Upcoming Movies in 2014

While 2013 is currently a great year for film, it is also setting the stage for a slew of sequels, trilogies, and extended series to flourish in 2014. The new year will offer the conclusion to Peter Jackson’s second critically-acclaimed trilogy, The Hobbit, as well as new installments in other ongoing series like the X-Men and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchises. The year will also see creative and thrilling new standalone movies, like Interstellar and Noah.

Godzilla

The newest incarnation of an infamous old monster will be born with the release of Godzilla in 2014. In this take on the Toho classic, the colossal monster engages in an epic battle with several foes. Will humanity survive this monstrous conflict, or will the destruction of mankind be a by-product of Godzilla’s war?

X-Men: Days of Future Past

The newest release in the X-Men series sees the heroes warring for their survival in two separate time periods. In X-Men: Days of Future Past, older mutants cooperate with younger versions of themselves in order to rewrite the past and save the future. The screenplay is based on the comic book storyline of the same name; in the comic book, the X-Men must go back in time in order to prevent the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants from triggering an anti-mutant dystopia. It is up to the X-Men to prevent this disaster and provide a future safe for mutants.

The Hobbit: There and Back Again

Peter Jackson’s second trilogy, The Hobbit, comes to its conclusion with The Hobbit: There and Back Again. The third stanza in the series features Gandalf, Bilbo, and the company of dwarves inside the lair of the dragon, Smaug. The conclusion of the series also features a handful of characters from the Lord of the Rings trilogy who did not appear within the original story of The Hobbit. Will the company defy the odds and escape with their treasure? Find out in December of 2014.

Maleficent

The classic story of Sleeping Beauty has long been told from the point of view of the protagonists. In July 2014, however, the villain gets a chance to tell her side of the story. Angelina Jolie stars as the title character in Maleficent, which explores the witch’s background and personal history. This new look on an old story sheds light on the events that motivated Maleficent to curse Princess Aurora into a hundred years’ sleep.

Interstellar

Space travel is redefined when a team of scientists and explorers utilize a newly discovered wormhole to obliterate the limitations that currently restrict space travel. Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway star in this sci-fi thriller that may transcend more than just space. Interstellar is directed by Christopher Nolan, the man responsible for major successes such as Inception, The Prestige, and the most recent Batman trilogy.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

When aliens invade Earth, it is up to a squad of teenaged crime-fighting turtles to save humanity. While Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the fifth movie the franchise has produced, the 2014 rendition will be a reboot.

Noah

After being subjected to prophetic visions that suggest the end of the world, title character Noah attempts to rally his people to stop their cruelty to the earth. When his prophecies are ignored, Noah tries to save himself, his family, and anyone or anything else that will follow him. While Noah is based on a religious fable, the filmmaking approach is secular; the purpose of this film is to tell a thought-provoking story, and not to adapt a part of the Bible into movie form.

Vampire Academy

Based on the book series of the same name, Vampire Academy tells the story of Rose, who is a teenaged Dhampir – a human-vampire hybrid race – and her best friend Lissa, who is a vampire princess among the Moroi, which is a peaceful vampire race. The two 17-year old girls live in constant fear of Strigoi, who resemble the traditional bloodthirsty, immortal vampires. Rose, with the help of her love interest, Dimitri, strives to become Lissa’s personal guardian and protect her from the potential dangers she may face both inside and outside of the academy. Will Rose keep Lissa safe from the Strigoi while enduring the hardships of high school? Find out in February of 2014.

While 2013 has certainly been a strong year for movies, 2014 looks to expand upon the previous year’s successes. While next year will see trilogies come to a close, it will also see many thriving franchises and original works.

Best Electric Shaver for 2014

Discovering the most reliable and comfortable way to shave is a prime goal for every man. No man can be at his best in any situation without a clean and comfortable shave. It is required to look and feel like one is at their best. The efforts to make these things a reality have been constantly evolving ever since the very first electric razor came onto the market. While the technology was rudimentary at first and hardly able to compare to the shave achievable using conventional razors, electric razors have quickly advanced forward along with all other forms of technology that are impacting how we live our lives on a day to day basis. Looking at the innovations in electric shavers that are coming man’s way in 2014 will give you a good idea of just how much potential is out there. From the most expensive razors on the market to unbelievable bargains, the best in electric razors will change the way you think about presenting yourself and caring for your skin in the future.

Braun Series 3 Shaver 340

This electric razor for 2014 represents the cream of the crop in electric-razor technology in addition to taking the crown as the best-performing, most expensive razor that Braun has ever produced. However, Braun has long been a trusted name when it comes to hair care for men, making it no surprise that they should lead the way in this department as well. This electric razor is both powerful and compact. It makes use of twin foils that allows it to remove hair without any sensations of tugging or cutting whatsoever. The carefully designed trimmer handles long and short stubble with a smooth action that feels as if their were no hair present at all.

Maintenance is considerably easy when it comes to keeping the razor clean. Simply running it under a swift stream of water is all that is required to keep this razor in top condition. Another advantage is the wireless charging station that eliminates annoying and dangerous cords in the bathroom. Among its other notable features are the precision lock switch that adjusts the front foil for ideal comfort and the adjustable central trimmer that can shift to accommodate longer hair. Although the Series 3 will require a considerable investment, the $289 you spend gets you an electric razor that knows no equal.

Braun 7-790cc Pulsonic Shaver

The Series 7 is up to professional standards at their height. It safely cuts down hair follicles individually while virtually leaving skin untouched. The difference in this shaver and other ones on the market is the patented Pulsonic technology. This engineering allows the shaver to utilize 10,000 vibrations per second at a microscopic level. The result is shaving that is done with the most precision yet possible. In addition to delivering a flawlessly clean shave every time it is used, the Series 7 features personalized settings that the user can control. Up to three different options allow for a consistent shaving experience that can evolve with your chosen look.

The hair-free abilities of this razor are heightened even more by it flexible components that work with each individual curve that you approach. The designers behind the Series 7 have even anticipated the remaining stubble that can often be the cause of discomfort when using less sophisticated products. This razor has a built-in Activelift system that collects hair as it is removed and positions hair that is lying flat in order to provide the most luxurious shaving experience possible. All of these features are available for men for just under $200. This shaver is not the most expensive on the market, however, its performance will make it feel that way.

Philips Norelco PT730

Philips delivers ideal performance for an electric shaver at a price that practically every man can afford. For only around $50, this Norelco brings you a dual-precision system that operates based on powerful blades and gentle handling. Another of the benefits presented by Norelco is that it handles both long and short hair without having to change blades or make major adjustments to the equipment. The flexible heads allow it to be precise when it comes to dealing with hair of all lengths and contours of all kinds. The performance of this razor is top of the line while the actual shaving experience is one that is smooth and enjoyable. The blades themselves are durable as well. The best results come when the head is changed once every 12 months. For a great price and performance that can be depended upon, men can always turn to Norelco.

Whether you are shopping for yourself or a loved one, choosing any of the above razors will guarantee satisfaction. The impact that this equipment can make on one’s appearance is considerable, making it a sound investment for anyone that desires to be their best at any given moment.

Prom Dresses for 2014

Prom season 2014 is right around the corner and it is never too late or too early to start looking at all of the gorgeous styles available. If you haven’t found the right one for you, don’t worry! There is always a dress out there that is perfect for any body style!

That might be true, but that still doesn’t make the hunt for the best dress easy. Believe us, we totally get it! So, to help facilitate your hunt, we have prepared a list of styles that will be popular styles for all kinds of body types out there. We even included some designers with exceptional pieces to help make the task of finding your ideal dress just a little bit easier!

One Shoulder Dresses

We know that it isn’t always easy to find a dress style that can complement one’s natural beauty. For young ladies with slender frames, the one shoulder dress is a great way to showcase lean physiques. One shoulder dresses come in a variety of colors and styles, so there is something for everyone. Designers of one shoulder dresses to look out for in 2014 are Ralph Lauren and ML Monique Lhuillier.

Strapless Cocktail Dress

prom dresses for 2014This is the quintessential dress for ladies looking for a way to shine at prom. Cocktail dresses are always the go-to for black-tie events and the strapless version of the classic dress is a great way to show off your playful style with confidence. In 2014, look for cocktail dresses from Tadashi Shoji and Adrianna Papell.

Lace Dresses

In case you haven’t been paying attention, here’s the big news: lace is in! Lace dresses come in a variety of colors and designs. Lace dresses that offer more coverage give any woman an air of classic elegance while shorter lace dresses offer a dash of high-spirited sweetness. Some of the best lace dresses for 2014 are from Shelli Segal and Eliza J.

Pleated Halter Dress

If you have an hourglass figure but can’t quite figure out what to wear, then pleated halter top dresses are just for you. They offer quite a bit of coverage while leaving your arms free so you can dance all night long! If you are in the market for pleated halter dresses for prom in 2014, keep an eye out for Jenny Yoo and Marc Jacobs.

Shirred Satin Bow Dress

Bows are always cute and if you’re shopping for a stubborn apple-shaped frame, then they can be your new best friend. Shirred satin bow dresses layer material around your upper body and waist, leaving the material to drape down your hips. This is a creative way to accentuate your hips! The prettiest bow dresses for prom can be found from Maggy London or Iris & Ivy.

Ombre Party Dresses

Lace might be in, but if it is a little classical for your tastes, don’t worry! These two-toned dresses can fit with any color scheme, from bright neon colors to creamy pastel colors to subdued earth tones. They are also a great way to help draw towards or away from specific areas to give you the over-all look you want. If ombre party dresses are your cup of tea, look at what the collections of Herve Leger or Nicole Miller have to offer.

Belted Dresses

For those of you out there with glorious pear shaped bodies, you can’t go wrong with dresses with belts. If you think belts are something that can stifle your creativity, think again! Belts come in all sorts of styles now, from thin and barely obvious to loud and proud floral bouquets. Belt designs are as varied and as unique as you are. For the best in belted dresses, look no further than Eliza J or Anne Klein.

Babydoll Dresses

If a belted dresses isn’t your cup of tea for complemented your pear shape, then you can also consider wearing a babydoll dress. These dresses are a great way to show off your sweet and playful side. The best babydoll dresses to wear in 2014 are from Ted Baker or Free People.

A-Line Dresses

No collection of popular dress styles for 2014 would be complete without the inclusion of A-Line dresses. These fitted and flared nature of these dresses is sure to give you an enviable silhouette that will be the talk of the prom. A-line favorites for 2014 are from Tadashi Shoji, Lush, or Donna Morgan.

Prom is a time in every young woman’s life to make great, ever-lasting memories. It is an evening of celebrating youth and vitality, and you are going to want to look the part. If you follow one of the suggestions above that fit your style and shape, there is no way that you are going to do anything other than shine at prom in 2014!

Top Stocks for 2014

The top stocks for 2014 are going to be those that have a strong track record of growth, a promising outlook for the future, and fair distribution of dividends among stockholders. One of the best ways to make sure your investments are not only sound, but also smart, is to know your market before buying a single share. The following tips will help you pick the right stocks on your own, and give you companies to use as starting points in researching different industries. The top stocks are going to be the ones that can weather another economic downturn, if and when it happens. For that reason, look to industries like pharmaceutical companies, personal entertainment powerhouses, and the growing technology sectors to find a stock that you feel good about investing in.

Picking the Right Stock

There is no magic formula for picking a great stock. Each potential investment needs to be considered carefully, from both your own financial standpoint and that of the company you’re thinking about investing in. Finding the right stock means taking a few steps to ensure you’re making sound judgments. First, find companies you really and truly believe in. Take an assessment of the things you spend money on, and make an inventory list of whose products you buy and which companies do you continue to regularly make an investment in? Compare these different companies by looking at annual financial statements and evaluating them closely: What are the company’s earnings? What dividends does it pay? Also look at the different prices per share of each company’s stock. Prices that reflect accurate value are usually safer investments, but if a company is being undervalued in the market, boom times could be just around the corner.
Here are four top stocks that you need to consider for your portfolio:

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (VRX)

This company already has a good track record for excellent returns. Its focus is on products used in neurology, dermatology, and branded generics — industries that are generally experiencing continuous growth. The company markets its products worldwide, and innovative treatments mean profits. So for someone with an interest in investing in pharmaceutical companies, this one tops the list of investments to give serious consideration to.

Netflix (NFLX)

Although there were problems for the company when it pushed its focus to data streaming, its success over the past year has been great for investors. Its original programming is even getting the attention of national awards shows. Last year the stock rose by 150% in 2013 and more growth is expected through 2014. For someone who wants to invest in both technology and entertainment, Netflix has to be on the list of potential investments.

Mazor Robotics (MZOR)

The robotics industry has experienced lots of growth in recent years and is expecting lots more.The company has been recognized recently for some innovative breakthrough treatments in Parkinson’s Disease. The company is expecting more growth, and is currently seeking capital. Its offering of 2,400,000 shares in late 2013 could mean more innovations in the near future. A stock that combines technology and healthcare, this one is looking promising for 2014.

Sirius XM (SIRI)

No longer a start-up, Sirius XM has been around for years now and the company is seriously keeping its momentum going. The network continues to add big names to its lineup, and it already has a strong track record of growth that is expected to continue producing returns over at least the next two years. Projections are looking good for the company — and its stock.

Sometimes the best way to approach the stock market is to emulate the behavior of people with sound, proven investment strategies. Take Warren Buffett, for example. He picks companies he likes, and buys when the market is down. That way, he knows he can expect a return when the market picks back up.

A few warning signs to watch for include making sure large one-time expenses are not being claimed by the same company every year. This could be a sign of trouble within the company, and a careful evaluation of a potential pick‘s financial statements can reveal discrepancies that may give you a heads up on the health of a company.

It’s always a good idea to compare similar stocks, and analyze why certain companies are valued higher when what they do is similar to an under-performing company. Learning to see trends in the market is key to making good investments. The best way to learn how to do that is to really study the companies you’re buying into. It’s easy to lose sight of that important fact when you’re actually buying stock, but make sure you keep it in mind as you make investment decisions: What you’re actually buying is a share of that company. So make sure to only invest in companies you really believe in based on solid information and strong, detailed financial statements.

Best Investments for 2014

We are approaching five years of repercussion from the last financial crisis. The market is still showing a volatility that’s leaving the most seasoned investor gazing into crystal balls. We’re still waiting for the moment that tells us it’s safe to come out and play in a stable market.

Does that ever really happen though? Does the market ever forewarn us about a bad climate or a time to leap into the fray?

No, it doesn’t. If it did, we’d all be multimillionaires or we’d never lose a dime. The whole process is about paying attention and anticipating. It’s about research and it’s about faith. Investing is a stressful, rewarding, frustrating, exciting, defeating and prosperous endeavor that requires one thing more than any other. And that’s taking a chance.

As investors, what we are constantly on the prowl for is take a chance on what? We monitor the markets, study the charts and keep an ear to the grapevine looking for that one kernel of knowledge that promises return on investment. Even then, we’re talking our chances.

So, in that vein, let’s go to the crystal ball and take a look at some potential near term investments that show a little promise. Of course, your due diligence in these matters needs to go beyond these words.

Commodities

Analysts believe that hard assets continue to be the best place to put your money. Morgan Stanley released a recent report on what price gains on which commodities can be expected for 2014.

Silver

Stalled mine production almost guarantees increased demand, especially as this commodity is essential in jewelry and electronics. Silver saw the end of 2012 at $30 an ounce. The projection for 2014 is expected to be $35, an increase of 16.67 percent.

Gold

Always dependable, gold finished out 2012 at $1,665 an ounce. Projections into 2014 are for a potential increase of 8.11 percent. Lowered demand may limit prices over the coming year, but no one doubts this commodity won’t continue to push higher.

Copper

Demand is expected to increase as the growth supply slows over the next half decade. Copper ended 2012 at $3.61 a pound. Projection for 2013 is an increase of 8.03 percent and 2014 rounding out at 3.05 percent.

Sugar

Higher than expected production from India and Brazil left a global surplus. In 2012, sugar ended 2012 at 19.2 cents a pound. The 2014 projection is forecast to reach 20 cents, up 4.17 percent.

Short Term Investments

It’s difficult to find financial experts that agree on most things. This year though they came together in favor of equities. Finding great short term investments is never an easy task and shouldn’t be executed before analyzing your current portfolio and getting sound financial advice.

Properties in London are selling well. Parties from varied locations like Asia, Russia and the Middle East are looking for flats and homes. They are also ready to rent long and short term for the opportunity to have a well situated, comfortable and spacious living environment. Foreign investments are not for everyone though.

Another set of great investments are probably less accessible to investors. That’s why they are excellent and promising in the short term. These include offshore accounts, wine, renewable energy and precious stones. You should do a lot of research beforehand with the ear of an expert at your disposal.

Growth Companies

Yelp

In 2012, the Internet company saw an astonishing 65 percent sales jump. During that year’s fourth quarter, businesses’ desire to advertise, pump up their pages and reply to reviews leaped another astonishing number, 68 percent. Analysts are predicting more good reviews for Yelp as it opens sites in more countries. By end of the current year, sales are expected to jump 54 percent and another 39 in 2014.

KEYW Holding

Cybersecurity will grow as a major concern to everything from national defense to your personal device. KEYW Holding sells cybersecurity products, analytical tools and spy gear to government and national security agencies. With the help of major acquisitions, company officers expect the company’s sales to double in 2015, reaching $500 million.

Trulia

Investors who missed the boat on the likes of Facebook are still anxious for the next Internet monster. Trulia is a website and mobile app that allows research of house listings as well as stats on those neighborhoods. While the site’s free to buyers, Trulia’s income is from subscriptions to realtors. That keeps it in front of advertising and the preferred platform for searches and one click calls from smartphones. In 2012, sales leaped 77 percent, subscribers were up 143 percent and visitors increased 192 percent.

Conclusion

Investing is always going to a question of faith even after doing your homework. Overall, the outlook for 2014 could find great returns for investors that are willing, as always, to take chances.

Job Outlook for 2014

Slow job growth in recent times has not supported America’s image as the bustling land of opportunity. The recent 16-day government shutdown and political struggles over the debt limit will likely damage the 2014 economic forecast. Business and consumer confidence took a hit that could negatively influence job growth. Federal agencies are limited or frozen in their recruiting and hiring due to budget constraints stemming from recent furloughs.

The last five years of high unemployment and few jobs squeezed life from the economy. The unemployment rate shot up to 10% in 2009, and it dropped to about 7.5% only recently. However, the alleged 7.5% unemployment rate is misleading. Many unemployed job seekers are giving up on their search for work since grim job prospects are discouraging. This takes people out of the labor force equation and skews the unemployment numbers to look slightly better than they are.

Many economists predict that job growth will remain subpar over the next few months, but it could increase moderately as 2014 moves forward. Progress in stimulating labor markets is slow. There are about two million less jobs now than when the economic downtown hit in 2007, and there is no huge hiring surge predicted for the near term.

There were only 148,000 net new jobs created in the month of September 2013, another indicator of a still lethargic economy. The lackluster job growth indicates that the start of 2014 is shaping up to disappoint some job hunters. Wages will likely remain flat-lined in the immediate future, and consumers will continue to watch their spending. Employers will keep payrolls in check until the economy enjoys a more robust rebound.

Older workers that have been out of work for awhile are feeling the impacts of the current job market. Young workers with little to no experience have also found successfully job hunting difficult and frustrating. However, according to economists, the 2014 job market should not be quite as challenging for young people. Most expect that more college graduates will land a job in 2014.

The lack of consistent government policy has eroded the confidence of many business leaders. The Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, is a significant source of uncertainty and doubt. Some businesses have cut employees’ hours to reduce them to part-time. In doing so, businesses eliminate their need to pay for and provide the expensive health care required under ObamaCare. Many employees that are lucky enough to have a job will face a big deduction in their paychecks because of the new health care provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

The news for 2014 is not all doom and gloom. The optimistic forecast is for low to moderate growth, and job generation could start to perk up towards the middle of next year. Most jobs created have been in service industries such as health care, retail and restaurants. Undergraduate degrees with the best job prospects are in finance, computer science, accounting, business administration and engineering. Job opportunities in these fields are steady. People with cutting-edge skills and higher education will be more easily employable.

As uncertainty lessens, the economy will recover at a slow but stable rate. The effects of the Affordable Care Act may diminish over time. Businesses should remain flexible and willing to increase or decrease their work force as driven by the economy. Companies have augmented their workforce by hiring temporary workers, and this has generated much of the positive job growth in the last year. As the housing market continues to limp toward recovery in 2014, there will be more construction jobs available. State and local governments will hire again after many years of cost cutting measures, due to the falling tax revenues connected to tumbling property values.

In 2014, expect the U.S. labor force to be about 162 million, about 15 million more employees than in 2004. This denotes an annual growth rate of about 1.0% which is less than the 1.2% growth rate of the previous decade. Many of the baby boomers, those born from 1946 and 1964, will continue to retire. College graduates to middle age workers will increase in the workforce. Generation Z, those born in 2000 and later years, will not enter the workforce until they graduate. Most young people realize that continuing their education is critical to landing a job.

Overall, businesses are still investing in infrastructure and equipment. Technology continues to stimulate production, which may result in more capacity than demand, but usually supply creates demand. Interest rates remain low, and corporations, entrepreneurs and small businesses are earning profits. Ultimately, businesses cannot grow without hiring more workers. The goal in 2014 is to push job gains to an average of 400,000 per month. This amount will support solid growth and position the economy for a more robust and sound renewal.

Summer Jobs for 2014

There are few things as identifiably American as the Summer job. Disliked because it takes away beautiful and increasingly rare free time, coveted because it brings in money, the Summer job is something that everyone does eventually. A Summer job doesn’t have to be mindless and boring, though. Here are some of the more interesting jobs that students can look for during their vacation months.

First of all, there are the traditional means of getting a Summer job – applying at a business and working for them. These offer a measure of job security; do your job right and you’ll get paid on time and won’t lose your job. Plus, they help build a resume in that doing your job well will lead to good references when future employers call to check up on your background.

Lifeguard:

A lifeguard job is an excellent choice of Summer job if you like being around a lot of people. Far from a job where you just sit and watch until you have to help someone, a lifeguard position includes instructing people and assisting in pool related activities. You get a lot of fresh air and sunlight, and get the joy of knowing you’re protecting people. This job will require first aid and swimming competence certifications though, so keep that in mind.

Security Guard:

In most states, it’s surprisingly easy to get a security position. You attend a short series of classes or study a course online, pay a fee, and receive a guard card. After this, you can apply for a number of security positions in your area. You might spend your time talking with a lot of people at an entry point, or spend your evenings alone patrolling secured areas. Either way, you’ll be making people safer. As a plus, the security community tends to be very tight-knit. If you perform well as a part timer, you can easily find yourself re-hired full time after you graduate, and it’s relatively easy to move between security companies if your original employer doesn’t have openings.

Short Order Cook:

A lot of people lump short order cooking jobs in with fast food, but there is a distinct difference. Fast food tends to be prepackaged and simplified – put the pieces together, press some buttons, and you’re done. Short order cooks have actual training in how to cook and prepare food based on their ingredients. Admittedly in big chain restaurants this can be just as mechanical as in McDonald’s, but you gain a superior resume out of the deal. Once you have short order cook experience, you can carry it to any short order job. Good luck doing that with experience on the fryer at McDonald’s.

Tutor:

Tutoring has this image of a student hanging out a flyer and offering to teach fellow classmates who are struggling in certain subjects, at reasonable rates of course. However, there are now many businesses that offering tutoring services in cooperation with state education departments and school districts. Often providing specific curricula for large numbers of students, these programs are easy to learn and work in. They offer educational experience to put on a resume, and tend to provide short hours instead of long ones.

On the other hand, who says you have to work for someone else? Self-employment opportunities are a great way to get an alternative working environment, and can help you create a job all your own when no one seems to be hiring.

Ghostwriter:

If you can write a decent article, there are numerous ghostwriting opportunities on the internet. Services like Textbroker allow you to create an account and take work where and when you please. You build stronger writing skills and gain experience writing for a variety of topics, which can carry you through into a larger writing career if you so choose.

Farmer’s Market vendor:

Do you grow your own food? Do you have a skill at handcrafts? Do you make really good jam and can it yourself? A local farmer’s market might be the best choice for you to make. As long as you pay the local business registration fees, you can probably set up a booth or stall and sell your homemade goods to interested parties. This is a fun way to practice salesmanship and marketing, as well as experiencing the pride of selling your own product.

Transport Driver:

Taxis are far from the only way people get around town. Rideshare services like Lyft allow private individuals to offer rides to folks needing a lift in a hurry. Riders use an app to list their ride, and drivers use their apps to accept take. This job does require some forethought – local regulations may prohibit the activity, or require particular measures of compliance. Also, personal insurance does not cover accidents while engaged in a business transaction, so make sure you’re in full compliance with local laws and insurance coverage before you try this route. If you are, though, it can be a great way to make money while traveling and meeting new people.

Best Savings Account for 2014

Whether you need to save money for a costly expense or for retirement, opening a personal savings account is a great way to meet financial goals. People should get in the habit of saving money to prepare for unexpected circumstances. Unforeseen setbacks such as loss of employment or long term illness can create financial burdens that are difficult to overcome. There are a variety of personal savings options from customers to choose from. Discover the different saving options available for customers to determine which plan is right for your financial needs.

Custodial Savings Accounts

Custodial savings accounts are ideal for parents interested in saving money for their children. Many parents open custodial accounts shortly after their child is born. The money saved in a custodial account can later be used to pay for education or an expensive item such as an automobile. The custodian will have access to the account to manage funds and will be responsible for distributing the funds to the minor when they reach legal age. Opening a custodial account only requires a minimum deposit of $25. Custodians can link the custodial account to their checking account, which makes it easier for transferring money. Account holders are allowed to withdraw money a few times a month without being charged a fee. Custodial savings account have a small monthly fee, but those fees can usually be waived if the account holder meets certain conditions such as maintaining a monthly balance or making automatic transfers from a checking account.

Regular Savings Account

savings account 2014Regular savings accounts are great for people new to banking or for someone who just needs a basic savings account. An advantage of a regular savings account is the low minimum opening deposit of just $25. Customers can link their savings account to their checking account to allow for convenient money transfers. Linking accounts also provides customers with overdraft protection in the event their account reaches a negative balance. Customers are usually allowed to withdraw money from the account a few times a month without paying a fee. A small monthly fee is charged for regular savings accounts, but that fee is usually waived if the customer maintains a minimum balance or sets up a monthly automatic transfer.

Personal Money Market Savings Accounts

Money market savings accounts are an excellent option for customers looking to incur interest on their money as their balance grows. The interest rate increases when the balance increases to the next rate tier. A tiered interest savings rate is even available for low balances. A money market savings account can be linked to your checking account to make it easier to transfer money. Customers who link their accounts are eligible for overdraft protection in the event their checking account reaches a negative balance. Money market savings accounts can be opened with a small deposit of only $25. A small monthly fee is associated with money market savings accounts, but the fee is usually waived if the customer maintains a minimum balance or links with another account. Many banks allow the customer to make unlimited withdraws, deposits, and transfer with these kind of accounts.

High Yield Savings Accounts

High yield savings accounts with premium interest rates. These accounts give customers access to their accounts and even lets them write checks from their savings account. These savings accounts can be linked to their checking account to make it easy to make transfers. Linking accounts also provides overdraft protection in the event that their checking account balance reaches a negative amount. Unlike regular and money market accounts, high yield savings accounts usually require a high minimum opening deposit. A small monthly fee is charged for these types of accounts, but the fee is usually waived if the customer maintains a minimum balance. An advantage of having a high yield savings account is secure online access. Customers can access their accounts from a personal computer or mobile banking application.

It’s important for people to create a savings plan to prepare for unexpected circumstances. The loss of a job or expensive hospital bills can create financial burdens that are difficult to overcome. Parents can begin saving for their children by opening a custodial savings account. Parents will have authority over the accounts and be responsible for distrusting funds to their children when they become of age. Regular savings accounts are ideal for people new to banking or just needing a basic account. A personal money market savings account is great for people looking on incur interest on their money as their balances increase. High yield savings accounts offer customers premium interest rates so their money can grow at a faster rate.

Best Checking Account for 2014

Finding the right checking account can be a challenge. There are so many different options with so many different features, and so many different deals at so many different banks. It can quickly start to make one’s head spin. We’ve made it easier by narrowing down four of the best checking accounts for 2014. Whether you’re interested in internet checking accounts, interest-bearing checking or just basic checking, we have a recommendation on this comprehensive list. Here’s a guide to the best 4 checking accounts for 2014:

Ally Bank Checking Account

Ally’s Interest Checking Account has no monthly fees, no ATM fees and no fees for closing the account early. In addition, there is no charge for providing paper statements or replacing a lost or stolen debit card. There are overdraft fees of $9 per transaction, but it seriously beats other accounts that charge up to $35 when you go over. If a check needs to be canceled, the stop payment fee is only $15. The account is free, and it does pay some interest. Any ATM can be used and mobile apps are available. One downside: there is no grace period before they start charging overdraft fees. While the lack of a physical branch to visit may be a turn-off for some people, this online bank can offer some pretty deep discounts.

Citibank Checking

best checking account 2014Citibank’s basic checking offers convenience, rewards and no monthly service fees — as long as you make one direct deposit and pay one bill each month. If you don’t have any direct deposits coming in, this is not going to be the right account for you. Most people do have at least one direct deposit that could be routed to their checking account, though. If you’re able and willing to do that, this is an excellent basic checking account. With the Citibank debit card, you can get online access, phone access and ATM access. There are 1,000 branch locations around the U.S. and you can get access to ATMs for free at 29,000 locations. This is a good, but very basic checking account. Another option through this bank is the Citibank Account, a better choice if you keep a balance of at least $15,000.

Bank of America Checking

The Tiered Interest Checking account has no monthly maintenance fee if you meet balance qualifications. If you don’t, this one costs $25 per month. For this reason, this account is only worthwhile if you do meet that criteria, which includes maintaining a daily average balance of at least $5,000, maintaining a combined deposits balance of $10,000 or more in linked accounts, or having a $15,000 or more outstanding balance on a Bank of America installment loan or line of credit. If you meet those qualifications, there is no fee for checks. There is also no charge a standard-sized safe deposit box, overdraft protection, online, mobile and text banking. The associated debit card comes with a zero-liability guarantee. Most banks don’t offer that kind of guarantee, which is why debit cards sometimes carry more risks than credit cards. For someone who’s ever had to deal with liability issues after losing or having a debit card lost or stolen, this one might provide just the right amount of reassurance.

Regions Checking

The LifeGreen eAccess Account is Regions’ newest offering. It has some great features that include online banking with bill pay options, mobile banking, and access to 2,100 ATMs. There is no additional charge for the Regions Visa check card or their banking apps. Installment loan discounts are offered if the accountholder auto-debits payments from your Regions account. It also offers a relationship rate on select CDs. This account is not free, though: it costs $8 per month. Because of the limited number of areas that this bank services, it may not be a good option for everyone. But for someone who lives in an area that has a Regions bank, this account offers everything a person could want from a checking account. And even with the fee of $8 per month, it is still a huge discount when compared the $25 or more some other banks charge for accounts that don’t meet minimum qualifications.

A Brief Recap

For someone with a small monthly account balance, Citibank checking is probably the way to go. The three other accounts require a high monthly balance in order to avoid the account fees. The Regions LifeGreen eAccess account is great for someone who already has an installment loan through Regions Bank or who is interested in buying CDs. Ally Checking is an excellent choice for someone who is comfortable with internet banking, as long as they aren’t bothered by the fact that there are no bank branches to visit. The Bank of America account is the best choice for someone who is interested in perks like the free deposit box and the zero-liability guarantee.

Finding the right checking account can save a lot of time and money. The best checking account in 2014 provide a combination of service, perks and online features, along with physical rewards like no-cost deposit boxes. For anyone looking to open a new account in 2014, there are some great options available.

College Grants in 2014

With graduate school application due dates looming on the horizon and college bound seniors poring over campus brochures, it is time to start thinking about potential funding sources to cover the costs of college attendance. As the average tuition was just over $18,000 in 2013 and schools continually struggle to keep up their scholarship funds, looking into grants seems like a good idea for many parents and students-to-be. There are various types of grants based on a multitude of factors that may include state of residence, state of school, ethnic background, military background, field of study, and socioeconomic factors. The following overview covers the most common types of college grants available to students.

Federal Grants

It is always a good idea to start with programs available through the federal government. For the most part, even non-federal programs require applicants to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before they can be considered for alternative grants. Students can find the FAFSA application and additional information regarding various federal grant programs on the Federal Student Aid website (http://studentaid.ed.gov) maintained by the U.S. Department of Education. The most common grants student make use of are the Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). Admittedly, considerably more students are eligible to receive the Pell Grant than the FSEOG, and more colleges participate in the former than the latter as well. The Pell Grant provides approximately $5,000 annually to undergraduate students working towards their first degree. It is based on the student’s financial need and it is available for the first twelve semesters of studies. The actual amount of the grant varies yearly and it also depends on the specific circumstances of the student applicant. The FSEOG may provide and additional $4,000 to a student that has an exceptional financial need. Recipients are usually undergraduate students already funded through Pell Grants, and the actual amount of the grant varies from school to school.

State Government Grants

college grants in 2014The second type of widely accessible resource for most college students is their state’s educational program. Many states offer a variety of student loan programs with the potential for loan forgiveness, and there are also a fair number of states with educational grants. For the most part, students need to attend an institution of higher education in their state of residence in order to be eligible for these types of grants, but there are some exceptions. The National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs website (http://www.nassgap.org) provides links to all state government education programs that contain information specific to each state. For instance, Alaska offers up to $3,000 annually through its AlaskAdvantage Education Grant to qualifying students. Eligibility is based on financial need and program of study, with priority given to students enrolled in workforce shortage programs. Vermont, on the other hand, offers Incentive Grants to its undergraduate part-time and full-time student residents attending any school of postsecondary education in the United States or Canada that participates in the federal Pell Grant program. The average grant is approximately $1,800 and it is awarded on a first come first serve basis. The actual grant amount depends on the annual state budget, student needs, and availability of funds.

Specialized Grants

The third type of grants college students can take advantage of are more difficult to characterize than the previous two. They are also more restrictive in eligibility requirements and have well defined target populations. These types of grants are usually set up to serve the needs of certain students and the criteria can range from military service or ethnic background to educational excellence. One example of the latter is the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) grant that is available to third, fourth, and fifth year Pell Grant eligible undergraduate students majoring in technical fields and certain liberal arts programs with a 3.0 GPA. Some of these programs are also based on the ethnicity of the applicant, such as the various opportunities available at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (http://www.chci.org/about) or the American Indian College Fund (http://www.collegefund.org/). Many of these specialized grants may also cross-cut several larger categories. For example, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant is a federal program for undergraduate students in education fields while the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant provides funding for descendants of U.S. armed forces members who died during their military service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Researching and following up on these various educational grant opportunities may seem like a daunting task, but there are substantial benefits at stake. Students and parents alike will greatly appreciate having the opportunity to reduce student loan debt through college grants and they will find it is well worth the effort and time it takes to fill out the relevant applications.

Scholarships for College Students in 2014

If you are already in or thinking about going to college in 2014, you have undoubtedly thought about financial aid. The cost of college has increased greatly in recent years and the vast majority of students (and their families) looking to further their education will require financial assistance to cover expenses. The costs of college include more than just the tuition. Most colleges and universities also charge substantial fees as well as book and other charges. If the student will be living away from home (either on campus or independently) those costs have to be considered as well.

Student loans and scholarships are the two primary sources of financial aid for college students. Although student loans typically do not have to be repaid until after you have graduated, you should only use them as a last resort. Many graduates have reported that the obligation to repay student loans limits their career options and can cripple their financial situation for many years.

The better option to help you pay for your college education is scholarships which are typically made in the form of grants that do not have to be repaid. There are generally three different types of scholarships: need-based, merit-based and specialty. This article will discuss some of the available scholarships for college students in 2014.

2014 Need-Based Scholarships

scholarships for college students in 2014To qualify for a need-based scholarship, you will have to provide your (and your family’s) financial information. The most common need-based scholarship is offered by the federal government through the Pell Grant and Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant programs, where students can obtain up to $8,000 per year based upon need. Other programs are offered directly by colleges. If you can show your school that the amount of money that you can afford to pay for your education does not meet the costs, the school may award you a need-based scholarship. The scholarship is typically simply awarded as a credit on your tuition bill. Many states also offer need-based scholarships to their residents who are attending a state school. For example, the Commonwealth of Virginia operates the Virginia College Scholarship Assistance Program, which awards from $400 to $5,000 annually to Virginia students who can only afford less than one-half of the cost of attending a Virginia university.

2014 Merit-Based Scholarships

Merit-based or academic scholarships are often awarded based upon grade point average or scores on standardized tests such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or American College Test (ACT). Merit scholarships can also be awarded for non-academic achievements such as community service or artistic achievement. For example, members of the National Honor Society are eligible for merit scholarship awards from the school they are planning to attend. The University of Virginia runs the Jefferson Scholars program which provides merit-based aid to 117 of its students that covers all expenses for four years.

2014 Specialized Scholarships

Specialized scholarships are college grants that are reserved for specific groups of people. They are generally not well-publicized and some effort must be made to locate this type of financial aid. Nevertheless, it can be well worth the effort to locate a specialized scholarship. Some examples of specialized scholarships include:

  1. Minority scholarships. If you belong to a minority group (for example, Hispanic women) there are many scholarships available. For example, the Hispanic Conference for Career Advancement has several aid programs specifically for women of Hispanic descent.
  2. Scholarships for veterans. Military veterans can qualify for different financial aid programs. If you have served on active duty since 2001, check with the Veterans Administration to see if you qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. There are several other federal programs for veterans. In addition, many states and individual colleges also offer aid programs for military veterans.
  3. Religious scholarships. If you want to study at a religious institution there are many faith based scholarship opportunities. For example, the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation offers grants to students who want to study at Methodist colleges.
  4. Scholarships for medical professionals. Students who wish to pursue a career in medicine should look into medical scholarships. For example, the Mayo Medical School (affiliated with the Mayo Clinic) provides several full-tuition scholarships each year to its students.

You can see from the above discussion that there are a great number of scholarship opportunities for students planning to attend college in 2014. The list above should give you some good ideas for searching for available scholarships. Remember, only use student loans as a last resort to help you pay for college. You will be much better off in the long run funding college through grants and scholarships.

Business Trends in 2014

It is no secret that in the past few years, the business world has changed extremely quickly. With social media and the internet in general dominating the marketing scene and conventional businesses like Blockbuster and Borders falling by the way side, the past two decades have forever altered the way business is done.

The year 2014 looks to be no exception to this, with new business trends shaping the world we live in. So what are the business trends we need to be watching in 2014? What can we do to get ready to do business in 2014? Let’s find out.

Social

There is no denying that by far the biggest business trend of the past half decade will continue to be a major factor in the business world in 2014. Social media, love it or hate it, is here to stay. Facebook and Twitter will continue to dominate the space and be the primary place businesses will need to reach their users. With as many users as both platforms have, it is unlikely any new social networking site will be able to overtake them. It will be increasingly important for businesses to engage with their customers on these primary social networks in as many unique and powerful ways as possible.

However, both companies have been under increased pressure to advertise and make money. In the case of Facebook, their recent IPO has caused a huge amount of changes that mean users view plenty of paid content and less organic content. That is worth keeping in mind. Twitter also has an upcoming IPO and has made some similar changes already, with more expected in 2014.

While Twitter and Facebook continue to dominate as the “primary” social networks, there are others that shouldn’t be discounted. LinkedIn continues to dominate on the professional front, and is now a very powerful tool for Business to Business marketing. Vine and Instagrm video are hugely popular and a fantastic way to reach customers with a unique message. And any network based on visual content (like Pinterest) are becoming increasingly important.

The internet (and business as a whole) are trending towards social. I only expect this to continue in ways we don’t yet know. If you want to learn more about using social media in business (which I highly recommend you do) check out this set of courses.

Content Is Peaking

There is no denying that right now, content is king. Quality written content is being rewarded in the search engines more and more, and people share the best articles on social media like never before. Pictures, infographics, and other static visual content is also of critical importance as it stands out in a world of written text. And video is heralded as the king of kings in the content world.

I expect this to hold true for this year, and maybe a little bit longer. The person with the highest quantity and quality of content is going to win. In 2014, that is the trend we will see.

However, what is also starting to happen, and what I think will continue to happen for a long time, is that context will replace content as the most important element of a marketing strategy. Here is a great video of Gary Vaynerchuk talking about this:

Traditional Media is Dying

It’s no secret that traditional media (print newspapers, radio, even television to an extent) have been slowly dying for quite some time now. In 2014, I only expect this to continue. There simply is no reason to get a print subscription to ten different magazines when you could get all of that content for free online, anytime, from many different websites. The reality is that the internet allows content to be produced by anyone at a massive scale, and traditional media simply can’t compete because it costs exponentially more to produce a similar amount of content. I think that the trend in 2014 will be the continual decline of traditional media.

Mobile Will Get (Even) Bigger

The web has gone mobile. With more and more users primarily accessing the internet through a mobile device, and an increasing amount being spent on mobile ads and through mobile shopping, online business is finally making the transition to going fully mobile. While it’s always been important to have a mobile presence in some capacity since Apple debuted the iPhone, it is now literally a requirement. If a businesses website isn’t mobile compatible, they are simply losing half of their customer base.

So those are some of the business trends we’ll see in 2014. If you like to read about the state of the business world for this coming year, check out some of my other articles, like how to start a business in 2014 and business ideas for 2014. Thanks for stopping by!

Where to Invest in 2014

Investing has been an interesting topic in recent years. After the collapse of the market in 2008/2009, there was much skepticism and fear around the entire subject of investing. In fact, many people pulled their money from the markets altogether (which no doubt was a major contributing factor to the market collapse). However, the past couple years the stock market has roared back to what it once was. The housing marketing thankfully hasn’t returned to its pre-bubble state, but it is on the rise as well. So with lots of potential out there, where would it be smart to invest your money in 2014?

Before I write anything else though, one quick disclaimer. I’m not a financial expert or professional adviser, and anything I say is purely my opinion. Always consult an expert and weigh your options carefully before investing.

The Stock Market

The stock market has roared back from its major dip in the past few years. In fact, the last few years have been incredibly strong for it overall. If you have any money in the market right now, you’re no doubt thrilled with the results from the past year.

So what about in 2014? My personal prediction on this is that the stock market will continue to rise. Its gains may not be as dramatic as the past two years, but they will no doubt still be big. I’m personally very confident in the stock market for the next few years.

In my opinion, the biggest opportunity right now in the stock market is in buying value stocks (stocks that are trading for a low amount compared to what they’re worth). There is an entire science to this, but when done right it can be very lucrative in times of economic growth.

The Bond Market

It is no secret that the bond market is getting closer and closer to blowing up. When everyone jumped ship from the stock market, many landed in the bond market, and it was consequently pretty successful for a while. However, it is now at the point where the real estate market was at in 2008 – close to bursting.

The bond market is approaching a bubble just like anything else does. Thankfully, due to the nature of bonds it isn’t like people are going to lose millions of dollars like they did in the stock market collapse. However, the gains seen from the bond market (which are already low) may disappear.

I personally won’t be investing in the bond market for awhile, and I recommend you consider doing the same.

Real Estate

The real estate market took a serious beating during the financial crisis. However, that time has passed, and it has recovered already to an extent. The past year or so, the real estate markets in most areas have been steadily heating up, with more demand and higher prices than seen since 2008.

This is a trend that I think will continue. I personally believe that real estate is a very strong investment to have for 2014, and is in general a good investment to make. The recent collapse made people forget how much the housing market grows on average (hint: it’s huge). Real estate has always been a sound investment, and I think it will continue to be.

Commodities

After the financial crisis, prices for commodities like gold and silver skyrocketed as people wanted to have something tangible in their hands instead of stock in a company that may or may not continue to operate in the near future. We’ve already seen them decline recently, and that will likely continue. The reality is that such investments are hedges against the stock market, and as the stock market rises they will fall. I wouldn’t be buying (or selling) any commodities in 2014. However, if they get low enough in price they may be worth considering in late 2014 or 2015.

So those are some different investment options, and what I think about them for the coming year. There are a lot of possibilities out there. Hopefully I’ve helped you answer the question of where to invest in 2014. If not, there are plenty more resources out there that you can find.

Economic Predictions for 2014

The economy has been the subject of much debate in the past half decade. The recent financial collapse in almost all markets and industries caused massive amounts of panic. Consumers locked their money away, and politicians tried desperately to find solutions.

In all reality, that collapse was simply a part of our capitalistic system. Sometimes things have to go bad before they can get better. And in no case is this true than with our economy. A collapse like that clears out the riff raff, and sets the ship straight. While many suffered through hard times after 2008, things are on the upswing.

So I thought I would throw together a list of my own economic predictions for 2014. But first, a should be obvious disclaimer: While I am a small business owner and economics student, I am no expert on the subject. This post is purely my own opinions on what is going to happen and should be treated as thus.

Employment

The employment level has stayed relatively high over the past five years. In fact, it has hardly moved at all. I think that this will continue to be the case. I don’t see us reaching full employment in 2014, it is simply too far away at this point and the focal point of our economy is no longer on achieving full employment.

With that said, I think that we will continue to see it decline slowly. This is obviously a positive trend that we’ve seen, and I think that it will continue in that way. This is in part because of the number of people who have been starting businesses, which I think is just an awesome thing overall.

Housing Market

The housing market collapse was inevitable with how high prices had gotten. And while prices stayed very low for a long time there, they’ve recently been making a comeback. I don’t think we’ll ever see 2007 levels again (for the sake of our economy I sure hope we don’t), but I do think that a steady growth in the real estate market will be seen this year. Nothing crazy, but substantial none the less. Hopefully it will be enough to get some of those struggling on their underwater mortgages out of trouble.

Interest Rates

Interest rates have been absurdly low for years now. While they won’t be shooting up anytime soon, I do think that we are unfortunately going to see a small increase coming up soon. We’ll first see a rise in the long term loan rates. Slowly, but surely they will rise. We may not quite yet see a rise in short term loan interest rates, but it come quickly in 2015.

Stock Market

The stock market has been on an absolute tear recently. In fact, as of this writing (September 2013) the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up over 15% year to date. That is pretty fantastic for a stock market gain this year.

I expect that in 2014 we will see more of the same. It may not be quite as high of growth, but it will no doubt be growth. Slow and steady wins the race, and write now the stock market is winning big.

So those are my economic predictions for the year 2014. Do you have any that you’d like to add and/or want to comment? Send me an email and we can talk about it!

How to Start a Business in 2014

Entrepreneurship is a hot topic in today’s society. The number of people starting businesses this year will likely be the highest ever, so I figured it was high time that I write an in depth guide to starting a business in 2014. Business isn’t something that can be learned over night, nor is the learning the most important part in all honest. Building a business takes time, sweat, and persistence. If you want to be able to call yourself a successful entrepreneur, you’ll have to earn that title.

However, it really isn’t that complicated of a thing to do (depending on the industry you are in obviously), and can be extremely rewarding. So here is my guide on how to start a business in 2014.

Refine Your Idea

Before you get started, you’ll obviously need to have some sort of idea to run with. It doesn’t have to be unique (in fact, the best ideas usually aren’t), it doesn’t have to be super creative, but put some effort into this. Here are some good starting points for you if you don’t know what you want to do yet:

Once you have a general idea of what you want to do, you should seriously consider niching down. What I mean by that is to focus on doing one specific activity for one specific group of people.

For example, if you want to start a freelance web design business, focus on one type of business to design web sites for, like maybe dentists. Or if you are thinking about doing landscaping, focus on a specific type of landscaping. There are endless possibilities, and it is better to be seen as the niche expert than a general business that doesn’t specialize in what a customer needs.

Plan

Many people think that they need to write a massive business plan if they want to start a business. However, this simply isn’t true anymore. In the modern day business culture, there is no reason to write a massive plan full of projections that are based on nothing more than conjecture. Your time and energy are better spent on proving you have a viable business model. This is oftentimes called the Lean Startup approach. You can read more about it here.

In essence, what you want to do is come up with a minimum viable business model which you can test. For instance, you may think your freelance writing business will do very well if you approach bloggers and pitch them to accept your writing. You would then test this by actually trying it, and if it worked you would scale the business. This is the basic formula that your business should follow regardless of the industry or scale.

Get Legal

You’ll of course need to legally file your business before you do almost anything else. While most businesses are legally Sole Proprietorships, I highly recommend that you file as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), regardless of what your business is. An LLC will protect you from personal legal liability in case your business gets sued, which is incredibly important for any business.

Say you get sued because you messed up installing a sink in a home, causing thousands of dollars in damage. The owner then sues you. If your business is a Sole Proprietorship, they can go after both the businesses assets, and your PERSONAL assets. That means they can take your house, car, and anything else you own. However, an LLC makes it so the business is liable for itself, and the owners are not legally required to pay such debts.

Raise Money

With most businesses, you will have to raise some sort of capital. For many, the traditional first route of using your own money, along with that of friends and family, will work totally fine. If you need more money than what you can raise that way, look into bank financing, angel investing, and venture capital, all of which can be ways of raising substantial money. If your business is centered around some type of creative project, the rise of Kickstarter has also made crowd-funding a viable option.

Start Marketing

Once you’ve made the necessary investments, you’re ready to start marketing. This will of course vary widely depending on what kind of business you are starting, but the key is to simply make it happen in some form or another, which is what most people tend to do.

If you want to learn more about starting a business, here is Noah Kagan (founder of App Sumo) discussing the subject:

Good luck in starting your business this glorious 2014!

Home Based Business Ideas for 2014

Of all the many different types of businesses out there, a home based business is the most alluring to many. The idea of being able to work from home, on your own time and on your own terms appeals to many.

However, know that just because it sounds easy doesn’t mean it is. In fact, starting and succeeding in the business world will almost always take substantially more work than simply staying in your 9 to 5 job. But when you are successful, the rewards are incredible. You’ll likely make more money, and have significantly more freedom.

So with all of that said, here are some of my favorite home based business ideas to start in the year 2014:

E-Commerce

One of the examples that people always think about these days for a home based business is to sell something online. If you go about this in the right way, there is the potential to make a lot of money in e-commerce. However, you have to remember that you are competing with Amazon and other big box retailers, so finding a way to stand out can be difficult. You can either resell someone else’s product or create one of your own. Either way, there is a lot of money to be made in E-Commerce, and this type of business can be heavily automated once set up.

Freelance Writing

As the age of online content continues, the demand for quality writing continues to rise. There are many ways to go about writing as a freelancer. You can work find jobs yourself for blogs, newspapers, magazines, etc. Or, you can go through a service like Textbroker to write articles on specific subjects. If you are a solid writer, this is a great option with lots of potential.

Flip Cars

This is kind of an interesting idea, and one that won’t work for most. But if you are a skilled negotiator and know how to find deals on automobiles, you can buy several cars at a time, fix them up a bit, and resell them for more. If you find the right deals and make enough improvements, this can be very profitable.

Flip Homes

home based business ideas for 2014Similar to the last one, although on a much bigger scale. This idea has fixated people ever since it was popularized in several TV shows. If you know how to find a deal, and can make some solid upgrades, flipping a home for profit is more than possible.

Freelance SEO

This one is a rarity, but if you are skilled at SEO, or are starting to get there, it can be an extremely valuable skill. Businesses need search engine optimization services today more than ever, and will gladly pay $1000 or more per month to keep their sites on top of Google rankings. Doing so gives them a solid return on investment. Getting good at SEO is hard, and it is an extremely risky and volatile industry. But if you can build up a solid portfolio of clients, this is one of the fastest ways to making a very high income from home.

Wood Working

There are a lot of different avenues one could take to make money with this. But if you are skilled with your hands and with power tools, it is more than possible to make a substantial income from wood working. Whether you do full scale carpentry, build cabinets, or make children’s toys, there are many different options, many of which are very lucrative.

Blogging

One of the most popular home based businesses people will attempt this year will be blogging. However, very few will ever succeed. The reality is that blogging is an incredibly difficult thing to break into, requiring lots of writing, making connections, and promotion. However, if you have good ideas, can write killer content, and are willing to work all day promoting that content, it is more than possible to build up a blog (or podcast, or video blog) around a topic of your choice that can make a livable (or even more than that) income. Just know that it is a very competitive industry that few succeed in.

Freelance Web Design

While it isn’t as profitable as freelance SEO work, freelance web design is much easier to break into, isn’t nearly as risky, and can still provide an incredible income. The reality is that businesses always are in need of new website designs and/or fixing of web problems, and if you can do that for them they will gladly pay you a substantial fee.

There are many home based businesses that can be profitable in 2014. I’ve given you some great ideas. If none of them resonated with you, then do some more research and soul searching. However, remember that an idea is just that until you take action. Turn you business idea into a business, and get going down the road to profit!

The Best Web Hosting for 2014

There are a myriad of web hosting companies out there. Hundreds, if not thousands of people vying for that handful  of dollars you spend every month to keep your website(s) online. So how do you sort through the mess? And which company offers the best web hosting services in 2014?

Like your choices in domain registrar, your selection of a hosting company will depend on what you intend to do with your website(s) you are hosting. There are several different kinds of web hosting you may consider.

Before you pick your company of choice, it is important that you select which type of hosting you need. Take into account your current traffic, number and size of websites, and future plans. Here are the different types of hosting you can consider using:

  1. Shared web hosting: This is by far the most common option, and what I would recommend for anyone who doesn’t already have a website getting thousands of daily viewers. Simply put, you don’t need any more power than a good shared hosting plan. They generally run anywhere from $3 to $15 a month, and oftentimes can host unlimited domains, data, and traffic. There are many different options out there, but I believe I have found the best (keep reading to find out what it is).
  2. Virtual Dedicated Server: A virtual dedicated server (or VDS as they’re most often referred to as) is the next step up from a shared hosting plan. Essentially, you get full control over a dedicated portion of a web server. Generally, these start out at around $25 per month, and can range all the way up to several hundred depending on features/performance options. A VDS is a great option if you are hosting a lot of websites with decent chunks of traffic, but don’t need the full power of a dedicated server.
  3. Dedicated Server: If performance and power are what you need, and cost isn’t an objection, there is no substitute for a true dedicated server to host your website with. Generally they will run you at least a couple hundred dollars per month, and also have an initial setup fee. But if your site is getting hundreds of thousands of visitors every month you’ll need that power, and you’ll easily be making enough money to cover that cost.

For most, the choice will obviously be a shared hosting plan. There are many options out there, many of whom have great reputations, features, and price points. So who should you choose?

I’ll make this simple for you: choose Bluehost. I’ve dealt with a variety of different hosting providers, including all of the popular options, and I’ve quite frankly never found anyone that comes close. They offer incredible features at an incredible price.

the best web hosting for 2014For only a few dollars per month, you get unlimited domains, unlimited bandwidth, and unlimited storage space. While those aren’t entirely unheard of in this industry, no other company that I’ve worked with has shown this to be true quite like Bluehost. This site is hosted with them, as are all of my other sites, and I will continue to use them in the future.

If you don’t believe me, look at someone like Pat Flynn. Pat is one of the leaders in the online marketing world, and has helped thousands of people setup websites. His blog, Smart Passive Income, has tens of thousands of regular readers. And his number one recommended web hosting provider is Bluehost.

Bluehost was founded way back in 1996 (yes, there was internet back then), and has been growing ever since. They have long been characterized as one of the most reliable and helpful companies in an industry full of scammers and high pressure up-sales tactics. Their support team is top notch and in house, and their data centers are among the best in the world.

I’ve used GoDaddy, IX Web Hosting, Dream Hosting, Daily Razor, and several other popular hosting companies. However, nothing has ever come close to what Bluehost has to offer. Trust me, and just use them.

Best Franchises for 2014

Franchises are a great type of small business to get into. While you are assuming some risk, as you do with all businesses, the risk is minimized because you are working with an established brand and business. You also will have to do less planning work as far as marketing and branding go if you decide to run a franchise instead of building a business from scratch. For these and other reasons, starting a franchise business in 2014 is a great idea.

However, which one should you get involved in? There are tons of different option in many different industries. Honestly, the answer really depends on your situation. What industries are you passionate about? What do you have experience in? For instance, if you’ve worked in a fast food restaurant before as a manager, then owning a fast food restaurant makes a lot of sense.

With that said, here are what we consider some of the best franchises to own in 2014.

Subway

For years Subway has been the golden goose of the franchise world, and in 2014 that will likely continue. As American culture continues to get healthier, more and more people are choosing Subway over its fried-food-serving competitors. Subway is also an amazing company to work with that has a sterling reputation.

A Subway franchise is comparatively low priced, typically requiring between about $80,000 and $250,000 to get started. There are of course many different options for financing your new operation.

Hampton Hotels

On the other side of the cost/scale spectrum, Hampton Hotels is a fast growing company that you can build quite the business with. If you have experience in the hospitality industry, this is an excellent option for you. Hampton is one of the most recognizable names in the industry, starting a hotel with their brand as a franchisee is a great way to build a business from the ground up quicky and easily.

However, getting this going will take significantly more capital than any other franchise on this list. In fact, it will cost somewhere in the range of four to fifteen million dollars to finance. This is obviously a large investment that will require some type of financing for most people to get into, but it is a very good option for those who enjoy working in this industry.

Super Cuts

While many don’t normally think of hair salons as franchise business to start, they actually can be fantastic little businesses. Super Cuts is the biggest name right now, and looks to continue to be so in the future. Providing low cost haircuts at high volume, these franchises tend to do very well for their owners if they are in a good location and are managed properly.

Starting a Super Cuts will cost somewhere in between 100k and 200k.

7-11

best franchises for 2014In the transportation industry, gas stations continue to do well, and will likely continue to do well for years to come. 7-11 is of course one of the most reputable and established brands out there, and many people strongly prefer to use only them. If you don’t already have one in your town, you may consider starting one.

Jiffy Lube

Also in the transportation industry, Jiffy Lube is a quickly growing company that has a very positive outlook for the year 2014. They are a great option if you like to get your hands dirty. Look to invest somewhere in the range of two to three hundred thousand dollars in order to get one started.

Anytime Fitness

In the always growing health sector, gyms are expected to do well in 2014. One brand that has been making waves lately is Anytime Fitness, and for good reason. The gym offers 24/7 access to members, something that is rarely seen in the industry. If you are passionate about fitness or have connections with good trainers to hire, consider starting an Anytime Fitness franchise in 2014. They are a great company with a great outlook.

Expect to have stiff competition in this industry, but if you are successful a gym can be extremely profitable. Gym equipment isn’t cheap, so start up cost can be relatively high.

McDonald’s

The old standby of franchisees. McDonald’s is one of the most successful franchise companies of all time. While their products have come under scrutiny during the recent health industry boom, they have made changes and have steadily improved. McDonald’s has grown like clock work over the past few decades, and that is looking to continue in 2014. There are likely already plenty of McDonald’s franchises in your area, but if there aren’t, consider starting one. McDonald’s does have a very high cost of entry at well over a million dollars.

Those are just a few examples of franchises you can start this year. There are many companies that could potentially take the title of best franchise for 2014, and I can’t give that award to any one company. However, there are plenty of options, and if you take your skills, experiences, and passions into account you will no doubt find there are plenty of opportunities for you to pursue. Best of luck!

 

Best Domain Registrar for 2014

There are many good domain registrars out there in the marketplace today. So which one is the best to be using in 2014? Well that question has many different answers depending on who you talk to. Some people prefer one over the other because of a difference in cost. Others boast of superior customer service. And yet others simply stick with the same registrar they’ve been using for years now out of habit.

In all reality, there isn’t a huge amount of difference between registrars. All allow you to do the same thing: register domain names. All do it for relatively the same price (generally around ten bucks for a .com domain name). And most will also try and upsell you hosting services, SSL’s, and other things you may or may not need.

So what are differences between the companies, and which should you use? Well that depends on what you’re looking for and what you will be using the domain names for.

For me though, there is only one company that I will trust as a domain registrar in 2014: NameCheap.

NameCheap

Founded in the year 2000, NameCheap quickly became one of the world’s leading domain registrars. It currently has over 800,000 clients with over 3 million domains managed. I’ve personally used them exclusively for nearly a year, and couldn’t be more satisfied. In fact, this domain that you are one right now is registered with them.

Advantages of NameCheap

There are several huge advantages for using NameCheap in 2014 over any other registrar. For one thing, NameCheap is, as its name suggests, one of the cheapest registrars around to use. I’ve found them to be very competitively priced on a base level, especially if you can find a good coupon code to use.

And as if they weren’t already cheap enough, their real value is revealed in the fact that they give you free WhoIs protection with every domain registration. For a point of reference, GoDaddy charges $10/yr for a similar service, effectively doubling the cost of registering a .com domain name. While the free protection from NameCheap only lasts one year, after that it is still a fraction of the cost of similar services from other registrars.

Another huge advantage to NameCheap is that they rarely (if ever) spam your inbox. One of the biggest problems with the hosting and domain registrar industry (and online marketing in general) is the amount of spam. I get emails nearly daily with all kinds of “exclusive promo codes” and “insider pricing” from other registrars (which still make them more expensive than NameCheap). Meanwhile, I get nothing from my favorite registrar, and I can’t say how nice of a difference that is.

So what about other registrars? Well, there are more bad ones than good ones. I highly recommend going with a big name company, as small timers are more problems than they’re worth (trust me on that one). If you are using Bluehost hosting, which I highly recommend, you can register your domains through them. However, it is cheaper to register with NameCheap and host with Bluehost. I wouldn’t recommend GoDaddy, they are scammy, and they don’t live up to the hype. Stick with NameCheap for your domain registrar of choice for 2014.

Jobs in Demand in 2014

With the economy on the rise once again, many people are wondering what jobs will be in demand in the coming years. Getting a college degree is a big deal, but you want to make sure that you will be able to get started in a career with that degree instead of joining the ranks of many graduates who simply aren’t able to find a job.

Working in Medicine

The medical field will almost always have plenty of jobs available, especially today, when baby boomers are reaching the age where they need more care. Since most jobs in the medical field pay well, too, there is almost no reason not to pursue a career in medicine. And since there are many different jobs available in the field, you can choose the one that is perfect for you.

- Physician’s Assistant

Physician’s assistants are projected to be in high demand in 2014, and with an average salary of almost seventy thousand dollars a year, the job is a very lucrative one. A PA does almost everything that a doctor does with the exception of surgery. You can become a PA with a bachelors degree followed by a two year physicians assistant program.

- Registered Nurse

Registered nurses are also in very high demand, especially if you are a male. The thing about nursing is that there are a variety of ways that you can go about becoming one- an associates, bachelors and masters degree can all make you an RN, and you can always work while going through school to make extra money. As an RN, you could be doing anything from assisting with childbirth to taking care of the elderly or even treating emergency room patients- it’s all up to you!

Working with Technology

jobs in demand in 2014In the past hundred years, the world has seen more technological growth than in the entirety of human history, and there aren’t any signs that it’s going to slow down. There are a wide variety of technology jobs available, and the school and training required is typically much less than the training required by most medical jobs offering equivalent salaries.

- Video Game Designer

Another career that is becoming more in demand is that of a video game designer. As technology continues to grow and develop, more and more qualified professionals are required by major game design studios in order to keep up with demand. The average salary of a video game designer is around sixty five thousand a year, which is certainly a great payoff to work in a field that many people are so passionate about.

- Computer Software Engineer

If you’re into technology but not a big video gamer, you may be interested in becoming a computer software engineer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to see almost a fifty percent increase in demand for this job into 2014, which means there’s no better time to graduate with a degree in this lucrative field. The average salary for computer software engineers is just above seventy five thousand dollars a year, which is excellent considering that you only need a bachelors degree for a job.

Being a Scientist

As technology grows, so does science. Now is an amazing time to work in science because society has such a better grasp on how things work and why they work that way than ever before. Just like with medicine and technology, science is the place you want to be if you want to make a big impact on the world, and it really provides more opportunities to do so.

- Hydrologist

One of the fields with the biggest demand is hydrology. As the name suggests, hydrologists deal primarily with water- both above and below it. Most of your time will be spent outdoors and around the water, and your work will assist with ecological and government projects.

- Biomedical Engineer

Mixing medicine, technology and science, biomedical engineers quite possibly make the biggest impact on the world out of all the potential careers listed in this article. They are responsible for using science and technology to further medical research and provide doctors with solutions to many common- and even some rare- ailments and afflictions.

The Demand is There

So if you wanted to know what jobs will be in demand in 2014, you now have a better idea of what’s in store. From studying water to helping mothers give birth and even creating whole new worlds, there is plenty of excitement in store for people looking to start a new career in the coming months and years.