What is Inflation?

My first experience with inflation came when I was about fifteen years old. I was at my great-grandparents farm one weekend afternoon. I always loved when they shared historic artifacts with me. On my last visit, my great-grandmother, who was born a few years after the Titanic sank in 1912, had previously gifted me a book written about the event a few years after it happened, knowing I was a huge fan of the movie. This particular visit, I was getting ready to take my driver’s license test. My grandfather pulled out a book from his coffee stand and handed it to me. 

 

Inside the book was a log that went back to when he started driving, and the change in prices over the years. At the time I started driving, gas was around $2.50 a gallon and the numbers he showed me were a few cents per gallon. I remember wishing that was still the price. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I was learning the basics of inflation.

 

What is Inflation?

Inflation refers to the rise in prices of goods and services that have a daily use in society, such as food, clothing, houses, transportation, ect.

 

Inflation is defined as the rate at which the value of currency is falling, which then directly affects the rise of the general level goods and services. In my case, I was learning about how gas and oil prices grew steadily over the years due to inflation. 

 

So What Causes Inflation? 

At the root of inflation is the increase in money supply. Whenever the money supply is increased, it lowers the purchasing power of that currency.

 

Inflation can be viewed positively or negatively by the individual assessing the changes. For example, someone who owns property may like to see the raised value in their assets. For other individuals that are struggling to make ends meet, an increase in the cost of food could represent something much more negative.

 

The health crisis we have been experiencing over the past two years has put many Americans in new territory financially. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the Consumer Price Index For All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) was up by 7.5% in the 12-month period ending January 2022, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending June 1982. 

 

Tips for Handling Money During Inflation

 

  • For many individuals that are living on a fixed budget, one of the more fungible, or interchangeable, items on their expense list is food. If you are eating out or ordering in frequently, one of the first things you can do to start lowering your expenses is staying in and cooking more frequently. 

 

  • Right now, the prices of new cars are at an all time high according to a January 2022 article from Kelly Blue Book. If you must buy a car in the near future, check out ways to save on car expenses for tricks on how to negotiate your way into a better purchase price.

 

  • Reassess your monthly subscription services such as streaming services, gym memberships and cell phone plans. Write down all of your recurring costs for each month and decide what you need and what you don’t.

 

What money saving ideas have you implemented to combat inflation? Share your ideas in the SheBanks Community!

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How to Pay Less For Car Expenses

In this series I am going to examine different factors that contribute to car expenses from insurance to maintenance. The key to saving money on your car expenses starts at the beginning: who you are buying from and the car’s current conditions.

 

If you have ever been the victim of a car purchase gone sour, commonly known as “buying a lemon,” you are not alone. Many of us have shared this experience and the good news is there are steps you can take to eliminate that possibility. Buying a car is a serious commitment and doing a vehicle inspection pre-purchase is a very important, often overlooked, part of car ownership.

 

If you are considering a car purchase in the near future, keep this article handy before you hit the lot.

 

Under the Hood

To see what’s really going on with a vehicle, check under the hood. Even without a mechanical background you can easily find the details you need to make an informed decision. If there is dust, leaves and general dirt built up on and around the engine parts, you can guarantee that isn’t the only thing that has been neglected. Ask the salesperson to show you the air filter and oil quality to get a perspective on how well the vehicle was being maintained by its last owner. If the air filter is dirty or the oil is dark and thick, this is a clear indication routine maintenance has been neglected. Healthy car engine oil should be different shades of amber.

 

Tires

A quick way to test the existing life of the tires is by using your spare change. If you see the tires are starting to get “bald”, or the groves are disappearing like in this picture, it’s a surefire way to know you will soon need to get a new set of tires ASAP. This can be upwards of $400, depending on the make and model of your car.

 

Many people have heard of the penny trick, but another method to use is the quarter trick. You can quickly do this on the lot and make a negotiation on the selling price if you find out that you will need to acquire a new set within a few months of purchase.

 

Look for the area that is most worn down on the tires. Take the penny and turn it upside down with Lincoln’s head turned towards you. Insert the penny into your tread, in between the higher grooves. If the bottom part of Lincoln’s head is exposed, as shown in the picture above, it is time for a new set of tires. If his head sinks below the groove – you may be in the clear.

 

To take this a step further, grab a quarter. You can perform the quarter test in the same fashion you did with the penny test, turning the quarter upside down and facing towards you and inserting into the thread. Use the same metrics to measure the results: if you can see Washington’s head fully it’s time to start shopping and if it is covered you are in the clear.

 

The space between the top of Lincoln’s head and the outside edge of the coin measures 2/32 of an inch, representing the absolute bare minimum for tread safety while the space between Washington’s head and the outside edge of the coin measures 4/32 of an inch. It is important to consider that if the tires on the car you want to buy fail the penny test, it is likely not safe to drive on that set. If the tires fail the quarter test – this means you may need to buy tires in the near future after purchase.

 

Exterior Inspection

The first thing to check on the exterior of your potential car is the paint. In certain cases for cars that have been in accidents, they may have had a bumper replacement and you can detect this in some cases by carefully examining the bumper vs. body color. I really want to emphasize that you perform a CAREFUL evaluation of the paint, especially if the car was located in an area that salts their roads in the winter or has high humidity. Rust can be a major danger and if you don’t check for it, it can cost you a lot of money in maintenance down the road. I speak from experience on this topic after I had once bought a truck that the rust was spray painted over. It was hard to detect upon inspection but within a year of owning the vehicle, I went to a mechanic who was replacing my shocks and he told me what had happened. A vehicle without rust will have a smooth look to it, while rust that has been painted over can have a bumpy appearance. Look for this in the vehicle body directly above the tires.

 

Maintenance Records

Does the car come with a detailed history of maintenance performed in the last few years? This is a great sign that the previous owner was diligent with their maintenance efforts. Don’t be shy to ask about any upcoming maintenance that the car needs. This can have better results than asking “What is wrong with the car,” as it leads the person to feel defensive. This question can save you hundreds of dollars in headache by finding out ahead of the purchase what you can expect.

 

Ask to Take the Car to Your Mechanic

 After performing the initial research, ask the seller if you can drive the car to your mechanic for a once over. Take notes on what she or he says will need to be replaced and ask for an estimation of those services. You can bring this list back to the dealership or individual to help decide if their asking price makes sense for your budget. Most maintenance shops or mechanic freelancers provide this service free of charge or for a small fee, usually much smaller than what you could lose if you don’t.

 

Do you have any pre-purchase inspection tricks to share? Have you ever accidentally bought a “lemon”?

 

Let us know in the SheBanks Community!

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How to Find Free Money for College

How to Find Free Money For College

If you have considered attending college, the chances are figuring out how to pay for college are at the top of your list. The good news is that there are plenty of free resources you can tap into to assist you in your journey to becoming a college graduate with a small amount of debt. 

 

We will be kicking off this weekly series by diving into the Pell Grant program.

 

What is the Pell Grant? 

The Federal Pell Grant program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate students, and in some cases post-baccalaureate students to promote access to postsecondary education. The best part about the Pell Grant is that it never needs to be repaid. Amounts vary year to year. The current maximum amount is $6,495 for the 2022–23 award year  (July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023). 

 

You can receive the Pell Grant for no more than 12 terms or the equivalent (roughly six years). 

 

What factors are considered when determining eligibility for the Pell Grant? 

First things first: You may not receive the Pell Grant from multiple institutions at the same time.  While some exceptions are made, this grant is primarily for undergraduate students. Other factors that are considered: 

 

  • Financial Need.
  • Cost of attendance,
  • Status as a full-time or part-time student, and
  • Plans to attend school for a full academic year or less

 

How Can I Apply for the Pell Grant?

To find out your eligibility to receive financial aid under the Pell Grant, the first step is to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). After you finish your FAFSA, your school will then inform you how much money you may be eligible for that academic year.

 

Important deadlines for your application can be found here. It is important to note that while deadlines vary state to state you should plan ahead by getting your FAFSA done for the upcoming school year in the spring of each year.  

 

Once you input your FAFSA information, you have completed the first step in determining your eligibility for the Pell Grant as well as other loans and scholarships. Even if you think that you or your parents make too much money to be considered, it is worth filling out. 

 

How Will I Receive The Funds? 

Your school will disperse the funds to you by applying the credit directly to your tuition, paying you directly or a combination of these two. You can contact your school’s financial aid office directly to find out how they handle disbursements of funds. 

 

Where Can I ask Questions and get more information?

Call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at the following toll-free number:

1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)

 

TTY users for the hearing impaired can call:

1-800-730-8913

 

Callers in locations without access to 800 numbers may call this non toll-free number:

319-337-5665

How to Start a Career In Tech

The technology industry isn’t going anywhere and is always looking for talent, so if you don’t have a college degree or you do but want to switch career paths without going back to school, this article is for you.

 

I started college around age 30 pursuing a STEM degree in Aeronautical Science, but I was making money in tech five years before I set foot in university. The lure of a career in tech appealed to my love for travel and ability to work from anywhere. I started off building WordPress websites for small business owners and devoured all the information I could about related niches in my spare time. 

 

All of the career paths mentioned here have six figure salary potential, which can have a life changing impact on your financial future. I suggest starting in tech with an industry that is related to what you are already doing or a hobby you really enjoy. For example, if you are a teacher, you could look into a job developing courses or at a startup like Teachable. The door is open for those who are willing to put in the work, and this article provides you with some starter ideas of how to get going on your career in tech today. 

 

 

Coding

At the heart of every website or app lies the code. One of the huge benefits to learning a coding language is the ability to bring any of your app or website ideas to life. Learning something new that is such a valuable asset to level up your employment options is never a bad idea. 

 

If you want to switch careers or even dive into a more technical role at your current company, you can get started by learning at least one programming language. HTML, CSS or JavaScript are great places to start. If you are interested in getting started with coding for free today, there are many opportunities for courses online. One of the most popular places to start is Harvard’s renowned Introduction to Computer Science which is available on their CS50 YouTube channel. For mentorship and inspiration, checkout Women Who Code, an organization whose mission is to inspire women to excel in technical careers. 

 

Customer Service

This entry level position can get you set up for a long term career in tech. If you have a background in customer service in any business sector from hospitality to retail, this is a great place to start. Companies need people who can walk their customers through challenges, and by doing so, you will likely become an expert in solving problems specific to the company you work for. When buying software, companies rely on a great customer service experience to navigate the challenges that come with integrating into a new space. Starting in customer service can open the door to moving up in the company. Check out the Built in Colorado job board for opportunities in Colorado and the US. 

 

UX/UI

If you feel you have a natural ability to design and understand people’s needs, consider learning more about a career in design with a focus on User Experience or User Interface. UX and UI make the user’s interaction with a product as simple as possible. Many UX/UI designers come from various backgrounds and those working in the field will tell you there is no one way to describe the career path into this field. While entry level positions are highly competitive, being a lifelong learner with the ability to use your past experiences as an asset will help get you in the door. 

 

Here is a list of recommended reading if you are feeling intrigued.

 

There are many schools that offer boot camps to beginners to accelerate the learning process and can help you get a job. Flatiron school provides different learning methods, from online only to in person classes around the US. 

 

Digital Marketer

Meta Blueprint provides free courses for anyone who wants to learn more about marketing in the digital space. This is a great place to start, especially if your interest leans into becoming a Facebook expert. Managing ads on social media for companies can be an entire job description in itself. After you have done the groundwork and learned the basics, there is an option to purchase certification which can help you land your first job. The digital marketing landscape is constantly evolving, and there is so much you will learn working in the field daily. Consider taking a job with an entry level salary that is willing to train you and promotes from within to maximize your long term earning potential. 

 

Design WordPress websites

Every business needs a website. While there are plenty of tools out there to design, WordPress powers a large percent of the websites we visit everyday with good reason- the options to customize are endless. You can get started on your own by building a portfolio and expanding your knowledge by spending less than $5/month on site hosting at Bluehost or HostGator. Domains are usually less than $20/year and can be purchased directly through your hosting company. Once you are set up in WordPress, I recommend starting with the Elementor page builder, which is a free plugin that allows you to use a drag and drop builder to develop the look of your website. The sky’s the limit here and you can get most of the knowledge you need to get started on YouTube. 

 

Start your own business online

E-commerce is a natural fit for anyone that is coming from a retail background with an entrepreneurial spirit. I recommend this option to anyone who wants to get started right away building a portfolio that they can show to clients. Through this process, you will learn some parts of all the above skill sets mentioned. Dropshipping sites like Printful integrated with Woocommerce on WordPress is a great place to start. Shopify is also a popular option and you if you can learn to set up the site correctly and manage incoming orders and marketing, in time you will feel confident doing it for clients as well.

 

Not only that, but being able to communicate with other business owners and understand their unique needs will be a key soft skill that serve you well through any career path. 

 

Have you considered changing your career path to something in tech? Did you make the switch? Tell us all about it and help other women accomplish their goals in the SheBanks Community!

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How to Negotiate a Raise

Negotiations can be tough, but living with a salary that you have outgrown is even tougher. The challenge with negotiating a salary for some people can be fear based. Maybe they are worried that if they ask they will be perceived in a negative light. Maybe they are scared of rejection. There can be a variety of reasons unique to each individual of why this is a challenging topic, but if you came here you are probably wondering what you can do to make the process easier.

 

Imagine You Are Negotiating For a Friend

It is often easier to negotiate for others than ourselves. Before the big day, imagine what you would say if your friend or family member was in your position and how you would advocate for them. 

 

Start Journaling

When you start to get the feeling a raise is in order, start taking notes of what you do each day and keeping track of your major successes. Each week summarize these highlights in a bullet point style spreadsheet or document to present in your meeting. 

 

Understand the Market

Do your research ahead of time on how the increase you are requesting lines up with what others in your area are making. In addition to your job description, it is important to note your experience, company size and location when searching for salary comparisons.

 

Go Prepared

Present your case in an organized manner, citing facts and figures as well as interpersonal relationships you have cultivated for and within your organization. Take note of how your job directly relates to improving the company’s long term goals and how you seek to improve those goals every day you are at work. You already know that you want an increase in your salary, so it is also up to you to explain why that’s going to benefit everyone else around you at work.

 

Listen

Imagine the negotiation as a conversation instead of thinking about the result being a firm yes or no. Understand that your manager or supervisor will probably want to discuss things from their perspective as well. While this is about you, it’s also about the company. If you are talking the entire time without being fully present or engaged in your manager’s response, you may miss key problems that need to be solved before the increase happens. Keep in mind that overall, your manager will appreciate you stepping up and asking for a raise instead of being silent or looking for another job opening.

 

Was there ever a time when you were nervous about asking for a raise? How did you get over it and did you accomplish your goals? Let us know in the SheBanks Community.

She Banks Women Financial Banking online career

5 Ways to Make Money Online

If you want to make extra money online or even start a new career, this article gives you an overview of five different ways you can get started. I recommend using Upwork.com if you are just starting out on your freelancer/remote work journey.

 

Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant is a self employed individual who can complete administrative tasks remotely from their desired location. Some example tasks include sending and answering emails, making phone calls, and setting appointments.

 

Some virtual assistants are Quickbooks certified and can perform bookkeeping tasks for their clients. Other specialties include graphic design, blog writing, marketing and social media engagement.

 

Virtual assistants are skilled in interacting with people online, highly organized and self motivated. Being open to learning and managing different types of client work are the top soft skills for anyone who is thinking about becoming a virtual assistant. 

 

SEO expert 

Countless agencies offer SEO as a service as the online marketing industry continues to grow. This career path provides the option to work within an organization or as a freelancer that takes clients and manages their time independently.

 

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a fundamental part of any marketing strategy. If you have a knack for writing with an interest in strategy, this could be the perfect opportunity for you. Keyword research, page loading times, mobile friendliness, domain authority and age all play into how your website is ranked when someone searches for a topic in a search engine.

 

Companies know that organic search generally has a higher return on investment than paid search or ads, and are willing to pay someone who can invest their time in perfecting their SEO strategy to stay ahead of the competition.

 

 

Social Media Manager

If you love social media, you should consider making a career of it. Social Media Managers are in demand right now especially after many businesses have grown their online presence in the last few years. 

 

Social Media Managers must love communicating with their audience. Skill sets that are key to the success of the job also include content creation, graphic design, copywriting skills and video editing. Social Media Managers & Marketers provide monthly analytics reports to their clients to report key data that is shaping how their audience is interacting with the brand. The manager sits at the front lines of the brand, reporting important interactions to the marketing team and monitors which content is performing best, shaping the future of the ad spend throughout the campaigns. Hashtag research and trend monitoring are also important parts of the job. The size of the company is usually a factor in deciding how tasks are divided. If you start off as a freelancer offering clients monthly packages, usually you will be doing a few different aspects of each element of the tasks above. 

 

Instacart or Doordash 

Working as a 1099 contractor on apps like Instacart and Doordash can be a great way to save up for a trip or to earn extra income from your phone. While this option is not remote or fully online, this is one of my personal favorites  when I have an upcoming expense. If you work as a contractor with Instacart, not only do you get a workout and get to see new parts of your city, but you can also find out which grocery stores have the cheapest prices and best sales all while getting paid. I have also done this while traveling as you can explore a new city while getting paid and have extra money for your trip.

 

If you don’t have a car, Postmates working in major cities provide the option for the contractor to use their bicycle and in some cases, walk. If you want something relatively stress free but with more driving involved, you should consider apps that you are just picking up already prepared food from the store. If you would rather spend more time in action shopping but with less driving time, go for Instacart. 

 

It can be hard to decide which option to choose, but my recommendation is looking up local groups on Facebook or Reddit for delivery drivers. These have been my best resource when I need to find out which driving app was doing the best in the city I lived in and I felt a sense of community.

 

Consulting

Consulting is an exciting opportunity for industry experts who want to switch up their career with the option to be fully or partially remote. This can be the perfect option for someone who enjoys freedom and flexibility in their work life. You have the opportunity to create your own schedule and work hours, but must maintain accountability to yourself if you want to be successful. 

 

Project managers usually bring in a consultant when they have a specific problem that can be solved by an expert more efficiently and effectively than someone who works in house. Having an outside opinion when problem solving can be hugely beneficial to companies when they are making an important decision.

 

If it is important to you to remain almost entirely online, consider opportunities in sectors that are already operating in a fully remote environment, such as some tech companies.

 

As a consultant your days will always be unique and you can directly contribute to solving some of the business world’s most exciting challenges.

 

 

What is your dream online job? Would you consider working fully remote or do you enjoy going into an office! Let us know in the SheBanks Community!