Hope for your financial life and beyond

12 Bible Verses About Friendship That Will Make You a Better Friend

We all want to be a better friend, right? I recently heard a message in church that touched on this topic. So on my own time I decided to look and see what Bible verses about friendship I could find.

Bible verses about friendshipThere are some great examples of friendship between people in the Bible. Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi come to mind. Also David and Jonathan were described as being as close of friends as anyone could be. And of course, when we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, He becomes the ultimate friend on whom we can always count.

Let’s face it though – friendships can be hard. Sometimes it’s hard just to find friends. Other times we fall into the wrong type of friendships, ones that lead us in the wrong direction. And, just like a reliable car, the best friendships take work to maintain.

The Bible touches on these things with the hopes of making us find and be better friends. There are many Bible verses about friendship to choose from. Here are 12 of the better ones I found.

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What Is a Savings Account and Does My Child Need One?

As part of my return to blogging after a brief absence, I’m going to be writing a series of posts that answer some basic money questions.  Even for seasoned consumers, it’s important to return to the basics from time to time, if nothing more than to solidify in our minds why we do these things. So today I’m going to be answering the question what is a savings account?

And I’ll be answering some FAQs at the end – one in particular about savings accounts for children.

Savings 101

what is a savings accountOther than spend, there is no more basic activity to do with money than to save it. People save for many reasons. But the main purpose of saving is to have a store of money for needs, for wants or for emergencies.

You can save money anywhere. If you are like most people, you probably have a small amount of cash at your home. But the majority of people who want to save large amounts of cash do so by opening a savings account at local bank.

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So It’s Been Awhile but I’m Back from My Blogging Break

Yeah, so it’s been awhile since I wrote an article on this blog. Judging by the date of the last post it’s been three months. That’s a long time in the blogging world to let your site lie dormant with no action.

But the decision not to post was intentional. Why you may ask? Well there were several personal reasons that drew my attention away from writing. In the past few months my family has experienced a change in my career, the school my kids go to and the church we attend. And the most time consuming of all our family events is that we moved to a new home. And, if you’ve ever sold a home and bought a new one, you know the time required for that.

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How to Save One Thousand Dollars in a Month

If you are serious about getting out of debt and building any kind of financial future, then you must save money on a regular basis. The best part is you don’t have to begin with much. All you need to do for starters is to save one thousand dollars. That will give yourself some cushion.

When I worked construction I learned that every building requires a solid foundation. For your financial life, that foundation is savings. Without adequate savings you will struggle to get out of debt and will always be susceptible to emergency situations.

save one thousand dollarsNow I know the process of saving money isn’t sexy. We’d rather go spend our money on gadgets and entertainment that would give us an emotional high. Saving money and leaving it in the bank is an emotional blah.

To save one thousand dollars in a month may or may not sound like a daunting task depending on your situation. Some of you may be struggling to pay your basic bills.

But you can save one thousand dollars quickly. In fact, you could do it in only one month. Here’s how.

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Getting the Best Deal on a Personal Loan

It’s important to learn a few things about loans and the lending industry before taking out your first loan. Many people think that two loans that provide the same amount of money are completely identical. But this isn’t the case at all.

A lender might lead you to believe that if you can afford a monthly payment then you can afford a loan. In reality, this is only half of the story. You have to look at the big picture to understand if a loan is good for your situation. You may need to do some reading or get some outside advice.

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How Much We Pay Our Kids For Chores

If you’ve ever wondered how much to pay kids for chores you are not alone. It’s a question my wife and I have wrestled with again and again. I’ve mentioned before why we don’t give our kids allowances. I’m not giving them money just for existing. It seems like that is what an allowance implies. Kids need to feel the burden of work so they can experience the joy of its rewards.

how much to pay kids for choresIn addition to earning some money, doing chores around the house is teaching them responsibility. The home is where they should begin to learn basic life skills. When I was in school, I knew some college freshman who couldn’t do their own laundry. My oldest two children have been doing that since they were nine.

Over the years my wife and I have adjusted how much we pay our kids for chores. The amounts started out small and increased as they got older. Now that our oldest has turned 16, we are looking at another radical change. Before I get to that, here is some background information that helped us decide on how much to pay kids for chores.

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Why You Should and Shouldn’t Refinance Student Debt

If you have student debt, you may be wondering whether or not it is a good idea for you to refinance the loan. To be honest, it depends on your situation and several important factors. But make no mistake, you do have to pay them back. If you don’t, you risk defaulting on your loan, which could lead to other drastic consequences.

Not everyone will benefit from refinancing their student loans. So it is important that you take some time to think about it before you jump in feet first. Below, are some of the reasons why and why you should not refinance your student debt.

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6 Ways We Survive the Dark Side of Rental Real Estate

My wife and I purchased our first home to be used as a rental property seven years ago. That move was the culmination of several years’ worth of reading about and planning to own rental real estate. It took us that long to feel knowledgeable and confident enough to put a plan into action that would earn us a steady income stream aside from our normal careers.

For the most part, our experience has been a positive one. In fact, I’d say overall it has been great. However, we have had our share of challenges along the way, like:

rental real estate…an unexpected new well we had to drill and install (that was pricey!)

…leaky copper pipes that had to be replaced in an entire house

…a dual tenant situation where one roommate left, leaving us with half the monthly revenue stream on that property until another roommate could be found

…tenants who don’t inform you of repair issues in a timely manner (“Really? It’s been leaking how long?”)

…tenants who won’t pay on time, or ever

…tenants, who by their actions force you into court (that’s a post in itself!)

…managing the finances to account for repairs, taxes and the house that sits vacant for months while you do said repairs or find a new tenant

…dealing with the emotions that come when facing these tough circumstances

…the time it took away from our already busy schedule to take care of all this

Are you prepared for all that and more? If you are game, then I have five suggestions that will help you manage through some of the dark times that will inevitably come. And I’ll tell you the sixth thing we’ve done recently that has taken our rental real estate business to the next level.

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8 Blogs to Follow to Stay in the Know on Ecommerce

If you’ve ever run a business you know that it doesn’t go smoothly all the time. Wouldn’t it be great if there were someone with a lot of experience to consult for free whenever your ecommerce business hit a hiccup for which you had no ready solution on hand?

Luckily for you there is help. This article will discuss eight blogs you can follow to stay in the know. Listed in no particular order, they offer advice regarding site design, marketing, SEO, finding your niche, choosing products, shipping and more.

E-commerce Related Blogs

eCommerceFuel

eCommerceFuel offers advice from Andrew Youderian, one of the most respected individuals in the world of ecommerce. Youderian started with blank screens and built two stores generating more than $1 million in annual revenue. Consequently, eCommerceFuel offers advice for those new to ecommerce. It touches on topics such as managing cash flow and how to conduct email marketing.

The blog is also rich with resources including a free book, a podcast, training videos and a vibrant forum.

E-Commerce Times

This one is more of an industry newsletter than a blog per se. Industry experts and professionals contribute stories to E-Commerce Times about the latest trends and developments in the industry. Straight from the field’s heaviest hitters, this is where you’ll keep abreast of the latest information likely to have a significant impact upon the way you do business.

Shopify

Shopify looks out for the little guy. Small startups and first-time entrepreneurs going solo will find information covering topics such as marketing, drop-shipping and improving the customer experience. You’ll also learn why every business needs a blog. Writers with a wide range of relevant experience contribute to one of the best ecommerce website builders and blog.

A Better Lemonade Stand

This blog documents the activities of Richard Lazazzera as he builds his ecommerce brand from the ground up. A Better Lemonade Stand chronicles his experiences with SEO, marketing, product ideas and revenue. Additionally, Lazazzera gets into subjects like drop-shipping, manufacturing, wholesaling and working with manufacturers.

Perusing this blog is like being a fly on the wall as a time-tested expert goes through the ins and outs of learning to build your own better lemonade stand.

Bootstrapping Ecommerce

Odds are, if you’ve run searches for any specific information regarding startups, Shabbir Nooruddin has appeared on your screen more than a few times. His Bootstrapping Ecommerce blog is loaded with practical information covering every aspect of launching an ecommerce site. Nooruddin’s strength as a blogger lies in the way he provides practical ideas upon which you can immediately act.

Groove

For your marketing-oriented needs, Groove is the blog if you want to take advantage of solid expert advice including live chats with CEOs. Even more impressive, Groove manages to deliver this information in an entertaining manner, so you actually enjoy reading the site’s content as you learn from it.

You’ll find useful expert advice in the form of well-written how-to pieces. Advice ranges from the best marketing metrics to targeting strategies to SEO insights.

KISSmetrics

Neil Patel and Hiten Shah, veterans of campaigns for large companies like TechCrunch, target the KISSmetrics blog to ecommerce entrepreneurs seeking information regarding marketing, testing and analytics. You’ll find articles on improving your conversion rate, tracking offline marketing campaigns and how to measure your true brand equity.

Practical Ecommerce

Considered by some the standard for ecommerce, the Practical Ecommerce blog delivers content for every stage of the ecommerce funnel. Whether you’re looking for information on marketing, conversion, shopping carts, design or social media, Practical Ecommerce has solidly earned its place on this list of eight blogs to follow to stay in the know on the subject.

Questions for Discussion: Who do you rely on for ecommerce advice? What is the biggest business issue you are currently dealing with?

Dress for Success: Style Tips for Professional Real Estate Agents

The real estate industry is built on strong first impressions and appearances and for good reasons. With the average home in America priced at $188,900, there are almost 200,000 reasons for people to be picky when it comes to hiring real estate agents.

So how should real estate agents come across to potential clients? What is the first impression a potential client has of you? What do you look like? Are you simply wearing a T-shirt and jeans? Hopefully not.

For real estate agents just entering the industry, it’s tough to figure out how formal you need to be. Does your wardrobe need a complete overhaul? So here are some tips for dressing for success in the fast-paced world of real estate.

Tips for Real Estate Agents

Curb Appeal

This is a concept that agents will try and drill into the heads of their clients when they take a listing. First impressions are vital. This sentiment translates directly from looking at homes to being an agent.

Male agents will want to sport a crisp haircut and freshly pressed shirt and pants. Women will want to have skirt or pantsuit, conservative dress with a jacket and close-toed pumps. This is the prototypical professional image that most people expect from a real estate agent.

Pro-Tip: One what to bolster your curb appeal is to use the latest tech trends. Using real estate lead generation software on a tablet or other device will help you look like you’re “in the now.”

Context is Key

You don’t always need to be in your Sunday best to make a good sale. Sometimes, the regional context in which you live will overpower the need to be professional. For example, if you’re showing off condos at a ski-resort or bungalows in a beach town, business casual is more common. If you are trying to sell vacation homes, you want to appear relaxed, yet professional.

Also, if you live in a rural area selling ranch properties, you’re not going to want to be walking around cattle grazing areas dodging cow-pies in your Manolos. In this context, wearing jeans and boots is just fine and even preferable.

Don’t Stop at the Clothes

You can be decked out in all Armani. However, if you show up in a beater car, you probably will lose some of the curb appeal you need to form a good first impression. There are a couple schools of thought with regards to what kind of car a real estate agent should have:

  • A fancy car will give the impression of wealth and success.
  • The only thing tat matters is that whatever you drive is clean and reliable.

The first school of thought assumes that buyers and sellers will only want to hire some uber-successful real estate personalities. The second assumes that what you drive ultimately doesn’t matter. Which is the right one?

When comparing these two philosophies, it’s important to once again consider context. If you are selling a home in Beverly Hills, you’ll want something a little more flashy that shows off your successes. If you’re selling something in the suburbs, you will most likely be fine with something reasonable and affordable.

The truth is that you need to be self-aware of your circumstances. Know the region and portion of the market you are trying to enter. With a little bit of awareness, you’ll be well on the path to dressing your way to success.

Questions for Discussion: What other advice would you give a real estate agent wanting to make a good impression on a potential client?