Your Personal Finance Pro http://yourpfpro.com Personal Finance for Young Professionals Wed, 16 Aug 2017 11:00:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 31591919 Using a Side Hustle to Grow Your Net Worth http://yourpfpro.com/using-side-hustle-grow-net-worth/ http://yourpfpro.com/using-side-hustle-grow-net-worth/#respond Wed, 16 Aug 2017 11:00:58 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7291 This is a guest post from Eric Rosenberg, a finance writer at Personal Profitability, InvestmentZen, and other personal finance, technology, and travel publications. When I started my first online side hustle in 2006, I had no idea it would change my life. I was still a college student and began blogging during the summer before […]

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This is a guest post from Eric Rosenberg, a finance writer at Personal Profitability, InvestmentZen, and other personal finance, technology, and travel publications.

When I started my first online side hustle in 2006, I had no idea it would change my life. I was still a college student and began blogging during the summer before my senior year. As a finance major, I intended to get a good job in corporate finance, which I did. But along the way, I built a side hustle that revolutionized both my money and lifestyle ten years later. Thanks to this hustle, I’ve been able to save more, avoid debt, and live a low-stress financial life. Read on to discover the lessons I learned along the way.

A side hustle can help pay off debt

I have taken on debt twice in my life. First, I had a $10,995 car loan shortly after college when my old car broke down. Then I took on about $40,000 in student loans in grad school. It was at the time I was paying off these debts I started to take my side hustles seriously.

I had a good starting salary considering I graduated at the start of The Great Recession, but I wanted to get out of debt as quickly as possible. I kept my living expenses low, but the pay off my debt faster I wanted to attack both sides of the equation. While I started my first blog in 2006, I didn’t start to look at my blogs as a business until a couple of years later. As I began to focus on earning more online, I had more dollars to throw at my loans.

Through a combination of smart budgeting, aggressive payments, and a little help from my side hustles, I was able to pay off that car loan in half of the scheduled five years. I paid off my student loans exactly two years and six days after graduation.

A side hustle can fund your IRA

Over the years, my side hustle income grew to a more significant level. It covered a round of beers, then all of my bar tabs for a month, then it grew to a point where it could cover my rent and later my mortgage. Whoa, I realized I was making some serious cash with this crazy internet side hustle.

Because I kept my expenses low, every extra dollar I made resulted in bigger savings. Once I paid off my loans, I decided it was time to start focusing on my Roth IRA, which has a maximum $5,500 contribution limit every year. I split up the direct deposit from my paycheck at work to directly add $211 to my Roth each payday, resulting in a maximum $5,500 per year. I also increased my 401(k) contributions and added some padding to my emergency fund. Because I had extra income from outside of work, I was able to boost my automatic savings at my day job too.

In fact, my income from the side hustle grew enough that I added my wife’s Roth IRA to the mix. Between my 401(k), our IRAs, and other savings, we were putting about as much as I made from my side hustle into savings. In 2015, that was about $40,000.

A side hustle can revolutionize your finances

The core principle of personal finance is simple: spend less than you earn and use the rest to pay off debt or save and invest. But like most decisions that have the greatest positive impact on our life, that’s easier said than done.

I look at this financial conundrum similarly to how I view weight loss. If you are looking to drop a few pounds, common wisdom says to focus on diet (input) and exercise (output). But if you only focus on the exercise portion, you won’t see much success. You can spend hours on the treadmill every day, but if you only eat pizza, ice cream, and nachos all day, you won’t lose any weight. Why? Because you ignored the inputs. The same is true with your money.

You can budget until you’re blue in the face, but you can only cut your spending so much. You still need a place to live, food to eat, and clothes to wear. Further, you can’t cut your spending infinitely. You can only go as low as zero. And if you are earning only $20,000 per year, you will never be wealthy regardless of how well you budget.

Just as changing your diet has the most dramatic impact on your weight, focusing on your income has the greatest effect on your finances. If you can cut your spending by $5,000 per year, that’s great. But if you can increase your income by $10,000, that’s even better. When I increased my income by $40,000 through side hustles, it made more than a small impact. It completely changed my family’s finances.

Earn more or spend less: I prefer earning more

I’m not suggesting you ignore your budget. Budgeting and understanding where your money goes is vitally important. But if I had the choice between cutting my spending and earning more, I’ll pick earning more every time. Because personal finance isn’t so black and white, it’s most likely you can find a combination of the two.

It might seem like increased earnings are an elusive pipedream, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Adding a small side hustle can have big results on your life. You might just find your side hustle to be a growing success that lets you leave your day job. You never know unless you try!

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Is a Fitbit Worth the Cost? http://yourpfpro.com/fitbit-worth-cost/ http://yourpfpro.com/fitbit-worth-cost/#respond Mon, 14 Aug 2017 11:00:19 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7294 I got a Fitbit a few days ago. My husband bought it for me because he loved his so much he decided I should have one too. He has had one for a couple of months now, and I believe our daughter is currently on her second one. The two of them seem to love […]

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Fitbit worth the costI got a Fitbit a few days ago. My husband bought it for me because he loved his so much he decided I should have one too.

He has had one for a couple of months now, and I believe our daughter is currently on her second one. The two of them seem to love using their Fitbits to track their heartrates, sleep cycles, number of steps each day, and more. They even compete to see who gets more steps by the end of every day.

Since I have only had mine a few days I haven’t even had a chance to explore all of the features yet. But it has me wondering, is a Fitbit worth the cost?

1. Accuracy

For a Fitbit to be worth the cost it must first be accurate. Otherwise, you may have shelled out anywhere from $50 to over $250 for digital piece of junk.

Of course, it isn’t that I have anything against a Fitbit. That would be a bit hypocritical since I am wearing one at this precise moment (by the way, I got 7,049 steps in today). But the accuracy needs to be a whole lot better than the pedometers I used to use in my youth.

Some studies show that not only does a higher price not guarantee accuracy, but neither does the device itself. In fact, the article continues on to tell us that smartphones have a smaller margin of error than a Fitbit. Surprisingly, pedometers were better yet.

2. Convenience

Convenience is a key factor in determining whether or not a Fitbit is worth the cost. For example, the problem I had with pedometers in the past involved both accuracy, as I stated above, and convenience.

When it comes to convenience, pedometers fall short. Most clip to your waistband which isn’t the handiest when you are exercising. As a result, when you wanted to see the numbers on your pedometer you had to either unclip it, or pull the entire waistband of your pants away from your body.

If you are using a smartphone to track your steps they are not going to be any more convenient to carry than a pedometer is to wear. Most people either carry them in their hand or wear them on their upper arm in a special sleeve designed to hold a smartphone.

A Fitbit is by far the most convenient. Many people who wear them tend to forget they are even on after a while. As my husband exercises with his personal trainer, for instance, he keeps his on the whole time and loves it.

3. Features

Features are another issue that may have influence as you try to decide if a Fitbit is worth the cost. To truly be able to compare features to other devices may not be possible, though, because they don’t do the same things.

A simple pedometer will usually count steps and may tell you how far you have walked or how many calories you burned. Your phone may tell you a little more, depending on the app you use. But neither of them do what a Fitbit will do.

Wearing a Fitbit allows you to know how long you sleep each night. It will also tell you how long you were awake and what your heartrate was.

You can track your resting heart rate as well as what it is when you are exercising. My own Fitbit will allow me to set reminders to get up and move.

It will also allow me to track my water consumption and what I eat each day. Additionally, I can set it to vibrate when I get a phone call if I want to. I can even make money while I am exercising and wearing it if I chose to.

4. Cost

Purchasing a smartphone can be anywhere from zero to several hundred dollars depending on your choice of phone plans. Obviously a phone has many more features than simply tracking your steps, though.

A pedometer falls on the other end of the scale as being the cheapest alternative. But although they run from less than $10 to around $50 they also lack many other features.

The cost of a Fitbit is, I’ll admit, much more than a simple pedometer. However, I find I am already excited about using the other features to my advantage as I work to get back into shape.

If you are still wondering, is a Fitbit worth the cost, you should compare cost, features, convenience, and accuracy before making your decision.

Do you think the features of a Fitbit make it worth the cost?

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8 Financial Tips for College Freshmen http://yourpfpro.com/8-financial-tips-for-college-freshmen/ http://yourpfpro.com/8-financial-tips-for-college-freshmen/#respond Mon, 07 Aug 2017 11:00:58 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7265 Summer is winding down and retail stores are beginning to stock their shelves with back to school items. Soon it will be time for last spring’s high school graduates to pack up their belongings and head away to college. Starting your freshmen year of college is an exciting rite of passage. It comes with lots […]

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Financial TipsSummer is winding down and retail stores are beginning to stock their shelves with back to school items. Soon it will be time for last spring’s high school graduates to pack up their belongings and head away to college.

Starting your freshmen year of college is an exciting rite of passage. It comes with lots of good times and possibly a few bad ones as well. If you are beginning your college experience with very little extra money to spend there are 8 financial tips for college freshmen that can help.

1. Don’t Borrow Unless You Must

As a college freshmen, you may be tempted to join the throngs of students who borrow as much as possible, don’t work, and buy whatever they want. Unless you are gifted with mommy and daddy’s credit card and a nearly unreachable credit limit, this is a recipe for disaster.

Instead, put yourself in a better position to not only start college but to also finish it. Something that will help is to only borrow if you absolutely must. There are other alternatives to getting a loan.

2. Save as Much as Possible

If you haven’t already been saving for college, don’t put it off a second longer. Every dollar you save will get you that much closer to your goals.

Stop spending money on junk food, music, and other frivolous items. Now is not the time to buy everything you want simply because your parents aren’t there to say “no”. You need to save as much as possible.

3. Make a Budget

Something that will really help you start your freshman year off right is to make a budget. In fact, one of the things you probably won’t learn in college is how to establish a realistic budget.

Write down expenses and income for a month to get started. If the numbers do not match, look at items you spent money on that could have been avoided. Trim your budget accordingly.

4. Buy Used Textbooks

Once you have your class list, check on which classes require textbooks. Next, check online or on college bulletin boards to see if anyone has used versions of books you need for less. Sometimes a little extra work and time spent on your part can save you a bundle.

5. Use Student Discounts

Some stores and restaurants reward students with discounts when they go to pay. Although you should also limit your purchases to save money, when you must buy, ask if they offer a student discount.

6. Live as Cheaply as You Can

Start out right by not spending money on extras. Watch every dime until you can get your budget made and see if you have any room in your budget for other wants.

7. Get a Job

Although it has been a few years, I worked all throughout my college years to help pay my way through college. This allowed me to get an education without have to go into serious financial debt. Believe me, once you graduate from college and your loans become due, you will be glad you worked to supplement your income.

There are lots of different choices when it comes to what kind of job you should get. Working on campus will be the most convenient for you, if possible, but there are a variety of different jobs you could apply for.

Deposit your checks automatically into your checking account. When you don’t have to make regular trips to the bank it will save you time and could deter you from spending as well.

8. Use Caution When Getting a Credit Card

When you first get to college you will be bombarded with tons of credit card offers. Use caution in selecting one and even more in using one.

Even though some people don’t believe it to be wise for college students to have and use credit cards there can be valid reasons to do so. However, keep in mind that a credit card is not a money tree. If you get and use one you must eventually pay for what you charge.

As you prepare for yourself for college and all that you will experience, follow some of the 8 financial tips for college freshman and save yourself some money.

What other financial tips might help college freshmen?

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7 Tools to Make Your Business Look Professional http://yourpfpro.com/7-tools-make-business-look-professional/ http://yourpfpro.com/7-tools-make-business-look-professional/#respond Wed, 02 Aug 2017 21:43:11 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7257 If you are building a business you most likely have a target audience you are hoping to attract. For you to be successful in your endeavor, your business must project just the right image. Of course, what that image is may depend on the kind of business you are building. But when it requires a […]

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If you are building a business you most likely have a target audience you are hoping to attract. For you to be successful in your endeavor, your business must project just the right image.

Of course, what that image is may depend on the kind of business you are building. But when it requires a professional image, there are 7 tools to make your business look professional and help you achieve your goals.

1. Website

Does your business have a website? This is a tool that can make your business look professional and appealing.  It can also increase sales when customers do an internet search and your website pops up.

Your business needs to be visible and easy to find on the internet so potential customers don’t pass it by.  Creating a website can do that for you. However, to really get noticed and increase your business and professional presence you need to make it mobile friendly as well.

Creating a website is not all that difficult or expensive to do. There are plenty of companies available on the internet that can help.

2. Powerpoint

Putting together meetings and presentations that are organized and efficient can help to make your business look professional. Professional business powerpoint templates can help with this objective.

Furthermore, powerpoint presentations can assist your employees with information recall and job performance. One reason for this is ease with which information can be read and followed. They also allow for visual aids as well as reinforcement of important main points of meetings and presentations.

3. Social Media Presence

Another tool for use to make your business look professional is a social media presence. Some might not feel this is a valuable tool, but its widespread use demonstrates otherwise.

Linked, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are a few of the well-known social media platforms that can be useful for your business. Using them to advertise is another way to make your business known as well as grow.

4. Professional Invoices

Professional invoices are a must if you want to make your business appear professional and be taken seriously.  There are many different internet sites that can assist you with creating invoices that are clear and easy to read for your customers.

Creating a professional invoice and invoicing system will show your customers you care about quality and have quality products and services. Conversely, sloppy, unprofessional invoices can hurt your business image and may make you lose customers.

5. Business Email

Having a business email account separate from your personal account is important to creating a professional image for your business. Furthermore, the email address you create should be named something similar to your business name.

6. Business Cards

Believe it or not, business cards still have a purpose and can help to make your business look professional. When you attend a meeting or conference and need to net-work it can help those you meet remember you.

7. Personal Presentation

How you present yourself is another tool to making your business professional and successful. Take pride in your appearance and when you meet others you will make a favorable impression.

Projecting the right image for your business to make it successful is possible. Using the 7 tools to make your business look professional can help.

What tools have you used to make your business look professional?

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Pros and Cons of Bartering to Lower Your Budget http://yourpfpro.com/bartering-lower-budget/ http://yourpfpro.com/bartering-lower-budget/#respond Mon, 31 Jul 2017 11:00:55 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7240 Problem solving and creative solutions are sometimes the very things that keep a budget in line. I believe that bartering is one way we humans found to problem solve and get creative centuries ago. For example, the fairytale of “Jack and the Beanstalk”, which originated in the year 1734, is a classic story that begins […]

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Bartering to Lower Your BudgetProblem solving and creative solutions are sometimes the very things that keep a budget in line. I believe that bartering is one way we humans found to problem solve and get creative centuries ago.

For example, the fairytale of “Jack and the Beanstalk”, which originated in the year 1734, is a classic story that begins with bartering. In the story, Jack trades the family’s old cow for magic beans instead of selling it, as he was told to do by his mother.

In a fit of anger, his mother tosses the beans to the ground and sends Jack to bed without supper. The rest of the tale is one that, I am sure, you are already familiar with so I will skip retelling it. Suffice it to say that Jack and his mother end up with riches beyond imagining from the trade.

While we may not end up with riches, this childhood story does have a lesson: It is possible to use bartering to save money. But there may be pros and cons of bartering to lower your budget.

Determine Your Goal

Before you can barter as a means to lower your budget and begin breaking the paycheck to paycheck cycle for good you need to know what you are bartering for. A personal example of mine is from a summer several years ago when my husband and I needed a new roof on our house due to hail damage.

Two sets of friends also needed to replace their roofs, so we traded labor with them. In the end, all three families got new roofs for less money because we helped each other do the work instead of hiring it done.

Pros of Bartering to Lower Your Budget

Bartering to lower your budget can save you more than only money. In addition, it can help you to eliminate waste and save time.

Saves Money

Trading something you have and don’t use for something someone else has but also doesn’t use saves money for each of you. If you both value and desire the item the other has you may be able to come to an agreement with little to no money changing hands. Compare the values and conditions of the items or services to be traded and start haggling.

Eliminates Waste

Having stuff sitting around your house not being used is not only annoying but a waste of space. Eventually you will probably tire of it and either toss it in the trash or give it away. Either option is a waste of your resources.

Bartering allows you to eliminate what you no longer need and receive something you do need while avoiding waste. In addition, if you are a successful negotiator, you can do it without shelling out extra money which helps your budget.

Saves Time

These days, the expression that time is money hits the mark more than ever. We are all busy people, so saving time where you can is important to keep your budget in line. Bartering can save time by preventing you from spending hours, days, or even weeks searching for an item you need.

Let’s say your neighbor has an anvil covered in dust in their basement store room that is just the right size for your needs. Have you ever tried to search the internet for the right size anvil? They can be expensive and they aren’t easy to find. Try bartering with your neighbor instead. Perhaps you could mow his grass for summer if his lawn mower is broken.

Cons of Bartering to Lower Your Budget

There are some possible disadvantages to bartering to lower your budget. Sometimes there is an inability to agree, lack of needed items on one person’s part, or a failure to meet future obligations. When this happens, the bartering transaction could fail or leave one party in debt to the other. As a result, nobody wins and it is possible neither person will save money in their budget.

Inability to Agree

What if you are trying to barter with someone who wants more than you are able to trade? It may not be possible for you to barter for what you need in that instance. Unfortunately, not every bartering situation will be successful. Sometimes you will end up wasting time and having to buy what you need anyway rather than saving money through bartering.

Lack of Needed Items

Another drawback to bartering as a means to lower your budget is having a lack of needed items. Maybe the person you are bartering with needs to have their lawn both mowed and trimmed. If you don’t have a trimmer, though, the entire deal could fall apart and save each of you nothing.

Failure to Meet Future Obligations

Be cautious about making promises to fulfill future needs for someone. As an example, what if your mower breaks down after you receive the anvil? Your neighbor might ask for it back if you are not able to hold up your end of the deal.

Most bartering situations don’t turn into fairytales where one or the other party ends up in riches. But there are pros and cons of bartering to lower your budget and save you money.

Have you ever bartered? What pros and cons of bartering to lower your budget have you found?

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How to Buy a Car Online Without Being Taken for a Ride http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-buy-a-car-online/ http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-buy-a-car-online/#respond Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:00:20 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7213 I didn’t buy a car online when I was younger, although I still remember my first car. It was a green, Chevrolet Impala that was nearly as old as I was. Regardless, driving it to high school and my evening job was much better than walking. It had a few dings and the heater barely worked. […]

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Buy a Car OnlineI didn’t buy a car online when I was younger, although I still remember my first car.

It was a green, Chevrolet Impala that was nearly as old as I was. Regardless, driving it to high school and my evening job was much better than walking. It had a few dings and the heater barely worked. I tried not to complain, though, because I had “wheels.”

A few years later I upgraded to a newer car. What I remember best about searching for it was how long it took and how many cars I looked over before deciding on the right one. But that was several years ago.

Currently, when you are in the market for a car and know exactly what you want it can actually make buying it more difficult. In a way you might think the opposite is true because knowing what you already want usually saves time. You may feel that it’s similar to going to a restaurant and ordering quickly because you’ve made your selection ahead of time.

However, when you know the make, model, and color of the car you want to buy you may have to visit several different dealerships before you find it. In fact, you may still have to do this when you haven’t determined what kind of car you want. Either way it wastes your valuable time and gas money as you drive back and forth to various auto dealers in search of a car to buy.

Fortunately, there are better ways to buy a car. With a computer and the internet you can buy a car online without being taken for a ride.

1. Start with Research

As you begin your quest to buy a car online one of the first things you will need to do is research. Grab your computer and go to a site such as cars.com to help you look for the right car nearest you. Consider cars that are reliable and will cost you less to maintain.

Will you be trading in your old car as you buy a newer one? You should also figure out the value of your trade-in as you search for your ideal car.

Spending some time up front to narrow down your choices and determine car values can make a big difference later in the form of dollars and time saved.

2. Chat Online with a Salesperson

The nice thing about buying a car online is that you don’t have to spend hours dealing with aggressive salespersons. Instead, you are in control and can find and receive information in seconds with a few clicks of your mouse.

Nevertheless, you still have the option of talking with someone if you choose to. Most of online car buying websites provide you with the option to talk to a sales person. This allows you to ask questions so you can avoid surprises that could cost you money later when you complete your purchase.

3. Search for Dealers Near and Far

When you buy a car online it opens up your possibilities. Rather than being limited to a close dealership you have the alternative of purchasing a vehicle from one that is further away. Of course, if you intend to buy a car that is hours away you will eventually have to make arrangements to pick up the car. If the price is right, though, it may be worth it.

4. Don’t Forget Financing

Make sure you don’t forget financing to avoid getting taken for a ride. Set up your budget to allow you the money to buy a car. Talk to your bank ahead of time about getting a loan, if needed. Following the six steps to successfully purchasing a car can help.

As you can see, it is possible to buy a car online without being taken for a ride. Do research and ask questions. Don’t limit yourself to nearby auto dealerships only and make sure you figure out your financing. All of these steps can help you find your ideal car without wasting extra money doing it.

What other steps would you take to buy a car online without being taken for a ride?

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Should You Stay Married for Financial Reasons? http://yourpfpro.com/should-you-stay-married-for-financial-reasons/ http://yourpfpro.com/should-you-stay-married-for-financial-reasons/#respond Mon, 17 Jul 2017 11:00:51 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7174 Many people believe that about half of all marriages end in divorce. In fact, those statistics have been quoted by a great number of people for years. However, according to a recent article in Psychology Today, those figures are not necessarily correct. The article goes on to hint that there is controversy over the true […]

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Should You Stay Married for Financial Reasons?Many people believe that about half of all marriages end in divorce. In fact, those statistics have been quoted by a great number of people for years. However, according to a recent article in Psychology Today, those figures are not necessarily correct. The article goes on to hint that there is controversy over the true divorce rate because it’s difficult to accurately measure.

One of the other interesting points of the article is that some couples separate without actually getting divorced. With average costs of divorce reaching $15,000 and up, it’s no wonder some couples don’t finalize their separation. But that begs the question, should you stay married for financial reasons?

Stay Married to Save Money

Nobody can argue that divorce doesn’t cost money. While it may not cost you $15,000 if the divorce is amicable, it still comes with certain costs that can’t be avoided. For example, there will likely be attorney fees and court costs to pay at the very least.

Of course, there could also be alimony to pay on top of legal fees. In addition, if there are children to consider you can expect your costs to go up substantially. Child custody battles can be expensive and child support payments can cost you thousands.

Another area that could cost you a bundle is in the division of property. Once again, if there are children involved the division of any marital assets may or may not be equal. Your spouse may get the home if custody of the children is granted to them as well.

Let’s say you own a business together. Many different things can happen with a business in the event of a divorce. Either of you may end up with ownership of the business leaving the other with no income.

Any or all of these reasons could sway you toward a decision of staying married to avoid draining your finances. But there are other things to think about as well.

Stay Married to Save Time

The best way to save both time and money in your marriage is to talk about money issues before you ever tie the knot. Obviously that doesn’t always happen. In addition, you have more assets when you are married longer. When you have more assets as a couple it takes longer to complete the process of gong your separate ways.

You may have to meet with your lawyer many times to discuss each issue until a resolution of all of them is reached. If this can’t be done, a divorce trial may follow drawing out the length of the process even more. Obviously, the longer it takes to complete the divorce proceedings, the more it will cost you, which may make you think twice about splitting up.

It is Less Hurtful to Children

When you have a child together, or several children, it not only raises the costs of getting divorced but it is also very emotionally hurtful to them. Your children may feel like they are in a tug-of-war battle between two parents who are determined to have them at all costs, both financially and otherwise. Even though this is not necessarily a financial reason to stay together, it could be reason enough to work out your differences and avoid the costs associated with divorce at the same time.

Some Issues Can Be Worked Out

Sometimes it makes sense to stay together but live separate lives. I know a couple who stayed together on paper because they have a child with health issues. They live in the same house and share household responsibilities as well as care of their child. Despite this, if they choose to date other people they have agreed to allow it of each other. The arrangement has benefited them financially as well as in caring for their child.

In other cases couples who have stayed together have found they were able to work out their differences and end up happier for it. I can tell you personally that there were a few times in my own marriage when my husband and I considered divorce. Now, many years later, we are very happy that we stuck it out and made it through the rough times. My husband and I have agreed we are financially better off and happier because of it.

Other Considerations

Staying together for financial reasons may not make sense if there are other factors to think about.  For instance, have you or your spouse committed infidelity? Or, is one of you being abused by the other? What if your children are being mistreated? These circumstances can make staying together for financial reasons out of the question.

There are a lot of variables to take into account when you are thinking about whether or not to get divorced. Staying married for financial reasons is only one of them. Therefore, the answer to the question of whether or not you should stay married for financial reasons depends on your unique situation. Only you can answer it, but you should certainly weigh the decision and its consequences carefully before taking any action you can’t undo.

How do you feel about the idea of staying married for financial reasons?

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5 Percentages You Need to Remember That Will Optimize Your Savings Habits http://yourpfpro.com/5-percentages-need-remember-will-optimize-savings-habits/ http://yourpfpro.com/5-percentages-need-remember-will-optimize-savings-habits/#respond Mon, 10 Jul 2017 11:00:42 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7168 When it comes to managing our finances, Iíve got one trick for keeping it simple: The percentage. Itís the baseline for virtually any financial decision Iím about to make.† The ìpercentageî can either be how much money Iím going to make, or it could be how much money I stand to lose. Either way, determining […]

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When it comes to managing our finances, Iíve got one trick for keeping it simple: The percentage.

Itís the baseline for virtually any financial decision Iím about to make.† The ìpercentageî can either be how much money Iím going to make, or it could be how much money I stand to lose. Either way, determining what this value can be a simple and effective way to prioritize your next move.

Here are 5 of the main percentages you need to know that will strategically give you the most bang for your buck.

1. Get Your Full Employer Retirement Match

I put this saving goal first†because it’s the only thing I know of that could earn you as much as a 100% automatic return on your investment!

Your employer match is when the company you work for contributes or matches some amount of what you save in your 401(k). Though that might not sound like much at first, it could add up HUGE for you over time.

Letís say your company matches dollar-for-dollar up to 5% of what you save for†retirement. If you save $200 per paycheck, thatís an automatic $200 more on top from your employer for a total of $400 saved! Effectively, you’ve just doubled your savings rate for doing nothing more than … saving! Where in the world can you find a better deal than that?

Even if youíve got debt to pay at a high rate like 20%, earning a possible 100% return on those minimum savings can still highly out-weigh paying off that debt. In fact, even if your company only matches 50 cents or 25 cents for every dollar you contribute, thatís still reason enough to make getting your full employer retirement match your top priority when it comes to saving.

Talk to your Human Resources department and find out exactly what their rules are on 401(k) employer matches. You might just find out that youíve been leaving free money on the table.

2. Paying Off High Interest Debt

Interest can be a very good thing if we are earning it. But it can equally be damaging if youíve had some challenges being responsible with credit.

If youíre stuck with high interest debt, all thatís doing is eating away at money that should be going into your pocket. That’s why paying off your debt should be your next top priority. While paying off debt is not exactly “saving more money”, it effectively accomplishes the same goal by eliminating your future payments. To put it another way, paying off a credit card balance at 20% is almost as if you just gained a 20% return on investment.

When you think of your debt in those types of terms, it becomes a lot easier to see why you should focus your efforts on trying to eliminate this debt as quickly as possible, even if it means making as many†sacrifices as necessary so that you can†find extra money†to pay down the principal. Again, using the percentages,†itís not worth it to try to save any money in a savings account earning less than 1% when youíve got debt that is charging you 20% (or whatever ridiculous interest rate). By paying down that debt, you effectively give yourself back that 20% by not having to pay for it any longer. Thatís 20% more that you can use for whatever other financial goals you might have.

3. Saving Up an Emergency Fund

We all know that accidents are going to happen. No one knows when your car will decide to stop working , your basement will flood, or you’ll have to take an unexpected trip to the doctor. To deal with these kinds of things financially, youíre going to need cash that you can easily tap in a momentís notice to handle these things right away.

Most financial professionals will tell you that your emergency fund needs to be anywhere from 3 months to 6 months worth of your household income. Some people will even say to make it 12 months worth of savings. My advice is to simply come up with†whatever you can.† Even if you can only save up $1,000, thatís still better than having nothing.

You can almost completely ignore anything you read about emergency funds being a waste of money (the argument being that money could be better used as investments in the stock market getting possible 10% returns). Think about what would happen if you didn’t have an emergency fund and you had to put an unexpected $10,000 on your credit cards? Once that debt starts accruing at 20+%, then those returns of 10% aren’t going to look so good anymore!

The bottom line: Itís better to be prepared.

4. Save for Retirement

Even though we already touched on retirement savings above with employer matches, with debt and emergency funds out of the way we can now revisit this topic.

At its core, tax-deferred retirement saving†can be one of the best ways to save your money more wisely for two main reasons: Compounding returns and avoiding taxes.

Compounding returns are when you earn money off the money you already earned. Basically as you set aside money each month, that money will grow in earnings. And then those earnings will also grow with additional earnings, and so on. Though that doesn’t seem like much in the beginning, after a number of years, your earnings will actually start to add more to your overall nest egg value than your contributions will! The more time you give it, the†the larger and larger this fortune could potentially become.

For the sake of percentages, a good number to use for comparison is 10%.† This is approximately how much the S&P 500 has returned each year on average (according to data from NYU).† All you have to do is invest in a passively managed index fund to take advantage of it.

Avoiding taxes is the other huge†benefit to using retirement savings accounts. At a tax rate of 25%, you basically lose 25 cents for every dollar you wish to invest (if you save outside your tax-deferred plan). But when you save tax-deferred, you get to keep the whole dollar. Thatís effectively a 33% gain for simply using your 401(k) or IRA and being smart about how you save!

5. Saving for College

Though we all love our kids, saving for their college should come behind all of these other priorities. Even though it also has the power to produce approximately 10% per year, unlike your debt or retirement savings, your children can always get loans or financial aid for higher education. You canít ñ unless you want to take on more unnecessary debt.

If you are fortunate enough to have enough money to make your childrenís education a financial priority, use something called a 529 plan to avoid paying taxes. Think of it as something similar to a 401(k), but intended for funding college instead.

Summary

On the surface, personal finance can seem complicated. But if you stick to the percentages and keep these priorities in mind, youíre going to be on track. Not only will you be doing yourself a favor, but you’ll also be helping to take control over your finances in one of the most effective ways.

Author bio: DJ Whiteside is the author of Save BETTER! as well as several other personal finance ebooks. He is also the blogger behind the sites My Money Design and 1,000 Ways to Save; two places where you can learn a ton about how to optimize your saving and then use it to achieve financial freedom.

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5 Ways to Make Investing Fun http://yourpfpro.com/5-ways-make-investing-fun/ http://yourpfpro.com/5-ways-make-investing-fun/#respond Tue, 13 Jun 2017 16:23:31 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7125 Have you ever heard anyone say that accountants are boring? I have, and I would bet you probably have too. I think it is because there is a long-time stigma surrounding investing that it’s boring. In fact, according to Time.com, being a boring investor can make you rich. But I think there are at least […]

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Have you ever heard anyone say that accountants are boring? I have, and I would bet you probably have too. I think it is because there is a long-time stigma surrounding investing that it’s boring. In fact, according to Time.com, being a boring investor can make you rich. But I think there are at least 5 ways to make investing fun that can still make you rich.

1. Use Technology

One of the other things the article says it to automate your investing as much as possible. That is definitely one thing I think can be helpful, save you time, and make investing fun. For example, who these days isn’t attached to their cell phone almost constantly? Everywhere you look people have their cell phones in their hands and they are constantly tapping away sending texts or viewing social media. It’s become a part of everyone’s regular daytime routine to check their phone for messages or missed phone calls. But it can be used for investing too.

Through the internet you can track your portfolio from wherever you are by using your phone or other technology. One way to do this easily is to use a robe-advisor, like Motif, to make it both simple and fun. You can keep an eye on your investments and check on them at just about any time making it easier to invest than ever before. In addition, it is fun because you can do it from your phone and discuss different investing options and advice through social media.

2. Set goals

Another way you can make investing fun is to set goals for yourself. Ask yourself why you want to invest? Is it so you can travel in retirement, or is it to pay for a college education for your children or grandchildren in the future? Decide what your investment goals are and then watch how fun it is to see your money grow and bring you closer to your goals every day.

3. Invest in What You Like

Investing in what you like and what holds a fascination for you can add to the fun factor. If you are interested in technology, add this type of investing to your portfolio. Or, if you like to travel, find a good travel company that is doing well and invest in it. Do some research into what you like and then make an investment in what you know and feel has potential for growth. In addition, if you are trying to teach a child or young person about investing, this is a good way to get them involved and hold their attention.

4. Make it a Game

Even if you don’t want to discuss investing over social media you can set up rewards for yourself when things are going well. Let’s say your investments have hit a certain mark you were aiming for initially. Give yourself a small reward for attaining that first goal. Or, you could give yourself a small bonus simply for investing a certain dollar amount in a year. The point is, turn investing into a game for yourself and make it fun. Celebrate your successes.

5. Review Accounts

Whatever you choose to invest in, don’t forget to review your investments from time to time. This allows you the opportunity to make changes as they are needed, which can also be kind of fun. For instance, maybe you have always wanted to invest in Disneyland or some other amusement park. Or, if your passion lies more toward the silver screen, invest in the movie industry. Find something fun to invest in that you feel will offer you to grow your money toward your future goals. Or, rather than investing in something new, just rebalance your investments every couple of months.

Investing doesn’t have to be boring, as you can see. Use one or all of the 5 ways to make investing fun and eliminate the stigma that has been attached to investing for far too long.

How else would you make investing fun?

Kayla is a personal finance blogger in her mid-20s who loves to write about money topics of all kinds.

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Why You Don’t Need to Know EVERYTHING About Investing http://yourpfpro.com/dont-need-know-everything-investing/ http://yourpfpro.com/dont-need-know-everything-investing/#respond Wed, 10 May 2017 22:27:06 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7100 Investing as a beginner can be kind of intimidating. You may feel like a fish out of water because you don’t know a lot about it. But I will let you in on a little secret. You don’t need to know everything about investing. 1. Educate Yourself When the thing that is keeping you from […]

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Investing as a beginner can be kind of intimidating. You may feel like a fish out of water because you don’t know a lot about it. But I will let you in on a little secret. You don’t need to know everything about investing.

1. Educate Yourself

When the thing that is keeping you from investing is lack of knowledge, you can fix that problem fairly easily. Do some research about it. There are plenty of resources available to help you quench your thirst for knowledge about investing. Magazines, books, and internet articles are just a few of the ways you can learn about investing. You could also ask someone you work closely with. Or, ask a friend or relative what they know about investing. It may take you a little bit of time to learn about investing, but you can go at your own pace. Remember, you still don’t have to know everything, you just have to know enough to help you get started.

2. Know Your Goals

Do you know why you want to start investing? Is it to save for your future retirement? Could it be you want to invest for the future education of your children or grandchildren? Knowing why you want to invest can help you decide how you want to invest as well as how much to invest and the amount of risk you are willing to take.

3. Consider Options

As a beginning investor, there are many different ways you could invest to help you achieve your goals such as real estate, mutual funds, stocks, and bonds as well as several others. Here are a few options to think about:

401K

Ask your employer if they offer a 401K plan. If they do, find out more and then sign up for it. They will deposit a small portion of each paycheck into an investment account. In addition, they may match part of your contributions and increase the amount going toward your retirement savings. You can move money around in different funds to maximize your returns and make the most of your investment dollars. However, it’s usually a good idea to diversify by putting some of your money into lower and medium risk investments as well as high risk investments. This way, if there are losses in one area, you still have some money invested in other funds that are not experiencing losses allowing your investments to continue toward growth.

Robo-advisor

One other way to invest and keep it simple is to use a robo-advisor to do the work for you. They are easy to use and there are several different options you could choose from. Most have low minimum deposit amounts as well as low fees for their services. In addition, they automate investing for you so you don’t have to do the work yourself, which is a great feature for the beginning investor. Most robo-advisors have apps you can install on your phone enabling you to check your investment whenever you want.

Don’t let a lack of knowledge about investing prevent you from getting started. As you can see, you don’t need to know everything about investing in order to save toward your goals. Rather than put it off any longer, go ahead and get started right away. The only thing you will likely regret is not starting sooner.

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How to Get Financially Fit by Summer http://yourpfpro.com/get-financially-fit-summer/ http://yourpfpro.com/get-financially-fit-summer/#respond Thu, 23 Mar 2017 19:54:12 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7043 This is a post from Pauline of InvestmentZen.com Summer is just a few months away, and as bikini diets are on the covers of so many magazines, I thought I’d cover little things you can do to get your financial fitness back on as well. The new energy brought by spring is a great time […]

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This is a post from Pauline of InvestmentZen.com

Summer is just a few months away, and as bikini diets are on the covers of so many magazines, I thought I’d cover little things you can do to get your financial fitness back on as well. The new energy brought by spring is a great time to get your financial house in order and prepare for a great summer. Ready?

Have a financial audit

Are you paying too much for things like cable, cell phone, utilities, broadband, the gym, etc? go over your expenses and try to get rid of the ones that you are not getting value out of. I used to have a subscription to NatGeo that I loved. And then I started traveling a lot for work, was never home, and before I knew it, a year worth of magazines was piling up in my living room. Sometimes it takes a while to realize you don’t need this or that. Going a month without (alcohol, meat, magazines, Starbucks,…) can be a great way to see if you miss the habit, or if it is just a mindless way to pass the time.

Use all the cash you save for your summer goals, debt payoff or holiday savings.

Know where you stand with your debt

Before anything, you need to know how much you owe exactly, so you can make a plan to kill your debt. Let’s be realistic for a moment though. If you have a ton of debt, just like if you are 100lbs overweight, it is unlikely you will be debt free by summer. You can however build some solid habits that can set you on the right track towards debt freedom.

Let’s list all your debts, and everything you owe.

  • Credit cards
  • Personal loans
  • Student loans
  • Car loans
  • Loans from family and friends
  • Mortgage
  • etc

Bargain and refinance

Once you have done that, let’s look for ways to lower your interest rate on your debt. Transfer your balance to a 0% credit card. Call your providers, and ask them nicely to give you a better rate. Yes, it works. If it doesn’t, take your business elsewhere.

A quick online search will tell you whether refinancing your student loans or your mortgage is worth it. Often, people focus on little ways to save $5 here and there. But by refinancing a mortgage that has 20 years left, even if the rate is half a point or one point lower, you can save thousands of dollars! It can be a bit overwhelming, doing all the back and forth with the bank, but seriously, when will you save that much money for a few hours of your time?

Start aggressive debt payoff

Spring is tax refund time! The average amount is around $2,800, which would make a nice dent to your debt and be sufficient motivation to keep going. Aggressive debt payoff means every little bit of spare cash is going to be used to reduce your debt principal. Minimum payments should be paid automatically every month, and then every time you have a little extra money, make an extra payment. Start with the debt that carries the highest interest. You wouldn’t believe how small amounts add up and can shave months off your payments.

If you want to enjoy your summer, you should start hustling right now, so you don’t have to pick up an extra shift when everyone is on holiday. The end of the school year means some kids are looking for tutors to finish strong, spring has a ton of cultural and sports events where you can sell bottled water or hot dogs, the days are nice enough to walk the neighbors’ dogs, mow their lawn, help them move,… there are many opportunities to earn extra money if you pay attention. Lady complaining she doesn’t have time? Offer to watch her kids, clean her house, do whatever she doesn’t have time to do.

Since you are already living on your normal income, 100% of your side income can go towards debt payments. Or if you are not carrying high interest debt..

Save for your holidays

A holiday can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it. If you work hard from now until summer, you’ll deserve a break, and should plan for it. What will you do, where will you go? A budget holiday can include visiting nearby towns and parks, hiking, free cultural activities, and a couple of more expensive things. There are free campsites all across the country. You can visit all the National Parks for a year for $80. If you apply for a travel reward credit card, you can earn miles and free hotel nights for the next few months.

Invest for the future

While planning and saving for the summer holidays, or other short term goals is great, now is the time to think about the future. Open a low fee brokerage account if you don’t have one yet, and once your high interest debt is paid off, start putting the amount your used to pay on your credit card, into a variety of index funds. Investing is super simple, you don’t need to know much about the stock market. Just keep investing, stick to indexes or solid companies that pay good dividends, and forget about that money for the near future. The S&P500 has returned over 8% on average over the past 30 years. Yes, there will be ups and downs, just do your thing and keep sending a bit of cash every month. Take advantage of your company match if there is one because that is free money, max out your 401(k) and Roth IRA, your tax refund might come handy if you didn’t need it to pay off debt.

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How to Manage Your Boss http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-manage-your-boss/ http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-manage-your-boss/#respond Wed, 22 Feb 2017 23:42:39 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7008 It’s a strange realization when you start a new job, especially when you’re an entry-level employee and this is possibly your first “real adult” job, that you have to manage your boss. If you had good mentors, a good internship, or perhaps a really good Career Center in college, someone may have told you this […]

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It’s a strange realization when you start a new job, especially when you’re an entry-level employee and this is possibly your first “real adult” job, that you have to manage your boss. If you had good mentors, a good internship, or perhaps a really good Career Center in college, someone may have told you this would happen. If you’re like me and heard of this but never really thought it was true, it might be a shock when you find out, yes, you do have to learn how to manage your boss.

Learning how to manage your boss is extremely delicate and depends a lot on your boss’ personality. Are they Type A’s who like to know everything, are they less hands on and expect you to go to them with problems, or, perhaps the most difficult of all, are they all over the place with no consistency?

Luckily for you, I’ve had all three types (plus many more, and many that share similar qualities), and I’ve successfully navigated the waters around all different types of bosses. Here are a few ways you can learn to successfully manage your boss without making it look like you’re managing them.

Managing a Type A Boss

A Type A boss can either be a dream or a nightmare to work with, depending on what kind of Type A they are. Are they Type A until they realize you can handle the work, then they back off but still check in regularly? Or will they never relinquish control and basically micromanage your work?

In some cases, you can get a Type A boss to eventually let you do your work by consistently proving to them you can handle the work. Type A bosses typically get a bad reputation for being micro-managers, but in many cases this is because they found they couldn’t trust the work product from their employees, so they assume they can’t trust anyone – especially the new person (you).

Here are the best ways to handle a Type A boss:

  • Get work done ahead of schedule. Fair or not, your best bet with managing a Type A boss is get your work done ahead of schedule. If the deadline is Friday, have it done by Wednesday. Have it completely done with maybe one or two questions for your boss, and have it done well.
  • Be confident. When you approach your boss with questions, be confident in how you ask them. You don’t have to be confident in your (assumed) answer – heck, you could be completely clueless about the answer! But when asking your Type A boss, ask your question confidently, like it’s a completely normal question anyone (new or not) would have.
  • Document everything. Because Type A bosses have usually been let down by employees in the past, as you complete work, make a running list of things you’ve completed in that week. If you notice a process being done inefficiently that you could do more efficiently, write down some notes about how you could improve this process. Type As (and micro-managers) typically look for things that make you look bad, so document what you do.

Winning over a Type A boss and managing them effectively takes a lot of time, more time than any other boss. However, if you win over a Type A boss, and they trust you, they’ll give you a lot of opportunities to shine. They’ll likely give you more work, but if you’re looking for a promotion and a raise, this will be exactly what you need. Type As also make great references, because they typically have good memories (or take good notes) so if you’ve been a high performer, they’ll sing your praises.

If your Type A boss stays Type A, then they’ve become a micro-manager. In this case, continue documenting everything you do and start to set boundaries once you’ve proved yourself. You want to make it so your boss isn’t hovering over you, like a micro-manager, so encourage your boss to set up weekly meetings with regular email updates from you. It may be tedious to send unnecessary email updates to your boss, especially if you work in the same office and already meet weekly, but it’s better than having him/her sit next to you and interrupt your work every single day.

Managing the Disappearing Boss

The opposite of the Type A boss is the disappearing boss. Whether it’s because your boss is actually checked out or because they think you can handle your work all on your own, managing a disappearing or checked out boss can be a challenge.

Here are the best ways to handle a disappearing boss:

  • Find out why they’re gone or checked out first. Is your boss really busy, so they are never there? Do they like work so much that they forget to come out and socialize? Or are they checking out because they’re close to retirement and just don’t care? Figuring out how to communicate with your boss (or their potential replacements, however temporary, if your boss is retiring) will determine how you move forward.
  • If your boss is busy or forgets to check on staff, be persistent. See if you can set weekly or twice a month, one-on-one meetings with your boss to check in. If your boss is busy, these meetings can be short (30 minutes or less). Keep the topics focused on questions you have or challenges you’re not sure how to overcome.
  • If your boss is checked out, see who the next in line may be. If your company usually hires from the outside, that might be more difficult, but usually someone will be a temporary boss or shoulder more of those duties as your boss nears retirement and after s/he retires. Try to work with them, ask them questions, and understand what their work style is. Even if they’re only a temporary boss, you need to have someone to answer your questions if your boss is truly completely checked out.

Managing the Eccentric Genius Boss

Depending on your personality, managing an eccentric (genius or otherwise) boss can be entertaining – or frustrating. These types of bosses typically have so much going on in their heads that they don’t really communicate effectively – with you and with everyone else.

Here’s how to manage an eccentric boss:

  • Be prepared to sift through what they’re saying to understand anything. After a meeting with your boss, you may have more questions than answers. Try to take some time, think about what your boss said, then see how it applies to the questions you have. You’ll probably have to rely on your coworkers for clarity until you understand your boss’ quirks.
  • Be prepared to accept more responsibility, quickly. Eccentric bosses, particularly brilliant and eccentric bosses, will assume you’re just as talented and bright as they are, and they’ll assume you can handle more work than you think you can. If you feel overwhelmed, set a meeting with your boss and express your concerns (do you need more training, more time, a coworkers assistance?) Typically, eccentric bosses are understanding once they realize they’ve give you way more work than you can handle, so don’t be afraid to speak up. Accepting more work if you can handle it, however, is great for your resume.
  • Understand that sometimes you will act as the boss. If you go to meetings with your boss and other people outside of your organization, you may have to act as a “translator” for your eccentric boss. Be prepared that people may start calling you for information because they “see” you as the boss (or the Boss Whisperer). Always remember you speak for your boss and, if you’re asked questions you can’t answer, defer to your boss.

In my experience, the eccentric genius boss has always been the best to work for, because you learn so much from them. Compared to the other bosses, eccentric genius bosses rarely have egos and are so excited to teach you about the job that they give you a ton of freedom, flexibility, and opportunity for challenges. They can, however, be frustrating, so certain personalities do better under eccentric bosses than others.

That’s not to say you won’t find a lot of variation in bosses either – some bosses’ personalities will overlap and some you may never understand. Most bosses, however, have some type of these personalities under the surface. When in doubt, they’re probably Type A.

With these strategies, you’re on your way to successfully managing your boss. Have you found these personality types to be true and, if so, how do you manage your boss?

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