How You Should Spend Your Stimulus Check

The U.S. Government passed legislation in response to the coronavirus pandemic emergency that provided funds to most low-income and middle-class individuals and families. Individuals could receive up to $1,200, while married couples who file jointly got $2,400. Having children provided another $500 per child.

That means a family of six could qualify for up to $4,400. This amount is in addition to an extra $600 per week of unemployment benefits.

When the money first hit bank accounts, Americans started spending their money from these one-time cash payments on legal marijuana products, groceries, and gasoline. 9% of people took the money out from the ATM, while 5% said they bought video games. 

If you want to spend your money in more effective ways, here are some ideas to consider.

Emergency Fund Accounts

Since COVID-19 creates an unpredictable economy, the best option for the stimulus check is to create an emergency fund. Putting the cash into a high-yield online savings account could give you enough money to cover utilities, rent, or a mortgage payment.

Debt Reduction

If you have an emergency fund in place, then take care of your debt next with the stimulus check. Credit card debt is a high-interest problem that can take several years to pay off if you only make the minimum payment. It gives you an immediate guaranteed return because then you still have room to make an emergency purchase if necessary. Pay down the account with the highest interest rate first.

Careful Investments

Investing in equities as a long-term investor makes sense since they are down over 30% from their all-time highs. Instead of putting all of your eggs in one basket, put small amounts in each week, carefully evaluating market conditions to reduce the risk of losing the stimulus check. 

Donate it to a Local Cause

If you are an essential worker or don’t have financial impacts from COVID-19, then it may be useful to donate your stimulus check to a local non-profit. Many families, especially those with hourly workers, saw their income disappear overnight. Rising demands at food banks and other essential services mean more money is going out. Contributing some or all of your check can help a lot of people.

The goal of each action is to create a long-term impact with positive implications. Whether you save, spend, or invest, do so in a way that puts you on secure financial ground.

How to Grow and Use a $1,000 Emergency Fund

If you qualified for a stimulus check as an American, then you may have received enough money to start a $1,000 emergency fund. A qualifying family with four children could receive up to $4,400 in funds to use, which is enough to establish savings of 3-6 months for most households to cover necessary expenses.

Your emergency fund needs to cover unexpected problems that arise outside of your regular income or handle your monthly bills if you lose your job.

It should be enough to manage a home repair, appliance replacement, or a significant automotive issue. If you can get $1,000 into this fund so that it can start growing, then you have will have some financial flexibility.

How to Start a Financial Buffer

You should keep about six months of expenses in your emergency fund. Since most families don’t have this financial buffer, the first $1,000 of savings becomes a critical amount to have ready.

Keep your emergency fund in a savings account you can access easily. Look for the highest interest rate possible. Then follow these steps to start getting enough money put away.

1. Calculate the total amount you want to save. Then split that figure into payments you put into savings from your monthly income. Take this money out first before paying any bills so that you stay committed to the process.

2. Keep the change whenever you have a cash-based transaction. When your jar fills up, then move all of those funds into your emergency fund. Some financial institutions will do this for you with your debit transactions.

3. Save your tax refund if you get one each year. It can be an easy way to boost the value of your emergency fund. You could also adjust your withholding to have less money withheld so that you put money away throughout the year instead of overpaying the government.

4. Limit your extraneous purchases for three months. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! Buy items like clothing only if you need them. You can also go shopping in your pantry to reduce the number of trips taken to the grocery store. 

5. Once you have the first $1,000 in your emergency fund, consider establishing another account for vacations, maintenance, and other regular costs. Most institutions let you label sub-accounts for specific goals.

An emergency can happen at any time. When you have funds stashed away to manage this situation, then it is much easier to manage the financial issues you might face.

Coronavirus Car Deals: Are the Incentives Good Enough?

With more people staying at home right now than arguably at any other time in human history, several industries find themselves in uncharted waters. People who aren’t traveling don’t need as many items to support their activities.

That means fewer cars, trucks, and SUVs get purchased since there isn’t a need to leave the house. Automakers are countering those conditions by providing some remarkable incentives.

You can find deals out there right now that provide long-term 0% APR, extended payment contracts to 84 months, discounted MSRPs, and the first 3-6 months of the loan taken care of for you.

Are the generous financing options and attractive prices a recipe for a great car deal? The answer to that question is surprisingly complex. 

Is 0% APR Worth the Investment?

Unless you were already in the market to purchase a new vehicle, it might still be time to wait. Having 0% APR for seven years can add up to significant savings, but it also means that your purchase will be underwater for significantly longer. That means you might get stuck with the vehicle until paying off that loan.

You must gauge your job security through an honest lens. If you’re working today, does that mean you still have a job tomorrow? Unless you have an emergency fund that can manage six months of your current expenses, it might be better to put a down payment toward uncertainty than a vehicle.

If you are an essential worker and were planning to get a vehicle soon, then now is a fantastic time to buy. If not, then it may still be time to wait.

How Will You Purchase the Vehicle?

The current patchwork set of stay-at-home orders across the United States makes buying a car an unpredictable experience. Some dealerships can only provide maintenance and repair services on vehicles while restrictions are in place. That means you might need to follow a direct-to-consumer process instead.

Companies like Carvana have contactless delivery options for you to use. Most automakers allow you to order directly during the COVID-19 pandemic, bypassing the dealership except for delivery. Every community is different, which makes it your responsibility to see what is available.

If you’re not comfortable with the current car-buying processes, then wait until things start getting back to normal once again.

A vehicle is the second-biggest purchase that most people make in their lifetime. A lot of deals are out there right now, but that doesn’t mean the right one is there for you. Proceed with caution.

Here’s Why Jobs with Extensive Travel Put Your Health at Risk

The occasional business trip can be lots of fun. Having them all of the time could kill you.

Although watching people traveling all of the time can inspire jealousy, being part of a global network of constant movement may not be the perfect lifestyle. Anyone who travels extensively needs to place a greater point of emphasis on self-care.

Being always on the move can create significant problems.

Traveling Causes People to Age Faster

When people frequently travel for business, then the activity causes them to start aging faster. Long-distance flights lead to significant problems with jet lag. The outcome creates memory impairment, disruption of the immune system, and changes to gene expressions. It is a combination of factors that increases the risk of a stroke or a heart attack. Even the stress of preparing for a trip can create problems in this area.

Travelers Get More Radiation Exposure

If you travel by plane for your business needs frequently, then you receive less protection from the atmosphere against radiation. Frequent travelers receive up to 100 times more exposure compared to those who travel by train, boat, or car. Pilots of commercial aircraft receive more than those who work at nuclear power plants.

Travelers Have Weaker Immune Systems

Everyone on a flight breathes the same air. If you’re on a plane for eight hours or more, then that means everyone gets exposed to the same germs. Adding in the jet lag and poor dietary choices can lead to a reduction of effectiveness for the immune system.

Traveling Has a Higher Risk of Obesity

People who travel frequently are usually more out of shape than those who work a regular 9-5. The issue involves meal habits, exercise opportunities, and stress. Most airline meals have high levels of sugar and salt to maintain flavor. Adding some alcohol into the mix creates a recipe for fast weight gain. It can also contribute to mental health issues, especially since jet lag problems can last for up to six days, creating long-term problems with disorientation. 

Taking care of yourself must be your priority of you travel frequently. Including items from brands like Klaire Labs, New Chapter, and Pure Encapsulations can ensure that your body has a firm foundation from which to work. You might not be able to change your schedule, but it is within your power to create healthy living habits.  

Is It Ethical to Make Money by Investing in Lawsuits?

It was an idea that came about in 2016 when investors wanted new options for better returns. Mighty Group Inc. offered a unique proposition: Investing in a lawsuit could earn up to 30% interest on assets that have zero correlation to anything else in the portfolio.

Mighty Group Inc. lends money to plaintiffs who are in the middle of a personal injury lawsuit. Many of these individuals are unable to work or generate income while in the middle of litigation. Their bills pile up quickly, evictions can happen, and the insurance company keeps stalling for months or years before paying up.

By supplying a loan that gets paid when an award or settlement gets reached, you have an early-stage chance to invest in a different lending opportunity. Each case gets carefully examined to ensure the odds are in the investor’s favor.

Is this an ethical investing decision to make?

Insurance Companies Paid $140 Billion for Lawsuits in 2014

Over half of the injury lawsuits in the United States involve automobile accidents each year. With a figure approaching $200 billion in some years, the dream of investing in lending opportunities to plaintiffs isn’t far-fetched.

You’re not financing the lawsuit. You’re betting that the plaintiff wins the case, pays off the loan with what they receive, and has enough left to live a comfortable life.

Peer-to-peer lending websites are already taking advantage of this opportunity. Prosper and Lending Club make small, unsecured personal loans to individuals in ways that were classified as high-risk opportunities not that long ago.

You’re helping people to pay rent and buy food. Then you make money through the interest that you earn.

The ethics of that decision depend on the investor. The plaintiffs need these items anyway. If you charge a lower interest rate than a credit card provider, then you could be saving them some cash.

When your return is a percentage of the award or settlement, then that might be a different story.

Higher interest rates are part of the lending process for lawsuits in many markets. Mighty Group Inc. has had 100 transactions per month since its official launch. 

Most of their rates are above 30% because of the risk involved. As long as the deal gets structured as a loan, then this investment option gets around the rules that are in place to prevent claims being sold to others. 

Books for Aspiring Business Owners

If you want to become a business owner one day, then information is going to be your greatest asset right now. Learning from those who have already walked the path you’re starting can help your idea launch to greater heights.

Reading is an essential tool in the entrepreneurial toolbox. These books for aspiring business owners can help you to develop a strong foundation that leads you toward the success you want to build.

List of the Best Books for New Entrepreneurs

1. The 4-Hour Workweek

Timothy Ferriss captures your attention with this unrealistic title. He shows you why every moment has value when you start creating a new business. The modern marketplace is fast-paced and unforgiving. You’ll discover how to harness your mindset and working style to maximize productivity. If you expect instant gratification, then you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

2. The $100 Startup

Author Chris Guillebeau shows you in this book that it doesn’t cost much to start a business today. If you have resources to use, a home-based company can get going for $100 or less. That means you can begin a side-hustle while maintaining full-time employment to support yourself. Then keep investing in the new company until it can replace your current career.

3. The Startup Playbook

David Kidder takes you through the stories of the most successful startups and the entrepreneurs who created those opportunities. It’s like reading an entire book of case studies that provide information you can use in practical ways to get your business off of the ground. You’ll get a glimpse of the storms that are coming your way so that you can plan for any eventuality that happens.

4. Zero to One

Author Peter Thiel has successfully worked with partners to create billion-dollar organizations. His thesis in this book is that the most challenging step in the startup process is to go from 0 to 1. When you do something new then you’re walking in unfamiliar territory. Knowing what your strengths are or why your ideas are unique will take you to incredible heights if you put in the work to do it.

If you are starting a new business now or when the economy stabilizes after COVID-19, then try to read at least one book per week. The information that you’ll find on those pages can lead to practical experiences that give your startup resiliency when it needs it the most.

Why Companies Need a Disaster Recovery Plan Template

Most businesses carry insurance to protect themselves against unexpected losses. What these companies didn’t realize when purchasing a policy is that the fallout from a pandemic isn’t usually a covered problem.

Thousands of businesses around the world are listed as non-essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. That means employees get furloughed or laid off, owners lose revenues, and the rent remains due.

Having a disaster recovery plan template can help an organization of any size recover quickly when an economy reopens for business.

You Can’t Rely on a Government Bailout!

Billions of dollars in government support were made available to American businesses as a response to the COVID-19 emergency. Some of those funds are 100% forgivable if the money gets used to make payroll. Low-interest loans, some at 0%, are also part of the package to keep companies operating.

The reality of today’s business climate is that this money is not a survival guarantee. You need to have a disaster recovery plan template to fill out.

It’s like having a backup business plan that you can implement if regular operations get disrupted for some reason.

Imagine if you wanted to support better health and wellness at home, but you didn’t have products from brands like Argentyn 23, Heritage Store, or Sovereign Silver. If you don’t know what resources are available, then you must wait for outside help.

Having access to resources that you can use immediately enables you to be one of the first businesses that open its doors when the pandemic is over.

What Resources Are Available Right Now?

The Small Business Administration provides access to numerous loans and grants that can keep a business operational during an emergency. Planning for this bureaucracy must be part of your disaster recovery plan template.

Business grants of up to $10,000 are available through Hello Alice through funding from partners like Salesforce.

Most cities are launching recovery programs that can offer solutions that can keep small businesses operating. You’ll want to speak with your Chamber of Commerce to discuss what is available.

Online lending programs provide up to $1 million to affected companies. Many providers are waiving payment requirements until the emergency is over.

If you don’t have a disaster recovery plan template available, then your business is at a higher risk of failing. Although no one expects something as massive as COVID-19 to impact the global economy, planning for the worst-case scenario can help you to get back on your feet faster.

Why You Must Create Networking Success Stories

Networking success stories shouldn’t be a process that you dread. Forming relationships isn’t always at the top of your to-do list because it can be an awkward and time-consuming process. Some personalities struggle to put themselves into these situations because it feels uncomfortable.

If your calendar is already crowded with family commitments and work appointments, then putting off a meeting with a few strangers is a decision that seems to make sense.

There’s also no way to deny the power that a strong professional network provides. When it is done well, then you can land jobs faster. These relationships can give you a competitive edge at every stage of your career, especially in your early twenties.

Creating Networking Success Stories

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to follow if you want to create new networking success stories. Each person uses different tactics to build relationships because the focus is on personal comfort first.

If you don’t like networking with people, then consider meeting someone for coffee to have a one-on-one conversation. When you thrive in an environment where you can be the center of attention, then a Chamber of Commerce meet-and-greet could be an incredible opportunity.

Then create a game plan that you can execute. It’s essential to head into each networking opportunity with at least one clear goal to achieve. It doesn’t need to be a complex outcome that you hope to achieve. Bringing back one new insight or connecting with two new people in your industry can be the beginning of a networking success story.

It would be best if you make a plan to follow up after meeting people. It’s the one crucial step that most professionals neglect. The time that you invest in connecting with someone new goes away if you fail to maintain that new relationship.

You don’t need to send someone a lengthy love letter that encompasses every emotion you’ve ever experienced. A simple, thoughtful message that speaks of the appreciation that you have for the connection will work.

Create a Fairy Tale Ending

As a final step, it helps to pay it forward. Start looking for ways to provide more value to the people in your current network before asking them for help. When you invest in these relationships, then it will be more comfortable for you to offer assistance – and get some in return.

How are you going to start creating more networking success stories?

5 Career Choices for a Business Management Degree

If you want a career for a business management degree, then there is a diverse range of potential jobs that you could pursue. Here are some of the best-paying options that may be available in your community.

1. Account Manager

An account manager is a company’s personal representative to a customer. This job is responsible for managing client relationships, coordinating with sales teams, and preparing presentations that communicate the value of products or services.

2. Financial Analyst

This job is responsible for conducting qualitative analyses with regard to the investments or finances of an organization. You would compose spreadsheets, graphs, and charts that forecast the financial health of the company for a variety of time periods. This position is also responsible for determining the price of products or services when they reach the market.

3. Marketing Manager

You are responsible for estimating the demand for the products or services sold by your employer in this position. You’d analyze what your competitors are doing in the marketplace to determine what niche would be profitable for your agency. Then you’d oversee a team that develops a strategy to maximize profits based on that information.

4. Sales Manager

This position is responsible for creating the strategy behind each sales goal and initiative. It’s a job that works to resolve consumer complaints, monitor customer needs, and prepare budgets that work toward revenue growth. It is your role to determine what the focus of each outreach effort should be based on the analytics your team creates. 

Many sales managers are also responsible for the direct distribution of products or services by assigning territories and establishing training programs. You may need to be involved in the recruitment and hiring of new staff. 

5. Business Analyst

If you pursue this job, then your employer will expect you to spend your day working to gather information related to the issues or policies in the organization. Then you’re responsible for analyzing the collected data to determine if alterations or another possible solution is available to pursue. Any new procedures or policies that get created would come from employee interviews, personal observation, and internal reviews of agency documents.

You can choose to pursue a 2-year or a 4-year degree in business management in the United States. When you successfully complete your education, then jobs like these will be waiting for you in the employment sector.

How Do You Determine a Good Cash Return on Investments?

A cash-on-cash return is a rate that gets used in real estate investments most often. It calculates the cash income earned from the amount of money invested in the property. You’re receiving a figure that’s based on the annual return the investor makes in relation to the amount paid in monthly mortgage obligations.

It’s one of the most uncomplicated calculations to understand and serves as an essential real estate ROI consideration. This will be especially relevant to you if you are younger and looking to spend some of your free cash.

What Does This Information Tell You?

The cash-on-cash return is a metric for commercial real estate investment performance. It shows the cash yield on property investments, with the return rate providing an analysis of the business plan for it with potential distributions over the lifetime of the investment.

This option is often used for investment properties that require long-term borrowing. If debt gets included in the transaction, which is the case for most commercial properties, then the actual cash return differs from the standard ROI. That’s when these calculations make sense since it takes all profits and debt into account.

It only measures the return on the actual cash investment. That’s why it provides a more accurate analysis of the overall performance of the investment. 

Example of How to Use the Cash-on-Cash Calculation

Let’s say that the total purchase price for a property is $2 million. The investor pays $200,000 as a down payment, with the rest borrowed from a bank. Insurance premiums, maintenance costs, and closing fees reach $20,000, and this figure is what the investor pays out of pocket.

After one year, the investor has paid $50,000 in loan payments, of which 20% is principal repayment. Now the decision gets made to sell the property for $2.2 million after 12 months.

The investor’s cash-on-cash return for the property equals 51.9% after the deal closes. 

It is essential to remember that the cash-on-cash formula is not a promised return. It is a forecast that investors can use to take a look at future cash distributions, making it an estimate of what one can expect to receive over the life of the investment.

This principle applies to other investments that involve cash transactions. As long as you remove the initial payment to acquire items from the figures to focus on what you put into it only, then you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when it is time to implement your exit strategy.