20% Off Quickbooks 2013 – Limited Time

Intuit, the company that makes Quickbooks, has just released the newest version of their Quickbooks software, Quickbooks 2013.  To celebrate the release, they’re giving everyone 20% off.  You don’t need a coupon code, or any sort of rebate, just go over and buy it directly from them, and they’ll give you 20% off.  It’s a limited time deal, and I don’t know how long they’ll keep the deal going.

If you’re not familiar with Quickbooks, it’s the premier accounting software for small business.  It makes it super easy to keep the books of your small business, while keeping you from getting bogged down in all the really technical stuff in the background.  It also happens to be the software that most CPA firms use and can export your file for sending to your CPA, which can make for some pretty easy tax accounting come tax time.

I’ve been using it for several years to keep the books of both my eBay selling business and the books of all my online business.  I’ve got it down to a science (nearly), and am able to just enter the data as I go along, then print off the reports as needed by the CPA for taxes.  It makes it super easy to keep the books, and report that income on my tax return.

While they release a new version every year, I don’t think that you’ll feel the need to upgrade as often.  I think if you were a small business, in the 50 employee range and a pretty sizable amount of revenue, you might think about it, but for small-timers like myself, upgrading every year is a somewhat expensive endeavor.  My needs are simple enough that I’m still running the 2009 version on my machine, and it works just fine.  The only thing I really have to worry about is that Intuit will stop supporting the older versions after a certain amount of time.  Luckily for me (and not for them), the software is pretty solid and doesn’t require a whole lot of support.

If you’re looking for a good small business accounting software, I’d certainly give Quickbooks a look. (Click here to check it out) The 20% off drops the price on the Quickbooks Pro 2013 package down to right at $200.  Given that you could probably run it for 4-5 years, $50 a year is a pretty good deal.

What are YOU Working For?

What are you really working for?

We all work, in some way, shape, or form.  Many of you, when asked the question, “what are you working for”, will likely give the easiest answer.  Money.  That’s what we all work for, right?  We need it to pay our bills, buy our food, and do many of the things that we choose to do.  But, one of the things that I’ve contemplated for some time, and that helped me make the decision to quit my job last year, was the furtherance of that question.  Sure, we all work for money.  But, is that all we work for?  And, if so, should it be?

The conclusion that I came too, as you can probably guess, is that money isn’t everything.  We do need some, but if that’s all we’re working for, it quickly becomes less of the tool that it should be, and, instead, becomes something that makes us feel trapped where we are.

Not All Work

Primal Money

One of the popular diets, recently, is the Primal Diet.  It’s a diet of foods that our primal ancestors (the hunter-gatherers) would have eaten.  Mostly meat, and readily available nuts and fruits.  The idea is that the human race has been around for thousands of years, but only been farming, and eating what we farm, for a fraction of that time.  Proponents think that we haven’t evolved sufficiently enough to properly handle the abundance of grains and other “farmed” foods in our diets.  (sidenote: the increase in Celiac disease over the last few decades might point to them being correct)  Because of that perceived evolutionary gap, they’ve taken up eating what our kind would have eaten before the rise of farming.  The movement made me think, though.  What of money?

For centuries, we’ve used money as a means of trade.  I give you a coin, you give me goods and services.  If I run out of coins, I have to find a way to make more.  I trade my surplus goods and services to someone, and they give me coins.  We repeat that cycle, and we have an economy.  Slowly, coins become the only way to attain goods and services, and we all depend on them.  And the more we depend on them, the more of them we need.  And the more we need, the more we have to sell our goods or services to get more.  Eventually, we end up where we are now.  We all work in order to gain more coins.  Our economies have evolved.  But, if that’s the case, what were they like in the Primal era?

Before we all became obsessed with coins, and money, our ancestors hunted for their food.  They didn’t need to buy it, they just went out and trapped or shot it.  Or they scavenged it off of the tree it grew on.  Or dug it out of the ground where it grew wild.  The work they did wasn’t for a new tv, or a new car, it was for survival.  If they didn’t do the work, they would starve.

If you don’t do the work, you get fired (if you work for someone), or you just don’t make any money.  And, yes, you still might starve.  Eventually.  But, food wasn’t the only thing that many of them worked for.  They worked to help their family survive.  They worked so that their children would grow up healthy and strong.  Their children were their legacy; what they would leave the world when they passed on.

Legacy.

Now, we’ve found the real purpose of work, I think.  That’s why I work, now.  It isn’t about the money, although money can have a place in legacy, but about what I leave the world when I leave the world.  The example that I set for my children, the good works I do, the changes I make in my world that make it better, and the life I lead, are my legacy.  Money is merely a tool, like the bow and arrow for our primal ancestors, to help me do those things.  And, here’s the funny part.  Looking at that list of things, it’s a tool that I don’t need that much of.  I set a better example for my children by being conscious of the things that I do, and by what I teach them.  Donating money to charity is a good work, but there are just as many good works to be done through volunteering your time and skills.  And, I can certainly make changes for the better in this world without money.  My legacy doesn’t need money.  I’ll use what money I have to give it a boost now and again, but it doesn’t need it.

I’m working for my legacy, not for a new tv or a new car, or even a new house.  The realization of that is what helped me make the decision to leave my job.  There will always be other jobs that I can get that will help me pay the bills and put food on the table, but I don’t need one to help me do my work.

What are YOU working for?

photo credit: The Marmot

Saving on Home Loans

One of the biggest purchases you will make over your lifetime is the purchase of a house.  Some will argue that purchasing a house is an investment.  But, if it’s your primary house that you intend to live in, it’s not an investment.  Sorry, it just isn’t.  If you intend to rent the house out, that’s another story, but your primary residence is just a purchase.  Even so, it’s a very large purchase.  It makes sense, then, that we will want to find as many ways as we can to save money on the purchase of our home.

Saving before a home purchase

I’ll discuss how to save on your home once you’ve already purchased it a bit further down, but you’ll find yourself a good bit ahead of the game if you start thinking about how you can save money on your home purchase before you make the purchase.

  1. Improve your credit, improve your rate – The rate at which you borrow the money to buy your home is a big deal.  A half a point on the rate can translate to thousands of dollars more in interest over the life of the loan.  The best way to guarantee that you get the best rate available is to have excellent credit.  Depending on how far you improve your credit, you could shave as much as two or three points off the interest rate of the loan.  Not only will that reduce the payment you’ll make, but it will reduce the amortized amount of the loan by tens of thousands.  Want to know what makes an impact on your credit score?  Read the Beating Broke Guide to Your Credit.
  2. Compare home loans – I mentioned how this will likely be one of the biggest purchases of your life, right?  Well, why on Earth wouldn’t you compare the loans available to make sure you were getting the best deal?  You’ve got to compare those loans!  Different lenders will have different policies, rates, and even lengths of loans.  Not only will failing to compare the home loans available cost you money, but it could cause you a lot of stress over the life of the loan.
  3. 20% down or more – If you’ve got the savings for it, put at least 20% down on the home.  Why?  Well, it reduces the amount of the loan, for one.  The less you have to borrow the better, right?  More importantly, 80% is the normal cutoff for when a lender will require you to add Private Mortgage Insurance to the loan.  It can add a hefty bit to the monthly payment, and it doesn’t go anywhere but into the insurer’s pocket.

Saving after a home purchase

  1. Refinance – This may not be for all of you looking to save, but with the current rates, it bears looking into for some of you.  Refinancing a higher interest rate mortgage into a lower interest rate loan can save you thousands over the life of the loan.  Refinancing into a shorter term mortgage can also save you thousands, but beware that the mortgage payment is likely to be higher due to the shorter amortization period.
  2. Make extra payments – If refinancing isn’t in the cards for you, make sure that your lender will accept extra payments to principle and then start making them.  Reducing the principle will reduce the interest, and by simply making an extra payment a year, you can shave years off of your mortgage.

Whether you’re looking at buying a home, or already have, saving money on the biggest purchase of your life is always worth looking into.  A few minutes on the phone with your lender can sometimes save you more than you would cutting lattes every day.  With the higher number of defaulting mortgages recently, many banks are much more willing to help you save money on your payments and pay the loan off early.  They like getting their money back too!

What other ways have you used to save money on your mortgage?  What’s the most extreme example that you’ve heard of?