to Help You Invest

In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Phil Town gives five hacks you can use to pay off debt, avoid fees and save for the future. His first piece of advice is to use a zero-interest credit card to pay off your debt. That way, you aren’t accruing more debt over time.

Next, Town advises that you should make bi-weekly payments on your debt, rather than monthly, and that you should pay more than the minimum on your debt for at least the first few years.

Click play to learn more financial tricks from Phil Town.

Related: 5 Great Money Habits That Will Set Your Kids Up for Financial Success

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The best of 2017 in personal finance advice

In 2004, my daughter, who was 9 at the time, gave me a Christmas present that I shall treasure for the rest of my life.

Olivia created “Yo Mamma: Sayings from My Momma,” a book of all the things I would repeat to her and her siblings. As you might imagine, most of the sayings were about money.

Here are two of my favorite quotes that made it into the book.

— “Do you have a job?” (I started saying this as soon as the kids started talking and asking for stuff.)

— “Do you have money to pay for that?” (A standard question when she tried to put something in the shopping cart.)

I smile every time I pull her book from my bookshelf.

So, with Olivia’s book in mind, I thought I’d pull five of my quotes over the past year that resonated with readers.

— “If debt were a person, I’d slap it.” I said this in a column about good debt versus bad debt. I hate all debt. As I wrote, I know my views are extreme, almost un-American, in a nation that relies so heavily personally and politically on borrowing. But when it comes to money, what you tell yourself matters. When we use positive adjectives to describe debt, we minimize the financial bondage it creates.

— “Empathy does not equal endorsement.” In April, I recommended for the Color of Money Book Club an essay by novelist and former Washington Post book critic William McPherson. McPherson died this past spring and I thought the essay “Falling (You can read it at was a powerful look at how this once privileged person ended up poor because of a series of bad decisions.

“Life is about choices,” one reader wrote. “One does not ‘fall into poverty.’ One walks into it with open arms.”

Many people feel that there shouldn’t be a government safety net for the irresponsible. They only want to help the poor they deem worthy of assistance. But that’s a dangerous means test. It leaves no room for people to make mistakes. And we are all fallible. Advocating for government supported anti-poverty programs doesn’t mean you absolve people of personal responsibility.

What do we as a society owe the poor? We owe them empathy. We owe them a safety net that gives them a chance to get back on their feet — and maybe even survive.

— “When it comes to helping your young adult to successfully launch — and stay in flight — there’s no place like home.” A lot of young adults are moving back in with their parents, often because they are saddled with student loans.

“More young people today live in their parents’ home than in any other arrangement,” according to the Census Bureau.

Is this a good thing?

It’s not a bad thing necessarily. I encourage young adults who have burdensome debt to move home if they can. Instead of paying rent they can attack the debt.

You may think that living at home is a failure to launch or that it delays the all-important lesson of learning to be independent. But we should remove the stigma of young adults returning home as a financial embarrassment. It is not, especially if parents allowed or encouraged a student to attend a college that necessitated some heavy borrowing.

— “Sales are bait, and you have to keep in mind that you never save when you spend.”

One of my new favorite books is “Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter” by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler. It’s a brilliant and accessible look at behavioral economics. Ariely and Kreisler agree with me that consumers are too driven by a discount and that can lead to some bad decision making.

— “Should you invest in bitcoins for retirement? Only if you think riding a roller coaster without a safety harness is a good idea.”

I wrote this in response to questions from some readers on whether they should buy bitcoin, an electronic currency that has skyrocketed, causing people to ignore caution.

As I told folks, if you can afford to lose every penny you invest and not miss any sleep over the loss, go ahead and invest in bitcoin. However, if you have a regular job, a mortgage, kids to put through college, credit card debt, a pitiful emergency fund and a lackluster retirement account, don’t even think about buying bitcoin. The currency may be virtual, but the investment risk is very real.

Tell me your favorite financial quote, one that may help you do better with your money in 2018. Send me an email to I love quotations, which are a shorthand way to remember some important life lessons.


10 Ideas for Communicating With Target Customers, Team Members and More

Communication is an incredibly important part of running a successful business. You need to be able to effectively communicate with your target customers and the members of your own team. But doing so requires a lot of skill and strategy.

This week, members of our small business community share tips for targeting your ideal customer, creating effective communication in the workplace and more.

Read on for a full list of valuable resources.

Use These Questions to Target Your Ideal Customer

In order to target your ideal customers, you first need to find out who he or she is. In this post, Brittany Taylor of See Britt Write shares a long list of 80 questions you can use to find out who your target customers are.

Create Effective Communication in the Workplace

If you want your business to succeed, you need to make sure that your team can work well together. And to do that, you need to create a system of effective communication in the workplace. Kelly Riggs of Business LockerRoom discusses the importance of effective communication at work, along with some tips for creating such an environment.

Make People Fall in Love With Your Online Store

Running an ecommerce business means you have to convince customers to fall in love with your store if you want them to shop with you again and again. Vanhishikha Bhargava of Exit Bee includes some tips for doing just that. And BizSugar members also share their input on the post here.

Make the Most of Marketing Automation

There are so many different services and processes out there today to help make your marketing tasks easier. But marketing automation isn’t a magic solution. Stacy Jackson of Jackson Marketing Services sharessome tips to ensure that your marketing automation actually increases the effectiveness of your overall marketing plan.

Add These Must Haves to Your About Page

Your about page is an important part of your website because it tells visitors and potential customers who you are and why they should want to work with you. This post by Crystal Rice of PixelSmith includes three must-haves to include on your about page for contractors, but most of the points are relevant to other industries as well.

Get Over These Self Publishing Obstacles

People come up with all kinds of excuses for not writing or publishing their own books. But self publishing is now easier than ever, thanks to platforms like Amazon Direct Publishing. Vinay Kachhara of Aha!NOW shares some reasons why you should get over those obstacles. And members of the BizSugar community also discuss the post here.

Check Out This Guide to Local SEO

When marketing a local business, it’s important that you make it as easy as possible for local customers to find you via search engines. If you’re starting a local business or just want to improve your local SEO strategy, check out this guide to local SEO by Chris Babajide on WP Site Updates.

Create a Call to Action That People Actually Click

So you’ve added a call to action on your website, but it’s not getting any results. There can be several reasons why your CTA isn’t getting the results you hoped for. This post by Nicole Dieker on KlientBoost includes some potential problems your call to action may have, along with ways to fix them. BizSugar members also share thoughts on the post here.

Keep Both Your Body and Your Biz in Shape

To have sustainable success in business, you also need to take care of your own health. And since January is a popular time for people to renew their health goals, this post by Nellie Akalp of CorpNet includes some tips for keeping both your body and your business in shape.

Don’t Be Fooled by Prior Business Models

When you’re running a startup, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a business model will work simply because it has worked in the past. But that isn’t a great strategy, as this post by Martin Zwilling on Startup Professionals Musings points out. You can also see discussion about the post in the BizSugar community.

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