Top 6 Personal Finance Resources

personal finance resources

At Eazl, we create content that helps our community members feel more empowered and confident by focusing on knowledge and innovation. After taking a step back from our current course catalog that includes training on entrepreneurship, management, freelancing, marketing, and career, we asked ourselves, “What is missing and what would make this group of courses more complete?”

Our answer to that question is something that so many of us struggle with today: managing personal debt and finances.

Luckily, we had the expertise for that area right here on our team so we immediately went to work to create the training, which includes a list of resources that will help you get real control over your money and your future.  

Money management is all about having the right tools and sources for knowledge. From handling debt to buying a home, you want to make sure you are using quality sources for information.

We put together this list of Top Personal Finance Resources:

  1. Browse Homes and Home Prices
    Zillow is one of the best resources for researching homes and their prices in the neighborhood that you are thinking about investing in. Just search a zip code and get an idea of the price range, browse through all available listings,  and specific the features you are looking for in your new home.

2. Estimate Monthly Mortgage Payments
Bankrate’s Mortgage Calculator will help you estimate your mortgage payment, how much interest you might pay, and your estimate principal balances. Determine the impact of taxes and insurance on your total monthly payment.

3. LifePower: Credit, Debt, Saving, Investing, & Buying a Home
Eazl’s new course on personal finance will help you learn how to build and manage your credit, handle debt, use credit cards, start saving and investing, and buy real estate.

4. Check Your Credit
Credit Karma is our favorite resource for checking your credit score. It’s totally free and will give you an idea of what actions have lowered your score and what options are available to you if you have a favorable score.

5. Learn how to Repair Your Credit
Fico gives some actionable tips on dealing with bad credit and how to maintain good credit.

6. How to Negotiate Fees with Your Realtor
Dealing with realtors can be tricky and frustrating because they are middlemen who generally receive insane fees for what they do. Learning how to negotiate with a realtor is essential if you are looking to buy or sell a home. Aaron Crowe at Credit Sesame has some tips.

 

Do you have any other personal finance resources that you love? We’re working on creating a master list and would love your input. Comment below!

Personal Finance: Terms You Need Know from a Money Guru

personal-finance-terms

If you’re anything like me, you might find the world of personal finance (think: credit, debt, and acquiring property) to be strange and unfamiliar. I never had my parents teach me and it was never a focus in school. The only advice I ever received came from my mom when she said, “Don’t get a credit card,” when I headed off the University of Texas at Austin at age 18.

I may not have listened to that advice. : /

The lack of guidance from adults in my life combined with having worked hard on my education and career for the past 12 years hasn’t left me much time to school myself on the ways of dealing with money, debt, and assets in any remotely competent way. I mean, there is a lot to know and it can get pretty complicated and time consuming.

personal finance terms

I got lucky… really lucky when I met my now husband and business partner, who purchased his first stock at age 12 and went off to school in three-piece suits, thinking he would someday become an investment banker.

Davis has fun playing with money and learning about all of this adulting business that most of us find so boring and stressful, plus he had a few good role models who passed down some wisdom to him along the way and has had a ton of experience managing the financials of small businesses and artists.

On any given day, you might find him on the phone with a creditor transferring a balance, negotiating account fees for our business and personal bank accounts, or maybe even closing a bank account to switch banks when they won’t wave an outrageous annual fee. (He holds the banks accountable!)

If there is one thing I’ve learned about Davis –and something you might have learned too if you’ve taken any of our courses– it’s that he will do the hard stuff and he always finds a way to work the system.

That’s why, in our newest course, he continually repeats the phase, “I use the system. The system does not use me,” as a mantra for all things personal finance.

If you are clueless when it comes to personal finance or you need some brushing up on your skills after frantically submitting your taxes and feeling kind of crappy about how you have handled your money, start with this list of terms that you should know and understand in order to upgrade your wealth management game.

personal finance terms

Then, come join us in the course because we have all kinds of little secrets about handling your money the right way.

personal finance course

From Freelancer’s Union: Six Ways to Crush Solopreneur Burnout

solopreneur burnout

“As solopreneurs, we’re either feeling guilty for not being busy, or we’re in over our heads with work. Neither phase in the ‘feast or famine’ work cycle is stress-free, which means solopreneur burn out is a real problem.

Here are a few common situations I experienced myself, along with ways to overcome them. I am not going to include tips like taking a deep breath or working on multiple projects as I have tried them before – but these did not seem to help me solve my burnout problems from the origin.

Here’s how to turn your marketing campaign around…”

Solopreneur Burnout

From Business2Community: Influencer Marketing 101

influencer marketing 101

“Most marketers don’t need another blog post convincing them to hop on the influencer marketing bandwagon.

They get it. It’s effective – influencer campaigns drive 11 times more ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing.

The problem is that everyone’s an influencer now. Follower count doesn’t necessarily translate to influence anymore. Everyone with an opinion about your product or service that posts on social media has the power to influence their friends, family, and coworkers.

Research by Markerly shows that Instagram influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers have a like rate of 8%, while those with between 1,000 to 10,000 followers only average around 4%. Once a social media influencer reaches a critical mass of followers, audience engagement actually begins to decrease.

So does this mean we can only ever have one or the other: engagement or reach? Is there a happy compromise? How do you find the right individuals that will represent your brand and drive ROI?

The key lies in picking out the right influencers and getting them on board.

Heres how:”

influencer marketing 101

My Marketing Campaign Checklist

ludell jones

My marketing process is ever-changing and evolving but I’ve found that the more organized and repeatable I make my processes, the more effective our campaigns are. These systems do take a while to develop as they are totally dependent on what works for you and your product or service. There’s a lot a trial and error, but it does help to have somewhere to start.

I’ve created this skeleton checklist for the marketing process that I follow every time I launch a marketing campaign. When I’m planning out the details of my campaigns (usually a month ahead of time or more), I just copy this list and build it out as I discover more details and develop my ideas.

When I’m working on the campaign, I simply format the text on my Google Sheet to strikethrough the elements of my campaign that have been completed. That way, I can see my progress at a glance, I never feel lost or forget what I’ve done to promote my campaigns, and I don’t leave out any of the important actions that drive traffic to our content.

We’re a small team and a lot of responsibility rests on my shoulders. It’s not feasible to store something like this in my head or constantly retrace my steps. Plus, creating these processes as you find constants and things that work makes your business scalable. It also eases the process of on-boarding employees.

If you’re struggling with feeling overwhelmed by digital marketing –or marketing in general– for your business, I invite you to start with this checklist and integrate it into your daily marketing activities.

ludell-jones


A few of notes about this checklist:

  1. To use it and make it editable, you’ll need go to “File” → “Make a copy” to save to your own Google Drive account.
  2. I’ll be constantly updating the sheet so check back in for improvements.
  3. The Pre-Launch phase of marketing is the most important. Do not neglect to prepare your marketing resources ahead of time or you’ll be faced with a mountain of work on Launch day. NOT IDEAL!
  4. In addition to striking through tasks as you complete them, you’ll want to add links to corresponding text so the resources can easily be found. If you keep all of your images and blog posts in a file on Google Drive, this checklist will be even more convenient for you. Any document you create or image that is uploaded comes with a link, which you can add to your checklist to stay organized.
  5. Create a separate folder in Google Drive for every campaign that you launch. That way, you can return later to repeat a campaign and you’ll know exactly where everything is.
  6. Make whatever changes you need to…this checklist was created with our training and events in mind.
  7. Usually, these campaigns last about 3 weeks. For smaller/lighter campaigns that last 1-2 weeks (those not directly related to new product launches), you can trim down some of the promotional activities if it makes sense to do so.


If you have any questions about this checklist or tips of your own to share, Tweet at me.

From World Economic Forum: The 5 Skills All Job Recruiters Look For

skills job all recruiters look for

“Sometimes our clients will provide us with about five non-negotiable criteria for candidates to meet; skills they must possess or experience they have to have to be considered for a specific role. Of course this varies across positions and companies, but there are several items we see cropping up again and again. I compared notes with the other recruiters in our office to come up with those criteria we are asked to identify most frequently these days.

1. Leading up, down, and across
For directors it’s not just about management anymore. It’s all about leadership. Have you honed your management style in a way that inspires others and makes them want to follow you, not just listen to you? Have you looked for training and mentors? Good managers don’t just turn in your review and manage time and expectations, they develop talent and motivate their team to strive further and achieve more. Our Vice President, Kassie Wilner, adds that the ability to “use your influence to gain consensus cross-functionally and build effective relationships across divisions in a matrix corporate structure” is a skill that she sees coming up again and again.”

hai ninh nguyen

QUIZ: What kind of freelancer are you?

freelancer quiz

If you’re a freelancer and anything like me, you’ve developed a very particular style and way of doing things. You have to…being financially independent comes with a lot of responsibility so focusing on perfecting your offering and your service (so it’s right for your client AND for you) comes with the job.

Take this quiz to learn more about how you deal with clients and sticky situations. Share your result in the comments below!

What kind of freelancer are you? I’m really curious…let me know your results in the comments.

Be Your Own Inspiration: Hai Ninh Nguyen Modernizes a Vietnamese Tradition

hai ninh nguyen

Did you know that Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer in the world after Brazil and that coffee is a huge part of Vietnamese culture? Neither did I until I came across Hai Ninh Nguyen’s profile on Instagram.

I was looking for entrepreneurs who have experience manufacturing their own products when Ninh’s post about his modernized Vietnamese coffee press –called a phin– caught my eye.

A year of side hustling. Last year I started my second venture, my first physical product. It’s been a huge learning curve ever since and I learned how important it is to create prototypes before going into mass production. Fortunately, we live in a world were services such as 3dHubs or Shapeways can make our life so much easier. I created a blog post with all essential tools that you need to create a physical product. Follow the link: bit.ly/ToolsForPhysical⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #design #designer #designers #designinspiration #designing #designporn #designerlife #designproject #industrialdesign #productdesign #designprocess #inspiration #prototype #3dprinting #3dprinted #vinabrew #coffeeset #ceramics #sidehustle #entrepreneur #entrepreneurlife #lifestylebusiness #instadaily #picoftheday ⠀

A post shared by DESIGNER⠀ & ⠀ENTREPRENEUR (@ninjaninh) on

Ninh’s Creation Journey
I love Ninh’s story about modernizing a product used in everyday life in Vietnamese culture and exposing those who aren’t Vietnamese to this important part of life in Vietnam.

Check out Ninh’s beautiful and informative post about the traditions of Vietnamese coffee, how the traditional phin works, how he assessed ways that the traditional coffee press could be improved, his materials testing and prototyping, and the tools he used to create the first version for marketing purposes.

hai-ninh-nguyen-1


Ninh’s How to Create Physical Products from Scratch
Ninh also developed this guide for creating a physical product from scratch (and it’s SUPER useful!).

“I created this article to help you design and manufacture a physical product from scratch and sell it for profit.

I will take my own product as an example to guide you through each step and cover as many aspects as possible so you can apply the knowledge to your specific product.

  • You will learn about each step of creating a physical product
  • You will learn how to prototype products
  • You will learn how to find manufacturers
  • You will learn how to communicate with manufacturers
  • You will learn how to order first samples of your product”

hai ninh nguyen

More Resources
You can follow Hai Ninh Nguyen on Instagram or connect with him on LinkedIn.

If you are interested in hearing additional perspective on creating physical products, check out my interview with Jessika Jake of Rist Wellness, an entrepreneur in San Diego who learned how to design and manufacture her own wellness products.

Content That Will Fuel Your Soft Skill Power

soft skill power

For the next couple of weeks, I challenge you to spend some time developing your soft skills. According to recent studies, soft skills have moved into the top listed skills that employers are looking for. Beyond helping you get hired, possessing soft skills will help you be a better manager, get you better results when you work on teams, and help you get where you want to be faster.

Here are a few pieces of content we’ve created that will help you skill up:

  1. 5 Ways to Feel More Empowered Today
    We, at Team Eazl, have been thinking about what role we want to play in the world of education because, really, it isn’t about us. It’s all about you and feeling empowered in your career. Whether you are a professional in the traditional workforce, an entrepreneur, or a freelancer, the more you know about how to build a good life for yourself through your career, the better. The less encumbered and “in the dark” you are about how things work, the more capable you are to truly have control over your life.

successful content

2. Build Your Digital Networking Muscles
It seems like all that anyone talks about anymore –whether in entrepreneurship or a traditional career path as an employee– is networking. And with good reason! Many are terrified of the idea of reaching out to a stranger. Plus, digital networking has added a whole new element to the mix.

successful content

3. From the vaults: FAMILY + BIZ Month: Tools for a Holistic Approach to Work
This compilation posts of self-empowerment, productivity, and self-development content we’ve created in the last couple of years will give you the fuel you need to develop your soft skills, which are some of the most powerful skills you can possess.

successful content

 

Have any favorite soft skills resources? We’d love to hear about it! Tweet at us

soft skill power

My Digital Marketing Toolbox- Updated for 2017

If you want to see what was on my list last year, check out My Social Media Management Toolbox: 10 Tools That Will Upgrade Your Marketing Game.

digital marketing toolbox

Social media management is only a tiny part of what I do for Eazl and, for that reason, I’m always looking for new tools, apps, and knowledge that will make me more productive and effective with online marketing initiatives. Last year, I put together a list of the tools I use regularly for social media management and I’ve changed the way I do things since then so I thought I’d update my toolbox for you.*

One thing you’ll notice from the list I put together below is that we’ve been investing heavily in Instagram, at least compared to January 2016. I’ve planned this out for a couple of reasons: our work is highly visual so it fits well there and I enjoy using the platform, which keeps my use consistent.

  1. Social Media Follower Management App
    The app that I use is currently no longer in the marketplace, but find any free app that allows you to see recent unfollowers and followers so you can easily manage your Instagram and Twitter accounts (including catching those annoying users who follow only to receive a follow back and then promptly unfollow).

Apps like this are such a time saver and they enable growth on social media accounts by keeping the number of accounts you follow reasonable and providing analytics on the growth of your account. Plus, it’s super convenient that you can use it on your mobile device!

Remember to try to only follow accounts that are actually relevant with content you actually want to see.

2. Repost It! App for Instagram
I’ve been using this app for a few months now and I really like it. It’s great for sharing posts in between accounts. In our case, I’ll sometimes cross promote between my personal account and the Eazl account.

3. Boomerang App
I love the new dynamic that Boomerang brings to Instagram! I use this app most often when we’re doing something out and about for Eazl, like filming or traveling. I’d like to start featuring more people in my Boomerang posts but haven’t worked it into my process yet.

4. Eventbrite Organizer App
We don’t host as many events as we used to and I’d like to change that as we move into the second quarter of 2017. The organizer app is great for keeping an eye on sign ups while traveling or during a heavily scheduled week. I really don’t like having to log into my account every time I want to check our RSVP numbers.

5. Instagram Stories
I am loving Instagram stories (especially because I REALLY don’t like Snapchat…I REFUSE to become a Snapchatter) and it’s the perfect way to get your content prioritized over other users’ content. It’s kind of like a reminder…”Hey, remember us? You followed us on Instagram a while back and you should come check out what we’ve been posting lately.”

I also like how casual Instagram Stories can be. It’s really about showing users what you are experiencing at the moment and doesn’t need to be anything fancy, however, I recently saw a fun, interactive, and thoroughly planned out campaign that a retailer published via Instagram Stories and it inspired me to think outside of the box in the future.

6. Likestagram
Now, before you go “poo-pooing” bots, they are the future so you better get used to them. With Likestagram, you can target the bot to like posts with hashtags of your choice. That way, you’re bringing in new views to your profile from users that are relevant at a higher rate than would be humanly possible otherwise.

Of course, you want to pair your Instagram growth through Likestagram with your traditional digital marketing efforts and make sure you have good and consistent content to post.

I like to go back to Likestagram and edit my hashtags to reflect my three most recent posts so visitors feel like they are in the right place when they arrive after the bot has called their attention to us.

7. Facebook Retargeting Pixel
I’ve been building my pixel power on Facebook for about a year now and the audiences I’ve created with my pixel a finally becoming large enough to use in my retargeting campaigns.

The retargeting pixel, in my opinion, is the only feature that makes Facebook actually useful to businesses. They’re lucky they have that because I would otherwise drop Facebook from my marketing mix without a second thought about it.

I trust Mark Zuckerberg about as far as I can throw him. If you aren’t from the west, that means I think he’s super shady. 

I know, Instagram is now owned by Facebook and I am using that platform a lot…it just doesn’t have that Zuckerberg stink of a platform that was originally launched to rate women’s appearance on college campuses (barf).

  1. Social Media Examiner
    I’ve actually followed Social Media Examiner since it started and I started social media management. That was around 2010. I have yet to find another source for up to date content about social media marketing that is as good or as useful as they are. So, I continue to use it as the main source for staying up to date with the social media bit of digital marketing.

I don’t have as much time as I used to so I skip to only the most relevant posts for my use case and I use Feedly so all of my news is in one place.

*Note that I still use all of the tools mentioned on last year’s post except for Crowdfire (that one didn’t stick).

See any tools that you love that I’ve now failed to mention twice in my lists? Leave a comment below!

You can connect with Ludell Jones on LinkedIn, Twitter, or in the private marketing group she manages.

eazl-marketing-training