Monthly Archives: September 2013
Being able to manage your online store from anywhere is a key point in making your business a success. When you are your own boss, free time or days off stop being a thing for you. Regardless of where you are and what you are doing, being able to access your store and manage it at any moment is essential. Online stores don’t close, and so, neither do you. If you can’t afford to spend all day in front of your computer, there are a few apps and hardware that you can carry with you and your tablet so you can get in sales mode at any minute.
Sell from the Cloud
It’s a good idea to set up your online store with a cloud eCommerce service, so you can access your store management from any device with an internet connection, even if you don’t have any software installed. This will not only prevent disasters caused by faulty hardware or a computer malfunction, but you also can save yourself from having to deal with website or server management, among other cumbersome tasks related to hosting your store in your own domain
Use Your Tablet as Your Portable Shop
When you imagine ringing up a customer, you see the screen display, cash register, barcode reader, card reader. Not exactly something you want to carry around everywhere with you in case you meet a potential customer out in the street. It’s a good thing you don’t have to. With access to your online store and product catalog and a portable card reader, you can turn your tablet into a point of sale terminal that fits in your suitcase. Thanks to this, you will multiply the chances for sales and always be ready to show your goods at any moment
All In One
To be honest, there is little to no reason for you to not manage your online store completely from your tablet. You can already synchronize your online sales with the sales you do in person, plus controlling the stock and sales history. If you feel like going all the way portable, there is plenty of useful hardware to completely manage your store from your tablet, from stocking to sales, billing and accounting, all in one single device. As long as you are remembering the first advice and keep your shop in a cloud storage eCommerce service, you don’t have to worry about losing your precious data if you lose your tablet anyway, but the advantages of being able to carry your store with you anywhere are many and clear, so it’s worth giving it a try.
If you are not 100 percent sure, you can always manage the main sides of the business from a computer and keep your tablet as a handy extra help that will make managing your online store a little easier on you. You won’t have to worry about not being available to your customers anymore, and the freedom that gives you is already more than enough reward for going mobile.
You want to know what else happened? I went to Alcatraz for the first time. Pretty touristy of me right, considering I grew up in the Bay Area? But while I was on the island I actually met one of the final 12 living Alcatraz inmates. He’s the only one that comes back and visits!
That was cool. Well, onward to what I’m really writing about.
Stupid me. I realized last minute that I needed a ride home from the San Diego airport. I booked a flight to land at 2:20PM on a Tuesday. It’d be a total pain in the butt to get a friend to pick me up.
A 10-mile taxi ride from the airport is about $35. A towncar is only $39. But I didn’t even want to spend that much.
Recently I had heard about this new ride-sharing service called Lyft, and I thought “Why not check it out?”
What is Lyft?
It’s “on-demand” ride-sharing, or “your friend with a car.” I think the term “ride-sharing” sounds like a carpooling service. It’s not.
It’s connecting you with background-checked, interviewed, insured drivers of their own cars. Their well-kept, clean cars. That weren’t puked in the night before.
That’s what Lyft is. You know what else it is? It’s cheaper than a taxi.
And it’s also a job opportunity for you if you have a 4-door car of larger (go to their website if you want details on that).
Why Not Cabs?
Mainly, they’re more expensive.
Next, you don’t nearly the same friendly service.
And they’re not as clean.
Did you know that cab companies have to pay enormous fees to the county or city to even operate? That’s why ride-sharing companies like Lyft are able to charge about 30% less than cabbies.
Back To the Story
Here’s the play-by-play of my Lyft experience.
2:12PM – Landed early
2:20PM – Taxied till the scheduled landing time anyways
2:14PM – Whipped out 3 year old iPhone
2:17PM – Opened the Lyft app
Lyft is crazy easy to use! You must download the app on your phone; enter your info and payment info. And you’re set to go. There’s no paying (and feeling obligated to tip) the driver directly!
2:27PM – Requested a “Lyft”
2:28PM – Lyft shows you a map of the nearest drivers and how many minutes away they are.
2:29PM – Called Driver
My driver was super nice and accommodating. Lyft heralds themselves as finding only fun, energetic people that are nice. I told him I hadn’t picked my bag up and wasn’t ready for the Lyft. He said that’s fine, he’d wait 5 minutes, then head over and started circling around till I called him back.
What’s nice is I was actually calling a Lyft number that rolls to him—so the driver doesn’t actually have my phone number and he doesn’t have to give away his.
2:38PM – Got an automatic text that my driver had arrived. As he was getting closer I could see his “blue dot” getting closer to my location!
2:40PM – Grabbed bags
2:42PM – Walked out and saw the pink mustachioed car
2:43PM – Flagged my driver down
2:44PM – Shotgun!
3:01PM – Home!
3:03PM – Paid
I paid for the Lyft right there in my phone. No exchange with the driver. BUT, he was gracious and gave me a $20 coupon toward my first ride. So I only paid $5! I told him to show me how to give him a tip because he was that awesome, and he refused!
Did I mention that my Lyft driver had candy? And cold water waiting for me?
And he was wearing a pirate hat and had a whole pirate theme going on?? If you don’t like fun, Lyft is not for you.
But this guy was fun, cool, and legit. He’s former military, but he’s not the “officer” type. He has kids and loves to do fun magic shows for theme so he’s got stock costumes that he likes to roll out in!
My Lyft ride cost $25, compared to a $34 taxi ride. Minus the $20 coupon!
Setting up and Signing up for your Lyft Ride
Just go to your Android or Apple app store and download the app to your phone. It’s got to interact with your GPS and this is how you pay.
Need a coupon? Ask for one. Here’s another $10 coupon code he gave me for the next ride. I have no idea if it’ll work for you though but you can punch it into the app right now and see if it works! [PF72GD]
This is my first review of anything, so I don’t have a grading scale. But on a scale of “Medium” to “10”, I give them 4 stars!
Lyft was an excellent service. Fun, and extremely responsive and convenient. And at 30% less than your typical cab service.
Lyft is only being rolled out in select cities so see if they are available in yours.
Interested in Lyft? Check out their website.
Want to know more about their pricing? Take a look at what I wrote on that too!
Todd Mayfield curates and co-owns the Men’s Lifestyle Blog Fearless Men. They just started a new site – Fearless Dollar. This time, it’s not just for men. After realizing 50% of their readership is women, they decided to create a Personal Finance site to help people overcome any obstacle to take their money further.
I just got back from a quick jaunt in Yosemite. If you’ve never been, and especially if you live within driving distance, it is worth the excruciating drive and lottery-style camping reservation system (we booked our September trip back in April, with reservations opening at 7 am and selling out by 7:10 am). Even so, Yosemite is a fairly affordable trip for spectacular sights, hikes and wilderness camping. Depending on how many people you go with, and how rugged you like to camp, $100-$150 per person for a three-day camping trip is totally doable. Go on a holiday weekend and you don’t even have to take a day off!
As we camped, hiked, and hung out in Curry Village, I was amazed by the number of European vacationers we encountered. I’m not being xenophobic, it’s just an observation: there were more French, German and Eastern European vacationers than visitors who could drive or take a short flight to visit Yosemite. In my nerdy head, I was coming up with all kinds of witty lines like “Well, this is the European Union’s economic policy at work.” and “More proof that French people really do enjoy life more than Americans.”
It’s something we’ve all talked about before- I’m sure anyone who studied abroad in Europe or took an extended trip through Europe or South America has made the comment that almost anyone who is not American seems to “live more”. They eat better food, take more vacations, acquire less stuff. These are huge generalizations but they come up often when we discuss the differences between our cultures. A European friend I mentioned all this to said it is pretty simple to see why: Americans can’t afford to take the same kinds of vacations because of our deeply consumerist culture. The house and the car and acquisition of stuff becomes our life, and three-week vacations become less and less frequent. Meanwhile, many of our European counterparts live in smaller homes or rent their entire lives, but they also take the entire month of August off and have been all over the world.
Again, this is dangerous territory (generalizing and assuming based on nationality) and bloggers in this space are the exception- many of them have discarded the conventions of American living and instead are doing the things that allow them to travel, have fewer burdensome financial obligations and don’t have to fill a 40 hour work week (but if they want to, they do).
In my own life, I’ve been lucky to take months off to travel, and in my working life, have always taken all my vacation days. But these past couple years of transition meant that vacationing took a hit: our last trip out of the country was two weeks in Costa Rica in December 2011. My last vacation longer than 5 days was 10 days in New Jersey over a year ago. I am lucky and consider it a privilege to be an American citizen (I’m naturalized and wasn’t born here) but this is one American norm I don’t want to embrace: I don’t want to have my head buried in work for so long that suddenly it’s been 5 years since I left the country (Tijuana trips excluded).
So even though I’ve paid off my debt and we’re working towards buying real estate, there are bigger goals at play: it’s still my number one priority to have time with family and friends, to have the freedom to try new things and visit new place and meet new people, and keep exploring.
So now it’s your turn: tell me about your latest adventure and where you went! If you haven’t been anywhere lately, tell my why :).
*Vacationism is not a real word.
Many consumers don’t make a strong connection between installment loans -like auto loans, student loans, and mortgages- and their ability to help them qualify for revolving credit cards issued by VISA, MasterCard and American Express. The banks that issue that plastic do factor in your installment loan history when you apply for a credit card.
The really big surprise for most consumers is that not having any installment loans can influence your chances of getting approved for a credit card, including your line of credit if approved. That recently happened to someone I personally know who has a rather enviable credit score of about 760. They were turned down for a credit card they wanted and part of the reason cited by the bank was that they had an “insufficient recent installment loan history.” In other words, they paid off all the debt a while back and now it has come back to haunt them. Yes, low debt is a good thing, but zero debt can be an impediment to borrowing.
Installment Loans vs. Revolving Credit
It’s important to understand the difference between installment loans and revolving credit, and how they can complement one another in terms of your overall borrower profile and ability. Installment loans are-as their name implies- repaid in installments or regular increments over time. One of the best examples of an installment loan is a home mortgage. You buy a house, take out a home loan, and then make payments each and every month until the balance is repaid in full. Your payments may be based on a variable or a fixed interest rate, and depending on which kind of loan you have, your payments may stay the same month in and month out, or they may vary. What doesn’t change is the requirement for you to make a timely payment each and every month.
Revolving credit, on the other hand, fluctuates with your borrowing patterns. Sometimes you borrow a lot, so your credit limit shrinks. When you repay what you’ve borrowed it goes back up again and you can use more of your available credit. In this way, the money you are borrowing is on a cyclical schedule that revolves around your use of the credit. The most common kind of revolving credit is a standard, conventional credit card with no annual fee. The card company gives you a certain amount of credit and if you never use the card, you never have to make a payment. When you do use it though, you can either pay it back right away or over time, by carrying the balance forward from month to month.
When Having No Debt Harms Your Credit
Of course we all know that paying back loans is the right thing to do. Before lenders loan you money or extend credit to you, though, they want to have some way to predict whether or not you’ll repay what you borrow. The best way to gauge that is to look at how you’ve handled your previous debt repayment obligations – which is why lenders love to peek at your credit history, credit report and your credit score. What happens when creditors examine those things and find no history at all? They tend to shy away from loaning to you, because they have no real way of judging your credit worthiness with traditional yardsticks like credit reports. That may seem contradictory and unfair, but it’s the way things work in the financial world. With no credit history, nobody will offer new credit, yet without new credit being offered, there’s no way to prove they are responsible for repaying their loans. They are stuck in a “Catch 22.”
How to Establish New Installment Loan Credit
Getting out of such a predicament is not too difficult, however, although it does require some deliberate steps and a little bit of financial patience and planning. The best way is to begin with a basic installment loan that you can easily repay in a timely manner. Even if a credit card is your ultimate goal and you don’t really need an installment loan, it’s still the path of least resistance toward breaking down the barriers to credit worthiness and bank or lender acceptance.
First, open a bank account and develop a relationship with one particular bank and then talk to a loan officer. Tell them you are trying to establish good credit, and ask them if you can borrow using an installment loan. They may approve your request right away, but if not, ask them to guide you through the necessary steps to help you get you qualified. Once you are eligible be sure to pay it back gradually, on time, and according to the terms of your agreement. Also, make sure the bank reports your payment history to the “Big 3”agencies; otherwise, your efforts to build history are useless.
One Good Turn Deserves Another
As you gain a history in installment loans, that improves your chances of getting revolving credit. You can significantly improve your chances of qualifying for an installment loan by establish revolving credit. The takeaway lesson here, however, is that one without the other can weaken your position. To have strong credit, you will want to have a long history of both, and responsibly maintain both kinds of borrower history and reputation.
So, don’t be afraid to take out an installment loan or carry a credit card. Even if you don’t use them, they are your best tools for building stronger credit. Just make sure that you use them wisely and strategically to bolster your borrower image.
Tom Kerr writes for the blog at Comparecards.com in addition to others. He has been an avid writer for years, even winning awards for work he’s done.