How to Negotiate Salary for Your First Job

Things are falling into place, and after months of researching your options, polishing your resume and sitting through awkward interviews, you think you may have found your dream job.

You’ve already gone for a follow-up interview and the position is as good as yours. The only obstacle to cross before joining the ranks of the officially employed is salary negotiation.

If you’ve done your homework well, you’ll know the job you’re considering pays in the ballpark of your financial needs; however, the exact salary package you’ll be starting with depends on how the negotiations play out.

Here’s where things can get sticky. You may have your salary requirements and wish list in mind, but the company representative in charge of hiring has a lot more experience in negotiating salary than you do. It’s also easy to feel intimidated when you’re new to the workforce and desperate to find a good job.

You may not have the upper hand here, but you can still come out ahead.

Here are some tips to help you negotiate like a pro:

Choose the right time to negotiate 

Only bring up your salary requirements when you have an actual offer in hand. Don’t jump the gun and assume you’re being offered the job because you’ve had a follow-up interview and you’re getting positive vibes from the company. Talking salary before you’ve officially been offered the position can jeopardize your chances of landing the job.

Do your homework

Before you walk into that room, make sure you know the average going rate for the position in question. You can find this information through a quick online search of sites like Payscale.comGlassdoor.com and Salary.com, or by asking friends who are work in similar positions.

Once you have this number, hold it up against your own income requirements and ask for a starting salary that is slightly above your needs. You don’t want to walk away with less than you deserve, but you don’t want to overreach and come off sounding too greedy, either.

Research the company

Another crucial preparatory step for opening up the salary negotiations is to find out all you can about the company and its top challenges. Talk about ways you can help solve the company’s most pressing problems and you’ll prove you will be an employee worth hiring—at almost any price.

Understand the offer

If the company representative gives you a salary quote that is less than you expected, ask how they’ve reached this number. It’s possible that some of your skills and/or work experience were not considered when the offer was made. For example, you may have already mastered the entry-level skills for this kind of work during an internship for a similar position. This puts you at an advantage, as you won’t need to waste the company’s time and resources on basic training. Consequently, you deserve to start at a higher salary point. A simple question like this can save lots of aggravation on both sides of the desk.

Consider the full scope of the offer

When considering a position, don’t forget that job offers are about more than just salary. Look at the entire package, including all benefits, time off, retirement account contributions, etc. Sometimes, a job may have so many advantageous things attached it’s worth accepting a lower starting salary than you anticipated, as long as your paycheck will still cover your budget.

Similarly, if this job is one that offers tremendous room for growth and the ability to acquire a specific skill-set plus valuable experience, it may be worthwhile to accept it as a stepping stone for a more lucrative position in the future.

Role-play in advance

When negotiating salary, it’s important to find that sweet spot between insecurity and arrogance. It can be super-helpful to practice negotiating in advance by role-playing with a friend.

Remember not to sell yourself short. You’ve worked hard to acquire the skills and experience you have today, and you deserve to earn your true worth. Best of luck with your new job!

Your Turn: Have you successfully negotiated your starting salary at a new job? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

Learn More:
www.monster.com
www.thebalancecareers.com


All You Need to Know About Selling Your Home During COVID-19

Selling a home is a move people generally plan years in advance, and 2020 was no different. For many homeowners, the hot real estate market of spring and summer of 2020 was going to be the season they put their homes up for sale. And then came the coronavirus — and the world turned upside down. With people struggling just to get by financially, and health and safety paramount, selling a home seemed like a dream from another lifetime. Records of home sales in the U.S. from the beginning of the outbreak reflect these feelings, with a sharp decline of 21% in total homes sold in March, and another decrease of 17.8% in April, according to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) .

Now, though, the U.S. real estate market is looking very different. As the economy limps toward a recovery, many buyers are searching for a new place to call home and the housing market is thriving. In fact, national home sales climbed a record 20.7 percent in June compared with home sales from a year ago, global pandemic notwithstanding

One crucial factor driving the surge in home sales is the declining mortgage rates. In the beginning of March, mortgage rates plunged to a record low of 3.13 percent. Since then, the market has seen several smaller increases and decreases. On Aug. 6, history was made when the national average mortgage rate hit 2.88%, the lowest rate on record of all time.

Despite the flourishing housing market, many homeowners who’ve planned to sell their homes this year are still reluctant to take that leap. And it’s no wonder, with restrictions still in place and so much uncertainty still surrounding the economy.

If you’ve been thinking of selling your home, you still can. Here’s all you need to know about selling your house during the COVID-19 crisis.

Are you really ready to sell?

Before putting your home on the market, it’s important to consider all the variables involved in this step, and be sure it’s a financially responsible move. With the pandemic causing a slowdown of the economy and a likely recession, life circumstances you may have relied on, such as a steady job and salary, may not be dependable anymore. Before calling a real estate agent, it’s a good idea to review all the relevant numbers to be sure that selling your home now is in your best interest.

Stage your home to sell

Anyone selling their home knows they need to showcase it in the best possible light, and never has this been truer than now. With restrictions still in place in many states and lots of people stuck home in quarantine, many buyers will be doing their touring virtually. For sellers, this means that staging and photographing a home well is more important than ever.

Consider hiring a professional home-staging and photography service to truly present your home in the best way possible. If your furniture is shabby or your home is too cluttered to be attractively displayed, you can also invest in virtual staging software or hire a team of professional virtual stagers to help you update the furniture and clean out the clutter with just a few clicks. Either option can cost you upward of $75 an image, but the NAR report from 2019 shows that on average, sellers see about a 5% return on this investment.

Here are some general tips to follow when staging and photographing your home, as shared by Buddy Mountcastle,  a real estate photographer based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.:

  • Clean up the outside. Curb appeal is the first selling point for any home. Make sure there are no weeds, overgrown grass or kids’ toys ruining the first impression of your home.
  • Let the sunshine in. Aim to shoot mid-day. Scrub your windows clean, open the curtains and let the natural sunshine brighten up every room.
  • Undo the lived-in look. Remove all personal effects from your home before going camera-crazy. This includes stray shoes, family photos, piles of magazines, small kitchen appliances and more.
  • Shoot from the right spot. When capturing a room on camera, try to get as much of the space in the frame. Aim to include three walls, which can mean shooting from the corner or doorway. It’s also important to shoot straight and from chest height so as not to distort the room.

To make it easier for buyers to view your home, you can post a virtual tour on your online listing, and offer the option of scheduling a live tour with an agent through FaceTime or Zoom.

Play it safe

If you will be allowing potential buyers into your home, don’t forget to play it safe. Set up a box of disposable masks, shoe covers and sanitizing wipes at the door for all visitors who will be tramping through your home. If you will be hosting an open house, it’s best to allow a limited number of people inside at a time to make social distancing possible.

Price it right

Fewer homeowners are putting their houses up for sale this year, but the pool of buyers is also smaller than usual. This means you won’t be able to jack up the price of your home for way more than it’s worth. Work with an agent to look at comparable home sales in the area and to determine a fair asking price. Also, as always, list a selling price a bit higher than your actual desired price to allow for negotiations.

Closing during COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic will likely affect every aspect of selling your home, up until the closing. With many workers in the home-selling industry, from professional home inspectors, to mortgage lenders, to movers working with a smaller team now, be prepared for various steps of the home-selling process to be delayed. It’s best to be patient and to anticipate that things may take longer than usual. This is especially true with lenders, as low mortgage rates are triggering a spike in refinance applications across the country and lenders are busier than ever.

COVID-19 has wrecked all sorts of plans, but selling your home does not have to be one of them. With some adjustments and altered expectations, you can successfully sell your home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Your Turn: Have you sold your home during COVID-19? Share your tips with us in the comments.

Learn More:
www.realtor.com
www.kiplinger.com
www.cnbc.com

How to Create Your First Elevator Pitch

Elevator pitches take humble-bragging to a new level. At its core, the concept of an elevator pitch is to squeeze all you can about your talents, strengths and work experience into the time it takes for an elevator to travel from one floor to the next.

Your last few months in college are a great time for polishing your elevator pitch until it is perfect. You can use it to answer common interview questions as you job hunt, or just have it handy if you happen to run into a potential new employer, anytime, anywhere. Working on your elevator pitch will also help you clarify your work goals as you prepare to transition to a new stage of life.

To make this task easier, we’ve broken down the process of creating a killer elevator pitch into seven simple steps. While reading through each section, jot down a few sentences that cover the details of that category. Don’t worry about the writing or syntax here; we’ll get to that.

Step 1: Introduce yourself

Launch your pitch with a super-short intro about your background. Include your name, your major and your unique interests. You can also throw in a one-liner about any special research projects or volunteer work you’ve participated in during college.

Step 2: Talk about your work experience

Now that listeners know who you are, start listing any work experience you already have in your field. Include paid work as well as internships.

Step 3: Sell yourself

Now, you’re going to step in with your professional strengths and areas of expertise. It’s OK to boast a bit here, as long as you don’t cross the line into arrogance. Just speak matter-of-factly and tell the absolute truth. For example, if you’re a law major looking for a paid internship in a large law firm and you know you have a way with words, you can talk about the way you’ve always been chosen as the spokesperson in college work, or how you dominated the debate team thanks to your fantastic oratory skills.

Step 4: Talk about what you can bring to the team

What are your work goals? What kind of value can you bring to the company? Take a minute to put this into words.

Step 5: Wrap it up 

Close your pitch with an eye toward the future by talking about how you can’t wait to hear back from your listener, or how you look forward to working for them or in their company.

Step 6: Put it all together

Now that you’ve got the content for an elevator pitch written down, it’s time to bring it together in a short, hard-hitting pitch.

First, go through each section to pull out the most important parts. Leave out anything that is not absolutely essential. Next, start the actual writing by putting it all together in one paragraph. Remember: Time is limited here, so keep it short and sweet. Elevator pitches are best when delivered in 30 seconds or less, which gives you approximately 75 words to work with. Once you’ve got it all in one place, read through your pitch again and again, weeding out anything that sounds awkward or isn’t crucial to your pitch. When you’ve got it down to 75 words or less, you’re ready to move on.

Step 7: Practice, practice, practice

A perfectly written pitch is worthless if the delivery is lacking. You want to come off sounding super-confident and capable to any potential employer you meet. Practice delivering your pitch in front of the mirror and with friends until you know it by heart. It’s also a good idea to record yourself speaking so you can hear how you sound and make any necessary changes to the word flow.

Keep at it until you can deliver the elevator pitch in your sleep.

Now that you’ve mastered the art of the elevator pitch, you’re ready to get out there and blow those employers away with your talent and skills. Go get ‘em!

Your Turn: We’d love to hear your elevator pitch! Share it with us in the comments.

Learn more:
http://www.monster.com
http://www.learnat30.com

4 Back-to-School Apps for Parents and Students

myHomework (iOS, Android)
It’s not easy to keep up with assignments, projects and scheduled tests from so manySeptFeatured2020_school-app-icon different classes. Help your child stay on top of their work this year with the myHomework app. With color-coded classes to keep things organized and automatic reminders before looming due dates, the app is super-easy to use. The free version of the app includes assignment tracking, due date reminders, syncing between classes and homework widgets, while the paid version, at just $4.99 a year, offers an ad-free upgrade with file attachment support, enhanced app widgets, external calendar access, a homework import feature and more.

LaLa Lunchbox (iOS)
This adorable app makes meal planning fun again! No more arguments and frustrationsSeptFeatured2020_lalaapp about what to prepare for lunch; with your child on board, it’s easy as pie. Let your child set up a profile with a selected monster avatar, and choose a virtual meal from the LaLa Lunchbox’s food library by dropping their chosen foods into the monster’s mouth. The app will tell the parents what to buy in the grocery store so they can prepare the lunch their kid wants. Parents can also customize the food options for specific diets, and all the choices are preselected by a dietician. Meal planning, done!

Cozi Family Organizer (iOS, Android)
Between school schedules, meet-the-teacher nights, after-school activities and more,SeptFeatured2020_cozi-app parents have lots to keep track of at the start of a new school year. The free Cozi app helps keep the entire family organized with a synced family schedule and color-coded calendar that streamlines across multiple devices. Save grocery lists and recipes on the app, and keep a running to-do list on Cozi to keep on top of all your errands and chores. You can even manage a family journal on the app for the ultimate in sharing!

Bear Focus Timer (iOS, Android)
If you’ve got a little one at home who has trouble focusing on their tasks, the Bear FocusSeptFeatured2020_bear-school-app Timer (BFT) app might be just what you need. The no-frills Pomodoro-style timer is created to help the smallest of minds stay focused on their homework, chores or other activities with the help of simple schedules and white noise. You won’t find a lot of bells and whistles on this $1.99 app, but the timer allows the user to customize focus times and break times for the ultimate in productivity.

Back-to-school season can be frenzied as the family adjusts to a new routine and schedule. Let these apps help you keep calm and organized so the entire family can ace the start of the new school year.

Your Turn: What’s your favorite back-to-school app? Tell us all about it in the comments!

Learn More:
parents.com
cnet.com
lifewire.com
androidheadlines.com
parent24.com
gazelle.com

 

 

Die with Zero: Getting All You Can From Your Money and Your Life

Diw With Zero: Getting all you can from your money and your life
Author:
Bill Perkins
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publishing date: July 28, 2020

Who is this book for?

  • Readers of any age who are tired of losing out on life’s best experiences as they save for their so-called Golden Years.

What’s inside this book?

  • Perkins’ controversial philosophy for prioritizing lifelong memorable experiences over hyper-saving for retirement
  • A practical guide for optimizing and enjoying each stage of life
  • Illustrative anecdotes from Perkins’ own life experience and inspiring tales of others
  • Revolutionary insights about time, money, and happiness from psychological science and behavioral finance

5 lessons you’ll learn from this book:

  • How to live each day to the fullest
  • How to stop over-saving and under-living
  • How to maximize your memorable lifetime moments by “experience bucketing”
  • How to convert your earnings into priceless memories by following your “net worth curve”
  • How to navigate whether to invest in, or delay, a meaningful adventure based on your “spend curve” and “personal interest rate”

4 questions this book will answer for you:

  • If I’m doing everything right, why am I feeling cheated out of life’s best moments?
  • Do I really have to forego an experience today to save for tomorrow?
  • Is there a way to responsibly plan for retirement without compromising my quality of life?
  • Does contemporary science support the theory that a life of saving brings happiness?

What people are saying about this book:

  • “This book provides an amazing blueprint to living your life while using your resources correctly!” — Kevin Hart
  • “Bill Perkins’ Die with Zero teaches us how to trade off money for something of real value — life’s moments of pure joy, whose memories are our ultimate treasure.” — Laurence Kotlikoff
  • “This book brilliantly gives one a roadmap for living life over planning for death, for making a difference while you’re here to see that difference become real, and for generating priceless memory dividends with friends and family which far exceeds the value of any portfolio.” — W. Randall Jones
  • “Read this book, change your thinking, and wake up to accumulating experiences now before it’s too late.” — David Bach

Your Turn:
Do you agree with Perkins’ philosophy? Share your opinion in the comments.

Learn More:
New Releases on Amazon
Die With Zero on Amazon

The Back to School Guide for These Unconventional Times

Back-to-school season is traditionally marked by a run on discounted pencils, overcrowded malls and lots of nail-biting nerves about new teachers. But this year, the woman putting on young girls face maskback-to-school season is entirely different. Forget the crowds and a race to find the hottest-selling backpack. This year, it’s all about the trendiest face masks and getting ready for a school year that promises to be unlike any other. And for a child, that can be more than a little frightening.

As with every transition, proper mindset and preparation is key to smoothing out the inevitable bumps and hurdles. Whether your school district is starting off the year exclusively with distance learning, going back to in-person learning five days a week or they’ve settled on something in between, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s our complete guide to helping you prepare your child for the new school year in these unconventional times.

Talk to your child about what to expect

The more your child knows about the dynamics of the upcoming school year, the better off they’ll be. As the situation evolves, and you learn more details about the year’s schooling, speak to your child about what to expect. If your school’s administration has decided to continue in-person instruction with daily temperature checks, let your child know to expect them. If the school year will start off with remote learning and tentative plans for returning to in-person instruction in January, share this information with your child. The more your child knows, the easier it will be for them to handle changes as events unfold.

Create a back-from-school protocol to keep your home safe

If your child will be going to school full-time, or even partially, it’s important to establish a sanitizing ritual for them to adhere to when they walk through the front door after each day of school.

“When children return from school, they should immediately sanitize their hands,” advises board-certified pediatrician, Dr. Candice W. Jones. “Once at home, at the very least, they should remove clothes/shoes and place them in the laundry, or in a designated safe place for disinfecting. A shower would be great, but is not absolutely necessary.”

Talk to your child about this daily disinfecting routine, and run a practice round or two to make it easier to remember when school starts.

Zooming in on remote schooling

Many states and school districts have announced the continuation of distance learning for the start of the new school year. If the idea of sitting your child down in front of the screen for hours at a time again makes your head spin, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Dr. Linda Carling, an associate research scientist at Johns Hopkins University, shares these tips for helping children succeed at remote learning:

Encourage movement. Squeeze in some stretching breaks throughout the school day and pencil in larger chunks of time for longer exercises, like a bike ride around the block. If your child finds it particularly difficult to sit still for long periods of time, set up a tablet or laptop on a raised surface and have your child stand through their classes.

Reduce distractions. Create a distraction-free zone for your child’s learning to help boost their focus. Noise-canceling headphones can also be helpful to drown out auditory distractions.

Adjust your schedule as needed. Many younger children need constant or intermittent guidance to help them with their remote learning. If possible, adjust your own schedule so you can be on hand to help your child as necessary.

Use a checklist for focus. A basic visual checklist of tasks that need to be completed can help children focus. Draw up the checklist with your child at the beginning of each day and have them cross off tasks as they’re completed.

Provide immediate positive feedback. Each time your child successfully follows instructions, provide immediate and positive feedback. You can keep it small, from a sticker on their work assignment or words of praise to an extra 15 minutes of play before bedtime.

Help your child prepare for face mask wearing while at school

School supply lists are looking very different this year, with “face masks” penciled in right next to “erasers” and “glue.” But having your child wear a mask for hours on end while sitting through school can sound next to impossible.

To help your child prepare for face mask wearing while at school, it’s best to model positivity.

It’s no secret that kids mimic the adults in their lives. Though you may find it difficult to wear a mask yourself, you can help your child build up a positive attitude about mask-wearing by talking about how your mask is keeping you and others safe, as well as how the discomfort is a small price to pay for safety.

It’s also a good idea to practice mask-wearing at home. This will serve the dual purpose of getting your child accustomed to wearing a mask, and help to ensure your child is wearing it correctly before school starts. If your child is particularly resistant to wearing a mask, you may want to employ some strategies, like having them wear the mask for the length of their favorite song, or playing dress-up as a doctor or your child’s favorite superhero.

For the sensory child, face masks can be a nightmare. Make it easier by finding the style that is most comfortable for your child, whether that’s a classic ear-loop mask, a bandanna style covering, or a neck gaiter. Extenders or button headbands can also be a welcome relief for irritated ears.

Finally, make masks fun again by choosing a child-friendly pattern. You can go with these adorable bear face masks from Amazon, have your child design their own mask on Etsy, choose an extra breathable and lightweight mask from Athleta or pick out a mask featuring your child’s favorite movie character from Disney.

Get the school year off to a great start with these preparatory tips for you and your child.

Your Turn: How are you preparing for the upcoming school year? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

Learn More:
franciscanhealth.org
education.jhu.edu
today.com
cdc.gov
realsimple.com

My Savings Has Been Wiped Clean; How Can I Replenish it?

Broken Piggy Bank with coins scattered on tableQ: The last few months have been really tough on my finances, and I’ve been forced to use my savings for getting by. My emergency fund and savings account are basically zero. Now that my financial situation is starting to improve, I’d like to start building these up again, but it’s all so overwhelming. Where do I begin?

A: Watching savings that took you years to build up disappear in just a few months can be disheartening, but it’s important to remember that you’ve made the right choice. Using emergency funds to survive prolonged unemployment, an unexpected large expense or a medical emergency is the best way to make it through a financial hardship. If your savings are depleted, though, you’ll want to start rebuilding as soon as possible to ensure you have the funds to cover a future financial challenge without falling deeply into debt.

Here’s how to start your rebuilding plan:

Set a goal
Before getting started on saving up money, it’s a good idea to establish a tangible goal. What’s your magic number? You can try to recover the value of the savings lost, or start smaller, with a more attainable goal. Bear in mind that experts recommend having funds to cover three to six months’ worth of living expenses set aside in an emergency fund or savings account.

Review your budget and trim your spending
A good place to start finding those extra dollars for savings is by carefully reviewing your spending for ways to cut back. Look for expenses that can make a difference in a monthly budget without dramatically affecting your quality of life. Think about subscriptions or services that are rarely used, a dining-out budget that can be scaled back and expensive recreational activities that can be swapped with freebies. There’s no need to live like you’re broke, but stripping your budget of some extras can give you the boost of cash you need each month to build up your savings again.

Find a side hustle
Another great way to land extra funds is through a side job. There are many ways to pad a wallet without a major investment of time. Some options include taking surveys on sites like Survey Junkie and Swagbucks and doing gig work for companies like Uber, DoorDash and Rover.

Sell your old treasures
If you’ve spent part of the COVID-19 lockdown giving your house a deep cleaning, you may have unearthed some forgotten treasures that can turn into easy moneymakers. You can sell old clothing on ThredUp, unwanted jewelry on Worthy.com, make good money off your unwanted furniture through Chairish, sell or trade unused sports equipment on Swap Me Sports and sell kids clothing and toys on Kid to Kid. Use the cash you earn from these sales to jumpstart your new nest egg.

Make a plan
Once you have a goal in place for building your savings, and you’ve maximized the possible monthly contributions toward savings each month, it’s time to create a plan. Map out a timeline of how long it’ll take to reach your goal when putting away as much as possible each month. Remember: the more aggressively you save now, the sooner you’ll reach your goal.

Start saving
It’s time to put the plan into action! The best way to ensure regular savings happens each month is to make it automatic. You can set up an automatic monthly transfer from your Advantage One Credit Union Checking Account to your Advantage One Credit Union Savings Account on a designated day of the month. You may want to have the transfer go through several days after you receive your monthly salary, or it might work out better to put a smaller amount of money into savings each week. Give us a call at 734-676-7000 to discuss your options.

Put unexpected windfalls into savings
To speed up the process of rebuilding depleted savings, you may want to resolve to put unexpected windfalls into an emergency fund or savings account. This can include tax refunds, a work bonus and gift money. If another round of Coronavirus stimulus checks is approved, consider using these funds for your savings as well. Earmarking future windfalls for savings can shorten the amount of time spent cutting corners in a budget and taking on extra jobs to build up a savings account.

Rebuilding an emergency fund and savings account from the bottom up isn’t easy. It takes commitment, hard work and the ability to keep a long-term goal in mind; however, the security that comes from knowing you have a safety cushion to fall back on in case of a financial setback will make this goal worth the effort many times over.

Your Turn:
Have you started working on rebuilding your savings? Tell us about it in the comments.

Learn More:
policygenius.com
fool.com
moneymanagement.org

Against All Odds: Henry Ford

Black and white vintage photo of Henry Ford in business suit facing the camera with arms crossed.His father wanted him to spend his life working on the family farm. His friends told him his idea was crazy. But Henry Ford defied all odds, paving the way for today’s automobile industry through his audacity to challenge convention and to persevere through all obstacles.

Let’s take a look at how this unlikely hero built a legacy of triumph and success that lives on years beyond his passing.

The early years
Henry Ford was born in Greenfield, Mich., in 1863. When his mother died in 1876, his father wanted him to work on the family farm, but Ford had no interest in farm work. From an early age, he displayed a remarkable talent with machinery. He built his first steam engine at the age of 15, and when he took apart and rebuilt a watch his father gifted him as a teenager, he soon gained a reputation as a skilled watch repairman.
After his marriage to Clara Jane Bryant at the age of 25, Ford reluctantly returned to farm work to provide for his young family. But his heart was clearly elsewhere.

In 1891, Ford joined Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. Just two years later, at the age of 30, he was promoted to chief engineer. Ford’s work sparked his fascination with gasoline-powered engines, and he devoted all his spare time and resources to building one of his own. After achieving his goal in 1893, Ford turned his time and energy to chasing after his next, much bolder dream: to build a gasoline-powered automobile.
The Detroit Automobile Company

The “Quadricycle,” a crude contraption made of two bicycles placed side-by-side and powered by a gasoline engine, was Ford’s first triumph in the world of automobile production. It took more than a decade to build, but in 1896, it was finally complete. Ford was enormously proud of his hand-built “horseless carriage.” He took Detroit lumber tycoon William H. Murphy for a ride. By the time the ride was over, the two men were in business.

The Detroit Automobile Company opened in 1899, with Ford as superintendent in charge of production. Unfortunately, the business folded by the end of the year. Ford was skilled in building cars, but he couldn’t build them quickly enough to keep the company solvent.
Instead of throwing in the towel, Ford moved to a new plan: build a racer and use racing as a means to spread his name and his company throughout the country. Though he held a personal dislike for racing, Ford learned the art and quickly became a skilled racer. His efforts paid off, and in June of 1903, he had the financial support he needed to launch the Ford Motor Company.

Ford Motor Company
Ford founded his second company as he was nearing age 40. At the time, “horseless carriages” were outrageously expensive and owned by a wealthy few. Ford’s dream was to build an automobile that would be cheap enough for the average person to own while still enabling his company to turn a profit.

Ford quickly set to work designing and producing automobiles, rolling out the Model A in early summer of 1903. By the year’s end, more than 500 Model A vehicles had been sold at $850 each. The company’s next model was launched in 1907. The Model N retailed at $600 and was well received, with 7,000 sold in just one year.

But Ford was still unsatisfied. Where other automobile manufacturers poured their resources into making their cars more luxurious, Ford was after the simpler and the cheaper.

In 1908, Ford Motor launched his dream car: the Model T, retailing at $850. The no-frills automobile was more reliable and cheaper to build than the Model A and the Model N. Nicknamed the “Tin Lizzie,” the Model T was so popular, 6,389 cars were sold within a few months and the demand for the car quickly outpaced the supply.
Ford now had a new problem. How could he increase the production rate of the Model T without raising the price?

The moving assembly line
Ford’s innovative solution to his quandary also became his legacy. His idea for a moving assembly line was built on the assumption that, if each worker remained in one place and performed one assigned production task, they could roll out completed automobiles at a much faster pace.

Ford’s assumptions proved to be correct. After the completion of a new 60-acre production plant in Highland Park, Mich., the Ford Motor Company was able to churn out a completed Model T in less than six hours. This cut the old production time of 12+ hours by more than half. After Ford worked on perfecting the system, the factory was producing a new car every 93 minutes.

The reduction in production time enabled Ford to slash hundreds of dollars off the price of his car and helped him realize his lifelong dream of building an automobile the average person could afford. Sales continued to climb as the price continued to drop until the price tag for the Model T reached its low of $290 in 1927.

A legacy that endures
Ford’s work transformed the automobile industry and the moving assembly line sparked a modern-day industrial revolution. The Model T was named the most influential car of the 20th century. With 16.5 million cars sold between 1908 and 1927, the Model T continues to hold its place in the top-10 list of the most-sold cars of all time.

Unfortunately, the twilight of Ford’s life brought a slew of challenges, among them a decreased mental capacity and the loss of his only son.

Yet, Ford’s legacy endures.

Your Turn:
What do you find most inspiring about Henry Ford’s story? Share it with us in the comments.

Learn More:
entrepreneur.com
thefactfile.org
mentalfloss.com

Ray Dalio Begins Investing at 12 with Savings from Caddy Job

candid image of ray dalio smiling at the cameraThe son of a jazz musician, Ray Dalio grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens, N.Y., in the ’50s and purchased his first stock at the age of 12 with money he earned as a golf caddy. That stock was Northeast Airlines, and his shares would quickly triple in value.

It’s no wonder that he was interested in more investment opportunities as he got older. He went to Long Island University and clerked at the NYSE before attending Harvard Business School. Early jobs included working for Dominick and Dominick LLC and Shearson Hayden Stone.

In 1973, Dalio started Bridgewater Associates, his own hedge fund, out of a small New York City apartment. Today, 46 years later, it’s the largest hedge fund in the world with a portfolio value of more than $12.5 billion.

According to Forbes Magazine, Dalio’s net worth was $18.6 billion as of January 2019.
“While you can have virtually anything you want, you can’t have everything you want,” Dalio describes in his 2017 book, Principles: Life & Work.

“Life is like a giant smorgasbord with more delicious alternatives than you can ever hope to taste. Choosing a goal often means rejecting some things you want in order to get other things that you want or need even more.”

In other words, you need to give up some things in life to take chances at the things you really want, and this was a philosophy the financier has practiced all his life.

He also self-published a 123-page volume, Principles, which outlines his philosophy of investment and corporate management based on a lifetime of observation, analysis and practical application through his hedge fund.

Am I Really Ready to Buy a House?

Young black couple signs paperwork with agentQ: I’ve saved a down payment, narrowed my choices of neighborhoods and drawn up a wish list of what I’m looking for in a home, but I’m getting cold feet. How do I know if I’m really ready to buy a house?

A: It’s perfectly normal to feel hesitant about going through with what may be the biggest purchase of your life. To help put you at ease and to make sure you’re really prepared for this purchase, we’ve compiled a list of questions to ask yourself before buying a new home.

Can I afford to buy a house?
Before viewing properties, remember that purchasing a new home will cost more than just the down payment. Buyers also need to cover closing costs, which typically run at 2-4 percent of the total purchase, as well as moving costs, and possibly new furniture and renovations for their new home.

Can I afford the monthly mortgage payments?
Most lending companies will grant a loan to a home buyer if the monthly mortgage payments do not push the buyer’s debt-to-income (DTI) ratio above the recommended 43 percent. This means that the total monthly debt the buyer carries, including their mortgage, credit card, loan, and car payments, do not exceed 43 percent of their monthly income. You may want to work out the total for your pre-mortgage debt before applying for a loan so you have an idea of how much house you can afford.

When determining whether you can actually afford your monthly payments, though, remember that there’s more to home ownership than a monthly mortgage payment. Be sure to include calculations for taxes, insurance and a possible increase in utility bills. A mortgage lender should be able to provide some of these numbers for you.

Am I ready to settle down?
The average length of time that homeowners in the U.S. live in a house is only seven years. Buyers who don’t plan on staying in their homes long-term may end up incurring a loss. Consider factors like your career, family planning, changing demographics of a neighborhood and more when trying to answer this question. Experts advise buyers to only purchase homes they plan on living in for a minimum of five years.

Does buying a house in my neighborhood make financial sense?
Many Americans view home ownership as a rite of passage into adulthood, but that doesn’t mean purchasing a home always makes financial sense. In some neighborhoods, rentals are relatively cheap while houses sell for far more than they are actually worth. In these neighborhoods, buying a home may not be the logical choice, even if the buyer can easily afford the purchase.

Is my credit score high enough?
A fairly decent credit score is necessary to qualify for a home loan. Most lenders will only grant a home loan to borrowers with a credit score of 650 or higher. A score that doesn’t make the cut can be increased by being super-careful about paying all bills on time, not opening new credit cards in the months leading up to the home loan application, paying credit card bills in full each month and keeping credit utilization low.

Do I have a plan in place for repairs?
When a renter has a leaky faucet, they call the landlord and the problem becomes theirs. When a homeowner has a leaky faucet, it’s their own problem. They can either fix it or hire someone to do the job, but it’s a good idea to have a plan in place before the first thing in a new home needs fixing. If you’re handy enough to handle repairs on your own, you’ll need to be ready and willing to give up some of your free time on weekends to tend to things around the house. Otherwise, it’s best to have a tidy sum put away to pay for necessary repairs before purchasing a home.

Sometimes, an appliance or a system in the house will be broken beyond repair and will need replacing. Homeowners need to have enough money stashed away in their emergency fund or rainy-day account to cover these purchases, too.

Buying a first home is an exciting milestone that only happens once in a lifetime. If you think you’re ready to take this step, first make sure this purchase is the right choice for you at this time on a financial and practical level.

If you’re ready to get started on your home loan application, click or call to hear about our fantastic home loan options.

Your Turn:
How did you know you were ready to buy a house? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

Learn More:
investopedia.com
thebalance.com
rubyhome.com
creditsesame.com
moneyunder30.com