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Amazon Prime Day Kicks off W/ Competition + How to Kick off the Habit of Paying Full Price

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Ready, set, go! Amazon’s Prime Day starts today and continues through Tuesday, bringing a whole new meaning to retail wars, as Walmart becomes the latest rival to try to get in on the mid-summer online-shopping bonanza. This year marks Amazon’s fifth year of Prime Day, and according to Salesforce’s Rob Garf, the shopping event has prompted “rising shifts” for the entire month of July. Target and eBay have also announced sales of their own. There is definitely competition in these mean retail streets but how do you compete with yourself to save money?

I have a friend who spent time as an intern and then as an assistant buyer at a Fortune 500 specialty brand, and from her experience, she vowed never to pay full price for a pair of jeans again (unless the price is already right of course). Working in the buying department opened her eyes to reality behind retail. For instance, jewelry can be marked up to at least five times its value. As a buyer, you’re the one who actually chooses what looks go into each door. You also have the privilege of watching sales trends and dealing with a lot of retail math. You consider the cost of goods sold, retail price, and yes, the markup.

Markup is when a company produces or purchases a good at one price and then sells the good for a higher price.

Here’s how it works:

Selling price = [(Cost) ÷ (100 – percentage markup)] × 100.

So, a company buys a pair of jeans at wholesale for $60 and needs to sell it at a 60 percent markup. The calculation would be [($60) ÷ (100 – 60)] x 100. This breaks down to ($60 ÷ 40) x 100, resulting in a selling price of $150.

By having a markup on goods, a company is able to earn profits even when goods go on sale. But what does that mean for the consumer? Well, your pricey luxury shoes, shirt, and hand bag aren’t all that expensive. You just paid an absurd amount for it.

This leads me to the premise of this article – start at the sales rack. Being trendy with your finances should come before fashion. See what deals you can get before paying full price. There is nothing more fashionable then extra cash in your money bag.

Ash Exantus aka Ash Cash is one of the nation’s top personal finance experts. Dubbed as the Financial Motivator, he uses a culturally responsive approach in teaching financial literacy. He is the Head of Financial Education at BankMobile and Editor-in-Chief at Paradigm Money. The views and opinions expressed are those of Ash Cash and not the views of BankMobile and/or its affiliates.

The Daily Digm (News)

Conferences Contemplate Offering Childcare + How to Offer Your Child a Leg up in Life!

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If you’re a working parent, you may have been forced at times in your career to skip important conferences due to a lack of childcare. The good news is, the tides may be turning, though slowly. Conference organizers in various industries are starting to come around to the idea that they’re missing something if parents are unable to attend. The trend, according to Quartz, is most poignant in science, technology, engineering, and maths, likely because those fields are trying to come up with creative ways to increase female participation.

This is important because these conferences create an opportunity for its participants to connect with others in their field and ultimately helps them increase their value in the workplace. It also allows them to make more money, which will come in handy as they are looking to improve their children succeed. So if you are a parent who wants to help your child with college, what do you do? Although college isn’t something that they will attend until they become an adult, it is important that parents start to plan for this expense as early as possible. With childcare being almost as much as rent or a mortgage, it can be challenging to save money for anything these days, especially college expenses.

Fortunately, a 529 Plan can help parents save money for their child ’s future college experience. The 529 Plan is a tax-advantaged investment. It was created to encourage parents, grandparents, legal guardians, etc., to begin saving money for the future college educations of their children, grandchildren, are legal wards. It receives its name from Section 529 in the IRS Code, and it is offered by state agencies and state organizations.

Not all states offer the 529 Plan, but those who do individually decide how the plan is designed and what kind of investment options they will offer. Most plans allow investors to come from out of state. The advantages for in-state residents who apply for a 529 college savings plan within their state can include tax deductions, matching grant and scholarship opportunities, protection from creditors, and even exemption from financial aid debt.

The 529 Plan is offered in two different forms. There is a prepaid plan, sometimes also called a guaranteed savings plan, which allows you to purchase tuition ahead of time, based on the current calculations of what the tuition of a specific university is. It is then paid out when the beneficiary of the policy attends a college or university.

There are also savings plans, which are based around the market performance of an underlying investment. These investments are generally comprised of mutual funds. Forty-eight states, plus the District of Columbia, offer the 529 savings plan. Usually, savings plans become more conservative, the older the beneficiary gets. There are also options for risk-based investments, which allows underlying investments to remain in the same fund, no matter what the age of the ultimate recipient.

The 529 college savings plans are an excellent way for parents, grandparents, or legal guardians to ensure that their young loved ones will be able to afford to go to the very best colleges and receive the very best degrees. It allows children the opportunity to follow their dreams, like before they are capable of reaching them. They are ideal plans for adults who want to provide college funds for their children but are unsure or unable to go about it in the way the movies have always told them they should. The 529 plans are realistic and affordable investments, designed to ensure a child’s future successes.

So as you contemplate whether or not you will start your family, keep in mind of these expenses but also know that there are vehicles available to make the ride smoother (pun intended)

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HP to Slash up to 9,000 Jobs + How to Make Yourself Employable

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Computer giant HP says it will cut up to 9,000 jobs, or 16% of its workforce, through firings and voluntary early retirement amid difficulty with its printing business. The California-based company said the layoffs are part of a restructuring plan that will save the company $1 billion by the end of 2022. The move, which is meant “to cut costs and boost sales growth,” said Bloomberg, comes as the company’s CEO of four years is stepping down. Dion Weisler will be replaced by HP executive Enrique Lores.

What if your job is making cuts? How do you become more employable? According to The Wall Street Journal, employers are becoming less picky, dropping skill and degree requirements to attract a larger pool of job candidates — especially in cities with the lowest levels of unemployment, such as Dallas or Louisville. The report states that an extra 1 million jobs were opened up to candidates last year with “no experience necessary.” But how do you go about getting yourself ready and employable in order to make the power switch? The following are five tips:

1. Be Proactive

Instead of waiting around to see who is hiring or simply just looking at job boards, look around, and make inquiries. What kind of job are you looking for? What environment are you interested in working in? Are there competitors to your current employer? Do you have an ideal place you want to work? All of these questions will allow you to determine who you should be reaching out to and how you should approach it. Being proactive can help show employers that you are the kind of person that takes the initiative.

2. Use Social Media

In today’s day and age, there isn’t a potential employer who will not search for you on social media when the time comes. Because of this, it is important that you start to build a strong profile online. Doing this can increase your chances of making that employment power switch and land the job of your dreams. LinkedIn is your best friend professionally, so make sure your profile is up-to-date. Many recruitment agencies use LinkedIn as a prospecting tool, so this may also help increase your visibility.

3. Have Unwavering Belief in Your Abilities

Right now, as we speak, there is someone living out their best life because they just believed in themselves, and conversely, there are people who have the skills and ability, but because of their lack of belief in themselves, they are not living up to their full potential. Be the former! Stop allowing yourself to be your biggest obstacle. Have an unwavering belief in your abilities, and even if a job says no, understand that it is their loss, not yours. Any employer would be privileged to have you on their team. Know that and believe in that fact as you step out to find your perfect employer match.

4. Keep Learn New Things

Never become so complacent with where you are right now that you don’t do what you need to do to maintain or increase your value in the marketplace. Even if you have been working in the same job or field for a few years, make sure you are engaging yourself in self-development on a regular basis. This may include developing in areas that have nothing to do with your current position but understand that the more you know, the more opportunities you allow to open up for you. There are many online courses that you can take or even certificate programs that can significantly increase your value.

5. Shake Hands & Kiss Babies

Lastly, make sure you become a master networker. The saying that “It’s not what you know, but who you know” is so accurate. The only twist to that is, “Who you know will get you in the door, but what you know will keep you there.” Your network is your net-worth. Make sure you are networking in the industry or profession that you are interested in. You will realize how small the world is and may be able to connect with the hiring manager directly, or even make such a good impression that the opportunities start pouring in re-actively. Either way, your ability to make a good impression and be around the right people may help you land your dream job.

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The Holiday Shopping Season is Looking Merry and Bright for Retailers + 11 Ways to Save During the Holiday Season

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According to a new survey, with shoppers expected to spend 5% more than last year. The increase in spending does not mean more crowds, though. About 53% of holiday purchases will be made online, with 20% being bought on mobile devices. The shift could affect shopping holidays like Black Friday, with half of consumers planning to make their purchases that day online.

The holiday season is not yet upon us, but retailers are gearing up so that means significantly more spending—and more potential to encounter financial trouble. Because of the emotional play many retailers use to get you to buy from their stores, it’s important to be overly vigilant with your spending during this time. Below are 11 ways you can save (instead of spend) during the holiday season.

1. Decide how much you can spend and make a plan.

Many people don’t like to use the word “budget” because it seems restrictive. However, creating a holiday budget or “making a plan,” as we’ll call it here for all intents and purposes, is imperative during the holiday season. By making a plan, you’re avoiding overspending and essentially telling your money what to do—rather than allowing it to be in control.

2. Open a holiday spending account.

Using your main checking account to do your holiday shopping is one of the biggest mistakes you can make during the holidays. Doing so allows you to tap into money allocated for other important things like bills and groceries. By opening a separate checking account for holiday spending, you’ll help yourself stay on budget. And once the money is gone, you have a clear stop on holiday shopping. Make sure it’s a free checking account, opening an account that charges fees would defeat the purpose of doing so.

3. Account for splurges.

Let’s be honest: you’re going to splurge this month. A dress for your office Christmas party? A sale at your favorite retail store? The jeans you’ve been eyeing for months are suddenly 40 percent off? We could go on and on, but you get the drift. Set aside a dollar amount that you’re willing to spend on yourself this month. Knowing how much you can afford will keep you from being swept up by “can’t-miss” deals.

4. Cut back on expenses.

Cutting back on expenses during the holiday season—or even before—will give you more money to allocate towards the holidays. Small changes like cutting your cable (you’ll be visiting family and friends most of the month anyway!) or avoiding takeout meals will save extra cash and make a big difference in your budget.

5. Track your spending.

Using a spending log is essential this time of year. Gifts aren’t the only thing affecting your budget—more social occasions means more spending. From extra Ubers to hostess gifts, your expenses can add up quick. This usually forces people to make decisions that they may not want to make, like tapping into credit or using money that is not allocated for holiday shopping. Using a spending log will keep your spending in check.

6. Narrow down your list.

It’s easy to get caught up in the fun of the season and want to gift something to everyone you’re close to. Let us remind you (as corny as it sounds) that presents are not what the holiday season is about. Take a look at your holiday list and be honest about what you can afford. It’s not fun, but your loved ones don’t want you hindering your financial future for them.

7. Set gift-giving expectations.

Setting gift-giving expectations is really important: If your love ones assume you’re going to spend a lot of money on them, they may feel obligated to do the same in return. Having a conversation early on about gift limits will allow both parties to avoid overspending, not to mention it will sidestep any ensuing embarrassment or guilt that comes with one party not giving an equally as lavish gift.

8. Take advantage of store offers and coupons.

Taking advantage of store offers and coupons should be a given, but you’d be surprised at how many people pay full price for things during the holiday season. Many people feel like they are competing against other shoppers to get the best gifts, so they don’t spend the necessary time finding the best deals. Don’t believe the hype! Make a shopping plan for each individual on your list. Research where you can find the best deals on the product and then sign up for company email lists. Follow sales and make purchases at the right time. Ordering presents in advance (or price shopping with ample time) not only assures that you get the best deals, but also that you don’t spend excess cash on things like rush shipping.

9. Be creative.

Being creative is about understanding that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg in order to show your love ones you care. There are many people who are more appreciative of the thought that goes into a handcrafted gift than a purchased item from a big box store. Being thoughtful can have a lasting and more memorable effect than breaking the bank. Spending quality time with an elderly relative, helping a friend clean her home the day after a big party, or offering to babysit for a couple are just a few ideas.

10. Reduce decoration costs.

You may feel inclined to go all out when it comes to decorations, but if you’re crafty enough, you can save a lot of money by creating your own. If you really love holiday decor, wait until the season is over and purchase for next year. Prices for decorations are inflated during the holidays, so buying them during the off-season can save you a lot of money.

11. Remember the reason for the season.

We cannot repeat this enough: remember the reason for the season. The holiday season is not all about gift giving. Sometimes your presence is better than your present! The holiday season is about family and friends, and should be cherished in that way.

Do you have a holiday season savings hack that you swear by? ‘Tis the season to share!

11 Ways to Save During the Holiday Season was originally published on TheEverygirl.com.

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