If there is one thing I hate it is paying taxes! I am sure pretty much everyone agrees with me on this one though. I really hate the idea of having to send the IRS peeps money come tax day, so I have been looking for ways to lower my tax liability for this year.

See, when I was getting unemployment the amount was so meager that I did not have taxes taken out of it. That means come tax time I have to pay taxes on that unemployment income. I will also have to pay taxes on the online income from places like Associated Content. And when you add in the salary increase that I got with my new job, I am fairly certain I have to look forward to writing a check to the friendly peeps at the IRS  😀

I really do not want to do that. And I bet you do not want to either. So here are some things you can do to hopefully avoid that come tax time!

  • Contribute the max to retirement accounts. (I believe you have until tax day to fill up the IRA!)
  • See if you can pay some of next year’s expenses in December
  • Let’s not forget about charitable giving
  • If you are self-employed, stock up on supplies and equipment before the end of the year
  • Gift away up to $12,000 to your kids or other relatives

Those are some of the things I have discovered. However I am not a tax person, so please check with a professional if you are unclear on something before taking my advice.

And if you have any tips for me, feel free to share!


As you may remember from last week, I found myself unemployed after asking for my salary to be increased to be more in line with that of my coworkers. That means it is time to begin looking for a job. I recently finished reading “What Color is Your Parachute” and find myself drawn back to the chapter that discussed the various ways that people look for jobs versus how employers hire candidates. I was reading a copy from the library, so unfortunately I cannot refer to it for accuracy, but it went a little something like this: The order of importance that we give the various methods of getting a job are directly opposite that of employers.

With that in mind, I know that too much time spend on Monster or CareerBuilder will be rather worthless.  First things first, I signed up for unemployment. There is a one week waiting period, which is interesting to me since so many Americans are supposed to be only one paycheck away from financial Armageddon. Hopefully I will find out my benefit amount by early next week.

Next up on the to-do list is updating my resume. Since I already had my then current job on there all I had to do was adjust the end date. Then I put it up on CareerBuilder and Monster but did not look for any jobs there as of yet.

If I remember correctly, the ways that employers find candidates to fill open positions are as follows:

  1. Internal candidates
  2. Candidates referred by someone at the company
  3. Unsolicited direct applications
  4. Applications on the company website
  5. newspaper/internet ads

Clearly I cannot utilize #1 as I am not employed. I have asked around and found one person that has an accountant opening at their job. I submitted my resume for that. I also looked up some local companies to see if they had any jobs listed on their websites and then applied to those.  And thus far I have not looked at any newspaper or internet ads.

Guess what? I have two interview lined up.  Each company came across my resume on CareerBuilder. I never contacted either place on my own. The exciting thing about these opportunities is that they are direct hire jobs, as opposed to staffing agencies. I really despise staffing agencies and would rather work two jobs in fast food than work for a temp agency.

Landing an interview presents its own problems though. References. In my mind, I would think it is not such a good idea to use the place that just let me go as a reference. However, an article on CareerJournal says to not assume that a boss that fired you would give you a bad reference. I think that is quite a big risk so I will not be trying it.

Here are my tips for preparing for finding and obtaining a new job:

  1. Tweak the resume. It was already mostly updated and just involved a little tweaking.  The important thing to remember here is that it is a tool. Once I get an interview I can go into loads more detail about what I did and why I’m so awesome.
  2. Put out your feelers. I asked around in my network and found out that someone I knew had an open position at their office. They were able to hand deliver my resume, which may give me a bit of an advantage over other candidates.
  3. Get your resume out there. While you do not want to waste your time searching on Monster immediately, it can’t hurt to have a resume out for everyone to see. I got two interviews that way!
  4. Work on a snazzy cover letter. If there is one thing I have learned over the past few years it is that cover letters make all the difference. Since you are trying to keep your resume to a page a lot gets left out. That is where the cover letter comes in handy. I usually do a search online for examples and then combine the best elements of all of them into one kickass cover letter.
  5. Prepare for the interview. Practice how you will sell yourself. I have found that being able to tell short little stories is helpful for me. It’s also a good idea to think of how you will answer those lame questions that almost every interviewer asks….”Can you tell me about your weaknesses?” “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
  6. Research salary and prepare to negotiate.  You want to make sure you are getting paid what you are worth, so look up salary information for the job you are interviewing for. Then use that information to your advantage when you are negotiating salary. And remember, the first person to name a dollar amount usually ends up the loser of the negotiation.


We all have time constraints. Even if you don’t then it still pays to get something done quicker, better and with less stress. These are the techniques I use to speed up my blogging so I can get the job done, even with working 6 days a week, a wife to love and a daughter to look after.

The Crunch – How to Blog Quickly

  1. Plan – I spend a few hours at the start of the week planning what I am going to write, what marketing I am going to do and most important of all… creating the titles. I put this plan into writing. Time < 2 hours each week
  2. Prepare – I put these titles onto an empty page, tell my unconscious to work on the articles and I sleep on it. Time < 3 minutes
  3. Read – I use my RSS feed to see whats going on. If there are any posts I like I comment. If I have a relationship with the blogger then they are in a special category in my reader, so I remember to interact regularly. Time < 1 hour per day
  4. Market – I have a marketing plan for each day of the week. I implement it. Time < 30 minutes per day
  5. Write – When it comes to writing I make sure I am off line (that means the Internet cable is UNPLUGGED!) and tell myself I am just going to write for a few minutes to get started. I hit the flow and get the basics down. Time < 30 minutes
  6. Improve – So, after 5-30 minutes of writing the shell is complete, then I read through it and improve it. Time <15 minutes
  7. Polish – Its then time to add the polish. Time < 15 minutes ( Total Writing Time < 1hour )
  8. Publish – I log onto the net and give myself 30 minutes to get the post up. This means finding pictures or links or quotes if necessary and getting the formatting right. Time < 30 minutes
  9. Comment – I approve and reply to comments. Visit commentators sites. Time < 30 minutes

Most of the time comes in the morning before I head to work. I like to keep the evenings and day off for my family and interests. Some of these things I am not doing everyday. The most important thing is strict time limits. Choose your limits and your mind will work hard to fit into them.

I am one of the most impatient people that I know.

I tell myself that I am impatient because I hate wasting time. And I do. But I know that I need to learn to be more patient because most of the time I just end up frustrated due to impatience.

Trying to be more patient is not something that can be accomplished overnight though.

And being patient is really a big part of personal development. As I work more and more with personal development principles I have discovered that my impatience usually leads to me spending a lot of time running place, so to speak.

I have no sage words of wisdom to offer up on how to have more patience. What I can tell you is that working to have more patience takes time. And once you start working towards it you will notice that your stress levels are down and your general mood is a bit better. And it is nice to not have that ‘rushed’ feeling so much.

Even Shakespeare wrote in Othello, “How poor are they that have not patience!”

I have had a lot of jobs in my lifetime that I have absolutely hated. And I think that is a bad thing as we end up spending more time at work each day than we do with people that we love or that doing things that we actually enjoy.

So, the question is, what do you do about it? If you hate your job, what happens next?

My girlfriend’s mother seems to think that you “just need to find something that you love outside of work.” And that “no one likes their job.”

I do not necessarily agree with that.

I do however think that there are a lot of people in a situation like mine where a lot of debt dictates that you need to stay in a job that you do not like just to pay the bills. And I do not hate my current job, but I do not love it either.

If you are stuck in a job that you hate – whether it is for reasons like debt or just because there are no other jobs available or whatever – the first thing you need to do is to make a game plan.

Figure out why you took the job and why you are still there. Once you have that all figured out you need to look for ways out. Let’s say you took the job because you needed to make a certain amount to pay the bills and you are still there because of debt. Clearly to get out of the job you need to pay down the debt. So, the way out would be having less or no debt.

For me, I am in my current job for two reasons – debt and because I was unemployed and it was the first thing that came along. I am staying because it pays better than my last job which means it will speed up the debt pay off. The silver lining is that once that debt is paid down it will decrease the amount of money needed to live on each month. And that in turn means that for the first time in about 10 years I will be able to look for a job that I actually enjoy!

So, when you hate your job, here are some tips to help you get through it:

  • Focus on the end result that you hope to achieve instead of your current misery.
  • Look for some skills at your job that you can learn to help you to get out of that job.
  • Look for specifics on what you hate and try to change it- if it’s your boss, see if you can transfer to a new department for instance
  • Remember that it is just temporary and that you can change it

As I make my way through the sea of temp jobs, I have been exposed to many different types of environments and managers. Having had so many jobs, I have begun to identify what makes companies run well and what doesn’t, what types of managers and management techniques are the most effective, what are and what are not good motivators for employees and so on.

At my current position, I am in line for a bit of a promotion. I would go from being a peon to a senior peon. Terribly exciting prospect, no? Supposedly, myself and a co-worker are the only people being considered for such a step up in the world. Our boss is one of the decision makers on who gets to pass go. This brings me to  a common gripe that I have about the workplace.

People in positions of authority that make hiring/firing decisions should not be going to lunch with lower-level employees.

They just should not. I don’t care if it makes them look snobby and bitchy. As you climb up the totem pole of power in the workplace, you should be forbidden from fraternizing from those holding up said totem pole as it is bad for business.

If she gets the promotion, everyone will say that it was because they are lunch buddies. If I get the promotion, everyone will say it’s because the boss couldn’t promote her because it would look bad since they are lunch buddies.

Not being lunch buddies is an easy way around this.

Part of the problem is that this supervisor has a cubicle out amongst us peons. This only contributes to the problem. It puts the supervisor in a position to be buddies with the peons because they surround her.

This kind of thing, the whole supervisor buddy system, also leads to a lack of respect for the supervisor. How can the supervisor be viewed with respect as an authority figure when she lunches with the peons as well as gossips with them when they are gossiping?

Its that time of the week again and here are 5 posts I have thoroughly enjoyed reading over the last week. Take the chance to check them out as soon as possible. These are posts that can seriously teach you a thing or two.

This weeks top 5 articles…

  • Alan, from Made to be Great, wrote an interesting article about his law of attraction experiment. I don’t totally go for this kind of thing, but I believe the principles of changing your thinking and just letting go are true.
  • Sibbia wrote an article that pairs with the last one quite well about how changing your vibes will affect what you attract to yourself and shows some ways which you can improve the message you send out.
  • John Wesley, who operates over at “Pick the Brain” wrote about 7 ways to grow the action habit. A very worthwhile read which will motivate you to start getting things done.
  • Scott Young discusses 9 habits to change your life and I think it gives some great ideas to thing about. The best thing is that they are simple little things which anyone can implement.
  • The last article is from ProBlogger, Darren Rowse, who talks about how to find a sponsor for your blog. Any advice from this guy, especially on a tough matter like this, is well worth listening too.

And the free bonus article from here…

When you stop making your car payments you can expect to get your car repossessed. They don’t come out to your house the day after you miss a payment. So what do they do? What happens after you miss a payment and before they send someone to get the car? Is it possible to prevent the repo man from coming? It is, and here are a few steps to help you figure things out before you even get to the point of missing one payment:

Call your lender and find out if there is any way you can modify your repayment plan. Use the following as a guideline on what you should say. Every situation is different, so use what works for you.

* Tell them that you are unable to may a payment this month. (If this is the first time you are late do let them know.)
* Assure them that you will make a payment as soon as you can, but you would like to modify your payment plan.
* It never hurts to ask if they will let you skip this month’s payment, or possibly lower your payments for a few months.
* Ask them if they will waive the late fee.

Some lenders may let you pay less for a while, or they may even let you miss a payment (this is known as deferment). Any deferment will be added onto your loan balance, causing you to pay more in interest. More interest tacked on is a lot better than losing your car and ruining your credit score.

Refinance you loan. Doing so could lower your monthly payment. You have to have a good credit score to refinance, so keep that in mind.

What if you don’t think you can make any more payments – ever? People lose their jobs all the time and this scenario happens all too frequently. Your best bet is to sell the car if you can. Use the funds to pay off your loan.

The final option would be to give the keys back to the dealer. However, you would still be responsible for the balance owing on the car loan.

Understanding the determination of interest rates and how prone it is to changing is good before going for a credit card. The initial interest rate is affected by three major factors:
1. Promotional offer.
2. One’s credit score
3. The ‘prime interest rate’
The factors are covered below:

1. The ‘prime interest rate’
Not everyone understands what ‘prime interest rate’ is. This is a form of baseline interest rate which can fluctuate with time dependent on specific economic variables. It has a relationship with the federal funds rate. The federal funds rate is that rate that which banks have to pay for when they borrow from a Federal Reserve for a short-term period of time. When compared to the federal funds rate, the prime rate is normally 3 % higher.
Presently, the prime rate is at 3.25 % and the federal funds rate is at 0.25 %. By signing a credit card agreement, one commits to paying the rate of interest which the credit card company has set; though it is prone to change together with the prime rate. For instance, should your current rate be 15 % and then the following month your prime rate is increased from 3.25 % to 6.25 %, it likely that your interest rate will have increased by 3 % points.
2. One’s credit score
Different rates of interest are awarded to different people. The credit card company checks the credit score of the person who applies for the credit card. Those with good scores are awarded the best (lowest) rates of interest. Though, those with average or bad credit scores are not eligible to the aforementioned rates.

3 Credit Card Promotional offers
Credit card providers are known to come up with special promotional offers which can attract people with the lowered rates if interest. This is normally as a startup for the first 6-12 months. Balance transfer offers are normally associated with this as people are offered zero percent interest rates for 6 months and after that the rates of interest increase. This is a good deal for those who want to make use of it so as to pay off their existent balance. Should that fail to materialize, you will be charged retroactively on the entire by your credit card company.

This leads us to another important factor.

4. Your credit card payment behavior
This factor only affects individuals who have signed their credit card agreement. Your interest rate is likely to be increased by your provider should you fail to pay your bills within the stipulated time. The increased amount can be a lot dependent on your current situation. Should you be having many credit cards, missing to pay for one, is likely to impact all the others.

None of us like to have a large amount of debt hanging over our heads. It makes us feel nervous, and adds to our fears about the future. It’s no surprise, then, that most people want to pay off their debt as soon as possible, and are waiting for the day when they will get a large windfall to make that happen. This is called a debt snowball. It’s a large amount of money that accumulates over years, or that you get at one time, which is used to pay off a debt.

The problem with debt snowballing is that most people don’t win the lottery or inherit a large amount of money. Saving up large amounts is difficult, too, in today’s economy. While you are saving up, your debt is also accumulating, and in some cases, skyrocketing.

Then there is always the problem of getting your spouse to agree that a large amount of money should be used to pay off a debt, when so many other things look so much more attractive to spend it on.
There is another kind of debt payment system that can solve this problem, called debt snowflaking. What is it, and how does it work?

Small Extra Payments

In debt snowflaking, You use small extra payments, and apply them to your outstanding debt. The first step before you do this is to write down all of your debts, from the smallest amount to the greatest. Then plan how to accumulate small amounts of money that can be applied to the debt in a frequent payment program, over and above the minimum payment due on the debt. Be sure to pay at least the minimum on every debt.

The extra money may come from weekend jobs, selling something online, birthday money, or any other source. It could also be a small amount taken out each week from a paycheck. For this payment system to be really effective, it should be deliberate and intentional. Your goal is to make small extra payments frequently, starting with your smallest debt first. When that debt is paid off, you continue up the ladder till you get to your largest debt.

Benefits Of Snowflaking

Obviously, snowflaking is easier than snowballing for many people to do. It also has the positive result of making you feel successful about paying off a small debt. Many people need that positive reinforcement to keep going until all their debt is paid off.

The shock of throwing an entire large amount of money down the debt tube is avoided. So you probably won’t have to fight with your spouse about it!
Snowflaking can be combined with other forms of debt payment, such as snowballing and debt stacking, when the opportunity becomes available.

Don’t wait for a large windfall to start paying off your debt. Start where you are now, and begin paying off that debt in small extra increments. You’ll be surprised at how effective it can be, and how good it feels.