Ten Steps to Build the Home of Your Dreams

There are many reasons to design and build your own house.

Are you an environmentalist in search of a green, energy efficient residence, a chef looking for an enormous, state of the art kitchen or a nature lover in search of majestic views? All of these are great reasons to build a house from the ground up, but you don’t need a special justification to start with a blank canvas. Sometimes the simple desire to customize your own home is all you need.

Have you ever walked around your house and considered all of the things you’d like to change if you had the time and money to do so? Perhaps you desire a luxurious master bath complete with a freestanding tub, a laundry room on the same level as your bedroom or a spacious kitchen complete with dual ovens, ice-makers and island cook-tops.

Maybe you’ve put a lot of time and thought into renovating your current home. Perhaps you’ve attempted to design workarounds for those layouts or envisioned removing or bumping out walls. Unfortunately, many homes cannot be modified due to their underlying structure.

Sometimes in order to achieve your dream home you have to design and build it yourself.

So what do you need to consider before starting your own self-build project. Here are a few important points to think about before jumping in:

Calculate Your Budget

Before you design your new custom home or contact a builder you’ll need to calculate your total home-building budget. Figure out how much you can comfortably afford to spend without jeopardizing your lifestyle. Take into account all of the items you currently pay for each month including all discretionary expenses. As a custom homebuyer, you will get to choose how much you want to spend on specific home features. Do you want to upgrade your kitchen with state-of-the-art appliances or spend more on luxury bathroom materials and one-of-a-kind fixtures and bathtubs? Think about these decisions as you plan your budget.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Construction projects can easily run over schedule and over budget. After completing your budget add an additional 10 to 15 percent to cover anything and everything extra. You cannot begin to imagine how many choices and decisions you will make on a custom-built home. What type of flooring do you want to use? Will you choose laminate, wood or bamboo? The prices for each and every decision can differ dramatically. Try to factor these choices into your budget then add a contingency buffer to your budget for unexpected upgrades and changes.

Choose Your Land

Before you can construct a house you need to pick the plot of land it will reside upon. Think carefully about where you want to build. Do you want to live near the ocean, in the woods or in a neighborhood right outside the city? Do you need a large house for a big family or a small, cozy house for just the two of you? You need to make sure the plot of land is large enough to support your needs. In most cases you will want to search for empty plots of land, but don’t rule out houses that can be torn down. Remember that land has intrinsic value even if the current property is in a complete state of disrepair. If you need help with this step review the tips found on the self-build portal.

Design the Layout

Before you meet with an architect think about the overall layout of your future home. How many bathrooms do you need to support? Do you want his-and-her sinks, a freestanding tub and a walk in shower? How many bedrooms do you want? How many of them should be designed as master suites and how large should they be? What would you like your kitchen, living room and dining spaces to look like? Snap photos of homes you admire or take to the Internet and save off pictures from Pinterest of the layouts you love. It helps to provide visuals to your architect and builder.

Find an Architect

The architect holds a crucial role in the building of your new home. He or she will be responsible for ensuring all designs are compliant with building regulations. In most cases this is not a one-and-done job. The architect will need to remain on hand to alter and tweak designs until you are satisfied with the entire layout. Without the right blueprints you cannot build your dream home. Think carefully about whom you hire. Find someone whose work matches your desired style. Make sure you feel comfortable speaking with this person about your design decisions as well as changes to their plans.

Find a Builder

Expect to spend a fair amount of time searching for a builder before you hire one. Request a portfolio of work, but more importantly ask to tour recently built homes and make certain to speak to new home buyers. Ask the homeowners about builder communication, (how often were they updated on issues and problems), and what did they think about the work that was completed. Find a builder you trust. You will forge an ongoing relationship with this person that will continue week after week and month after month until the work is complete. You need to feel comfortable with the decisions they make on site as well as their ability to understand and respond to your concerns.

Secure Financing

While most lenders understand the basic rules of financing homes, not all lenders under the complexities of mortgages and loans required for self built homes. Search for a lender that is comfortable handling construction loans. Keep in mind that it takes more money to qualify for a custom home. Your lender will require a higher credit score, a larger down payment and will most likely want to see a fair amount of cash reserves that can cover any extra costs that may arise.

Obtain Insurance

In order to protect yourself and your new-found investment you’ll need to purchase specialized insurance known as self build insurance. When building a house, you need to be prepared for the unexpected. While most construction jobs go off without a hitch some do encounter problems. Self-build insurance covers you from both liability and physical damage. It ensures you are protected from minor and major disasters and covers problems like on-site injuries or storm damage during construction. It even covers unthinkable acts like materials being stolen from your property before the work is completed or damage that may occur to neighboring properties.

Pay Over Time

Before signing a contract design an agreed upon payment schedule. Never pay the full price for work up front, even if you can pay in cash. You’ll want to pay in installments to ensure you are happy with the builder’s progress. If you provide the lump sum up front you lose your ability to negotiate and make changes along the way. Once the builder has your money in hand they will have more control over your new home then you do.

Visit the Work Site as Often as Possible

During construction visit the site of your new home as often as possible. As your house is built board-by-board and floor-by-floor you may find issues in the work being performed or even problems with the architectural design. It’s one thing to see the blueprints on paper. It is an entirely different thing to walk around inside of the rooms and see how everything fits together. Make sure you visit often to get a feel for the layout so you can make tweaks to the design as necessary. Visiting often will often keep your builder working. If they know you are onsite they are more likely to show up to work and continue to maintain progress on your new home.

Constructing a self-built home isn’t easy, but when the last nail is hammered in and the final coat of paint dries you will find yourself unlocking the door to your new home. Welcome to the home of your dreams.

May 19, 2017 at 7:28 AM Leave a comment

Various Things To Take Into Account Before Moving To A New State

Sure, you might be ready for a change and you might have a lot of reasons as to why you want to move to another state. However, this does not dismiss the fact that there are a lot of things that you need to take into consideration before you turn in your two-week notice at work and pack up the moving truck.

The Cost Of The Move Itself

Moving everything you own to a new state is going to cost you more than just some gasoline in a truck. In order to make the process run as smoothly as possible and to save yourself a bunch of time, you will need to consider hiring professional interstate movers. Of course, you will need to do some comparisons of the prices of the various movers you are coming across. This will ensure that you are going to get the best services for the best price.

You will also have to factor in the cost of all of the packing supplies that you will need to purchase. Without sturdy boxes, strong packing tape, and plenty of bubble wrap and foam peanuts, some of your most prized possessions might not make it too far down the road before becoming damaged beyond repair.

Education For The Kids

If you have children, even if they are not yet old enough to attend school, you will need to make sure that you are considering their educational needs. You want to know that the state, and more specifically the town you are moving to, is going to be able to provide them with a quality education. Do not wait until you have already moved and settled in to realize that the school district you landed in is one of the worst in the country. You would then either have to allow the educational needs of your children suffer, go through the hassle and expense of moving all over again or place your children in an online schooling program.

Investigate Local Taxation Laws

It is vital that you are really getting familiar with the taxation laws of the state that you are considering for your next big move. This is especially important for investors or business owners. Without taking the time to learn about the various tax laws, you could move somewhere where you think you will save money, only to find out that the taxation laws are going to cost you a lot more than you would have liked to spend. If you are having trouble finding the most accurate information on the tax laws of that state, you will want to get in touch with an attorney or accountant from the area that you are considering as your new home. They should be more than capable of providing you with a breakdown of all of the important aspects you need to know.

As you can see, the cost of a move to a new state is more than just the basics. If you really think about it, there are many financial concerns that you need to address. Instead of allowing those concerns to push you away from the idea of moving, simply use it as motivation to make sure that this will be the most well-planned move of your life. You will be happier and easily settled in your new home when you are doing your part to remain proactive and educated regarding what you can expect.

May 12, 2017 at 4:07 PM Leave a comment

Easy Ways to Spring Clean Your Finances

Springtime arrived two months ago and believe it or not summer is just around the corner. Did you take a stab at spring-cleaning this year? Did you root through your closets, sort through your drawers and clean out those lingering dust bunnies? When you think about spring cleaning you probably focus on mopping, sweeping and purging unwanted possessions from your home, but after you get your house in order its time to turn your attention to your money. It’s just as important to spring-clean your finances, as it is to spring-clean your home.

Here are a few key steps to get you started.

Review Your Expenses

This is a great time of year to hunt down your credit card statements and begin the line-by-line evaluation of your expenses. Carve out a quiet time of day to sit down and review each and every purchase. Categorize your discretionary expenses, tally up your totals and ask yourself some hard questions about the money you spent. Did you go out to eat too many times this year? Did you spend too much on clothing and accessories? Reflect on your purchases and ask yourself if you would buy the same things again. Take notes while you review the figures and decide which areas are worth the expense and which you should cut back on.

Analzye Your Credit Card Options

Let’s face it most of us prefer to use credit cards over cash these days. Why drag along a wad of money in your wallet when you can carry one simple, very clean card? While reviewing your credit card statements take a look at the rates, terms and rules of the cards you currently own. Maybe you signed up for a cash back credit card or a store card that provides points for each dollar spent, but when is the last time you reviewed the rates and terms of those cards and what can you do if something changes with your credit card rewards? Make sure you review the rules of your card to find out if you are still getting a good deal. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to earn points or cash back just for swiping your card.

Create a Budget

Create a budget using the data gathered from your credit card statements. Take a hard look at the numbers and figure out where you can cut and trim your expenses. If you spend too much money on food set a new resolution to bring your lunch to work. If your online shopping trips reached epic levels commit to a no-spend month in which you mix and match new outfits from the clothing you already own. Create a realistic budget and force yourself to weigh each of your future purchases from this point forward.

Pay Off Your Debt

Do you have debt you’d like to eliminate? Then you need a debt reduction plan. Can you take on a part time job, walk dogs, feed pets or babysit? Can you take on freelance writing jobs or graphic art design? Consider your skills, think about your passions and try to find a way to earn a little extra income each month. Look around your house for items you no longer need and sell them on eBay or Craigslist. Set aside money from Christmas and birthday gifts to chisel away your debts and don’t forget to use that tax refund from Uncle Sam.

Negotiate Your Bills

While reviewing your expenses you may find some very large monthly bills. Do you pay an ordinate amount for satellite television, cell phone coverage or Internet service? Take a look at your cell phone bills in detail. How much data do you use on a monthly basis? Can you step down to a smaller plan? Do the same thing with your television service. Are you paying for an extra-large package full of hundreds of channels even though you only watch a handful of them? If so, consider downgrading to a smaller, cheaper plan. You can also call the service providers to ask for deals. See if they would be willing to decrease your costs. A simple phone call is often all you need to save between $5 and $20 off your bill.

This spring get your house and finances in order. With your bills shrinking, your debts eliminated and your credit cards earning the highest rewards you’ll find more wiggle room in your budget for saving. You’ll also be well on your way to achieving financial peace of mind.

May 11, 2017 at 12:50 PM 1 comment

It’s More Affordable Than Ever to Learn About Your Heritage

If you haven’t heard of 23 and Me, chances are you will in the near future. For years now, 23andMe has been able to tell you specific things about your ancestry, just by analyzing your DNA through a simple sample sent in through the mail. You might learn that your ancestors were the owners of an awesome castle in Germany, way back in the 1500s. Or you might learn that your forebears fought lions in the deserts of Africa. That’s really cool stuff to know, and through deals like the one available through Groupon, it’s more affordable than ever. But this stuff has been around awhile now. 23andMe is in the news again because they have started to get into the field of personalized medicine.

You see, your genes tell an incredible story about your future. We don’t understand it all yet, but we’re starting to unravel genetic mysteries through science. One of the most important revelations yet exposed is the threat of specific diseases in the lives of specific individuals. 23andMe already allows users to understand their risk for Alzheimer’s Disease and a rare blood disorder. Just a few years ago, no one knew who would get Alzheimer’s. Today, it’s possible not just to know whether or not you’ll get the disease, but at what age!

There are alternatives to finding out about the legacy of your family, like Ancestry.com for example, another place to enjoy awesome discounts from Groupon. It’s absolutely amazing to live in a time where we can use this information for more than the most general family tree. When we start to understand the ramifications of our genetic family history for our own health, we can start to make important preliminary and preventative decisions.

Angelina Jolie had her breasts removed because she was at such great risk for developing breast cancer. In her estimation it was wiser to undergo an operation than risk getting sick or worse yet dying and leaving her children without a mother. She was unwilling to wait for the illness to invade her body before taking preventative action.

In the future, (and not too far, we might add), these decisions will be available for the average person, and you won’t have to resort to such drastic means to prepare. Not only will people be able to identify the risk factors that predispose them to certain diseases, as well as the genetic realities that make certain maladies unavoidable, they’ll be able to alter their DNA to prevent the development of these illnesses.

CRISPR is already altering genes to prevent negative outcomes, and this technology will soon be available to all. For the financially minded, this is a way to improve health significantly. It may soon ensure that you can prevent disease rather than paying for health solutions after problems have already set in. In the future, the expense to be healthy will come at the front, not at the end of life. This will result in a lot less money being spent and a lot less pain and heartache too.

May 2, 2017 at 10:32 PM 2 comments

Want to Become Your Own Boss: It’s Harder Than You Think

Do you sit at your desk wondering why you are working for someone else when you could be working for yourself? Do you daydream about opening up a restaurant or creating your own company? Before you walk away from your cubicle and jump into the hot spot of owning your own business you need to ask yourself a few basic questions.

First, what do you want to achieve? Your initial reaction to this question may be “earning a lot of money,” but the truth is you need a greater motivation than greenbacks to fuel your success. Owning your own company isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a whole lot easier to work for someone else. When you work for someone else you are only responsible for your assigned tasks. When you work for yourself you are in charge of each and every aspect of your business. You will need to hire new staff, train employees, file company taxes, acquire medical insurance, write invoices and do each and every other company chore you can imagine.

Let’s say you work as a software engineer. Every day you drive to work and write code. Now let’s imagine you want to start your own software company. That sounds like fun, right? You get to write code all day alongside talented engineers. The trouble is when you own your own company you don’t get to spend your entire day writing software. Instead you find yourself completing a whole lot of tasks that have nothing to do with that.

In fact, you may find most of your time is spent solving problems related to human resources, infrastructure, accounting and logistics. If you enjoy solving these types of problems then you are ready to work for yourself. If you prefer to sit in front of your computer writing code from 9-to-5 then you might want to stick with your day job.

Are you excited to take on more responsibility? Are you ready to manage each and every aspect of your small business? If you answered yes to both of these questions, then you are ready for the next one: What excites you? What makes you jump out of bed with a smile each morning? You need a lot of energy and enthusiasm to help your company grow. Think hard about what will motivate you to power through the tough times.

You’ll need to feel passionate about your business. It is that passion that will drive you forward. With it you will excite employees who want to join your efforts and find new customers whose needs you can fulfill. Try to envision your company on the very first day you sign incorporation papers as well as five, ten, twenty or even thirty years down the road. Many companies start and fail. To be in business for the long haul you need the energy and motivation to get you there.

So you took some time to reflect on those first two questions. You have a solid goal in mind and the enthusiasm to accomplish it. Now you need to get down to the nitty-gritty of building your business. Many new business owners hire career coaches to guide them, but most entrepreneurs don’t want to waste money on advice they may not need. So, where can a budding entrepreneur find solid, time-tested advice? Where can a new business owner obtain free guidance to becoming his or her own boss?

Thankfully, the Internet has spawned some great websites to help people on their way. You can find business resource information on sites like startups.co.uk or read free advice for entrepreneurs from experienced business consultants like Trevor McClintock. Whether you are just starting out or looking for long-term guidance his blog offers advice in every phase of a business. To view more business-related posts on my own site click here.

There are plenty of reasons why people dream of leaving their current work environment to become their own boss. The perks are great and there is certainly more freedom and flexibility in the job. The road ahead may be a hard one, so take the time to find solid business advice and create a successful and rewarding company of your own.

April 26, 2017 at 10:32 AM Leave a comment

The Rising Costs of Education

Rising college fees is a national problem, with teens around the US struggling with the daunting prospect of paying back expensive multi-year college fees. Families who in the past were able to save and put money away in a college fund now find that those funds simply do not stretch far enough to cover college education for their children.

Why education is becoming more expensive

The price of education is creeping up due to a combination of inflation, rising demand for places, and greater expectations from students. In the past, students were content with simple campus facilities and functioning sports programs, but this has changed. Colleges now have to hire the best coaches for their sports teams and provide campus facilities that are extensive if they want to attract the best students.

College degrees have also become increasingly popular over the years as students shun alternatives such as apprenticeship programs. This factor and a rising population have driven demand for college places higher, and institutions have had to invest substantially to accommodate the demand. There is also the factor of annual inflation, which pushes up the amount that colleges have to spend on staff salaries and running expenses.

Alternatives to formal education

A college education is not the only way to prepare for a well-paid career. Many successful employees in managerial positions achieved their status by working very hard at their first employer after leaving school. Climbing the career ladder in a progressive and carefully considered way is entirely possible without formal education.

Another alternative to taking time out to sit classes is to attend an apprenticeship program. Apprenticeship programs have a formal aspect but are essentially a way of training while working. As an apprentice, you would also face academic challenges, including reports and exams, but your training will be orientated to the practical in a way that a college education isn’t.

Community college can be another very useful stepping stone to a college education. If you can prove your academic abilities in community college, you have the chance of winning scholarships to top universities. Merely completing a community college program will also improve your employment prospects as it illustrates a certain level of commitment and ability to a prospective employer.

Affordable formal education

If you would like to achieve a college degree but can’t afford to do so, you could consider a cheaper alternative to a full-time, residential degree course. One option that is particularly attractive for students who already have a degree is online learning. You should visit college websites to learn more about their online masters in accounting, technology, and medicine to get an idea of what courses you can take without spending a fortune.

You could also opt to do a residential course on a part-time basis, which would allow you to spread the cost of tuition while still doing your day job. Many employers are supportive of employees who wish to study, so try proving yourself in your job to the extent that your employer is willing to sponsor you for further education.

Why formal education is seen as important

Though you have a number of alternatives to formal college education, many employers in a lot of fields still see a degree as the gold standard in education. There are very valid reasons for this – a degree shows that a student has the commitment to follow through on a goal, given that most first degrees require at least two years of full-time study.

Degree programs also have an academic intensity that other forms of education do not necessarily have. When you have completed a degree, you can prove that you are capable of deep, analytical thinking on a variety of topics. In fact, it is the fact that most degrees cover a range of subjects that make graduates so interesting for employers – in comparison to someone who has only studied one topic intensely, a degree holder generally has a more rounded education.

Don’t let the cost of education discourage you

Education boosts your career prospects, informs you about life, and is an excellent way to meet friends and contacts for the future. If it is unrealistic for you to fund a full-time degree course over several years, think about the alternatives. Both adults and school leavers take advantage of online learning, while you can get educated in your field of choice in ways that do not necessarily involve college tuition. Whichever route you choose, intensively studying a subject for a planned period of time is crucial to building career opportunities.

April 24, 2017 at 10:32 AM Leave a comment

5 Things to Do if You End Up With a Tax Liability

Owing the IRS or your state department of revenue can be scary, particularly when you begin getting threatening letters. A tax liability doesn’t have to ruin your life. As long as you are honest with the IRS, make an effort to pay, and keep any agreements you make, they will be willing to work with you. Whether it’s a few hundred dollars or tens of thousands, here’s how to manage a tax liability.

Pay What You Can

It’s easy to become so overwhelmed with a large bill from the IRS that you ignore it and pay nothing. Don’t do this. Pay whatever you can now. That will be money that doesn’t cost you interest payments. It also shows a good faith effort to be cooperative. Make a payment now, and continue paying whatever you can until you work out an agreement for the long-term.

Get Sound Financial Advice

It’s rarely a good idea to make major financial decisions on your own. Particularly if you have a large tax liability, consult with a financial or budgetary advisor. Then work with an accountant or tax lawyer who can advise you of your liability and negotiate with the IRS on your behalf. If you filed your own taxes, it’s also a good idea to have someone look over the numbers. There may be credits or deductions you missed, and these could help reduce the total balance.

Ask for a Payment Plan

The IRS almost always is willing to issue a payment plan. If you owe less than $50,000, you’re eligible for such a plan even without submitting a financial disclosure statement. Most repayment plans last about five years, so the minimum monthly payment will depend on your total liability. Make your monthly payments each month, no matter what, and you’ll have no further problems form the IRS.

Consider an Offer in Compromise

Taxpayers who can’t afford their full tax liability, but who can make a large upfront payment, should consider making an offer in compromise (OIC). The IRS always prefers to get money now instead of later, and an OIC capitalizes on this. It can also save you money in interest and penalties. The key is to make a reasonable offer. If you owe $10,000, paying $500 is not reasonable, but paying $6,000 might be. Talk to your accountant or tax lawyer about reasonable offers clients in situations similar to your have made, then submit your offer. If it is approved, you can pay the compromise amount to wipe out your tax liability.

Borrow Money Intelligently

Borrowing money to repay your tax debt may be an intelligent decision. If you can get an interest-free or low-interest credit card or loan, borrowing to pay down your debt is a no-brainer—as long as you can quickly repay the loan.

What if you can’t get a low-interest loan, or you’re unable to quickly repay it? Borrowing may still be a good idea if you can’t get a payment plan, make an offer in compromise, or tolerate the stress of owing the IRS money. Sometimes financial decisions aren’t entirely matters of numbers, so if the stress is keeping you up all night, a loan might be worth the additional payments it will require if it gives you peace of mind.

April 22, 2017 at 12:42 PM Leave a comment

Ways to Trim Your Budget When You Are Already Living on a Shoestring

Being financially responsible is one thing, but finding out that you need to pinch your pennies even harder than ever can feel like an overwhelming task. Some families experience just such a situation when a vehicle or major appliance breaks down unexpectedly. Others must find new ways to save money after the birth of a child and a lengthy maternity leave.

No matter what your reason for reviewing your budget, it is seldom an experience that you look forward to. Thankfully, there are many experts in frugality who are willing to share tips, tricks and even hacks that may fit into your lifestyle, as well as your bank account.

5 Frugal Suggestions

While certain money-saving tips may seem extreme to some people, other ideas may seem very doable with your lifestyle. Learning some ways that others increase their level of frugality is a great way to help you decide just what you can live without in order to save money. Some of the best money-saving hacks include:

  1.       Ditch the dryer – When you stop using an electric dryer for your wet laundry, you will be able to save just over $16.00 each month. While some may turn up their nose at this amount, it is important to do the math as you are hanging those clothes out in the fresh sunshine. In just a year, your savings will be $200.00.
  2.       Sleep when the sun sleeps – Instead of staying up late to catch up on projects or watch the latest sitcom, try going to bed near the time the sun goes down. As strange as this idea may seem, it was a way of life before the electric light. Not only will you wake up refreshed and ready to face the next day, you will also save money on your electric bill.
  3.       Be blind to brand names – In order to save as much as possible on your groceries, you need to be open to the idea of using generic items instead of their brand name alternatives. The chance that those cans or boxes hold the exact same product, manufactured at the same location are high.
  4.       Use your arms instead of a cart – Quick trips into any store can end up resulting in over a hundred dollars in unplanned spending. In order to make sure you are not impulse shopping, avoid the shopping carts when you just need to run inside and pick up an item or two. Your arms will, quite literally, put a limit on your spending.
  5.       Get tips from local insurance agents – Take time to shop around for a better insurance rate. Make sure to go beyond the realm of the internet and visit with a local agent over the phone or in person. Because they are familiar with the area in which you live, they may have just the money saving trick up their sleeve.

The most important thing to remember, when every dollar counts, is to take time and count every single dollar. Do not let small savings discourage you. Instead, keep a running tally of how much you have managed to save. This ever increasing number will help to keep you aimed directly at your financial goals.

April 21, 2017 at 4:17 PM Leave a comment

Book Review: Mama Says, “Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees!

Book Description:

Globe Newswire reports that Dr. Iris Mack’s mathematics edutainment book is “turning heads across the country in a response similar to the widely promoted ‘Hooked on Phonics,’ that improved children’s reading skills.” Her unique approach to math became one of Xlibris/Random House Publisher’s top children’s picture book royalty earners.

If there is one word that sums up our recent economic woes, it is interest. There’s interest on credit card balances, student loans, car loans, home mortgages, corporate borrowings and most prominently, on state and national debt. But there is surprisingly little interest in this interest. We all pay it. But not many of us really understand how it works. Dr. Iris Mack has filled the gap – and for young consumers.

Her financial literacy book “Mama Says Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees!” is focused on teaching students that math can be fun and key to understanding money and interest. In today’s world of subprime mortgage crises, bankruptcies, massive credit card debt and predatory lending, Dr. Mack’s book is more relevant than ever. In “Mama Says Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees!” a group of smart, animated characters explain how money and interest work, as young consumers are introduced to mathematics and financial literacy.

Professor Ø, Ms. Madonna Sorenson and Dr. Mackamatix lead students Al G Bro, Frakshun, Nada, Queen% and Material Girl Ma$ through a fun-filled math class all about how money and interest work in their everyday lives.

Learn more: MathQED TV

Praise for this book:

“I think the work you do showing how math can be beautiful and practical is great, keep it up!” says Javier Tordable, Senior Software Engineer at the Google Corporation.

“Making math fun and relevant is a real public service. Old fashioned, boring textbooks aren’t the thing that will capture the imagination and engage our children in the fun and yes, joy, in math and problem solving. Iris Mack has created a group of characters and scenarios that will draw young people into the fold of knowledge.” says Karen Pritzker– Producer of The My Hero Project and Editor of The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity website.

Buy the Book:  Amazon

Author’s Bio:

Iris Marie Mack, PhD, EMBA, earned a doctorate in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University. She was also awarded a Sloan Fellowship Executive MBA from the London Business School. Dr. Mack worked at various energy and financial institutions, acted as a faculty member at MIT, and worked at NASA and AT&T Bell Labs – where she obtained a patent for research on optical fibers.

Dr. Mack currently lectures on Energy Trading and Risk Management for the Fitch Learning Certificate in Quantitative Finance Program on Wall Street and at Tulane University. Because of Dr. Mack’s extensive knowledge of the derivatives, energy trading, and investment banking world, she has been invited to write opinion columns for the UK edition of the International Business Times.

Dr. Mack has also been named one of Glamour Magazine’s Top 10 Working Women, and she is no novice writer. This publishing will be her third financially-focused and published book – including her energy trading book published with Wiley Finance and a financial literacy book for teens and adults. With this breadth of experience and sheer intellectual prowess, Dr. Mack is more than able to help readers reach the financial stability they deserve.

In addition, Dr. Mack founded The Global Energy Post and MathQED – a homework help site for K-12 and college students. Previously known as Phat Math, this service has even been named one of the Top 50 Social Sites for Educators and Academics, 25 Savvy Social Media Sites for Grad Students and 25 Useful Networking Sites for Grad Students. Such accolades illustrate Dr. Mack’s ability to clearly inform the masses.

Connect with the Author:  Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook


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April 20, 2017 at 9:00 AM Leave a comment

Is Gold or Bitcoin a Better Investment in Today’s Economy?

If you are looking for somewhere to invest your hard-earned money, it is harder than ever to find traditional investments that will bring in a good return. Despite a slight rise in interest rates over recent months, banks are still offering less than 1% rates, and it is little wonder that so many people are looking to less conventional alternatives.

The alternative investment market covers diverse commodities that are market resilient and can be traded online. Some of these typically include gold and bitcoins and according to Lear Capital, even though the cost of precious metals continues to be influenced by so many different factors such as Central Bank purchases, the strength or weakness of the U.S. dollar, economic instability, money printing around the world, these, alongside venture capital and fine art have a far lower correlation to the overall financial markets than traditional investments like stocks, bonds and even real estate.

Difficult financial times

These remain difficult and uncertain financial times, both in the USA and globally. The most important thing to bear in mind is to manage your finances with eyes wide open and regularly look at your budgeting. But if you do find that you have a little surplus to put away, simply leaving it in the bank could cost you money in the long run. This is when you might seriously consider investing your wealth elsewhere.

Real estate has traditionally been seen as a good alternative, but this can be fraught with risk, and of course means your money is tied up and cannot be easily accessed if you suddenly need it. So how about gold and bitcoin – could they be for you?

Gold versus Bitcoin

At first glance, these commodities could not be more different. After all, one is a precious metal that has been used as a form of exchange for thousands of years and is widely regarded as a sound long-term investment. The other is a coded, crowdsourced virtual currency that did not even exist ten years ago. However, the common factor is that these are both commodities that can be easily traded online, and that can potentially realise excellent returns. Unlike property, they are also highly liquid and can be converted to cash at the click of a mouse.

Fluctuating values

Like all commodities, both are subject to drastic price fluctuations. From its introduction till 2013, the bitcoin price rose gradually from zero to almost $200. It then rose dramatically to more than $1,000 in the space of a few months, almost surpassing the price of gold. This proved unsustainable, and over the subsequent three years it steadily dropped to just under $400. The price of gold has also shown variation, though not to quite such a dramatic extent. It reached an all-time high of almost $2,000 an ounce in 2011, which also dropped significantly to around the $1,000 mark in 2016.

The moral of the story is simple. Greater potential returns also carry higher risks. While both gold and bitcoin can be great investments, it is always wise to take good independent advice before you invest your hard-earned money.

April 7, 2017 at 8:11 PM 1 comment

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