Two months with HelloFresh: A quick look at the cost and quality of HelloFresh recipes

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When I published my first HelloFresh review last June, I liked the popular meal-delivery service. Kim’s employer had given us a one-week free trial. The three recipes we received were fun and tasty. In the end, we chose not to sign up with HelloFresh but resolved to remember it for the future.

At the end of 2018, as I was evaluating my spending patterns, I was shocked by how much I was spending on food. It’s embarrassing to show the following numbers, but facts are facts and truth is truth. I was spending over $1100 per month on food.

2018 food spending

“Something needs to change,” I told Kim. “Maybe we should try HelloFresh again to see if it can help us cut costs.”

“Do you think so?” Kim siad. “Isn’t HelloFresh kind of expensive?”

“It’s not that bad,” I said. “Besides, if having meals delivered can keep us from dining out so often, and if it can keep me from splurging at the grocery store, it might actually save us money.”

I signed us up.

For two months — January and February — we received three HelloFresh recipes each week. Based on our experience, here’s a new, revised review of HelloFresh.

HelloFresh Cost

Because I’m a nerd, I kept stats on our HelloFresh experience. I tracked the recipes we received, how much time it took to prepare them, and whether or not we thought the food was good.

Over these two months (about seven weeks), we tried 21 different HelloFresh recipes. Of these, only two were lousy (both tacos). A few were great. Most were good, and we’d happily eat them again. In fact, we’re saving the recipe cards so that we can try to duplicate the recipes on our own (and compare costs buying ingredients from the grocery store).

Here’s a complete list of the HelloFresh recipes we tried (with links to the recipes themselves).

  • 09 Jan 2019 — Seared Sirloin Steak and Shallot Demi-Glace with caramelized onion mashed potatoes and green salad (A) — This is one of the expensive meals. It was good.
  • 10 Jan 2019 — Chicken Cutlets with Scallion Sriracha Pesto over cilantro rice with giner soy carrots (B-) — 20-minute meal. A good idea but didn’t come out well.
  • 14 Jan 2019 — Figgy Balsamic Pork with roasted green beans and rosemary potatoes (B+) — Hall of fame. Pretty good, even the green beans (which I don’t usually like).
  • 16 Jan 2019 —Lauren Conrad’s Chicken Tacos with radish tomato pico de gallo and avocado (D) — The only truly bad recipe of the entire bunch. Neither of us liked this.
  • 17 Jan 2019 — Pasta Parmesan with zucchini, tuscan herbs, and marinara sauce (B) — A good idea but needs meat.
  • 20 Jan 2019 — Sweet ‘n’ Smoky Pork Chops with apple carrot slaw, mashed potatoes, and cherry sauce (A-) — Hall of fame. Tasty.
  • 23 Jan 2019 — Pork and Poblano Tacos with kiwi salsa and lime crema (B) — Hall of fame. Not bad but beginning to think Hello Fresh tacos are never going to knock it out of the park.
  • 24 Jan 2019 — Salsa Verde Enchiladas with poblano pepper, black beans, and monterey jack cheese (B+) — 20-minute meal. Not nearly enough cheese. Also added chicken, which helped. Tomato was bad.
  • 25 Jan 2019 — Shrimp Spaghetti with a Kick with garlic herb butter and zucchini (A-) — Great flavor but could have used more veggies.
  • 30 Jan 2019 — Creamy Tuscan Beef and Penne with kale and permesan (A) — Delicious and plentiful. One of the best so far.
  • 31 Jan 2019 — Chicken Pineapple Quesadillas with pico de gallo and southwest spice (A- with caveats) — Did not ship with required tomato. Way too much filling — could have used two more tortillas.
  • 01 Feb 2019 — Pork Bulgogi Meatballs with carrots and zucchini over rice (A-) — Tasty and different.
  • 06 Feb 2019 — Pineapple Poblano Beef Tacos with lime crema and cilantro (A) — 20-minute meal. This is very good and we’d eat it all the time.

HelloFresh Recipe Card

  • 07 Feb 2019 — Korean-style Chicken Thighs with sesame cucumber salad and jasmine rice (A) — Another delicious meal we’d never have tried otherwise.
  • 09 Feb 2019 — Sirloin Steak Provençal with truffle cream, roasted carrots, and potatoes (A-) — Deluxe gourmet meal. A little salty but otherwise very good.
  • 13 Feb 2019 — Crispy Southwest Chicken Cutlets with monterey jack, mashed potatoes, and roasted poblano and onion (A+) — Holy cats! This was amazing. We will absolutely be attempting this on our own.
  • 15 Feb 2019 — Balsamic-and-Fig Beef Tenderloin with garlic mashed potatoes and rosemary breadcrumb brussels sprouts (A-) — Deluxe gourmet recipe. Very good.
  • 16 Feb 2019 — Cherry Balsamic Pork Chops with garlic herb couscous and roasted broccoli (B) — Hall of fame. Not bad but the sauce never thickened up.
  • 21 Feb 2019 — Chipotle-Spiced Tilapia Tacos with kiwi pico de gallo and chipotle crema (C-) — Another crappy taco recipe. Not sure why they can’t get tacos right.
  • 25 Feb 2019 — Cheesy Chicken Shepherd’s Pie with peas and carrot (B) — Not bad but could use more chicken. Also, the single supplied small carrot was rubbery.
  • 26 Feb 2019 — Shake It Up! Pork Cutlets with garlic bread and an apple and sunflower seed salad (B+) — Tasty but not super.

After preparing 21 meals from HelloFresh, Kim and I have some definite opinions about the service.

First — and perhaps most importantly — the food is generally good, if not always great. We’ve saved the recipe cards and plan to make many of them again on our own.

HelloFresh Finished Meal

Only one of the recipes was truly awful (Lauren Conrad’s chicken tacos) and another was meh. We’d eat everything else again. Also: Aside from the pineapple poblano beef tacos, the Hello Fresh taco recipes just aren’t very good, which was disappointing. Kim and I like tacos, but not most of these.

Second, the HelloFresh recipes provide clear instructions, even if the preop times are a bit optimistic. In 21 recipes, there were only two or three occasions where the instructions were unclear. That’s a good success rate.

Each recipe lists a prep time and a total time. Realistically speaking, you can simply ignore the prep time. Almost all of it is prep time. (Talking with other HelloFresh users, they back me up on this.) So, if it says 10 minutes prep time and 20 minutes total time, just count on working in the kitchen for that entire 20 minutes.

Third, the gourmet meals aren’t always worth the extra price. Each week, you can choose to upgrade to certain deluxe meals. Doing so costs an extra $12 to $16. These deluxe meals are good, but from our experience they’re no better than the less-expensive normal meals.

The Bottom Line

The real question is: Did signing up for HelloFresh help me meet my goal? Was I able to reduce my monthly food spending? I’m pleased to report that the answer is a resounding YES!

As you can see from the following report, I spent just over $700 per month on food during January and February.

2019 food spending

I find it interesting that if you combine my HelloFresh and grocery expenses for the past couple of months, the total is roughly the same as what I was spending for groceries alone before. Where HelloFresh really helped was with our restaurant spending.

The objective numbers reflect our subjective experience, too.

Because the HelloFresh recipes produce higher-quality food than we usually make on our own, we were far less tempted to dine out. When we did eat out, it’s because we were doing something special, not because we were being lazy or unexcited about the food we had at home.

During the past seven weeks, I paid a total of $323.52 to Hello Fresh. This includes three discounted weeks during the trial period, plus three weeks during which I paid extra ($11.98 or $15.98, depending) for special meals.

This averages out to $46.22 per week for six meals (three meals each for two people), or about $7.70 per meal per person. Kim and I feel like this cost was worth it. We like the convenience, the clear instructions, and the general quality of the meals.

Having said that, things weren’t perfect. Some recipes were better than others. There were problems with the produce. It sucks to get halfway through a recipe and realize that HelloFresh didn’t send you the required tomato. Or that the carrot is made of rubber. Or that there’s way too much filling for two quesadillas.

HelloFresh recipe cards

In the end, Kim and I both agree that we’d like to resume our HelloFresh experiment in the future. Right now, though, Kim is going on a special diet in preparation for knee surgery. I’m going to reduce my calorie intake so that I can get un-fat. We’ll have to bring this round of the experiment to a close.

I’m curious to see how my grocery spending will change during the next month or two. For the next month, my food bill should reflect only my consumption. During normal months, there’s a lot of cross-over, I think. I buy stuff for both of us, and so does she. But my food numbers for March should reflect me and me alone.

The post Two months with HelloFresh: A quick look at the cost and quality of HelloFresh recipes appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

Nine Secrets of Successful Homebuyers

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A popular real estate website recently compiled a list of the six habits all successful homebuyers have in common.

As someone who’s approaching the one-year anniversary of owning my own home, I found the topic fascinating. Not because I possessed so many of the habits outlined. But for the opposite reason.

When I purchased my house, I winged it, for the most part. I didn’t do a lot of research about the home buying process. I also did not shop around extensively for mortgages, which was mistake number one. Nor did I shop around for real estate agents (lesson learned!), or tour a long list of houses. Though I looked at dozens of properties online, I only did two or three actual walk-throughs before settling on the home I purchased.

Reading about the habits of “all successful homebuyers,” which were mostly financial habits, made me wonder how much different my outcome might have been had I seen the list ahead of time and adopted the behaviors outlined. I also felt the list was far too narrowly focused and left a lot out. While I didn’t possess all of the attributes mentioned, I brought other skills to the table that weren’t included, which helped me successfully purchase a home in Southern California, one of the most competitive and high-priced real estate markets in the country.

All of which inspired me to solicit opinions from a broad group of real estate agents from across the country to do my own survey of what makes a successful homebuyer, beyond just the financial habits. Here’s what the agents I polled had to say.

Secret #1: Successful homebuyers are goal-oriented.

One of the top-selling real estate brokers in New York City, Sheila Trichter of Warburg Realty has 25 years of experience working in the Manhattan market, another one of the priciest and most competitive places in the country.

According to Trichter, the most successful buyers know what they want and they pursue that goal with their actions. That means, Trichter explains, that such buyers are actively working toward their goal regularly, beginning with familiarizing themselves with the market and then staying on top of new listings.

“They should be regularly looking and know what the market is like,” said Trichter. “That doesn’t mean they need to be on every single real estate app every day, but they need to pay attention. And the more specific a buyer they are, the more they have to pay attention, because things come and go.”

This skill even applies to first-time homebuyers, says Dana Bull, a Boston area realtor who specializes in helping those new to the buying process.

“The most important thing I see in first-time buyers, in particular, that makes them successful is their ability to plan and strategize,” said Bull. “Buyers who get what they want, or recognize a great deal when they see it, are usually those who have spent a lot of time researching the market, including touring a home even if they think it’s not for them — so that they’re completely aware of what’s out there, what it’s selling for, and where the opportunities may lie.”

Secret #2: They’re organized, too.

Having your act together as a homebuyer takes on many forms, says Snezhana Conway, of Washington D.C.-based Snezhana Homes Group of Keller Williams Capital Properties.

“Buyers who are organized from the very beginning are attending the homebuyers’ seminars to learn about the homebuying process, they’re collecting a file of their favorite home styles and amenities, and they’re organized with their personal finances such as tax returns and pay-stubs,” said Conway.

Being organized also means ensuring your credit score is mortgage-ready well in advance of the purchase, and carefully determining what sort of home budget you’re comfortable with, says real estate agent John Myers, of Myers & Myers Real Estate, in Albuquerque, N.M.

“Having your finances in order makes the homebuying decision much easier,” said Myers, noting that this habit allows purchasers to clearly understand exactly how much they want to spend and to stick to that budget.

Secret #3: They avoid excess debt and pay bills on time.

Another critical note on personal finances: Your credit score will have a huge impact on the mortgage you’re able to qualify for, potentially costing (or saving) you tens of thousands of dollars over time. And most lenders want to see a low debt-to-income ratio. So successful homeowners understand that this is not the time to start opening a variety of new credit cards, running up balances, or making late payments on your bills, said Trichter.

“Running up a lot of debt will make it more difficult to buy a home,” explained Trichter. “So, successful homebuyers don’t go into every store that offers 10% off on a purchase if you get their credit card and open an account. All those [new] credit cards lower your credit score. You don’t want to be a person with a credit card in every store in town, that’s not really keeping finances in order. And they don’t close credit cards, because that lowers your credit score.”

Secret #4: They stay realistic.

Successful homebuyers have sensible expectations and clearly understand what their home needs are.

“This is not fantasy, this is a reality,” said Trichter. “Sure, you want to dream and have your home be wonderful, with bells and whistles. But only the bells and whistles you can afford.”

To that end, it’s important to define exactly what it is you want and, more importantly, what you actually need, says Michael Schaffer, broker and owner of Denver-based Reason Real Estate. This effort should also include narrowing down the geographic area you’ll consider to a realistically manageable area.

“It should not be the entire major metropolitan area,” said Schaffer. “This way you won’t be so overwhelmed with the listings that you won’t be able to give adequate consideration to any of them.”

Ultimately, buyers who understand the concept of balance and keeping their homeownership goals practical will usually make the most rational decisions throughout the buying process, added, Amanda Martin, of Fort Lauderdale-based The Real Estate Shoppe.

Secret #5: They’re not afraid of a certain amount of risk.

As with any major financial decision, buying a home presents a certain amount of risk. And while you absolutely need to do your due diligence, Trichter says, successful homebuyers don’t dwell on what-ifs or allow doubts to paralyze their decision-making.

“There are plenty of risks. And people shouldn’t take undue risks — they should be sure they can afford the house, and that it’s not sitting on a swamp,” Trichter said. “But there are certain people who say ‘What if the sky falls in?’ ‘What if there’s a terrorist attack?’ ‘What if the banks fail?’ Buying a home involves some risk, and you need to be comfortable with that.”

Secret #6: They’re careful about choosing a real estate agent.

Don’t make the same mistake I did and choose the first real estate agent who comes along. In my case, that decision turned into a nightmare worthy of another story.

If I had to do it again, I probably would have listened to the recommendations of good friends who provided glowing reviews of Realtors they had worked with, because my personal belief is that a recommendation from a friend who’s had a good experience is invaluable.

Gary Lucido, president of Chicago-based Lucid Realty, says a real estate agent should have certain key attributes.

“Get a really smart Realtor. Not the top producer. Not a self-proclaimed neighborhood expert. Not someone with signs all over the neighborhood. Not a neighbor, relative, or friend. But someone who is resourceful, knowledgeable, and responsive,” said Lucido.

Secret #7: They shop for a mortgage early.

Mortgage shopping should be done early in the search process, not after you’ve laid eyes on the home you absolutely must have.

For one thing, getting preapproved helps you know for sure how much house you can afford. And in a competitive housing market, you’ll generally need a letter of preapproval from your lender if you want to stand a chance in a multiple-offer situation.

Plus, shopping for a mortgage before you absolutely need one will give you time to find the very best rates. “Once you have a contract, you need to move quickly to get your mortgage, and you don’t have time to shop around,” said Lucido.

Embarking on mortgage shopping early also allows buyers time to thoroughly educate themselves about the various types of financial products available, noted Luke Babich, co-founder of the nationwide referral brokerage Clever Real Estate, and a licensed real estate agent in Missouri.

Secret #8: They set aside enough time for house hunting.

The market moves fast, and buying a house isn’t like picking out a new coffeemaker on Amazon. So if you’re serious about your search, Conway says, it’s a good idea to budget time every week or weekend to see homes. Schedule the time in advance with your real estate agent, she adds. “No last-minute frantic calls to try to squeeze showings in.”

Secret #9: They think long-term.

When searching for a home, think about where you might want to be in five, 10, or 20 years, and how this purchase might help get you there, says Bull.

“A great buy that’s not a long-term fit might be perfect for now and make a fantastic rental down the road or allow you to sell high and upgrade,” said Bull. “Having that vision helps buyers make informed decisions.”

The Bottom Line

This is by no means an exhaustive list. But nearly all the Realtors I spoke to agreed that there are indeed some fairly consistent habits among home buyers who are ultimately the most successful. And while having your finances in order is a tremendous help, being organized, informed, prepared, and engaged during a home search will also play a vital role in making your homebuying experience a good one.

“These habits are important because a real estate transaction can take all the time you have and can be at times stressful,” said Conway. “And by starting smart and making the right choices, you can eliminate or reduce those instances of fatigue, failure, or heartbreak, including missed dream homes, broken contracts, unethical Realtors, and not being ready to buy financially and emotionally.”

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The post Nine Secrets of Successful Homebuyers appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

How to ask your boss for a promotion (with word-for-word scripts)

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Knowing how to ask for a promotion can make you rich

Many of my students and friends who’ve used the techniques I’m going to share have successfully earned raises of $10,000 or more.

But even if a promotion only gets you half of that (a $5,000 raise), it adds up dramatically over time.

Take a look:

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And remember — most people who get a promotion once tend to get promoted frequently!

Asking for a promotion is a smart and time-effective way to put more money in your pocket and improve your career.

So why do most people leave their career trajectory to chance? Simple: Fear. Most are afraid they’re going to be shot down so they don’t even try.

Luckily, you can combat this fear with some preparation.

How to define your value to your employer (you’re probably doing too much)

How long have you been at your company?

2 years? 5 years? 10 years? Let’s just assume it’s been awhile.

During that time, you’ve definitely gotten better at your job. You’ve probably developed new skills and you’ve taken on new responsibilities. You’re probably helping the company much more than you did a year ago. So while your contribution continues to rise, your compensation has remained stagnant.

Many of us are humble and modest by nature — and that’s okay. But there’s a BIG difference between being humble and undervaluing yourself:

  • Humble: “I’ve done XYZ, and I’m proud of that accomplishment.”
  • Undervaluing: “Oh sure, I kinda helped out with that project, but it wasn’t just me. Besides, anybody could have done that, so why should I feel special?”

And as the bard once wrote…

Here’s an exercise you can do to break this limiting belief: List all the ways that you’ve become more valuable to the company since you started your job.

Be generous with your list, but push yourself to get specific:

  • Have you delivered specific results? Which ones? Estimate how much they were worth.
  • Has your communication improved? How so?
  • Are you more efficient than before? How do you know?
  • Do you know the business better? How does this translate to the company’s bottom line?
  • Have you developed new skills? What kind?

Keep in mind that achievements that seem mundane to you might seem exceptional to someone else. No achievement is too small. Write them all down.

This is your first step in learning how to ask for a raise or a promotion.

Now that you know the value you add, it’s time to prepare for the conversation with your boss.

The #1 mistake when asking for a promotion (or raise)

The absolute WORST mistake you can make when it comes to how to ask for a raise or promotion is to simply show up on the day of your performance review and ask for it.

If this is your plan, you will lose.

And what’s more, you deserve to lose.

I learned this lesson the hard way. When I was a student at Stanford, I did some work for a local venture capital firm. After a few months, I decided that I was going to ask my boss for a promotion — after all, I’m a smart guy and I’ve been working pretty hard, so I should ask, right?

The conversation went something like this:

Ramit: “Hi Boss, thanks for meeting with me. So, I’ve been working here for a few months now, and I think I’ve been doing a really good job. I’ve really gotten a good understanding of the ins and outs of the business, and because of that I’d like to discuss with you the possibility of a promotion.”

Boss: “Why do you think I should give you a promotion?”

Ramit: “Well … you know, as I mentioned, I think I’ve been doing a really good job, and I’ve been learning a lot about the company and how everything works here and … yeah.”

Boss: “No. Not gonna happen.”

Ramit: “Oh. Okay.”

It wasn’t pretty. And I was actually mad at my boss about it for two whole days (he said “NO!!”).

But then I realized I was being ridiculous. I hadn’t given him any legitimate reasons why he should be giving me more responsibility and paying me more. So why would I have expected him to?

I’ve gotten a lot better at negotiation since then, and this is the #1 rule I’ve discovered about negotiation:

80% of the work in a negotiation is done before you ever walk into the room

That means the conversation is only a small fraction of what actually makes or breaks the negotiation. In reality, when you’re learning how to ask for a raise or a promotion, it’s your PREPARATION that will determine whether you succeed or fail.

Put it another way, would you rather spend zero hours preparing and get immediately blown out of a negotiation — or would you be willing to spend 20 hours of preparation with a 70% chance of successfully negotiating a raise or a promotion?

Front-loading your promotion request

Top performers are willing to put in the time and effort, which is why they can reap disproportionate rewards.

I call this “front-loading the work.”

Here are some examples of front-loading the work you can try (I cover even more of these preparation tips and other advanced career strategies in my Find Your Dream Job program):

  • Doing amazing work for at least three to six months, with written praise collected from your coworkers and your own boss.
  • Creating a five-page document of proof of performance, showing all the ways you’ve added value above and beyond your job’s requirements.
  • Practicing with another skilled negotiator, recording that on video, preparing for every contingency and objection that your boss might have.

Once you’ve put in the work and have done a decent amount of preparation, you’ll want to make sure your boss knows you plan on asking for a raise or promotion.

The timeline for a salary negotiation

How long would it take for you to go from an average performer (where you are now) to a Top Performer (ready to negotiate your first raise)?

Three to six months in most cases. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but three to six months is usually an achievable goal.

This tends to surprise people.

“How can I negotiate my salary three months from now? I’m just lucky to have a job.”

If you’re a Top Performer, the time that you’re at the company won’t matter as much as the work you’re putting in.

This mindset is crucial to knowing your worth. If you’re skeptical of your own value, your boss will instantly ferret it out, costing you thousands of dollars.

It is possible to demonstrate massive tremendous value in three months — even as a new graduate. Even with few skills. Even in a crappy economy.

I’ll show you how to pick ambitious goals that actually matter to your boss and work collaboratively to achieve them. These goals will be strategic to negotiating a raise, all within a tight timeline.

And here’s what those three to six months would look like:

Negotiation Timeline 1

If you don’t get a regularly scheduled performance review, don’t worry — I’ll provide all the scripts you need to get your boss to agree to a salary conversation. But the basic idea behind your Negotiation Timeline is this:

  • 3-6 months before your review: Become a Top Performer by collaboratively setting expectations with your boss, then exceeding those expectations in every way possible.
  • 1-2 months before your review: Prepare the Briefcase Technique of evidence to support the exact reasons why you should be given a raise.
  • 1-2 weeks before your review: Practice extensively with the right tactics and scripts.

Notice that all of this is done BEFORE the actual meeting (of course, your friends will only see the results you got, not all the work you put in).

This timeline positions you best to ask for a raise or promotion.

Let’s start by learning how to set expectations for your boss.

3 – 6 months out: Prepare your boss for giving you a promotion by setting expectations

Your boss should NEVER be surprised by you asking for a promotion or a raise. If they are, you did something wrong and your chances for success drop dramatically.

Think about it: If you simply blindside your boss, you’re putting him or her on the spot.

Nobody likes being cornered, especially regarding money and promotions. Their natural reaction will be to become defensive. In psychological parlance, they’ll experience “reactance” (which is a fancy way of saying “no way, Jose”).

Instead, prepare your boss for giving you a promotion. I walk through exactly how to do this in this video:

Once your boss is prepared it’s time to prepare the Briefcase Technique.

1 – 2 months out: Prepare the Briefcase Technique to nail your negotiations

This is one of my absolute favorite techniques to utilize in interviews, salary negotiations, client proposals — whatever!

First, you’re going to create a one- to five-page proposal document showcasing the specific areas in the company wherein you can add value.

Then, you’re going to bring the proposal with you when you negotiate your salary. When the question of compensation inevitably arises, you’re going to pull out this document and outline exactly how you’re going to solve the challenges of the company.

Hiring manager: So what’s your price range?

You: Actually, before we discuss compensation, I’d love to show you something I put together.

And then you literally pull out your proposal document detailing the pain points of the company and EXACTLY how you can help them. (Bonus points if you actually use a briefcase.)

By identifying the pain points the company is experiencing, you can show the hiring manager where specifically you’re going to add value — making you a very valuable hire.

Approach the proposal as the most compelling menu they’ve ever received — complete with issues that they know about and how YOU are the person to solve those problems.

I go into even more detail on the Briefcase Technique in this two-minute video. Check it out below.

1 – 2 weeks out: Practice, practice, practice

The last step before your negotiation is to practice, practice, and practice some more.

It’s one thing to read about how to negotiate. Actually doing it, live and under pressure, is another experience altogether. The only solution is practice.

Amazingly, most people never do this. They simply consume information and think, “Yeah yeah, I got it,” or “I’ll do it later.” But they never follow through. Yet as little as one to two hours of practice could mean the difference between success and failure.

Here’s how to do it: First, sit in front of a video camera, either alone or with a friend. Then brainstorm as many different potential scenarios as possible and practice your responses live and out loud, just as you would in front of your boss.

For example, you might practice what you’d say if:

  • Your boss acts surprised or annoyed when you bring up salary.
  • Your boss asks you to name a number first.
  • He tries to turn you down with excuses like “It’s the economy” or “Everyone else is getting the same thing.”

Then, observe (or have a friend give feedback on) the following, and practice until perfect:

  • Your words. They should be compelling and concise, and free of rambling sentences.
  • Your body language. You want to be sitting up, leaning forward, and relaxed.
  • Your tone. It should be professional, positive, and energetic.

This works. I know because I used to suck in interviews and negotiations. I had no idea how to ask for a raise or promotion — but then I started practicing.

When I was in high school, I was having trouble landing any scholarships, even though I thought I was acing the in-person interviews.

It wasn’t until I recorded myself practicing on video that I realized the problem: I never smiled. I seemed stern and unfriendly. When I started smiling regularly, I started to nail scholarship after scholarship — enough to pay my way through undergrad and grad school at Stanford.

A while back, I decided I wanted to get better at doing TV interviews, so I got some help from professional media trainers. Again, I thought I was already pretty good. But in my very first videotaped answer, the trainers showed me about a dozen subtle mistakes I was making.

They showed me how to correct them and we tried again and again. After each round, they showed me the before-and-after video. The difference was night and day.

See for yourself the difference that even a few minutes of practice can make:

My word-for-word scripts: How to ask for a raise and get promoted

The Boys Scouts know it. The Lion King knows it. And now, YOU know it.

Be prepared.

It’s the most important element when it comes to how to ask for a raise or promotion. With a little bit of preparation, you’ll be ahead of 99.9% of the population — instantly improving your chances of nailing your negotiations.

If you’ve made it to this stage, the final step is knowing simply what to say when you finally ask your boss for a promotion. You want to make the conversation flow as smoothly as possible. The discussion should be mutually beneficial so your boss sees the tremendous value you’ve delivered.

I’ve gone the extra step and included word-for-word negotiation scripts here. Now, you’ll walk into your discussion confident and skyrocket your odds of getting a better title and a better salary.

How to ask your boss for a promotion (with word-for-word scripts) is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

My boss went on a dream six-week vacation, and these are 5 things I now consider for my future travels

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Have you ever met someone who’s told you, “Traveling to experience different foods, sights, cultures, and people? Ew, no.” Me neither.

The point is, the majority of us looooooove to travel, but we all have different styles of how we plan for it and actually prefer to travel, based in large part on our inner math of whether certain experiences are “worth it.”

For example, I’m kind of a rugged traveler. The idea of swank five- or even four-star hotels never appealed to me. A bag of M&M peanuts for $5? No thanks, I brought my own. An $8 bottle of Fiji water? Just tap water for me.

My travel preferences are the complete opposite of IWT CEO Ramit Sethi’s (aka my boss), who recently returned from his six-week (!) honeymoon. The trip spanned across countries: Italy, Kenya, India, and Thailand. You can read all about his trip starting here.

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Real picture of a real lion that Ramit took.

For me, luxury and travel are like oil and water — like, why bother mixing them? If I traveled, I’d usually rough it out — in the occasional hostel, and for longer term stays, in affordable Airbnbs, just as I did back in my nomadic days; whereas Ramit deliberately immersed himself in absolute luxury, juxtaposed against local life, like touring the street vendors or cooking at a local woman’s house.

Maybe it was Ramit’s excitement about his experiences as he was telling it, but the idea of traveling in luxury became a contagion that latched on and proliferated in my thoughts, shifting my perspective from wanting to ask not “why?” but “why not…?”

  • Why not try splurging on lavish experiences when I’m traveling (I am older now, after all)?
  • Why not have both worlds of “ultra lux” and the humility of local living?
  • Why not be open-minded and dream BIG?

Maybe it’s meta to be cross-examining my boss’s style of vacationing with my own travels on the very blog that he founded, but it’s important to also acknowledge that just because I’m part of the team here doesn’t mean we’re a hivemind. It doesn’t mean I just “get it.” Like you, I must undergo a process of exposing myself to different and interesting ideas and letting them percolate until I choose to make them a part of my decision-making, as long as they make sense to me.

And ultimately, what I took away from his retelling of his experiences isn’t that I necessarily need to also travel lavishly or that I should go to Thailand or India or Kenya. It’s that…

1. My own dream vacation is within my reach … I just have to plan it

While I don’t care to go on my own safari adventure, I’ve been inspired to figure out how to make my own dream vacation — a multi-month stay in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics — a reality.

My goal for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo isn’t a spur-of-the-moment thought I came up with just now while thinking about eating sushi for dinner (¬_¬). It’s actually been on my mind since

I got to stay in Tokyo for four months back in 2016. At the time, it was a feel-good fleeting thought — something that I’d pushed off until now obviously to start thinking about manifesting.

Stephanie’s thought process then: “Future Stephanie will figure it out somehow!”

Stephanie’s thought process now: “OK, well, I am Future Stephanie now, so the first thing to do is start automatically transferring savings into an account that’s dedicated for this trip (done); find someone who can help me maximize my credit card points between now and then (in progress); then use my hella points to book first-class tickets to Tokyo.”

The main difference between thinking about Tokyo 2020 then and now is, as you can plainly see, I am aligning my actions with this goal. As of this writing, I have more than a year to go, and automatically saving for this specific goal has already liberated me from the mental strain of thinking about putting funds aside every month (we call this automating our finances).

2. I could share my travel experiences with loved ones

It’s no secret that Ramit took his parents and in-laws with him on the first leg of his honeymoon. But what really fascinated me was what Ramit said to Brian Kelly, aka “The Points Guy,” on Brian’s Talking Points podcast:

“My parents had four kids, not a lot of money. And I was just thinking that if they were to come to Rome, they would’ve come during the hot summer. They would have planned out everywhere they went based on how much it cost. And so for us to even be like ‘Don’t even think about it, just show up.’…

We took private tours of the Vatican. We took them to a cooking class. Both of the moms have never taken a cooking class in their lives. They’ve been cooking for 30-plus years! We all just hung out. And the dads bonded. It was just one of the best memories of our lives.”

I bolded the above because I understand that exact sentiment. My Asian parents would rarely go traveling, much less even *think* about spending more money than necessary on a luxury vacation. The idea simply doesn’t exist in the realm of possibilities for them.

One year I took both my parents with me to Toronto. And I remember my dad telling me how grateful he was to have been able to reconnect with his cousins after 30 years, which wouldn’t have been at all possible had I not booked his ticket and stay.

Having the perspective and ability to share these travel experiences with loved ones to me is truly the idea of abundance and generosity, as well as a powerful motivator for why I work so hard to earn money.

3. I don’t have to fall for the mindtrap of “finding a better deal”

It used to make financial sense to forego luxury hotels and experiences and restrict myself to the idea of budget travel when I was but a broke college kid. And so I’d try to calculate cost and my expected value and level of happiness or satisfaction.

More often than not, this math was way off. One year I recall passing on the opportunity to swim with dolphins in the Bahamas. Although I was interested, it was quite a bit out of my budget but still something I could afford. But I’d convinced myself that it wasn’t worth it or that I could find a better deal elsewhere.

In the end, I missed out completely, and for months that was all my friends who did partake talked about. #FOMO

Old money decisions die hard. But as I’ve learned through adopting new money habits, cost and expected outcome aren’t something I could predict or are necessarily even meant to be predetermined. It’s not always about the deal, but about the convenience and immediate opportunity of being able to indulge in something fun and unique that I otherwise would never get to experience.

4. It’s okay to spend on things I love or just want

How many of us feel a nagging guilt that we “shouldn’t” spend money on that $65 shirt when we already have 12 other shirts, even though we WANT it? It’s hard to justify, and we all feel this, even people like Brian, who travels in style for a living. Here’s a transcription of the Talking Points podcast mentioned above that I thought was particularly profound:

Brian: “I always struggle, especially in a country like Thailand, Amans are expensive wherever you go. And people will grouse, I know, whenever I say the nice hotel in Thailand, but, yeah. I mean, it’s all about the experience.”

Ramit: “I agree. I don’t think it’s for every day. I’m perfectly happy staying at a very budget airport hotel when I need to. I don’t mind it. But I do think that there are moments in life where you say, ‘I truly want to go as far as I can on this.’ And I have this concept on my site where I talk about Money Dials. Think about a dial on your car radio.

And most people have one or two Money Dials that they just love spending on. For you, it’s travel. And so you can turn that Money Dial all the way up and you can stay at Aman’s, Ritz Carlton, wherever it is that you love. Some people just couldn’t care less. But they love clothes. A lot of people love convenience. I love convenience, that’s mine. So if you know what your Money Dial is, then you can go all in and you can spend extravagantly on the things you love.”

We each have an area in our lives where we just naturally spend more money on. These Money Dials explain why we spend money the way we do. In other words, Money Dials is a way for you to figure out what’s important to you and what’s not. For example, I value relationships, so I’ve spent more money to live in a centrally located apartment, furnished from zero, to be more welcoming and host my new and old friends much more easily.

For me, the idea of Money Dials has provided me that healthy balance of knowing that I could spend money on something — guilt-free — because it’s important to me, instead of feeling like I should only be squirreling away money for an indeterminate future.

I could have both — and spend wisely and extravagantly as long as I can afford it and it makes me happy.

5. My dream vacation shouldn’t just be a dream

We often hammer home the message of “you define what a Rich Life means to you,” but I must admit that I have to constantly think about what this means for myself.  

Through writing this article, I realized that part of my Rich Life is being able to figure out that I CAN make my “dream vacation” possible for myself.

Maybe not tomorrow. Not next week or in the next six months.

But definitely in a reasonable and achievable timeline that wouldn’t get drowned out by vague “someday” hopes. I’ve already set up my savings, and it’s only a matter of time before I start looking at flights and places to stay.

The overall message here is simple: it’s important for all of us to think about why we strive to live a Rich Life. For me, it’s about being in control and deciding what my money can do and is for.

And at least for the foreseeable future, it’s living in my posh apartment to spend more time with people I care about and then taking off to Tokyo in summer 2020 to mash myself against hundreds of people from around the world to celebrate amid the biggest stage in sports ever.

See you there?

My boss went on a dream six-week vacation, and these are 5 things I now consider for my future travels is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

Best credit cards for 2019

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I’ve shared my favorite personal banking tips with you in the past.

Today, we’re going to talk about credit cards.

Let’s get to it.

When my book was originally published, I named names. This is why some banks will never, ever partner with me. Oh well!!

My old favorite credit card: Citi PremierPass card

Anyway, in the first chapter on credit cards, I shared the details of my favorite credit card at the time: the Citi PremierPass card. In fact, I had used it as my primary credit card for several years and recommended it to hundreds of thousands of people.

That’s changed now.

Citi tightened up on its credit-card lineup, dropping several of their most compelling rewards. This was highlighted in a devastating column in the New York Times.

Hilariously, Citi actually mailed out a note to cardholders trying to spin the reduction of benefits into something like “exciting new features” — but it was obvious to anyone with a pulse that the most compelling rewards were being removed.

And so I began an exhaustive search for a new credit card. Because I spend a significant amount on my credit card, I expect significant rewards. Also, I consider it a fun game to find the 99.99999th percentile best card in the world.

Today, I’ll share my new favorite credit card. I consider it the best credit card on the market — even better than my old Citi card — and in addition to using it myself, it’s the card I’m recommending to my readers.

First, 6 rules about credit cards

  1. Interest rate doesn’t matter if you don’t carry a balance. The interest rate is irrelevant, as long as you’re paying off your entire balance each month. Don’t keep a balance, please – if you are, stop reading now and read our article on crushing debt to get it down.
  2. Use a rewards card. The vast majority of people should use a rewards card. If you’re already spending money, you should be rewarded for it. Exceptions are people who can’t qualify, who should instead use a secured credit card.
  3. Travel credit cards are better than cash back. Most people would benefit more from travel rewards than from cash back. I describe the details of why travel credit cards are better here. For some reason, people get really mad when I make this recommendation, but I don’t care.
  4. General rewards cards are better than airline-specific cards. Unless you fly a majority of flights on the SAME airline, I prefer a general travel card instead of an airline-specific card (like a United card). For example, I fly JetBlue and Virgin a lot, so I want a travel card that I can redeem on multiple airlines, not just one.
  5. Annual fees are not Satan’s spawn. I know it may be blasphemy to personal finance “experts,” but I’m willing to pay an annual fee for my credit card! OMG! This is why you can call me RTR: Ramit The Rebel. In some cases, there are no-fee versions of the card, so you should always calculate if you spend enough to justify it. Still, $65/year is just not that significant to my financial situation anymore.
  6. I am merciless about using my credit card perks. Credit card benefits can easily be worth $1,000/year. DO THIS.

Bonus: Want even more great advice for money management? Check out my new Free Ultimate Guide to Personal Finance.

What I want from the best credit card

My bottom line is this, the best credit card is the one that gets you the most free flights and free hotels. For example, I want a card that rewards me when I go on vacation, travel for friends’ weddings, or travel between NYC and SF.

Alternatively, I want to upgrade to business class when I travel abroad.

And I don’t want to be nickel-and-dimed for idiotic things like blackout dates, penalties, and fees.

So with that in mind, here is…

The best credit card for 2019

The best credit card for 2019 is the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Credit Card from Chase.

This is the best travel card on the market in 2019. Here’s why:

4 Sapphire Reserve perks that matter most

  1. 50,000 point sign-up bonus: Chase Sapphire Reserve gives you 50,000 bonus points for signing up if you spend $4,000 on the card in the first few months. As my friend Brian Kelly from The Points Guy points out, that’s $1,000 in value — meaning if you can commit to that $4,000 spending amount, the $450 yearly fee pays for itself — twice.
  2. $300 annual travel credit: A lot of travel cards offer travel credits — money they just give you back at the end of the year for spending on travel. At $300, Sapphire Reserve’s travel credit is on the high end. Not only that — it applies to any travel purchase, including airlines, hotels, cruise lines, travel agencies, car rentals, even Airbnb and Uber. (You can find a full list of what Chase counts as “travel’ on their FAQ page here.) That makes it super easy to get that $300 credit, and makes the $450 yearly fee even less of a barrier.
  3. 3X points on travel AND dining worldwide: Chase gives you 3X the points for money you spend on flights, cruises, hotels, car rentals, trains, taxis, and … wait for it … FOOD. If you follow me on Instagram, you know how important food is to me, and you better believe I think this perk is amazing.
  4. No blackout dates or restrictions: Some cards restrict use of their card on certain types of flights or on certain dates (like around the holidays). Not Sapphire Reserve.

Other perks:

  • Chase Unlimited Rewards®. This is Chase’s premier rewards program, which lets you redeem rewards for travel, experiences, gift cards, cash back, and more.
  • Unlimited points. There’s no limit to how many points you can earn, and points don’t expire as long as you keep the card open.
  • 1X points per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Terms and restrictions apply.

A quick note about fees

As I’ve said already, credit card fees are NOT Satan’s spawn, and you don’t need to utter any chants or spells to protect yourself from them.

That said, the $450 fee for the Sapphire Reserve is steeper than most, so it’s worth talking about. If you’re a heavy traveler like me, that’s not a problem, because the rewards you’re racking up will make that fee up in no time. Even if you’re a lighter traveler who only does one vacation per year and flights home for the holidays, you can recoup that fee no problem. Plus, there’s that easy-to-grab $300 travel credit, which effectively lowers the fee to $150 per year.

Still, a fee’s a fee. If you’re not 100% comfortable with a fee that steep, or you’re not sure how much use you’ll get out of it, try the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (mentioned below). It has some of the same perks as the Reserve, but a much lower yearly fee of $95, which you can waive for the first year.

Places to read about this Sapphire card

You should always do your own research. Here are two places to see what others have said, as well as understand the perks/rewards in great detail.

Other travel credit cards I recommend

I know that this card isn’t for everyone.

That’s why I turned to one of my friends, Chris Guillebeau, to get his other top 3 favorite travel credit card picks.

Chris has traveled to 193 countries (yes, that’s every one of them) and he regularly earns more than one million miles a year, with the majority coming through credit card bonuses and other non-flying activity. One reason he was able to do this is because half of his trips were nearly free — all paid for with miles and points from his rewards credit cards.

Here’s everything you need to know about travel credit cards. If you just want the highlights, keep reading.

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

First up is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card, mentioned above.

What Chris loves about this card:

  • Double points on all dining and travel expenses.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • You can get the annual fee waived the first year — so it makes signing up a no-brainer.

If you don’t have it already, now’s the time to get started.

2. The Chase Freedom Unlimited (SM)

What Chris loves about this card:

  • When you spend $500 in the first three months, you instantly get $150 cash back.
  • No annual fee — ever.
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

3. The Platinum Card® from American Express

What Chris loves about this card:

Even though this card comes with a steep $450 annual fee (that can’t be waived), it comes with a TON of great benefits for heavy travelers, including:

  • Lounge access in the U.S. and throughout the world.
  • $200 credit that can be used for airline extras on any carrier.
  • Reimbursement for your Global Entry application.
  • No foreign transaction fees on any purchases.

Want more? Here’s everything you need to know about travel credit cards, or head over to Chris’s site, Cards for Travel, for more info on any of these cards and more travel tips.

Other credit cards I recommend

For cash back, I like the Alliant card and Fidelity card.

Should you keep your old credit card?

My recommendation: If you’re looking for a good credit card, apply for this, and if you get accepted, start transitioning your auto-pays to this card and start accumulating miles. You can close your old accounts or keep a small amount autopaying on it.

If you want my favorite credit card

If you’re interested in getting this card, here’s a link to see if you’re approved.

P.S. I have a few special, obscure tools I use with my credit card to optimize the experience. I’ll write about those in the future.

Tomorrow, the best savings account for 2019.

Bonus: Get more exclusive credit card perks

You can now get a full chapter on optimizing your credit cards from my New York Times bestselling book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, for free.

It’ll help you tap into even more perks, max out your rewards, and beat the credit card companies at their own game.

I want you to have the tools and word-for-word scripts to fight back against the huge credit card companies. To download it free now, enter your name and email below.

Best credit cards for 2019 is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

How To Make Money Online – Your First $100k From Blogging

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Most people, when they try to make money online, overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.

That is why I often tell brand new bloggers to focus on the first $100 rather than the $100K figure.

That said, how was it possible, that we could create a brand new blog and only 30 days later, have already earned over $5000?

Today’s post will answer that question.

The IncomeDiary Blueprint for Making Money Online

Idea —> Take Action —> Build a Brand —> Create Content —> No Leakage Rule —> Blog Funnel System —> Free eCourse  —>  Product —> Money

All great websites start with solving a problem.

Step 1) How To Come Up With Website Ideas | Solve a Problem

At IncomeDiary we focus on the make “money online niche”.

Making money online is something that interests a lot of people, from many different demographics.

As soon as we started we had people ask us how to start their first blog.

And once they had started their blog, how could they make money from it?

Some even asked us to build websites for them.

There was a PROBLEM that people wanted help in SOLVING!

From the responses we where getting and our own research it was clear there was a demand.

But how do we make money from this demand?

In the case of IncomeDiary we knew a lot of our income would come from affiliate links.

That is where we started.

If you are a first time blogger you will need a domain, hosting, blog design, email list management.

Fortunately there are plenty of affiliate programs for services like this and in any case we needed all these services ourselves.

As an example if someone signed up for a domain, hosting and a blog design through our affiliate links, we would earn $100.

All we needed to do was convince 50 people to follow our advice and we would earn $5000.

Better still we where recommending products and services that we where using ourselves!

In blogging as in all business having a plan is essential.

A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power ~ Brian Tracy

All we needed to do now was estimate / work out how much traffic we would need in order to accomplish our goal for month one!

We are simplifying the calculations here a little – not everyone will need a domain or hosting for example – some will purchase more services, some will purchase less.

But for the purpose of planning these where good starting points.

Of course your niche may be entirely different from Make Money Online – but for just about every niche there is be affiliate programs you can promote to your readers.

As an aside, our sister site – covers a completely different niche to IncomeDiary – but when it started out, it used exactly the same strategy as IncomeDiary to get its first income – great content combined with affiliate income!

Step 2) To Make Money Online – Take Action

Now that we had an idea, we had to create a website.

This is an easy step, something that only took a few hours. I go over this in detail on this page.

make money online

Step 3) To Make Money Online – Build a Brand

Branding isn’t something a lot of people think much of.

But branding is important. It’s what someone thinks about your website.

When people think IncomeDiary, we want them to think, authority website that teaches people how to make money online.

To achieve this, we did a few things:

Domain Name

You want it to be easy to remember, easy to spell and you want it be a .com.

When I create a website, I don’t begin until I have found a domain that I think is good enough.

Sometimes it makes sense to buy a domain that has already been registered from a Domain Broker.

For example, was bought for $100 from a blogger.

And we paid $2000 for our sister site – – via a domain broker.

Blog Design

If your blog doesn’t look good, it reflects badly on your brand. I’m not saying you have to spend a lot of money, we didn’t.

We started with buying a premium theme for $80 and getting a custom logo created. We kept the website simple and easy to understand.

It’s also important to pick a good color scheme for your site. When someone sees the green color we use, I want them to think (I also wanted them to think money!)

Create Top Lists (read before you scroll past this)

Now I know most people know what a top list is, but you need to know what posts we created, why we created them and how they influenced our brand.

Some examples of the top lists we created:

Creating these posts, made us stand out as an authority on the subject.

If we are the website to decide which bloggers are the most influential, then we must know a lot about blogging.

Interview Experts

make money online with interviews

Interviews don’t get us a lot of long term traffic.

What they do though, is associate our website with experts in our industry.

We are not going into detail on conducting interviews in this post – but read any of our interviews and you will have interview templates you can follow.

Step 4) To Make Money Online – Create Compelling Content

To make money, we firstly had to get traffic. To get traffic, we had to firstly create interesting content.

We have spoken a lot about creating content.

The strategy for getting a lot of traffic from blogging is simple – create amazing content.

Look at this post as an example:

  • The subject of the post is something people are looking to read about
  • Over 2000 words (average page on first page of good is over 2000 words)
  • It’s easy to read (checked spelling, grammar, post styling)
  • Headline draws the reader in
  • It provides real value
  • Post images add to value of the post

The 10 posts that received the most traffic in the first few months were all top list articles.

Looking back, their was very little traffic going to any posts that were not top lists or interviews.

One big benefit from writing top list posts and interviewing authorities in your industry, is the amount of links and social media shares you get. Often when we write a post saying that someone is one of the most influential bloggers in the world, they want to link to it on their site, because it helps with their own brand.

All these links and shares tell Google that we are a great site and they should rank our posts higher in their search engine.

You can see how our traffic would spike every time we published a top list on our site:

Step 5) How To Make Money Online – The No Leakage Rule

The no leakage rule is when you create a website in a way that either a reader signs up for what you are promoting, or they leave your website.

Let me explain further:

The goal of IncomeDiary is to get people to subscribe to our email list. Now to best accomplish this, we need to keep distracts to a minimum.

That means having no banner ads, no blogroll, no top commenters links and so on…

If a website visitor is leaving our website to look at an advertiser, they are not signing up for our email list.

It’s the same reason we don’t want to link to guest bloggers at the bottom of blog posts, because if our visitors are checking out their website, they are not signing up for our list.

Step 6) Make Money Online – Blog Funnel System

This is all about getting your visitors to go where you want them to go, or shall I say, how to funnel them to your desired location.

The goal of our blog is to get people to subscribe to our email list.

That is how we make the majority of our money.

To accomplish this, we get the majority of our subscribers through a popup using OptiMonk. Read this post on: how we use OptiMonk.

The longer someone stays on the site, the more likely they are to subscribe and for us to make money.

Step 7) Make Money Online – Free eCourse

When we started IncomeDiary, not a lot of bloggers were giving incentives for signing up to a mailing list.

Those that did, often gave free eBooks.

I liked the idea of a free eBook but there was one problem.

I wanted readers to take action and if they received to much information all at once, they would feel overwhelmed and would be less likely to follow my guide.

So instead, we decided to split up what we wanted to teach and give it to subscribers over 7 days.

We called it: 7 Day Free eCourse To Creating Your First Profitable Blog

I would explain to everyone signing up that “You may have to spend some money if you want to make some money” – not a lot of money just a little if you really wanted to be serious about blogging. (Less than $100). I included special offers on domain names and offers on hosting such as get your first months hosting for 1 cent and coupon codes. (People love coupon codes)

This worked amazingly well.

Pretty much one of the reasons it worked so well was because I showed my readers exactly what I’m doing. I was not asking them to do anything that I had not done myself.

It’s also important to point out that I was solving a specific problem. I wasn’t simply trying to help people become better bloggers.

Setting up a Autoresponder

Once people opted in and joined my eCourse, the auto-responder would start sending them an email every day for a week.

The course was very much step by step – “Day One, installing your blog” – “Day Two, adding a theme and customizing your blog,” – Day Three: monetizing” etc

Every day subscribers would look forward to the next addition. Often I would get people email me saying, “Hey, is there any chance I can get Day Two now, rather than wait until tomorrow?”

Subscribers took action straightaway. I told them, “Look, take action on this today, and then you’ll be ready to do tomorrow’s assignment.”

Marketing Your eCourse

Another huge benefit of having a squeeze page, or a separate page on WordPress dedicated to your free course, is people have a link they can share with friends if they wish to recommend it. It is great when people Tweet things like “Check Out IncomeDiary’s Free Blogging eCourse” and link to this page.

This also meant I could mentioned this page in my blog posts – for example if I did a Top 30 Bloggers list I would finish it with a link says: “Follow in their footsteps, check out my free course”.

The signup page became so popular that it was the third most visited page on the site.

Step 8) Make Money Online – Selling Your Own Product

Once someone has gone through our eCourse, we want them to be thinking, WOW, that was amazing, I can’t believe that was free.

If they think this, then when we tell them that we have a paid membership site, they can only imagine how good it must be.

When creating products to sell on IncomeDiary, we think about what our readers most want.

The two biggest struggles of new bloggers is getting traffic and making money.

For us, getting traffic has always been easy. And if it’s easy for us, surely we can make it easy for our readers. So we created an eBook called Traffic Domination which is a blueprint to getting over 100,000 visitors a month from top list articles.

We also use to offer a training program called Site Profit Domination which showed our customers in detail how we were monetizing our blogs.

Step 9) Making Money Online and Reinvesting

The reason for a lot of our success is the way we reacted to making money.

When we make money, we reinvested it. We may have started our blog with a small budget but as soon as we had the money, we made it a lot better.

I was not entirely happy with the blog theme, so I spent sometime customizing the design. This included a big change to the homepage – allowing us to display a large opt-in box.

We also used some custom graphics on the side-bar to direct visitors to our best revenue producing pages.

We even bought advertising for IncomeDiary, which at the time, was not something we would normally recommend with a new blog, but earnings per visitor was so good, we could afford to buy traffic.

One final note on making money online.

I love this quote from Paulo Coelho …

make money online plan

It is essential to know your visitor numbers and your earnings per visitor!

For some, attracting the first 1000 visitors will be the big goal and for others it will be attracting the first 1,000,000 visitors

Set yourself high, but realistic targets and go all out to achieve.

Hoping and Guessing is not a business strategy – but FOCUS and CONCENTRATION is.

What you focus on, EXPANDS!

Take the time to build your brand, build your following and build your website into the premier site in its niche.

Making $100,000 PA is a Big Goal – but it is not an impossible goal.

Believe in you – believe you can do it.

It is also the strategy you need in order to set yourself for the ULTIMATE Pay Day!

That magically day when you eventually sell your business.

Good Luck!

The post How To Make Money Online – Your First $100k From Blogging appeared first on How To Make Money Online.

How to Create Reality

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So a funny thing happened on Twitter this week, which almost changed the world a little bit.

Someone sent me a beautiful 3-D mockup of a fictional, car-free city of 50,000 people, set in the scenic nook of land* between Boulder, Colorado and Longmont, where I live. It came complete with street plans, detailed descriptions and dozens of cool photos, both real and computer-generated, showing how it would feel to live there. They called it Cyclocroft, in honor of the generally pro-bike stance of Mustachian culture.

This was not out of the blue: these plans came from some long-time readers, who have heard me muse about better cities in the past. Over the last few years, I have come to realize that the fastest way to get my fellow Americans into healthier, wealthier lives is probably just to change the way we lay out our living spaces. Instead of wasting trillions of dollars on separating and isolating ourselves just to accommodate giant racetracks for our gas-powered wheelchairs, we could make everything about 75% less expensive (and many times more fun) by making cities that work without cars.

So anyway, these architects sent me the plans, and I put them up on Twitter with a comment about how they’re fictional but boy wouldn’t this be a nice way to use a single square mile compared to what we do right now.

One square mile of suburban Detroit. Note the amount of space wasted on accommodating cars. Without the cars, you could house AND employ about 50,000 people with this much land.

I thought that would complete my social media indulgence for the day, but NO, things were just about to get interesting.

That night, an MMM reader who also happens to write for Forbes, wrote to me asking if he could do a story about Cyclocroft. He also pulled in the designers Tara and John from B4Place. And the next day, this rather racy article showed up in the news:

Whoa there, Forbes!

While the story was technically accurate, calling me a “Wealth Guru” instead of an “Early Retirement Blogger” definitely amped the intensity. And words like “Plans” and “has teamed up with” made it sound like things were very imminent and real, rather the just a set of pretty pictures I was happy to share.

But the world started to react as if Cyclocroft really were real. Twitter responses and emails started coming in from people who would buy properties and move there, if we really built it.

Even more notably, my email inbox and even the voice mail of my supposedly private mobile phone, started filling up with notes from news agencies and big players in finance and real estate, asking if they could do news stories and/or help get involved in building Cyclocroft.

Forbes – Wealth Guru Plans Dutch-Style Car-Free Bicycle-Friendly City Near Boulder, Colorado

Curbed – Could a car-free, Dutch-style city work in Colorado?

The Real Deal – Imagine a city with no cars, free bikes — and 50,000 people in one square mile

Boulder Daily Camera – Mr. Money Mustache has no formal plans to build dense, ‘car-lite’ city between Boulder, Longmont

The Chief Marketing Officer of the nation’s largest mortgage providers (who I was surprised to learn is also a longtime Mustachian) came to my coworking space and we talked for two hours about whether we could make it a reality. Because, aside from the potential to improve world through better design, residential housing is the world’s largest market, worth trillions of dollars.

Now, just in case you have any illusions about Mr. Money Mustache’s superpowers, it is important to remember the real story. I am a retired, stay-at-home Dad who occasionally types shit into the computer, and that’s the end of it. On the average week my biggest “business” meeting is a Tuesday morning workout in the back yard of the HQ for some squats or deadlifts with a friend or two.

Actual day of work. Does this look like a City Developing Wealth Guru to you?

Now, this Cyclocroft bonanza is still cause for celebration – all this attention and energy will definitely not go to waste. I really do plan to nudge this country towards its rightful status as a Badass Utopia – it’s a lifelong project for me, and we are only about eight years in. It’s just that Starting a City right now does not play well with my other project of Raising a Boy, a contract which still has about five years left on it. I’m not a great multitasker so anything outside of that job has to be low-stakes and with complete flexibility.

But there’s still is a heck of a life lesson in this story, that can help all of us change our lives. It’s on par with the lessons of the Optimism Gun, and the Circle of Control.

The lesson is to Begin with the End in Mind – and Start by Painting a Beautiful Picture of that end  destination.

It’s the technique at the core of the world’s best marketing and negotiation strategies, and it works so well because it short circuits the human brain into making everyone – including you – see things in the desired way.

I’ve known this for a long time, and applying it is the reason for most of the successes I’ve had in life so far. Yet I still sometimes get sloppy and fail to use it, and sure enough many of my failures can be tracked back to that sloppiness. Let’s check out a few examples of Painting the Picture in real life so you can see exactly how this works and how powerful it is.

When I started this blog in April of 2011, I didn’t just start rambling about interest rates or student loan debt. And I definitely didn’t mention carbon footprints or get into environmental guilt-tripping. The first sentence of the first post is “What do you mean you retired at 30?”

Retired. At. 30.

It was a simple picture of a very clear end destination that automatically got people’s imagination running and filling in their own details.

Everyone knows that a 30-year-old is a fairly young adult with lots of promising life ahead of them. And everyone knows that “Retired” must mean some unusual financial accomplishment was involved, which makes them imagine what their life would be like with that sort of money.

In retrospect, that marketing decision was the main thing that has made the MMM blog catch the attention of newspapers, which in turn brought in the readers, which in turn kept me motivated to keep writing it. So painting that initial picture was an amazingly big leverage point.

And Cyclocroft worked in exactly the same way. You’ve heard me harping almost daily about “live close to work and ride a bike”, but this produces only small changes in the world. You are still fighting the car-based design of your city, your car-loving spouse, and all of the excuses that pop up from looking at the small day-to-day picture.

But Tara and John bypassed all of those arguments by sharing a simple, beautiful picture of the end lifestyle, with just enough detail to provide a framework that got everyone’s imagination running.

Car-free city. Next to Boulder. 50,000 people.

People read these key points and see the pictures, and in their minds they are already nestled into this bucolic town in the Sunny Western US at the base of the Rocky Mountains. For most people, the sale is already made and now they are ready to hear the details – most importantly “How can I get you my money?!”

Once you go looking for this pattern, you see it everywhere, especially in the most successful bits of persuasion in the world.

Tesla almost completely took over the coveted luxury car market with no paid advertising, even while its competitors fought tooth and nail with their old ads, by painting a clean-slate picture: clean, beautiful, prestigious cars that are the fastest in the world. They were introduced to the world as if they were movie stars, rather than squeezed out through the crusty sphincter of an old corporate marketing department as most cars are. They can even make a commercial hauling appliance into a rockstar that has everyone waiting breathlessly for its world-changing arrival.

So How Can You Use This Amazing Power on Your Own Life?

We can see how this works by painting a few pictures of our own:

You want less money stress in your life:

Describe the picture of your ideal financial life. Your house is paid off, the kids are well cared-for, and you think about money no more than you think about tap water. It’s just there, so instead you spend your time figuring out how to get more fulfillment out of each day.

Then to get there, you suddenly feel the motivation to streamline your spending (and perhaps optimize your earning) today. It’s no sacrifice to skip over a car upgrade, if it rockets you towards this clear picture of your future life, right? And conversely, making the car upgrade is suddenly less appealing if it means you will be extending your time on Cubicle Lockdown by three more years and pushing off the beautiful picture you have painted for yourself.

You wish your spouse was on board with more frugal living:

You won’t get anywhere by nagging your partner that she needs to take shorter showers or telling him to give up his Porsche convertible. The only hope of teamwork is to agree on the end goal: do you want financial freedom more than you want the Porsche, or not?

Well then, what does financial freedom look like? Perhaps it includes being able to stay home to raise children, or to have more time to travel together, or to pursue part-time meaningful work instead of full-time-just-because-I-need-the-money careers. Or something else you can both agree on. This article on Selling the Dream describes a case study where this method worked beautifully for a couple.

Once the dream is there, the daily steps that move you towards it become easy and obvious.

You want to earn your dream job 

Rather than sucking up to the company or stepping through your individual qualifications and acronyms of all the programming languages you know, begin your campaign as though you’ve already won.

Describe (with beautiful pictures of your past work and future proposals if appropriate), the way that things will work, once you are working with the company. The ways you are excited to build the culture of the group you will be joining and managing, and why that is destined to influence the entire company over time. This vision of you excelling in this job needs to become a crystal clear anchor in the company manager’s mind, that lodges itself in as the way things are going to be. From there, it becomes difficult to dislodge.

These same principles work in both large and small situations, for persuading any range of people from just you up to the entire Human population. From getting into better physical shape to winning an election.

My own Failures to Paint the Picture

When I look at my own areas of less-than-satisfactory performance in recent years, they all carry the hallmark of scraping along from one daily hardship to the next, while neglecting the big picture.

My former wife and I did not keep our own marriage alive, and it may be partly because we didn’t think of what we wanted a good marriage to look like. We just reacted to the ongoing realities of daily life, doing more damage as time went on.

My son copes with some anxiety and can tend to be an extreme homebody, avoiding all new situations if not challenged to do otherwise. But if you work at it, you can get him out for adventures, and he always has a great time. And his Mom has shown much greater skill than me in making these things happen.

But far too often during our days together, I will make a few offers to go out and do things together, then give up and feel deflated when he rejects them. And I come back the next day and try the same thing, and I usually get the same result.

But if I paint the bigger picture well in advance – for example of a two-night camping trip with his favorite friends and their dads and kayaks and sand dunes – the chance of a breakthrough greatly increases.

The recipe for change is right here in front of all of our faces. It’s up to us if we are bold enough to paint the picture, and then do the work that will become obvious once that picture is hanging on the wall in front of us.

Okay, but When Do We Get To Move to Cyclocroft?

I am happy that this big, beautiful picture of the future of North American city planning is now out there, creating an anchor in the public mind that is bound to stick. That alone is an amazing accomplishment.

For my part, I’d love to help out in many ways. But at the same time, the picture I have painted for my own life does not involve being a property developer. I’ve done that on a small scale in the past and learned there are other people that thrive on the phone calls and meetings and contractor cat-herding much more than I do. So as much as I’d love the results, I’m not willing to do the workAnd this is a great thing to know about myself, because chasing accomplishment and prestige and things that seem “important” is not necessarily the path to a happy life, if you don’t enjoy the work along the way.

But with the right group of people working together on the aspects they truly enjoy, it really could happen. Tara and John like designing spaces. I like describing things to the world, but also solving physical and engineering problems. You might like running a restaurant or a bike shop, or playing in a jazz trio. It takes all sorts of people to build a new city and change a culture, but as long as we are all working on the same end goal in mind, we will definitely get there.



* Never mind that this particular chunk of beautiful land is currently a NOAA facility! The real point is that when you only need one square mile, you can fit a world-changing city almost anywhere, including into the corner of an existing large family farm.

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How To Slow Down Time and Live Longer

sourced from:

“They sure grow up fast, don’t they?”

“The older you get, the faster time flies.”

“You can’t slow down time, so treasure your days because they’ll be gone before you know it.”

We’ve all heard these thoughts, often from the parents of grown children. If you’re part of the older and wiser population, you may have even spoken similar words yourself. And if you’re younger, you may have felt fear well up in your heart as your elders dropped this bit of Bummer Wisdom upon you. The Inevitability of Life Racing By.

But your fear is unfounded.

Related imageBecause somehow, I seem to have stumbled upon a workaround to the problem of life being too short, and instead I find myself existing in a different universe of Vampire-like perpetual renewal and the feeling of youth. While other parents of almost-thirteen-year-olds claim the time has gone by in a flash, I feel I’ve had my own son for at least 30 years.

And those same thirteen years since I retired from real work have also been packed with an almost inconceivable variety of experience. Adventures in business, travel, relationships, weddings, funerals, adventures, injuries, growth, definitely at least the recommended minimum dose of pain, but a much bigger amount of joy.

Reflecting back on it all always leaves me shaking my head in a smiling disbelief and muttering at least one involuntary “Holy Shit.” I feel like I have lived an entire human lifetime, or maybe even more than one, in just the years since I hung up the keyboard and walked out of that cubicle.

I look at this strange development with great gratitude. After all, if we are going to assign any purpose to our lives, it’s probably something like “Make the most of the time you are here, and try to do some good while you’re at it.”

So if I feel like I’ve already had a spectacular amount of time and Made the Most of It, you can imagine how lucky I feel to still have so many more decades worth of it potentially still in the tank!

What do you think could be going on here?

As it turns out, I am not the first one to wonder this. And there is some real science that connects a Mustachian Early Retirement to a life that feels much longer and more full, even before we get into the reasons you will probably literally live quite a bit longer as well. The key to this is in the way we perceive the passage of time.

Figure 1: Some of Eagleman’s Intriguing Books I’ve read (click for more.)

A few years ago, I stumbled upon the work of the modern-day Indiana Jones neuroscientist/author/adventurer David Eagleman, immediately developed a Man Crush and started working my way through his books and interviews. It was exactly what I was looking for at the time: a bigger picture on why our brains behave the way they do in many different realms of being alive: emotions, decision making, happiness, and of course our perception of time.

Like many people who were born with an engineering side to their brains, I sometimes feel like I’m standing with half my body outside of the human species, observing with Vulcan-like amusement how crazy we all are, and the other half firmly inside it, being whipped around by all the same joyful and tumultuous and passionate and irrational emotions as everyone else. So it can be very satisfying to try to put it all together, by embracing all that humanity but also understanding it from a bigger perspective.  Books like Eagleman’s are a lot of fun and useful in that regard.

So by reading books like Incognito and The Brain (along with this interesting profile on him in the New Yorker), I was able to learn a lot more about the nuts and bolts of my own existence as a creature, which I find is a very useful antidote to prevent me from taking myself and my moods too seriously as a person. And it also helps me get the most of the gigantic arc of a human lifespan with all of its details, without getting too hung up on whether I’m “doing it right” or fussing about our inevitable mortality.

Image result for brain

This is your brain on MMM

That compact but powerful brain of yours is more than just your thinking appliance. It’s your entire world, because it controls every bit of your interaction with the world, plus the way you feel about it. And one of its trickiest roles is in sucking up and storing every experience you ever have, and filing those experiences away so that you can recall the most important ones, all while leaving you able to focus on immediate tasks without becoming completely batty from this ever-growing pool of past experiences.

So the brain uses a few tricks in order to keep you sane. And the best way to sum up its approach to things is this:

To focus on the novel and important-seeming things, and mostly ignore everything else.

We’ve already covered the remarkable subject of human habits, where we learned that our brains tend to click us into little autopilot routines whenever possible to avoid the strain of puzzling consciously through every single moment, of every single day.

So an average person might go through routines like …

  • “get out of bed” 
  • “make some coffee and breakfast” 
  • “get dressed up and drive to work”

… in an almost unconscious fashion.

Habits like these are convenient, but they can also compromise your full enjoyment of life. Because when you are running on autopilot, you are not forming nearly as many meaningful memories. And if you do it long enough, your brain will also start clumping entire phases of your life into individual thoughts:

  • “my childhood”
  • “high school”
  • “the college years”
  • “those years I worked in Des Moines as a fertilizer salesman”
  • “the baby-raising years”
  • “my 25 year career as a Middle Manager in Megacorp”
  • “my golf-and-TV retirement to a Florida condo”

If you look back at your own phases so far, which ones do you remember being the longest and most vibrant?

For most of us, it ends up being the ages from about 6 through 21, because these were the times of greatest change, learning, and new firsts in life. Then as we get older, we lock ourselves into family and work routines, including the most time-compressing of all: a multi-decade period of having the same house and the same career. The years go by, but significant new experiences become more and more rare.

Mustachianism (even if you are a long way from early retirement) is thus the perfect antidote to this, because I am always encouraging you to try new things and maintain an eye towards constant optimization.

With practice, you will let go of your natural fear of failure, and start thinking of everything as an opportunity for an experiment. Or as the great Bob Ross would put it, “There are no mistakes in life, just happy accidents.”

Although you will be fighting the very core of your Human nature with this activity, it’s a fight worth picking, because you are immediately rewarded with a life that is wealthier, more satisfying, more interesting, and one that feels much longer.

To put this philosophy into practice immediately, all you need to do is start throwing some changes into your daily routine. A few ideas ranging from beginner to expert:

  • Take a different route to work than you usually do, and a different route home. Pay attention to the new experiences you have on this journey.
  • Shop at a different grocery store and get ingredients that you don’t usually get, in order to eat different meals than usual.
  • Try breaking your usual morning routine by going out for a short walk before you have your breakfast and sit down for work. (I happened to do this today, and it led to me feeling great, and my walk turned into a run, and the added energy from that led me to sit down with inspiration to write this very article for you.)
  • Find a way to meet a new person every week, or at least every month. People are the most powerful gateway to new memories and a longer, richer life.
  • Switch roles in your company, or switch to a new job.
  • Remove TV, news and social media from your daily routine or limit them each to five minutes per day. Then when you feel the inevitable pull to check in, use this as a “keystone habit” to grab your paper to-do list and start working on something from the list – even if it’s just ten push-ups, or picking up an old-fashioned paper book you are working through.
  • Move to a new apartment or house that is closer to work and to worthwhile amenities like public parks and waterfronts.
  • Start your own small business and begin building it up, embracing change and setbacks until you find something that is truly rewarding.

All of these things will shake up your life for the better, and they will restart the flow of new memories, waking your brain back up and extending your time of really being alive.

For my part, life keeps getting more varied with each passing year, and time keeps getting slower and slower. Here’s to you and I clinking our glasses together in the distant future, after several more centuries of the joyful Vampire-style youth that is early retirement.


In the Comments: what have your experiences been, with periods of your life where time has flown by, and others where your memories are particularly rich and detailed? And if you’re an early retiree, what has your experience been with the flow of time since you pulled the plug?


Selected quotes from the NY article that I liked: 

“Clocks offer at best a convenient fiction, he says. They imply that time ticks steadily, predictably forward, when our experience shows that it often does the opposite: it stretches and compresses, skips a beat and doubles back.”

“When something is new or more emotional, the amygdala seems to kick into overdrive, recording every last detail of the experience. The more detailed the memory, the longer the moment seems to last. “This explains why we think that time speeds up when we grow older,” Eagleman said—why childhood summers seem to go on forever, while old age slips by while we’re dozing. The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”