Category: Make Money

Are Work Perks Worth It?

It seems like every job description these days, along with its catalog of job duties and experience requirements, comes along with an extensive list of “perks.” Free bagels on Fridays. Unlimited snacks. Beer on tap. Foosball table. So, what’s the deal with perks anyway? Are they really the best way to attract millennials or should we start telling companies to cut the shit?

Glassdoor, the site that allows users to anonymously review their current and previous employers, conducted a survey last year and found that “89% of younger employees (age 18-34 prefer benefits or perks over a pay raise).?“My response: WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? Is this real life?

I’m not just talking basic benefits like health insurance and a retirement savings plan. It’s a no-brainer that many millennials would probably be better off with an employer offering health coverage rather than giving them a pay raise and asking them to fend for themselves on the health care exchange. In fact, I wouldn’t even really consider health coverage and retirement savings plans “perks” in the first place.

What really shocked me about Glassdoor’s survey was that many people ranked perks like free lunch, work from home days, casual dress codes, and gym memberships above a pay raise. Sure, some of these things may have monetary value and can be considered part of your total compensation. However, we hear so much about people working longer hours while their real wages are declining and they drown in student debt. It’s got to make us wonder, is that foosball table really worth anything?

Maybe it’s time to send a message to employers. If you are really set on offering more in order to retain good employees, focus on the things we actually need. Stop offering worthless perks and start offering real benefits: Pay raises that keep up with inflation (at the very least), healthcare, retirement savings, and sick leave are always a good place to start. But why stop there? Paid family leave and student loan repayment benefits could truly help your employees.

Essentially, keep your beer on tap and just let me go home at night.

So tell me, what do you think about employee perks? Are they worth it? Or is time for employers to stop trying to distract us and start paying up?

Photo by Joshua Coleman

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Ten Quick Ways To Make Money While Helping The Planet

How to have positive impact while growing your wallet?

Do you want to make the world a better place but feel too busy, broke or tired to make a difference? It’s understandable. How can we possibly help our communities and the planet when we barely have enough time for ourselves?

Here’s the good news: now you can make money while helping the planet. We’ve gathered 10 impact ideas that only take a few minutes to set up. Now you can give your money meaning while growing your wallet.

One of our goals is to get 250K people to take at least one of these actions listed below. Imagine the positive impact we would generate for our communities and the environment?

Take action to transform our economy into a force for good (and make money doing it.)

1 – Switch to a Green Account that Pays

Sick of bank fees, ATM fees and checking accounts that use your money and pay you nothing? Sick of banks that fund destructive fossil fuel projects? Switch to a green account that pays up to 2.00% APY interest, has zero fees ever, free ATMs worldwide, and does not use its customers deposits to fund oil projects or campaign contributions. Aspiration’s Spend & Save account gives you more, and gives back to the planet and its people .Learn MoreGet Started

2 – Invest Responsibly in Your Future

Join Swell and start impact investing. Put in $50 and Swell will match it with another $50. That’s free money. Use code: WELLWALLET. Invest in high growth companies solving the world’s biggest challenges. Choose your portfolio mix: green tech, renewable energy, zero waste, healthy living, clean water, and more.
Learn MoreGet Started

WealthSimple (US, UK and Canada residents) offers socially responsible investment portfolios in companies that help lower carbon emissions, promote diversity and invest in clean technology. Some of you have asked for options outside of the United States. Here they are!
Learn MoreGet Started

3 – Shop Sustainable Brands

At EarthHero, an eco-friendly marketplace. Get $20 off your $60 purchase. EarthHero’s rigorous vetting process selects the most sustainable companies across apparel, accessories, beauty, travel, electronics and more. Your shopping choices create change. Learn MoreGet Started

4 – Switch your Power Bill to a Clean Energy Bill

With Arcadia Power. Sign up and get $20 off your next power bill. It takes 5 minutes to transform your energy bill into a clean energy bill that uses renewable energy. Learn MoreGet Started

5 – Declutter your Life, Help the Planet and Make Money.

Get paid to recycle your old electronics, CDs, DVDs, books and even Legos. Use Decluttr to clean up your home, make money, and limit waste to landfills (electronics are upcycled and resold). No auction fees, next day payments, price promise and free shipping. Learn MoreGet Started

6 – Earn $924 a Month and Give your Empty Room a Job

Airbnb is the perfect side gig to bring in extra cash, promote global trust through people-to-people connections, and reduce the global carbon footprint by sharing extra space in your home. The average Airbnb host makes $924 for hosting a few days per month. Learn MoreGet Started

7 – Save 25% on your Monthly Bills in Minutes.

Billshark has an 85% success rate in negotiating lower bills for cable, phone, internet, satellite T.V., satellite radio, and home security. They donate an hour to teach kids financial literacy for every bill they negotiate. Learn MoreGet Started

8 – Donate to your Favorite Charity with Every Purchase.

32% of Americans let their credit card points expire. That?s $16 billion a year back in the pockets of the credit card companies. The Charity Charge Card lets you automatically donate your 1% cash back to your favorite non profits. No annual fee, tax deductible, and MasterCard benefits. Transform your rewards into positive impact. Learn MoreGet Started

9 – Create Passive Income from your Largest Asset while Helping People.

Baby boomers can make money from their biggest asset (their home) while building meaningful relationships. Silvernest is an easy and safe homesharing service with a unique matching tool designed to help older Americans age in place. Learn MoreGet Started

10 – Get Paid to Save Energy

If you live in California or Toronto, connect your utility company and get paid to save energy with OhmConnect. Get $10 when you sign up.
Learn MoreGet Started

Related content: Forget Retirement – Here’s Why You Need to Start Investing Now

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6 Conscious Companies that Help You Make and Save Money

6 Conscious Companies that Help You Make and Save Money

It?s easy to think of business and only think of profits. But some companies care about more than money. They care about the environment. They care about the people living on this planet. Some of them even care about both. But the most innovative companies are the ones that do social good and save customers money. Here are six conscious companies that you can trust to do both.

1. Spend and Save with a company that puts you and the planet first

When you put 10% of your paycheck into your savings account (like the savvy saver we know you are 😉 ), traditional banks could invest that money into things that you?ve never even heard of. Or, even worse, into things that are working against you and your conscience.

Aspiration is different. They are a banking alternative that offers high-interest banking services (200x more interest than the big banks), allows you to pick your management fee (even if it?s zero), refunds all ATM fees worldwide, and tells you exactly where your deposits are going.

Aspiration are a fossil fuel free company that cares about the future of our planet. Now you can feel good about where your money is going. This means you are empowered to vote with your dollars. Try finding that at a traditional bank. So if you want to divorce your bank and start voting with your dollars, check out our in-depth review of Aspiration* here?here.

Related: We Found An Amazing Account

2.?Invest with the good guys

Have you been looking to get into impact investing but don’t know where to start? We know that investing can be good for our wallets, especially over the long term. But information overload is a real thing. Swell Investing makes investing easy by placing your money?in high growth companies that are solving the biggest challenges facing our planet. Swell gives you six impact portfolio ?themes? to choose from:

  • Green Tech
  • Renewable Energy
  • Zero Waste
  • Clean Water
  • Disease Eradication
  • Healthy Living

That means you are investing in your future and the future of the planet. Four of these six have outperformed the S&P 500 from September 2016 to September 2017. We did an in-depth review of their services. The best part? You only need $50 to get started. Investing with Swell is a great way to invest in both your financial and our planetary future. That sounds pretty swell, doesn’t it?

Related: Start Impact Investing for as Little as $50

3. Save money with clean energy

Living in Boulder, Colorado, I know how expensive rent can be. Arcadia Power helps make it easier to pay for mountain views by lowering your utility bills. How do they do it? They identify ways for you to get the best deals on energy in your area with their Price Alerts service. They also switch some of your power to clean energy sources. You don’t have to install pricey solar panels or even own your home. All you need to do is link your utility bill to Arcadia, and they take care of the rest. It took 5 minutes to set up.

They offer both free and premium services, so they are accessible for everyone. (Even those of us living on a college budget). If you switch 50% of your utility bill to Arcadia, the service is free. You just keep paying your energy bill the way you normally would. If you switch your bill to 100% renewable energy, they add $0.015 per kilowatt hour.?They will even give you $20 credit on your next power bill just for signing up.?Arcadia is a great way to switch to clean energy and save money on your monthly utility bill.

Related: Switch to Clean Energy without Pricey Solar Panels

4. Get smart about your money

Even though I’m not “credit savvy”, I pay attention to my credit score. I?ll pay attention to any number that could impact my bank payments or even my job prospects. If you want a good interest rate on your loans or a good credit card deal, your credit score is first thing you need to know.

Credit Sesame offers free credit score reports, identity theft protection, and personal tips to help you manage your finances and increase your score. Their benefits are valuable for those who obsessively check their credit score, or for those who don?t want their credit score to impact their ability to get low interest rates on loans or land a job.

Credit Sesame is conscious about the impact a company like them can have on your personal finances, and you can sign up for their services?for free. They have helped millions of people reduce their debt and increase their financial literacy. If you want to become financially savvy in a way that is not scary or intimidating, Credit Sesame is a company that could help you.

Related: Know Your FICO – A Guide to Understanding Your Credit Score

5. Forget Amazon. Shop this eco-friendly marketplace.

Earth Hero is an online marketplace that offers sustainably sourced products from companies that give back to people and planet. For example, SOLO Sunglasses?restores one person’s vision in a developing country for each pair of sunglasses they sell. How cool is that?

Earth Hero?products range from sustainably sourced headphones to wallets made of old sailboat sails. Even better, if you browse their site and find something you like, you can get $20 off your first order. This is a great place to find unique gifts for the important people in your life while remaining conscious of your environmental impact.

Related: How This Social Start-up is Changing the Way We Shop

6. Feel good about paying off your credit card debt

If you are carrying credit card debt, you can?save money by consolidating?to a much lower interest rate via a personal loan.?Payoff is a company based in California that is taking a different approach to personal loans. They hired a team of financial professionals, psychologists, data scientists and technology experts to help people reach financial wellness.?They are known for their excellent customer service and unique approach. Another thing we like about them: their partners. Their loans are originated by a marketplace of credit unions and industrial banks. In other words, no big banks.

In short: do well and do good.

All of these companies are great choices for people who want to put money back in their pockets and make their money matter. By spending money with these companies you can become an impact investor who creates value and drives change. Check these companies out, and join a growing community of conscious consumers who care about the differences they make with every purchase.

*The Annual Percentage Yield ?(?APY?) associated with the Aspiration Summit Account is variable and accurate as of [January 2019]. Rates may be changed from time to time without notice.

Based on a comparison of Aspiration’s up to 2.00% APY interest rate to the following checking account interest rates reported by Bankrate for January, 2019: Wells Fargo (0.01% APY), Chase Bank (0.01% APY) and Bank of America (0.01% APY).

All ATM withdrawal fees will be waived for your Aspiration Summit Account. In addition, your account will automatically be reimbursed for all ATM fees charged by other institutions while using an Aspiration Debit Card linked to your account at any ATM displaying the Mastercard?, Interlink?, Cirrus?, or Maestro? logos. The reimbursement will be credited to the account the same day the ATM fee is debited from the account. Please note, there is a foreign transaction fee of one percent that is not waived, which will be included in the amount charged to your account.

Aspiration Partners, Inc. and its affiliates are committed ?to “All Extra Services Provided at Cost,” meaning that we’ll only charge you what it costs us to provide the extra service (such as a wire transfer), and not a penny more. Besides these at-cost service charges, the only account fee you pay is the fee you choose, even if it?s $0, which is why we call it Pay What Is Fair.

The Aspiration Summit Account provides customers with the ability to see Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM) People and Planet scores on a range of merchants where they shop using the Aspiration Debit Card. These scores are determined using a proprietary algorithm that incorporates several measures of sustainability performance. For more information, please click here.

Deposits are insured by the FDIC up to $250,000 per depositor. For more information about FDIC insurance coverage, please visit the FDIC website.

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Make Money (And Avoid Scams) With Sustainable Real Estate Investing

Real estate investing is one of the most powerful wealth creation tools around. But where there’s money, there are scammers ready to take it. We’ve all heard stories of real estate scams, fake money gurus and bad landlords. The good news? You don’t have to be a jerk or fall prey to one in order to make money in real estate. In fact, you can make more money by helping build a better world through sustainable real estate investing. Your health, your heart and your wallet will thank you for it.

Sustainable Real Estate Investing Is Now A Thing

Sustainable and impact investing?has grown over 100% since 2012, according to a 2017 study from EY (formerly Earnst & Young). This trend is now making its way to real estate investing. Some of our readers asked us if?there was such a thing at sustainable real estate investing.?In other words, is it possible to do well and do good through real estate investing? The answer is yes. From sustainable REITs to socially responsible landlord and investor practices, there are multiple ways to have positive impact and make money with real estate investing.

First, let?s take a look at how real estate investing can help communities and the environment.

How Real Estate Investing Helps People and Planet

You can make profit and have measurable positive impact through real estate investing. Here are a few of ways that real estate investing can help communities and the environment:

  1. Provides a home for people:??It seems obvious, but everyone needs a home. By being a good landlord, you help build goodwill and a sense of pride for you and your tenants.
  2. Builds community:? Little gestures go a long way. Years ago, before becoming a real estate investor, my landlord left us a tin box of popcorn for the holidays. I still remember this gesture. It pays to keep lines of communication open. When you own property, you have the opportunity to build community. The result:? you will attract long term tenants who create homes they are proud to live in.
  3. Helps the local economy:? When you buy real estate, it is likely you will use plumbers, electricians, handymen and other small businesses that make up the ecosystem of the local economy. Bonus:? you get to decide which conscious businesses to seek out. By working with businesses that care about People and Planet, your impact is amplified.
  4. Helps the environment:? As a landlord, you can save money (translation: make money) by employing eco friendly housing practices. This includes using green building practices, high efficiency light bulbs,?non toxic paint, energy efficient windows, geothermal heating/cooling, updated insulation (even simple things like weather stripping), and educating renters on ways to reduce energy consumption while making money.

The Benefits of Real Estate Investing

With real estate investing, you own your own business. This type of business is highly flexible, letting you put in as much or as little time as you want into it. The cash flow from real estate also provides freedom. You can use this cash flow to quit your day job, fund an education, or launch your passion project. Here are some of the benefits of real estate investing.

  1. Cash flow:??If you buy right, you can make enough money from rentals or leases to cover all of your expenses, and then some.
  2. Appreciation:? Real estate naturally appreciates about 3% to 5% per year. Not all years will be up years (as we saw in 2008). But real estate is less volatile than the stock market. In addition, there are things you can do to accelerate appreciation (e.g. renovations).
  3. Equity:? You build equity in the property as market conditions increase the value of your home. You can even tap into that appreciation (without selling) through refinancing, then use that money to buy additional properties.
  4. Debt reduction:? Someone else (the tenants) are paying down your mortgage.
  5. Tax breaks:? It?s a weird and wonderful thing. Your asset appreciates, even though the asset itself (the physical structure of the property) depreciates. You get to write off that depreciation from your taxes.
  6. Inflation hedge:? Even when inflation is high, this can be good for the real estate you own, because inflation also forces higher rental prices. In addition, the underlying asset (the property) can be counted on to be there in the future. The same cannot be said of other investments in high inflation scenarios. Plus, with higher inflation, the size of your loan (the mortgage) becomes smaller, since money is now worth less.

Seven Ways To Get Into Sustainable Real Estate Investing (While Avoiding Scams)

There are multiple ways to make money with sustainable?real estate investing. Here’s an overview of various strategies. We’ve included the good and bad behavior associated with each.

1. Sustainable REITs

  • What is it😕 Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) have been around for some time. A REIT is an investment vehicle that is made up of many income producing real estate assets. You can buy REITs through your online brokerage account, just like you would by a fund or a stock. There are a number of?Sustainable REITS that take a socially responsible approach. These REITS use green building standards (such as LEEDs certified buildings) and strategies to reduce consumption and conserve natural resources.
  • Good for:? Passive investing, income generation.
  • Time investment😕 Low (online research of publicly traded REITs).
  • Note😕 You won’t make as much money using REITs as you could with direct real estate investing. This is because the portfolio managers, fund administrators, and the team managing the underlying properties charge fees for their services. But sustainable REITs could be a good option for people who want a hands-off approach to sustainable real estate investing.
  • Scams:? Many REITs are registered with the SEC and publicly traded on a stock exchange. You can buy these from your online broker. That’s good news for us investors because of the built-in regulatory protections. Our recommendation is to stick to publicly traded REITs. There are privately held REITs that often promise higher return. This often means higher risk and sometimes fraud. Even if you buy a private REIT, make sure they are registered with the SEC.

2. Buy and Hold

  • What is it😕 Buy a property, rent it out. This could be a single family home, a duplex, triplex, or quadplex. As an investor, you make money on appreciation, monthly cash flow and tax benefits. This is my favorite type of real estate investing. Why? It’s straightforward.
  • Good for😕 Long term appreciation and cash flow.
  • Time investment😕 Medium / low. You can manage this type of real estate investing while holding down a full time job.
  • Scams and unethical behavior😕 There are many landlord scams out there, from landlords keeping the security deposit, to fake (copied) listings, to expensive background checks. I recently had a prospective tenant fall prey to one of these scams. A scammer had copied our rental listing from Zillow and put up a fake listing on Craigslist. The scammer listed the property at below market rates and then demanded that potential renter send them the security deposit right away in order to “secure their spot”. Once they had their cash, they vanished.
  • How to be a good landlord😕 Be a good human. Think about ways to make your rentals People and Planet friendly.
    • Don’t overcharge for background checks, pets, application fees or incidentals.
    • Remember, you are building a relationship with a community of people who will be taking care of your property for the long term. If you treat people well, they will treat your property well. Don’t create harsh rules for the 5% of people who break them. Instead, create business practices for the 95% who are good caretakers.
    • Give people plenty of notice before entering their home.
    • Return deposit checks on time. Don’t nickel-and-dime people for normal wear and tear.
    • Be fair. If you have an energy inefficient house with single pane windows from the 1950’s that you’ve refused to upgrade, don’t expect your tenants to pay the full amount for heating and cooling. Make the home energy efficient or share in the cost of heating/cooling.
    • Remember that what goes around comes around. There will come a day when you need a favor from your tenants (e.g. a last minute inspection request). It pays to build good relationships.

3. Wholesale

  • What is it😕 Maybe you’ve seen the signs: “we buy ugly houses” or “we buy houses for cash”. A wholesaler is someone who enters into a contract with a home seller, markets the home to potential buyers, and then assigns the contract to one of the buyers. Wholesalers make a profit by buying the home at a low cost and then selling the contract to another buyer at a higher price.
  • Good for😕 Generating a lump sum of cash.
  • Time investment😕 High (no matter what some money gurus may tell you).
  • Scams😕 The scams associated with wholesale deals come in three forms. Note: there are legitimate wholesalers. This does not apply to all wholesalers.
    • If you want to become a wholesaler, watch out for?investment seminar scams (see below) that promise to teach you how to wholesale. Be warned that this is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It?requires significant time, effort and marketing to get going.
    • Second, there are some wholesalers who use shady practices to convince people to give up their properties for a fraction of their value. Or they lock up the property in a contract for months and then are unable to close. These wholesalers target vulnerable people who are in pre-foreclosure, probate, the elderly, low income, or those trying to sell quickly.
    • The third type of real estate wholesale scam can happen when you as the buyer try to buy a property from a scammy wholesaler. Charlatan wholesalers will, for example, overprice the sale of the property. Remember, the whole point of of a wholesale is to buy low and sell low. The wholesaler makes their money on volume. If the wholesaler tries to offload property at a premium, the investor will eventually find out how much they paid for it and will stop doing business with the wholesaler.
  • How to be a good wholesaler😕 There’s a market for people who need to sell quickly and don’t want to use a realtor. Being a wholesaler can be a benefit to the community. To be a good wholesaler:
    • Be completely transparent about how you will make money.
    • Let people know their options. Don’t pressure or burden vulnerable people with unnecessary risk.
    • Don’t over promise your ability to close.
    • Don’t lock up people’s property for months because you can’t find a buyer.
    • Provide references.
    • Avoid scammy marketing gimmicks. Don’t spam people. Don’t collude with other wholesalers to entrap people through marketing. Build relationships instead.
    • Learn from good people. Attending one real estate seminar does not make you a wholesaler. Take the time to build a real business.?There are reputable wholesalers who’ve build their brands and reputations over years. Learn from them before you start marketing.
    • And remember, it’s your brand. What kind of energy do you want to put out into the world?

4. Fix and Flip

  • What is it😕 The reality TV shows have spurred a wave of new fix and flip real estate investors. Here, investors will buy a property, put in some improvements, and sell it at a higher price. Fix and flip real estate investing is highly speculative because you’re floating the cost of maintaining and updating the property while it is being renovated. Some argue that it’s a good way to generate cash.? But watch out for taxes, construction risk, and markets flooded with fix and flip investors.
  • Good for😕 Generating a lump sum of cash.
  • Time investment😕 High intensity, medium term.
  • Scams😕 Con artists participate in illegal house flipping by getting certain appraisers to value property for more than it’s worth. Also be on the lookout for cash out purchase fraud. Finally, before you attend any real estate investing seminar that promises to show you how to flip homes, do your homework.
  • Sustainable fix & flip options😕 There are many free resources?to help you get started on fix and flip real estate investing. The biggest thing to remember is that you are putting yourself out there. If you want to build a healthy long term business that helps our communities and the environment, make choices that support your strategy.
    • Consider making the home energy efficient (a great niche strategy to get high intent buyers).
    • Look up necessary state and city permits associated with solar panels and other green retrofit options.
    • Check out options to finance green home retrofit projects at a low cost.

5. Pre-foreclosures

  • What is it😕 Real estate investors buy properties in pre-foreclosure from motivated sellers.
  • Good for😕 Generating a lump sum of cash (if flipping) or long term appreciation and cash flow (if holding).
  • Time investment😕 High. For seasoned real estate investors only. You’ll need to spend a lot of time learning how to do this the right way.
  • Scams😕 There are plenty of examples of people getting scammed in pre-foreclosures. Scams range from companies claiming to help homeowners with loan or HAMP modifications (that program closed in 2017), to scammers pressuring home owners to sign contacts, wire funds or quit claim their home deeds for the purpose of getting the home out of foreclosure, only to have the scammer take additional loans out on the home.
  • How to invest ethically in foreclosures and pre-foreclosures😕 Foreclosures and pre-foreclosures happen. People fall on hard times for a variety of reasons. As a sustainable estate investor, you can help people save their credit and provide cash for their home. I am not a fan of this type of real estate investing because there are too many variables and opportunities for buyers and sellers to misunderstand each other. But if this is a strategy you want to pursue, there are basically two ways to go about it:
    1. Pay off the loan yourself in an all cash deal and take possession of the property.
    2. Make back payments to the bank to bring the loan up to current and take ownership of the property using a Subject-To agreement. You would not want to start making back payments or improvements unless you owned the property, which is why the seller deeds the house over to you, even though the mortgage remains in their name. Again, not a fan of this strategy, especially for newer real estate investors. But if you pursue it, make sure that all parties involved go into the deal eyes-wide-open. And remember to be a good human.

6. Lease-to-Own / Rent-to-Own

  • What is it😕 A lease-to-own options?gives people a way to own their home after a period of time. Here, the tenant pays you (the owner) a higher monthly rent for the right to buy the home in the future. As the owner, you finance the mortgage (either through a bank or from your own funds). After 2 to 3 years, the tenant has built enough credit to get their own bank financing. At this time, the tenant exercises their option to buy the home. This can be a good strategy for people who don’t have sufficient credit or down payment to purchase a home.
  • Good for😕 Higher cash flow and lower maintenance cost vs. regular rentals (tenant is responsible for property upkeep).
  • Time investment😕 Medium.
  • Scams / unethical behavior😕 There are investors who take advantage of people through rent-to-own scams. Scams can include unpaid property taxes, uninhabitable homes, unmet promised fixes or homes under foreclosure. Even with legitimate rent-to-own options, some investors deliberately hide details in the contract. For example, the deal is off (and the owner keeps the higher monthly payments made) if the tenant is delayed in even one payment. Or the negotiated price no longer holds up to market rates when it comes time for the tenant to buy the home. That means the tenant cannot get financing and the home goes back to the seller.
  • Ethical rent-to-own / lease-to-own options😕 As an investor, you have the chance make money and have a positive impact on people?s lives. As an investor, you are in need of higher cash flow. The tenants are in need of home ownership. This can be a win-win. Here’s now to do it the right way:
    • Don’t lock people into a price point that may not be supported by market rates when the time comes for the tenant to exercise their option to buy.
    • Base the final sale price on fair market value, as determined by an independent appraiser.
    • Don’t break the contract if the tenant is late one month. Find another way (a late fee, for example).

7. Other Types of Real Estate Investing

There are other ways to invest in real estate, including syndicated deals and private placement. These types of investments often require accredited investor status because they are highly speculative. Remember that people like to share when they made money from deals, and often stay quiet when these types of deals go south. If you pursue these types of deals, make sure to get references.

Finally:? Watch Out For Pricey Real Estate Investment Seminars

One final word of caution:? watch out for real estate investment seminars. This is a touchy subject because some seminars and courses are in fact valuable. However, many have earned a reputation for taking their students’ money and not delivering sufficient value. At the same time, remember that real estate takes work, time and capital from YOU. So you can’t solely blame the seminars if you don’t put in the effort. There is no get-rich-quick scheme in real estate.

Out of curiosity, I recently attended a multi-day real estate investing seminar. I’ve outlined the following words of caution in order to save you money and time. These seminars often start with a free seminar that is then used to up-sell you to the multi-day seminar.

Watch out for seminars and gurus that:

  • Have no money back guarantee.
  • Use the first paid seminar as a way to get you to buy more seminars (often in the tens of thousands of dollars).
  • Use scammy sales tactics and charming presenters that prey on your emotions.
  • Speed through the valuable aspects of the course while stretching out the emotional stories.
  • Incorporate political conspiracy theories into their rhetoric (all the while telling you it’s not political).
  • Teach techniques that take advantage of uneducated people.
  • Dismiss any questioning of their techniques.
  • Ask you to use their appraisers, lenders, sellers, or others in their network (there is often a kick-back).
  • Ask you to pay tens of thousands of dollars to access a mentor.
  • Have had more than one lawsuit in the last two years, have gone bankrupt, or have too many negative reviews. (Google them, search the Better Business Bureau and do a background check on any money guru.)

Instead of a seminar, consider doing the following:

  • Check out the many free resources?online.
  • Attend your local real estate investment club and get to know people in your area. learn from referrals.
  • Build your own power team of professional contractors, mentors, agents, lenders, handymen, and property managers.

There is no shortcut to real estate investing, no matter what the money gurus promise.

Do Well And Do Good With Real Estate Investing

Real Estate has the potential to create substantial income and net worth, as well as positive impact for our communities and the environment. It is up to us to determine how we want to deploy our capital and energy into the world. Let’s be one of the good guys and create the world we want to see.

Photo by?Deva Darshan

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Why Fast Fashion Becomes Fast Trash

Our planet needs some love. Fashion. Fast fashion, to be exact, is hurting our planet and the people in it. The fashion industry is the second dirtiest in the world, next to oil & gas. The good news? More and more people are now choosing sustainable clothing options. We’re beginning to realize that fast fashion becomes fast trash.

Fifty Seasons a Year (srly?)

Whether it?s high-waisted jean shorts, two-piece pant suits, or pineapple print button down, trends seem to cycle in and out weekly. Styles, colors, and prints are marketed and changed every season. What’s more, the fashion industry isn’t limited to four seasons. The need to stay competitive has led to fashion micro-seasons that number?50-100 a year. People have become conditioned to believe that they must wear the latest trend and that clothing is disposable.

50 micro seasons in fast fashion
The average consumer bought 60% more clothing in 2014 than in 2000, but kept them half as long. ~McKinsey & Company

The Spell of Convenience

As a 23 year old woman, I can understand what’s driving this trend. Just recently I bought a new pair of shorts from one of the many fast fashion stores. I remember thinking, “these probably won’t last long but it doesn?t matter because they’ll be out of style before they fall apart.” I realize this is a terrible mentality. And yet, it’s what happens when we’re looking for convenience. It’s also explains why fast fashion impacts our planet to such a high degree.?Every purchase and disposal of clothing is a burden on our planet’s resources.

Fashion + Commerce

Fashion existed long before commerce did, and satisfies deep human needs; a sense of self and sense of belonging or differentiating oneself from a group. At its root fashion is not unsustainable. Rather, it’s our current way of pursuing commerce, which is unsustainable. ~Lynda Grose, Fashion Isn’t the Problem, the Industry Needs to Change

In order to better align the beauty and artistry of fashion with everyday commerce, we must first understand the impact of the fast fashion life cycle.

Fast Fashion: A Look Behind the Curtain

Here’s an example of the journey our clothes make before they end up in our closet.

Fast fashion supply chain

The fast fashion supply chain. At every stage there exists extraction and pollution of our natural resources.

There are many steps involved in the process that lead to fast fashion’s impact on the planet. Starting with raw materials, clothing dye, textile manufacturing, clothing construction, shipping, retail, use and disposal, the fashion industry creates a large footprint from beginning to end. Pesticides to grow the cotton, toxic dyes, transportation

pollution, water and the eventual discarding of the clothes add to the impact.

1. What it Takes to Grow Raw Materials

Cotton and polyester are the two most used fibers in fashion. Polyester is made by chemical reaction involving coal, air, water and petroleum. This process uses a large amount of energy, usually supplied by petroleum or coal.

A study performed by MIT estimated that polyester production releases 706 billion kgs of green house gases every year, equal to 185 coal plant?emissions.

It takes 2,700 liters to make a cotton shirtCotton, the most common natural fiber, makes up?33% of the fibers in textile industry. It has a huge environmental footprint as it requires higher levels of pesticides and water. With the high demand for cotton, Ukraine has already started to experience issues from the large amount of water needed to grow it.

The Aral Sea water levels are 10% of what they were 50 years ago due to rivers having been diverted for irrigation. China, India, USA, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey and Brazil are also textile supply chain countries with regions of high water stress.


2. Clothing Dye: Sending it Down River

Many of the dyes made for the clothing industry leads to the dumping of chemicals into nearby rivers. Dye run off often contains many heavy metals and chemicals harmful to aquatic life and people living down river. New technologies have been invented to mitigate this impact but they are expensive. Many of these locations are in poor areas and these new technologies aren’t a realistic solution. With sizable textile factories lining its shores, Indonesia’s Citarum River has become one of the most polluted rivers in the world. It is an open sewer containing lead, mercury, arsenic and a host of other toxins.

3. Textile Factories: Time to Look at Waste and Safety

Textile factors are often detrimental to both the environment and the locals who work there. Excess fabric is a byproduct of pattern cutting and it creates significant waste. Same goes for high water usage and chemical waste involved in the manufacturing process. Think about the shirt you are wearing. If your shirt was cut from a square of fabric, think about how much extra fabric is left over. It is cheaper for factories to throw away excess fabric than it is for them to maximize use.

The increased demand for cheap, fast fashion as resulted in more and more factories opening in developing?countries. Young women 18-24 primarily work at these factories, making as little as $3 a day. These sweat shops are hire underage workers for long hours, low pay, and horrible conditions. The death of over 1,000 workers in Bangladesh 5 years ago,?caused by the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building, drove the government to?shut-down 18 garment factories over growing safety concerns.

4. Transport: Your Clothes Are World Travelers

When is the last time you bought something that was ?made in the USA?? With more than 60% of clothing?manufactured in developing countries, our clothes are already world travelers before they reach retailers. As regulation and costs continue to rise, many clothing companies look to move operations overseas. Not only can they pay workers pennies to the ?dollar compared to wages in the USA, but they can also skirt around the limited or non-existent environmental regulations.

A single large container ship can emit cancer and asthma-causing pollutants equivalent to that of 50 million cars. ~The Guardian

Plane, train, boat, truck and arriving packed in plastic, these clothing items have a huge a environmental footprint before they even reach your local retail store.

5. Retailers: Viva la Plastic

I’ve worked in retail and have seen firsthand how clothes arrive at the store. Items are individually packaged in plastic, as if each needed a hazmat suit to protect it from the plague. Every time we stocked our shelves, we were left with at least three trash bags full of plastic. My store was small, so this only happened 3 times a week. On top of it, we give you a bag to take home. Think about that. These clothes arrive in a bag. We throw out that bag. Then we give you a new bag to take with you. It’s easy to see why so much waste is created before we even ware the clothes!

6. Second Hand: Show the Love

Since fashion styles are constantly changing, clothes aren?t designed to last long. That means clothing doesn’t make it to second hand locations. Only about 20% of used clothes end up being sold in second hand retailers.?The rest end up stacked?in landfills. American send 10.5 million tons of clothing to landfills every year.

When you buy something old and previously-loved, you’re extending its lifespan and reducing its carbon footprint. ~Emily Farra, editor Vogue

What Can You Do?

What to hear something great? The tips and tricks included below will not only help our planet, they will help your wallet, too. Here are a few ways you can do well for yourself and do good for our planet. Go green and get rich!

1. Reduce

Kick the fast fashion habit. Instead of buying a bunch of poorly made cheap and disposable clothes, invest in some well made long lasting classic pieces. Become aware of the clothing brand’s ethos. Are they just in it for the profit? Are they fair trade? Do they protect the environment or pollute it?? Support those companies that focus on sustainable manufacturing and are not only taking steps to limit their environmental impact but also support the well being of their workers.

Related Content: How This Social Start-up Is Changing The Way We Shop

2. Reuse

If everyone switched from buying new clothes to buying used, we could save 165 billion lbs of CO2.?This is the equivalent of all the car exhaust in LA for 4 years! We could also save?350 billion kilowatt hours of electricity?(the equivalent of powering 32 million homes per year!) And we could save?13 trillion gallons of water (all the water needed by California over 14 years!)

girl in black shirt

Join the second hand clothing trend. In the past 5 years, used clothing purchasers have increased from 11% to 24% and the trend continues to grow. As??77%?of millennials prefer to buy from environmentally-
conscious brands, they are leading the thrift trends. Everyday we see
?more and more options to buy second hand, from local consignment shops to online thrift stores.

Buying a used garment extends its life on average by 2.2 years which reduces carbon, waste and water footprint by 73%. ~ThredUp

I tried ThreadUp and was happy with the quality and large variety. Here’s a picture of a sports bra and top I bought for 70% off retail!

3. Recycle

The good news? Brands are waking up. At the Copenhagen Fashion Summit in 2017, the Global Fashion Agenda called on fashion?brands and retailers to sign a commitment to accelerate the transition to a?circular fashion system.? The system looks at 4 action points:

  1. Implement design strategies for cyclability.
  2. Increase the volume of used garments collected.
  3. Increase the volume of used garments resold.
  4. Increase the share of garments made from recycled post-consumer textile fibres.
After just one year, 93 companies, representing 207 brands and 12% of the global fashion market, have committed to set a target for 2020 on one or more of the four action points.

4. Take Baby Steps + Shop With Your Heart

Because we’ve made our voices heard, companies are stepping up. Now is your chance to support companies that are working toward aligning fashion with commerce. Here are a few final tips:

  • Don’t get sucked into fast fashion.
  • Buy for beauty, authenticity and longevity. Our clothes should last.
  • Shop secondhand stores.
  • Support stores that promote?sustainable shopping.

Fashion can be beautiful and timeless, an expression of our creativity. Use your money to create the kind of world you want to see. You’ll feel good in your clothes when you shop with intention.

Photo by Demetrius Washington

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How Much Can I Make as an Airbnb Host? (And should I do it?)

Do Well…

According to Priceonomics, an Airbnb side gig will earn you more money than any other side gig. Hosts make an average of $924 per month. That’s three times greater than any of the other side gigs platforms out there such as Fivver, Upwork and Taskrabbit.

The amount you can earn varies widely: from $200 to $10,000 per month. But the average is $924 per month and the median is $440 per month. My friend covers her vacation home mortgage by renting it out on Airbnb when she isn’t using it. Not bad.

…and Do Good

You know what else is nice about becoming an Airbnb host? You help promote global trust through people-to-people connection and reduce the global carbon footprint by sharing an important resource – your home. Instead of building yet another mega-hotel, wouldn’t it be nice if we became (and supported) mini-hoteliers and earned money in the process? If you’re thinking about starting an Airbnb side gig, here’s a quick start-up guide.

Related content: 7 Ways to Make your Home a Sustainable Source of Income

What is Airbnb?

Airbnb is an online marketplace that helps over 6 million people a year find accommodations in over 90 countries? without using hotels. As a direct example of the sharing economy and reputation economics, Airbnb helps clients find accommodation tailored to their needs around the globe, and hosts find dependable clients to rent their spaces.

Whether you’re looking for a mountain house in the deep countryside of Japan or a penthouse in London, you can probably find it on Airbnb. If you become an Airbnb host, you can participate in the sharing economy and make some side cash.?

How Airbnb improves the travel experience

As a traveler, Airbnb can make your experience:

  • Unique. Rather than the cookie cutter hotel room, you can live locally and find interesting places to stay.
  • Affordable. Being able to rent a house can mean the difference between being able to travel or not for a family of four.
  • Localized. You will have a local contact (your host). Although the quality of the host varies, they can help you interact locally and add color to your experience.
  • Customized. Want to stay on a boat or a tree house? Just looking for a small room to crash in a large city? You can probably find it.
  • Roomy. In many places you will can have access to a kitchen and cut down on your eating expenses as well as enjoy the local shopping experience.
  • Pet friendly. If you travel with your pets, you may be able to find pet friendly accommodation.
  • Convenient. Airbnb is easy to use. Just sign up, search and book.

Should you become an Airbnb host?

Do you have an extra room that never gets used? Are you gone on business frequently? Have your kids moved out? Instead of letting your extra space go to waste, you can use it for extra income. Airbnb is an easy platform that helps you turn unused space into dollars. You can rent your house, apartment, couch, air bed or even tent.

AirBnB reaches a huge audience to share your space with. They offer several protections against loss. Here are some benefits to starting your Airbnb side gig:

  1. $1,000,000 Host Guarantee: insurance in case of damage to your property.
  2. $1,000,000 Host Protection: liability insurance should a guest get injured on your property or cause damage or injury to others.
  3. Trust:?all travelers must submit a photo and verify their email and phone. Hosts can also require a government issued ID. As both guests and hosts submit reviews after check out, the ecosystem maintains foster accountability for all.

How do you become an Airbnb host?

1. Create Your Listing

Describe your space, include how many guests you can hold and upload photos. You can use Airbnb’s convenient pricing tool to help you determine a comprable competitive rate, but ultimately what you charge is up to you.

2. Welcome your guests

Get to know your guests on the Airbnb messenger platform before they arrive. Prepare your rental with fresh sheets and towels. Leave instructions with logistics (WiFi passwords, parking instructions, etc.) Meet them with the key or send them a door lock code. Many hosts like to go the extra mile by including a list of local restaurants, grocery stories, or activities.

3. Get Paid

Guests pay before arrival. You are immediately paid via Airbnb’s platform less their 3% fee. Payments can be made through Paypal, direct deposit, or other specified means.

Tips:? Become an Airbnb host that delivers…

  • Before you promote your property, do an honest assessment of exactly what you have to offer. Why should they stay at your place?
  • Include beautiful photos. Remember that Airbnb started as a visual platform, designed by designers. Be sure to include beautiful photos that realistically represent your place and environment.
  • Be honest with your host profile. People that want to use your space will seek it and that’s what you want. Avoid misleading people!
  • Determine what you can do to promote your property listing:? geographic location, amenities, your commitment as a host.
  • Set a minimum stay requirement to make it easier on yourself. All the clean up for one night is not always worth it . ?
  • Avoid automatic booking. While Airbnb does an initial check, you want to have the final say on who stays in your space.
  • Be aware that Airbnb reports all your money to the the IRS. Make sure you talk to your tax professional and understand the process.
  • Be sure to check into your HOA, neighborhood and city rules. Some jurisdictions do not allow short term rentals.
  • Reply to client inquiries immediately because response time will affect your rankings.

Bottom line:? Your ratings and rankings will dictate your popularity. This is reputation economics so make sure to keep your guests happy and you will continue to receive bookings.

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